Stopping a brilliant energy weapon.


Rules Questions

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Aelryinth wrote:

So, what you're saying is you can smack an undead with the pommel of your weapon and deal damage?

WAT. No. I stated an undead would be capable of picking up and using the weapon. The haft or handle functions just fine. Arguably though a club wouldn't work there as it is just one large piece, and boomerangs or chakrams may also be questionable, as would shuriken.

I in no way stated you would be ignoring the bonuses trying to stab someone through a door. Your skeleton could pick the thing up and try. The weapon would pass harlmessly through it, until you got to the non-business-end, though. The business end goes through, they're still hidden by a bloody door that prevents you getting good hits in.

You have inferred much - incorrectly - from my statement. But I'll go to some of it now.

Yes, you could pommel-strike, potentially, an undead with a brilliant energy weapon if the haft/handle are not modified at that end. If you take the ENTIRE effect description, only the blade/macehead or the like are getting the effect, for good or ill.

You'd have to go through its armor, shield and DR, since you're just hitting people with an 'improvised' piece of wood or metal. This is in no way "useful", but rather pointing out that in last ditch efforts to not die if that waste of a +4 is your only weapon and zombies be swarming you, you can at least try to beat them to death with the back end of the thing. Or your bloody gauntlets.


Artanthos wrote:
All of the text is rules text. You simply chose to disregard the rules you disagree with.

All texy is not rules text. Even the designrts havr called certain things flavor textext


As an aside, I believe the OP's reference to Greenwood would also apply to Living Steel. It's contestable, but most certainly plausible...

Sczarni

wraith I normally agree with you but in relation to this, I'm pretty sure it's not the case.

Unlike feats that have clear designated flavor text, enchantments don't really have that.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It is blowing my mind that there are people who don't understand that a brilliant energy weapon ignores nonliving cover. "I'll block your sword which cannot be stopped by iron with my iron shield! No, I don't see any contradictions involved in that statement."

If you think the sword which passes unimpeded through nonliving matter is stopped by nonliving matter, you are intentionally ignoring a section of the rules (thus, house ruling the enchantment) to match what you believe to be balanced.

The fact is, you must use all of the rules, not just some of them, in a rules discussion. House ruling is fine (good, even), but keep it out of the Rules Questions forum.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

I'll block your sword with my tower shield providing cover bonus against the sword that ignores Shield and Armor bonuses to AC!

Works fine.

And now, JC, what you seem to be saying is 'the type of weapon Brilliant is determines if you can hit an undead with it or it can wield it', while also politely ignoring the fact that those weapons would also 'fall through the ground' and be lost if something living isn't holding onto them.

And I never said it was 'stopped' by unloving matter, I said it was 'ineffective against cover bonuses'. Which it clearly is, or it would have been defined that way.

Your reading of 'ignores unloving matter' = ignores cover bonus is NOT a rule. It's an interpretation of flavor text. Period.

I personally think that when the sword passes through anything that would be regarded as cover, it loses all power to damage anything ...thus ignoring the non-living matter and yet is unable to do damage, which clearly matches flavor text and rule. You'd see a bright light cutting through the space, but not doing anything as there's too much matter in the way. But that's my interpretation on how to reconcile the two. I'm certainly not going to add additional powers to the weapon.

If it treated cover as concealment, that would ALSO be in the description, and it's not.

==Aelryinth


That doesn't follow at all! The rules frequently don't bother to explicitly state a thing that the designers thought would be sufficiently obvious.

Is there actual text in the game saying gaseous form prevents grappling? No.

Does it? According to SKR, yes, and that is so obvious that they shouldn't even be getting asked, let alone expected to say it.

So we have clear evidence that at least one person who was very involved in Paizo's rules work for a number of years thinks that there are often cases where a thing which is implied clearly by the text describing an effect is in fact true, even though it isn't stated explicitly.

So it's simply not the case that the description would absolutely for sure state these things if they were true. They may have been deemed so obvious that the person writing the text didn't think it needed to be stated.

I would probably lean towards saying that the weapon doesn't bypass most cover, because the "significant portion" is converted to light, but that doesn't mean that the entire body of the weapon does, so you can't throw a brilliant energy dagger through a wall -- the hilt is still solid and will bounce.


