What is the meaning of 'source' in regards to bonus stacking?


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264 people marked this as FAQ candidate. Answered in the FAQ. 19 people marked this as a favorite.

There has been quite a bit of discussion on this topic recently, brought about by a number of feats and abilities that apply untyped bonuses (Ability modifiers) to various stats. As an example, Kirin Strike and Focused Shot:

Kirin Strike wrote:
You gain a +2 insight bonus on Knowledge checks made to identify creatures, including the one Kirin Style allows. While using Kirin Style against a creature you have identified using that feat, as a swift action after you have hit a creature with a melee or ranged attack, you can add twice your Intelligence modifier in damage (minimum 2).
Focused Shot wrote:
As a standard action, you may make an attack with a bow or crossbow and add your Intelligence modifier on the damage roll. You must be within 30 feet of your target to deal this extra damage. Creatures immune to critical hits and sneak attacks are immune to this extra damage.

Now, assuming that ability modifiers are untyped bonuses (they are not listed on the semi-comprehensive table of bonus types - if this assumption is incorrect, the remaining debate is moot, so if that's the case, that would be a welcome answer), then depending on the game definition of the word 'source' the above feats may or may not stack.

There are two schools of thought on the matter, which I'll outline below; would any designers like to chime in on which one is correct (or, as mentioned above, if ability bonuses are in fact typed and therefore don't stack - or if we're all wrong and there's some third answer we haven't hit upon)?

School 1: The ability modifier itself is the source of the bonus; therefore, they would not stack because they are from the same source..

School 2: The class feature, feat, trait, etc. that allows you to add the ability modifier is the source, and therefore even though you are stacking the same ability modifier twice, it is adding two untyped bonuses from two different sources and is therefore valid.

If possible, a general answer would be preferred; the feats and scenario in question are provided only as an example.


By the way, for those who dont know, the recent discussions about this matter can be found here and here. The thread for faq relating to ability scores being untyped is here, which is also where the most recent debates are.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Xaratherus -- Thank you for an excellent statement of the general issue. I think other answers may be possible, but you gave the only ones that do not require the creation of new rules.


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Very nicely stated. I have always treated the source as being the point at which you are told to add the bonus. So if a feat says you add your int mod to something, then that feat is the "source".

The alternative produces some very strange rulings that I dislike.


Lets keep faqing guys! This thread is perfect to answer all of those stacking questions.

Lantern Lodge

FAQ'd :)


FAQ'd for great justice.


This came on my table yesterday, would be nice to have a FAQ.


Interesting!

Shadow Lodge

Just the FAQs ma'am.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

FAQ'd! This comes up a lot and I'd be curious about an official answer as well.


1 person marked this as FAQ candidate. 6 people marked this as a favorite.

I don't get why this causes people confusion. There are two things to consider; Source and Type. When it says bonuses from the same source don't stack, that means, for example, you can't activate Power Attack twice for double the penalty and get double the bonus because the bonuses would both come from Power Attack. A bonus equal to the mod value of a particular attribute doesn't come from that attribute; it comes from the source allowing you to add it to your calculation. Take, for example, Dragon Ferocity and Dragon Style. Normally, Unarmed Strike damage is [dice]+1xStr. Dragon Style lets you change that to [dice]+1.5xStr on the first attack of the round. Dragon Ferocity lets you add a bonus equal to 0.5xStr to that. Now, would one argue that, since you already get a factor of Strength added to your damage, you cannot add another bonus also based on your Str modifier? One might, but one would be wrong. The sources, in these cases, are Da Rules for Strength by default to melee damage rolls and Dragon Ferocity for the additional 0.5x bonus. Neither one is sourced from Strength, they just use the Strength mod as a basis of calculation.

In addition, bonuses from different sourced, but which share the same type are also exclusionary (some exceptions apply).


@Kazaan: I don't really understand either, but having been involved in a number of discussions on the topic, and seeing it split roughly 60\40, I think designer clarification would be helpful.


