Ranged spell attack roll, how to calculate


Rules Discussion


Evening.
A straight forward question: How do you calculate a ranged spell attack roll?
A spell attack roll is: d20 + ability mod for spell casting + proficiency + other + penalty.
A ranged attack roll is: d20 + DEX mod + proficiency + other + penalty
So...what am formula am I suppose to use?


gravalpea wrote:

Evening.

A straight forward question: How do you calculate a ranged spell attack roll?
A spell attack roll is: d20 + ability mod for spell casting + proficiency + other + penalty.
A ranged attack roll is: d20 + DEX mod + proficiency + other + penalty
So...what am formula am I suppose to use?

AFAIK it was simplified to always use your spellcasting ability mod. You don't need Dex anymore to hit ranged spells.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Yes, all spells that require a ranged attack to hit use a spell attack roll. So at first level, most spellcasters will be +7 to hit, and it will only go uphill from there.

Can anyone confirm that touch spells are now automatic hits?


Wheldrake wrote:

Yes, all spells that require a ranged attack to hit use a spell attack roll. So at first level, most spellcasters will be +7 to hit, and it will only go uphill from there.

Can anyone confirm that touch spells are now automatic hits?

In spell/range section it says that "touch is usually automatic unless the spell asks for spell attack roll"


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

There are no ranged or melee attacks for spells anymore (telekinetic projectile appears to be an error), only spell attacks and saving throws.


Ravingdork wrote:
There are no ranged or melee attacks for spells anymore (telekinetic projectile appears to be an error), only spell attacks and saving throws.

Oh. So Ray of Enfeeblement's asking for a ranged spell attack roll is a typo?

Thanks for clarifying those that responded.


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gravalpea wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
There are no ranged or melee attacks for spells anymore (telekinetic projectile appears to be an error), only spell attacks and saving throws.

Oh. So Ray of Enfeeblement's asking for a ranged spell attack roll is a typo?

Thanks for clarifying those that responded.

Spell attack is spell attack regardless of its range specifications.

If it's ranged or melee is just pointing out the range of it.

There are only 3 types of attacks:
Melee, ranged, and spell.

Each has its specific separate rules.


gravalpea wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
There are no ranged or melee attacks for spells anymore (telekinetic projectile appears to be an error), only spell attacks and saving throws.

Oh. So Ray of Enfeeblement's asking for a ranged spell attack roll is a typo?

Thanks for clarifying those that responded.

Well when looking at the druid it does not look like a typo but it seems like the "ranged" is there for a reason...

STORM BORN FEAT 1
DRUID
Prerequisites storm order
You are at home out in the elements, reveling in the power of nature unleashed. You do not take circumstance penalties to ranged spell attacks or Perception checks caused by weather, and your targeted spells don’t require a flat check to succeed against a target concealed by weather (such as fog).

Climate
Weather is more than just set dressing to establish mood—it has mechanical effects you can combine with environmental components to create a more memorable encounter. Weather can impose circumstance penalties on certain checks, from –1 to –4 based on severity.


Ubertron_X wrote:
gravalpea wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
There are no ranged or melee attacks for spells anymore (telekinetic projectile appears to be an error), only spell attacks and saving throws.

Oh. So Ray of Enfeeblement's asking for a ranged spell attack roll is a typo?

Thanks for clarifying those that responded.

Well when looking at the druid it does not look like a typo but it seems like the "ranged" is there for a reason...

STORM BORN FEAT 1
DRUID
Prerequisites storm order
You are at home out in the elements, reveling in the power of nature unleashed. You do not take circumstance penalties to ranged spell attacks or Perception checks caused by weather, and your targeted spells don’t require a flat check to succeed against a target concealed by weather (such as fog).

Climate
Weather is more than just set dressing to establish mood—it has mechanical effects you can combine with environmental components to create a more memorable encounter. Weather can impose circumstance penalties on certain checks, from –1 to –4 based on severity.

It also seems deliberate in the Spell Combination wizard feat.

CRB, p. 213 wrote:
Each spell in the combination must also have the same means of determining whether it has an effect—both spells must require a ranged spell attack roll, require the same type of saving throw, or automatically affect the target.

The phrase really should be defined.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
gravalpea wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
There are no ranged or melee attacks for spells anymore (telekinetic projectile appears to be an error), only spell attacks and saving throws.

Oh. So Ray of Enfeeblement's asking for a ranged spell attack roll is a typo?

Thanks for clarifying those that responded.

Yes, I believe it's just legacy language that has yet to be cleaned up properly.


