Another swarm question: Targeting the Swarm


Rules Questions

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Sorry for another swarm thread but I'm still not clear on attacking the swarm. For this question, I'm specifically talking about diminutive or fine swarms. My players are facing a scarab swarm.

I'm interested in splash weapons. (I'm reading the rules as torches or energy damage from magic weapons as not applying, since they would be effects that target a single creature.) So I have a swarm that can fly and PCs with alchemist's fire and some oil.

1. To attack with the alchemists' fire for full damage, do they need to target the swarm at AC18 or can they target a grid intersection at AC5? Is the answer the same if the swarm doesn't fly? (Or is the scarab swarm made up of insects in the air and on the ground?)

2. If they miss and the alchemists' fire still lands in a swarm square, does it cause full damage or splash damage?

3. If it causes full damage, does the alchemists' fire also do splash damage to adjacent squares that contain the swarm?

4. Does this function the same with a flask of oil? What are the options here?

If they have to hit AC18 to do full damage, this seems like it's going to be really hard for the PCs. (They've had to run once.)


1. They need to target the swarm's touch AC.
2. Splash damage. You only deal full damage if you hit.
3. Gray area, but it doesn't happen with other Large creatures, so I'd say no.
4. Flask of oil doesn't do anything special. If it's lit, it has a 50% chance of behaving as a flask of alchemist's fire, as per the rules (see the Equipment chapter). If you pour the oil and light it, it does the damage stated, +50% because it affects an area.

I should warn you—this subject has been tackled before, and inevitably, a debate is going to start over whether you can target swarms with a splash weapon. The general consensus has always been "yes", mind you, but there's always some dissent. Get ready for a derail.

I particularly recommend the first thread. Scroll down to my posts! They're the best ones. ;)


My advice to your players would be to lure the swarm into an area where they've poured down lots of oil, then start lobbing alchemist's fires. Keep a healthy distance and keep luring it into oiled patches.

Round 1: Swarm moves onto oiled patch. Readied actions trigger, tons of alchemist's fire is thrown, lighting up the route the scarabs prefer to take.

Round 2: Everyone has already put oil down at their feet, so when the swarm moves and starts hurting one of them, they move away (not before taking some swarm damage, sadly) and lob some more. Again, the swarm is burned both by oil fires and the general blaze of thrown flasks.

Round 3: If it's still alive, panic and start lobbin'.

Don't forget the "afterburn", too. Your party might also want to pick up some acid, since it's cheaper.

You shouldn't lay this all out for the players, of course, but advise them to lay traps and remind them of what oil and alchemist's fire can do. Swarms are very stupid and will fall for almost anything. Your players will think of something. Players are devious bastards.

All this assumes they already know about the threat and can go shopping, of course.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
My advice to your players would be to lure the swarm into an area where they've poured down lots of oil, then start lobbing alchemist's fires. Keep a healthy distance and keep luring it into oiled patches.

Thanks so much for the explanation. That clarifies quite a bit.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder RPG / Rules Questions / Another swarm question: Targeting the Swarm All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.
Recent threads in Rules Questions