Harm + Sneak Attack


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Let's say you somehow manage to get a cleric high enough level to cast harm and pick up sneak attack somewhere along the way.

You manage to flank, succeed on your touch attack with harm and deal enough damage with the spell to kill it, but harm stops that from happening leaving the adversary with 1hp. Now you add sneak attack.

If I remember correctly, sneak attack damage for spells is of the same type as the spell. Does it also follow the same restrictions? Does the sneak attack damage bring the affected creature below 1hp?

Grand Lodge

Hm. Good question. The harm spell and the sneak attack damage occur simultaneously, and while the spell can't bring a creature below 1 HP, the precision damage doesn't have such a restriction. The only time sneak attack does anything differently is when the weapon you use is doing nonlethal damage, and ONLY if the weapon is designed for nonlethal like unarmed strike, a sap, or an (activated) merciful weapon.

I could honestly see myself ruling either way on this; on one hand I don't feel like a relatively basic mechanic like sneak attack should override the specific rules of a 6th level spell, and therefore not drop the enemy below 1. On the other hand, precision damage is merely damage added as a rider to the attack, not added to the overall damage; it's the reason you don't gain the sneak attack damage as temporary health if you land a sneak attack Vampiric Touch. As such, the precision damage would potentially bring the target's HP to below 1.

I'm honestly not sure how I'd rule that.


No need to go into the Sneak Attack mechanism, casting the Harm spell, holding the charge and punching the enemy square between the teeth. On a hit, the charge goes off. Assuming the punch deals lethal damage and the target fails the saving throw, does the target fall?

Assume the blow is delivered through a medium that would have the charge go off that is enchanted with extra damage options, such as frost, what then?

I'd rule the extra damage applies, the target falls as these are two separate instances of damage.

The Exchange

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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Sneak attack is part of the damage and would be limited by the spell. link


GeneticDrift wrote:
Sneak attack is part of the damage and would be limited by the spell.

I disagree.

Harm wrote:
Harm cannot reduce the target’s hit points to less than 1.

It isn't Harm that is reducing the target's hit points below 1, it is another effect taking, distinct from Harm, taking place simultaneously.

How would you rule about a damaging hit delivering the charge of Harm? They have nothing to do with each other, there is no reason for the damage from the hit to be limited by the spell.

Edit to be clear:

Word of God wrote:
The sneak attack damage is not a special effect that accompanies the attack, it is part of the damage roll.

This says that the damage roll is comprised of the damage inflicted by Harm, held by its own limitations plus the damage inflicted by the Sneak Attack, not bound by Harm.

The same idea goes with a Frost weapon being part of the damage roll, it adds 1d6 damage to the total, possibly helping overcome the DR, if any - as discussed in the linked thread. It isn't a special effect that accompanies the attack.


I agree with GenericDrift.

How do you explain in character why one spell can kill and the other can't?

Agénor wrote:

Edit to be clear:

Word of God wrote:
The sneak attack damage is not a special effect that accompanies the attack, it is part of the damage roll.
This says that the damage roll is comprised of the damage inflicted by Harm, held by its own limitations plus the damage inflicted by the Sneak Attack, not bound by Harm.

I disagree, Sneak attack is still held by the limitations of the weapon you're using. If you're using a slashing weapon the sneak attack is considered slashing damage. If you sneak attack with scorching ray the sneak attack is considered fire damage. The damage from sneak attack has extra restrictions (must be flat-footed or flanking, not multiplied on a crit, etc) but is still subject to the restrictions of the weapon you're using. In this case that weapon has a restriction that it can't take an enemy below 1hp.

Remember the rule is that specific trumps general. Sneak attack seems more general than a restriction on 1 spell (well 2 since Heal acts as Harm to undead).


The Sneak Attack deals the same type of damage that Harm deals but it is damage added to the damage of Harm.

What do you mean, a spell can kill and the other can't?
- Which spells? Harm with a Sneak Attack and Harm without? -

I don't, just like I don't explain how can the Arcane Trickster add Sneak Attack damage to Fireball but don't deny it can.

Specific trumps general doesn't apply as those aren't ruling over the same area.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

If you were using a standard weapon and attacked a creature with a sneak attack, you'd only apply damage reduction once, which leads me to believe it is added to the attack.

So, one attack with Sneak Attack. The spell's text seems clear as to what the HP total will end up being. If the creature made the save, having the extra dice of damage would help mitigate it.


Damage from sneak attack is bound by all the limitations of attack used.

In this case, it cannot take the target below 1 hp.


Agénor wrote:

What do you mean, a spell can kill and the other can't?

- Which spells? Harm with a Sneak Attack and Harm without? -

Sorry, yes that's what I meant. I edited my post and apparently deleted a whole paragraph by accident.

Agénor wrote:
I don't, just like I don't explain how can the Arcane Trickster add Sneak Attack damage to Fireball but don't deny it can.

The arcane trickster has a specific ability that lets them add sneak attack to a fireball. It's totally irrelevant.

Agénor wrote:
Specific trumps general doesn't apply as those aren't ruling over the same area.

"Specific trumps general" isn't about rulings. It's saying that any time 2 rules interact in a seemingly oposing manner the more specific rule overrides the more general rule.

Damage is multiplied on a crit (general), sneak attack damage is not multiplied on a crit (specific).

Damage is multiplied on a crit (general), harm cannot reduce an enemy below 1hp (specific). (This could mean the damage is not increased at all on a crit)

Sneak attack damage is added to spells that require an attack roll (general), harm cannot reduce an enemy below 1hp (specific). (This could mean damage is not increased by the sneak attack.)

Essentially the sneak attack damage is part of te damage dealt by the spell/weapon/etc, so it acts within the rules of the spell/weapon/etc.


