Does a swarmbane clasp work on a Bionanite Cloud?


Iron Gods

Sovereign Court

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

Does a swarmbane clasp work on a Bionanite Cloud? My GM is telling us that it doesn't because the Cloud is immune to all weapon attacks for a reason other than Swarm Traits. They give you a Swarmbane Clasp somewhere in Book 1, so I would assume that they did that intentionally so you have a way to deal with these Clouds. I haven't gone looking through the AP, of course, so I don't know what the stat block says.


If I remember correctly (it has been sometime) our GM had the cloud be affected by the swarmbane clasp wearing barbarians chainsaw. There has been at least one swarm in every book so far(except 6, yet), so keep it nearby.


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First, let me look up a bionanite cloud to see the exact wording of its immunities.

BIONANITE CLOUD CR 7
XP 3,200
Variant granule swarm (Pathfinder Module: Seven Swords of Sin 29)
N Fine construct (swarm)
<skipped>
Defensive Abilities swarm traits; Immune construct traits, weapon damage; Resist ...

Okay, the bionanite cloud does list an immunity to weapon damage separate from the immunity to weapon damage from its swarm traits. And it also has that annoying phrasing of putting "construct traits" under immunities, as if the cloud were immune to construct traits, so we have to take the exact wording with a little skepticism.

Clasp, Swarmbane
Aura moderate abjuration; CL 8th; Slot neck; Price 3,000 gp; Weight 1/2 lb.
DESCRIPTION
An ancient fossilized insect lies trapped within this ornate amber clasp, impaled by the long golden pin that fastens the wearer’s cloak. The wearer’s weapons, unarmed attacks, and natural attacks deal full damage to swarms, regardless of the swarm’s immunity to weapon damage (if any, although damage reduction applies as normal). If the wearer is damaged by a swarm, she automatically succeeds on her saving throw against the swarm’s distraction ability.
CONSTRUCTION REQUIREMENTS
Craft Wondrous Item, repel vermin; Cost 1,500 gp.
Source: Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Equipment (OGL) © 2012, Paizo Publishing, LLC.

The clasp says, "The wearer’s weapons, unarmed attacks, and natural attacks deal full damage to swarms, regardless of the swarm’s immunity to weapon damage." That wording negates all immunity to weapon damage, not just the immunity due to swarm traits, because it did not specifically call out that the negated immunity had to originate from swarm traits. Thus, by exact wording, Swarmbane Clasp overcomes the "Immune weapon damage" on the bionanite cloud.

But let's look at this from the GM's point of view. A GM running Iron Gods has to adapt a lot of damage reduction and energy resistance rules to apply to robotic hardness instead. The GM has to go for versimitude rather than exact wording, because robotic constructs were not around when the exact wording was written. Should the bionanite cloud's additional immunity be immune to the swarmbane clasp out of versimitude?

Why does the bionanite cloud have additional immunity to weapon damage? The description does not explain it. Is it because nanites are made of hard metal? No, the hardness of metal goes down with thinness and nanites are very, very thin. Do the nanites have a force field that absorbs the damage? No force fields are mentioned in the creature description. Do the bionanites work as a hive mind that can anticipate a weapon strike and move individual nanites away from the weapon so that it never touches them? That mechanic would give a high touch AC rather than immunity to weapon damage.

Maybe the origin of the bionanite swarm explains the additional immunity (this analysis goes beyond what a GM can perform at the table). The bionanite cloud is based on the granule swarm from Pathfinder Module: Seven Swords of Sin. That creature description says, "Defensive Abilities construct traits, dispersion; DR 10/magic; Immune weapon damage; Resist fire 10." It does have a hive mind, granting it Intelligence 6 (like the bionanite swarm), but that grants no weapon-damage immunities. The most notable property of the granule construct swarm description is that it lacks the phrase, "swarm traits." Seven Swords of Sin was released in 2007, two years before the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game was released. It is a Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 module. Immunity to weapon damage is mentioned explicitly on it because its RPG system did not include immunity to weapon damage as part of all swarms.

Thus, bionanite cloud has an additional mention of immunity to weapon damage because the writer who converted the D&D 3.5 granule construct swarm into the Pathfinder bionanite cloud did not erase the original now-redundant immunity line. It is not an additional immunity, it is a repeat of the swarm-trait immunity to weapon damage. Thus, swarmbane clasp affects it like any other swarm.


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That was the most thorough answer ever. 10/10.


I second the assessment that there is no reason the clasp wouldn't work. Especially as the immunity most definitely results from its swarm traits. Paizo usually doesn't just add immunities to a creature without giving it a source. Typically the source is either their type/subtype or a special ability, which is written down at the end of the monsters statistics block. The Bionanite Swarm has no additional ability that grants immunity of any form.

Also keep in mind only swarms of Fine or smaller creatures receive the full immunity to weapon damage, while Tiny creatures receive half damage. Avoiding confusion is probably the main reason Paizo writes down the exact kind of immunity or damage reduction a specific swarm receives. This holds true for all swarms I checked, not just the Bionanites.

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