FAQ: How does Stacking work?


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The thread Aspect of the Falcon Question came up with a question about stacking. After several pages of discussion, I have decided to frame a FAQ request.

How does stacking work? The spell Blessing of Fervor (BoF) provides a number of benefits, but states it does not stack with Haste. Does the use of Haste prevent all possible uses of BoF? Or does it only interact with those choices that actually overlap with effects in Haste? If you use BoF's Stand Up choice are you prevented from using Haste in that round?

Blessing of Fervor:
School transmutation; Level cleric 4
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S, DF
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Targets one creature/level, no two of which can be more than 30 ft. apart
Duration 1 round/level
Saving Throw Fortitude negates (harmless); Spell Resistance yes (harmless)

With this blessing, you call your allies to move forth and empower them to conquer and become victorious. Each round for the duration of this spell, each of your allies can choose one of the following bonuses for that round at the beginning of its turn (their choice).

  • Increase its speed by 30 feet.
  • Stand up as a swift action without provoking an attack of opportunity.
  • Make one extra attack as part of a full attack action, using its highest base attack bonus.
  • Gain a +2 bonus on attack rolls and a +2 dodge bonus to AC and Reflex saves.
  • Cast a single spell of 2nd level or lower as if it were an enlarged, extended, silent, or still spell.

These effects are not cumulative with similar effects, such as those provided by haste or a speed weapon, nor do they actually grant an extra action, so you can't use it to cast a second spell or otherwise take an extra action in the round. Blessing of fervor does not stack with haste.


Haste:
School transmutation; Level bard 3, sorcerer/wizard 3
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S, M (a shaving of licorice root)
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Targets one creature/level, no two of which can be more than 30 ft. apart
Duration 1 round/level
Saving Throw Fortitude negates (harmless); Spell Resistance yes (harmless)
The transmuted creatures move and act more quickly than normal. This extra speed has several effects.

When making a full attack action, a hasted creature may make one extra attack with one natural or manufactured weapon. The attack is made using the creature's full base attack bonus, plus any modifiers appropriate to the situation. (This effect is not cumulative with similar effects, such as that provided by a speed weapon, nor does it actually grant an extra action, so you can't use it to cast a second spell or otherwise take an extra action in the round.)

A hasted creature gains a +1 bonus on attack rolls and a +1 dodge bonus to AC and Reflex saves. Any condition that makes you lose your Dexterity bonus to Armor Class (if any) also makes you lose dodge bonuses.

All of the hasted creature's modes of movement (including land movement, burrow, climb, fly, and swim) increase by 30 feet, to a maximum of twice the subject's normal speed using that form of movement. This increase counts as an enhancement bonus, and it affects the creature's jumping distance as normal for increased speed. Multiple haste effects don't stack. Haste dispels and counters slow.

BoF is not the spell that sparked off this debate, but is a clearer example for showing the question.

The spell Aspect of the Falcon (AotF) also has a non-stacking rule, but with improved threat ranges, such as Improved Critical.

Aspect of the Falcon:
School transmutation (polymorph); Level druid 1, ranger 1
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S, DF
Range personal
Target you
Duration 1 minute/level

You take on an aspect of a falcon. Your eyes become wide and raptor-like, and you grow feathers on the sides of your head. You gain a +3 competence bonus on Perception checks, a +1 competence bonus on ranged attacks, and the critical multiplier for your bows and crossbows becomes 19–20/×3. This effect does not stack with any other effect that expands the threat range of a weapon, such as the Improved Critical feat or a keen weapon.


Improved Critical (Combat):
Attacks made with your chosen weapon are quite deadly.
Prerequisite: Proficient with weapon, base attack bonus +8.
Benefit: When using the weapon you selected, your threat range is doubled.
Special: You can gain Improved Critical multiple times. The effects do not stack. Each time you take the feat, it applies to a new type of weapon.
This effect doesn't stack with any other effect that expands the threat range of a weapon.

The reason AotF was not a good example is the line: "the critical multiplier for your bows and crossbows becomes 19–20/×3"
Bows have a normal critical of 20/x3.
Crossbows have a normal critical of 19-20/x2.
The text indicates changing a critical multiplier, but do not mention changing the treat range. Since the stated result is an increased threat range for bows but not crossbows, the question is raised did they mean threat range also. Since the stated result is an increased multiplier for crossbows, but not for bows, what is actually being changed. This disconnect has led to a lot of discussion.