I'd agree with Genetic Drift.

Use a follow up attack. Either the caster or teammate/team work.

But even more important is be consistent in your ruling. Outside of PFS play it doesn't really matter what the actual rule is and even there they are shooting for consistency so any two tables end up with the same results within Society play.

And

What's good for the goose is good for the gander.


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Syries wrote:

Hm. Good question. The harm spell and the sneak attack damage occur simultaneously, and while the spell can't bring a creature below 1 HP, the precision damage doesn't have such a restriction. The only time sneak attack does anything differently is when the weapon you use is doing nonlethal damage, and ONLY if the weapon is designed for nonlethal like unarmed strike, a sap, or an (activated) merciful weapon.

I could honestly see myself ruling either way on this; on one hand I don't feel like a relatively basic mechanic like sneak attack should override the specific rules of a 6th level spell, and therefore not drop the enemy below 1. On the other hand, precision damage is merely damage added as a rider to the attack, not added to the overall damage; it's the reason you don't gain the sneak attack damage as temporary health if you land a sneak attack Vampiric Touch. As such, the precision damage would potentially bring the target's HP to below 1.

I'm honestly not sure how I'd rule that.

This FAQ answer says you add the sneak attack damage to the spell. So in this case your 100 damage Harm gets the sneak attack damage added directly to it. That also means Vampiric Touch adds sneak attack damage and yes it grants more temp hp because the damage increased.


I go back to a general case, what if a charge of Harm is held and delivered through a punch enhanced with frost damage? It deals Harm damage plus punch damage plus frost damage.

It is still only one damage roll in total. Is it bound by the limitations of Harm? I say that it isn't.

Yes, specific trumps general is indeed about rules, not rulings. I typed too quickly before having to go.

The FAQ linked above says the Sneak Attack is added to the attack, not the spell. Sneak Attack deals damage of whatever type the attack is. The same FAQ also clearly says the Sneak Attack adds damage on top of those dealt by the spell.


Agénor wrote:

I go back to a general case, what if a charge of Harm is held and delivered through a punch enhanced with frost damage? It deals Harm damage plus punch damage plus frost damage.

It is still only one damage roll in total. Is it bound by the limitations of Harm? I say that it isn't.

Yes, specific trumps general is indeed about rules, not rulings. I typed too quickly before having to go.

The FAQ linked above says the Sneak Attack is added to the attack, not the spell. Sneak Attack deals damage of whatever type the attack is. The same FAQ also clearly says the Sneak Attack adds damage on top of those dealt by the spell.

Well, technically there are no rules to punch someone to delver a touch spell unless you have an ability that says you can. Also that cold damage would have to come from an item or class ability, since if it was from a touch spell it would be dispelled by the Harm.

In the case of a Magus the weapon damage gets bundled together with the effects of the spell as a single attack. So your cold touch, unarmed strike, harm delivered via Magus spellstrike would do the cold, crushing damage, and harm effect as one instance of damage. And if that would reduce the target to less than 1 hp they have 1 hp.

Lots of GMs allow people to strike someone instead of just touch attack to deliver a touch spell, but it isn't by the rules.


Discharging touch spells through unarmed or natural attacks is absolutely RAW, from the Combat Chaptef of the CRB, "holding the charge" section:

Alternatively, you may make a normal unarmed attack (or an attack with a natural weapon) while holding a charge. In this case, you aren't considered armed and you provoke attacks of opportunity as normal for the attack. If your unarmed attack or natural weapon attack normally doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity, neither does this attack. If the attack hits, you deal normal damage for your unarmed attack or natural weapon and the spell discharges. If the attack misses, you are still holding the charge.


Agénor wrote:

I go back to a general case, what if a charge of Harm is held and delivered through a punch enhanced with frost damage? It deals Harm damage plus punch damage plus frost damage.

It is still only one damage roll in total. Is it bound by the limitations of Harm? I say that it isn't.

That's a totally different case. Harm + Sneak Attack is all negative energy damage and all coming from the same source. Harm plus Punch plus Frost is 3 different types of damage: negative energy damage, physical (bludgeoning) damage, and cold damage.

The FAQ linked above says the Sneak Attack is added to the attack, not the spell. Sneak Attack deals damage of whatever type the attack is. The same FAQ also clearly says the Sneak Attack adds damage on top of those dealt by the spell.

In this case the spell is the attack. The damage is added to the total of the spell, but is still being delivered by the spell, and is therefore subject to the limitations imposed by the spell. If you had a touch spell that only damages orcs, and you used that spell to touch an elf you wouldn't get sneak attack damage on top of your zero damage spell(since as far as the elf is concerned you just touched them).

Meirril wrote:
Well, technically there are no rules to punch someone to delver a touch spell unless you have an ability that says you can.

You can deliver touch spells through unarmed strikes or natural attacks. I recommend reading HERE for information on touch spells (made for Magus characters, but good for anyone wanting to used touch spells).

If you don't discharge the spell in the round when you cast the spell, you can hold the charge indefinitely. You can continue to make touch attacks round after round. If you touch anything or anyone while holding a charge, even unintentionally, the spell discharges. If you cast another spell, the touch spell dissipates. You can touch one friend as a standard action or up to six friends as a full-round action. Alternatively, you may make a normal unarmed attack (or an attack with a natural weapon) while holding a charge. In this case, you aren't considered armed and you provoke attacks of opportunity as normal for the attack. If your unarmed attack or natural weapon attack normally doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity, neither does this attack. If the attack hits, you deal normal damage for your unarmed attack or natural weapon and the spell discharges. If the attack misses, you are still holding the charge.

