Why can't you trample a swarm?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


It seems like a medium creature should be able to trample a swarm of really small (fine or diminutive) creatures as long as they can't fly. Indeed, I think it would be a good thing to add as swarms are pretty overpowered anyway. How much damage should the trample do? maybe 1d6+1.5x str modifier?


If it's u see like 30 cockroach how many of u can kill if you run over them? That answer is the same whit the swarm like 2 to 5 in 1 run because whet to u are near they disperse


Swarms aren't immune nor have special resistance against trampling. Though I do not think you are referring to the Trample present in the rules, that is an extension of Overrun.

Allowing any creature, of adequate size, to trample, as per the Monster rules, a swarm could be interesting. It should go in the Homebrew section, though.
Without Improved Overrun, one should still provokes an attack of opportunity from the swarm.

Sovereign Court

Trample, the monster universal ability, deals damage equal to the creature's slam damage with 1.5x str mod.
Trample, the feat, is an extension of Overrun as previously noted, which has no effect on swarms since it is a single target attack and requires that you knock the target prone.


I meant like the monster ability (which player races don't have normally but I could see allowing it in this one specific instance)


It would be a reasonable house rule. It might not even need to target only swarms. Maybe any creature can trample any other creature providing it at least 15 feet movement speed, something resembling feet, and there is a size different of at least three categories.

It probably shouldn't be as good as a creature with the actual Trample ability; maybe it needs a combat maneuver roll, and inflicts base damage of 1d6 + Str modifier, damage dice increased or decreased with creature size. Provokes AoO if you would provoke AoO for Overrun. Reflex save for half (DC = 10 + 1/2 the trampler’s HD + Str modifier). Multiplied by 1.5 for swarms, as it's area-effect damage.

Of course, this would mean that any Huge creature would gain the ability to trample gnomes and halflings.


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Agénor wrote:
Without Improved Overrun, one should still provokes an attack of opportunity from the swarm.

I'm not sure swarms can even make attacks of oportunity. The descriptions of the subtype states that they need to enter the opponent's square (not the other way around) to make an attack.


Adjoint wrote:
Agénor wrote:
Without Improved Overrun, one should still provokes an attack of opportunity from the swarm.
I'm not sure swarms can even make attacks of oportunity. The descriptions of the subtype states that they need to enter the opponent's square (not the other way around) to make an attack.

I think you're right. They don't even make attack rolls, just automatically deal the listed damage to anything inside their space (part of why they are so overpowered.)


Swarm traits are also generic enough that they include swarms in flight. Can't trample airborne foes. Dev's would need to split that hair if they were allowing trample to affect a swarm, and I think PF has enough hair-splitting as it is...


Yeah, I was going to ask if the OP had ever been in a swarm of yellow jacket wasps. Not trample there. Just overrunning all your friends trying to escape.


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No need to involve the Dev. We are squarely in the Homebrew domain. Each G.M. decides on its own whether to allow for trampling of swarms.

If there is no attack of opportunity, then I'll go with damage of opportunity^^ Anyone big enough relative to individual members of a swarm can trample a non-flying swarm. However, without Improved Overrun, the trampler suffers the normal damage by the swarm when it enters a square of the swarm.


I said in the original post it would only apply to swarms that can't fly.


DungeonmasterCal wrote:
Yeah, I was going to ask if the OP had ever been in a swarm of yellow jacket wasps. Not trample there. Just overrunning all your friends trying to escape.

I've never been able to cast spells either or all the myriad of fantastic abilities a Pathfinder character can perform, this doesn't preclude me from discussing their rules.

Level 0 commoners will run away. A character level 6, I do not think so^^


I've never liked the fact that swarms are immune to weapon damage. Or at least in high magic games where the PCs ate capable of incredible feats. It just sort of bums out the martials and the casters have to do the work. Save for the right combo of magic items, but still. Why can't Astrid Mountain-Puncher* pick up a huge slab of rock and smush a swarm? Is grappling a dragon the size of a battleship that much more realistic.

*Note to self: create a character named Astrid Mountain-Puncher.

I've thought about giving swarms very high DR (in addition to half damage from non-bludgeoning damage). Like DR 20/- or 30/- so to a low level character, they really are invulnerable to weapon damage. And they're still a hassle to a high level party, just not an impassable roadblock if you don't have the right tools.

Am I proposing sacrilegious madness?


Good ideas. And I need to see Astrid Mountain-Puncher.


Artofregicide wrote:
Am I proposing sacrilegious madness?

A high DR is purely rules, without trying to model anything in particular, it isn't any better than the swarm rules as they are. I understand your frustration, I however believe that the swarm rules may be poor but they try to model something. Swarms are a tool for the G.M., a poorly developed tool so to be used with parcimony knowing this.

There are methods of dealing with swarms, you have mentionned an effective one, improvised weapons that swat a large number of individuals at a time, hence dealing damage to the swarm.

Like most peculiar threats, swarms occupy a small niche. It is because they are rare that tools against them aren't prevalent. Realise how trivial an encounter they become if a group is made aware of their presence beforehand and can prepare?