FAQ'd


It didn't cause much confusion initially, but I think I recall a designer chiming in a while back to the effect of "can't double up on attribute bonuses because same source" and all hells broke loose.


blahpers wrote:
It didn't cause much confusion initially, but I think I recall a designer chiming in a while back to the effect of "can't double up on attribute bonuses because same source" and all hells broke loose.

It was JJ. :)

I'm surprised we're up to 50 clicks already.


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Yes, big applications for gunslinger's Gun Training + Trench Fighter. You got my FAQ.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

blahpers wrote:
It didn't cause much confusion initially, but I think I recall a designer chiming in a while back to the effect of "can't double up on attribute bonuses because same source" and all hells broke loose.

You mean this quote?

James Jacobs, Creative Director wrote:

Modifiers from ability scores aren't actually bonuses, strictly speaking. If they are, they're untyped bonuses—which means they stack with all other bonuses except themselves. Thus, if you have multiple things that say "Add your Dex modifier to this roll," you only get to add your Dex modifier once.

So, to answer the actual question:

1) Nope; it's not a typed bonus. It stacks with all other modifiers, but can't stack with itself.

2) If you have Fury's Fall and Weapon Finesse, you've basically got two feats with overlapping effects. You don't get to add your Dexterity modifier more than once to CMB if it's already been included due to any other effect. SO! If you have Weapon Finesse... you'll only want to look at taking Fury's Fall if you're expecting to be using weapons you can't modifier via Weapon Finess to make trip attacks. Otherwise, Fury's Fall is a waste for you.


Ssalarn wrote:
blahpers wrote:
It didn't cause much confusion initially, but I think I recall a designer chiming in a while back to the effect of "can't double up on attribute bonuses because same source" and all hells broke loose.

You mean this quote?

James Jacobs, Creative Director wrote:

Modifiers from ability scores aren't actually bonuses, strictly speaking. If they are, they're untyped bonuses—which means they stack with all other bonuses except themselves. Thus, if you have multiple things that say "Add your Dex modifier to this roll," you only get to add your Dex modifier once.

So, to answer the actual question:

1) Nope; it's not a typed bonus. It stacks with all other modifiers, but can't stack with itself.

2) If you have Fury's Fall and Weapon Finesse, you've basically got two feats with overlapping effects. You don't get to add your Dexterity modifier more than once to CMB if it's already been included due to any other effect. SO! If you have Weapon Finesse... you'll only want to look at taking Fury's Fall if you're expecting to be using weapons you can't modifier via Weapon Finess to make trip attacks. Otherwise, Fury's Fall is a waste for you.

Yeah, that's not a developer quote. JJ's own disclaimer is that he's a "fluff guy", not a "rules guy". He's not a "rules developer", he's a "story and world developer" so always take his weigh-ins on mechanical rules with a grain of salt. He's just stating the way he'd personally rule it as GM in his own private game. But it doesn't stand up to rigorous logical analysis since he's clearly misattributing the source as being the stats themselves. The "source" of adding your Strength to damage rolls is "the default rules for damage rolls" while the "source" of the Strength-based bonus from Dragon Ferocity is "the Dragon Ferocity feat". Two different sources giving untyped bonuses based on factors of the same attribute.

So, in JJ's example, Weapon Finesse changes the Str bonus granted by the source "default rules for damage rolls" from Str to Dex; thus this untyped bonus, equal to your Dex mod, is a modified value, sourced from "modified rules for damage rolls" while the bonus from Fury's Fall is a separate untyped bonus, also based on Dex, but still sourced from "the Fury's Fall feat"; thus, being from two different sources, the two bonus values stack, even though they both reference the same attribute to derive values from.

By contrast, you cannot take the single source, Dragon's Ferocity, Power Attack, etc and apply the bonus more than one time because "bonuses from the same source doesn't stack." So you can't say, "Ok, I have Dragon's Ferocity and it doesn't specify I can only use it once per attack, so I use it 27 times and get 15x my Str bonus to damage, turning the Orc into beef stroganoff." Sure, it doesn't specify you can use it only once per attack, but the rules on sources say you could apply the bonus an infinite number of times and the only one that mechanically counts is the first. That's the only thing it means; nothing more and nothing less.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

It isn't listed as an untyped bonus though, it's just add your DEX mod. Compare to the Paladin's Divine Grace which specifically says " a paladin gains a bonus equal to her Charisma bonus (if any) on all saving throws".