EDIT: Ninjava'd


We are zeroing on the point that has us rule differently, I like this progress.

MrCharisma wrote:
In this case the spell is the attack. The damage is added to the total of the spell, but is still being delivered by the spell, and is therefore subject to the limitations imposed by the spell. If you had a touch spell that only damages orcs, and you used that spell to touch an elf you wouldn't get sneak attack damage on top of your zero damage spell(since as far as the elf is concerned you just touched them).

Line-by-line answer to this paragraph.

Quote:
In this case the spell is the attack.

I disagree. In this case the attack is comprised of the spell plus the Sneak Attack. The Sneak Attack is part of the attack, not an additional effect, as word of god was linked earlier.

Quote:
The damage is added to the total of the spell, but is still being delivered by the spell, and is therefore subject to the limitations imposed by the spell.

The damage is delivered by the attack, not by the spell hence only the portion of damage coming from the spell is limited by the internal rules of the spell.

Quote:
If you had a touch spell that only damages orcs, and you used that spell to touch an elf you wouldn't get sneak attack damage on top of your zero damage spell(since as far as the elf is concerned you just touched them).

Very interesting case!

Let's assume the spell deals negative energy, or any type of energy to which the target doesn't have immunity to. A Sneak Attack would then add negative energy damage. Performed on a non-Orc, the portion of the damage coming from the spell doesn't damage the Elf, because of the rules internal to the spell, but the portion coming from the Sneak Attack does.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

If a target is immune to an attack it is also immune to the sneak attack damage. Sneak attack just makes the damage a bigger number.


If it were the case, then there would be no immunity to precision damage. Damage from Sneak Attack isn't damage from Harm otherwise they wouldn't be separable.

In the example, the target isn't immune to the attack, the spell portion of it deals zero damage to the target but the attack succeeds, any effect to which the target isn't immune to triggers.

Grand Lodge

I think the issue ultimately stems from the 'order of operations' of the attack. Harm affects a creature with 2hp the same it does a target with 200- no matter how much health they have they can't be reduced below 1hp.

So we end up with a chicken-or-the-egg situation: With something like a held charge of Harm being delivered via unarmed strike (or Oracular Spellstrike from the Ascetic mystery), what damage is resolved first, the weapon damage or the spell damage? In this case, it seems like the damage happens simultaneously. While I agree sneak attack or other precision damage added to a harm spell would not reduce a person to below 1 hp, I still think it's unclear if weapon damage that happens at the same time as the spell would drop them below 1. I'm still on the fence on that.

However, if you take something like a spell storing weapon (with the ability to discharge a Harm spell) which requires an immediate action to discharge after a hit, the damage from the weapon is dealt before the actual spell goes off.


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Agénor wrote:
Quote:
In this case the spell is the attack.
I disagree ... The Sneak Attack is part of the attack, not an additional effect, as word of god was linked earlier.

I'm confused by this. You say you disagree with me, then you seem to agree with me, then you come to a different conclusion.

(Not trying to pick a fight, I'm genuinely confused by this. I think getting to the bottom of this this might help us communicate better.)

Agénor wrote:
If it were the case, then there would be no immunity to precision damage.

I'm not sure why you think that.

There are other things can be affected by multiple immunities, eg. the FROSTBITE spell is both cold damage and non-lethal damage. An enemy immune to either would be unaffected by the spell. Likewise an enemy immune to negative energy would be immune to both the Harm spell and the Sneak Attack damage applied, while an enemy immune to sneak attack damage would take damage from the spell but not the sneak attack damage.

If the damage were negated by DR or ER this would work differently.

Eg. If you have an attack that deals 5 damage, and an enemy has DR:10 you'd deal no damage. If you deal 5 damage plus 10 damage from the attack the whole thing is calculated together to be 15 damage, which takes you over the threshold of DR:10, allowing you to deal 5 damage. This only works by assuming that the attack and the sneak-attack are added together before applying DR/resistances/etc. They are the same attack, you just have a way to increase the damage. This is why I say Harm + SA wouldn't reduce them to less than 1hp.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Agénor wrote:

If it were the case, then there would be no immunity to precision damage. Damage from Sneak Attack isn't damage from Harm otherwise they wouldn't be separable.

In the example, the target isn't immune to the attack, the spell portion of it deals zero damage to the target but the attack succeeds, any effect to which the target isn't immune to triggers.

Incorrect. Sneak attack is extra damage not separate damage. If a creature is immune to sneak attack or has a chance to negate it and succedes then you don't roll it.


Agénor wrote:

If it were the case, then there would be no immunity to precision damage. Damage from Sneak Attack isn't damage from Harm otherwise they wouldn't be separable.

In the example, the target isn't immune to the attack, the spell portion of it deals zero damage to the target but the attack succeeds, any effect to which the target isn't immune to triggers.

You have a very strange idea of what precision damage is. Precision damage is exploiting a vulnerability from the target. Things that are immune to precision damage are in situations where you can't find the vulnerability. This is why you can't sneak attack things that have concealment.

Precision damage needs a condition. In the case of sneak attack the dice get added to whatever the attack is when those conditions are met. So in the case of Harm being delivered as a touch attack, the sneak attack dice get added to the Harm's base damage. And if the touched subject happens to be immune to Harm, then it blows off all of the damage. Like say you tried to Harm a Vampire that you believe is just a normal person. The sneak attack doesn't do anything because the target is immune.

On the other hand, if you sneak attack a zombie with a club you get the additional dice added to the attack which could allow you to overcome the zombie's DR. The sneak attack dice get added to whatever attack you are using and the damage type doesn't change. So if you make a really inefficient kinetisist that has a few dice of sneak attack damage and they threw a composite blast it would just add to the damage and be of whatever type the composite blast normally is.


