Alchemical bombs' lack of the Thrown trait


Rules Discussion

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

There seems to be some tension in the rules on what alchemical bombs are. The rules section on them says they are "martial thrown weapons," but:

  • They lack the Thrown trait.
  • Their placement on weapons tables has them as ranged weapons--the only one that both lacks the Thrown trait and is used without ammunition.

    From the above I'm wondering whether alchemical bombs ...

  • ... benefit from abilities that require thrown weapon attacks (e.g., Raging Thrower)
  • ... benefit from abilities that require ranged weapons (e.g., Point-Blank Shot)


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    I'm pretty sure this is entirely intentional, to prevent exactly the interactions you've identified and to prevent bombs from getting strength to damage, etc.


    It doesn't make sense for bomb to benefit from rage. Neither from point-blank.
    You damage with bomb's substance, so additional kinetic force applied to bomb hardly would bring any more harm.

    Liberty's Edge

    Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
    KrispyXIV wrote:
    I'm pretty sure this is entirely intentional, to prevent exactly the interactions you've identified and to prevent bombs from getting strength to damage, etc.

    Bombs don't get strength from damage due to being splash weapons.

    Abyssalwyrm wrote:

    It doesn't make sense for bomb to benefit from rage. Neither from point-blank.

    You damage with bomb's substance, so additional kinetic force applied to bomb hardly would bring any more harm.

    Whether or not some action feels realistic, I'm wondering what the rules allow.


    I'm with Krispy on this. It's definitely intentional that you don't add strength to damage of bombs.

    Now, I'm of the mind to not try and represent real-world physics with game rules because they are usually barely compatible at best... but this is a moment where the rule actual kind of does hint at realism: because alchemical bombs are bottles designed to break on impact and disperse a substance that has particular effects (such as combustion upon contact with air or what have you), hurling them with significantly increased force could cause the deliberately fragile container to burst from friction alone.

    Enough force behind the throw could actually even cause container failure upon release.

    (No, I'm not saying I think strength scores actually represent these levels of force - I'm just having a fun thought about physics that came to mind because "throw it harder so it hurts more" doesn't actually make sense for alchemical items whether you go game-rule-based or physics-based for a reason.)

    Liberty's Edge

    Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
    thenobledrake wrote:
    I'm with Krispy on this. It's definitely intentional that you don't add strength to damage of bombs.

    Okay, but I'm not asking about strength. Barbarian's Rage has no effect on that.


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    Tarpeius wrote:
    Bombs don't get strength from damage due to being splash weapons.

    Not all bombs are splash weapons.

    While I think all that currently deal damage do happen to be splash weapons, it's not a mandatory thing so there could be bombs that deal damage and aren't splash weapons added to the game later - and those would still not add Strength to damage because they don't have the Thrown trait.

    The lack of a Thrown trait is also helping it remain clear that non-damage bombs such as a tanglefoot bag deal no damage at all, where if bombs did generally have the Thrown trait it'd imply adding dealing Strength modifier damage to the effects of hitting a target with a tanglefoot bag.


    Tarpeius wrote:
    thenobledrake wrote:
    I'm with Krispy on this. It's definitely intentional that you don't add strength to damage of bombs.
    Okay, but I'm not asking about strength. Barbarian's Rage has no effect on that.

    Bombs lack the Thrown trait, and its highly likely that this is explicitly to prevent interactions like Raging Thrower, among other interactions, as well as to prevent them gaining other benefits associated with thrown weapons.

    Strength was just the first thing that popped into my head, even if it isnt relevant due to splash.

    They shouldn't benefit from anything contingent on thrown weapons.

    You need something like Quicksilver mutagen, which applies to general ranged attacks, to include bombs as a broad category.


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    Tarpeius wrote:
    Barbarian's Rage has no effect on that.

    Rage damage does not apply for the same reason as strength damage does not apply - the lack of a thrown trait is deliberate.

    And really, it should not matter if a person is raging - the bomb still only explodes so much.


    Point blank shot only works on volley weapons, so nope on bombs(EDIT SEE BELOW), and I think it's intentional that bombs don't benefit from strength, though the idea of a bomb being juuuust sturdy enough to do some blunt damage before it goes off is funny to me for some reason.

    The Dual Thrower feat for the Dual-Weapon Warrior archetype seems to apply though, due to the "or a one-handed ranged weapon you are wielding" part of the feat. If I'm reading this right, it would effectively allow you to throw 2 bombs, 1 at -2 because it's not agile, at a single target using the Double Slice action but applying to ranged weapons. That's interesting. Combining this and Double Brew might be fun, if you don't mind the first feat investment not really being useful for an alchemist.

    The Juggler archetype have some feats that seem hilarious and mechanically helpful for bombs as well, though the later feats also only work for thrown weapons, so not bombs.

    EDIT:wrong on point blank shot, from what I can tell it would benefit from the feat. Probably only on initial damage and not persistent damage like for an acid bomb.

