how does one kill swarms?


Rules Questions

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Currently in pfs the gm is ruling that a swarm that consists of creatures that are too small to take weapon damage cannot take energy damage from weapons (such as flame weapons). It was also determined that acid splash, and any other spell that makes an attack roll doesn't effect swarms, because single target spells don't effect it.

I don't believe either of these things to be true, swarms still have an AC so they should be subject to these attacks and take damage accordingly, right?

If not then are splash weapons and spells that cover an area the only things that effect swarms of this size?


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

3.x had a rule that explicitly allowed swarms to take damage from torches and from weapon enhancements such as flaming, but Pathfinder removed that language. By RAW, the only things that will damage swarms of creatures too small to take weapon damage are effects that damage an area and not a single target.


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Energy damage on a weapon is still energy damage and not weapon damage. I still don't see where attacking a "swarm" with acid splash would target a single creature in the swarm instead of the swarm itself.


Swarms of a certain size are flat out immune to weapon damage. Personally I would include energy riders such as flaming as they are linked to the weapon. Swarms are also immune to single target spells which would include acid splash and other ray spells. You want alchemist fire, acid, alklali flasks or aoe spells to deal with swarms.


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So these things are really 100% the worst thing ever. I want to cry.


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There is a very useful item, the swarmbane clasp if I remember right, 3000 gp, that lets you damage swarms with weapon damage. Apart from that, you have to use area attacks, in fact they take more damage from area attacks. Either spells (Ye Olde Fireball) or others, such as an alchemical bomb (not the alchemist's bomb, ones in the UE). For these situations, you should have a scroll, or a wand if you have the money, of burning hands or such.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

If you have the money for it and encounter enough of them to warrant it: 2500 gold for a swarmbane clasp, which lets you damage all swarms with full weapondamage.


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BaconBastard wrote:
So these things are really 100% the worst thing ever. I want to cry.

Nah, that goes to flyby attacking greater shadows attacking through the floor.


Or drop fire everywhere doing 2 points of damage per vial.


Single target attacks like weapons do not work on swarms. Only attacks with area effects or splash damage work. They are not that bad if you prepare.

Sczarni

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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

10gp, Acid Flask
15gp, Alkali Flask
20gp, Alchemist's Fire
40gp, Liquid Ice
100gp, Artokus's Fire

A direct hit does +50% damage.

A miss still splashes for 1.

(If you have the coin, Artokus's Fire is amazing, but hard to pack at low levels)


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Wand of Burning Hands will work, provided you have someone to activate it.

Oil spread over an area and ignited should work. CRB pg 157, it hurts everything in that 5' square.

All the splash weapons work.


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Nefreet wrote:

10gp, Acid Flask

15gp, Alkali Flask
20gp, Alchemist's Fire
40gp, Liquid Ice
100gp, Artokus's Fire

A direct hit does +50% damage.

A miss still splashes for 1.

(If you have the coin, Artokus's Fire is amazing, but hard to pack at low levels)

I've seen people rule stuff like Alchemist's Fire's and Acid Flask's direct-hit damage doesn't affect swarms because the 1d6 damage isn't directly called splash damage, only the 1 is described as a splash.

I consider those people to be wrong, but it would be nice if Paizo would toss us a bone, along with defining what constitutes "weapon damage" as far as swarm immunity goes.


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andreww wrote:
Swarms are also immune to single target spells which would include acid splash and other ray spells.

Nitpicky note: swarms are immune to Acid Splash, but they are not immune to most ray spells. Most ray spells have an "effect" line of "One ray" or whatever, and generally do not have a target line. Therefore, rays are not subject to the line that prevents swarms from being targeted by single target spells. You can't Acid Splash a swarm, but you can Ray of Frost one.


mplindustries wrote:
andreww wrote:
Swarms are also immune to single target spells which would include acid splash and other ray spells.
Nitpicky note: swarms are immune to Acid Splash, but they are not immune to most ray spells. Most ray spells have an "effect" line of "One ray" or whatever, and generally do not have a target line. Therefore, rays are not subject to the line that prevents swarms from being targeted by single target spells. You can't Acid Splash a swarm, but you can Ray of Frost one.

Why is everything about swarms so stupid?


I again would really like to know about energy damage on weapons. I still say it's energy and not weapon damage. That while part where it says "1d6 fire/acid/cold/lightning damage" should be a compelling argument.

Liberty's Edge

I'm no expert on Swarms, so this may be wrong, but I think it's because the energy damage from weapons is still a single target effect.


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

It only activates on a successful hit, and you can't successfully hit a swarm with a weapon.


You can also use lamp Oil against swarms (either as a 50/50 shot alchemist fire or light them up with a torch).