MrCharisma wrote:

I'm confused by this. You say you disagree with me, then you seem to agree with me, then you come to a different conclusion.

(Not trying to pick a fight, I'm genuinely confused by this. I think getting to the bottom of this this might help us communicate better.)

No worry! I am enjoying discussing with you and I feel the same way.

I'll explain my point with different wording, to try to alleviate the confusion.
You say attack = spell.
I say attack = spell + Sneak Attack. This is the key point.

The spell isn't the attack, it is part but not all of the attack. Both the spell and the Sneak attack make the entirety of the attack.

GeneticDrift wrote:
Sneak attack is extra damage not separate damage.

The Sneak Attack is extra damage to the total attack, not to the spell. Feats like Empower Spell increase the damage of the spell itself.

- as a side note, if Sneak Attack increased the damage of the spell, it would be affected by metamagic feats, it isn't -

Meirril wrote:
Like say you tried to Harm a Vampire that you believe is just a normal person. The sneak attack doesn't do anything because the target is immune.

Because in this example, the vampire is immune to the relevant type of energy, something which I made sure to address earlier, developing on the example of the spell that deals damage to Orcs only via an energy type to which an Elf isn't immune.

MrCharisma wrote:
Eg. If you have an attack that deals ( .... ) They are the same attack, you just have a way to increase the damage. This is why I say Harm + SA wouldn't reduce them to less than 1hp.

They are the same attack, they are tallied up to overcome DR but the attack isn't only Harm, it is also has S.A. Hence my disagreement with the last sentence of this quote.


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Agénor wrote:


They are the same attack, they are tallied up to overcome DR but the attack isn't only Harm, it is also has S.A. Hence my disagreement with the last sentence of this quote.

And what other type of damage is being done by the Sneak Attack? This FAQ answer says "the extra damage is only added once to one ray" which implies that sneak attack damage increases the amount of damage the attack you are performing does. Which also denotes that it doesn't change the damage type and it has all of the other effects of the source.

So in the case of a Harm spell, you can't drop the target below 1 hp, and with a Vampiric Touch you gain HP from the increased sneak attack damage.

There are certainly no provisions that state that sneak attack damage does a different type of damage, or that it has any special rules to bypass DR or immunizes. Or if you still want to insist on that, start linking rules, FAQ, or any other source that actually backs up your conjecture because at this point you've got nothing other than a stubborn insistence that you are correct.


Meirril wrote:
And what other type of damage is being done by the Sneak Attack? This FAQ answer says "the extra damage is only added once to one ray" which implies that sneak attack damage increases the amount of damage the attack you are performing does. Which also denotes that it doesn't change the damage type and it has all of the other effects of the source.

The type of damage has never been in question, the question is whether the damage from the Sneak Attack is part of the damage inflicted by the spell or part of the damage of the attack without being part of the damage of the spell.

The FAQ you link to says nothing about the damage from Sneak Attack being part of the damage of the spell, only part of the damage of the attack, hence supporting my point and strongly weakening yours given that if the damage from Sneak Attack were part of the damage inflicted by the spell rather than the attack as a whole, surely this same FAQ would clearly state it. However, this FAQ doesn't says no such thing hence my conclusion.

Meirril wrote:
There are certainly no provisions that state that sneak attack damage does a different type of damage, or that it has any special rules to bypass DR or immunizes.

There aren't because Sneak Attack doesn't do a different type of damage. However, I believe you are not understanding the point being discussed. The point being discussed is whether the damage from Sneak Attack is damage from the spell itself or not.

Meirril wrote:
if you still want to insist on that, start linking rules, FAQ, or any other source that actually backs up your conjecture because at this point you've got nothing other than a stubborn insistence that you are correct.

The use of the imperative, giving an me a direct order, is not something I take kindly to, especially when asking me to link to something to back my views up when you yourself have just linked to something that doesn't back you up, au contraire, finding yourself at fault of what you accuse me and more.

If the damage from the Sneak Attack is limited by Harm, then does it get Maximised by the feat?
For as Kayerloth said,

Quote:
What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The maximize/empower question is irrelevant and the SA harm question has already been answered per previous postslink.

There are 7+ threads discussing maximized or empowered spells and sneak attack. Neither way it is answered changes the answer to your question.


GeneticDrift wrote:
The maximize/empower question is irrelevant

It is entirely relevant.

The question is whether the damage from Sneak Attack is part of the damage of the spell, the only way to have it bound by the limitations of the spell. If the damage from the Sneak Attack isn't part of the damage of the spell then the damage from the Sneak Attack isn't bound by the limitations of the spell.
This is the one and only question this thread is about, this is what is being discussed here and nothing else is being discussed here.
This is the general case I was reaching to earlier, a general case from which to deduce the specific case at hand.

Do not confuse the spell with the attack, the spell is part of the attack but the attack is more than just the spell. I do not claim nor have I claimed earlier that the damage from the Sneak Attack isn't part of the damage of the attack. I claim that the spell and the attack are different entities and that damage from the Sneak Attack isn't part of the damage of the spell.

Checking whether something that modifies the damage of the spell affects the damage of Sneak Attack is a good way of assessing that it isn't part of the damage of the spell. It is called a logical proof by counterexample.
As we all agree, the damage of Sneak Attack isn't affected by feats that maximise the damage of the spell.
Hence the damage of Sneak Attack isn't part of the damage of the spell. This is what is debated here. We all agree on the premise but disagree on the conclusion.
I say that you rule one way in a case, Maximise, and the other in another case, Harm, of the same question.

