How do you calculate the Spell Attack Roll bonus?


General Discussion


For the Bard, it says:

Quote:

Spells

Trained in occult spell rolls and DCs and in attack rolls for occult spells

Does the bard uses his DEX modifier or his Key ability modifier for this?

I am confused on HOW to calculate the spell attack roll...! What exactly do you add to get your bonus to attack rolls? Can some knowledgeable person explain this to me?

THANKS!!

TOS admin

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

If it is a ranged touch attack, it is:
Level + DEX Bonus.

If its a melee touch attack, it is:
Level + STR or DEX bonus. (( Because Touch is a finesse attack. ))


Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Key Ability modifier

Grand Lodge

Can we get a page quote from either of your stances?


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Perram is right - the rules are in the Spell Attacks section of the Spells chapter, on page 197 of the Rulebook.


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Perram wrote:

If it is a ranged touch attack, it is:

Level + DEX Bonus.
If its a melee touch attack, it is:
Level + STR or DEX bonus. (( Because Touch is a finesse attack. ))

From p 197:

Quote:
Your proficiency modifier for a spell’s attack roll is the same as your proficiency modifier with spell rolls.

So it is not the caster's 'Level", but rather your Proficiency from Spells, which also includes your training... right?

I.E. Character level + training bonus (+0 for Trained, +1 for expert, +2 for master or +3 for legendary)

Am I interpreting the rules correctly?

ALSO: Is there such a thing as a NON touch attack (Melee or Ranged) for SPELLS? Or are spells ALWAYS either a melee touch attack, or a ranged touch attack? I am trying to figure out WHAT I will be showing on the Spell Planner I am building, spell-attack wise...!

TOS admin


Yes, you are interpreting them correctly.

Yes, there are non-touch spell attacks. Telekinetic Projectile is the only one I can think of now, but they may add more later.


The Only Sheet wrote:


ALSO: Is there such a thing as a NON touch attack (Melee or Ranged) for SPELLS? Or are spells ALWAYS either a melee touch attack, or a ranged touch attack? I am trying to figure out WHAT I will be showing on the Spell Planner I am building, spell-attack wise...!

TOS admin

Spells can either require an attack roll from the caster, or a save from the target, or in some special cases both.

Those that require an attack roll can be either melee attack rolls or ranged attack rolls.

An attack roll is Attribute + Proficiency versus targets Defence, where Attribute is Dex for ranged attacks and best of Str and Dex for melee attacks, and Proficiency is spellcasting training + character level.

A save is rolled by the target, and is Save value versus Spell DC, where Spell DC = Spellcasting attribute + Proficiency + 10, where in turn Proficiency is spellcasting training + character level as above.


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I think they should ditch TAC, and casters use their spellcasting ability modifier for spell attacks (Int for Wizard, etc).


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Mats Öhrman wrote:
The Only Sheet wrote:


ALSO: Is there such a thing as a NON touch attack (Melee or Ranged) for SPELLS? Or are spells ALWAYS either a melee touch attack, or a ranged touch attack? I am trying to figure out WHAT I will be showing on the Spell Planner I am building, spell-attack wise...!

TOS admin

Spells can either require an attack roll from the caster, or a save from the target, or in some special cases both.

There are also spell rolls, as in the case of Black Tentacles, which uses your key ability.

So you have spell attacks that can be touch or not touch, ranged or melee. And you have spells that require saves, and spells that use spell rolls - both of which use your key ability.


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Strachan Fireblade wrote:
Mats Öhrman wrote:
The Only Sheet wrote:


ALSO: Is there such a thing as a NON touch attack (Melee or Ranged) for SPELLS? Or are spells ALWAYS either a melee touch attack, or a ranged touch attack? I am trying to figure out WHAT I will be showing on the Spell Planner I am building, spell-attack wise...!

TOS admin

Spells can either require an attack roll from the caster, or a save from the target, or in some special cases both.

There are also spell rolls, as in the case of Black Tentacles, which uses your key ability.

So you have spell attacks that can be touch or not touch, ranged or melee. And you have spells that require saves, and spells that use spell rolls - both of which use your key ability.

That's a tad too much for me (messy), Spell Attacks, Spell DCs, and Spell Rolls, certainly some streamlining might be nice.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Vic Ferrari wrote:
Strachan Fireblade wrote:
Mats Öhrman wrote:
The Only Sheet wrote:


ALSO: Is there such a thing as a NON touch attack (Melee or Ranged) for SPELLS? Or are spells ALWAYS either a melee touch attack, or a ranged touch attack? I am trying to figure out WHAT I will be showing on the Spell Planner I am building, spell-attack wise...!

