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Alchemist bombs have splash damage equal to the minimum damage that the bomb can roll.

The Point-Blank-Shot feat specifically calls out that it does not increase splash damage, and FAQs have said that Weapon Specialisation does work towards splash.

What about a casting of Bless? Or a Bard's Inspire Courage?

More generally, how can I tell what does or does not contribute to increasing the Splash Damage portion of an Alchemist's bomb?

I've come to the conclusion that anything probably does unless it says it doesn't, but the material is rarely combed over and edited to reflect new things. (like spells that affect projectiles and firearm pellets)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you sure? Where is the FAQ stating that weapon specialization increases splash damage? Can you put some links please? \$\endgroup\$ – Mouza Oct 24 '18 at 15:54
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Bombs are thrown, ranged, splash weapons, and their splash damage is calculated based on their initial damage so anything that applies to the initial damage also applies to the splash (albeit with all dice minimized). So all bonuses to damage, to weapon damage, to ranged weapon damage, to thrown weapon damage, splash weapon damage, and so on and so forth will work with bombs, and therefore their splash damage, unless something explicitly says that thing does not. Something like the FAQ entry for bombs and Point-Blank Shot.

Basically, you have run afoul of Paizo’s exceptionally poor decision to use the FAQ for errata.

The only reason Point-Blank Shot doesn’t work with the splash damage of bombs is because the FAQ says it doesn’t. Despite the fact that the FAQ is written as if this was always the rule, and implicitly that you should be able to determine the same conclusion from those rules alone, this simply isn’t so. Before the FAQ was written, officially, Point-Blank Shot affected bomb splash damage—because bombs are ranged weapons, Point-Blank Shot applies to ranged weapon damage, and nothing anywhere else (before the FAQ) contradicted that.

Paizo does this a lot. This is a fantastic case-in-point example for why their abuse of the FAQ greatly hinders understanding the game, and why they shouldn’t be doing that. Nonetheless, it fits very neatly with their “We were always at war with Eastasia” approach to rules holes, and allows them to avoid doing that thing they loathe so much—admit they made a mistake. Sorry, but this is just what you get with Paizo.

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The big problem with alchemist's bombs (and splash weapon in general) is how they are written. Taking alchemist case, for example, the entry related to bombs damage is this:

[...] On a direct hit, an alchemist’s bomb inflicts 1d6 points of fire damage + additional damage equal to the alchemist’s Intelligence modifier. [...] Splash damage from an alchemist bomb is always equal to the bomb’s minimum damage (so if the bomb would deal 2d6+4 points of fire damage on a direct hit, its splash damage would be 6 points of fire damage).

So, with "fewer" words, we can say that a bomb at first level deal only 1d6 + INT damage and the bomb's splash deal 1 + INT damage since the splash damage is always the bomb's minimum damage.

The problems starts here.

We don't know what they mean with "minimum" damage. Minimum of what? Of the bomb's original damage? If this is the case, well, the bomb's splash will always do X damage, where x is the number of dice rolled, plus the alchemist's INT modifier.

And now...what do we do with the static bonuses we can apply to a weapon damage? This is the core of the problem. The splash ignore all the static damage we can apply to a bomb? (smite evil, inspire courage, point blank shot etc etc etc)

In my opinion, rules as written, this point is not clear and since the only "help" Paizo gave us is that Point blank shot faq where we can see that the static damage only apply to bomb damage on a direct hit, not on a bomb splash damage.

What can we do?

Pathfinder, like modern D&D in general, always go for this mantra: specific always overwrite general ruling. To make it simple; if we have a rule that state "players characters can't run" but you take a feat that say "if you have this feat you can run"...now your character can run. We can apply this to alchemist's bombs: since a FAQ clearly states that point blank shot does not apply to bombs splash damage...this means everything else similar to point blank shot can apply to bombs splash damage.

Or

The exact opposite. You can take the FAQ as a guideline to choose what can and what can not apply to bombs splash damage.

In reality, Paizo, will never add clarity on this since Pathfinder first edition is ending and Pathfinder second edition will be out in less than an year so, my advice, is to try both. Let the players apply all the static damage they have to bombs splash damage (except for point blank shot xD)...and if you as a group think that's too much do the opposite and let the players apply the static damage only on a direct hit and not on the splash damage of the bombs.

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