"Simultaneous" Spells and Fiery Shuriken


Rules Questions


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So I got into a discussion with one of my players over Arcane Trickster and how I was going to rule as far as the FAQ regarding Scorching Ray and Sneak Attack. He's a newer player, and part of his build depended on what spells he focused on using. If I ruled against the FAQ, he'd go Evocation focus and use Scorching Ray. If I ruled with it, he'd go Conjuration focus and use Fiery Shuriken.

My question is in interpreting the ruling for Scorching Ray.

Spell Sneak Attack FAQ:
PDT wrote:

Sneak Attack: Can I add sneak attack damage to simultaneous attacks from a spell?

No. For example, scorching ray fires simultaneous rays at one or more targets, and the extra damage is only added once to one ray, chosen by the caster when the spell is cast.
Spell-based attacks which are not simultaneous, such as multiple attacks per round by a 8th-level druid using flame blade, may apply sneak attack damage to each attack so long as each attack qualifies for sneak attack (the target is denied its Dex bonus or the caster is flanking the target).

—Pathfinder Design Team, 06/19/13

Now the argument that has been made is that, according to the ruling, any spell that grants multiple attacks per round can gain multiple Sneak Attacks per round. I think the intent of the FAQ was along the lines of you can't gain Sneak Attack more than once an Action, or once a Standard Action, or once per iterative attack granted by your choice of Action, or somesuch. The example that they use in the FAQ is a spell benefiting from iterative attacks.

My question, then. For the purpose of the Sneak Attack FAQ, what does simultaneously mean?

As far as I can tell, possibly definitions include:
- spells that include the word simultaneously (i.e. Scorching Ray)
- multiple spell attacks made in a single action
- multiple spell attacks made in a standard action
- multiple attacks that ignore normal iterative rules

Example:
Here's an example that looks a bit absurd to me, if the definition of simultaneous is "spells that use the word simultaneously."

A Rogue 3/Wizard 3/AT 10 is caster level 13. Add in Magical Knack to bring it to caster level 15.

Player casts Fiery Shuriken, generating 8 shuriken. All can be launched when they appear, at the same or different targets, as Ranged Touch Attacks.

If the FAQ refers only to spells that use "simultaneously" as part of the wording, then the damage breakdown follows:

At level 16, that's 8*(1d8+7d6) = 8d8+56d6 damage against a single target if they all hit touch AC (Avg 232 damage).

At level 20, assuming 4 more Rogue levels, it turns into 8*(1d8+9d6) = 8d8+72d6 if all hit (Avg 288 damage).

So, just throwing it out there. I'm not trying to nerf anybody's Arcane Trickster build, I'm just wanting to clarify for my own sake (and for others who have this question) how far the ruling actually covers, and what "simultaneous" means in context of the ruling. Dev response appreciated if possible, but I know this is a semi-repeat thread.


Hey, all. Trying to drum up opinions on this one for clarification in my own games. Any help appreciated. :)


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My RAW interpretation is that is that the definition is all of them you have listed.

I do personally have a ton of experience with AT's (played 2, one to 17 and one to 14) and I can tell you Paizo was wrong with their new ruling. I had a few moments, but I also had a lot of "Oh Craps!" with both characters. If I was GMing I would rule he can get multiple SA's as long as the conditions apply for SA.

For instance, 5 fiery shurikens, one on a different target, 5 SA's. 5 fiery shurikens on one target, one SA. Don't break stealth (such as greater inv) and hit one targets with fiery shurikens, you get 5 SA's.

I never once felt OP, and often felt like I wasn't contributing much at all as is. Lots messes up SA, especially as you get higher level. When average damage was 100+ in my party, I was at a solid 70. When people were pretty consistently breaking 200, my max damage was 154. I think the nerf was completely unnecessary and utterly destroys the coolest class Paizo had.


So what you're saying is that technically, according to the FAQ, Fiery Shuriken should only get one SA roll, right? As far as the reasoning behind it, I don't think they're wrong at all.