    Liberty's Edge

    Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

    To get a little more into the dirt of the rules:

    Does "thrown weapon attack" refer to the Thrown trait or just an attack where the weapon is thrown? There are also references to "melee weapon attacks" and "ranged weapon attacks," which obviously don't reference traits. And, as initially pointed out, alchemical bombs are "martial thrown weapons" (that lack the Thrown trait).

    Add to the list:

  • Can a Juggler use Reflexive Catch with an alchemical bomb?

  • Liberty's Edge

    Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
    Aricks wrote:
    Point blank shot only works on volley weapons

    It has separate benefits for volley and non-volley weapons.


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    Tarpeius wrote:

    To get a little more into the dirt of the rules:

    Does "thrown weapon attack" refer to the Thrown trait or just an attack where the weapon is thrown? There are also references to "melee weapon attacks" and "ranged weapon attacks," which obviously don't reference traits. And, as initially pointed out, alchemical bombs are "martial thrown weapons" (that lack the Thrown trait).

    Add to the list:

  • Can a Juggler use Reflexive Catch with an alchemical bomb?
  • I'd say you've made a good case for ambiguousness.

    I still think, though, that the omission of the thrown trait is intended to be a limitation to bombs to reduce their interaction with things like Raging Thrower.

    You're correct though that it reads like things similar to Point Blank shot should apply, per RAW.

    So... dunno. I think intent is that bombs should be more limited due to trait omission, but if you were my player I'd probably rule whatever way you felt was in your favor.

    Bombs aren't so powerful that I'd be overly worried about balance.


    Tarpeius wrote:

    To get a little more into the dirt of the rules:

    Does "thrown weapon attack" refer to the Thrown trait or just an attack where the weapon is thrown? There are also references to "melee weapon attacks" and "ranged weapon attacks," which obviously don't reference traits. And, as initially pointed out, alchemical bombs are "martial thrown weapons" (that lack the Thrown trait).

    Add to the list:

  • Can a Juggler use Reflexive Catch with an alchemical bomb?
  • Good catch on PBS. Reflexive Catch is ambiguous. Usually they're very specific about such things, in this case it would say "a weapon with the thrown trait" versus "a thrown weapon". That said, the rules for bombs also have a lot of "throw a bomb" verbiage in the rules despite not being thrown weapons.

    So, paradoxically, you could potentially throw a bomb at target next to a Juggler, fail your attack roll, the Juggler could Reflexive Catch the bomb and start juggling it, and the target would take splash damage, because " On a failure (but not a critical failure), the target of the attack still takes the splash damage."


    I have hard time understanding the concept of a thrown weapon without the Thrown trait. Bombs are thrown weapons and as such anything that speak about thrown weapons apply, like the Raging Thrower feat.


    Despite the name, most alchemical bombs don't really explode. They strike a particular target, and most of them splatter their contents as well. No boom.
    Precision or power of the throw mattering isn't completely contrary to the flavor of how they work--I'd say that even with actual explosives, precision could still matter.

    SuperBidi wrote:
    I have hard time understanding the concept of a thrown weapon without the Thrown trait. Bombs are thrown weapons and as such anything that speak about thrown weapons apply, like the Raging Thrower feat.

    The Thrown trait adds Strength to damage and lets a melee weapon be used for ranged attacks. Neither of those apply to bombs, so not actually giving them the trait that doesn't do anything makes some sense.

    Although it does make the Splash trait's rule saying not to add Strength to damage kind of unnecessary. It applies to... holy water? Except holy water has almost the same wording as bombs ("a simple thrown weapon"), so if that means it has the Thrown trait so must bombs even though it isn't listed in the chart.


    thenobledrake wrote:
    Tarpeius wrote:
    Bombs don't get strength from damage due to being splash weapons.

    Not all bombs are splash weapons.

    While I think all that currently deal damage do happen to be splash weapons, it's not a mandatory thing so there could be bombs that deal damage and aren't splash weapons added to the game later - and those would still not add Strength to damage because they don't have the Thrown trait.

    there is nothing that prevents a non-splash bomb from getting the thrown trait, or similar.

    Caltrop bomb
    This bombs drop caltrops...
    In addition, this bomb has the Throw trait, letting you add Strength to damage.

    Or whatever.


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    Bombs are ranged thrown weapons.

    (directly from the rules of alchemical items: "Bombs are martial thrown weapons with a range increment of 20 feet")

    The lack of the Thrown trait means that they don't get bonus damage from strength (since that's all the Trait does for a ranged weapon), but all other instances that you just need a thrown weapon like Raging thrower apply normally.


    shroudb wrote:

    Bombs are ranged thrown weapons.

    (directly from the rules of alchemical items: "Bombs are martial thrown weapons with a range increment of 20 feet")

    The lack of the Thrown trait means that they don't get bonus damage from strength (since that's all the Trait does for a ranged weapon), but all other instances that you just need a thrown weapon like Raging thrower apply normally.

