AoEs, Item Damage, and Familiar Satchels


Hi everyone.

I have a question about Area of Effect damage and items that came up as a player was looking for ways to defend his familiar.

I recall in Pathfinder First Edition, attended items basically aren't damaged unless the spell specifically calls for it.

In Pathfinder Second Edition, it states that:

Item Damage wrote:
Normally an item takes damage only when a creature is directly attacking it—commonly targeted items include doors and traps. A creature that attacks you doesn’t normally damage your armor or other gear, even if it hits you.

With that would I be correct in assuming that as such, a backpack that a player is wearing would not take damage in the event they are in a fireball radius?

If that is correct, to follow up...

What is the point of a familiar satchel when it specifically calls itself out to be damaged by AoE effects?

Familiar Satchel wrote:
This armored case is made to protect any Tiny or smaller creature contained within. It includes air holes (which can be plugged with cork stoppers for underwater travel) and two receptacles for food and water. Any creature inside has neither line of sight nor line of effect to the outside world but also cannot be targeted by attacks that require a line of effect while in the satchel. However, an area effect that deals enough damage to break the case also damages the creature inside. The satchel is made of leather (Hardness 4, HP 16, BT 8). A creature can enter or exit the satchel by using a total of 2 actions: an Interact action to open the satchel and a single action with the move trait to enter or exit.

The bolded text makes it seem like this item is an exception to the normal 'an item must be specifically targeted' and overwrites that with 'this item will take aoe damage', which if true makes it worse than putting your familiar in your backpack. Was this an oversight, or am I reading this wrong, or do I have to roll damage against my players' backpacks, or is it just stating the HP just in case an AoE specifically states it damages items?

Thank you

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No, people have been pointing out the problems with Familiar Satchel for several years now.

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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Nothing about the bolded text supersedes or contradicts the normal rules for item targeting.

But it does tell us what happens if the familiar satchel is sitting on the ground in a room and is hit by an AoE that damages objects.

Liberty's Edge

I see no reason why ANY AoE effect other than one that explicitly states it damages attended/held/worn objects specifically would EVER harm a satchel at all. As Squiggit notes, that line really only impacts things if it is completely unattended and the AoE is one that also can/does state it damages objects too.

It's a bit immersion breaking but yeah, a max-level fireball with max rolled damage won't even singe/disrupt the cobwebs in the corner of the room or burn the rice paper left lying on the table within the range of the spell, that's just how it's written... I don't really LIKE it, but... thems the breaks /shrug

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One of the devs (I believe) made it clear that if the narrative calls for a Fireball to burn the dusty, old library, then that's naturally a risk that should exist. Yet it's the default that AoE's never harm items that matter, since that's generally unfun (most especially when a PC dies or drops an item, losing some or even all of their wealth due to a follow-up AoE). This is much the same reason PF2 removed Sunder. But yeah, if the story/obstacle/whatnot would be enhanced by overriding the default, it can happen. That's one of those areas where GMs should be warned to weigh the cost/benefits AND even savvy players better be forewarned.

One might rather say it's an attribute of "this specific dusty, old library being susceptible" applied by the GM/writer instead of a "Fireball burns dusty, old libraries" which as mentioned would be abnormal. I can think of one example scenario where a boss baddie throws papers in a brazier to burn clues/evidence. I imagine destroying the brazier with a Fireball isn't going to save the evidence! But if a boss died then their body was toasted with an AoE, I'd think any papers on them would survive if killing the boss was meant to be the only obstacle/step needed. Heck, it should probably survive most anything short of utter destruction.

Alright, thank you very much for taking your time to help me out. :) Clearly I was just reading too far into that line of text thinking it overwrote the base.

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