To use an analogy, it's like trying to hit specific weak areas of one (or more) targets with a burst-fire weapon. If you have a gun that shoots three bullets every time you pull the trigger, at best you can make one of those bullets hit a vital area. Even as that first one is hitting, the target is going to be moving, the gun was moving as it fired (recoil), and so the bullets are very unlikely to a) be on identical trajectories, and b) it's highly unlikely that the target is maintaining the same attitude toward the shooter.

It also does appear to follow the precedent granted by other FAQ rulings (such as the Surprise Spells ruling with regards to an attack like Magic Missile) and with other rules unrelated to spells (such as Manyshot). Attacks that happen as part of the same action only roll Sneak Attack once and apply it once. Full-Attack actions are separate because you can choose to not do them after the first attack, thus making it hard and fast that they are not "simultaneous" according to the FAQ. Their example of something that gets around the FAQ is also dependent on iterative attacks.

Any other weigh-ins, or am I sticking with the interpretation that I have which says that "simultaneous attacks" don't require the word "simultaneous" to be in the spell description?


I agree a clarification or more examples would be much appreciated. The faq should be keeped as short as possible but a single sentence and two examples that cover only one corner case are just not enough.

Let's discuss the numbers of the "worst case" a shuriken-shooting arcane trickster with magical knack and mage's tattoo(conjuration). She is a level 15 character and casts as a 12th level wizard at caster level 15. Her sneak attack is 7d6 - most likely because of racial sla shenanigans. Her martial party members dish out alot of damage each round. Let's take this zen-archer for a rough comparison. Against a typical CR 15 bestiary encounter his average dpr is around 90 without ki and goes up to 120 if he chooses to expend ki (his actual numbers are higher because I didn't calculate crits).
Now our arcane trickster is going against an average touch ac of 14 for a CR 15 monster (The real AC is propably lower since she is getting sneak attack). Let's run the numbers for a casual fiery shuriken. Her BAB gives her +8, between dexterity, invisibility and feats like point-blank shot she will easily find another +4 for a total to hit of +12. She hits on everything but a natural one. She can shoot eight shuriken each dealing 1d8+7d6 = 29 fire damage on average. Her average dpr is 222, since CR 15 monster have 223 hp on average she oneshots CR appropriate encounters roughly half of the time... unless they have a high touch AC (unlikely at least if she took precise shot), are immune to sneak attacks (likely unless she took shadow strike, true seeing and got her hands on sniper goggles) or have fire resistance (likely). Even if she got around most restrictions, permanent see invisibility, true seeing and other abilities and spells that deny sneak attack are common at this level. But even if she could sneak attack every time her martial party members dish out damage all day long not until they are out of fuel and magi are at least as good at going nova.
It's really mean to take someones only toy away. I hope this was not done because someone was shooting dazing shurikens or something...

Silver Crusade

Fiery Shuriken will work the same way as Scorching Ray. Only the first attack will get sneak attack dice, unless the trickster has something else granting him sneak attack, like greater invisibility.


I'm not contesting that. I was just trying to understand the justification behind the decision to change a prestige class to a noncombatant for most of the day. I just can't see it. Quicken + spell perfection might become a litte ridiculous but spell perfection is supposed to be awesome.


Fiery shuriken spell will only ever get Sneak Attack once, or at best once per round if they don't fire all at once.

Here is the best way to determine if a spell is simultaneous, does the number of attacks depend on the characters BAB and does each subsequent attack have a reduced to hit? If so then it is an iterative attack and not simultaneous, in the same way that normal melee attacks are. Of course, feiry shuriken has to make itself difficult just a little bit because you can hold the attacks and not use them all at once.

To this end, I would say each round he can fire 1 or more shurikens until they are used or disappear when the spell ends and each round he can get 1 sneak attack with it (provided he meets the normal criteria for sneak attack).


Bigdaddyjug wrote:
Fiery Shuriken will work the same way as Scorching Ray. Only the first attack will get sneak attack dice, unless the trickster has something else granting him sneak attack, like greater invisibility.

My understanding from reading the faq is even under greater invis. you'd only get SA once.


