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My group and I have recently ran into an issue with the spell Enlarge Person and the feat Vital Strike. We have two conflicting viewpoints based on a line from Vital Strike that states the following:

When you use the attack action, you can make one attack at your highest base attack bonus that deals additional damage. Roll the weapon’s damage dice for the attack twice and add the results together before adding bonuses from Strength, weapon abilities (such as flaming), precision-based damage, and other damage bonuses. These extra weapon damage dice are not multiplied on a critical hit, but are added to the total.

And the bigger issue arises with the following line from Enlarge Person:

All equipment worn or carried by a creature is similarly enlarged by the spell. Melee weapons affected by this spell deal more damage (see Table: Medium/Large Weapon Damage). Other magical properties are not affected by this spell. Any enlarged item that leaves an enlarged creature’s possession (including a projectile or thrown weapon) instantly returns to its normal size. This means that thrown and projectile weapons deal their normal damage. Magical properties of enlarged items are not increased by this spell.

The argument goes like this: Enlarge Person is a spell that is providing damage to a weapon based on its increased size. However, it does not say if this is simply a bonus damage effect or an increase to the weapon's base damage. If we are to interpret the term "base damage" as "damage dice that your weapon deals without modifiers or added effects", then Vital Strike should only ever double the damage dice of a weapon provided at its original size category and not the damage dice after the Enlarge Person spell is in effect because it does not fit the definition of "base damage."

We also realized that many effects and feats say to "treat the damage dice as though the weapon were one size larger", and that only complicates matters further as to the proper application of Vital Strike when it comes to weapons modified by effects of this sort.

So, to boil it all down, I ask these questions: What is the proper way to handle Vital Strike's double damage when weapons are increased by a size category or treated as such? Is there a way to explain this using RAW?

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When the benefit of the feat Vital Strike is employed, the attacker takes a standard action to make an attack, and if that attack's successful, instead of rolling damage normally, the attacker "[r]oll[s] the weapon’s damage dice for the attack twice and add[s] the results together." After the attacker's done that, the attacker "add[s] bonuses from Strength, weapon abilities (such as flaming), precision-based damage, and other damage bonuses."

This means, essentially, that the damage the weapon deals due to its size (and effective size) is actually the only factor that the feat Vital Strike absolutely does effect!

If the attacker's weapon is bigger because the attacker's been subject to an enlarge person effect, that bigger weapon's damage will be rolled twice. If the attacker's weapon is effectively bigger like from a lead blades effect, that effectively bigger weapon's damage will be rolled twice. If the weapon's both actually bigger and effectively bigger, than that kind-of even bigger weapon's damage will be rolled twice. (You can use this FAQ entry to determine such a weapon's damage.)

It's pretty much everything else—the attacker's "bonuses from Strength, weapon abilities (such as flaming), precision-based damage, and other damage bonuses"—that isn't a factor with the Vital Strike feat's twice-rolled damage of the for-reals weapon.

The feat Vital Strike is widely regarded as a trap, but it's not a trap because a size increase and an effective size increase don't apply to the weapon but because its payoff is so little and because it interacts poorly with the action economy of mid-level and high-level warriors.

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    \$\begingroup\$ My god, I thought Vital Strike was a legitimate doubling as with a critical hit or mounted lance charge. It only doubles the base dice? Who on earth ever thought this garbage was a good idea? It’s a trap even as a legit doubling; this is just beyond the pale. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Sep 15 '18 at 2:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Yes, it really is that bad. I've seen one Warpriest archer build that kind of almost made use of it \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Sep 15 '18 at 2:56
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Its an increase to the weapons base damage. This is supported by the fact that larger weapons have increased damage in the equipment/weapons chart.

So yes, enlarger person increases a weapons base damage, which is then doubled by vital strike. Other methods that increase size should also be calculated the same way, such as lead weapon, impact weapon, ...

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