Bardic Inspire Courage And Spell Damage

Rules Questions

I'd like to establish a concise rule of how inspire courage interacts with spell damage to avoid making a call for every vaguely on the fence spell in the game.

From the wonderful Archive of Nethys:

Inspire Courage (Su) wrote:
A 1st-level bard can use his performance to inspire courage in his allies (including himself), bolstering them against fear and improving their combat abilities. To be affected, an ally must be able to perceive the bard's performance. An affected ally receives a +1 morale bonus on saving throws against charm and fear effects and a +1 competence bonus on attack and weapon damage rolls. At 5th level, and every six bard levels thereafter, this bonus increases by +1, to a maximum of +4 at 17th level. Inspire courage is a mind-affecting ability. Inspire courage can use audible or visual components. The bard must choose which component to use when starting his performance.

And an FAQ from these forums:

Ray: Do rays count as weapons for the purpose of spells and effects that affect weapons? wrote:

Yes. (See also this FAQ item for a similar question about rays and weapon feats.)

For example, a bard's inspire courage says it affects "weapon damage rolls," which is worded that way so don't try to add the bonus to a spell like fireball. However, rays are treated as weapons, whether they're from spells, a monster ability, a class ability, or some other source, so the inspire courage bonus applies to ray attack rolls and ray damage rolls.

The same rule applies to weapon-like spells such as flame blade, mage's sword, and spiritual weapon--effects that affect weapons work on these spells.

Inspire courage grants a +1 competence bonus on:

1. Attack (rolls)
2. Weapon damage rolls

1 is simple - when you use the attack roll mechanic you get this bonus. It can be for a weapon, a spell, aid another, anything. I think this is generally agreed on.

2 is the tricky part. It applies to weapons, it shouldn't apply to fireball, but it should apply to flame blade. What about fiery shuriken, is that weapon-like? If so, then would snowball count? Is shocking grasp just a kind of magical unarmed strike?

For my first draft at a one-size rule, if a spell:
1. Requires an attack roll, e.g. it could critically hit like a weapon
2. Does hit point damage, among other effects, to the attack roll's target
3. The spell gains the inspire courage bonus to damage against the target

Some examples of this in application:
>Shocking Grasp: Yes
>Fireball: No (no attack roll)
>Magic Missile: No (no attack roll)
>Molten Orb (direct target): Yes
>Molten Orb (splash damage): No (no attack roll was made against the creature, I think this is how inspire courage works with alchemist's bombs)
>Enervation: No (does not deal hit point damage, even though negative levels reduce the hit points of the target)

Does anyone want to poke holes / offer other rulings / like comment and subscribe?

Molten Orb (direct target): Yes

Incorrect, just like inspire courage wouldn't apply to the direct hit of an alchemist fire, it wouldn't apply to molten orb.

Incidentally, none of those spells would receive a bonus. They are not weapon-like spells nor are they rays, aside from enervation which doesn't deal hit point damage, and thus doesn't receive the bonus.

Similarly for fiery shuriken, you would not receive a bonus as you are not wielding those shurikens like you would a weapon.

But an alchemist's fire is a splash weapon, and not a spell. Would it not qualify under the same basic logic that arrows do?

Artificial 20 wrote:
But an alchemist's fire is a splash weapon, and not a spell. Would it not qualify under the same basic logic that arrows do?

I could be wrong, if inspire courage would apply to the direct target of an alchemist's fire, then it would apply to the direct hit of molten orb.

That is the only one of those spells that are weapon-like.

I think your analysis is sound, Artificial 20, with the understanding that the ongoing damage is not boosted even for a creature directly hit.

The other relevant FAQ

Basically, if it requires an attack roll and deals hit point damage, apply inspire courage to each attack roll and to exactly one damage roll (and only once). So for a splash weapon, the direct hit from the weapon would deal additional damage from inspire courage (assuming it deals hit point damage at all). The splash damage would not be boosted, as it is incidental to the original attack. Ongoing damage would also not be boosted as it is not part of the original attack. Molten orb should work the same way.

Thanks very much willuwontu and blahpers. Been a busy week for me, sorry for such a late reply.

willuwontu: You raise a good point. So far as I am aware, inspire courage damage applies to "weapons". It branches from my opening question, but whether or not alchemist's fire is a weapon is worth considering. It's not nominally listed among them, but there's enough examples in between, that I think it should count. Here's a rough bridge of intermediaries:
1. Firing an arrow is a weapon. This should be far beyond doubt.
2. Throwing a dagger is a weapon. This is also far beyond doubt.
3. Throwing a shuriken is a weapon. It's ammunition that is thrown instead of shot, but clearly a weapon.
4. Punching someone is effectively a weapon. Even without having Improved Unarmed Strike, it clearly functions as a weapon.
5. Is bashing someone with a torch a weapon? I would say probably. It's not in the weapon section, but it goes so far as to define the damage it does on a hit, and it's more a weapon than an untrained fist.
6. Thus alchemist's fire is a weapon. It may not be in the weapon section, but it is used to make an attack with an attack roll and a damage roll it conveys for the direct hit (the initial damage, not ongoing damage).

blahpers: I repeat my earlier thanks. I appreciate the support, and that FAQ is the gemstone I'd overlooked. The umbrella ruling on "special abilities", in regards to the direct damage, not splash damage or ongoing damage, is just what I hoped for. I'm so glad it's relatively simple.

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