    I don't disagree, but that also means we're back to Schrodinger's Bomb from above, since a Juggler can do Reflexive Catch on the bomb and it still does splash damage, so it both has and has not "gone off" so to speak.

    Maybe it just spills a little?

    Wayfinders

    Aricks wrote:
    shroudb wrote:

    Bombs are ranged thrown weapons.

    (directly from the rules of alchemical items: "Bombs are martial thrown weapons with a range increment of 20 feet")

    The lack of the Thrown trait means that they don't get bonus damage from strength (since that's all the Trait does for a ranged weapon), but all other instances that you just need a thrown weapon like Raging thrower apply normally.

    I don't disagree, but that also means we're back to Schrodinger's Bomb from above, since a Juggler can do Reflexive Catch on the bomb and it still does splash damage, so it both has and has not "gone off" so to speak.

    Maybe it just spills a little?

    I have to agree with the above assessment. It'd seem weird for "thrown" not to mean "thrown" in a conversational ruleset; I would suppose that the trait itself is absent to ensure that nobody misses the bit about not adding strength, nothing more. Bombs also wouldn't interact with anything explicitly requiring "a weapon with the thrown trait". Not sure if anything does require that, but it might be relevant.

    Notably, this still excludes it from working with Flying Blade, as that requires any thrown weapon to have "finesse" or "agile", not just the melee-and-thrown ones that Sneak Attack calls out. I'm much more comfortable (narrative-wise) with bombs working for blatant damage effects like Sneak Attacks and Raging Thrower than I am with something like Precise Strike, so that checks out to me.

    This interpretation may (at first glance, at least to me) cause weird interactions with feats like Rebounding Toss, but I think it's important to mention why that isn't the case mechanically, even if it's otherwise obvious in the story. Bombs explicitly explode after hitting anything, so both mechanically and in-the-fiction they no longer exist after the bomb impacts a creature or object. In the same way that the rules don't need to specify that you can't fetch a thrown bomb like you can a knife, they really don't need to specify that you can't make a ricochet attack with a weapon that no longer exists.

    As for Reflexive Catch, I'd honestly just flavour it as a spillage, yeah. Something of a lashing of volatile reactants, like from a leaking flask or loose powder sparking at the wrong time. This could also represent why the attack missed in the first place, such as due to unexpected lightness or a powdery loss of grip. It's also true that any Bomber with Calculated and Expanded Splash can take a bomb off the shelf and get significant oomph out of it, so we already know that the infernal things are often stuffed with more explosive (or corrosive or whatever) than is strictly necessary. So it is (to me) relatively intuitive to explain in the story, and there's no strict mechanical contradiction (just a failure effect and a reaction to that failure), but I also wouldn't blame any GM for saying that it still "hits" some part of the scenery as is usually assumed when a bomb misses the target. That's just a bit less fun to me, especially since I love the thought of Goblin Juggle Tennis and everything so-implied.


    thenobledrake wrote:
    Enough force behind the throw could actually even cause container failure upon release.

    Don't trip over then :-)

    Now I am thinking about how these things are stored and armed. Has Paizo published any lore on that? Diagrams or fiction maybe?

    Horizon Hunters

    Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
    Angery Barbarian wrote:
    I am angry! So I am going to throw this volatile mix of chemicals that ignite on contact with air and since I'm a White Dragon Barbarian and ANGERY it will do extra cold damage!!!

    I side with not adding things like Point Blank and Raging Thrower to bombs without the Thrown trait. It just doesn't makes sense (see above). As for the Juggler thing, it explicitly says "The item or thrown weapon" so yes, you can catch a bomb, but only if the bomb strike failed. It would also not do splash damage since the juggler caught it.


    My take:

    The "Thrown" trait is for melee weapons, to indicate that they may also be thrown.

    Bombs are just ranged weapons.


    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
    rainzax wrote:

    My take:

    The "Thrown" trait is for melee weapons, to indicate that they may also be thrown.

    Bombs are just ranged weapons.

    The Thrown trait says: "When this trait appears on a melee weapon, it also includes the range increment. Ranged weapons with this trait use the range increment specified in the weapon’s Range entry."

    It is definitely not limited to melee weapons.


    rainzax wrote:

    My take:

    The "Thrown" trait is for melee weapons, to indicate that they may also be thrown.

    Bombs are just ranged weapons.

    Dart, javelin, bola, and shuriken are all ranged only weapons that have the Thrown trait.


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    Only a few weapons have the forceful trait, does it mean you cannot forcefully swing a weapon that doesn't have the trait? No, it just means it doesn't have the mechanical benefits / impact that the forceful trait conveys.

    Simply put, traits are mechanical first and descriptive / flavour second. Generally they try and line up with both, but mechanical balance comes first.

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