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    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default How are Lowlevel PCs expected to fight Swarms?

    Hi guys n gals,
    just a quick question: since Paizo loves to throw Swarms at lowlevel PCs in their APs, I wonder how the authors even _imagine_ the players should handle them.
    - Insect Swarms are immune to weapon damage, so about 3/4 of the party probably can't do anything at all
    - Level 1 spells are in short supply and also do very limited damage at the lowest levels
    - meanwhile PF Swarms often have absurd hit points and move at ludicrous speed.

    Case Study: Skull & Shackles 1. The level 2 PCs are on an undead-infested island. The only potentially safe resting place is in an old fort and the players have to fight several encounters before they get there. However, there's a mosquito swarm there that beggars all description: Fly Speed 40', 31HP, damage 2d6 + Disease (Filth Fever) + Bleed.
    I mean srsly, WTF?

    There's no place to stock up, no provisions far and wide to be had, no way to prepare. And certainly no way to get a Swarm Suit or a Swarmbane Clasp.
    The swarm would need _4_ Burning Hands and then some torch damage to finish off. Highly unlikely a spellcaster has that many castings available at that point. Even if they did, and managed to dodge the Distraction, they'd probably also cause Friendly Fire. During those 4 rounds, the swarm would inflict 8d6 damage + Bleed - against level 2 PCs with maybe 18-20 HP if they're fresh.
    If you want to run away, you have to slug through difficult terrain, while the gnats out of hell can just fly in a beeline.

    So, you can't hurt em, you can't run away from them, you can't rest before you get rid of them - what are you supposed to do?

    Those APs are supposed to be doable even with the Iconics as PCs. I call shenanigans on that.
    FTR, when I played that bit years ago, the GM allowed the Gunslinger to blow the gnats up with his gunpowder, but that was pure handwaving and had nothing to do with the rules.

    So, am I just uninformed? Is there an AoE Cantrip or something that every party is expected to have that I simply don't know? Or are the Paizo authors simply completely out of their minds?
    Last edited by Firechanter; 2019-11-24 at 11:22 AM.
    Let me give you a brief rundown of an average Post-3E Era fight: You attack an enemy and start kicking his shins. He then starts kicking your shins, then you take it in turns kicking until one of you falls over. It basically comes down to who started the battle with the biggest boot, and the only strategy involved is realizing when things have gone tits up and legging it.

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    Default Re: How are Lowlevel PCs expected to fight Swarms?

    I want to start by agreeing with you. Swarms (and weapon-immune baddies in general, like Shadows) are notoriously overpowered for level 1-2 adventurers, and this seems to be an especially egregious example. Now on to problem solving for future parties.

    The one weakness of low-level swarms is that they tend to lack a hive mind and so have Int --. Such a creature has zero tactics; it will just go to the nearest living thing and try to consume it, regardless of what else is happening. If there is any other living thing in the area for a mosquito swarm to consume, it shouldn't necessarily "beeline" for PCs who are getting away at top speed, or even PCs swinging torches at the swarm. So at the very least if there are other creatures around it shouldn't necessarily be a TPK. If the PCs have pack animals with slow move speeds (or who are tied up somewhere) then they can probably get the pack animals to "tank" the swarm while they chip it to death with torches and what AoE spells they *do* have. I couldn't find donkey stats in the pfsrd but the d20srd would suggest a donkey can tank ~2 rounds of a swarm while costing a meager amount of money, even for level 2 PCs.

    At first it seems a bit strange for a group of PCs to have a bunch of donkeys/horses/whathaveyou following them around everywhere. But why shouldn't murderhobo PCs also be pastoral nomads? They already travel from place to place without a home, they already mostly live off the land, they already contract with local sedentary peoples to raid their rivals (ye olde quest to clear the goblin camp) and provide sundry mercenary services, and they already need extra beasts of burden following them around when they invariably strip mine whatever dungeon they clear out.
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    Default Re: How are Lowlevel PCs expected to fight Swarms?

    Three words:

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    Default Re: How are Lowlevel PCs expected to fight Swarms?

    They aren't. Writers probably just slap thematically-appropriate encounters of approximately correct CR in their APs. Meanwhile, the people in charge of coming up with the CRs probably just copy-pasted them from 3.5, and Wizards of the Coast in turn forgot how powerful weapon damage immunity is.

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    Default Re: How are Lowlevel PCs expected to fight Swarms?