TOS admin

Spells can either require an attack roll from the caster, or a save from the target, or in some special cases both.

There are also spell rolls, as in the case of Black Tentacles, which uses your key ability.

So you have spell attacks that can be touch or not touch, ranged or melee. And you have spells that require saves, and spells that use spell rolls - both of which use your key ability.

That's a tad too much for me (messy), Spell Attacks, Spell DCs, and Spell Rolls, certainly some streamlining might be nice.

I agree.

Considering Spell Attacks are only discussed in one section in the core book (pg 197 I think...I don't have the book in front of me) and NOT in each class's spell casting section, I strongly feel this is a mechanic/rule that exists that many people won't realize they are missing or playing wrong. There is evidence in this very thread for that...

As much as I would like to see casters just use their key ability, spell attacks are the sole reason for TAC to exist. This would be a pretty significant change to the game and it would necessitate a change to armor design. So if this is a barrier to removing spell attacks, then spell attacks at the very least need to be more obvious to players as a mechanic that exists.


Vic Ferrari wrote:
That's a tad too much for me (messy), Spell Attacks, Spell DCs, and Spell Rolls, certainly some streamlining might be nice.

I was about to post the exact same comment... So much for simplifying the rules :(

How do you calculate the 'spell roll' as opposed to the spell attack !?

TOS admin


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
The Only Sheet wrote:
Vic Ferrari wrote:
That's a tad too much for me (messy), Spell Attacks, Spell DCs, and Spell Rolls, certainly some streamlining might be nice.

I was about to post the exact same comment... So much for simplifying the rules :(

How do you calculate the 'spell roll' as opposed to the spell attack !?

TOS admin

I don't have my books atm, but, spell roll uses your key ability and proficiency in spell casting. The description of the spell also tells you if you are using a spell roll or a spell attack or a save. Black Tentacles, for example says make a spell roll. I *think* spell rolls are used when you create an effect and the effect attacks the target. Since its not you, its the strength of your magic that is used, hence your key ability. If you are attacking someone as part of the spell, this is based on your own abilities which falls in line with melee/ranged attacks using Str/Dex.


The Only Sheet wrote:
Vic Ferrari wrote:
That's a tad too much for me (messy), Spell Attacks, Spell DCs, and Spell Rolls, certainly some streamlining might be nice.
I was about to post the exact same comment... So much for simplifying the rules :(

Yeah, the only simplification I'm seeing is the +Level treadmill (but I dislike it), aside from that, overall, seems more fiddly than pretty much every previous edition of D&D/PF, aside from 1st Ed AD&D, if you really dig in (actually use all the rules).


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Vic Ferrari wrote:
The Only Sheet wrote:
Vic Ferrari wrote:
That's a tad too much for me (messy), Spell Attacks, Spell DCs, and Spell Rolls, certainly some streamlining might be nice.
I was about to post the exact same comment... So much for simplifying the rules :(
Yeah, the only simplification I'm seeing is the +Level treadmill (but I dislike it), aside from that, overall, seems more fiddly than pretty much every previous edition of D&D/PF, aside from 1st Ed AD&D, if you really dig in (actually use all the rules).

I agree that this system is pretty fiddly. I think it largely hasn't come up as a topic in the forum because I think a lot of people aren't even aware of the whole Spell Attack (Str/Dex) thing. However, spell attacks seem to be designed to make use of TAC (which is a subsystem used to help differentiate armor types giving you a choice in armor) and I *think* spell attacks are designed to improve casters attacks outside of the proficiency system as spellcaster get higher levels. I might be overthinking it but since spell attacks are based off a secondary stat, Str or Dex, the spellcaster likely is attacking at a lower number than if they used their key ability. On lower levels, this is offset by the fact that TAC is generally 1-4 points lower than the full AC. So this seems to balance in the sense that a lower attribute attacking a lower AC is about the same as using your key ability against full AC. As you level, you get a bunch of free boosts. This will push the Str/Dex stat to an 18, most likely putting it on par or very near on par to your key ability. Now since you are still attacking TAC, but your attribute is on par or very close to your key ability, and you are still attacking TAC, you now have a higher accuracy of hitting.

To be transparent, I haven't looked at higher level monsters or high level magic armor to see if this is actually the case, but I feel the theory is sound...