This spell probably needs errata or explanation of how it is supposed to deal with that line.

The rules on stacking being referenced in the thread are:
Common Terms (Stacking)

Stacking:
Stacking refers to the act of adding together bonuses or penalties that apply to one particular check or statistic. Generally speaking, most bonuses of the same type do not stack. Instead, only the highest bonus applies. Most penalties do stack, meaning that their values are added together. Penalties and bonuses generally stack with one another, meaning that the penalties might negate or exceed part or all of the bonuses, and vice versa.

Combining Magic Effects
Stacking Effects:
Spells that provide bonuses or penalties on attack rolls, damage rolls, saving throws, and other attributes usually do not stack with themselves. More generally, two bonuses of the same type don't stack even if they come from different spells (or from effects other than spells; see Bonus Types, above).
Different Bonus Types: The bonuses or penalties from two different spells stack if the modifiers are of different types. A bonus that doesn't have a type stacks with any bonus.
Same Effect More than Once in Different Strengths: In cases when two or more identical spells are operating in the same area or on the same target, but at different strengths, only the one with the highest strength applies.
Same Effect with Differing Results: The same spell can sometimes produce varying effects if applied to the same recipient more than once. Usually the last spell in the series trumps the others. None of the previous spells are actually removed or dispelled, but their effects become irrelevant while the final spell in the series lasts.
One Effect Makes Another Irrelevant: Sometimes, one spell can render a later spell irrelevant. Both spells are still active, but one has rendered the other useless in some fashion.
Multiple Mental Control Effects: Sometimes magical effects that establish mental control render each other irrelevant, such as spells that remove the subject's ability to act. Mental controls that don't remove the recipient's ability to act usually do not interfere with each other. If a creature is under the mental control of two or more creatures, it tends to obey each to the best of its ability, and to the extent of the control each effect allows. If the controlled creature receives conflicting orders simultaneously, the competing controllers must make opposed Charisma checks to determine which one the creature obeys.

In post 187 the following example was posited:

Quote:
I played a gnome ranger-monk who liked the spell Aspect of the Falcon. He thought the feathers from the spell were fun. Now imagine that he acquires a small +1 keen crossbow. He casts Aspect of Falcon, grows feathers, draws his new crossbow, loses his feathers, puts the crossbow on the ground, grows feathers, picks up the crossbow, loses feathers, drops the crossbow, grows feathers, etc. He is a gnome, he will repeat this a few dozen times, yelling, "Hey! Look at this! Feathers. No feathers. Feathers. No feathers. I wonder why the crossbow gets rid of the feathers. And the good eyesight, too."

In post 142 the following example was posited:

Quote:
If you look at it the other way you have abilities/spells/ect turning on and off depending on what spells are cast. it leads to situations where Blessing of Fervor is a debuff on people with haste which is crazy. Do you track what initiative spells are cast on to figure out which spell is first? Or is there some other esoteric way to figure out which one stays?

In post 225 the following example was posited:

Quote:

Your clear explanation has provided us with a good vocabulary.

A Headband of Mental Superiority +2 and Fox's Cunning combining to give +4 to intelligence, +2 to wisdom, and +2 to charisma will be called overlapping.

A Headband of Mental Superiority +2 and Fox's Cunning combining to give the benefit of only one will be called excluding, because the stronger one gains exclusive rights to the bonus.

These examples show some of the possible interpretations of the stacking rules that have occurred.

PDT response would be appreciated.

/cevah


I'd say that effects that are completely unique would stay unmodified, so Blessing of Fervor's enhancement to spellcasting would stand.

Effects that are duplicated would NOT stack -- only the better one. So the +2 to AC from BoF instead of the +1 from Haste.


Thanks for putting this together!


What about stacking the Bolt Ace Crossbow Training with Aspect of the Falcon?

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies, Representative - D20 Hobbies

My interpretation (in summary) of the stacking rules is that when two things are said to not stack, only one may effect you.

When the two effects differ only in strength, the rules pick for you. You get the higher bonus.

If the two have differences beyond just numeric bonuses, you choose one to be function and the other becomes irrelevant.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

This FAQ, if answered, can only maintain the status quo, or limit people's options. Why do people insist on asking for these kinds of FAQs?


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Masked Participant wrote:
This FAQ, if answered, can only maintain the status quo, or limit people's options. Why do people insist on asking for these kinds of FAQs?

Because clarity is worth the pain. Usually.


