Swarm of Fangs spell - double damage on their first round?


Rules Questions


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So I have a player whose witch PC has recently started using swarm of fangs as one of their go-to spells for dealing damage. However, we're having a disagreement over the last sentence of the spell:

Quote:
Creatures caught inside the swarm’s area of effect take 2d6 points of damage. The fangs deal damage to all creatures sharing their area when they first appear, and at the end of their movement each round.

Simply put, the player is stating that on the round the swarm first appears, it fulfills both of the conditions outlined in that last sentence. That is, that it deals 2d6 damage in the area where it first appears and that it's ended its movement that round for another 2d6 damage; 4d6 in total for that first round, in other words. (His idea for why this is allowed is "okay, so it deals damage as soon as it appears for 2d6 damage. And since I spent all of last round summoning it, I can still take my actions this turn. So I use a move action now to move them 20 feet away and then 20 feet back to where they just were, for another 2d6 points of damage.")

I disagree with this interpretation; the sentence reads to me like the swarm deals 2d6 damage, with a clause in there to make sure that this is understood to happen when its initially summoned, and when it subsequently moves around.

Given that we're at loggerheads, I wanted to get some other opinions on this. Is the spell supposed to effectively deal double damage on the round it first appears?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Seems weird, but as far as I can tell, your player is correct. If it was just like a regular swarm (see other swarm spells) the 'initial summoning' clause wouldn't be present at all.

Basically it seems like the spell creates an effect (like a regular area spell, fireball for example) when it first appears and then the swarm starts doing its thing like a normal swarm.

I don't think it is unbalanced for a 3rd level spell.


Your player is right, but this isn't even that good of a damage-dealing spell. The casting time (1 round) kills it, because any damage that the caster takes between the end of their casting turn and the start of their next turn (when it takes effect) forces a concentration check. If it's unbalancing your game, just have an enemy or two try to attack them while they're casting.


The player is correct, and good thing--it's thematically interesting but not terribly effective, especially since DR presumably applies.


If they spend a whole round to cast and then another round to do nothing but command it, they spent 2 rounds to do 4d6.

MEH


Cavall wrote:

If they spend a whole round to cast and then another round to do nothing but command it, they spent 2 rounds to do 4d6.

MEH

it is a meh, but just notice commanding it is a move action. on the 2nd round they can fire any spell or hex with a standard action.

(or even summon more swarms ending their spell casting on the next turn by combining actions)


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
blahpers wrote:
The player is correct, and good thing--it's thematically interesting but not terribly effective, especially since DR presumably applies.

I'm not sure DR does apply, though. The damage is untyped, and given that the swarm doesn't actually have a stat block (similar to black tentacles), this seems like it falls under the general provision that damage from spells isn't subject to DR (emphasis mine):

Quote:
Damage Reduction (Ex or Su) A creature with this special quality ignores damage from most weapons and natural attacks. Wounds heal immediately, or the weapon bounces off harmlessly (in either case, the opponent knows the attack was ineffective). The creature takes normal damage from energy attacks (even nonmagical ones), spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural abilities. A certain kind of weapon can sometimes damage the creature normally, as noted below.

Particularly when you compare this to what's in the FAQ:

Quote:

Damage Reduction: How does DR interact with magical effects that deal bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage?

Although the Bestiary definition of Damage Reduction (page 299) says "The creature takes normal damage from energy attacks (even nonmagical ones), spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural abilities," that's actually just referring to damage that isn't specifically called out as being of a particular type, such as fire damage or piercing damage. In other words, DR doesn't protect against "typeless damage" from magical attacks.

However, if a magical attack specifically mentions that it deals bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage, DR affects that damage normally, as if it were from a physical weapon. (Otherwise the magical attack might as well not have a damage type, as it would only interface with B/P/S damage in a very few corner cases, such as whether or not an ooze splits from that attack.)

For example, the ice storm spell deals 3d6 points of bludgeoning damage and 2d6 points of cold damage. If you cast ice storm at a group of zombies, the zombie's DR 5/slashing protects them against 5 points of the spell's bludgeoning damage. Their DR doesn't help them against the spell's cold damage because DR doesn't apply to energy attacks.