I should probably do a bit more research into higher levels to see if this holds true.


ok Let's see if I understand all of this.

Assuming that:
1) Proficiency = Character Level + Training modifier (-2 for untrained to +3 for legendary)
2) Not applying any external bonuses/penalties

SPELL ROLL = Proficiency + Key Ability Modifier
MELEE SPELL ATTACK = Proficiency + STR modifier
RANGED SPELL ATTACK = Proficiency + DEX modifier

AND in the case where a Melee attack is a finesse attack, it can use the Ranged Spell Attack if that is better than the Melee spell attack.

Is this correct?
The rules really needs to clear this up...

TOS admin

Dark Archive

That is correct.I think all of the melee spell attacks has the finesse trait.


Yeah, just gut out TAC (from everything), and make spell attacks use your spellcasting modifier.

I like what they did with Flat-Footed, time to ditch TAC as a fixed pillar-like stat.


Vic Ferrari wrote:
The Only Sheet wrote:
Vic Ferrari wrote:
That's a tad too much for me (messy), Spell Attacks, Spell DCs, and Spell Rolls, certainly some streamlining might be nice.
I was about to post the exact same comment... So much for simplifying the rules :(
Yeah, the only simplification I'm seeing is the +Level treadmill (but I dislike it), aside from that, overall, seems more fiddly than pretty much every previous edition of D&D/PF, aside from 1st Ed AD&D, if you really dig in (actually use all the rules).

I think the spell DC is spell roll + 10 (which replaces a more complex formula) and the spell roll replaces caster level checks and separately listed rolls from spells like black tentacles or spiritual weapon). So I think it is simpler than previous editions. However I agree that the different rolls could be presented more clearly.

Dark Archive

Spell Roll: You make a spell roll when you’re testing the power of
your magic against a particular target. Your spell roll modifier
is equal to your proficiency modifier plus your key ability
modifier, as well as any other bonuses and penalties (though
these are quite rare). Many of your spells will call for saving
throws against your spell DC (10 plus your spell roll modifier)


Spell Attack = d20 + Level + Proficiency + spellcasting ability score modifier.

Spell DC = 10 + Level + Proficiency + spellcasting ability score modifier.


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A common problem.

The spell roll is actually explained much better in the glossary section on pg 423; but that page isn't referenced in the index & they don't bother to explain there that the spell DC is just the same modifier but with a flat value of 10 in place of the roll.

Obviously they are very happy with the consistant way that attacks & DCs are calculated throughout the game but that's no excuse for not spelling things out explicitly & in a sensible place.

They should explain Ranged & Melee Touch Attacks, Spell Rolls & Spell DCs all together, at the start of the 'spells' chapter and point out the differences between them.

You shouldn't give new players a bunch of general rules spread throughout the book & leave them to piece together what they actually need to do at the table from the general rules - you should give them the specific rules in the correct chapter & let them see the underlying similarity in their own time as they learn.


Ah, so my player's wizard was more nerfed than he already thought he was. :(

In Pale Mountain's Shadow, his acid arrow missed the manticore and so was a complete whiff, even using his Intelligence modifier. He was critted by a spike and sent to Dying 2 immediately after. :(


Vic Ferrari wrote:
Spell Attack = d20 + Level + Proficiency + spellcasting ability score modifier.

Where do you see (in the rules) that you add your key ability score modifier to Spell Attacks? I am not seeing it on page 197... Since they specifically take the time to mention Finesse, I'd assume that they include/use the STR or DEX modifiers...

TOS admin


The Only Sheet wrote:
Vic Ferrari wrote:
Spell Attack = d20 + Level + Proficiency + spellcasting ability score modifier.

Where do you see (in the rules) that you add your key ability score modifier to Spell Attacks? I am not seeing it on page 197... Since they specifically take the time to mention Finesse, I'd assume that they include/use the STR or DEX modifiers...

TOS admin

It is not in the rules because that is not what it says, anywhere.

Your attack roll with spells is just like making a normal ranged or melee attack, or a range or melee touch attack.

Melee = 1d20 + level + Training in your spell abilities + Strength or Dexterity mod, because it says that it is finesse, + item.

Ranged is the same but with just the option of Dex.


The Only Sheet wrote:
Vic Ferrari wrote:
Spell Attack = d20 + Level + Proficiency + spellcasting ability score modifier.
Where do you see (in the rules) that you add your key ability score modifier to Spell Attacks?

Nowhere, I am stating what I think it should be, and ditch TAC.

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