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Brimstone blast (Complete Arcane p.132) is intended to be a non-stacking damage effect as opposed to vitriolic blast which just adds more damage every round. However, the wording used to accomplish this is as follows:

A creature burning in this way never takes more than 2d6 points of fire damage in a round, even if it has been hit by more than one brimstone blast.

Does this language prevent brimstone blast's bonus damage from benefiting from the bonus damage from Mortalbane (Book of Vile Darkness p.49)?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I really wish they would avoid words like “never,” and instead spell out exactly what they mean... \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 10 '18 at 13:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ I missed “critical hits” in there, I’m removing that because critical hits don’t add bonus damage (they multiply damage), damage-over-time damage rolls don’t even have attack rolls to roll a critical on, and most importantly, you already have a question about that, you don’t need another. Actually, for that matter, I’m making it specifically about Mortalbane—trying to handle any and all hypothetical effects with any potential hypothetical wording would be far too broad. If you have other specific effects in mind, feel free to add them. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 10 '18 at 14:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @kryan in my opinion, it would be better to broaden the question more completely than to restrict it. The crux of the question is dealing with the statement about creatures burning in that way never taking more than 2d6 fire damage. That would apply to crits, feats (including metamagic such as empower), sneak attacks, etc. I believe by restricting it to mortalbane, you are changing the fundamental question being asked. \$\endgroup\$ May 10 '18 at 18:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ You need to come up with a specific interaction you want us to look at. Every single variation on this question is going to come down to the wording of the various effects. No one can give you a one-size-fits-all answer to how “bonus damage” is going to apply because no size is going to fit all. And as my first comment might have hinted, the question you want answered (which you might ask separately using lucky dice perhaps as the source of bonus damage), may not have any authoritative answer at all. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 10 '18 at 18:50
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RAW:

Sigh. RAW, any creature burning in this way never takes more than 2d6 points of fire damage in a round period. The way English works, if they are burning, they take 2d6 fire damage, and are immune to any other fire damage that round. This would prevent any bonus fire damage from mortalbane as well as additional Brimstone Blasts or any other source of fire damage.

NOT-RAW:

Obviously, the rules as written interpretation is ridiculous. I keep rereading the spell and hoping I am wrong, but that really is what it means as written. I think it was written this way to be sure that you could not stack up stacks of fire damage by hitting the same target repeatedly. Whether the devs wanted Mortalbane to apply to BB's burn, or to continuous effects at all I cannot say. Nothing I can find implies that Mortalbane can or cannot apply damage to continuous effects.

As a DM:

What I would do if I had to house rule it to make sense.

1: BB damage over time effect would not stack, but the target would still take fire damage from other sources. (Obvious ruling is obvious)

2: I would let you add the bonus damage from Mortalbane to the initial strike and the continuous effect, but I would have each instance of bonus damage consume one of your Mortalbane 'Charges'. So the maximum amount of bonus damage you could get on your BB would be 10d6 per day. (With the feat only taken once)

This is probably not what the creators intended, but I think it is pretty fair and balanced.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Please do not use the term “RAI” to refer to just “not-RAW,” use it only when you actually can corroborate with evidence that it was specifically what the developers intended (this almost-always requires a quote from the author). See the meta discussion for more details. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jun 1 '18 at 2:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan . I specifically used language that showed that I was stating my personal opinion on what I thought the creators intended. I in no way claimed to have evidence of their intent. Perhaps it would be more technically accurate to just say 'not-RAW', but the differentiation seems pretty pedantic. \$\endgroup\$
    – BladeBriar
    Jun 1 '18 at 3:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ I disagree. I strongly feel that abusing the term RAI is a serious problem, and I downvote it wherever I see it no matter how good the answer might be otherwise. You’re free to keep your answer as you like it, but I, for one, will maintain my downvote, and per the meta, others may do likewise. The purpose of this website is to provide comprehensive, authoritative information about RPGs—speaking accurately and precisely is part of that. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jun 1 '18 at 3:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Since the only cost to editing my answer is a few seconds, I don't mind changing it to make it more technically correct. Reading the link you attached, I can see how people substituting their opinion and implying that it is the developers opinion could definitely be a problem. I got defensive because I did not believe that stigma applied to what I wrote. But either way, no harm in rewording my answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – BladeBriar
    Jun 1 '18 at 3:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ It’s maybe a slippery slope kind of thing, except that in my experience, many places where RPGs are discussed have already gone over the edge. This place is one of the few that doesn’t carelessly toss claims of intent around, and I think it’s one of the better things about it. That’s why I apply very high standards to any use of the term, to make it clear that this is (yet another) way in which this place is different from others, and because it’s such a pet peeve for me in other places that I don’t want to happen here. I appreciate your taking my criticism well, and apologize for being terse. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jun 1 '18 at 4:02
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Yes it does.

Brimstone blast text reads as:

BRIMSTONE BLAST

Lesser; 3rd; Eldritch Essence

This eldritch essence invocation allows you to change your eldritch blast into a brimstone blast. A brimstone blast deals fire damage. Any creature struck by a brimstone blast must succeed on a Reflex save or catch on fi re, taking 2d6 points of fire damage per round until it takes a full-round action to extinguish the flames or the duration expires. The fire damage persists for 1 round per five class levels you have. For example, a 15th-level warlock deals 2d6 points of fire damage for 3 rounds after the initial brimstone blast attack. A creature burning in this way never takes more than 2d6 points of fire damage in a round, even if it has been hit by more than one brimstone blast.

