Calcific Touch+Sneak=attack+overpowered?


Rules Questions


Sneak attack damage is possible with spells that roll to hit, if you are within 30 feet.

Sneak attack damage with a spell is th same type of damage as the spell. e.g. sneak attack damage from an acid arrow is acid damage.

Ability damage is a special type of damage, therefore it is damage.

Therefore if a spell uses a roll to hit, and deals ability damage, the sneak attack damage is also ability damage. There was a ruling made for 3.5 that said it as negative energy damage, but this rule was not carried forward that I can see.

Most spells that used to deal ability damage now apply an ability penalty, so you can't sneak attack with them.

Calcific Touch still deals ability damage.

Greater Invisibility+Calcific touch=sneak attack that deals dex against ac 10 for normal size targets. If you hit and beat spell resistance, you can have a decent shot at insta petrify, as the save does not prevent the damage.

RAW, this appears to work. Calcific Touch is clearly intended to be able to reduce Dex to zero so it can paralyze. it's supposed to take multiple hits to do so.

Is there some obscure rule that exists in pathfinder that prevents this stunt?

If not, i propose one of the following fixes.

1) import the obscure rule from dnd that sneak attack damage from an ability damage/drain/negative level attack is negative energy hp damage. This fixes every possible existing and future case.
2) rewrite Calcific Touch such that it applies a stacking penalty that can equal the current stat, and when it does so, petrifies the target as intended, but cannot have sneak attack damage added to it.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
zaphod77 wrote:


Ability damage is a special type of damage, therefore it is damage.

'Ability Damage' is it's own thing. Despite the similarities in common English if we are talking pathfinder 'Fire Damage', 'Slashing Damage', 'Piercing Damage' and 'Ability Damage' 3 of these things are not like the other.

From the combat section, we learn that 'Damage reduces a target’s current hit points.' So in most cases when we see the word 'damage' we should substitute 'hit point damage' although that would obviously be very wordy and cumbersome. Ability Damage on the other hand is defined in the universal monster rules, and is a different thing altogether.

So Fire, Piercing, Slashing, Acid are are types of hit point damage. 'Ability' is not a type of hit point damage.

Sneak attack on an attack like this would be untyped damage.


Although it doesn't include sneak attack, the FAQ on weapon specialization illustrates the difference Dave Justus is referring to.


While you can sneak attack with some spells, including some touch spells, I believe Dave Justus is correct that Calcific Touch isn't one of those.


https://www.d20pfsrd.com/BASICS-ABILITY-SCORES/GLOSSARY/#Damage

Special Damage Types

Ability Damage: Ability damage is a special type of damage that applies to a creatures ability scores

therefore, ability damage is damage, RAW, and a spell that rolls to hit and deals only it can deal sneak attack ability damage.

And sneak attack doesn't specifically refer to hit point damage either.

I know this cannot possibly be RAI, but a strict reading of the rules appears to allow this bit of munchkinry.

I also know that pretty much every spell that used to apply ability damage instead applies a non stacking penalty specifically to stop this stunt, and to prevent easy incapacitates by targeting weak stats.

Note that monster attacks that deal ability damage can crit too. 20/2, and it gets doubled. Imagine a couple shadows with rogue levels. This would seem to work, RAW as well, because RAW says ability damage is a type of damage.

Sneak attack can't add to poison because the poison is additional damage, not the primary damage of the attack. Most of the spells that used to deal ability damage were patched specifically to stop their abuse in the hands of PCs. Calcific Touch is the only one remaining that i've found.

I do see the clarification, but it specifically calls out weapon specialization. Also, drain is not damage (and thus can't have damage added to it of the same type), and an ability penalty is not damage either.

But unless, the rules are written (specifically ,the patch that says that the sneak attack damage from ability damage is negative energy HP damage that was put into this game before it became pathfinder and got left out) or the spell is fixed to exclude sneak attacks as clearly intended, the strict reading appears to say it works. Note that damage reduction does not work against energy damage (but energy resistance does) but that sneak attack CAN add to energy damage if it's the primary. The example of Acid Arrow works just fine (with it only adding to the initial damage). Damage reduction not working is not in itself a reason to disqualify sneak attack from adding to it, as we have an obvious counterexample.

But if it is intended that ability damage not be damage, then perhaps the relevant definition should say this.