Thank you all for reinforcing my decision to BAN this god-awful enhancement 11 minutes after I first read it. It's been 20 years and it's still causing arguments.

The entire concept is just poorly executed.

It should be Command Activated.
The Cover Issue should be EXPLICITLY addressed.
It should be specifically restricted to Metal weaponry, so as to not confuse the issue with completely ineffective applications like Gauntlets, or (shudder) Unarmed Strikes.

This one is just a mess. Always has been.

Scarab Sages

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If I banned everything that could be misinterpreted or failed to explicitly cover all possible outcomes, I would have very little left to play with.


It can't have a blanket statement that it ignores cover because some cover is living matter. People can give soft cover, that would apply even if you felt it would ignore non-living cover. Trees are also living and provide cover.


Artanthos wrote:
If I banned everything that could be misinterpreted or failed to explicitly cover all possible outcomes, I would have very little left to play with.

That's fair, but this is a really severe case of HUH?

This ability started a ridiculous arguement in a group the first time it was used (it was new then). I just sorta made a mental note to kill it then in my own game.
It started a near fist fight in a Living FR game about 3 months later. The it became a regular nuisance with a group I played with occasionally in the early 3.0 days. The GM in that group was like a Venture Captain for OP in FLA I think. He stated that he hated the ability and that it had been a headache before (and this was actually me sitting with his own personal game with regulars).
It reared up on the one occasion I got rooked into running a high level game at the FLGS, where I figured it can't be that bad in a short game (wrong).

I honestly can't come up with a single thing in all of D&D history that is as poorly executed as this ability. Fortunately as a +4 bonus, it's pretty rare that someone even asks about it in my experience.

There is a lot of poorly fleshed out elements in RPGs, but this is the Grand High Poobah. They should have just made a Lightsabre, called it a Lightsabre and made it act like a Lightsabre. woulda been fine.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Aelryinth wrote:

I'll block your sword with my tower shield providing cover bonus against the sword that ignores Shield and Armor bonuses to AC!

Works fine.

Oh! You must be using the revised version of the item. I'm stuck using the one that appears in the rulebook. Yours, however, looks like this:

The Super Special Deluxe Brilliant Energy Weapon Only Aelryinth Can See wrote:
A brilliant energy weapon has its significant portion transformed into light, although this does not modify the item's weight. It always gives off light as a torch (20-foot radius). A brilliant energy weapon ignores nonliving matter. Armor and shield bonuses to AC (including any enhancement bonuses to that armor) do not count against it because the weapon passes through armor. (Dexterity, deflection, dodge, natural armor, and other such bonuses still apply.) A brilliant energy weapon cannot harm undead, constructs, or objects.

I prefer to use the version that appears in the rulebooks, which indicates that yes, the weapon does pass through and ignores nonliving matter. Since cover can be living or nonliving (I can stand in front of you, and since I, last I checked, am living, I provide a cover bonus which applies against a brilliant energy weapon), it would be wrong for the weapon to explicitly say "This weapon ignores cover bonuses."

Aelryinth wrote:
I personally think that when the sword passes through anything that would be regarded as cover, it loses all power to damage anything

Oof! Wow, what a complicated interaction! I'm glad such an interaction is spelled out explicitly in the rules of the weapon, huh? Passing through nonliving cover strips the blade (which you admit, passes through the nonliving cover) of its sharpness, huh? Neat! Oh, what about bludgeoning, again? Hmm... seems your invisible rules are very detailed!

Aelryinth wrote:
...thus ignoring the non-living matter and yet is unable to do damage, which clearly matches flavor text and rule. You'd see a bright light cutting through the space, but not doing anything as there's too much matter in the way. But that's my interpretation on how to reconcile the two.

What part of the "passes through nonliving matter" flavor text implies that doing so dulls the blade until it's withdrawn for a second swing?

Aelryinth wrote:
I'm certainly not going to add additional powers to the weapon.

But you're okay with adding in the ability to become a harmless attack arbitrarily when it passes through cover, yes?


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Okay, thought experiment:

Imagine that you make a suit of armor out of small children for your BBEG.

The suit of armor is made of actual living children tied together.

