Clarification on Disintegrate


Rules Discussion


So the relevant specific text of the spell Disintegrate from Archive of Nethys reads as follows

Archive of Nethys wrote:
You fire a green ray at your target. Make a spell attack. You deal 12d10 damage, and the target must attempt a basic Fortitude save. On a critical hit, treat the save result as one degree worse. A creature reduced to 0 HP is reduced to fine powder; its gear remains.

Now since this spell involves both an attack roll AND a Fortitude save, as far as I can tell, RAW this allows you two opportunities to multiply damage from the spell.

Whenever you make an attack roll, and you crit, you double the damage done by the attack. Now, Disintegrate specifies another effect that also happens on a crit, but nothing in the rules, unless I have missed something, states that this effect replaces the normal crit effect.

Then the recipient makes a basic Fortitude save. A crit fail on this also doubles the damage from the source. And since on a crit attack roll, the degree of success is dropped by one, that is quite a bit more likely to happen.

Thus, on a crit hit, followed by a crit fail on the Fort save (which you still get on a regular fail), Disintegrate SHOULD do 12d10 x 4 damage.

Is this the correct interpretation or in this instance is there a reason that only the Fort save considered when calculating damage multipliers?


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The ability to double the damage isn't inherent to Critical Success on Attacks. The source of that doubling is that Strike action specifically has it as a critical success effect. You are not Striking with Disintegrate.


Vali Nepjarson wrote:

So the relevant specific text of the spell Disintegrate from Archive of Nethys reads as follows

Archive of Nethys wrote:
You fire a green ray at your target. Make a spell attack. You deal 12d10 damage, and the target must attempt a basic Fortitude save. On a critical hit, treat the save result as one degree worse. A creature reduced to 0 HP is reduced to fine powder; its gear remains.

Now since this spell involves both an attack roll AND a Fortitude save, as far as I can tell, RAW this allows you two opportunities to multiply damage from the spell.

Whenever you make an attack roll, and you crit, you double the damage done by the attack. Now, Disintegrate specifies another effect that also happens on a crit, but nothing in the rules, unless I have missed something, states that this effect replaces the normal crit effect.

Then the recipient makes a basic Fortitude save. A crit fail on this also doubles the damage from the source. And since on a crit attack roll, the degree of success is dropped by one, that is quite a bit more likely to happen.

Thus, on a crit hit, followed by a crit fail on the Fort save (which you still get on a regular fail), Disintegrate SHOULD do 12d10 x 4 damage.

Is this the correct interpretation or in this instance is there a reason that only the Fort save considered when calculating damage multipliers?

if you "crit" on a spell attack, you do what the spell says you do.

you don't automatically double the damage like weapon attacks:

"If a feat, magic item, spell, or other effect
does not list a critical success or critical failure, treat is as
an ordinary success or failure instead."

"Sometimes you’ll need to halve or double an amount of
damage, such as when the outcome of your Strike is a
critical hit,"


I figured there was something I was missing. Thanks for the clarification.

It's a shame as Disintegrate seems rather underwhelming in this edition compared to more powerful spells like Chain Lightning, but at the same time, this would mean you could get the equivalent of 80d10 damage on a level 10 Disintegrate, and even on a very low chance, that seems absurd.


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True Striking Disintegration into flatfooted frightened\sickened foe is a really nice 3 action spell.

I do wish there were more spells like True Strike that would be effectively "burn 1 action and 1 spell slot to make next spell better in an interesting way". Metamagic "Spells" would be really cool thing to give Arcane wizards and sorcerers.


Vali Nepjarson wrote:

I figured there was something I was missing. Thanks for the clarification.

It's a shame as Disintegrate seems rather underwhelming in this edition compared to more powerful spells like Chain Lightning, but at the same time, this would mean you could get the equivalent of 80d10 damage on a level 10 Disintegrate, and even on a very low chance, that seems absurd.

You can still get a crit for 64d10 (avg 352) if you use a 10th level Spell Combination slot to double up a pair of 8th level Disintegrates.


Xenocrat wrote:
Vali Nepjarson wrote:

I figured there was something I was missing. Thanks for the clarification.

It's a shame as Disintegrate seems rather underwhelming in this edition compared to more powerful spells like Chain Lightning, but at the same time, this would mean you could get the equivalent of 80d10 damage on a level 10 Disintegrate, and even on a very low chance, that seems absurd.

You can still get a crit for 64d10 (avg 352) if you use a 10th level Spell Combination slot to double up a pair of 8th level Disintegrates.

I know it's an obviously good choice, but somehow picking the same spell twice for Spell Combination feels against the spirit of that ability. Uninteresting, even if optimal.

But yes, if you use a 10th level spell and a Level 20 Wizard feat, you can pull off an insane blast.

A ~30% greater blast with no feat required would have been quite a bit bigger.

Plus if the spell DID work the way I assumed, that would mean the Wizard could pull off the equivalent of a 128d10 super laser of ULTRADEATH...


Vali Nepjarson wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:


You can still get a crit for 64d10 (avg 352) if you use a 10th level Spell Combination slot to double up a pair of 8th level Disintegrates.

I know it's an obviously good choice, but somehow picking the same spell twice for Spell Combination feels against the spirit of that ability. Uninteresting, even if optimal.

I think until they publish more matching spells it's the only good reason to even take Spell Combination right now unless you're really in love with fast buffing in combat. Double Disintegrate is the only actually strong spell combination, I'd prefer the free metamagic feat or the extra 10th level spell over everything else I've been able to come up with.


Xenocrat wrote:
Vali Nepjarson wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:


You can still get a crit for 64d10 (avg 352) if you use a 10th level Spell Combination slot to double up a pair of 8th level Disintegrates.

I know it's an obviously good choice, but somehow picking the same spell twice for Spell Combination feels against the spirit of that ability. Uninteresting, even if optimal.

I think until they publish more matching spells it's the only good reason to even take Spell Combination right now unless you're really in love with fast buffing in combat. Double Disintegrate is the only actually strong spell combination, I'd prefer the free metamagic feat or the extra 10th level spell over everything else I've been able to come up with.

No, I totally get that from an optimization viewpoint. But it also takes probably the most conceptually interesting level 20 feat for a Wizard and reduces it to this-

"So you know how when I cast Disintegrate, I use one hand?"

"Yeah."

"Well...what if I used, TWO hands?"

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