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Touch attack spells are covered in Ranges, areas, and targets. Touch attack spells generally don't require spell attack rolls.

Ranged attack spells are covered in Spell Attacks. Well, in general any spell that asks for an attack roll - ranged or maybe some touch attack spells.

So if Ray of Enfeeblement is asking for a ranged spell attack roll, then it does require a spell attack roll and can be made at up to the listed range for the spell.

Telekinetic Projectile is probably a typo because it asks for a 'ranged attack' roll (but doesn't say to use your ranged weapon proficiency). Compare to Ray of Frost or Acid Splash which ask for a 'spell attack' roll.


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As for defining a 'ranged spell attack roll', I would think that it would be a 'spell attack' roll (which is defined) that is made at a range greater than touch. That seems like a perfectly reasonable definition of 'ranged spell attack' for abilities that reference it - such as the Storm Born Druid.


Shocking Grasp calls for a "melee spell attack roll".

Are you saying this is in error?

Or that it's just a regular spell attack roll? that just happens to have a range of "your reach"?


Guess the ranged spell attack stuff is subject to stuff like "take cover" or similar and so on. It also gives you a range.

Sovereign Court

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Suppose the enemy has an ability that gives a +2 AC against melee attacks. It would help against melee spell attacks, but not against ranged spell attacks. But all spell attacks are based on your casting stat, not Dexterity.


Ascalaphus wrote:
Suppose the enemy has an ability that gives a +2 AC against melee attacks. It would help against melee spell attacks, but not against ranged spell attacks. But all spell attacks are based on your casting stat, not Dexterity.

Yeah you have a point too.

I imagine a wizard shooting an acid arrow. Would an enemy behind a cover give the wizard more troubles in terms of chance to hit?


breithauptclan wrote:
Telekinetic Projectile is probably a typo

You guys should look at the official errata. TKP was specifically changed to spell attack roll.


Man, I need an updated PDF where all the errata has been annotated... :(


Zapp wrote:
Man, I need an updated PDF where all the errata has been annotated... :(

I would think some enterprising gamer out there has already done that and shared it.


Ascalaphus wrote:
Suppose the enemy has an ability that gives a +2 AC against melee attacks. It would help against melee spell attacks, but not against ranged spell attacks. But all spell attacks are based on your casting stat, not Dexterity.

I’m curious if this is the case, since the book takes a small section to specifically state the differences between Melee, Ranged and Target Spells. For the most part it doesn’t seem like it will be much of an issue; but i found an interesting interaction with Quicksilver Mutagen.

Quicksilver Mutagen CRB pg 549 wrote:

Your features become thin and angular. You become swifter and nimbler, but your body also becomes fragile.

Benefit: You gain an item bonus to Acrobatics checks, Stealth checks, Thievery checks, Reflex saves, and ranged attack rolls, and you gain the listed status bonus to your Speed.

In other places they specify Ranged Weapon Attack Rolls as well; so this interaction on the surface looks like it should work with Ranged Spell Attack Rolls. Would be interesting if it’s an oversight, but atm there’s too little evidence to say for sure.


Pumpkinhead11 wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:
Suppose the enemy has an ability that gives a +2 AC against melee attacks. It would help against melee spell attacks, but not against ranged spell attacks. But all spell attacks are based on your casting stat, not Dexterity.

I’m curious if this is the case, since the book takes a small section to specifically state the differences between Melee, Ranged and Target Spells. For the most part it doesn’t seem like it will be much of an issue; but i found an interesting interaction with Quicksilver Mutagen.

Quicksilver Mutagen CRB pg 549 wrote:

Your features become thin and angular. You become swifter and nimbler, but your body also becomes fragile.

Benefit: You gain an item bonus to Acrobatics checks, Stealth checks, Thievery checks, Reflex saves, and ranged attack rolls, and you gain the listed status bonus to your Speed.
In other places they specify Ranged Weapon Attack Rolls as well; so this interaction on the surface looks like it should work with Ranged Spell Attack Rolls. Would be interesting if it’s an oversight, but atm there’s too little evidence to say for sure.

I doubt that RAI the mutagen applies to spell attack rolls of any kind.


mrspaghetti wrote:
I doubt that RAI the mutagen applies to spell attack rolls of any kind.

Actually, i find that as a pretty weak argument.

Spell Attack Roll and Spell DC CRB pg 298 wrote:

A spell attack roll is like other attack rolls, so any bonuses or penalties that apply to all your attack rolls should be included in your calculation. For instance, the +1 status bonus from the bless spell would benefit your spell ray just like it could an arrow. However, note that the spell attack roll doesn’t gain any bonuses or penalties that apply specifically to weapon attacks or unarmed attacks. The multiple attack penalty applies to spell attacks, so it’s usually a bad idea to cast a spell that has a spell attack roll if you’ve already made an attack that turn.