So far as I can tell, Aelryinth's view is that brilliant energy weapons would ignore this because they ignore armor bonuses, and the description of the way the weapon operates is completely irrelevant to determining what it does?

And yeah, I think you've spotted the issue: It can't generically say that it treats cover as concealment because some cover is living matter.

Also, note that the "loses all power to damage anything" reading is obviously wrong. You can assemble a wall out of pieces of armor, and the wall can provide total cover. Therefore the weapon must lose all power to damage anything when it passes through armor...? No.


seebs wrote:

Okay, thought experiment:

Imagine that you make a suit of armor out of small children for your BBEG.

The suit of armor is made of actual living children tied together.

http://www.geneticanomaly.com/RPG-Motivational/slides/lawfulgood.jpg

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
zagnabbit wrote:
Artanthos wrote:
If I banned everything that could be misinterpreted or failed to explicitly cover all possible outcomes, I would have very little left to play with.

That's fair, but this is a really severe case of HUH?

This ability started a ridiculous arguement in a group the first time it was used (it was new then). I just sorta made a mental note to kill it then in my own game.
It started a near fist fight in a Living FR game about 3 months later. The it became a regular nuisance with a group I played with occasionally in the early 3.0 days. The GM in that group was like a Venture Captain for OP in FLA I think. He stated that he hated the ability and that it had been a headache before (and this was actually me sitting with his own personal game with regulars).
It reared up on the one occasion I got rooked into running a high level game at the FLGS, where I figured it can't be that bad in a short game (wrong).

I honestly can't come up with a single thing in all of D&D history that is as poorly executed as this ability. Fortunately as a +4 bonus, it's pretty rare that someone even asks about it in my experience.

There is a lot of poorly fleshed out elements in RPGs, but this is the Grand High Poobah. They should have just made a Lightsabre, called it a Lightsabre and made it act like a Lightsabre. woulda been fine.

Using that logic, Paladins which I'm pretty sure have caused FAR more argument than this weapon enchantment, should have been booted before this.


What I don't get is why people keep comparing this in any way to a lightsaber. It's absolutely not, and it's not even a tiny little bit like one. It's basically the exact opposite, really.

The entire point of this ability is to not interact with non-living matter, while lightsabers interact very much with non-living matter and energy of several sorts.

Grand Lodge

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seebs wrote:

What I don't get is why people keep comparing this in any way to a lightsaber. It's absolutely not, and it's not even a tiny little bit like one. It's basically the exact opposite, really.

The entire point of this ability is to not interact with non-living matter, while lightsabers interact very much with non-living matter and energy of several sorts.

It's the visual effect that gets them thinking that way.

Shadow Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
seebs wrote:

What I don't get is why people keep comparing this in any way to a lightsaber. It's absolutely not, and it's not even a tiny little bit like one. It's basically the exact opposite, really.

The entire point of this ability is to not interact with non-living matter, while lightsabers interact very much with non-living matter and energy of several sorts.

It looks almost exactly like a lightsaber. That's why people bring it up.

Lantern Lodge

After reading many of the comments, especially on those that suggest the use of greenwood (aka living item) to block a brilliant energy weapon cos greenwood is living, I'm waiting for someone to declare they are blocking a brilliant energy blade with the bacteria on their skin.
Cos since bacteria is living, it should stop brilliant energy cold. :D


Secane wrote:

After reading many of the comments, especially on those that suggest the use of greenwood (aka living item) to block a brilliant energy weapon cos greenwood is living, I'm waiting for someone to declare they are blocking a brilliant energy blade with the bacteria on their skin.

Cos since bacteria is living, it should stop brilliant energy cold. :D

Bacteria provide just as much protection against a brilliant energy weapon as they do against a normal weapon.


The brilliant energy Weapon damages them normally; being five size categories below tiny, they offer no armor, concealment, or DR

Lantern Lodge

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Wait... then can you use the Living Force to block brillant energy? Cos you know, the Force is all around and inside us... and its living... :P

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

The Morphling wrote:
Aelryinth wrote:

I'll block your sword with my tower shield providing cover bonus against the sword that ignores Shield and Armor bonuses to AC!

Works fine.

