Are all ranged touch attacks "rays"?


Rules Questions

Dark Archive

Although there are some spells which are particularly called "ray", the term seems to have been used as flavour text in some places (e.g. Disintegration) leading me to believe that "ray" was never meant to be a game concept as such and that it is really just synonymous to ranged touch.

Am I right?

Or do you, for example, have to take Weapon Focus( Ray ) and Weapon Focus (ranged touch) separately?

Richard


As I understand it: 'Ray' is a term meant to explain a category of spells, and 'Ranged Touch' is a term mean to explain a kind of dice roll. However all rays required a ranged touch roll to hit, causing the confusion.

So ray is definitely a game concept, but I think the issue here is mostly one of semantics. I don't think there's any ranged touch spell that isn't considered a ray (please shoot me a link if you think you found one), so to answer your example you should only have to take Weapon Focus (Ray).

I hope that helps!


no

examples; Spectral Hand, Shocking grasp with reach metamagic at +1 category, Force Anchor.

other posts back in 2015


CampinCarl9127 wrote:

As I understand it: 'Ray' is a term meant to explain a category of spells, and 'Ranged Touch' is a term mean to explain a kind of dice roll. However all rays required a ranged touch roll to hit, causing the confusion.

So ray is definitely a game concept, but I think the issue here is mostly one of semantics. I don't think there's any ranged touch spell that isn't considered a ray (please shoot me a link if you think you found one), so to answer your example you should only have to take Weapon Focus (Ray).

I hope that helps!

^pewpewpew!

https://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/all-spells/s/snowball


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It's only a ray if it says it's a ray.

It's funny like that.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

As others said, no.

Acid Splash is not, but Disrupt Undead and Ray of Frost are.

You are correct that there aren’t many Ray spells.

Shadow Lodge

Energy based Kinetic Blasts aren't rays. Neither is Aice Arrow.

Sczarni

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Weapon Focus (ranged touch) isn't valid, but Weapon Focus (ray) is specifically allowed for spells of the ray category.

I am unaware of any method to acquire Weapon Focus (snowball).


richard develyn wrote:
Although there are some spells which are particularly called "ray", the term seems to have been used as flavour text in some places (e.g. Disintegration) leading me to believe that "ray" was never meant to be a game concept as such and that it is really just synonymous to ranged touch.

I am confused by your reading of Disintegrate using 'ray' as flavor text. That it is a ray is mechanically important.


richard develyn wrote:
Although there are some spells which are particularly called "ray", the term seems to have been used as flavour text in some places (e.g. Disintegration) leading me to believe that "ray" was never meant to be a game concept as such and that it is really just synonymous to ranged touch.

"Disintegrate

Source PRPG Core Rulebook pg. 271 (Amazon)

School transmutation; Level arcanist 6, magus 6, occultist 6, psychic 6, sorcerer/wizard 6, spiritualist 6

Casting

Casting Time 1 standard action

Components V, S, M/DF (a lodestone and a pinch of dust)

Effect

Range medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)

Effect ray

Duration instantaneous

Saving Throw Fortitude partial (object); Spell Resistance yes"


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If it says "Effect ray", it's a ray. Otherwise, it isn't.


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Blahpers is correct - you can find the rules under aiming a spell:effects by clicking here.

For what it's worth in my home games I allow weapon focus(ranged touch) and weapon focus(melee touch) for simplicity and to make it slightly more tempting - no-one has taken me up on either yet.

Dark Archive

Thanks for all the answers.

I had always imagined they were the same thing but I stand corrected.

Richard


Nefreet wrote:

Weapon Focus (ranged touch) isn't valid, but Weapon Focus (ray) is specifically allowed for spells of the ray category.

I am unaware of any method to acquire Weapon Focus (snowball).

Well, we know that Improved Critical (touch) is valid, so why not Weapon Focus (ranged touch)?


Avoron wrote:
Nefreet wrote:

Weapon Focus (ranged touch) isn't valid, but Weapon Focus (ray) is specifically allowed for spells of the ray category.

