I am running into a semantics issue. Ray of enfeeblement states:

A coruscating ray springs from your hand. You must succeed on a ranged touch attack to strike a target. The subject takes a penalty to Strength equal to 1d6+1 per two caster levels (maximum 1d6+5). The subject’s Strength score cannot drop below 1.

When I read this originally I thought 1d6+1 per 2 caster levels would be 5d6+5 at level 10. But it seems like some wording is missing that has the level apply only to the +1 and not to the die roll.

For instance cure light wounds specifically states

When laying your hand upon a living creature, you channel positive energy that cures 1d8 points of damage +1 point per caster level (maximum +5).

Is ray of enfeeblement just worded poorly?

  • \$\begingroup\$ It's worded the exact same and has an example though. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 27, 2018 at 8:38

1 Answer 1


It’s ambiguous wording but they pretty consistently use the “per” wording to refer to only the closest thing, rather than the entire expression. That is, given \$\DeclareMathOperator{\per}{per}x + y \per z\$, you have \$x + \left(y \per z\right)\$, not \$\left(x + y\right) \per z\$. (This is arguably consistent with the order of operations in mathematics, if we treat “per” as indicating division—if we have \$x + y / z\$ we expect the division to be performed before the addition.)

So both ray of enfeeblement and cure light wounds work the same way: they scale the added number to a max of +5, and the die does not change. At 5th level, cure light wounds maxes out at 1d8+5, and at 10th, ray of enfeeblement maxes out at 1d6+5. The entry for the maximum on ray of enfeeblement is slightly clearer, and would probably be my preference for clarifying; I don’t know why they gave the maximum entry on cure light wounds short shrift.

I cannot actually think of any examples of spells that scale in both dice and flat numbers—you have things like fireball that deal 1d6 damage per level, but there is no bonus there.

  • \$\begingroup\$ out of curiosity wouldn't magic missile technically scale both? 1d4+1 points of force dmg per missile, 5 missiles at 9th level for a technical 5d4+5 \$\endgroup\$ Jul 26, 2018 at 13:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @CriticalCrafting Right, I meant that a spell somehow tries to have per “directly” apply to some expression. Things like magic missile, where per applies not to a damage expression directly, but to something that has its own inner damage expression, aren’t terribly uncommon. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jul 26, 2018 at 13:27

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