Swarms and Rays for FAQing


Rules Questions

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In fairness, I think Starbuck_II has a point. Some spells (like Icicle Dagger) do create things that act as weapons under the rules, not (entirely) as spells.


You know what can be found under 'weapons'? Dagger.
You know what can't be found? Acid splash.

Again, Ice Dagger creates a weapon, Acid splash does not. And, once again, spells that 'act like weapons' are specified in exactly what ways they do so. In all other ways, they are not.

If the spell 'acid splash' created a magical 'acid flask' that could be thrown at an opponent like a splash weapon, I would rule it would work on swarms.

That isn't what it does. It doesn't have a range increment, does it?


_Ozy_ wrote:

You know what can be found under 'weapons'? Dagger.

You know what can't be found? Acid splash.

Again, Ice Dagger creates a weapon, Acid splash does not. And, once again, spells that 'act like weapons' are specified in exactly what ways they do so. In all other ways, they are not.

If the spell 'acid splash' created a magical 'acid flask' that could be thrown at an opponent like a splash weapon, I would rule it would work on swarms.

That isn't what it does. It doesn't have a range increment, does it?

According to the Magic description:

http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic#TOC-Conjuration-Creation
Creation: a creation spell manipulates matter to create an object or creature in the place the spellcaster designates. If the spell has a duration other than instantaneous, magic holds the creation together, and when the spell ends, the conjured creature or object vanishes without a trace. If the spell has an instantaneous duration, the created object or creature is merely assembled through magic. [U]It lasts indefinitely and does not depend on magic for its existence.[/U]


That's great. Now find 'acid splash' under weapons.

Does it have a range increment? What size is it, S, M, or L? Are you proficient with it? Is it a simple or martial ranged weapon?


Rysky wrote:
Bill Dunn wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Bill Dunn wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Tarantula wrote:
Doomed Hero wrote:
I'm pretty sure this is going to be ruled "weapon like spells count as weapons for the purposes of how they interact with Swarms"

I'm pretty sure it won't.

What is a weapon-like spell?
Is acid splash? Why, because you make a ranged touch attack? Then shouldn't disintegrate (which is explicitly not effective on swarms) work?

yeah, thats kind of problematic. ray of frost could reasonably do 1d3/2= 1 damage and reasonably kill 1 rat but disintegrate should also be killing 1 rat and they're immune...
The swarm is immune to disintegrate because that's pretty much exactly what's happening - it's killing one rat. And killing one rat isn't going to have a significant effect on the swarm. It's not that disintegrate has no effect at all.
But what if that one rat was, if not their leader, their heart, their morale? Who kept the swarm together through their darkest hours?
Their hearts will go on. [cue Céline Dion music]
You just had to go and make it weird.

You already went there, implying that there was a rat swarm equivalent of a Borg Queen. :)


Gulthor wrote:


The RAW/RAI are both really clear here, regardless of whether or not you like or agree with them. This is how swarms work, even if it's utter, frothing nonsense.

No, they aren't. Which is why the debate and why we are asking for a FAQ.

I appreciate everyone opinion, but the only opinion here that counts is a vote for a FAQ then the Rules guys making said FAQ.


DrDeth wrote:
I appreciate everyone opinion, but the only opinion here that counts is a vote for a FAQ then the Rules guys making said FAQ.

The only opinion that counts is agreeing with you that it needs an FAQ? That seems a little pretentious.

Personally I think "This doesn't need an FAQ and I'm sick of FAQs that just amount to Paizo confirming that the rules do what they say they do given how rarely Paizo does FAQs" is a pretty valid opinion too.


swoosh wrote:
DrDeth wrote:
I appreciate everyone opinion, but the only opinion here that counts is a vote for a FAQ then the Rules guys making said FAQ.

The only opinion that counts is agreeing with you that it needs an FAQ? That seems a little pretentious.

Personally I think "This doesn't need an FAQ and I'm sick of FAQs that just amount to Paizo confirming that the rules do what they say they do given how rarely Paizo does FAQs" is a pretty valid opinion too.

No, you can not hit FAQ, also that's up to you.

But the fact that this debate has gone on and on with many and varied opinions back and forth seems to indicate that the question is a FAQ.

Paizo should do FAQ far more often.


So, yes, I realize that I am using necromancy magic on this thread, but I'd like to post some more evidence to support my argument on this subject. Not looking to argue, just more information for the pool, no one has to agree or disagree, although I do enjoy a healthy discussion.