In this post and the previous two, I've tried to be exact and precise. I'd appreciate if you'd point out the specific points of my reasoning with which you disagree and develop why and how come you disagree with said points.
The same stands for me, I would wholeheartedly change my opinion if shown that indeed, the damage from Sneak Attack is part of the damage of the spell. The goal is progress, I'd rather have been proven wrong than stay wrong if I am wrong which is why I make clear what my argument stands on, what is to be demonstrated to show it wrong.


Agénor wrote:
Do not confuse the spell with the attack, the spell is part of the attack but the attack is more than just the spell.

Ok I think this is where the confusion is coming from.

The spell isn't part of the attack - it's the other way around - the attack is part of the spell.

Touch Spells in Combat: Many spells have a range of touch. To use these spells, you cast the spell and then touch the subject. In the same round that you cast the spell, you may also touch (or attempt to touch) as a free action. You may take your move before casting the spell, after touching the target, or between casting the spell and touching the target. You can automatically touch one friend or use the spell on yourself, but to touch an opponent, you must succeed on an attack roll.

Touch Attacks: Touching an opponent with a touch spell is considered to be an armed attack and therefore does not provoke attacks of opportunity. The act of casting a spell, however, does provoke an attack of opportunity. Touch attacks come in two types: melee touch attacks and ranged touch attacks. You can score critical hits with either type of attack as long as the spell deals damage. Your opponent's AC against a touch attack does not include any armor bonus, shield bonus, or natural armor bonus. His size modifier, Dexterity modifier, and deflection bonus (if any) all apply normally.

As for sneak attack not being affected by feats/crits/etc, the reason for that isnthat sneak attack has specific language which states that it doesn't get multiplied.

The reason GenericDrift thinks the maximize/empower spell rulings are irrelevant is that they are discussing a different thing. Empower/maximize talk about multiplying or changing the amount of damage dealt, while the issue with Harm is more an issue of "order of operations".

Agénor wrote:
The question is whether the damage from Sneak Attack is part of the damage of the spell, the only way to have it bound by the limitations of the spell. If the damage from the Sneak Attack isn't part of the damage of the spell then the damage from the Sneak Attack isn't bound by the limitations of the spell. 

This is also a flase dichotomy. You state that "if X then Y" and "if (no X) then (no Y)". This isn't the case. It's an easy thing to assume, but we have no evidence that it's true (and in this case it isn't).

@Meirril. This seems like a clear case of misunderstanding. Try to keep it civil (you weren't uncivil, but you sound impatient). Nobody ever changed their mind because someone else told them they have to.

@Agénor. Since you have consensus against you, try to see if you can think of us as right (as a thought exercise) and see if you can justify to yourself how this way of thinking can be consistent. Try reading through some rulebooks with the assumption that skeak attack is not seperate damage, but is integrally combined with the damage from the attack.

Silver Crusade

I think that many of you are forgetting that spell damage and sneak damage are two separate types of damage they are separate and added together.
two things back my logic up Dr/Magic does not affect Sneak attack damage and Fortifaction in no way affects spell damage even on a Crit, I do not even think that Harm gets bonus damage on a Critical Hit. To deal Critical damage you cannot deal a fixed damage amount like Harm deals the spell would have to deal a variable amount of damage like Shocking Grasp
or fireball. There are two Ways that I can think of dealing fixed amount of damage on a Crit but they are both from the Mythic rules nothing to my knowledge in non mythic rules allows fixed damage on weaponed critical hits. IMO Harm was a poor example spell to Pick by the OP If he wanted a Necromatic Spell that could deal Critical damage I would have selected Vampric Touch.


Lou Diamond wrote:
I think that many of you are forgetting that spell damage and sneak damage are two separate types of damage they are separate and added together.

ok just to get this out of the way, here is the wording of sneak attack.

The rogue's attack deals extra damage ...

Grammatically this is saying that it's one source of damage, but it deals more damage than usual (the exact mechanics are described further down the paragraph). It's one attack, and it deals extra damage.

Lou Diamond wrote:
two things back my logic up Dr/Magic does not affect Sneak attack damage ...

DR/Magic absolutely does affect sneak attack.

If an enemy has DR:20/Magic and you hit them with a non-magical weapon for 10 weapon damage plus 15 sneak attack damage your target will take 5 damage (15 + 10 = 25 damage minus the DR:20). The sneak attack is added to the total before applying DR (so the attack is not subject to DR twice, but it is subject to DR).

If an enemy has DR:20/Magic and you hit them with a magical weapon for 10 weapon damage plus 15 sneak attack damage your target will take 25 damage. The entire damage is counted as one damage so it will bypass the DR:Magic since the weapon is magic.

Lou Diamond wrote:
...and Fortifaction in no way affects spell damage even on a Crit, ...

If you mean FORTIFICATION ARMOUR and similar effects I don't see why it wouldn't affect a critical hit on a spell. I don't actually have a ruling for this example though (I've never thought to look it up before) so I'm prepared to be proven wrong if you have a source for that.

Lou Diamond wrote:
... I do not even think that Harm gets bonus damage on a Critical Hit.

It does:

Touch Attacks: Touching an opponent with a touch spell is considered to be an armed attack and therefore does not provoke attacks of opportunity. The act of casting a spell, however, does provoke an attack of opportunity. Touch attacks come in two types: melee touch attacks and ranged touch attacks. You can score critical hits with either type of attack as long as the spell deals damage. Your opponent's AC against a touch attack does not include any armor bonus, shield bonus, or natural armor bonus. His size modifier, Dexterity modifier, and deflection bonus (if any) all apply normally.

This has already been posted in this thread at least once, but it is a dense paragraph to get through. I included the whole paragraph to make it easier for you to find the information in the source (which is linked in the title of the quote) so that you know I'm not making it up.