So let’s take a quick look at Bless.

Bless CRB pg 321 wrote:

Blessings from beyond help your companions strike true. You and your allies in the area gain a +1 status bonus to attack rolls. Once per turn, starting the turn after you cast bless, you can use a single action, which has the concentrate trait, to increase the emanation’s radius by 5 feet. Bless can counteract bane.

So Bless is stated to work with Spell Attacks cause they are Attack Rolls, same as it would with Melee or Ranged Attack Rolls.

Now let’s take a look at something that uses more specific wording, like Point Blank Shot.

Point Blank Shot CRB pg 144 wrote:

You take aim to pick off nearby enemies quickly. When using a ranged volley weapon while you are in this stance, you don’t take the penalty to your attack rolls from the volley trait. When using a ranged weapon that doesn’t have the volley trait, you gain a +2 circumstance bonus to damage rolls on attacks against targets within the weapon’s first range increment.

This explicitly wouldn’t work with Spells since it requires ranged weapons; which a Spell is not considered a Weapon.

Now back to Quicksilver Mutagen.

Quicksilver Mutagen CRB pg 549 wrote:

You gain an item bonus to Acrobatics checks, Stealth checks, Thievery checks, Reflex saves, and ranged attack rolls, and you gain the listed status bonus to your Speed.

A Spell is considered an Attack Roll so long as you’re targeting AC, and is even called a Ranged Attack. The intention seems rather self evident. All that said, Ravingdork could be correct in it being Legacy Text; but with how the book is laid out on Spell Attacks, i can’t see that being the case. The wording could also be intentionally loose for cases like Monk’s Wild Wind Stance (CRB pg 402), which give them Ranged Unarmed Attacks.


Pumpkinhead11 wrote:
Actually, i find that as a pretty weak argument.

I still don't see how becoming "swifter and nimbler" would benefit a roll that depends on your spell casting ability modifier.


mrspaghetti wrote:
Pumpkinhead11 wrote:
Actually, i find that as a pretty weak argument.
I still don't see how becoming "swifter and nimbler" would benefit a roll that depends on your spell casting ability modifier.

Haven’t you ever heard them called ‘Finger Wagglers’? This lets them waggle their fingers more swiftly and nimbly.


Pumpkinhead11 wrote:
mrspaghetti wrote:
Pumpkinhead11 wrote:
Actually, i find that as a pretty weak argument.
I still don't see how becoming "swifter and nimbler" would benefit a roll that depends on your spell casting ability modifier.
Haven’t you ever heard them called ‘Finger Wagglers’? This lets them waggle their fingers more swiftly and nimbly.

Well in that case...

Seriously, I could see it reasonably applying for some spells but not others. E.g., Telekinetic Projectile perhaps, but not Charm. Personally I'd say no to both cases but I wouldn't fault a GM who went the other way.

BTW, what you saw as a weak argument was actually not an argument at all, I had merely stated my opinion without any supporting argument whatsoever. My follow up post contained an argument.


mrspaghetti wrote:
Pumpkinhead11 wrote:
mrspaghetti wrote:
Pumpkinhead11 wrote:
Actually, i find that as a pretty weak argument.
I still don't see how becoming "swifter and nimbler" would benefit a roll that depends on your spell casting ability modifier.
Haven’t you ever heard them called ‘Finger Wagglers’? This lets them waggle their fingers more swiftly and nimbly.

Well in that case...

Seriously, I could see it reasonably applying for some spells but not others. E.g., Telekinetic Projectile perhaps, but not Charm. Personally I'd say no to both cases but I wouldn't fault a GM who went the other way.

BTW, what you saw as a weak argument was actually not an argument at all, I had merely stated my opinion without any supporting argument whatsoever. My follow up post contained an argument.

The bonus wouldn’t do anything for Spell DC’s; so you’re correct in assuming Charm wouldn’t be affected by the potion. That’s why i said it seems to work for ‘Ranged Attack Spells’ in particular, not all spells. I.e. like you suggest; TKP would make sense and Charm would not.


Charm was a bad example, but I think you know what I meant. Have fun.


mrspaghetti wrote:
Charm was a bad example, but I think you know what I meant. Have fun.