Ability Damage: Ability damage is not actually damage, but applies a penalty to the relevant ability score. When a creature has ability damage, a penalty equal to half of the current amount of ability damage rounded down is applied to all calculated stats affected by the ability. Diseases, poisons, spells, and other abilities can all deal ability damage. This damage does not actually reduce an ability. When ability damage to an ability is equal to the ability, the creature becomes unconscious, or dead if the ability is constitution. Because ability damage is not actually damage, damage reduction does not prevent it. Abilities that don't specifically state that they modify or affect ability damage do not affect it.

This is how it is intended to actually work.


It’s game terminology. A “damage type” and a “type of damage” can be very different things.


Well, munchkins are very good at reading exact words. :)

The main issue is that the rules don't actually say "ability damage is not damage". In fact, they specifically say it is damage.

Hence the confusion.

We need a better argument then "Ability damage isn't damage, even though the rules say it is." :)

It doesn't help that my example actually makes sense, as precision based calcification would logically work extra well. The only reason it doesn't work according to the clarifications is "it would be broken".

I take it it's also not supposed to be possible for shadows to crit with their strength damaging attack, because crits only affect HP damage?


Ability damage is damage. It’s just not a “damage type”. It’s merely a type of damage.

Grand Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Are you the GM? If so, you 100% have the right to just say no to this level of BS rules lawyering.

If you are a player, trying to justify BS game breaking mechanics...stop...just stop.


Actually, it's not, as near as I can tell.

Ability damage doesn't actually reduce the ability while it's effect lasts. Instead, it applies a penalty to derived stats and skills, with a special affect when it's equal to the stat.

This is because even if your current stat is even, it takes two points of ability damage to affect things, as written in the ability score section.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

FAQ'd

Quote:
When it comes to modifiers that affect weapon damage rolls, or simply “damage rolls” (such as the bonus on damage rolls from Point-Blank Shot, inspire courage, and smite evil), special abilities that deal damage on a successful attack roll, apply them on hit point damage only...

Flat out doesn't work


Sneak attack is dealt in units of damage, not ability damage. The two are not interchangeable; getting hung up on the overloaded use of the word "damage" is a good way to give yourself a headache. Sneak attack does nothing with calcific touch unless one delivers it via a damaging attack (e.g., an unarmed strike), in which case it adds to the hit point damage, not the ability damage from calcific touch.

I'm not sure where you're getting "negative energy HP damage" from. It isn't anywhere in the spell description, and a transmutation (earth) spell dealing negative energy damage would be pretty off color in any case.

Grand Lodge

It’s why I like deliquecent gloves, you can cast calcific touch and still deal some acid damage on top, which would have sneak attack damage added to it.


The negative energy HP damage is in reference to a ruling for sneak attack on enervation & similar in D&D. I'm not sure what the equivalent for calcific touch might be (probably untyped damage, possibly bludgeoning?) but doing a bit of extra HP damage with sneak attack on the spell alone doesn't seem like it'd break anything. There's little synergy between dex damage and HP damage.


I agree that it's pretty obvious what rules as intended are, but munchkins live and die by RAW, and without digging into a faq, the answer is simply not there in the rules themselves, and without it being actually stated anywhere in a rule, and said munchkin going with specifically what's written...

The ruling i mentioned specifically mentioned ability damage along with the enervation, which neatly sidestepped the issue. Carrying it forward solves the issue in the rules completely and is not in any way game breaking.

btw it seems that crits DO work with ability damage, yet sneak attacks do not. just checked again. so what you are all sayign is that you CAN crit with calcific touch, but not sneak attack? that seems entirely arbitrary.

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.

Grand Lodge

The FAQ Firewarrior44 linked above 100% answers this question...hit point damage only. Does not work with ability damage. End of debate.

If your munchkins refuse to abide by the FAQ'd rules, then they are willfully cheating. Paizo cannot recall and reprint every book they publish any time they clarify a rule, which is the entire reason the FAQs exist.


zaphod77 wrote:

I agree that it's pretty obvious what rules as intended are, but munchkins live and die by RAW, and without digging into a faq, the answer is simply not there in the rules themselves, and without it being actually stated anywhere in a rule, and said munchkin going with specifically what's written...

The ruling i mentioned specifically mentioned ability damage along with the enervation, which neatly sidestepped the issue. Carrying it forward solves the issue in the rules completely and is not in any way game breaking.

btw it seems that crits DO work with ability damage, yet sneak attacks do not. just checked again. so what you are all sayign is that you CAN crit with calcific touch, but not sneak attack? that seems entirely arbitrary.

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.

How do munchkins explain their way around the FAQ? More to the point, how do munchkins explain their way around a GM who says "knock it off"?

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder RPG / Rules Questions / Calcific Touch+Sneak=attack+overpowered? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.