Fury's Fall and Weapon Finesse both give you direct access to your Dex bonus, I would say they're giving you access to the same thing and don't stack. Divine Grace, however, says that it creates a new untyped bonus equal to your Charisma modifier and would stack with an ability like the Oracle of Lore's Sidestep Secret, which uses Charisma to determine Reflex saves.


Its confusing enough and clarity one way or the other would be nice.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

Kazaan wrote:
JJ's own disclaimer is that he's a "fluff guy", not a "rules guy".

He has said that but he is also in charge of rules question for everything that isn't core. Fury's Fall was printed in Cheliax: Empire of Devils and the only Paizo employee sanctioned to make rules FAQ answers for that book is JJ.


James Risner wrote:
Kazaan wrote:
JJ's own disclaimer is that he's a "fluff guy", not a "rules guy".
He has said that but he is also in charge of rules question for everything that isn't core. Fury's Fall was printed in Cheliax: Empire of Devils and the only Paizo employee sanctioned to make rules FAQ answers for that book is JJ.

Having read a lot of conversations, I don't believe this is accurate. All the designers, including JJ, have said that anyone on the team with a stake in a particular ruleset discusses relevant FAQs and try to come to a consensus. JJ may be the one who makes the final decision on Golarion-specific and non-core rules, but he is not the only one who offers input.

If what you said were true, then JJ would have simply logged in to the PDT account and posted an official FAQ, and it would have been added to the Golarion FAQ section. It wasn't. To me, that says that he's offering his opinion as a member of the team and as a knowledgeable GM, not as an official answer to the question.

Regardless, Fury's Fall is one of numerous areas where this is an issue. My original comment is not from those books over which JJ holds final decision, for example.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Xaratherus wrote:

***If what you said were true, then JJ would have simply logged in to the PDT account and posted an official FAQ, and it would have been added to the Golarion FAQ section. It wasn't. To me, that says that he's offering his opinion as a member of the team and as a knowledgeable GM, not as an official answer to the question.

***

They don't do FAQs and Eratta on splatbooks, only on the hardcovers.


@Ssalarn: I know they don't normally, but they do actually have an FAQ section for it, and have done a couple:

http://paizo.com/paizo/faq/v5748nruor1gj

Quote:

What is the role of this FAQ category?

This is where you can ask questions about Golarion, the official Pathfinder campaign setting, including questions on rules and content for Adventure Paths, Campaign Setting books, Player Companions, and Modules.

But disregard that - Fury's Fall is really irrelevant since the examples I originally gave all come from core books anyway (UC and APG respectively).

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

Xaratherus wrote:
If what you said were true, then JJ would have simply logged in to the PDT account and posted an official FAQ

That assumes he

1) Had time for it
or
2) Felt it reached a critical mass of misunderstanding

PDT doesn't even answer every question, and it seems to be only the ones where people are at each others throats. Just an observation I've made and isn't scientific - read: I could be wrong


James Risner wrote:
Xaratherus wrote:
If what you said were true, then JJ would have simply logged in to the PDT account and posted an official FAQ

That assumes he

1) Had time for it
or
2) Felt it reached a critical mass of misunderstanding

PDT doesn't even answer every question, and it seems to be only the ones where people are at each others throats. Just an observation I've made and isn't scientific - read: I could be wrong

I WOULD bite your throat to get an answer but... do eldritch plant monsters even have one?


James Risner wrote:
Xaratherus wrote:
If what you said were true, then JJ would have simply logged in to the PDT account and posted an official FAQ

That assumes he

1) Had time for it
or
2) Felt it reached a critical mass of misunderstanding

Or 3) If it's true that he is constrained to Golarion-specific answers, then he realized that there were combinations outside of that realm that would be affected by his answer, and so didn't post it.