My stance is that Astrid Mountain-Puncher can, in fact, take a slab of a rock and smush a swarm. Such action isn't however covered by the rulers, so the GM needs to create rules on the fly.

While you generally you need a permission from Pathfinder rules to perform actions, that is only important if Pathfinder rules tell when you are allowed to perform such action (for example when they specify that you need a specific feat, or that you need to be trained in a specific a skill ). When the rules are silent, new rules not only can, but need to be created.

In this instance, a smush with sufficiently large slab of rock I'd just call it an attack with an Area of Effect, even if this Area of Effect is just one 5x5 square.


Is it not? Improvised weapons are, so are falling objects.


Agénor wrote:

A high DR is purely rules, without trying to model anything in particular, it isn't any better than the swarm rules as they are. I understand your frustration, I however believe that the swarm rules may be poor but they try to model something. Swarms are a tool for the G.M., a poorly developed tool so to be used with parcimony knowing this.

I agree, but immunity to weapon damage is also purely mechanical. As I said above, the reason to give swarms super high DR plus half damage from piercing or slashing is to emulate them being completely out if the reach of your average person or low level adventurer, but not your average Astrid Mountain-Puncher. They'd retain their immunity to precision damage, crits, and sneak attack, so rogues, swashbucklers, and multi-attack characters like archers or TWF fighters would be very ineffective.

This is my fix to the problem of swarms immunity to weapon damage becoming unrealistic. I was inspired by the fact that the Worm that Walks has DR not immunity to weapon damage, despite being basically a huge swarm (yeah I know when they discorporate they then are immune, but stop poking holes in my logic :P ).

Agénor wrote:

There are methods of dealing with swarms, you have mentionned an effective one, improvised weapons that swat a large number of individuals at a time, hence dealing damage to the swarm.

The problem is, without the right magic items (which I agree cam trivialize swarms) my afore mentioned tactic only works by GM fiat. By the rules, an improvised weapon is still a weapon. But that begs the question: in terms of verisimilitude does it really make more sense that a commoner with a torch would be more effective against 10,000 spiders than a beeftastic beserker with a huge slab of stone?

Agénor wrote:

Like most peculiar threats, swarms occupy a small niche. It is because they are rare that tools against them aren't prevalent. Realise how trivial an encounter they become if a group is made aware of their presence beforehand and can prepare?

They do, and to be fair I love swarms. I love telling my players "you don't do any damage at all" because I'm evil. But sometimes it just doesn't fit the fiction, thus my suggested fix.

And to be fair, most encounters are trivial to a prepared party. That's just the name of the game.


Adjoint wrote:
My stance is that Astrid Mountain-Puncher can, in fact, take a slab of a rock and smush a swarm. Such action isn't however covered by the rulers, so the GM needs to create rules on the fly.

We're definitely on the same wavelength here, but improvised weapons are very much covered by the rules and thus the granite piledriver would do no damage by RAW.

That said I'd totally allow it. And honestly your ruling it would be an area attack (+50% dmg) is awesome.


DungeonmasterCal wrote:
Good ideas. And I need to see Astrid Mountain-Puncher.

I might need some help with her build. I want her to have rage, catch off guard, and improved unarmed strike but otherwise I'm at a loss. I'm thinking human (ulfen) but I'm open to suggestions.


Artofregicide wrote:
Adjoint wrote:
My stance is that Astrid Mountain-Puncher can, in fact, take a slab of a rock and smush a swarm. Such action isn't however covered by the rulers, so the GM needs to create rules on the fly.

We're definitely on the same wavelength here, but improvised weapons are very much covered by the rules and thus the granite piledriver would do no damage by RAW.

That said I'd totally allow it. And honestly your ruling it would be an area attack (+50% dmg) is awesome.

By improvised weapons rules, they are supposed to mimic an existing wepon, with appropriate penalties. I don't think there exist a weapon that a great slab of stone would mimic.

I was thinking more along the lines "topple a nearby wall to bury the swarm". Although a very strong character may be able to lift such slab of stone and drop it somewhere else. Still, it doesn't look to me like using any existing weapon.


RAW is often too limiting, IMHO. We use RAI and Rule of Cool in our games. A slab of rock would completely be allowed.


Adjoint wrote:
I don't think there exist a weapon that a great slab of stone would mimic.

Nearest I could find:

Quote:
Light trebuchet: These Large siege engines typically hurl large stones indirectly at a target (targeting DC 15). A light trebuchet’s ammunition scatters on contact, dealing full damage to the target square and half its damage to creatures and objects within 5 feet of the target square (creatures can make a DC 15 Reflex save to halve the damage again). Light trebuchets have a hardness of 5 and 50 hit points. One use of light trebuchet stones costs 15 gp and weighs 60 pounds.

Shadow Lodge

Adjoint wrote:
Artofregicide wrote:
Adjoint wrote:
My stance is that Astrid Mountain-Puncher can, in fact, take a slab of a rock and smush a swarm. Such action isn't however covered by the rulers, so the GM needs to create rules on the fly.