As a first level character I pack significant amounts of lamp oil.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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mplindustries wrote:
andreww wrote:
Swarms are also immune to single target spells which would include acid splash and other ray spells.
Nitpicky note: swarms are immune to Acid Splash, but they are not immune to most ray spells. Most ray spells have an "effect" line of "One ray" or whatever, and generally do not have a target line. Therefore, rays are not subject to the line that prevents swarms from being targeted by single target spells. You can't Acid Splash a swarm, but you can Ray of Frost one.

Incorrect.

The swarm rules give disintegrate as an example of a single-target spell to which swarms are immune, and that spell is exactly the type you describe: has an "effect" of "ray" and no "target" line.

And besides that, every ranged attack has a target.


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"Fire! And lots of it!"

Anything that makes an attack roll (including rays) doesn't work. Area damage (such as the splash from an acid vial) works and does extra.

You end up being in a better position setting yourself on fire so the swarm (and ninjas) can't get you.

Gauss wrote:

You can also use lamp Oil against swarms (either as a 50/50 shot alchemist fire or light them up with a torch).

As a first level character I pack significant amounts of lamp oil.

Yep.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

BaconBastard wrote:
I still say it's energy and not weapon damage.

What does it matter if it's "energy damage"? There's nothing in the swarm rules saying energy damage gets an exception from the whole "immune to single-target effects" business.

Silver Crusade

Every first level adventurer just needs to buy, and always carry, something able to hurt a swarm. Get two, if you think half your allies won't bother. If you don't have anything, and are caught out by a swarm, them's the breaks.

Dark Archive

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I understand that applying real world rules to this game is a dark road but OP imagine a swarm of rats was coming your way. What things do you imagine would be effective against that swarm. A Sword? Hardly. A flaming sword? Maybe it might keep them at bay for a bit but you aren't going to kill any more of them than you would with the sword. A Molotov Cocktail? Getting there. A Flame Thrower? Now we're talking!

Dark Archive

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Well, in my experience there is one tactic that generally works really well with swarms that can be done at any level and is highly realistic given the situation: run away. Seriously, take a look at the movement speed of your average swarm and you will see that they tend to move pretty slow. When you see one coming, do what a reasonable person would do: get the heck away from it.


Then set a large area of lamp oil at a safe distance, and light it when the swarm enters the zone.


Jiggy wrote:
mplindustries wrote:
andreww wrote:
Swarms are also immune to single target spells which would include acid splash and other ray spells.
Nitpicky note: swarms are immune to Acid Splash, but they are not immune to most ray spells. Most ray spells have an "effect" line of "One ray" or whatever, and generally do not have a target line. Therefore, rays are not subject to the line that prevents swarms from being targeted by single target spells. You can't Acid Splash a swarm, but you can Ray of Frost one.

Incorrect.

The swarm rules give disintegrate as an example of a single-target spell to which swarms are immune, and that spell is exactly the type you describe: has an "effect" of "ray" and no "target" line.

And besides that, every ranged attack has a target.

Take a look at this thread. I made basically the same argument. James Jacobs is the one that said, essentially, "energy damage trumps swarms."


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BaconBastard wrote:

Currently in pfs the gm is ruling that a swarm that consists of creatures that are too small to take weapon damage cannot take energy damage from weapons (such as flame weapons). It was also determined that acid splash, and any other spell that makes an attack roll doesn't effect swarms, because single target spells don't effect it.

I don't believe either of these things to be true, swarms still have an AC so they should be subject to these attacks and take damage accordingly, right?

If not then are splash weapons and spells that cover an area the only things that effect swarms of this size?

Most under-rated weapon - Butterfly net:

You can also use a butterfly net to capture
Fine or Diminutive creatures as if it were a net (weapon).

Ultimate Equipment page 59.

Spoiler:

Used in
Scenario 2-25: You Only Die Twice
GM entered "Successfully use butterfly net" on the chronicle.
and
Scenario #6-02: The Silver Mount Collection
GM entered "Desna smiled upon Zurhal" and "Scooped up a fine swarm w/a natural 20 using a butterfly net". Zurhal is my cleric of Desna.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

@mplindustries - As was acknowledged in that thread, JJ's commentary is just how he runs things, not necessarily how the rules actually work. Just an off-the-cuff remark (and one that was NOT in response to being shown that passage, near as I can tell).

So when JJ's commentary straight-up contradicts plainly written rules, JJ is not overturning said rules. He's made that disclaimer himself soooo many times.


If possible, I just summon another swarm of the same creatures in the same space. Let them duke it out.


It seems like James Jacobs wants energy damage to affect swarms, but maybe the Alchemist’s Guild make a back room deal with whoever prints the rulebooks and controls the PRD webpage to prevent JJ’s intent from reaching the RAW community. I’ve often wondered why so many low level Paizo adventures feature swarms. I’ve seen an increased rate of people taking Burning Hands as a spell known for APs and modules since folks expect swarms. We’ve even had starting PCs making tough decisions about whether it was worth spending extra gold on alchemist’s fire instead of just using oil. Some of us have gone so far as to put a rank in Craft (Alchemy) and make our own acid.

