Untrained Knowledge Check
UKC – Spell Targets and Belier’s Bite
The BPN learns something new
Rules are hard. Difficult. Arduous. Challenging, troublesome and burdensome. Pathfinder has a LOT of rules. Sometimes we forget the rules. Sometimes we ignore rules to make an encounter stand out and be a fun story. Other times, we like to amend rules to fit our group, better known as House Rules.
First, I want to talk about the forgotten rules. The Back Patio Network tries very hard to get the rules correct, but sometimes we miss reading that one bit of info. Or perhaps a friend in another gaming group told us the “correct” way to play the rule, and we just believed them. Then, we later find out they were wrong wrong wrong. We are then reminded to be a bit more diligent about character choices, targets and spell timers.
First, let us visit Benjen and Enlarge Person. We straight up goofed on this one. Adam decided to make Benjen a tiefling. I let him make that tiefling, thinking maybe a 13 RP character won’t be so bad with a 15 point buy for attributes. HAH. Tieflings and Aasimar both have a ton of bonuses, and more continue to show up each time they level up. I was fretting over how to keep this group balanced. THEN THEY CAST ENLARGE PERSON. The flurry of blows, the reach, the strength bonuses alone will blast every encounter until the end of book 6! What is a GM supposed to do?!? Then, a wonderful listener pointed out the target of Enlarge Person must be a Humanoid. Tieflings are Native Outsiders. Hooooooo boy, I’m doing a jig now! I laughed in Adam’s face. I danced around the table before the next recording session, I even learned to clog to emphasize how excited this makes me. After they calmed me down to a mild giggle, we discussed options. If Benjen took the Pass for Human feat, those Humanoid targeted spells would work, but then he couldn’t have the horns or the tail for sure, and probably not even the red skin, which is his main character concept. I thought giving Benjen a mild form of the feat, but in the end we decided to follow the rules. No more Humanoid Targeted spells for the ol’ Benjen. <evil GM laugh>
While we’re on the subject of Adam screwing up the rules for Benjen, let us talk a bit about Bleed Damage. Okay, let’s not pile up on Adam; the entire internet is confused about Belier’s Bite, which is the feat giving him the d4 of bleed damage. Unfortunately, Paizo has archived several threads on their message boards. The links used as arguments in some discussions can no longer be found. This leads to even more confusion on the official ruling for the feat.
Let’s take a peek at Belier’s Bite (from now on, BB):
“Source Cheliax, Empire of Devils pg. 26
Your unarmed strikes cause your opponent to bleed.
Prerequisites: Improved Unarmed Strike.
Benefit: When you damage an opponent with an unarmed strike, you deal an extra 1d4 bleed damage.
Special: This ability does not stack with other special abilities, attacks, or items that allow you to deal bleed damage. The belier devil appears in Pathfinder Adventure Path volume #12.”
I see two ways to read Belier’s Bite:
Option 1, which is the general take on BB, is that BB causes your unarmed attacks to activate “I am now Taking Bleed Damage.” That is the descriptive text at the top, “Your unarmed strikes cause your opponent to bleed.” Then, on the enemy’s turn, the 1d4 bleed damage activates, you roll the damage, and we move on.
Option 2, if you focus on “you deal an extra 1d4 bleed damage,” one could argue that damage is applied every time you successfully hit with an unarmed strike. There are a few holdouts that believe this, while it appears everyone else argues for Option 1.
Obviously, Option 2 is how we read the feat. I have looked high and low for a definitive answer, and except for a few confident individuals on Paizo’s boards, I am still not positive which one is correct. However, this article can be a great place to make my ruling:
Belier’s Bite is a bleed effect. Unarmed Attacks will trigger the “I am Bleeding” effect and the damage will trigger on the enemy’s turn. Multiple hits will not stack, but he can roll the damage a number of times equal to successful hits then take the highest roll. The wording is confusing, so I will let Adam choose whether to swap out the feat.
We have missed more than a few rules, so this won’t be the last one. Next time, we will discuss firing a ranged weapon into melee. That should be a fun one.
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