I am unaware of any method to acquire Weapon Focus (snowball).

Well, we know that Improved Critical (touch) is valid, so why not Weapon Focus (ranged touch)?

Ranged touch and touch were valid options in 3.5 and the feats in question are pretty much direct ports from those days. With the 'backward compatibility' claim from pathfinder's creation, I'd assume that rule elements that where retained work the same unless it's pointed out as working differently.

And some might ask 'why is ray spelled out as different than ranged touch?': Well, that's because rays don't HAVE to use ranged touch, "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 such, if you manage to find a non-touch ray, it works with them too.

Liberty's Edge

graystone wrote:
Avoron wrote:
Nefreet wrote:

Weapon Focus (ranged touch) isn't valid, but Weapon Focus (ray) is specifically allowed for spells of the ray category.

I am unaware of any method to acquire Weapon Focus (snowball).

Well, we know that Improved Critical (touch) is valid, so why not Weapon Focus (ranged touch)?

Ranged touch and touch were valid options in 3.5 and the feats in question are pretty much direct ports from those days. With the 'backward compatibility' claim from pathfinder's creation, I'd assume that rule elements that where retained work the same unless it's pointed out as working differently.

And some might ask 'why is ray spelled out as different than ranged touch?': Well, that's because rays don't HAVE to use ranged touch, "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 such, if you manage to find a non-touch ray, it works with them too.

What were you trying to link to ?


Marc Radle wrote:
What were you trying to link to ?

I'm not sure why you're quoting me...

However, I can answer: it's a link to a monster in the bestiary 6, the Whisperer, that has the feat Improved Critical (touch).

Liberty's Edge

My appologies! I meant to reply to the poster above you ( the one that actually provided the link)

Regarding that monster and the feat ... has anyone in Paizo even commented on that? My gut says it may have been a mistake that sneaked through ...


graystone wrote:
Marc Radle wrote:
What were you trying to link to ?

I'm not sure why you're quoting me...

However, I can answer: it's a link to a monster in the bestiary 6, the Whisperer, that has the feat Improved Critical (touch).

The developer of that book doesn't have the best grasp on the rules. It's a mistake.


Xenocrat wrote:
graystone wrote:
Marc Radle wrote:
What were you trying to link to ?

I'm not sure why you're quoting me...

However, I can answer: it's a link to a monster in the bestiary 6, the Whisperer, that has the feat Improved Critical (touch).

Yeah, but it's a James Jacobs developed book, so it's not surprising to find a rules violation or mistake.

*shrug* It's a core/hardback book so it's as 'official' as we have now. I'd prefer more than that to go on, but it's better than nothing.


Xenocrat wrote:
graystone wrote:
Marc Radle wrote:
What were you trying to link to ?

I'm not sure why you're quoting me...

However, I can answer: it's a link to a monster in the bestiary 6, the Whisperer, that has the feat Improved Critical (touch).

The developer of that book doesn't have the best grasp on the rules. It's a mistake.

I think that comment is pretty rude. He has stated though that monsters built in it are not always designed to fit within the players being able to follow the same rules. He believes a creature shouldn't be restricted to the same things players are. Or at least, that is the gist I have gotten from his responses. He is always free to correct me on that.

As for how damning that creature is? I'd say not at all. Just because certain creatures can twf with no penalties, doesn't mean a human can. In this case, the creature breaks the rule and it can do that. As it isn't a player character. After all, they also don't get full HP on the first HD or the same amount of wealth or... I can go on to show where they don't follow other PC rules, but I don't think it's worth listing them all. If this was a more widely done case, I'd say it is possible that it was intended, but with only one or a slight handful more, it's not really proof.


TrinitysEnd wrote:
In this case, the creature breaks the rule and it can do that.