Unfortunately, carrying around lots of flammable and or corrosive liquids in glass bottles has a tendency to make the DM ask a lot of questions if the PC gets hit with a fire spell or perhaps falls into a pit.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

First time my players encountered a spider swarm, one of them tried to stop, drop and roll on it. I ruled it dealt 1d6 fall damage to the swarm, but it didn't work out exactly like the player planned. The character ended up being dragged away by his allies and force-fed a potion of cure moderate wounds.


Would this be a summoned or naturally occurring swarm we are discussing?


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BaconBastard wrote:
So these things are really 100% the worst thing ever. I want to cry.

Wait til you get to level 2 :)

Why has no one linked swarm traits for this person?

Spoiler:
A swarm is a collection of Fine, Diminutive, or Tiny creatures that acts as a single creature. A swarm has the characteristics of its type, except as noted here. A swarm has a single pool of Hit Dice and hit points, a single initiative modifier, a single speed, and a single Armor Class. A swarm makes saving throws as a single creature. A single swarm occupies a square (if it is made up of nonflying creatures) or a cube (of flying creatures) 10 feet on a side, but its reach is 0 feet, like its component creatures. In order to attack, it moves into an opponent’s space, which provokes an attack of opportunity. A swarm can occupy the same space as a creature of any size, since it crawls all over its prey. A swarm can move through squares occupied by enemies and vice versa without impediment, although the swarm provokes an attack of opportunity if it does so. A swarm can move through cracks or holes large enough for its component creatures.

A swarm of Tiny creatures consists of 300 nonflying creatures or 1,000 flying creatures. A swarm of Diminutive creatures consists of 1,500 nonflying creatures or 5,000 flying creatures. A swarm of Fine creatures consists of 10,000 creatures, whether they are flying or not. Swarms of nonflying creatures include many more creatures than could normally fit in a 10-foot square based on their normal space, because creatures in a swarm are packed tightly together and generally crawl over each other and their prey when moving or attacking. Larger swarms are represented by multiples of single swarms. The area occupied by a large swarm is completely shapeable, though the swarm usually remains in contiguous squares.

Traits: A swarm has no clear front or back and no discernible anatomy, so it is not subject to critical hits or flanking. A swarm made up of Tiny creatures takes half damage from slashing and piercing weapons. A swarm composed of Fine or Diminutive creatures is immune to all weapon damage. Reducing a swarm to 0 hit points or less causes it to break up, though damage taken until that point does not degrade its ability to attack or resist attack. Swarms are never staggered or reduced to a dying state by damage. Also, they cannot be tripped, grappled, or bull rushed, and they cannot grapple an opponent.

A swarm is immune to any spell or effect that targets a specific number of creatures (including single-target spells such as disintegrate), with the exception of mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, morale effects, patterns, and phantasms) if the swarm has an Intelligence score and a hive mind. A swarm takes half again as much damage (+50%) from spells or effects that affect an area, such as splash weapons and many evocation spells.

Swarms made up of Diminutive or Fine creatures are susceptible to high winds, such as those created by a gust of wind spell. For purposes of determining the effects of wind on a swarm, treat the swarm as a creature of the same size as its constituent creatures. A swarm rendered unconscious by means of nonlethal damage becomes disorganized and dispersed, and does not reform until its hit points exceed its nonlethal damage.

Behold, rules.


Cloudkill should be a swarm buster IMHO. There was some debate about the efficacy in the past.....


Devilkiller wrote:

It seems like James Jacobs wants energy damage to affect swarms, but maybe the Alchemist’s Guild make a back room deal with whoever prints the rulebooks and controls the PRD webpage to prevent JJ’s intent from reaching the RAW community. I’ve often wondered why so many low level Paizo adventures feature swarms. I’ve seen an increased rate of people taking Burning Hands as a spell known for APs and modules since folks expect swarms. We’ve even had starting PCs making tough decisions about whether it was worth spending extra gold on alchemist’s fire instead of just using oil. Some of us have gone so far as to put a rank in Craft (Alchemy) and make our own acid.

Unfortunately, carrying around lots of flammable and or corrosive liquids in glass bottles has a tendency to make the DM ask a lot of questions if the PC gets hit with a fire spell or perhaps falls into a pit.

I carry my lamp oil in iron flasks for a reason.

I mean, it's lamp oil, it isn't like I'll be using it as a grenade-like weapon all by itself ANYWAY...