Under A Bleeding Sun wrote:
Bigdaddyjug wrote:
Fiery Shuriken will work the same way as Scorching Ray. Only the first attack will get sneak attack dice, unless the trickster has something else granting him sneak attack, like greater invisibility.
My understanding from reading the faq is even under greater invis. you'd only get SA once.

Thats correct.

The easiest way to think of how spells will deal sneak attack damage is once per spell, unless it creates an object that you can then wield and attack with such as flame blade.


Actually, there is an interesting way to do multiple sneak attacks by this manner that the rules cover up.

Sneak Attack wrote:

Sneak Attack: If a rogue can catch an opponent when he is unable to defend himself effectively from her attack, she can strike a vital spot for extra damage.

The rogue's attack deals extra damage anytime her target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), or when the rogue flanks her target (...).

So, basically, using a Magus/Ninja Build and selecting the Magus Arcana (Prescient Attack) and Ninja Trick (Vanishing Trick) you can Sneak Attack as many times as you have attacks to do (and hell knows how many you can deliver with a huge ki pool).

Prescient Attack wrote:
Prescient Attack (Su): The magus can expend 1 point from his arcane pool as an immediate action after hitting a target with a weapon attack, allowing him to anticipate his opponent's defenses. The target is denied its Dexterity bonus against the magus's attacks until the end of the magus's next turn. The magus must be at least 6th level before selecting this arcana.
Vanishing Trick wrote:
Vanishing Trick (Su): As a swift action, the ninja can disappear for 1 round per level. This ability functions as invisibility. Using this ability uses up 1 ki point.

So, let me demonstrate my idea:

(1) Starting you turn, use Vanishing Trick, as a swift action.
(2) Make your melee/ranged weapon attack, and Sneak Attack #1.
(3) As you hit the target, use Prescient Attack, as an immediate action.
(4) Suposes you are a Magus 11 / Ninja 9, then, make your second and third attack. So, Sneak attack #2 and #3.
(Optional) Burn your Ki Pool to make additional attacks.
(5) Use Scorching Ray, by Spell Combat, and here you go by Sneak Attack #4, #5 and #6

Total: 3d6 (Scimitar) + [3 x 4d6 (Scorching Ray)] + [6 x 5d6 (Sneak Attack)] = 45d6.

Of course there is how to optimize this build, but I am still working on that.


Blacksand wrote:

Actually, there is an interesting way to do multiple sneak attacks by this manner that the rules cover up.

Sneak Attack wrote:

Sneak Attack: If a rogue can catch an opponent when he is unable to defend himself effectively from her attack, she can strike a vital spot for extra damage.

The rogue's attack deals extra damage anytime her target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), or when the rogue flanks her target (...).

I'm pretty sure the FAQ overwrites this ruling on SA, otherwise there would be almost no need for the FAQ.

Also, I'm pretty sure you can't use a swift and immediate action in the same round. My understanding is if you use a swift action you could use an immediate as soon as your turn is over.


Under A Bleeding Sun wrote:
Blacksand wrote:

Actually, there is an interesting way to do multiple sneak attacks by this manner that the rules cover up.

Sneak Attack wrote:

Sneak Attack: If a rogue can catch an opponent when he is unable to defend himself effectively from her attack, she can strike a vital spot for extra damage.

The rogue's attack deals extra damage anytime her target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), or when the rogue flanks her target (...).

I'm pretty sure the FAQ overwrites this ruling on SA, otherwise there would be almost no need for the FAQ.

Also, I'm pretty sure you can't use a swift and immediate action in the same round. My understanding is if you use a swift action you could use an immediate as soon as your turn is over.

True. I forgot that and kept in mind that immediate and swift were different. So, back to the lab to redo the build.


And as he stated, the FAQ specifically gives an example of how scorching ray only gets one sneak attack when it is used. It doesn't matter that all the attacks a magus can make qualify for sneak attack, the spell is a "simultaneous spell" and only qualifies for one sneak attack.

Quote:

Sneak Attack: Can I add sneak attack damage to simultaneous attacks from a spell?

