Smite Evil + Magic Missile


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52 people marked this as FAQ candidate. Answered in the FAQ. 4 people marked this as a favorite.

How do the two abilities work together? Does the paladin get full smite damage on every single missile? Does that mean a paladin who buys a high caster level wand of magic missile and trains UMD is a machine gun of evil-killing nonsense?

I feel like this question may have been brought up before, but at best I can only find 4 year old threads that have reached no consensus. If I missed a relevant thread or FAQ, please feel free to hit me with the dunce hammer and point me in the right direction.

Below is the ability (relevant parts) and the spell quoted for reference.

Smite Evil wrote:
As a swift action, the paladin chooses one target within sight to smite. If this target is evil, the paladin adds her Cha bonus (if any) to her attack rolls and adds her paladin level to all damage rolls made against the target of her smite. If the target of smite evil is an outsider with the evil subtype, an evil-aligned dragon, or an undead creature, the bonus to damage on the first successful attack increases to 2 points of damage per level the paladin possesses. Regardless of the target, smite evil attacks automatically bypass any DR the creature might possess.
Magic Missile wrote:

A missile of magical energy darts forth from your fingertip and strikes its target, dealing 1d4+1 points of force damage.

The missile strikes unerringly, even if the target is in melee combat, so long as it has less than total cover or total concealment. Specific parts of a creature can't be singled out. Objects are not damaged by the spell.

For every two caster levels beyond 1st, you gain an additional missile - two at 3rd level, three at 5th, four at 7th, and the maximum of five missiles at 9th level or higher. If you shoot multiple missiles, you can have them strike a single creature or several creatures. A single missile can strike only one creature. You must designate targets before you check for spell resistance or roll damage.


I would be guided by this FAQ.

While that is explicitly about sneak attacks, it establishes a general principle that extra damage should only apply once/attack action.

Grand Lodge

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It's one attack. All missiles are launched simultaneously, so multiple smite evil damage via this route is ruled out IMHO.

why bother though? just throw a hand full of nails and get smite damage on all of them. Use a shotgun and put smite on each bird shot. Or simply rule it's one attack and you get smite once.

Scarab Sages

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You COULD follow that bullcrap errata ruling, OR you could just follow the rules and apply Smite damage to every missile.


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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Davor wrote:
You COULD follow that bullcrap errata ruling, OR you could just follow the rules and apply Smite damage to every missile.

So you think it's balanced that, for example, a 10th level paladin with a wand and a decent UMD bonus can do 5d4+100 damage with a single charge of the wand?

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Magic missles are auto-hit spells. For the same reason that sneak attack does not apply, neither does smite.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
LazarX wrote:
Magic missles are auto-hit spells. For the same reason that sneak attack does not apply, neither does smite.

On this, we can agree.

Scarab Sages

Zaister wrote:
Davor wrote:
You COULD follow that bullcrap errata ruling, OR you could just follow the rules and apply Smite damage to every missile.
So you think it's balanced that, for example, a 10th level paladin with a wand and a decent UMD bonus can do 5d4+100 damage with a single charge of the wand?

Let's see. 5 missiles doing 5d4+5, plus 10 each (we'll give him 10 bonus on the first missile against his special Paladin targets), adds up to 5d4+65, which sounds perfectly reasonable for a 10th level character using a limited per day Smite.


dragonhunterq wrote:

I would be guided by this FAQ.

While that is explicitly about sneak attacks, it establishes a general principle that extra damage should only apply once/attack action.

Hmm. This seems a direct change to the rules for a balance perspective rather than a clarification. Interesting.

Grey_Mage wrote:
It's one attack.

Arguable. You are in fact allowed to target several different creatures with the spell, although it is made as part of the same action.

LazarX wrote:
Magic missles are auto-hit spells. For the same reason that sneak attack does not apply, neither does smite.

I will have to disagree with this logic. While magic missile is an auto-hit and therefore should not work with precision damage such as sneak attack, smite damage is in no way reliable on preciseness.