So it doesn't seem like this damage is subject to DR, and since the spell doesn't allow for spell resistance, it pretty well looks like the damage it deals can't be reduced (outside of special circumstances such as attacking an incorporeal creature with it, which would halve the damage).


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Cavall wrote:

If they spend a whole round to cast and then another round to do nothing but command it, they spent 2 rounds to do 4d6.

MEH

In theory they don't need to spend another round to do nothing but command it. They spend an entire round summoning it, and when it appears (at the beginning of their next turn) in an enemy's space it immediately deals 2d6 damage...and then the player doesn't bother moving them again, so the swarm stays in that creature's space, causing it to deal another 2d6 damage because it's now the "end of their movement" for that round.

I suppose the question then is when the player needs to indicate which squares they're summoning the swarm into: when they begin casting the spell, or when the casting is completed?


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

If you're having trouble with the idea that it's doing damage twice in one round, it really isn't. That first 2d6 damage is really the hold-over from the previous round because of the 1 round casting time. It's technically occurring before the caster's next round starts.


Alzrius wrote:
blahpers wrote:
The player is correct, and good thing--it's thematically interesting but not terribly effective, especially since DR presumably applies.

I'm not sure DR does apply, though. The damage is untyped, and given that the swarm doesn't actually have a stat block (similar to black tentacles), this seems like it falls under the general provision that damage from spells isn't subject to DR (emphasis mine):

Quote:
Damage Reduction (Ex or Su) A creature with this special quality ignores damage from most weapons and natural attacks. Wounds heal immediately, or the weapon bounces off harmlessly (in either case, the opponent knows the attack was ineffective). The creature takes normal damage from energy attacks (even nonmagical ones), spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural abilities. A certain kind of weapon can sometimes damage the creature normally, as noted below.

Particularly when you compare this to what's in the FAQ:

Quote:

Damage Reduction: How does DR interact with magical effects that deal bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage?

Although the Bestiary definition of Damage Reduction (page 299) says "The creature takes normal damage from energy attacks (even nonmagical ones), spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural abilities," that's actually just referring to damage that isn't specifically called out as being of a particular type, such as fire damage or piercing damage. In other words, DR doesn't protect against "typeless damage" from magical attacks.

However, if a magical attack specifically mentions that it deals bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage, DR affects that damage normally, as if it were from a physical weapon. (Otherwise the magical attack might as well not have a damage type, as it would only interface with B/P/S damage in a

...

I get that, and your RAW-parsing logic is sound. The only counter I can offer is -- it's teeth. Not necromantic teeth, not force teeth, but the same kind of teeth you bite with. It's pretty rare for spell damage to be subject to neither spell resistance, damage resistance, nor energy resistance, and such damage usually has a nature that would justify such irresistible damage. In this instance, it seems more plausible to me that the author/editor got sloppy with the spell description.


As written it's looks like a lower level version of black tentacles. A non-specific existence summoned to act on the world in a way similar to a physical thing without really being there.

Even assuming it's intended to ignore DR, it's still pretty weak as a 3rd level spell. It would be nice if the spell were written in such a way that it either reinforced or moved away from game defined words like "swarm", but it's been years and the spell has remained unchanged.

Cloud of fangs doesn't have the same ring to it anyway, fang flock? Biter Bevy? Snarl of Fangs?


ErichAD wrote:

As written it's looks like a lower level version of black tentacles. A non-specific existence summoned to act on the world in a way similar to a physical thing without really being there.

Even assuming it's intended to ignore DR, it's still pretty weak as a 3rd level spell. It would be nice if the spell were written in such a way that it either reinforced or moved away from game defined words like "swarm", but it's been years and the spell has remained unchanged.

Cloud of fangs doesn't have the same ring to it anyway, fang flock? Biter Bevy? Snarl of Fangs?

gnashing cloud?

I agree about it being kind of weak for a 3rd level spell. Not every spell can be fireball but still.

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