    Quote Originally Posted by Unavenger View Post
    They aren't. Writers probably just slap thematically-appropriate encounters of approximately correct CR in their APs. Meanwhile, the people in charge of coming up with the CRs probably just copy-pasted them from 3.5, and Wizards of the Coast in turn forgot how powerful weapon damage immunity is.
    Even compared to 3.5 swarms that swarm seems over the top. A cr2 bat swarm has only 13 hp and deals 1d6 damage. Easily handled with some torches without serious danger of tpk.

    A centipede swarm is cr4 and has 31hp with 2d6+poison damage, but only has a 20ft land speed and no fly speed, so you can easily run away, or even kite it while chipping away with torches.

    A swarm with that fly speed and those stats sounds closer to cr5 or cr6 which is theoretically doable, but probably should not be thrown at an unprepared party, especially at the end of a long day of draining resources with no escape route.
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    Default Re: How are Lowlevel PCs expected to fight Swarms?

    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Awkward View Post
    Three words:

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    At the level where PCs are starting to access 2nds (so, not 1 or 2), Flaming Sphere will straight up kill the swarm by itself. Though I agree that at higher levels with nastier swarms, (a scroll of) Gust of Wind is exactly what you need to buy some time for the meleers to put on their Swarmbane Clasps... if they weren't wearing them already.
    Last edited by GoodbyeSoberDay; 2019-11-24 at 12:39 PM.
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    Default Re: How are Lowlevel PCs expected to fight Swarms?

    Oil is 1 sp a pint. Torches are 1 cp and also help. Always have oil on every character, just like other basics: backpack, food, water, ranged weapon, etc. Especially on Pathfinder adventure paths you want oil and soon after (level 3-4) alchemical items. If all else fails, walk away briskly from the swarm. For all their defenses, swarms don't do a lot of damage. And if you can do a little damage even with oil, they're easy enough to deal with.

    Swarms often get a bad rap due to internet hyperbole. "How can a PC deal with an enemy his weapon won't hit?!" They are actually pathetically weak, as they should be in exchange for requiring special measures to defeat. They're really not a big deal at all. And heaven forbid a system should like to use challenges that aren't immediately solved by poking it with a pointy object. In fact they help keep things interesting.

    Let's take for example a CR 1 spider swarm. 3 of them are supposed to be a difficult fight for a level 1 party. 4 for a level 2 party. 1 of them is a routine fight at level 1, 2 at level 2 is routine. They deal 1d6 damage and have 9 HP. Their speed is only 20 feet, so simply leaving is an option. Oil averages 2.7 damage per round to them, though it takes an additional round of waiting to get the entire damage (1d3*1.5 for 2 rounds). They average 3.5 damage per round to the PCs. If 4 PCs simply lob oil and use no spells or class abilities at all, they will kill about 1 per round. Plus an additional round at the end for the oil to finish burning. This entire time it is possible to kite them. During that time:

    3 vs a level 1 party ("difficult" fight): 4 rounds to kill. Assuming 3,3,2,1 are alive each round and don't die before their turn, they deal 31.5 damage. Wounded PCs can easily back off and let others take hits, or worst case scenario at least survive well enough while unconscious while allies get their attention. Typical party has (10+3)+(8+3)+(8+3)+(6+3)=44 HP.
    4 vs a level 2 party ("difficult" fight): 5 rounds to kill. Assuming 4,4,3,2,1 are alive each round, they deal 49 damage. Typical party has (10+5.5+3*2)+(8+4.5+3*2)+(8+4.5+3*2)+(6+3.5+3*2)=7 4 HP.
    1 vs a level 1 party ("routine" fight): 2 rounds to kill. Assuming it gets a chance to act both rounds, it deals 7 damage. Party laughs it off.
    2 vs a level 2 party ("routine" fight): 3 rounds to kill. Assuming 2,2,1 are alive each round, it deals 17.5 damage. Party laughs it off.

    If everyone brings and preps their oil, they are simple to defeat with no class features at all. Which you really should do on every character because by now Pathfinder adventure paths are famous for having swarms. With alchemical items and/or spells they are even easier. If anything they would seem very over-CR'd, except you know there is going to be that one guy in the party who isn't prepared. So perhaps the CR is fair.