(emphasis mine)

Bonus damage from a source is applied only once in any case so it would be applied only on the cast of the eldritch blast and the critical hit would only apply to the attack roll of the eldritch blast, ongoing effects never critically strike unless specified because they require no attack roll to begin with. Also you can't stack another ongoing fire damage from a different brimstone blast due to the rules of Same Effects with different Strenghts, what would happen is that you would get the new duration of the following blasts in case the victim fails his reflex save again.

So to sum it up your damage would be xd6 from Eldritch blast+2d6[Mortal bane], this is the damage of your attack, and then 2d6 of fire damage every round because the target is on fire.

Also from Stacking rules we have:

Stacking

In most cases, modifiers to a given check or roll stack (combine for a cumulative effect) if they come from different sources and have different types (or no type at all), but do not stack if they have the same type or come from the same source (such as the same spell cast twice in succession). If the modifiers to a particular roll do not stack, only the best bonus and worst penalty applies. Dodge bonuses and circumstance bonuses however, do stack with one another unless otherwise specified.

This Means that if Mortalbane damage would apply to more than one instance it would be stacking with itself on the same effect, since like I stated previously everything is generated from the same single source.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ “Bonus damage from a source is applied only once in any case,” [citation needed]. I’m not at all sure that any rule anywhere says that, and I’m not sure that I buy that things ought to be that way in general. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 10 '18 at 13:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ This question and answer may help you with that citation, by the way, at least for Mortalbane itself. It would not generalize, however, which I think is probably for the best. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 10 '18 at 13:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan it applies only once because its the same source of the damage the same way you don't apply a flaming weapon damage bonus more than once on the same attack so the whole effect is Eldritch blase damage+2d6 fire damage every round, so a Mortalbane Brimstone Blast damage would be Eldritch blast damage+2d6 from Mortalbane+2d6 fire damage everyround. \$\endgroup\$
    – Victor
    May 10 '18 at 14:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Also from the rules of stacking we have: Stacking In most cases, modifiers to a given check or roll stack (combine for a cumulative effect) if they come from different sources and have different types (or no type at all), but do not stack if they have the same type or come from the same source (such as the same spell cast twice in succession). If the modifiers to a particular roll do not stack, only the best bonus and worst penalty applies. Dodge bonuses and circumstance bonuses however, do stack with one another unless otherwise specified. \$\endgroup\$
    – Victor
    May 10 '18 at 14:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ This Means that if Mortalbane damage would apply to more than one instance it would be stacking with itself on the same effect, since like I stated previously everything is generated from the same single source. \$\endgroup\$
    – Victor
    May 10 '18 at 14:13
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The phrase "A creature burning in this way never takes more than 2d6 points of fire damage in a round" in my opinion can be read "In a round a creature never takes more than 2d6 points of fire damage from burning in this way" without violating RAW. In such an interpretation, this line most likely talks about the following:

Same Effect More than Once in Different Strengths
In cases when two or more identical spells are operating in the same area or on the same target, but at different strengths, only the best one applies.

Even without Mortalbane, you theoretically may benefit from two Brimstone Blasts on the same target, as the best roll would apply each time (note, it still isn't greater than single Brimstone Blast's possible maximum damage).

In particular the line you have quoted makes the above rule relevant even if two or more warlocks hit you with Brimstone Blasts (or the only one present delays). Would it be Vitriolic Blast each would tic on a different initiative count so there is nothing to compare in strengths. But with that line new Brimstone Blast can't make you catch fire again - you are already burning.
(Maybe you may still take damage equal to the difference between two burns if the second is higher, but I don't think it was intended to require that level of complexity.)

It is hardly intended to limit what you can do with a single use of an ability, so Mortalbane Brimstone Blast should work fine (and I believe only once per blast, but am I right or wrong on this is irrelevant for this question).

Critical hits are a different issue. Brimstone Blast effectively applies a status to the target (target is burning for X damage). Even on a critical hit it will apply just the same status, so the damage won't be multiplied even were it a straight number not a dice pool.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Does that mean that vitriolic blast does not actually stack? Also, may I have a little clarification on the status/crit interaction? I was only able to find that weapon-like spells/effects can crit \$\endgroup\$ Mar 29 '18 at 5:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @WannabeWarlock I'm away from books, so I must check what is vitriolic blast before answering this. As for crit interaction, let's say you have dagger poisoned with dragon bile (instant poison for simplicity). When you crit you have dagger's damage (i.e. eldrich blast's) multiplied, but dragon bile (i.e. brimstone blast's catch fire thingy) just aplies it's effect/status so you still do only 3d6 Str damage. This would be also true for striped toadstool poison to go around the rule which states that additional dice specifically aren't multiplied. Even straight 1 Wis damage wouldn't be multiplie \$\endgroup\$ Mar 29 '18 at 5:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @WannabeWarlock Checked Vitriolic Blast. It is harder to tell if it should stack or not. Should two Acid Arrows cast by the same person stack? For now I tend to say "no". In any case you may ask it as a separate question. Those two abilities work differently. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 29 '18 at 19:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ let's take this to chat: chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/75275/… \$\endgroup\$ Mar 29 '18 at 20:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ You make a claim about what is “intended” here, and that needs backing up. Not only do you not have evidence it is intended, I personally doubt very much that it is. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 10 '18 at 13:47

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