Davor wrote:
Let's see. 5 missiles doing 5d4+5, plus 10 each (we'll give him 10 bonus on the first missile against his special Paladin targets), adds up to 5d4+65, which sounds perfectly reasonable for a 10th level character using a limited per day Smite.

Well the thing about it is that once he targets a creature, he does this damage automatically every single round until he runs out of charges. That's a solid >60 damage a round without a single attack roll, save, or any other possible check made. There is no way to avoid this damage without some sort of magical immunity. While it does a lot of damage initially, it's not a burst combination. It's a machine gun combination that just keeps hurting until they're dead.

~~~

Also understand that I have no agenda with this question, my responses are purely playing devil's advocate because I'm not sure of the exact ruling and neither argument is entirely convincing.


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I have to agree with Davor. A character is spending a lot of money on a wand, a lot of skill points to use the wand reliably, and a standard action instead of attack to activate said wand.

Sneak Attack is precision damage. Shoot three things at the same time and see how precise you are. Smite Evil only cares about hitting your target.

Scarab Sages

See, I really do despise this errata. It took something that was viable, sparingly used, and never overpowered, and made it not work because people are scared of decent, accurate damage.

Given that there are better ways to produce a mathematically better result not reliant on a limited use resource, it should be allowed to work.


It also becomes a "guide" when the FAQ people have said quite explicitly that FAQs only effect what the FAQ is about. No more, no less..


Ehh, it is an autohit. Plus against the right opponent it is over 100 damage for being within 110 feet and being able to see it.

The skill points spent in UMD can be used for a lot of different things. So that is a poor defense.

Now I am not one to argue balance when someone can have it fail a save and more or less lose the fight. There are easier and less balanced ways to auto win a dragon.

This is what concerns me though and why i think it would apply

If this target is evil, the paladin adds her Charisma bonus (if any) to her attack rolls and adds her paladin level to all damage rolls made against the target of her smite. If the target of smite evil is an outsider with the evil subtype, an evil-aligned dragon, or an undead creature, the bonus to damage on the first successful attack increases to 2 points of damage per level the paladin possesses. Regardless of the target, smite evil attacks automatically bypass any DR the creature might possess.

It says all damage rolls, and nto each attack.


Gotta go with Finlander on this. Smite Evil says "all damage rolls" so yes. Smite Evil adds damage to any damage roll made by the Paladin as long as it is against the target of the Smite.

If you Smite Evil someone, then hit them with a Channel Positive? Smite goes off.

Grand Lodge

by that justification a flaming sword should smite twice in each hit since the damage from the flame and the blade are separate...


I'd make the paladin fall. It's not honorable to channel divine might by arcane trickery.

Just kidding...

Well, it also says 'to her attack rolls' in the same sentence, so it's at least intended for physical attacks, from my point of view.

It does feel cheesy, even more cheesy than a ranged combat paladin, but given the not totally overwhelming damage output, I'd allow it with rolling eyes. If he wants to blast away 135 gold (per shot) for victories he could also achieve with a real fight - his decision.

I'd make sure it won't work on key opponents but give him a warning at the according encounters...


Grey_Mage wrote:
by that justification a flaming sword should smite twice in each hit since the damage from the flame and the blade are separate...

I disagree with this line of reasoning. The flaming sword simply adds damage, it doesn't create an entirely new damage roll. With that kind of reasoning you would get to apply bonuses from sources like inspire courage to both the normal weapon damage as well as the extra elemental damage, which we know is untrue.

SheepishEidolon wrote:
Well, it also says 'to her attack rolls' in the same sentence, so it's at least intended for physical attacks, from my point of view.

It's very hard to argue rules intents, but I'm pretty certain if they only wanted it to work with physical attacks it would have a line that says so. But perhaps you are right and that is the intent, it's impossible to prove either way without developer commentary.


a level 1 spell can trump magic missile cold.