    Case Study: Skull & Shackles 1. The level 2 PCs are on an undead-infested island. The only potentially safe resting place is in an old fort and the players have to fight several encounters before they get there. However, there's a mosquito swarm there that beggars all description: Fly Speed 40', 31HP, damage 2d6 + Disease (Filth Fever) + Bleed.
    I mean srsly, WTF?
    4 rounds to kill. Deals 28 damage in the meantime plus effects. Maybe goes into a 5th round if he focuses his attacks and chases the wounded PC that backs off, though I don't think a mindless creature would. Trivial encounter. Failing a save on the disease is a little annoying long term though. Some minor dex and con damage in a couple days. Some heal checks can help, as does resting normally to restore party of the damage.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2019-11-24 at 01:35 PM.
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    Default Re: How are Lowlevel PCs expected to fight Swarms?

    Quote Originally Posted by Firechanter View Post
    So, you can't hurt em, you can't run away from them, you can't rest before you get rid of them - what are you supposed to do?
    Some Alchemist's Fire makes for a decent low-level answer to swarms. But yes, they do tend to be under-CRed. With that said, see below:

    As far as not being able to run away - why not? Sure they have a high top speed, but they also mill around each other and, as mentioned, are mindless - it should be easy to divert them using some other animal like a cow or even a summon. In other words, it shouldn't be too hard to keep them from beelining anywhere. In addition, avoiding them entirely should be easy for the party too - swarms are LOUD! Give them a warning and the chance to divert if there is going to be one in their path, even if it means they have to take a longer route around.

    If I recall that AP correctly, you can go through the whole swamp without encountering one because there's only a % chance they appear and only if the PCs are resting outside.


    TL;DR play mindless creatures properly, don't give them a grudge against the PCs or intelligent tactics - playing them that way should raise their CR, in which case of course they're going to be too heavy a challenge.
    Last edited by Psyren; 2019-11-24 at 01:18 PM.

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    RedKnightGirl

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    d6 Re: How are Lowlevel PCs expected to fight Swarms?

    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Awkward View Post
    Three words:

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    I have never taken that spell. You must be 3rd level. We are speaking about 1st and 2nd level parties. Not even wind wall is up for grabs.
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    Default Re: How are Lowlevel PCs expected to fight Swarms?

    Quote Originally Posted by Firechanter View Post
    Hi guys n gals,
    just a quick question: since Paizo loves to throw Swarms at lowlevel PCs in their APs, I wonder how the authors even _imagine_ the players should handle them.
    You dive under water and hold your breath until the swarm goes away, or you set something on fire and stand in the smoke until the swarm goes away. These work in real life, too.

    That said, almost all low-level swarms are vulnerable to weapons, or slow enough to walk away from, or often both. You're basically picking the single worst swarm in the book and assuming that all swarms are like that.
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    Default Re: How are Lowlevel PCs expected to fight Swarms?

    Ericgrau: "Some effects" include 1d6 bleed. If PCs are taking actions to stop the bleed then you have to add more rounds-to-kill, which increases total damage. If not then it's a lot more than 28 damage in those 4 rounds, and we're assuming everyone's still standing to pelt it with oil. A straight up fight with level 2 PCs begs for a TPK.

    Psyren: Assuming a level 2 caster has SM I prepared despite its 2 round duration, a pony will probably buy the party those 2 rounds... if the caster can get it off. If everything is going to crap, does the party have time to wait for the 1 round casting time? As a "prep before battle" spell I think it turns the fight into a likely (if still dangerous) victory, but I'm not sure about its merits as a getaway device. Summoners obviously fare better here. If the party has nearby pack animals they're willing to sacrifice, that suffices as well. As far as making the swarm loud, how does the DM convey that it is a "red flag: avoid" type of encounter? It's literally a bunch of bugs.
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    Default Re: How are Lowlevel PCs expected to fight Swarms?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    That said, almost all low-level swarms are vulnerable to weapons, or slow enough to walk away from, or often both. You're basically picking the single worst swarm in the book and assuming that all swarms are like that.
    And at 2d6 per round plus bleed & minor disease to the entire party, and mindless targeting, that swarm is still a trivial encounter.

    Swarms are over CR'd if anything. But the CR makes sense if you assume some of the party isn't prepared at all, not even with 1 sp molatov cocktails. If the entire party isn't prepared with even the basics, it's time to forfeit your rpg gamer license.

