Swarm Immunity to Weapon Damage and AoE Spells that deal B / P / S


Rules Questions


Hey everyone,

I have a game coming up this week and was thinking of my players abilities versus a swarm. They will be fighting a Bionanite cloud, a variation of the Granule Variant Swarm (http://www.archivesofnethys.com/MonsterDisplay.aspx?ItemName=Granule%20Con struct%20Swarm) which has immunity to weapon damage. I'm interpreting weapon damage to mean all forms of B/P/S.

I have a player who is playing an elementist from the sphere of power book. He specializes in the destruction sphere, which has a AoE blast that deals bludgeoning damage (I believe it's described as a shower of rocks exploding everywhere). My initial impression is that because it is bludgeoning damage, it would be considered "weapon damage" and the swarm would be immune to it. I'm comparing it with a other spells like stone discus, which is similar but not the same as the above mentioned spell, which i think the swarm would also be immune to.

I wanted to know if anyone could confirm or correct the above. My group has been playing for a long time, so I'm not worried about them not being able to handle themselves if it comes down to that specific blast being ineffective but I would like to know if I'm interpreting this incorrectly.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Short version: the wizard is attacking with a spell. No weapon involved, so immunity does not apply here, even if the spell does damage of a certain type.
Looking at the swarm traits he will even do 1.5x damage it is an AoE spell.

Ruyan.


Weapons are somewhat loosely defined, but as a general rule if you don't make an attack roll, it's not a weapon. It's not based on the type of damage it does.

I'm not familiar with this particular spell, but in general spells that affect an area aren't weapons.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

No, the only place you find weapon damage is on the weapon description table.


From the Equipment chapter, "Every weapon has a size category." So, if your spell's attack doesn't have a size category, then it can't be a "weapon". There actually are a handful of spells that are intended to count as weapons, and they pretty much all mention that they work as a weapon of "your size".


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Alright, so link to the Destruction Sphere and relevant text in the spoiler:

Destructive Blast:
Destructive Blast

As a standard action, you may deliver a burst of blunt magical force as a melee touch attack or a ranged touch attack within Close range. A destructive blast deals bludgeoning damage as indicated on the table below. This damage bypasses DR/magic, but being bludgeoning in nature, does not automatically bypass other forms of damage resistance. A ranged destructive blast counts as a ray attack.

So, I feel as GM you could rule it either way. It's a sphere ability, so it's functional to a spell. But the basic destructive blast does bludgeoning damage and "does not automatically bypass other forms of damage resistance" which could mean DR or just any effect that would protect it from weapons.

As a fine swarm, it has immunity to weapon damage.

At my table, I would rule that it was immune to the single target Destructive Blast. If they are using an AoE or an energy type talent on there, they would deal damage.


Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

The rule of thumb I would use is that if it targets an (or a specific number of) individual(s), it's useless against such swarms. You can target one of the 3000 members, but it's loss is irrelevant.


If they have damage reduction that gets resolved as a weapon.

But a swarm is immune to weapon damage because the swarm is made up of teeny tiny creatures and a weapon can only kill one of them at a time. An AOE blast gets around that problem, no matter what kind of damage it is, by getting ALL of them. 1,000 ants squish under a giant rock even better than 1 giant ant, taking the 1.5x damage for area attacks.


B/P/S spells work just fine.

Doesn't matter what damage type, because the relevant issue is area attack vs. potentially infinite # of creatures in that area,
rather than something targetting one or limited # of creatures, which doesn't work well vs. swarms (damage type irrelevant).
Swarms are equally immune to ALL single/limited#target spells as they are to weapon damage (single target via attack roll).
B/P/S has nothing to do with it, and that's why B/P/S is not mentioned anywhere despite being trivial to do so.
(Paizo has clarified that DR:B/P/S, and logically immunity, applies to spells, which they would have used here if intended)
(+the "swarm made up of Tiny creatures takes half damage from slashing and piercing weapons" line should apply vs. spells/Su effects)