My Self wrote:
What about stacking the Bolt Ace Crossbow Training with Aspect of the Falcon?

A Bolt Ace only affects the critical multiplier, does it not? Aspect of the falcon has specific wording about the threat range but nothing on the multiplier. While it is entirely possible the designers dont want anyone to be able to stack multipliers, the capacity to do so is so rare that it doesnt seem to have been addressed anywhere as either a general or specific rule. Given that, until the next errata comes out, bolt ace can still use the spell or the bracers to get a "by the book" 19-20/x4 ranged weapon, no matter which version of by the book you use from the above.


Torbyne wrote:
My Self wrote:
What about stacking the Bolt Ace Crossbow Training with Aspect of the Falcon?
A Bolt Ace only affects the critical multiplier, does it not? Aspect of the falcon has specific wording about the threat range but nothing on the multiplier. While it is entirely possible the designers dont want anyone to be able to stack multipliers, the capacity to do so is so rare that it doesnt seem to have been addressed anywhere as either a general or specific rule. Given that, until the next errata comes out, bolt ace can still use the spell or the bracers to get a "by the book" 19-20/x4 ranged weapon, no matter which version of by the book you use from the above.

Aspect of the Falcon, according to some, increases only your critical multiplier, and does not stack with effects that increase threat range. It's a terrible example because the spell text is written so poorly, and is the reason why Cevah did not use it as an example for purposes of this FAQ post.


el cuervo wrote:
Torbyne wrote:
My Self wrote:
What about stacking the Bolt Ace Crossbow Training with Aspect of the Falcon?
A Bolt Ace only affects the critical multiplier, does it not? Aspect of the falcon has specific wording about the threat range but nothing on the multiplier. While it is entirely possible the designers dont want anyone to be able to stack multipliers, the capacity to do so is so rare that it doesnt seem to have been addressed anywhere as either a general or specific rule. Given that, until the next errata comes out, bolt ace can still use the spell or the bracers to get a "by the book" 19-20/x4 ranged weapon, no matter which version of by the book you use from the above.
Aspect of the Falcon, according to some, increases only your critical multiplier, and does not stack with effects that increase threat range. It's a terrible example because the spell text is written so poorly, and is the reason why Cevah did not use it as an example for purposes of this FAQ post.

Yup, yup. The point i was making was that there is nothing currently available to state that the multipliers wont stack in either the general rules or in the spell itself so to that specific question the answer, to me, seems to be good to go.


I agree that the bolt ace class ability should stack with AotF, as it is not an ability that increases critical threat range.


Torbyne wrote:
My Self wrote:
What about stacking the Bolt Ace Crossbow Training with Aspect of the Falcon?
A Bolt Ace only affects the critical multiplier, does it not? Aspect of the falcon has specific wording about the threat range but nothing on the multiplier. While it is entirely possible the designers dont want anyone to be able to stack multipliers, the capacity to do so is so rare that it doesnt seem to have been addressed anywhere as either a general or specific rule. Given that, until the next errata comes out, bolt ace can still use the spell or the bracers to get a "by the book" 19-20/x4 ranged weapon, no matter which version of by the book you use from the above.

Crit multiplier changers may be rare, but that is no reason the normal stacking rule can't be used.

Clearly 2X < 3X < 4X ..., so you can tell which of two multipliers is "greater", and since if it was typed, there would be a clear word applied, you then have either a typed bonus or an untyped bonus. The rules say to stack untyped bonuses.

But you have to remember the doubled double rule that makes 2X * 2X = 3X.
[See other thread for cite of this rule]

/cevah


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Don't the stacking rules really only appear in the Magic chapter of the Core Rulebook? Shouldn't they then only apply to magical effects?


Stacking is used for many systems, including resistances, poisons (which always stack, even from the same source), status effects/conditions (such as paralysis), DR, and so on. It is a concept that is integral to the entire rule-base.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies, Representative - D20 Hobbies

Ravingdork wrote:
Don't the stacking rules really only appear in the Magic chapter of the Core Rulebook? Shouldn't they then only apply to magical effects?

Well Aspect of the Falcon and a Magic Item is magical.

If you are are saying "Shouldn't they only apply to spells" that is also wrong, as the chapter on stacking spells and magical effects makes it clear it is more than just spells. But quickly drops the long "spells and magical effects" language after the first sentence for simply "spells".

Shadow Lodge

Stacking works like this:

Stacking

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