    Quote Originally Posted by GoodbyeSoberDay View Post
    Ericgrau: "Some effects" include 1d6 bleed. If PCs are taking actions to stop the bleed then you have to add more rounds-to-kill, which increases total damage. If not then it's a lot more than 28 damage in those 4 rounds, and we're assuming everyone's still standing to pelt it with oil. A straight up fight with level 2 PCs begs for a TPK.
    Ah I was wondering what the bleed amount was. 42+ damage if the bleed is not treated, no one casts cure light wounds and the swarm has the highest initiative. Most likely PCs will back off twice during the fight, causing new bleed targets and about 7-10.5 more damage. 49-52.5 damage total. That's a bit more damage and pretty risky... with no class features at all. If a PC does cast cure light wounds, that negates the swarm's entire actions for the round, while meanwhile 3 other PCs still get to act. Ditto if the PC downs a potion, which the party will have if they're insane enough to have no cleric or druid. Ditto for other class features that make it easier.

    This is absolute worst case scenario and it's still pretty trivial.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2019-11-24 at 01:40 PM.
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    Default Re: How are Lowlevel PCs expected to fight Swarms?

    We took it out pretty easily. I had a vizier, and my spammable AOE combined with the round it spent attacking my zombie servant (which was immune to its badness) made it a pretty easy fight.

    That said, many of the tactics suggested here are difficult in that AP. You just took a launch to an island, so you won’t have any animals. And the PCs in that AP lose all their gear and are forced to scavenge from a pirate ship. I don’t remember if we had the option of buying a bunch of oil.

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    Default Re: How are Lowlevel PCs expected to fight Swarms?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gnaeus View Post
    We took it out pretty easily. I had a vizier, and my spammable AOE combined with the round it spent attacking my zombie servant (which was immune to its badness) made it a pretty easy fight.

    That said, many of the tactics suggested here are difficult in that AP. You just took a launch to an island, so you won’t have any animals. And the PCs in that AP lose all their gear and are forced to scavenge from a pirate ship. I don’t remember if we had the option of buying a bunch of oil.
    No gear followed by a difficult fight is pretty rude of the module. And more an error of giving too high of a CR under the circumstances if anything. But agreed there are lots of class features that are much better than oil. Even if the entire party doesn't have them, a little bit is enough against a creature with such a weak attack.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2019-11-24 at 01:42 PM.
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    Default Re: How are Lowlevel PCs expected to fight Swarms?

    Quote Originally Posted by ericgrau View Post
    And at 2d6 per round plus bleed & minor disease to the entire party, and mindless targeting, that swarm is still a trivial encounter.

    Swarms are over CR'd if anything. But the CR makes sense if you assume some of the party isn't prepared at all, not even with 1 sp molatov cocktails. If the entire party isn't prepared with even the basics, it's time to forfeit your rpg gamer license.
    "1sp molatov cocktails" being the oil that does all of 2 damage a round, and only to creatures on the ground? Or that has a 50% chance to work as alchemist's fire, which can't be used to target the swarm directly?

    If you try to use oil by throwing it, it deals 1 point of splash damage, 50% of the time, taking 2 rounds to prep. If you pour it on the ground, then to nonflying swarms it will deal 2 lots of 2 damage, multiplied by 1.5, so 6 damage, again over 2 rounds, and it's not clear that multiple uses of oil stack. But against these mosquitoes, you're doing all of 1 damage per round on average between four party members. In that time, that 31 rounds, the party is taking 2d6 automatic damage every round, plus 1d6 bleed (which doesn't stack), so we're saying something like 60d6=210 points of damage, plus whatever the bleed totals to. The party will have spent over 12gp on oil and died, on average, about two or three times each.

    Needless to say, I'm not impressed.

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    Default Re: How are Lowlevel PCs expected to fight Swarms?

    Quote Originally Posted by GoodbyeSoberDay View Post
    As far as making the swarm loud, how does the DM convey that it is a "red flag: avoid" type of encounter? It's literally a bunch of bugs.
    "A swarm of Diminutive creatures consists of 1,500 nonflying creatures or 5,000 flying creatures."

    That's way, way more than "a bunch of bugs." You should be able to hear that coming a mile away, and as the party gets closer to the source, the GM should be investing that description with all the danger it entails. The characters should know something is up even if the players don't think anything is out of the ordinary.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
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    Default Re: How are Lowlevel PCs expected to fight Swarms?