Also there's this quote from another section:

Spells and Critical Hits: A spell that requires an attack roll can score a critical hit. A spell attack that requires no attack roll cannot score a critical hit. If a spell causes ability damage or drain (see Special Abilities), the damage or drain is doubled on a critical hit.
Lou Diamond wrote:
To deal Critical damage you cannot deal a fixed damage amount like Harm deals the spell would have to deal a variable amount of damage like Shocking Grasp or fireball...

Shocking Grasp can crit, but fireball can't. You need to roll an attack roll to crit.

Lou Diamond wrote:
... There are two Ways that I can think of dealing fixed amount of damage on a Crit but they are both from the Mythic rules nothing to my knowledge in non mythic rules allows fixed damage on weaponed critical hits.

Maximized Shocking Grasp? Or there's the MEASURED RESPONSE feat?

Lou Diamond wrote:
IMO Harm was a poor example spell to Pick by the OP If he wanted a Necromatic Spell that could deal Critical damage I would have selected Vampric Touch.

Even without crits Harm can deal up to 150 damage. Harm does significantly more damage than even high damage spells like Disintegrate (which becomes available to PCs at the same level that Harm does).


Lou Diamond wrote:

I think that many of you are forgetting that spell damage and sneak damage are two separate types of damage they are separate and added together. 1

two things back my logic up Dr/Magic does not affect2 Sneak attack damage and Fortifaction in no way affects spell damage even on a Crit, I do not even think that Harm gets bonus 3/ damage on a Critical Hit. To deal Critical damage you cannot deal a fixed damage4 amount like Harm deals the spell would have to deal a variable amount of damage like Shocking Grasp
or fireball. There are two Ways that I can think of dealing fixed amount of damage on a Crit but they are both from the Mythic rules nothing to my knowledge in non mythic rules allows fixed damage on weaponed critical hits. IMO Harm was a poor example spell to Pick by the OP If he wanted a Necromatic Spell that could deal Critical damage I would have selected Vampric Touch.

1 while they are separate things they have been ruled (look up) to be the same type of damage. reason is they start as separate calculation of the total up damage done. which bring us to-

2 what? that is just plain wrong. a level1 rogue attacking a mob with 10/magic with his unmagical dagger doing 1d4 + sneak of 1d6 +1 for str who roll a 2+4+1 wold deal 0 damage not 4 (4 being the roll for the sneak dice). the dr would totally stop the sneak. the only thing is the sneak add up the total of the attack so if the total is high enough to go past the dr trash-hold some damage is dealt.

3 been in core rules.(combat section)

touch spells do double on crit:
Touch Attacks: Touching an opponent with a touch spell is considered to be an armed attack and therefore does not provoke attacks of opportunity. The act of casting a spell, however, does provoke an attack of opportunity. Touch attacks come in two types: melee touch attacks and ranged touch attacks. You can score critical hits with either type of attack as long as the spell deals damage. Your opponent’s AC against a touch attack does not include any armor bonus, shield bonus, or natural armor bonus. His size modifier, Dexterity modifier, and deflection bonus (if any) all apply normally.
.

4 nothing ever said crit has to be a range of damage and that fixed damage cant crit. by your reasoning no maximized spell will ever crit. also you can find some tiny light weapons or a small blowgun(they deal 1 damage) they have a crit range non the less.


Agénor wrote:

I go back to a general case, what if a charge of Harm is held and delivered through a punch enhanced with frost damage? It deals Harm damage plus punch damage plus frost damage.

It is still only one damage roll in total. Is it bound by the limitations of Harm? I say that it isn't.

Yes, specific trumps general is indeed about rules, not rulings. I typed too quickly before having to go.

The FAQ linked above says the Sneak Attack is added to the attack, not the spell. Sneak Attack deals damage of whatever type the attack is. The same FAQ also clearly says the Sneak Attack adds damage on top of those dealt by the spell.

No.

In this case you have three distinct damage sources. Harm is negative energy, the fist is blunt damage, and the Frost is cold damage.

Each damage source is applied separately, and each can be mitigated independently of the others.

Meirril wrote:
Well, technically there are no rules to punch someone to delver a touch spell unless you have an ability that says you can.
Touch Spells in Combat wrote:
Alternatively, you may make a normal unarmed attack (or an attack with a natural weapon) while holding a charge. In this case, you aren’t considered armed and you provoke attacks of opportunity as normal for the attack. If your unarmed attack or natural weapon attack normally doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity, neither does this attack. If the attack hits, you deal normal damage for your unarmed attack or natural weapon and the spell discharges. If the attack misses, you are still holding the charge.


MrCharisma wrote:
@Agénor. Since you have consensus against you, try to see if you can think of us as right (as a thought exercise) and see if you can justify to yourself how this way of thinking can be consistent. Try reading through some rulebooks with the assumption that skeak attack is not seperate damage, but is integrally combined with the damage from the attack.

I am taking your advice - and being caught up with by life. I am not dropping this conversation but reviewing each point on both sides with finesse, trying to do so without prejudice. It will take a bit of time, hopefully, whatever the answer is, it will be an interesting and fun exercise.


For what it's worth...

... those pointing out Jason's point about Sneak Attack damage affecting the damage rolled...

... Harm does not involve a damage roll. It just stipulates that after the spell takes effect, you have 1 HP left.

From my POV, it would seem, therefore, that the sneak attack damage would be added from there.

That said, as someone else pointed out up thread, I think it comes down to the order of operations.


Technically Harm does a fixed hp amount of 10/level in damage, then a save for 1/2 damage. Then the additional stipulation that this damage whether the saved amount or not cannot reduce the target to less than 1 hp.