No. For example, scorching ray fires simultaneous rays at one or more targets, and the extra damage is only added once to one ray, chosen by the caster when the spell is cast.
Spell-based attacks which are not simultaneous, such as multiple attacks per round by a 8th-level druid using flame blade, may apply sneak attack damage to each attack so long as each attack qualifies for sneak attack (the target is denied its Dex bonus or the caster is flanking the target).

—Pathfinder Design Team, 06/19/13


You ought to be able to get two sneak attacks per turn following the initial casting. One from the swift action to throw one shuriken, and one from the standard action to throw any number of shuriken. If you can work in more standard actions from other abilities, even better.

Throwing multiple shuriken with the same action would only allow one sneak attack per the FAQ.


This FAQ stinks of complete retcon like many stupid FAQs before it. It doesn't reference any existing rules.

I think someone hates sneak attack, especially ranged ones, being useful, as it got LOADS of nerfs from multiple sources (multiple parts of core).

Erastil wrote:


To use an analogy, it's like trying to hit specific weak areas of one (or more) targets with a burst-fire weapon. If you have a gun that shoots three bullets every time you pull the trigger, at best you can make one of those bullets hit a vital area. Even as that first one is hitting, the target is going to be moving, the gun was moving as it fired (recoil), and so the bullets are very unlikely to a) be on identical trajectories, and b) it's highly unlikely that the target is maintaining the same attitude toward the shooter.

So is there an AN-94 spell that can?


deuxhero wrote:

This FAQ stinks of complete retcon like many stupid FAQs before it. It doesn't reference any existing rules.

I think someone hates sneak attack, especially ranged ones, being useful, as it got LOADS of nerfs from multiple sources (multiple parts of core).

Agreed


deuxhero wrote:
Erastil wrote:
To use an analogy, it's like trying to hit specific weak areas of one (or more) targets with a burst-fire weapon. If you have a gun that shoots three bullets every time you pull the trigger, at best you can make one of those bullets hit a vital area. Even as that first one is hitting, the target is going to be moving, the gun was moving as it fired (recoil), and so the bullets are very unlikely to a) be on identical trajectories, and b) it's highly unlikely that the target is maintaining the same attitude toward the shooter.
So is there an AN-94 spell that can?

That's the point, though.

deuxhero wrote:

This FAQ stinks of complete retcon like many stupid FAQs before it. It doesn't reference any existing rules.

I think someone hates sneak attack, especially ranged ones, being useful, as it got LOADS of nerfs from multiple sources (multiple parts of core).

I'd disagree with this. If you actually go through the thread that ruling is from, they do reference other rules as precedent, such as Manyshot, as precedent for ruling that sneak attack is only applied once to a single action (excepting iterative attacks). It is also consistent with previous interpretations of Sneak Attack from earlier in Pathfinder and from earlier editions of the OGL system.


Many shot explicitly says that and has a single attack roll. Scorching Ray does not.


deuxhero wrote:
Many shot explicitly says that and has a single attack roll. Scorching Ray does not.

True, but beyond that distinction is interpretation.

  • One possible interpretation (yours, if I read you right) is that such text only applies to Manyshot, and nothing else.
  • Another is that such is a clarification that Sneak Attack is gained once for the action, regardless of attacks (or hits) made (excepting iterative attacks that otherwise qualify).

    The one they went with was the latter, and that's the one that they've been using all along. The text of Manyshot that says Sneak Attack doesn't apply twice is context-neutral. It doesn't say "Apply precision-based damage (such as sneak attack) and critical hit damage only once for Manyshot." It says, "Apply precision-based damage (such as sneak attack) and critical hit damage only once for this attack." It applied the same in the FAQ regarding the Arcane Trickster's capstone ability (only once to Magic Missile). They haven't exactly been inconsistent, and I personally don't see it as "stealth errata" or a Retcon. I see it as a clarification where the rules were unclear, which is what the FAQ section is for. It's impractical to apply the text "apply sneak attack damage only once" to every single case where it may be the truth, so they clarified in FAQ what the interpretation was.

    Anyway, I've gotten what I needed. Thanks to those who weighed in.

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