Yes I got this smited magic missile now die pew pew pew.

Sorry he has shield up, next persons turn.


And it comes in a rather cheap magic item too, so they don't even have to use a turn to cast shield or use a wand or scroll of it.


in a home game I have the players tell their stories in bars and such and they become famous if that paladin or one of his parties members brags about how he killed the skeleton king with his wand of magic missiles. Well the bad guys would learn this and adapt quickly


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The balance isn't truly an issue. I'm an experienced enough DM to know how to properly balance encounters and run intelligent enemies. I just want to be sure I'm not giving my player an unfair buff or debuff.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

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I've never heard of Smite ever being added to anything that didn't involve a melee roll to hit.

So, no, I wouldn't even allow it on a magic missile, or a Holy Smite spell, or a Fireball.

A magic missile spell that was a touch attack would be thematically similar to Manyshot. You only add Smite once to ManyShot. It would be ONE SPELL, even if you made multiple attacks to hit, and all the attacks at once are still considered one attack instance.

So, primary answer is: You can't Smite Evil with Magic Missiles.

If you were to use Scorching Ray, which does require an attack roll, you'd follow the Manyshot precedent...it's one spell, you get one instance of Smite damage per spell.

Note that Magic Missile is ruled rather stupidly that you can only affect one 'target' of the spell with bonus damage. I personally let any bonus damage apply on a 'per spell' basis, so Magic Missile is treated no differently from Fireball.

But that's me. I don't want to have Magic Missile be one of a handful of spells treated differently because you can have multiple targets that aren't part of a true AoE and get treated differently.

So, for instance, a Banespell'd spell that does +2d6 dmg against Orcs? I'd totally let +2d6 dmg happen to each separate orc that got hit with a magic missile, instead of just one.

But if you targeted all 5 missiles on one orc, he'd still take just +2d6. Once per spell.

==Aelryinth

Grand Lodge

CampinCarl9127 wrote:
Grey_Mage wrote:
by that justification a flaming sword should smite twice in each hit since the damage from the flame and the blade are separate...

I disagree with this line of reasoning. The flaming sword simply adds damage, it doesn't create an entirely new damage roll. With that kind of reasoning you would get to apply bonuses from sources like inspire courage to both the normal weapon damage as well as the extra elemental damage, which we know is untrue.

SheepishEidolon wrote:
Well, it also says 'to her attack rolls' in the same sentence, so it's at least intended for physical attacks, from my point of view.
It's very hard to argue rules intents, but I'm pretty certain if they only wanted it to work with physical attacks it would have a line that says so. But perhaps you are right and that is the intent, it's impossible to prove either way without developer commentary.

actually, flaming weapons does create a new damage roll as the fire damage is factored separately for DR and such.

clearly this isn't the intent behind giving paladins the ability to multi enchant their weapons via divine bond, but the suggestion is already off the rails, so,I'm just leading the conversation to its logical conclusion.

regardless, you seem intrigued. try it and let us know how it goes. I would be against it in my campaigns however simply from thematic reasons.

Silver Crusade

I'd say it applies once as the multiple missiles are still a single attack. However, it wouldn't be super destabilizing. At most, the paladin can kill 7 enemies a day that way.


CampinCarl9127 wrote:
The balance isn't truly an issue. I'm an experienced enough DM to know how to properly balance encounters and run intelligent enemies. I just want to be sure I'm not giving my player an unfair buff or debuff.

if you know how to balance it? Why not let him have it? Let him have his toy, why fight him on something grey that will not upset your game?


Finlanderboy wrote:
if you know how to balance it? Why not let him have it? Let him have his toy, why fight him on something grey that will not upset your game?

Knowing how to balance something and knowing how the rules work are entirely different. I am more interested in the latter.


Grey_Mage wrote:

by that justification a flaming sword should smite twice in each hit since the damage from the flame and the blade are separate...

that is a poor argument.