To me that attack is one single attack so an order of operations doesn't really make sense. It's a sneak attack which basically just means the attack in question is aimed at a particularly vital and sensitive area of the target creature and the extra dice of damage are the result of connecting with that vital area of the creature, i.e. the Harm spell hit in an especially vulnerable area and results in increased damage. Whatever the ruling/rules they should reflect this basic fact.


Agénor wrote:
MrCharisma wrote:
@Agénor. Since you have consensus against you, try to see if you can think of us as right (as a thought exercise) and see if you can justify to yourself how this way of thinking can be consistent. Try reading through some rulebooks with the assumption that skeak attack is not seperate damage, but is integrally combined with the damage from the attack.
I am taking your advice - and being caught up with by life. I am not dropping this conversation but reviewing each point on both sides with finesse, trying to do so without prejudice. It will take a bit of time, hopefully, whatever the answer is, it will be an interesting and fun exercise.

That's fantastic. Even if you don't come to the same conclusion this is something most people find very difficult, so thanks for giving it a go =)

Kayerloth wrote:
To me that attack is one single attack so an order of operations doesn't really make sense.

The order people are having trouble with is:

(Harm + Sneak Attack) >=1hp

OR

(Harm >=1hp) + Sneak Attack


My two cents:

Sneak Attack wrote:
The rogue’s attack deals extra damage anytime her target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), or when the rogue flanks her target.

Emphasis mine.

The sneak attack damage is part of the damage of Harm, therefore it's subject to the same 1 hp minimum overall.


Here are the cases.

1) normal touch attack. The sneak attack becomes part of the harm, and can't reduce below 1.
2) charge delivered through a normal attack. The sneak attack damage is same type as the normal attack. Say it's a punch. The harm damage cannot bring the person below 1, and the sneak attack tacks on subdual damage. This is actually pretty awesome, as harm+punch subdual=sneak attack subdual will knock out the target, because subdual damage is greater than current hit points. Note that this still won't kill with Harm. But you CAN get the knockout, if your punch deals subdual damage. If your attack that delivers the charge deals normal damage, then it gets tricky. I'm inclined to believe the spell discharge triggers after, in which case it still will not kill.

TL:DR; Harm vs touch AC cannot kill. even with sneak attack. As part of a subdual daamge attack, Harm CAN cause a knock out.


MrCharisma wrote:

The order people are having trouble with is:

(Harm + Sneak Attack) >=1hp

OR

(Harm >=1hp) + Sneak Attack

Looking at the abilities there is another sequence that also makes sense to me.

(Weapon + Sneak Attack) then (Harm <= 1 hp)

This is based on the wording from Touch spells in combat which seems to imply the spell discharges after the weapon damage has been resolved. Which would make it work the same way a spell storing weapon works.


LordKailas wrote:
MrCharisma wrote:

The order people are having trouble with is:

(Harm + Sneak Attack) >=1hp

OR

(Harm >=1hp) + Sneak Attack

Looking at the abilities there is another sequence that also makes sense to me.

(Weapon + Sneak Attack) then (Harm <= 1 hp)

This is based on the wording from Touch spells in combat which seems to imply the spell discharges after the weapon damage has been resolved. Which would make it work the same way a spell storing weapon works.

If delivered via unarmed strike, sneak damage may only be applied once, but the character would get to choose which attack it applied to.


Volkard Abendroth wrote:
LordKailas wrote:
MrCharisma wrote:

The order people are having trouble with is:

(Harm + Sneak Attack) >=1hp

OR

(Harm >=1hp) + Sneak Attack

Looking at the abilities there is another sequence that also makes sense to me.

(Weapon + Sneak Attack) then (Harm <= 1 hp)

This is based on the wording from Touch spells in combat which seems to imply the spell discharges after the weapon damage has been resolved. Which would make it work the same way a spell storing weapon works.

If delivered via unarmed strike, sneak damage may only be applied once, but the character would get to choose which attack it applied to.

Actually the SA is applied to the primary attack/damage type, in this case the UAS. E.g, if you had a flaming weapon you could not choose to have the SA apply to the flame damage, it always applies to the weapon itself. If you were delivering the spell via touch on cast, then the spell itself is the "weapon".

As to the topic, I agree with those that say SA is part of the harm damage. SA isn't separate damage as shown by the fact that DR/energy resistance is not applied to the SA damage separately.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Here's a weird corner case that might help - what if you aren't doing sneak attack damage, or even lethal damage, with that punch?

Imagine your LN cleric (Irori) 13/monk 1 who casts harm, and then follows that up with a nonlethal punch.

Let's imagine that the monk knows that they're attacking a target with less than 100 hit points remaining, so if they fail that save, they'll be reduced to 1 hit point.

Let's also imagine that the target does indeed fail that save, and takes 130 HP of damage - reducing them to 1 - but they also take nonlethal damage from the punch.

Since nonlethal is tracked separately from hit points, does the target fall unconscious? What happens to the nonlethal damage?


I would assume they would still take the nonlethal (it's not breaking any conditions of Harm even if we assume that harm would apply it's min. 1 hp rule to the attack) and then pass out if they now have 1 hp and at least 1 non-lethal


Agénor wrote:
The type of damage has never been in question, the question is whether the damage from the Sneak Attack is part of the damage inflicted by the spell or part of the damage of the attack without being part of the damage of the spell.

"the extra damage is only added once to one ray" The sneak attack damage is added to the attack that it is being applied to. If it wasn't be added, then damage reduction would be applied to both the attack and the sneak damage separately which is obviously not done.

And again I'll point to vampiric touch. The amount of HP gained increases because the sneak attack is added to the amount the spell does. If it was a separate pool of damage then the hp gained shouldn't be altered at all.