As I was looking at nifty spells/abilities for my psychic, I came across the spell "Spell Turning". In the first paragraph of it's description, it reads:

PRD wrote:
Spells and spell-like effects targeted on you are turned back upon the original caster. The abjuration turns only spells that have you as a target. Effect and area spells are not affected. Spell turning also fails to stop touch range spells. From seven to ten (1d4+6) spell levels are affected by the turning. The exact number is rolled secretly.

I have bolded an interesting sentence that seems to help my point of view in this matter. For those who do not know what it is: I believe that rays and other spells that lack a "Target" line in the spell "Effect" box is a viable spell to use against swarms.

Now swarms say:

PRD wrote:
A swarm is immune to any spell or effect that targets a specific number of creatures (including single-target spells such as disintegrate)

Below are the "Effect" blocks of three spell examples; Ray of frost, Slow, and Fireball.

Ray of Frost from PRD wrote:

School evocation [cold]; Level sorcerer/wizard 0

Casting Time 1 standard action

Components V, S

Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)

Effect ray

Duration instantaneous

Saving Throw none; Spell Resistance yes

Ray of frost would not be turned by "Spell Turning" as it is an "Effect" spell that creates a ray. I do believe that since it lacks a "Targets" line, it should work against a swarm. The only thing that I can see getting hung up on is whether or not it is considered a "single-target" spell, as that is never defined anywhere. This is where I believe the confusion lies, and is why I would like a FAQ. Disintegrate, in my opinion, is a poor example as it is the only ray spell that has a line stating it can only ever effect the first creature it touches.

Slow from PRD wrote:

School transmutation; Level bard 3, sorcerer/wizard 3

Casting Time 1 standard action

Components V, S, M (a drop of molasses)

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 Will negates; Spell Resistance yes

Here, Slow would be turned by "Spell Turning" as it is a "Target" spell, and would also be useless against a swarm per their immunity to spells that "Target" a specific number of creatures.

Fireball from PRD wrote:

School evocation [fire]; Level sorcerer/wizard 3

Casting Time 1 standard action

Components V, S, M (a ball of bat guano and sulfur)

Range long (400 ft. + 40 ft./level)

Area 20-ft.-radius spread

Duration instantaneous

Saving Throw Reflex half; Spell Resistance yes

Lastly, I believe everyone agrees that Fireball works against those with spell turning as well as swarms for obvious reasons. But just to be thorough, it is an "Area" spell.

Anyways, that's my newest update on the end of "Rays should work against swarms" side of things. I don't really expect this to go anywhere, but I just though I'd put it out there. Thank you for your time.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
PRD wrote:


A swarm is immune to any spell or effect that targets a specific number of creatures (including single-target spells such as disintegrate).

Effects are covered by the swarm immunity, so I don't know how you think that you argument hold any water.

PRD wrote:


Ray: Some effects are rays. You aim a ray as if using a ranged weapon, though typically you make a ranged touch attack rather than a normal ranged attack. As with a ranged weapon, you can fire into the dark or at an invisible creature and hope you hit something. You don't have to see the creature you're trying to hit, as you do with a targeted spell. Intervening creatures and obstacles, however, can block your line of sight or provide cover for the creature at which you're aiming.[/quote+

You don't aim a ranged weapon at an area, you aim it at a single creature, so, again, I don't see how your argument will work.


Diego Rossi wrote:
PRD wrote:


A swarm is immune to any spell or effect that targets a specific number of creatures (including single-target spells such as disintegrate).

Effects are covered by the swarm immunity, so I don't know how you think that you argument hold any water.

PRD wrote:


Ray: Some effects are rays. You aim a ray as if using a ranged weapon, though typically you make a ranged touch attack rather than a normal ranged attack. As with a ranged weapon, you can fire into the dark or at an invisible creature and hope you hit something. You don't have to see the creature you're trying to hit, as you do with a targeted spell. Intervening creatures and obstacles, however, can block your line of sight or provide cover for the creature at which you're aiming.
You don't aim a ranged weapon at an area, you aim it at a single creature, so, again, I don't see how your argument will work.

To your first quote, that is for other non-spell effects (such as Stunning Fist or Smite Evil), as it mentions "spells" before the "or effect".