Oh! You must be using the revised version of the item. I'm stuck using the one that appears in the rulebook. Yours, however, looks like this:

The Super Special Deluxe Brilliant Energy Weapon Only Aelryinth Can See wrote:
A brilliant energy weapon has its significant portion transformed into light, although this does not modify the item's weight. It always gives off light as a torch (20-foot radius). A brilliant energy weapon ignores nonliving matter. Armor and shield bonuses to AC (including any enhancement bonuses to that armor) do not count against it because the weapon passes through armor. (Dexterity, deflection, dodge, natural armor, and other such bonuses still apply.) A brilliant energy weapon cannot harm undead, constructs, or objects.

I prefer to use the version that appears in the rulebooks, which indicates that yes, the weapon does pass through and ignores nonliving matter. Since cover can be living or nonliving (I can stand in front of you, and since I, last I checked, am living, I provide a cover bonus which applies against a brilliant energy weapon), it would be wrong for the weapon to explicitly say "This weapon ignores cover bonuses."

Aelryinth wrote:
I personally think that when the sword passes through anything that would be regarded as cover, it loses all power to damage anything

Oof! Wow, what a complicated interaction! I'm glad such an interaction is spelled out explicitly in the rules of the weapon, huh? Passing through nonliving cover strips the blade (which you admit, passes through the nonliving cover) of its sharpness, huh? Neat! Oh, what about bludgeoning, again? Hmm... seems your invisible rules are very detailed!

Aelryinth wrote:
...thus ignoring the non-living matter and yet is unable to do damage, which clearly matches flavor text and rule. You'd
...

Your argument is falling flat again.

Trying to argue that cover would apply if it were living cover is not in the description, and is already obviated by the fact that the sword ignores ARmor and Shield bonuses...even if they aren't provided by non-living matter.

Classic example...Mage Armor, Bracers of Armor and Shield spells. All are force effects. The brilliant weapon ignores them.
Brilliant would likewise ignore Greenwood armor and shields. It ignores ARmor and Shield bonuses...there are no restrictions on what provides them. The type of bonus is the important thing, not the source of it.

It does NOT ignore Cover bonuses, regardless of what provides them.

YES, I rule that if used against cover, that much matter strips the weapon of killing power on the other side...regardless if it is bludgeon or slicing, thank you.

This satisfies the cover rules, which provide 100% protection against physical attacks.
This satisfies the Brilliant rules, which do NOT ignore cover, but can pass through inanimate matter.

Brilliant weapons don't harm inanimate matter. That doesn't mean they treat it as incorporeal...it means they can't harm it. Perhaps they flow over it like liquid light. Perhaps they just end there like a flashlight. Whatever, the power is enough to punch through if it's 'just' an armor or shield bonus.

IF it's strong enough to be cover, it's not ignored. All descriptions and flavor text jive with the rules, and I'm happy.

==Aelryinth


Girls! Girls! You're both pretty. Can I go home now?

Shadow Lodge

If a player actually used this enchantment at one of my tables, I'd ask them which made more sense, logically.

That the fact you are swinging a blade that ignores non-living matter[yeah yeah, flavor text v. RAW, blah blah blah] will completely bypass it and let you hit the creature you are attacking

Or

That you are swinging a brightly glowing weapon at a solid object to a creature that you can't really see most of [because of cover], and thus making the target harder to hit because although the blade doesn't care, you aren't certain where he is exactly.

And I'd fully support and allow whatever the player decided to go with, as I can totally see both sides of the argument. After all, nobody brings Brilliant Energy around at all because it does nothing to 2 of the most common enemy types, costs a whole lot of money, and there are better things you could get if you spent that money elsewhere.

zagnabbit wrote:

Thank you all for reinforcing my decision to BAN this god-awful enhancement 11 minutes after I first read it. It's been 20 years and it's still causing arguments.

The entire concept is just poorly executed.

It should be Command Activated.
The Cover Issue should be EXPLICITLY addressed.
It should be specifically restricted to Metal weaponry, so as to not confuse the issue with completely ineffective applications like Gauntlets, or (shudder) Unarmed Strikes.

This one is just a mess. Always has been.