Agénor wrote:
If the damage from the Sneak Attack is limited by Harm, then does it get Maximised by the feat?

And the whole damage adding thing answers this as well. Maxamize affects the spell, and sneak attack damage gets added on top of that. Sneak attack doesn't alter the spell, so there isn't any reason why metamagic feats should be applied to the sneak attack. Especially since sneak attack isn't like magic, but more like a circumstance bonus.


Imagine a moment that Target were immune to harm.

What happens if a rogue sneak attacks with a spell touch?

I think the point is that a rogue can use precision placement to cause extra damage with whatever he is wielding.

A trickster can aim that scorching Ray precisely the right point. A regular rogue knows how to twist the knife just so.

If the victim is immune to harm I would say that he is immune to any extra harm, from placement.

So in the more usual case, where the victim is not immune to harm, I would say that the limitations of the spell apply.

If the victim saves or has hit points in excess of the damage caused, then sneak may add to it.

But the limitations of harm apply. When you are using fire you are limited by fire resistance; when you are using harm you are limited to the one hit point remaining.


I've given consideration to the points that were raised here and followed the advice I was given to go back to the rules to check for consistency.

I've found that Vampiric Touch isn't a valid comparison as its rules speak of the damage dealt by the attack when those of Harm speak of the damage of spell.

Vampiric Touch wrote:
You gain temporary hit points equal to the damage you deal.
Harm wrote:
Harm cannot reduce the target’s hit points to less than 1.

From there, it is only normal that since rules-wise the damage of the attack and the damage of the spell aren't equivalent, their outcome with Sneak Attack are not necessarily identical.

- Indeed, damage from Sneak Attack is included in the temporary hit points gained from Vampiric Touch -

About seeing the question as being about order of operations, this isn't the case. It is a question of the touch attack being comprised of the spell charge and the Sneak Attack or the spell being the touch attack with spell charge and the Sneak Attack.
The rules clearly say that the attack is a free action on its own, not part of the spell. MrCharisma already kindly quoted and linked the rules above so I'll only link to it, for reference purposes, « Touch Spells in Combat ».
From there, I conclude that a touch attack is comprised of a spell charge and a Sneak Attack, if any.
- a question of order of operation would be a damaging spell both Empowered and Maximised -

I've found in the rules a mechanism internal to many spells that alters the damage dealt, the save for half damage.
Given a damage dealing spell that requires a touch attack and allows a save for half damage - I think we have one at hand^^ -, would a successful save also negate half the damage from Sneak Attack? If it were damage integral to the spell, it would be halved. However, it isn't halved as it is damage from the attack but not from the spell.

Edit: There a few points raised here that I didn't address, such as the claim Sneak Attack damage being integral to spell damage because of how it interacts with Damage Reduction. As showing them wrong would still not mean the point I am making to be valid, I chose not to develop them but to focus on demonstrating what I believe is correct.
I would however develop said points if one asked me to.


Agénor wrote:

I've given consideration to the points that were raised here and followed the advice I was given to go back to the rules to check for consistency.

I've found that Vampiric Touch isn't a valid comparison as its rules speak of the damage dealt by the attack when those of Harm speak of the damage of spell.

Vampiric Touch wrote:
You gain temporary hit points equal to the damage you deal.
Harm wrote:
Harm cannot reduce the target’s hit points to less than 1.

From there, it is only normal that since rules-wise the damage of the attack and the damage of the spell aren't equivalent, their outcome with Sneak Attack are not necessarily identical.

- Indeed, damage from Sneak Attack is included in the temporary hit points gained from Vampiric Touch -

You're making a meaningless distinction here. In both cases you determine the damage the spell would normally do and then add the sneak attack damage to that. Then you check to see what the after effects of the spell are. If you don't agree with that, then walk it through the way you think it should work. I think you'll come to understand it has to work the way I just said it does.

Agénor wrote:
From there, I conclude that a touch attack is comprised of a spell charge and a Sneak Attack, if any.

Answered in Sneak Attack's definition. "The rogue’s attack deals extra damage anytime her target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), or when the rogue flanks her target." As in the carrier attack gets bigger. Not some extra package of sneak attack damage. Though sneak attack damage has extra rules limiting what can effect it and when it can be applied.

To recap: the attack is inflated by the sneak attack damage. You add the sneak attack damage directly to the attack the character is making.


Agénor wrote:
Given a damage dealing spell that requires a touch attack and allows a save for half damage - I think we have one at hand^^ -, would a successful save also negate half the damage from Sneak Attack? If it were damage integral to the spell, it would be halved. However, it isn't halved as it is damage from the attack but not from the spell.
Arcane Trickster wrote:

Surprise Spells

At 10th level, an arcane trickster can add her sneak attack damage to any spell that deals damage, if the targets are flat-footed. This additional damage only applies to spells that deal hit point damage, and the additional damage is of the same type as the spell. If the spell allows a saving throw to negate or halve the damage, it also negates or halves the sneak attack damage.

I think that acts as a strong suggestion of what should happen.


Honestly, at this point I think everything that needs to be said has been said.

Agénor if you're happy with that definition, then that's how you should play it. Just be aware that a lot of GMs probably won't agree with you (although it's a niche enough case that most GMs will probably make a ruling on the fly and look it up later). Thanks for really looking at it from the alternate perspective. Even if you and I didn't end up on the same page it's great to see someone entertaining the possibility that they could be mistaken.

Otherwise I think we've flogged this dead horse enough. The OP (Sintog) hasn't replied once, so I assume (s)he got what (s)he wanted. Anyone looking on the future has all the info needed to inform their decision. If you want to keep this going then great, but I don't think I have anything new to add.

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