    Quote Originally Posted by Unavenger View Post
    "1sp molatov cocktails" being the oil that does all of 2 damage a round, and only to creatures on the ground? Or that has a 50% chance to work as alchemist's fire, which can't be used to target the swarm directly?

    If you try to use oil by throwing it, it deals 1 point of splash damage, 50% of the time, taking 2 rounds to prep. If you pour it on the ground, then to nonflying swarms it will deal 2 lots of 2 damage, multiplied by 1.5, so 6 damage, again over 2 rounds, and it's not clear that multiple uses of oil stack. But against these mosquitoes, you're doing all of 1 damage per round on average between four party members. In that time, that 31 rounds, the party is taking 2d6 automatic damage every round, plus 1d6 bleed (which doesn't stack), so we're saying something like 60d6=210 points of damage, plus whatever the bleed totals to. The party will have spent over 12gp on oil and died, on average, about two or three times each.

    Needless to say, I'm not impressed.
    I double checked the rules and it says it works as alchemists fire, with 50% success. 1d6 per round for 2 rounds. x1.5 damage against swarms because it's a splash attack. "Prepping them" is putting a wick in. Like I said you should do this ahead of time with some flasks as soon as you get the oil. Because many PF modules have swarms and you should know about them quickly enough.

    https://www.d20pfsrd.com/equipmenT/g...nces/#Oil_Lamp
    https://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/ru...#Swarm_Subtype

    So actually it's twice as much damage as what I said. I was skimming and originally read 1d3 ground AOE, which doesn't apply. But with their touch AC it only hits half the time, so it evens out to about the same. And also, this is with the simplest attack anyone could muster. Even a commoner. One simple class feature like cure light wounds or an AOE spell is far stronger. I can see why Gnaeus had an easy time. Point is, 4 NPC warriors with no class features could win with difficulty. But even if half the party is derping and half the party has a good answer in their class, even this worst case scenario swarm is pretty easy.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2019-11-24 at 02:00 PM.
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    Default Re: How are Lowlevel PCs expected to fight Swarms?

    Quote Originally Posted by ericgrau View Post
    I double checked the rules and it says it works as alchemists fire, with 50% success. 1d6 per round for 2 rounds. x1.5 damage against swarms because it's a splash attack. "Prepping them" is putting a wick in. Like I said you should do this ahead of time with some flasks as soon as you get the oil.

    https://www.d20pfsrd.com/equipmenT/g...nces/#Oil_Lamp
    https://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/ru...#Swarm_Subtype

    So actually it's twice as much damage as what I said. But with their touch AC it only hits half the time, so it evens out to about the same. And also, this is with the simplest attack anyone could muster. One simple class feature like cure light wounds or an AOE spell is far stronger.
    "A swarm is immune to any[...] effect that targets a specific number of creatures" You can't hit them directly with alchemist's fire (it's not as though you're going to throw a bottle of nasty stuff at them and it'll break on impact). You can hit them with the splash damage, which is one (and given how PF maths works 1*1.5=1) but that's about it. If you assume that you can prepare flasks ahead of time (I'm skeptical of the realism of doing that without risking accidentally spilling the oil everywhere while travelling, but never mind that) then you still need two attacks to deal one point of damage.

    (Incidentally, I miscalculated: you only need 62 flasks of oil, weighing that many pounds and costing 62 silver).

    EDIT: As for CLW, that buys you a round (on average, it leaves you down a hit point, but that's splitting hairs) and it has its own problems, like reaching the person you want to heal.
    Last edited by Unavenger; 2019-11-24 at 02:01 PM.

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    Default Re: How are Lowlevel PCs expected to fight Swarms?

    ^ The swarm rules specifically mention splash weapons. Damage is still 1d6x2 not 1.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2019-11-24 at 02:04 PM.
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    Default Re: How are Lowlevel PCs expected to fight Swarms?

    Quote Originally Posted by ericgrau View Post
    ^ The swarm rules specifically mention splash weapons. Damage is still 1d6x2 not 1.
    Splash weapons do two things: hit directly, and deal splash damage. The first of those is "any spell or effect that targets a specific number of creatures" and they're immune. The second is "Spells or effects that affect an area, such as splash Weapons and many Evocation Spells." You can deal the splash damage, but not the direct hit damage. This is painfully clear. Is the direct hit damage from alchemist's fire an effect? Yes. Does it target a specific number of creatures? Damn right it does. Are swarms immune to it? You bet.