It might be wiser to simply discuss with whatever player actually wants to bring in Brilliant Energy [for flavor I imagine, it isn't exactly an optimal choice] how it should work. Houserule it to only work with whatever type of weapon you say it should, give a Y/N to cover, let it be on command, and say it can't be on an AoMF/Gauntlet because it would give no bonus. 4 quick, easy sentences to change it to allow your player to use it.


As an aside, the enchantment has only shown up twice in the game I run, on weapons in the hands of NPCs. When the PCs asked what they knew about it, those with decent rolls in knowledge: arcana were told it was called the hellfire enchantment, a flame that burns only the life force. The nomenclature change did nothing to alter the power of the enchantment, but it did help to avoid the light saber connotations.


If you used Ed Greenwood as a human shield of course he'd stop a brilliant energy weapon!!!. But why would you want to do that to Mr. Greenwood?!?

I've met the man--he's a great guy...

Sign--
Wacky

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

I've always thought of Brilliant as written as a PC killer - PC's being far more likely to have Armor and Shield bonuses then monsters, and not be undead or constructs.

As written, it fits the description as a weapon against living creatures to a T, as Zog noted.

Thus, 'Brilliant' as written in my games is 'Void', a weapon designed to kill the living and ignore their defenses.

Brilliant's power is that it ignores Natural Armor and doesn't harm creatures of positive energy, such as celestials, or pure natural power, such as true elementals. It also has Ghost Touch and can harm incorps without a problem.

Which means they are dragonslaying weapons of the highest caliber, and totally worth a +4. They're also not in the least bit subtle.

==Aelryinth


Do you want to add science to this discussion?

A conventional tree (with bark, leaves and roors) is only 1% - 10% alive at any point past its youth, only the green parts are actually living, along with a network of narrow veins hidden inside it and the absolute core. The rest is dead or dying (I.e you're not harming a tree if you cut it slightly).

If we use this fact along with brilliant energy weapons then you should be able to slice a tree neatly without dealing it any visible damage yet severing it's paper thin veins inside, this would also make armor made of wood worthless against brilliant energy.

Note I am not a scientist and I will not bother to back up these tree facts if pressed.


Aelryinth wrote:

YES, I rule that if used against cover, that much matter strips the weapon of killing power on the other side...regardless if it is bludgeon or slicing, thank you.

This satisfies the cover rules, which provide 100% protection against physical attacks.
This satisfies the Brilliant rules, which do NOT ignore cover, but can pass through inanimate matter.

This does not necessarily satisfy either.

First let us start with your second statement. A weapon that loses all power passing through inanimate matter is not "ignoring" this inanimate matter. It is being entirely stopped by it, whether or not you get a glowing picture of a weapon shining on the other side for others to target or track you through.

This leaves us with the cover rules themselves which are the source of this mess. Let us take a form of cover that really shows this up: A thin wall of perfectly transparent glassteel.

Behind it "you cannot draw any line from your square to your target's square without crossing a solid barrier" and flat out cannot attack the target. Now we get to the problem.

>Brilliant Energy weapon ignores that wall, no problem. There is NO reason whatsoever, without adding words, twisting meanings or adding interpretations that border on reality revision, that the weapon would not ignore this wall for a distance/area equal to the blade/head affected by Brilliant Energy. That is, if anyone was allowed to attack.

Soft Cover, of course brilliant energy is going to take issue: if nothing else, even a skeleton is getting in the way, forcing you to dodge or weave out of the way, or preventing your arms or legs from getting the stance or position required. The weapon can't just "ignore cover" for that reason.

But losing all killing power as it slices through that glassteel wall simply negates "ignores nonliving matter". Which does not fit the effect text at all. It is not ignoring it, it is losing all power against it. Which would open up additional questions such as why it loses all power against a thin glassteel wall, but not against your breastplate. By cancelling part of the text, you leave the rest of it just as open to attack. It is no longer 'sacrosanct' to claim that armor does not protect from the weapon's damage. You are passing through inanimate material, and by all means should thus be "hitting" but dealing no damage whatsoever.

Finally: You would not be allowed attack actions against the target in the first place if the target has total cover (defined as line of effect being impossible to trace between your two squares without striking a solid barrier). An ability allowing you to ignore cover would be perverted-by total power loss, but, were your definition correct, still perfectly RAW, if using a brilliant energy weapon, which would make it even less capable in comparison to a regular weapon.

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