Flaming: Upon command, a flaming weapon is sheathed in fire that deals an extra 1d6 points of fire damage on a successful hit. The fire does not harm the wielder. The effect remains until another command is given.

You add extra damage to what you already do, this extra damage penetrates DR. But is not an additional damage source.


If a player starts to abuse this then use it against them. Getting hit with 100 points of damage a round that you can't avoid or defend against is pretty nasty. Better hope you have a Shield potion handy.


Aelryinth wrote:

I've never heard of Smite ever being added to anything that didn't involve a melee roll to hit.

==Aelryinth

In 3.5 Smite Evil could only be used on melee attacks. It was also a cruddy ability. The restriction was removed from Smite Evil in Pathfinder. Now it works for any attack rolls and any damage rolls.


Finlanderboy wrote:
Grey_Mage wrote:

by that justification a flaming sword should smite twice in each hit since the damage from the flame and the blade are separate...

that is a poor argument.

Flaming: Upon command, a flaming weapon is sheathed in fire that deals an extra 1d6 points of fire damage on a successful hit. The fire does not harm the wielder. The effect remains until another command is given.

You add extra damage to what you already do, this extra damage penetrates DR. But is not an additional damage source.

Not entirely right.

The extra damage is fire damage, and therefore is not subject to DR. It IS subject to fire resistance though, so if the subject has fire resistance and DR, the DR is applied to the physical damage and the fire resistance to the fire damage.
And don't get me started on Hardness....


Azten wrote:
Aelryinth wrote:

I've never heard of Smite ever being added to anything that didn't involve a melee roll to hit.

==Aelryinth

In 3.5 Smite Evil could only be used on melee attacks. It was also a cruddy ability. The restriction was removed from Smite Evil in Pathfinder. Now it works for any attack rolls and any damage rolls.

A question I have is whether or not the attack roll buff and damage roll buff are independent. Can you have one without the other, such as making a touch attack to deliver a non-damaging spell or using an auto-hit damaging ability?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Vaellen wrote:
If a player starts to abuse this then use it against them. Getting hit with 100 points of damage a round that you can't avoid or defend against is pretty nasty. Better hope you have a Shield potion handy.

Better hope the paladin has one too, because Smite Good works just the same.


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TriOmegaZero wrote:
Vaellen wrote:
If a player starts to abuse this then use it against them. Getting hit with 100 points of damage a round that you can't avoid or defend against is pretty nasty. Better hope you have a Shield potion handy.
Better hope the paladin has one too, because Smite Good works just the same.

Two characters stand ten feet apart, both aiming rocket launchers at each other point blank, waiting for the evident mutually ensured destruction.


Azten wrote:
Aelryinth wrote:

I've never heard of Smite ever being added to anything that didn't involve a melee roll to hit.

==Aelryinth

In 3.5 Smite Evil could only be used on melee attacks. It was also a cruddy ability. The restriction was removed from Smite Evil in Pathfinder. Now it works for any attack rolls and any damage rolls.

It was also only a single attack. Now Unchained Monks can do level+unarmed strike as a touch attack.


Vaellen wrote:
If a player starts to abuse this then use it against them. Getting hit with 100 points of damage a round that you can't avoid or defend against is pretty nasty. Better hope you have a Shield potion handy.

There are tons of ways to stop it. Silence(a comand word is needed), SR, shield, magical items, total concealment/cover(invisibility), and I am sure there are more.

it is ok in the power spectrum. I would be much more afraid of a gun paladin hasted hammering off a crazy amount of touch attacks that do a plethora of other tpyes of extra damage.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I would like a PFS FAQ on this.

My personal, homebrew GM call would be that since a smite attack s in play, it would represent a focus on one target, and smite would only apply to the casting of the spell and only if all missiles were directed against the smite target. That is an opinion call, and has no bearing on pathfinder society games - such a FAQ is needed for society play.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I sincerely doubt this is going to be asked enough to warrant a FAQ. But I have been wrong before.

Silver Crusade

CampinCarl9127 wrote:
Azten wrote:
Aelryinth wrote:

I've never heard of Smite ever being added to anything that didn't involve a melee roll to hit.