We're definitely on the same wavelength here, but improvised weapons are very much covered by the rules and thus the granite piledriver would do no damage by RAW.

That said I'd totally allow it. And honestly your ruling it would be an area attack (+50% dmg) is awesome.

By improvised weapons rules, they are supposed to mimic an existing wepon, with appropriate penalties. I don't think there exist a weapon that a great slab of stone would mimic.

I was thinking more along the lines "topple a nearby wall to bury the swarm". Although a very strong character may be able to lift such slab of stone and drop it somewhere else. Still, it doesn't look to me like using any existing weapon.

This sounds more like a 'make a save to avoid the large slab of rock' than a 'roll to attack with the large slab of rock' so this is less of an improvised weapon than a PC-assisted environmental hazard.


Taja the Barbarian wrote:
Adjoint wrote:
Artofregicide wrote:
Adjoint wrote:
My stance is that Astrid Mountain-Puncher can, in fact, take a slab of a rock and smush a swarm. Such action isn't however covered by the rulers, so the GM needs to create rules on the fly.

We're definitely on the same wavelength here, but improvised weapons are very much covered by the rules and thus the granite piledriver would do no damage by RAW.

That said I'd totally allow it. And honestly your ruling it would be an area attack (+50% dmg) is awesome.

By improvised weapons rules, they are supposed to mimic an existing wepon, with appropriate penalties. I don't think there exist a weapon that a great slab of stone would mimic.

I was thinking more along the lines "topple a nearby wall to bury the swarm". Although a very strong character may be able to lift such slab of stone and drop it somewhere else. Still, it doesn't look to me like using any existing weapon.

This sounds more like a 'make a save to avoid the large slab of rock' than a 'roll to attack with the large slab of rock' so this is less of an improvised weapon than a PC-assisted environmental hazard.

I agree that pure RAW is hardly a good way of running the game, but for this was for the sake of argument.

You could absolutely rule it as an environmental effect or falling damage, or an oversized improvised greatclub made of stone. In my case I am talking about the character wielding a huge slab of rock as a weapon, not pushing it over onto the swarm.

Regardless I'd say that Astrid Mountain-Puncher should be able to generate force that the impact of her weapon attacks would be able to destroy large swaths of a swarm, especially if she's wielding a bludgeoning weapon. Obviously, she'd still be far less effective than a fireball, but that's the point.


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Artofregicide wrote:
I agree, but immunity to weapon damage is also purely mechanical.

I was trying to politely convey the idea that replacing a poor rule with another poor rule isn't a good fix^^

Artofregicide wrote:
In my case I am talking about the character wielding a huge slab of rock as a weapon, not pushing it over onto the swarm.

Now this is not what I had initially understood from you stance, I was imagining a character using his regular weapon, being allowed to strike at the swarm and deal damage if overcoming the DR, even a highly enchanted hammer.

To be dealt damage with a solid weapon, I envision the swarm needs to be crushed on an area wider than that of weapons carried by Medium creatures. "Between a rock and a hard place" goes the saying, no?


Agénor wrote:
Artofregicide wrote:
I agree, but immunity to weapon damage is also purely mechanical.

I was trying to politely convey the idea that replacing a poor rule with another poor rule isn't a good fix^^

Artofregicide wrote:
In my case I am talking about the character wielding a huge slab of rock as a weapon, not pushing it over onto the swarm.

Now this is not what I had initially understood from you stance, I was imagining a character using his regular weapon, being allowed to strike at the swarm and deal damage if overcoming the DR, even a highly enchanted hammer.

To be dealt damage with a solid weapon, I envision the swarm needs to be crushed on an area wider than that of weapons carried by Medium creatures. "Between a rock and a hard place" goes the saying, no?

You don't need to tread lightly around me. I'm not convinced it's an equally poor ruling. It would be like saying "your character can't punch through solid rock" instead of it's really difficult and even if you make progress it'll be tedious and slow without the right tools.

What would your fix be then?

Technically a size gargantuan creature couldn't damage a swarm even though they could crush huge swathes even with a step. I think this is silly. Maybe my DR idea is bad. But even so it's a question that has undoubtedly been raised before, are there no good answers other than GM fiat?

I'd say we're on the same page here, but I don't want to take your accord for granite.

Btw, I know what Astrid Mountain-Puncher is. She's a dwarf UC monk with dwarf FCB which allows her to ignore hardness.


An immense creature could only easily crush a swarm if it could occupy all the surface of the square the swarm is on and all the adjacent relevant squares, preventing movement to another area.
Otherwise, the swarm could climb on the creature trying to crush it. It is the concept of lacunary surface or structure.

When I successfully swat a fly, it is usually because I've managed to corner it so it has limited space to dodge.

The rules for swarms is poorly written so by essence, there is no answer other than G.M. fiat. If there was a way in the rules then I wouldn't call it a poorly written rule^^

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