I'd have to disagree with you on this point. What rule did the creature break? Touch isn't explicitly included or excluded from the list and we have odd things like ray and grapple as listed possibilities, so I don't see how we can conclude it 'breaks the rules' unless we can point to a clear rules that's been broken. For me, it's being allowed in 3.5 [and backwards compatibility at start] alone means I'd expect a specific removal from options if it wasn't allowed in pathfinder. The Whisperer is 'icing on the cake' and not evidence that's the crux of an argument.

Secondly, I dislike using different rules for monsters. It leads to confusion, as those 'fudged' mechanics can stick in people's minds as correct even if they don't mean to consciously.

3rd, it makes little sense to 'fudge' the rules here as they can JUST 'fudge' the natural attacks and didn't need the feat to do it. Someone had to go out of their way to make it Improved Critical and even further out of their way to not make it Improved Critical (mist tendrils).


on monster design: There's an effect and a desired threat, you try to model that. Sometimes critters fall a bit shy of their threat range by CR and some things are set by HD (BAB etc), so a monster feat or template is used or created to bridge the gap. That's pretty standard old school GMming.
Like any GM there's taste and style and each person has their own. Some run closer to RAW than others.
I'm sure anything not to current RAW (writing to specifications) gets extra eyeballs on it.


My Life Is In Ruins wrote:
I'm sure anything not to current RAW (writing to specifications) gets extra eyeballs on it.

In this situation, if an adjustment was needed and the Improved Critical (touch) is illegal, there as a perfectly legal way to do it: add "with a crit range of 19–20" to the Cursed Wound ability. That does the same thing with no fudging needed AND it doesn't give the wrong impression by making it clear it's limited to THIS ability. I'm all for the "old school GMming" approach, as long as you make it clear that's what you're doing.

Sczarni

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Sometimes "Monsters" (an ill-defined term at that) have abilities and feats that player characters can't. I've seen Weapon Focus (rock) before, even though rocks are improvised weapons for PCs.


Nefreet wrote:
Sometimes "Monsters" (an ill-defined term at that) have abilities and feats that player characters can't. I've seen Weapon Focus (rock) before, even though rocks are improvised weapons for PCs.

You mean like a stone mystery oracle using Rock Throwing? They seem as 'proficient' with rock as a cliff giant with Rock Throwing...

With the amount of PC options floating around, the "monster" ability/feat has to pretty unique for there not to be a PC ability that's comparable.


graystone wrote:
My Life Is In Ruins wrote:
I'm sure anything not to current RAW (writing to specifications) gets extra eyeballs on it.
In this situation, if an adjustment was needed and the Improved Critical (touch) is illegal, there as a perfectly legal way to do it: add "with a crit range of 19–20" to the Cursed Wound ability. That does the same thing with no fudging needed AND it doesn't give the wrong impression by making it clear it's limited to THIS ability. I'm all for the "old school GMming" approach, as long as you make it clear that's what you're doing.

I do, that's why I call it my home game 8^)

I don't know the process at Paizo. I'm sure anything not to spec gets looked at. Of course there's seniority, creativity, and the cool factor. We all want new stuff. There are limited permutations within specifications. My crystal ball of RAI and original intent has never worked quite right anyways, I think a demon of desire with senility, dementia, and oldz-timers has taken up residence in there.


My Life Is In Ruins wrote:
I'm sure anything not to spec gets looked at. Of course there's seniority, creativity, and the cool factor.

And sometime they are just wrong. ;)

And that's what makes it difficult figuring out issues if they 'color outside the lines' on a regular basis.

Real life example: I had an argument with the creator of eberron about warforged and special materials [Mithral and Adamantine bodies] that lasted 6+ months. My point of view was that nothing in the published rules stopped PC's from mugging passing warforged for huge profits and Baker disagreed. In the end, I finally got him to realize that the group he played with used a houserule that you can't reforge special materials and he wrote the setting based on that without actually adding it officially.

Second example: Not long ago, a question came up about negative energy and constructs. We asked 'does negative energy harm constructs' and Mark commented 'Well of COURSE they don't take damage.' When we asked where it says that, he couldn't find any. It was assumed to be true but wasn't actually written anywhere. In fact, undead/constructs could get unlimited temp hp by chilling out on positive energy planes before it got FAQ'd.

