Weaknesses stacking


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion


Came across tonight as a greatsword spirit Barbarian. Plague zombies with weakness slashing 10 and positive energy 10.

Rules are confusing regarding this, so I'd like clarification on the rules and where the information is found as written, not as intended.

My understanding is that the weakness stacks as the weapon slashing damage and the barbarian rage damage are different sources; however, doing an extra 20 damage to the enemy at level 1 is a tad much.

How would you calculate the damage?

Would it be the same as an enemy weak to bludgeoning and cold iron?

Thanks


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It's apparently supposed to be such that every different type of damage is a separate instance (e.g. 10 slashing + 10 positive triggers both weakness to positive and weakness to slashing), however precious material damage is the one that doesn't stack (so a werewolf with weakness 5 slashing and weakness 10 silver would take only 10 additional damage from a silver, slashing weapon).

However, the wording is very confusing on this as it uses the rather vague term "instance of damage" (which could mean the entire attack as one instance, or every separate damage type as one instance) rather than the much clearer "types of damage".


prileska wrote:

Came across tonight as a greatsword spirit Barbarian. Plague zombies with weakness slashing 10 and positive energy 10.

Rules are confusing regarding this, so I'd like clarification on the rules and where the information is found as written, not as intended.

My understanding is that the weakness stacks as the weapon slashing damage and the barbarian rage damage are different sources; however, doing an extra 20 damage to the enemy at level 1 is a tad much.

How would you calculate the damage?

Would it be the same as an enemy weak to bludgeoning and cold iron?

Thanks

It's certainly possible, and there's evidence on both sides, so you'll have to make a GM call.

Relevant Link would suggest that if an enemy is weak to both types of damage, and is hit with both types of damage, it would only ever take 10 bonus damage. It is lacking in examples, though, and is a bit inconsistent with how Mark Seifter provides an answer here.

Relevant Link for Resistances would suggest that if a creature is weak to multiple types of damage, and an attack deals some or all of those multiple types of damage that each type would be increased by the respective weakness. Granted, this is provided by simply inverting these rules, but it is more in line with Mark's answer above, and is honestly how I would rule it currently.

It seems excessive, but your Barbarian honestly has the perfect comeback for a zombie, wielding a positive-energy slashing weapon. He would be less effective against a skeleton, however, unless he changed weapons, so on that front it balances out a bit.


Exocist wrote:

It's apparently supposed to be such that every different type of damage is a separate instance (e.g. 10 slashing + 10 positive triggers both weakness to positive and weakness to slashing), however precious material damage is the one that doesn't stack (so a werewolf with weakness 5 slashing and weakness 10 silver would take only 10 additional damage from a silver, slashing weapon).

However, the wording is very confusing on this as it uses the rather vague term "instance of damage" (which could mean the entire attack as one instance, or every separate damage type as one instance) rather than the much clearer "types of damage".

The verbiage could use more clarification and adhere to game terms better. In my opinion, "instance of damage" isn't very applicable since the term can be conflated quite easily to mean "single attack causing damage," such as from a Strike, Spell, or Ability.

Damage types is already an established game term and can simply be explained to state that certain attacks can have multiple damage types and that rules for weaknesses, immunities, resistances, etc. would apply to each damage type of a given attack.

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My understanding is this.

An attack deals one or more instances of damage.

- If you hit someone with a sword for 1d8S, that's one instance of slashing damage.
- If you hit someone with a flaming sword that does 1d8S + 1d6F, that's two instances: an instance of slashing damage and an instance of fire damage.
- If you hit someone with a cold iron sword for 1d8S cold iron, that's one instance of cold iron slashing damage.

Now the instinct ability reads as follows:

Spirit Instinct wrote:
When you are raging, you can increase your damage from Rage from 2 to 3 and deal negative or positive damage, instead of the normal damage type for your weapon or unarmed attack (choose each time you Rage). If you choose to deal negative or positive damage, your weapon or unarmed attack gains the effects of the ghost touch property rune, which makes it more effective against incorporeal creatures, and your Rage action gains the divine and necromancy traits, plus negative or positive, as appropriate.

So that would be 1d12S + 3pos damage. Two instances of damage. Both weaknesses applied. Barbarian wins the lottery.

Yeah, that seems extreme, but zombies are basically built to be really big bags of hit points. If you use the correct weapons, you're going to devastate them. That's intended. If you don't use the correct weapon, it's going to take a lot of work.

PF2 encourages using the right tool for the job. Next time your barbarian runs up against a skeletal champion it's going to be quite different, since the skeleton has resistance against slashing, but not positive damage. So then his spirit instinct will still help, but not amazingly, and his d12 slashing weapon will be worse than a d6 hammer.