One question which has come up a few times is whether the liquid from a molotov cocktail which fails to ignite or flask of oil which was thrown without a fuse can be set on fire after it hits a creature or swarm. I'm not sure if there are any official rules on this, but allowing it makes the use of oil in combat a lot easier. One PC throws oil, another can set it on fire with a torch or flaming weapon. At the worst you should probably be able to light up the square where the oil landed to do 1d3 damage though once again the rules are silent on this.


That Crazy Alchemist wrote:
I understand that applying real world rules to this game is a dark road but OP imagine a swarm of rats was coming your way. What things do you imagine would be effective against that swarm. A Sword? Hardly.

A swarm of rats can be harmed with a sword. ("A swarm made up of Tiny creatures takes half damage from slashing and piercing weapons.") They take full damage from bludgeoning. It's only swarms of smaller critters that need special measures.


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useful for some swarms...

Repellent, Vermin

Source Adventurer's Armory

This vile-smelling white paste keeps vermin at bay if spread on the skin. Normal-sized (Fine) vermin avoid you. Swarms of vermin must make a DC 15 Fortitude saving throw in order to enter your square. Once applied, vermin repellent remains effective for 4 hours or until you spend 1 round washing it off.

Create: Craft (alchemy) DC 20

Sczarni

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
Darkrist wrote:
Cloudkill should be a swarm buster IMHO. There was some debate about the efficacy in the past.....

Swarms are treated as one creature with a pool of hit dice for effects like Cloudkill.

Just as in real life, the swarm will eventually die (rather quickly considering how long rounds take), but the entire thing won't drop dead immediately.


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Snapdragon fireworks can hurt swarms without much collateral damage because it has an area of effect of one square.

Some forms of fireworks can harm swarms, too. Firecrackers, for example deal 1d2+1 nonlethal damage (which works on swarms) vs every creature in that square. In addition it causes unintelligent animals in an area to become frightened, so it could devastate bat swarms that fail their save.


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After playing the book 1 of mummy mask, the ranger in my group carries around 6 flasks of acid and 4 of alchemist fire.
He re-stocks them every other session.


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Barathos wrote:
Nefreet wrote:

10gp, Acid Flask

15gp, Alkali Flask
20gp, Alchemist's Fire
40gp, Liquid Ice
100gp, Artokus's Fire

A direct hit does +50% damage.

A miss still splashes for 1.

(If you have the coin, Artokus's Fire is amazing, but hard to pack at low levels)

I've seen people rule stuff like Alchemist's Fire's and Acid Flask's direct-hit damage doesn't affect swarms because the 1d6 damage isn't directly called splash damage, only the 1 is described as a splash.

I consider those people to be wrong, but it would be nice if Paizo would toss us a bone, along with defining what constitutes "weapon damage" as far as swarm immunity goes.

They are correct, you have to target a creature to deal direct hit damage to it and swarms are immune to effects that target a single creature.


BaconBastard wrote:
I again would really like to know about energy damage on weapons. I still say it's energy and not weapon damage. That while part where it says "1d6 fire/acid/cold/lightning damage" should be a compelling argument.

In 3.5 you could deal that 1d6 fire damage to a swarm when using a flame sword but in PF you can't.

Don't know why the change was made but i house ruled it back in my games.


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The correct quote to the rules:

Quote:
A swarm is immune to any spell or effect that targets a specific number of creatures (including single-target spells such as disintegrate), with the exception of mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, morale effects, patterns, and phantasms) if the swarm has an Intelligence score and a hive mind. A swarm takes half again as much damage (+50%) from spells or effects that affect an area, such as splash weapons and many evocation spells.


Original Poster. Again, I must ask if we are talking "naturally" occurring swarm, or summoned swarm?


Darkrist wrote:
Original Poster. Again, I must ask if we are talking "naturally" occurring swarm, or summoned swarm?

Is there a difference? I don't see one. Both follow the same rules afaik.


Just a Guess wrote:
Darkrist wrote:
Original Poster. Again, I must ask if we are talking "naturally" occurring swarm, or summoned swarm?
Is there a difference? I don't see one. Both follow the same rules afaik.

The summoned will most likely be dispel-able.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Rulebook Subscriber
Damanta wrote:
If you have the money for it and encounter enough of them to warrant it: 2500 gold for a swarmbane clasp, which lets you damage all swarms with full weapondamage.

or are playing PFS

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Rulebook Subscriber
Devilkiller wrote:
One question which has come up a few times is whether the liquid from a molotov cocktail which fails to ignite or flask of oil which was thrown without a fuse can be set on fire after it hits a creature or swarm. I'm not sure if there are any official rules on this, but allowing it makes the use of oil in combat a lot easier. One PC throws oil, another can set it on fire with a torch or flaming weapon. At the worst you should probably be able to light up the square where the oil landed to do 1d3 damage though once again the rules are silent on this.

Works well with alchemist fire, which burns for two rounds. Round one someone throws the more expensive alchemist fire, there after folks just pile on the oil.

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