A Wall of Fire works the same as Blade Barrier vs a swarm, because they target an area, not specific # of targets.
If it's AoE, it hits EVERYTHING in the area, and in fact should get the 1.5x modifier for area attacks as BNW points out.
And actually, I could even imagine a special ability let's call "Super Whirlwind Attack" that lets one do an AoE attack with a sword,
and that WOULD work vs. swarms (and qualify for 1.5x mod) due to the following line:
"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."
Where you can see that even mundane (splash) weapons are explicitly called out as working and gaining 1.5x bonus...
The difference being that they aren't using "weapon damage" according to the rules for attack rolls vs. designated target.
(the definition whereby miss chance applies, crits apply, etc, none of which are relevant for damaging a swarm)


if it affects 5foot or greater radius or is a 5foot or greater cone it does 1.5 damage to swarms regardless of damage type.

example of 5foot blast is snapdragon fireworks only affects a single 5foot square but it hits everything in that square so its an AOE and gets the bonus damage to a swarm.

stone call is 40foot radius that deals bludgeoning damage it also gets the bonus damage to swarm as it is an aoe effect.

the damage type doesn't matter. so if his effect is an AOE not only does it hit the swam it deals bonus.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
THUNDER_Jeffro wrote:

Alright, so link to the Destruction Sphere and relevant text in the spoiler:

** spoiler omitted **

So, I feel as GM you could rule it either way. It's a sphere ability, so it's functional to a spell. But the basic destructive blast does bludgeoning damage and "does not automatically bypass other forms of damage resistance" which could mean DR or just any effect that would protect it from weapons.

As a fine swarm, it has immunity to weapon damage.

At my table, I would rule that it was immune to the single target Destructive Blast. If they are using an AoE or an energy type talent on there, they would deal damage.

It is a non-Paizo product, so not exactly right for the rule forum.

Beside that, from the description you spoilered, I am unsure if the blast target a single creature on an area.
I get the impression it target a single creature, so it won't do anything to a swarm.

PRD wrote:
A swarm is immune to any spell or effect that targets a specific number of creatures ...


from the looks of it, it is not an aoe. if delivered as a ranged it is a ray, if melee its a touch attack. neither of those would harm a swarm. if he uses some kinetisist ability to make it hit everything in an area it would work then.


If it's a kineticist thing this this should apply

Quote:
Even the weakest kinetic blast involves a sizable mass of elemental matter or energy, so kinetic blasts always deal full damage to swarms of any size (though only area blasts deal extra damage to swarms).


good catch harry, you were indeed helpful


Diego Rossi wrote:
THUNDER_Jeffro wrote:

Alright, so link to the Destruction Sphere and relevant text in the spoiler:

** spoiler omitted **

So, I feel as GM you could rule it either way. It's a sphere ability, so it's functional to a spell. But the basic destructive blast does bludgeoning damage and "does not automatically bypass other forms of damage resistance" which could mean DR or just any effect that would protect it from weapons.

As a fine swarm, it has immunity to weapon damage.

At my table, I would rule that it was immune to the single target Destructive Blast. If they are using an AoE or an energy type talent on there, they would deal damage.

It is a non-Paizo product, so not exactly right for the rule forum.

Beside that, from the description you spoilered, I am unsure if the blast target a single creature on an area.
I get the impression it target a single creature, so it won't do anything to a swarm.

PRD wrote:
A swarm is immune to any spell or effect that targets a specific number of creatures ...

You're right. It is a non-Paizo product and I actually flagged the OP's post because it probably needs to go to the rules forum for Third Party products. I imagine however, that OP's question is at least somewhat relevant in general.

To elaborate on what I spoilered, in Spheres of Power the base blast is a single target effect. You can invest in talents to modify your basic effects. That's what I meant in my answer about how if the effect is modified by an energy type talent or an AoE talent it would work just fine.

While I'm here talking about Spheres of Power, I have to say it's well worth checking out if you haven't already. :)

Helpful Harry wrote:

If it's a kineticist thing this this should apply

Quote:
Even the weakest kinetic blast involves a sizable mass of elemental matter or energy, so kinetic blasts always deal full damage to swarms of any size (though only area blasts deal extra damage to swarms).

Kineticist would actually be a close approximation of the ability and is actually a good argument if the GM wanted the single target blast to deal damage.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Thanks for the clarifications TJ.

As I see it, the basic version will do nothing as it is an effect that target only a single creature. Even if modified by a energy type talent (it still target a single creature).

If modified by an AoE effect it will do full damage +50%, as all AoE effects.

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