Yeah, he's still relatively good against the skeleton, but that's kinda the point of taking the spirit instinct, it's the most anti-undead choice available to a barbarian. If that barbarian is fighting a regular orc then his rage damage is going to be kinda meh compared to all the other instincts.

So, stop worrying and learn to enjoy the zombie splatterfest :)


Thanks for the answers, folks.


Ascalaphus wrote:
PF2 encourages using the right tool for the job.

While this is definitely true, I don't particularly like how the game handles it, since a character attempting to carry a golf bag's worth of weapons will not be very effective compared to someone specialized in it, largely because a person with two +1 Striking material/damage type weapons is considered much more "valuable" and "wealthy" compared to someone with just one (or none) of those weapons, even though the only reason they have those weapons is for niche situations.

I mean, I can see why that's the case, since gold is gold and there needs to be parity between choices, but I feel like there's no big difference between having a basic Cold Iron weapon for those fey and demons, compared to a normal +1 Striking weapon. Less to-hit and subtracting a dice could result in your weapon being about the same as an effective weapon.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:
PF2 encourages using the right tool for the job.

While this is definitely true, I don't particularly like how the game handles it, since a character attempting to carry a golf bag's worth of weapons will not be very effective compared to someone specialized in it, largely because a person with two +1 Striking material/damage type weapons is considered much more "valuable" and "wealthy" compared to someone with just one (or none) of those weapons, even though the only reason they have those weapons is for niche situations.

I mean, I can see why that's the case, since gold is gold and there needs to be parity between choices, but I feel like there's no big difference between having a basic Cold Iron weapon for those fey and demons, compared to a normal +1 Striking weapon. Less to-hit and subtracting a dice could result in your weapon being about the same as an effective weapon.

Why would you not put the +1 Striking Runes on the Cold Iron weapon and ditch the non-precious weapon?


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Aratorin wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:
PF2 encourages using the right tool for the job.

While this is definitely true, I don't particularly like how the game handles it, since a character attempting to carry a golf bag's worth of weapons will not be very effective compared to someone specialized in it, largely because a person with two +1 Striking material/damage type weapons is considered much more "valuable" and "wealthy" compared to someone with just one (or none) of those weapons, even though the only reason they have those weapons is for niche situations.

I mean, I can see why that's the case, since gold is gold and there needs to be parity between choices, but I feel like there's no big difference between having a basic Cold Iron weapon for those fey and demons, compared to a normal +1 Striking weapon. Less to-hit and subtracting a dice could result in your weapon being about the same as an effective weapon.

Why would you not put the +1 Striking Runes on the Cold Iron weapon and ditch the non-precious weapon?

Sure, if you're in town and have appropriate downtime with a capable enchanter that is willing to do the work for you. The amount of times you have those checkboxes marked is not very great, however, and that only becomes more difficult the higher level you get, which is where the biggest problems lie.

More often than not there are numerous situations where you get a material weapon to drop that's in the middle of clearing a dungeon and it's expected for you to use it against an upcoming baddie, almost so cliche that it really should be done away with more often than not. I've already had this situation occur multiple times in a single AP chapter that it was sickening. And while in those cases it was super effective, it was primarily because the weapons (which were just basic non-magical weapons) were on par with what we're already running around with, meaning in those situations using the material weapon became a no-brainer.

Additionally, the weapon's material grade adds an additional insane amount of gold cost to permit additional runes of certain levels, which means I'm basically wasting gold just so I can have a niche benefit be the default when I don't have to waste that gold and instead purchase other more useful items. I mean, depending on the campaign, it is a good idea. But it's not unlike PF1 where a Ranger's choice of Favored Enemy made him either super duper strong, or it didn't actually do anything for him and served as a useless or even detrimental choice.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
It's certainly possible, and there's evidence on both sides, so you'll have to make a GM call.

I don't agree. Mark's quote here is pretty definitive and doesn't necessarily contradict the linked text in the first example.

There's a difference between multiple instances of damage attached to a single attack and a single instance of damage dealing multiple damage types, which is what the language in that link is describing.


In the former cases, the attack in question usually clarifies as such, like with Double Slice and Twin Takedown, where multiple attacks are only added in once for resistances and weaknesses. In the latter cases, the Weakness entry doesn't have the example that Resistances do.

While it's true that Mark's quote would be more in line with the current Resistance rules, there's nothing in the original Weakness rules to suggest what he's saying would apply here other than him being a designer trying to convey intent.

Do I think it should work that way? Sure. Do the rules currently support it? It's unclear.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
...

If you put the fundamental runes on the offhand weapon and use doubling rings you can still use simple silver, cold iron or adamantine main weapons to great effect.

