The Bard's Inspire Courage feature references weapon damage rolls:

A 1st level bard can use his performance to inspire courage in his allies (including himself), bolstering them against fear and improving their combat abilities. To be affected, an ally must be able to perceive the bard’s performance. An affected ally receives a +1 morale bonus on saving throws against charm and fear effects and a +1 competence bonus on attack and weapon damage rolls. [...]

This clearly included Natural Weapons such as a Claw or Bite, but does it also apply to Swarms' automatic damage?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ What kind of swarm? (That is, could this question specify a nonvermin swarm so answers needn't address the vermin type rendering the creature immune to mind-affecting effects, including morale bonuses?) \$\endgroup\$ Dec 26, 2018 at 15:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ The damage bonus is a Competence bonus... although a great answer would also address if swarms cannot be affected by it anyway \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Dec 26, 2018 at 18:50

3 Answers 3


It does not

Bard's Inspire Courage only works on weapons, meaning that anything that isn't considered a weapon will not get this bonus.

For instance, it will work on a magical ray spell, as those are considered weapons (see this FAQ). Or even weapon-like spells, such as Spiritual Weapon or Flame Blade. But it will not work to increase the damage of Magic Missiles or a Fireball, for instance.

This means that the swarm automatic damage wouldn't benefit just like a Fireball also wouldn't, as there is no attack roll involved, and there is no weapon in the ability's description. On the contrary, it is described that the Swarm attack replaces the normal attacks, and this attack is not described as a weapon attack at all. From the Swarm subtype:

Swarm Attack: creatures with the swarm subtype don’t make standard melee attacks. Instead, they deal automatic damage to any creature whose space they occupy at the end of their move, with no attack roll needed. Swarm attacks are not subject to a miss chance for concealment or cover. A swarm’s stat block has “swarm” in the Melee entries, with no attack bonus given.

On top of that, Inspire Courage is described as a Mind-affecting ability, which will rule out nearly all vermin-swarms right away. But mind-affecting effects that have no number of targets could affect a swarm, as they are only immune if the effect hits a specific number of targets:

A swarm is immune to any spell or effect that targets a specific number of creatures (including single-target spells such as disintegrate), with the exception of mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, morale effects, patterns, and phantasms) if the swarm has an Intelligence score and a hive mind.

This means that, even if the swarm wouldn't gain the bonus to weapon attacks and damage rolls, they could still benefit from the saving throw bonus against fear effects, if the conditions above are met.

Since nearly all published hive minds are also vermin or have no Intelligence score, or simply have immunity to mind-affecting effects, that also rules them out. There are two exceptions, though, the Bettle Swarm Hivemind (Occult Bestiary), and the Hivemind Swarm (Bestiary 6).

Regardless, none of them are actually described as able to make weapon attack/damage rolls, as such, there is nothing for Inspire Courage to enhance there.


No, swarm damage is not weapon damage. Natural weapons are weapons, but swarm damage isn’t a natural weapon. It’s not listed among the natural attacks, but instead has a separate entry as part of the swarm subtype. Note also that the swarm attack does not make an attack roll—which is used as the definition of an “attack” in some cases.

Really, basically nothing improves swarm damage. Unless your bonus applies to “swarm damage” itself, or just all “damage” ever, it’s not going to apply to swarm damage. Swarm damage is its own unique thing, and doesn’t fall into any other category.


The majority of swarms won't get the damage bonus as most swarms are vermin and vermin can't benefit from the bonus. If the creature type the swarm is made from is affected by mind affecting effects then the swarm can receive the bonus.

For Inspire Courage the bonus to attack and damage is a competency bonus while the bonus on saving throws is a morale bonus. However, inspire courage upon checking goes onto the say that it is a mind affecting effect and will therefore not affect most vermin, undead, constructs, etc.

If it is a different creature type, such as animal, then it's possible the damage bonus would apply to a swarm attack. But, as far as I know, that is up to interpretation and up to the GM.


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