    (From a RACSD perspective, a bottle of oil cannot break on impact with a mosquito.)
    Last edited by Unavenger; 2019-11-24 at 02:04 PM.

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    Default Re: How are Lowlevel PCs expected to fight Swarms?

    Torches, alchemical weapons, damage cantrips, etc

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    Default Re: How are Lowlevel PCs expected to fight Swarms?

    Quote Originally Posted by Unavenger View Post
    Splash weapons do two things: hit directly, and deal splash damage. The first of those is "any spell or effect that targets a specific number of creatures" and they're immune. The second is "Spells or effects that affect an area, such as splash Weapons and many Evocation Spells." You can deal the splash damage, but not the direct hit damage. This is painfully clear. Is the direct hit damage from alchemist's fire an effect? Yes. Does it target a specific number of creatures? Damn right it does. Are swarms immune to it? You bet.

    (From a RACSD perspective, a bottle of oil cannot break on impact with a mosquito.)
    I see where you're coming from. You seem to be talking about a RAW dysfunction like drowning to heal. There's a discussion about it here: https://paizo.com/threads/rzs2t18o?D...damage-a-swarm and here: https://paizo.com/threads/rzs2ld31?A...-swarm-of-bats .

    It's still pretty silly, makes some things the rules say pointless and so clearly isn't as intended, and I've never seen it played that way.

    It's still worst case scenario. If half the party has halfway decent class features and half the party sits on their butts, the fight is easy. 3d6 damage a round (2d6 if CLW'd before the target's turn) to an entire level 2 party just isn't a lot. If the party has a halfway decent answer at all, the fight is over.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2019-11-24 at 02:11 PM.
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    Default Re: How are Lowlevel PCs expected to fight Swarms?

    The party I'm running S&S for had an Alchemist at the time; thankfully this was before he died.

    The AP also provides the opportunity to garner somewhere north of 30 flasks of Alchemist's Fire. 6 are provided guaranteed (in the Whore's Boudoir on the island itself).

    Quote Originally Posted by Firechanter View Post
    Those APs are supposed to be doable even with the Iconics as PCs. I call shenanigans on that.
    Re: The Iconics: The ones that are the "canon" characters in the AP (featured in the art) are some of the ones better equipped for this. They are Seltyiel (the Magus), Alahazra (Flame Oracle), Merisiel (Rogue), and Valeros (Fighter). Merisiel, Valeros, and Seltyiel are all, amusingly enough, explicitly statted with vials of Alchemist's Fire and/or Acid apiece, while Alahazra gets a total of 5 Burning Hands per day. and Seltyiel COULD have learned some useful spells by level 2 (he's statted as only preparing True Strike and Shield, but Burning Hands is on his list).

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    Default Re: How are Lowlevel PCs expected to fight Swarms?

    Quote Originally Posted by Unavenger View Post
    (From a RACSD perspective, a bottle of oil cannot break on impact with a mosquito.)
    No, but you could still uncork a flask of alchemists fire and splash it over the mosquitos.

    But honestly, a lit torch doing 1d3 damage to a swarm is pretty much the expected method to deal with them at low levels, 4 people swinging a torch is 8 damage on average per round if they all hit, but lets be generous and say only half hit, so 4 damage per round. Thats 2-3 rounds tops of being hit, and if you spread out a bit the swarm will only be able to hit one or two of you per round.
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    Default Re: How are Lowlevel PCs expected to fight Swarms?

    Quote Originally Posted by ericgrau View Post
    I see where you're coming from. You seem to be talking about a RAW dysfunction like drowning to heal. There's a discussion about it here: https://paizo.com/threads/rzs2t18o?D...damage-a-swarm

    It's still pretty silly, makes some things the rules say pointless and clearly isn't as intended, and I've never seen it played that way.

    It's still worst case scenario. If half the party has halfway decent class features and half the party sits on their butts, the fight is easy.
    It's not a RAW dysfunction, it's just common sense. The direct hit damage is from directly hitting something, and the bottle breaking open and spraying alchemist's fire on someone, like so. You can't break a bottle on a mosquito.

    The best class features I can think of for dealing with the fight are the already-mentioned burning hands (which will deal about 7 damage, hence the assessment that you need four and change from the OP) and maybe CLW to buy some time. The swarm, on the other hand, can deal 2d6+bleed to potentially multiple party members every turn. If you happen to have a sorcerer and a cleric, then you might be fine (although you'll burn most of the day's spell slots). If you have a wizard and a druid, then you might have issues. Certainly, I don't see it being trivial no matter what.