==Aelryinth

In 3.5 Smite Evil could only be used on melee attacks. It was also a cruddy ability. The restriction was removed from Smite Evil in Pathfinder. Now it works for any attack rolls and any damage rolls.
A question I have is whether or not the attack roll buff and damage roll buff are independent. Can you have one without the other, such as making a touch attack to deliver a non-damaging spell or using an auto-hit damaging ability?

As I read it, yes they are independent. It says ALL damage rolls, not damage rolls that are a result of the attack action.

So you would add your paladin level to the damage regardless of whether or not there was an attack roll. Conversely, you could also add your Cha bonus to an attack roll that doesn't result in a damage roll (such as delivering a touch attack as part of a spell).

Here's the real question: do you add your paladin level to ability damage rolls or bleed damage rolls?


One isn't needed, but people will want their way and try for one anyway instead of using the rules as written for Smite Evil because they don't like some combo.


Azten wrote:
One isn't needed, but people will want their way and try for one anyway instead of using the rules as written for Smite Evil because they don't like some combo.

We don't want the rules changed, we just want them clarified. Despite your opinion, many of us find this situation ambiguous in terms of RAW.


"All damage rolls" is quite clear.


Azten wrote:
"All damage rolls" is quite clear.

I disagree, particularly with the linked FAQ above.


Which only applies to sneak attack and not smite evil?


CampinCarl9127 wrote:
Azten wrote:
"All damage rolls" is quite clear.
I disagree, particularly with the linked FAQ above.

Ehh sneak attack is applying precision damage to an attack.

smite bonus is to all damage

those are apple and oranges

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Aelryinth wrote:

I've never heard of Smite ever being added to anything that didn't involve a melee roll to hit.

Using it with archery is very common.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Vaellen wrote:
If a player starts to abuse this then use it against them. Getting hit with 100 points of damage a round that you can't avoid or defend against is pretty nasty. Better hope you have a Shield potion handy.

Personal spell, it can't be made into a potion.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Isonaroc wrote:
CampinCarl9127 wrote:
Azten wrote:
Aelryinth wrote:

I've never heard of Smite ever being added to anything that didn't involve a melee roll to hit.

==Aelryinth

In 3.5 Smite Evil could only be used on melee attacks. It was also a cruddy ability. The restriction was removed from Smite Evil in Pathfinder. Now it works for any attack rolls and any damage rolls.
A question I have is whether or not the attack roll buff and damage roll buff are independent. Can you have one without the other, such as making a touch attack to deliver a non-damaging spell or using an auto-hit damaging ability?

As I read it, yes they are independent. It says ALL damage rolls, not damage rolls that are a result of the attack action.

So you would add your paladin level to the damage regardless of whether or not there was an attack roll. Conversely, you could also add your Cha bonus to an attack roll that doesn't result in a damage roll (such as delivering a touch attack as part of a spell).

Here's the real question: do you add your paladin level to ability damage rolls or bleed damage rolls?

Bleed is a condition, not a damage roll, and the paladin isn't rolling it, it is the GM or creature suffering from the bleed effect, so it isn't affected by Smite evil.

Ability damage is more tricky. I would say that the RAI is that it is meant to add only to hp damage, but RAW I don't recall anything limiting it.


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Surely this isn't FAQ worthy. Really can't believe people think smite works on auto hits.


70 DPR at level 10 is actually on the lower scale of the damage. Virtually any other martial class is above 100 at this point, including melee paladins. Bowadins or inquisitor poop on this.


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Two thoughts:

1- the spell isn't a physical attack. boiled down it is simply cast spell do xd4+x damage, like a fireball with no save. So no smite.

2- the spell just does xd4+x damage that can be split up between targets. each die isn't a new damage roll it is part of the same one. So if you hit one target with 5d4+5 force damage it is ONE damage roll. Even if you split the damage up it is still one damage roll of 5d4+5, just different targets are taking different pieces of the damage roll.

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