If the rest of the design team decides that, say, things like Kirin Style and Focused Shot should be allowed to stack, it's highly unlikely that they would make an exemption for Fury's Fall just because JJ believes it shouldn't. If and when an official answer comes, I expect that it will be all or nothing.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

BigNorseWolf wrote:
do eldritch plant monsters even have one?

Nope ;-)

Lantern Lodge

1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

Another example (just adding to the list in case Dev's want to know more about which cases this applies to) is Critical Perfection (Kensai Magus), which adds your intelligence bonus to critical confirmation rolls and Arcane Accuracy, which adds your intelligence bonus as an insight bonus to all attack rolls.


FrodoOf9Fingers wrote:
Another example (just adding to the list in case Dev's want to know more about which cases this applies to) is Critical Perfection (Kensai Magus), which adds your intelligence bonus to critical confirmation rolls and Arcane Accuracy, which adds your intelligence bonus as an insight bonus to all attack rolls.

Interesting, I wasn't aware of that.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Many bonuses do not come from the attribute itself, but rather, the bonus comes from the relevant feature, and that bonus is determined by an attribute.

So, let's say you have a feat, or class feature, that provides a bonus.

Now, that ability says you determine the amount of said bonus, by the modifier of a certain attribute.

The bonus, comes from the said feat, or class feature, and not from the attribute that determines that bonus.

This is all very easy.


Ruling on this matter may kill the oradin. And is not a bad thing in my book.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

blackbloodtroll wrote:

Many bonuses do not come from the attribute itself, but rather, the bonus comes from the relevant feature, and that bonus is determined by an attribute.

So, let's say you have a feat, or class feature, that provides a bonus.

Now, that ability says you determine the amount of said bonus, by the modifier of a certain attribute.

The bonus, comes from the said feat, or class feature, and not from the attribute that determines that bonus.

This is all very easy.

Some features say "add your Charisma modifier" others say "Add a bonus equal to your Charisma (or whatever other stat) modifier."

Like the Paladin's Divine Grace, which adds a bonus equal to. That would be a unique bonus whose source is Divine Grace. However, the ones that simply say "add your modifier" aren't creating new bonuses, they're allowing you to use an existing one for a new purpose, and two abilities that both allow you to use the same bonus shouldn't stack (like Weapon Finesse and Agile Maneuvers).


As someone pointed out to me earlier in the thread (and in other discussions on the topic), Weapon Finesse does not technically allow you to add your DEX to an attack roll; it allows you to substitute your DEX in place of STR for an attack roll.

So Weapon Finesse is not adding a bonus, it's allowing a substitution.

Also, whether or not the ability is the 'source' of the bonus is what is under question. 'Source' is not defined anywhere in the rules.

To propose an analogy that I had used earlier: When you turn on the tap in your sink, water comes out. So your sink's tap is a source of water - it is what directly allows you get water. However, it can also be argued that said water originally comes from a resevoir or river - which would also be a source of water. A feat (our sink's tap) that allows you to add the modifier from an ability, where you normally cannot do so, can be viewed as a source; so can the ability itself (the resevoir or river). So we need to know which is intended.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

FrodoOf9Fingers wrote:
intelligence bonus to critical confirmation rolls and Arcane Accuracy, which adds your intelligence bonus as an insight bonus to all attack rolls.

This should stack, as one is an Intelligence to Confirm and the other is an Insight bonus to Confirm equal to your Intelligence bonus.


The problem is that we have the agile maneuvers/fury's fall ruling which claims that you can't have your dex bonus twice, and strongly implies that the person making the ruling considered "dex bonus" a source. I think that ruling is wrong; I think the feats are the sources, and that the outcome ought to be that you add dex twice, and strength zero times, when those both apply. Apart from that, this would indeed be pretty straightforward.


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The crux of the matter is understanding the difference between the source of a bonus, the value of a bonus, and the type of a bonus. The source is what allows you to apply said bonus. Sometimes, it's a feat or ability. Power Attack is the source of the bonus that it adds to your damage rolls. Power Attack is free to activate before you make your attack, but you can't claim to activate it 10 times and claim 10x bonus because it would be a bonus from the same source. In other cases, the source are basic rules on the matter. The Combat rules governing default damage calculation are the source for adding your Strength Modifier to your damage rolls.