Also, to your second concern:

PRD wrote:
A swarm is a collection of Fine, Diminutive, or Tiny creatures that acts as a single creature.

A player may attack a swarm with a ranged weapon. Whether it does any damage or not is dependent on other variables.

I'm not debating to say that you're wrong or I'm right. Until this thread popped up last year, I genuinely have always read the swarm immunity the way I am interpreting it now. And even now, I still interpret it the same. To be honest, I don't care how this will rule out in the end as it does not affects me personally (seriously, who think 1d3 a round is the best way to handle a swarm when Burning Hands or the ever cheap Acid Flask is a way better option?).

As a GM however, I do like clarifications, especially when it comes to PFS. Only reason why I come back at all.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Link2000 wrote:
Diego Rossi wrote:
PRD wrote:


A swarm is immune to any spell or effect that targets a specific number of creatures (including single-target spells such as disintegrate).

Effects are covered by the swarm immunity, so I don't know how you think that you argument hold any water.

PRD wrote:


Ray: Some effects are rays. You aim a ray as if using a ranged weapon, though typically you make a ranged touch attack rather than a normal ranged attack. As with a ranged weapon, you can fire into the dark or at an invisible creature and hope you hit something. You don't have to see the creature you're trying to hit, as you do with a targeted spell. Intervening creatures and obstacles, however, can block your line of sight or provide cover for the creature at which you're aiming.
You don't aim a ranged weapon at an area, you aim it at a single creature, so, again, I don't see how your argument will work.
To your first quote, that is for other non-spell effects (such as Stunning Fist or Smite Evil), as it mentions "spells" before the "or effect".

LOL. You have read the citation?

(including single-target spells such as disintegrate)
You know, disintegrate, as the spell whose effect is a ray.

The sentence cover all effects, whatever thing generate them, spells, special abilities and so on.

Link2000 wrote:


Also, to your second concern:
PRD wrote:
A swarm is a collection of Fine, Diminutive, or Tiny creatures that acts as a single creature.

A player may attack a swarm with a ranged weapon. Whether it does any damage or not is dependent on other variables.

I'm not debating to say that you're wrong or I'm right. Until this thread popped up last year, I genuinely have always read the swarm immunity the way I am interpreting it now. And even now, I still interpret it the same. To be honest, I don't care how this will rule out in the end as it does not affects me personally (seriously, who think 1d3 a round is the best way to handle a swarm when Burning Hands or the ever cheap Acid Flask is a way better option?).

As a GM however, I do like clarifications, especially when it comes to PFS. Only reason why I come back at all.

Now you are changing what I am saying to confute it.

"You aim a ray as if using a ranged weapon," not "Ray are ranged weapons". Two different statements.
Ray are treated as ranged weapons for several things, but they aren't ranged weapons.


Diego Rossi wrote:

LOL. You have read the citation?

(including single-target spells such as disintegrate)
You know, disintegrate, as the spell whose effect is a ray.

The sentence cover all effects, whatever thing generate them, spells, special abilities and so on.

I appreciate your criticism in this matter, but I have already stated why I felt disintegrate is a bad example. Allow me to restate it with sources.

Disintegrate from PRD wrote:
"Only the first creature or object struck can be affected; that is, the ray affects only one target per casting."

That is the last line in disintegrate, and is the only ray currently out there that has it. It is a very unique ray and with that line, would make complete sense why it would not work against a swarm. Other rays do not share that terminology.

Also the sentence reads "spell or effect that targets a specific number of creatures (including single-target spells such as disintegrate)". Using proper reading techniques this turns into:

"Spell that targets a specific number of creatures (including single-target spells such as disintegrate)"

OR

"Effect that targets a specific number of creatures (including single-target spells such as disintegrate)"

If effect was talking about the "Effect" in the spell description, then why have the word at all? Would have given them two more words for the count to use elsewhere.

Diego Rossi wrote:

Now you are changing what I am saying to confute it.

"You aim a ray as if using a ranged weapon," not "Ray are ranged weapons". Two different statements.
Ray are treated as ranged weapons for several things, but they aren't ranged weapons.

I have changed nothing. You're the one asking if I can aim a ray at an "area". I do not, I aim it just like any other ranged weapon: at a single creature (which a swarm, by definition, is).

I understand one is a spell that gives you a ray to attack with, and one is not. But they attack (which is the aiming part) the same, i.e. BAB+DEX+other modifiers to ranged attack rolls.

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