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Yeah, one heavily runed one-handed weapon, doubling rings, and a golf bag of specialist one-handed weapons for the other hand. You don't even have to be making attacks with the gold-ring weapon, you just have to have it at hand. A gauntlet or shield boss will do fine.

It does mean that one-handed weapons will look a lot better than two-handed weapons. On the other hand, damage die size is more important now and that's something that two-handed weapons dominate.

Trade-offs everywhere.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
...

Which AP? This feels exaggerated to me. Both AoA and EC give you special material weapons with level appropriate runes already on them, or of an appropriate grade with plenty of time to transfer runes.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

So far our champion is using shifting runes on the special material weapons. I'm a bit confused after reading all this. If a creature is weak to slashing and cold iron, a slashing cold iron weapon would only apply one of those weaknesses?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Correct

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Kennethray wrote:
So far our champion is using shifting runes on the special material weapons. I'm a bit confused after reading all this. If a creature is weak to slashing and cold iron, a slashing cold iron weapon would only apply one of those weaknesses?

Yeah, the combination of weapon type and weapon material is the most common way for one instance of damage to trigger two weaknesses.

Think of instances as packets. If you have a flaming sword, it does a packet of slashing damage, and it does a separate packet of fire damage. You would write something like "1d8+4 slashing + 1d6 fire".

But it doesn't do a separate packet of slashing damage and a separate packet of cold iron damage. You write "1d8+4 cold iron slashing". Because they're the same packet, you apply weaknesses only once to it.


If each independent type of damage being dealt by a weapon counts as a separate instance or 'packet', does that mean abilities like a Champion's Retributive Strike, which applies to 'the triggering damage', are mitigated by instances? If I take 2 slashing and 3 fire and I have DR5, do I take 0 because I have 5 DR, or 3 because it's two instances of damage, of which the ability only applies to one?

Would an attack with three damage instances instantly takes a creature from Dying 1 to Dead, because Dying increments when you take damage and such an attack damages you three separate times?

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Actually on re-reading it all, I'm not so certain anymore. The problem is that the CRB seems to contradict itself.

CRB p. 451 wrote:

Damage Types and Traits

When an attack deals a type of damage, the attack action
gains that trait. For example, the Strikes and attack
actions you use wielding a sword when its flaming rune is
active gain the fire trait, since the rune gives the weapon
the ability to deal fire damage.

This would give us that the whole attack has the slashing and fire traits.

CRB p. 453 - weakness wrote:

If you have more than one weakness that would apply

to the same instance of damage, use only the highest
applicable weakness value. This usually happens only
when a monster is weak to both a type of physical damage
and the material a weapon is made of.

The problem here is the "usually only happens" clause, because weakness to a type of physical damage and the material the weapon is made of, is quite rare. Much more common is for a monster to be vulnerable to for example the type of weapon and an energy type that also gets tacked on top of it. So this example suggests that the fire damage and the slashing damage should be separate instances. (This is what I'd been leaning on so far.)

CRB p. 453 - resistance wrote:

If you have more than one type of resistance that

would apply to the same instance of damage, use only the
highest applicable resistance value.
It’s possible to have resistance to all damage. When an
effect deals damage of multiple types and you have resistance
to all damage, apply the resistance to each type of damage
separately. If an attack would deal 7 slashing damage and
4 fire damage, resistance 5 to all damage would reduce the
slashing damage to 2 and negate the fire damage entirely.

It seems that this example continues the previous example of the flaming sword adding the fire trait to an attack. So here we have the difference between someone having [resist fire 5, resist slashing 5] and someone having [resist all damage 5]. It seems to talk about all of this being one instance of damage.

This would have a couple of practical implications:

- Resistance to all damage is great to have, under either interpretation. And it does the same amount of preventing under either interpretation.
- Taking on a lot of different damage types onto one weapon to trigger weaknesses isn't quite as potent anymore. This makes fighting for example demons a bit harder, as you can't stack cold iron and good damage quite as brutally.
- Having a lot of resistances to specific things doesn't stop an attack with lots of damage types as well anymore. So a sword that does cold and slashing gets resisted only once by a devil, not twice.
- Overall the role of weakness and resistance is reduced a bit, closing the gap between weapons for special circumstances and just having one big weapon that hits hard.

It's a matter of interpretation, but I think the "the whole strike is one instance" interpretation leads to a bit more stable, less wonky playstyle.

---

As a side effect, this answers your question about dying states. But even under the separate instances interpretation, I don't think one hit would move you past multiple dying states. Because damage is applies in a number of steps:

CRB p. 450 wrote:

1. Roll the dice indicated by the weapon, unarmed

attack, or spell, and apply the modifiers, bonuses,
and penalties that apply to the result of the roll.
2. Determine the damage type.
3. Apply the target’s immunities, weaknesses, and
resistances to the damage.
4. If any damage remains, reduce the target’s Hit
Points by that amount.