The value of the bonus is just how much it is. The value of the Power Attack bonus is spelled out in the feat text and the value of your normal Strength bonus to damage is equal to your Strength Modifier, sometimes multiplied by a factor.

The type is the categorization of the bonus. Mostly, they also don't stack same type. So, even if you have bonuses from different sources, if they are also the same type and those types don't stack, you only use the best one.

So you normally get a bonus equal to your Str modifier (value) from Da Rulez (source) as an untyped bonus (type) added to your Combat Maneuver roll. Agile Maneuvers lets you change the value from Str to Dex, but the source remains the same; Da Rules concerning that specific thing. Fury's Fall (source) lets you add your Dex (value) as an untyped bonus (type) to your maneuver rolls. So we have bonuses from two different sources (Da Rulez and the Fury's Fall feat) that have the same value (Dex modifier) and types that don't prohibit stacking (untyped). There are no rules governing where you derive the value of your bonus in regards to stacking.


Kazaan effectively describes my views on the situation. That said, I can also see the point of view that your ability could be considered the source of the bonus. I think that there are enough scenarios that are touched by this that an official answer would be useful. :)


That's a really good analysis, Kazaan.


Good job Kazaan - now just some verification that is correct. And with sacred fist are EX and SU two different Sources.

Sczarni

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

And, just to show to the PDT that this is very much a "frequently asked question", I offer these links as evidence:

FAQ Request: Inquisitor Rules
Bonus calculations.
Wis to attack twice?
Bonuses from the same source...
how does lore keeper and mindchemist interact?
Double Stack / Double Dipping / Using the same attribute twice...
Double Dex bonus to CMB???

And many more... Just try searching for "Fury's Fall" =P


Thanks Nefreet! This is much needed.


FAQ'd. My play group has always treated the "source" as the class ability, feat, trait, etc. Having it be the other way around ("source"= stat) leads to some very weird interactions in the rules. Most notable is Dragon Ferocity, which, if using the "stat as source" logic, either doesn't add or even decreases the amount of damage dealt when using it.

That's not saying there aren't other contradictions that lead to "source=feat/class feature/etc" being the more concise and easier to understand interpretation.

Are there some busted combos with this interpretation? Probably, but there are plenty of busted things in Pathfinder. That really should never be a reason for a system-wide ruling anyway.


I've recently been dreaming up a Kirin Style alchemist bomber, that combo is the same idea as the first post. I've also considered what happens when someone multiclasses sacred fist with monk. A double wisdom mod to AC could be really powerful.


Have we received an answer on this yet, 100 hits now and growing?


I was actually in the thread when J.J. said agile maneuvers and fury's fall wouldn't stack because they both added dex and thus dex was the source.

I thought it was weird then, I think it's weird now, but that's the ruling that he's gone with. So far its the only word we've got from a paizo dev and so I'm inclined to go with the employee's word on it.


Xaratherus wrote:
If what you said were true, then JJ would have simply logged in to the PDT account and posted an official FAQ

That post was made in 2012. Did the PDT account even exist back then? Their first ever post was in March 2013 and they made their first thread in Novemeber 2013. I don't think PDT existed before that.

BTW, I consider the second interpretation to be the correct and obvious one and JJ to be wrong. I hit the FAQ button, though. Regardless of the official ruling, I'm going to run it how I interpret it.

Shadow Lodge

Faqd, clearing this will solve A LOT of problems with many archetypes/feats at the same time


FAQ'd (and I think the source is the class or feat kinda thing in all cases)
I found this page because i was trying to look it up after it coming up in a ephymyrist *which i can't spell* investigator + Sleepless detective. Since one allows yo uto calculate your total skill score using Int instead of the original. and then sleepless says add your int bonus on to it.

I think that they stack just fine. two different class features.
but if even with James' thought process I feel like it would stack..
The Ephy Investigator's alters the actual calculation for total skill. where as the sleepless adds an actual bonus.

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