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The manyfang dagger (Serpent Kingdoms 152) (32,302 gp; 1 lb.), in part, says, "A manyfang dagger thus deals quadruple damage on each successful hit, or quintuple damage on a critical hit."

What damage is multiplied by this weapon? That is, is this just a fancy way of saying the weapon deals 4d4 points of damage or 5d4 points of damage on a critical hit? Or does the weapon multiply by 4 or 5 everything that would be normally affected by a multiplier, such as a critical or or a valorous weapon (like extra damage from Strength, the special ability favored enemy, the special ability insightful strike, yet not sneak attack damage)?

I found conversations on the Internet that assume it works one way or the other but no debate. I could find no official word on how the weapon works.

The first option makes the weapon seem overpriced, but the second option makes the weapon seem overpowered.

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Multiplying damage is a known, defined thing in 3.5e:

Multiplying Damage

Sometimes you multiply damage by some factor, such as on a critical hit. Roll the damage (with all modifiers) multiple times and total the results. Note: When you multiply damage more than once, each multiplier works off the original, unmultiplied damage.

Exception: Extra damage dice over and above a weapon’s normal damage are never multiplied.

There are a number of examples of multiplying damage, including the core examples of critical hits (which repeats the above rules, and then refers to it as being “doubled” or otherwise “multiplied”) and lances in a mounted charge (“A lance deals double damage when used from the back of a charging mount”). There are also numerous non-core examples like the ruby and diamond nightmare blade Diamond Mind maneuvers from Tome of Battle, the decisive strike alternate monk class feature Player’s Handbook II, and... the manyfang dagger.

For extra confirmation, we have the \$\times5\$ multiplier on a critical hit: that is consistent with a weapon that has a \$20\$/\$\times2\$ critical property, but comes with a \$\times4\$ multiplier default: then, when you roll a critical hit, you perform the usual odd multiplier addition:

\begin{align} \times4 \times2 &= \\ \times1 + (\times4-1) + (\times2-1) &= \\ \times(1 + 3 + 1) &= \times5 \end{align}

If the manyfang dagger referred only to the base damage die when it was talking about quadrupling, it would be very weird to then refer to the entire damage expression when quintupling. If it referred only to the base damage die, I would instead expect the 4d4 to be doubled, not everything to be quintupled.

And, of course, if they just meant 4d4, why go through this whole rigmarole instead of just saying it has a 4d4 base damage die?

So no, “quadruple damage” is not a fancy way of saying 4d4. It is saying that you “Roll the damage (with all modifiers [excepting extra damage dice over and above a weapon’s normal damage]) multiple times and total the results,” and that makes the manyfang dagger preposterous. So you should probably just ban it, and should give Serpent Kingdoms in general a pretty critical glare. Certainly don’t let anyone shapechange into a sarrukh, is what I’m saying. (But seriously, don’t stop there; ability rip and venomfire also spring to mind immediately as theoretical optimization stars. There very well may be more.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Okay, I'm almost on board except for that pesky quintuple damage on a critical hit part. Because that kind of multiplier makes it sound like the dagger means the 4d4 points of damage plus modifiers yet on a critical hit instead 5d4 points of damage plus modifiers twice. Can this answer address that implication specifically? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Apr 19 '18 at 18:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ And phrase something clearly and concisely so as not to invite controversy? Are we playing the same game here? :-) Indeed, I'm also imagining a similar possibility—that only the real blade can score a critical hit—, but I'm also imagining a DM ruling that, for example, the phantom blades don't benefit from the wielder's special abilities because the wielder is not wielding the phantom blades because only the real blade can score critical hits. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Apr 19 '18 at 19:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ (I'm just putting forth alternatives, by the way. This isn't even my hill to die on—the dagger is one of the handful of things I just ban in my campaigns because it's dumb either way.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Apr 19 '18 at 19:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ So the manyfang dagger creates 3 extra daggers and each of those extra daggers deals the wielder's extra Strength damage and favored enemy damage and everything else, but because the text says it deals quadruple damage on each successful hit, it's not really like getting hit by 1 dagger four times (five on a critical hit) but… Darn it! Curse you, Serpent Kingdoms! I spit on your grave! \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Apr 19 '18 at 19:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kryan Precision damage that is not damage dice: swashbuckler 3 and maybe the Craven feat \$\endgroup\$ – Zachiel Nov 17 '18 at 9:23

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