I believe that for a single attack everything gets bundled together by step 4, even if you were to apply weaknesses/resistances to separate instances in step 3.


Ascalaphus wrote:

Yeah, one heavily runed one-handed weapon, doubling rings, and a golf bag of specialist one-handed weapons for the other hand. You don't even have to be making attacks with the gold-ring weapon, you just have to have it at hand. A gauntlet or shield boss will do fine.

It does mean that one-handed weapons will look a lot better than two-handed weapons. On the other hand, damage die size is more important now and that's something that two-handed weapons dominate.

Trade-offs everywhere.

Because everyone just runs doubling rings and one-handed weapons, making it okay for two-handed weapons to not be an appropriate weapon for specialized foes. I guess this is how two-handed wielders pay for being able to drop and pick-up without taking additional actions for having two weapons or a sword and board.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
I guess this is how two-handed wielders pay for being able to drop and pick-up without taking additional actions for having two weapons or a sword and board.

I don't understand this statement. It takes the exact same amount of actions for a TWF to drop a weapon and pick it back up as it takes for a 2 handed fighter to release a hand and regrip.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:

Yeah, one heavily runed one-handed weapon, doubling rings, and a golf bag of specialist one-handed weapons for the other hand. You don't even have to be making attacks with the gold-ring weapon, you just have to have it at hand. A gauntlet or shield boss will do fine.

It does mean that one-handed weapons will look a lot better than two-handed weapons. On the other hand, damage die size is more important now and that's something that two-handed weapons dominate.

Trade-offs everywhere.

Because everyone just runs doubling rings and one-handed weapons, making it okay for two-handed weapons to not be an appropriate weapon for specialized foes. I guess this is how two-handed wielders pay for being able to drop and pick-up without taking additional actions for having two weapons or a sword and board.

Maybe?

Or for getting all those "+dice damage" advantages w/ Runes & many feats.
Power Attack & Zeal Domain are great ways to get past Resistances or make up for not targeting a Weakness...if you have a d10/d12 weapon that is.
Makes options interesting.


Aratorin wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
I guess this is how two-handed wielders pay for being able to drop and pick-up without taking additional actions for having two weapons or a sword and board.
I don't understand this statement. It takes the exact same amount of actions for a TWF to drop a weapon and pick it back up as it takes for a 2 handed fighter to release a hand and regrip.

Not if you're dropping both weapons from, say, being put into Dying and being brought back into the fight.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Aratorin wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
I guess this is how two-handed wielders pay for being able to drop and pick-up without taking additional actions for having two weapons or a sword and board.
I don't understand this statement. It takes the exact same amount of actions for a TWF to drop a weapon and pick it back up as it takes for a 2 handed fighter to release a hand and regrip.
Not if you're dropping both weapons from, say, being put into Dying and being brought back into the fight.

You don't lose grip on your weapons when knocked into Dying last I checked, but that might just be a rule from the playtest my group kept because we were lazy. Not 100% sure, but I think you still have them in your hands if you get conked out, and it takes no action economy other than Standing to get back into the fight from going sleepy-bye


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nick1wasd wrote:
You don't lose grip on your weapons when knocked into Dying last I checked, but that might just be a rule from the playtest my group kept because we were lazy. Not 100% sure, but I think you still have them in your hands if you get conked out, and it takes no action economy other than Standing to get back into the fight from going sleepy-bye

Dying grants Unconscious, Unconscious makes you "drop anything you are holding."


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Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

You might be thinking about the non-heightened Sleep spell:
"A creature that falls unconscious from this spell doesn't fall prone or release what it's holding. This spell doesn't prevent creatures from waking up due to a successful Perception check, limiting its utility in combat."

But this is a specific exception to the general unconscious rule of dropping stuff and falling prone.


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In regards to multiple backup magic weapons, I suggest having a caster in the party invest one of their 1st level spell slots in magic weapon, or invest in a couple cheap wands or scrolls of it. For literally half the game, level 1-10, its going to give you the same to-hit bonus.

At level 11 and above, the 100 gold for the +1 striking runes isn't going to break the bank on a couple backup weapons, and is probably worth the action economy savings. Although you'll be down 1 to hit and a damage die, but a 10 or 15 point resistance/weakness is going to still be worth switching over for.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Doubling Rings are also an option if, for example, your main weapon is a Bastard Sword but you keep other 1H weapons around for other damage types. I've got a character like that planned out, but I'll wait for the APG to come out before I build and play her, most likely.

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Hmm, doubling ring backup plan centered around a bastard sword, instead of the by-now-classic sword and board build. Interesting!

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