    Quote Originally Posted by Crake View Post
    No, but you could still uncork a flask of alchemists fire and splash it over the mosquitos.
    Emphasis mine.

    But honestly, a lit torch doing 1d3 damage to a swarm is pretty much the expected method to deal with them at low levels, 4 people swinging a torch is 8 damage on average per round if they all hit, but lets be generous and say only half hit, so 4 damage per round. Thats 2-3 rounds tops of being hit, and if you spread out a bit the swarm will only be able to hit one or two of you per round.
    4 damage per round vs the 31-hp swarm is not 2-3 rounds tops. It's 8 rounds. And at level 2, you only have enough HP to survive a couple of hits from that thing if you're tough or lucky.
    Last edited by Unavenger; 2019-11-24 at 02:16 PM.

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    Default Re: How are Lowlevel PCs expected to fight Swarms?

    This thread had taught me that enemies can be easily taken out by appropriately-leveled casters/pseudo-casters who are prepared for such a fight. This new knowledge is of great use to me.
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    Default Re: How are Lowlevel PCs expected to fight Swarms?

    Quote Originally Posted by AvatarVecna View Post
    This thread had taught me that enemies can be easily taken out by appropriately-leveled casters/pseudo-casters who are prepared for such a fight. This new knowledge is of great use to me.
    Or non-casters of players who have a bit of game savvy. I can't remember the last time I didn't buy at least one flask of Alchemist's Fire with my character's leftover gold.

    All APs provide quite a lot of these at low levels as well, it's a favorite for 1st through 3rd level gear. Speaking of, after a doublecheck PCs are supposed to hit 3rd at some point on the Isle. Before the latter half of it.

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    Default Re: How are Lowlevel PCs expected to fight Swarms?

    If you want to get RAW-nitpicky on it, then swarms take 150% damage from splash weapons; not "only from the splash part of a splash weapon".

    RACSD? The vial breaks on the floor, and the ensuing flame hurts the mosquitoes near the floor.
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    Default Re: How are Lowlevel PCs expected to fight Swarms?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    If you want to get RAW-nitpicky on it, then swarms take 150% damage from splash weapons; not "only from the splash part of a splash weapon".

    RACSD? The vial breaks on the floor, and the ensuing flame hurts the mosquitoes near the floor.
    Except, that's not what it says. And the "Hurting the mosquitoes near the floor" is what splash damage is.

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    Default Re: How are Lowlevel PCs expected to fight Swarms?

    Let's set aside for a moment that PF adventure paths are famously loaded with swarms, it's common knowledge that alchemical items are the way to deal with them if you don't have an area class feature, that thousands of DMs running them across the country and rule it this way, that the modules themselves are loaded with alchemical items to help you fight the enemies within the module. Let's say none of that works at all and everyone across the country is doing it wrong...

    Burning hands is a good low level spell. Sure it's sucktastic the moment you get 3rd level spells. Sure color spray is often better. It's AOE damage in a level 1 slot. It's save half, at a level when foes have so little HP that half is still pretty good. Rather than save negates like color spray. The moment I see a couple CR 1/2 zombies I'm busting out my burning hands. And those and similar foes immune to sleep/color spray are certainly common enough at low level to warrant a backup plan. Probably I'll prepare both burning hands and either color spray or sleep. And color spray/sleep first, yes. But I'm getting both types of spells. Cure light wounds also totally overwhelms the mosquito swarm's attack. Between the classic cleric and wizard, the fighter and rogue can provide a pitiful contribution and the party is still overwhelming what the swarm can do twice over. Perhaps the fighter and rogue can soak some hits.

    Let that set in. Cure light wounds and burning hands. So either (a) You're telling me you're a conjurer who banned evocation, playing a god wizard who laughs at basic spells, optimizes well and yet didn't prepare a good substitute instead of burning hands. No way, you have something if you optimize that well. Or (b) You're a rookie player who still has an easy time of overwhelming swarms with the most obvious spells.

    Saying that one particular easy and commonly used way doesn't work doesn't really help the argument when there are 100 different ways to assault swarms, swarm existence is common knowledge and they are so weak that even partial party preparation is plenty.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2019-11-24 at 02:42 PM.
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