Not sure what you mean. It seems there’s a bit of confusion on both sides at this point. My point was simply an interesting interaction between mechanics. At this point I’m not sure which part you think should or shouldn’t be RAI. Sorry if it came off otherwise; seems like just simple misunderstanding


it's pretty simple, no need to complicate it. If a bonus says it applies to an attack roll, it applies to anything with the attack trait. If it applies a ranged attack roll, it applies to any ranged attack, including spells. If it says it applies to ranged weapon attacks, it excludes spells because spells are not weapons. The fact that there are bonuses that say all these things proves that. quick silver mutagen isn't a status bonus to your Dex, is a status bonus to those specific things.

This is sort of meta, but the only reason you apply spell casting modifier to spell attacks instead of dex (like you would an unarmed or ranged attack) at the design level is because they got rid of touch AC. Having some things only work with weapon attacks is how they rebalance that, and quick silver mutagen is a scenario that a spell attack gets the bonus, whereas sneak attack, for example, is not, outside having that rogue feat.


Pumpkinhead11 wrote:
mrspaghetti wrote:
Charm was a bad example, but I think you know what I meant. Have fun.
Not sure what you mean. It seems there’s a bit of confusion on both sides at this point. My point was simply an interesting interaction between mechanics. At this point I’m not sure which part you think should or shouldn’t be RAI. Sorry if it came off otherwise; seems like just simple misunderstanding

I'm not confused actually. Given only the excerpts you posted from the Quicksilver Mutagen description your argument is completely sound. But if you also read the phrase that comes before it, i.e. "you become swifter and nimbler", then there is doubt imo. That's because to me it indicates the source of the bonus, which would not really affect a roll which is entirely based on an ability modifier completely unrelated to one's swiftness or nimbleness.

To me it is logical that RAI the Mutagen bonus to attack rolls only applies to ranged attacks modified by dex.


mrspaghetti wrote:
Pumpkinhead11 wrote:
mrspaghetti wrote:
Charm was a bad example, but I think you know what I meant. Have fun.
Not sure what you mean. It seems there’s a bit of confusion on both sides at this point. My point was simply an interesting interaction between mechanics. At this point I’m not sure which part you think should or shouldn’t be RAI. Sorry if it came off otherwise; seems like just simple misunderstanding

I'm not confused actually. Given only the excerpts you posted from the Quicksilver Mutagen description your argument is completely sound. But if you also read the phrase that comes before it, i.e. "you become swifter and nimbler", then there is doubt imo. That's because to me it indicates the source of the bonus, which would not really affect a roll which is entirely based on an ability modifier completely unrelated to one's swiftness or nimbleness.

To me it is logical that RAI the Mutagen bonus to attack rolls only applies to ranged attacks modified by dex.

but when you get into ranged spell attacks in general only being the spell ability instead of dex because they got rid of touch AC and still wanted casters to hit, you can see why they'd differentiate attacks RAW to fit this paradigm.

ANYWAY

Would you say that someone with quicksilver mutagen gets a bonus to finesse melee attacks because of your RAI applying to dex? what about to AC, since dex hits that, too? The transition from flavor to mechanics unbalances the item. It applies to what it says it applies to, and that includes spell attacks, and excludes all sorts of things that you could imply with "quicker and nimbler."

This is reminiscent of my 5e player getting stuck between the description of true strike giving her "an insight to her opponents defenses" and the mechanical effect of just giving her advantage. She wanted knowledge about their AC or resistance or whatever because of how she interpreted the flavor description instead of the mechanical abstraction of that description.


ofMars wrote:

Would you say that someone with quicksilver mutagen gets a bonus to finesse melee attacks because of your RAI applying to dex? what about to AC, since dex hits that, too? The transition from flavor to mechanics unbalances the item. It applies to what it says it applies to, and that includes spell attacks, and excludes all sorts of things that you could imply with "quicker and nimbler."

This is reminiscent of my 5e player getting stuck between the description of true strike giving her "an insight to her opponents defenses" and the mechanical effect of just giving her advantage. She wanted knowledge about their AC or resistance or whatever because of how she interpreted the flavor description instead of the mechanical abstraction of...

I'm saying it would be much more consistent if the devs had written "attack rolls with ranged weapons", and that is how I'd interpret it. But as stated earlier I don't fault your interpretation.


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I think your problem is the abstraction of using spellcasting modifier to power rangers spell attacks, not that Quicksilver helps you shoot spells at people. Aiming a ray of Frost is not easy and requires precision in your movement.

This is why spell attacks used to use dex, and why they needed to have touch ac so that casters could actually hit something. the designers decided this added pointless layers of complication and just said "use the primary stat".

It makes sense that Quicksilver helps you aim a levitated rock. It doesn't make sense that you use your charisma to aim it.

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