Moral: the people that make/review the material aren't infallible and sometimes make assumptions that aren't in the rules [or the current rules but where in 3.5]. that's why, IMO, they should make it clear when something is an exception.


Is “touch” a weapon?

Quote:

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.


Helpful Harry wrote:
Is “touch” a weapon?

Grapple and ray are... it's hard to look at grapple and then say 'touch clearly isn't a weapon'.


Quote:

Weapon Focus (Combat)

Choose one type of weapon. You can also choose unarmed strike or grapple (or ray, if you are a spellcaster) as your weapon for the purposes of this feat.

Prerequisites: Proficiency with selected weapon, base attack bonus +1.
Benefit: You gain a +1 bonus on all attack rolls you make using the selected weapon.
Special: You can gain this feat multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time you take the feat, it applies to a new type of weapon.

Would seem to imply they are not weapons but rather exceptions.


Helpful Harry wrote:
Would seem to imply they are not weapons but rather exceptions.

Does it imply an exclusive list? Not from list of items that have been listed as weapon focus picks that aren't #1 on the weapon list or #2 one of those exceptions... Or things like mystic bolt or kinetic blast. "type of weapon" seems much broader than your implication suggests...


graystone wrote:
My Life Is In Ruins wrote:
I'm sure anything not to spec gets looked at. Of course there's seniority, creativity, and the cool factor.

And sometime they are just wrong. ;)

And that's what makes it difficult figuring out issues if they 'color outside the lines' on a regular basis.

...

<grin> I think you are arguing for uniform consistency. That would be nice.

Sadly at it's core, the model is not consistent and a lousy model of reality. It's only saving grace was its statistical nature and that seems to have been done away with. Newtonian physics has far greater accuracy and precision. It is a very sad state of affairs.
This is why it is a work of art. Warts and blurry parts are just part of that experience. I'm not making excuses for artistic effort, just explaining what it is.


My Life Is In Ruins wrote:
<grin> I think you are arguing for uniform consistency. That would be nice.

My position is that they should TRY for consistency when possible. I don't think that's too much to ask for. ;)


Graystone: +1.

Rays, and other spells belong in a category of weapon-like spells. As such weapon focus is legitimate.

Unarmed strikes are likewise legitimate.

There is no way to know what qualifies as an appropriate focus for weapon focus. Generally speaking it is a weapon (device, limb) etc. used to attack (and damage via that attack) an opponent. (opinion)

Under such interpretation WF: (touch) is valid. WF (grapple) is not, because the damage in a grapple is incidental (tangential). Grapples are made to hold, regardless of consequential damage, Weapon Focus is a strike to damage.

Going back to OP:

Rays receive cover from things like being in combat; they can take concealment penalties as well; you can sneak attack with a ray; things that boost weapon damage boost weapon like spells. It is valid to take weapon focus, and improved critical for weapon-like spells.

Ranged touch effect spells include a bunch of different type of spells, many of which have different characteristics. However, generically, they are individual target spells. (Cannot be done against an invisible target). Concealment miss chances do not apply to ranged touch attack spells.


side chat: to date the most egregious use of design power in a DnD 3.5 published product that I played in/GM'd was a 3.5 spin off product line (2nd party publisher product). The scenarios and theme of the system were interesting. In a scenario a demon that possessed PCs had a +6 insight bonus to AC, besides being incorporeal with a high Dex... lol. Ofcourse earlier they also had a purple worm in a Tier 1-5 scenario... lol... so much heavy handedness for drama on the train ride. choo chooo!

I don't think Paizo is anywhere near being that loose with the rules or game balance.


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I know I'm a bit late coming back to the party, but I stand corrected. In that case I think the simple answer is "It's a ray if it says it's a ray". I appreciate people checking me!

Silver Crusade

Firearms are ranged touch attacks.
So are several Kinetic blasts, including negative energy.
Neither are rays.

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