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RAW

The Combat Rules concerning Splash Weapons go as follows:

If you miss the target (whether aiming at a creature or a grid intersection), roll 1d8. This determines the misdirection of the throw, with 1 falling short (off-target in a straight line toward the thrower), and 2 through 8 rotating around the target creature or grid intersection in a clockwise direction. Then, count a number of squares in the indicated direction equal to the range increment of the throw. After you determine where the weapon landed, it deals splash damage to all creatures in that square and in all adjacent squares.

Illustration given by d20pfsrd.com is:

Splash weapons illustration

What I understand

If the X in the above picture misses its target "T", and then roles a 1 on a 1d8, she will hit herself(count a number of squares in the indicated direction equal to the range increment of the throw)

My problem with that

This seem to me as overly harsh to splash weapon users (like Alchemists). Like all ranged attackers, there is a miss chance (a bit lower because vs Touch AC), but if she misses (even without fumbling) there is a 1/8 chance to damage herself AND other ranged party members standing beside her.

Did I just misread? Is there a difference between "range" and "range increment"? How should this be interpreted?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you all for answering. I marked @Erik 's answer as correct, because it directly answers the questions. Future readers, please also note Shadowkras answer, as it gives additional background information and also some thought about the "overly harsh" part. \$\endgroup\$ – Pantheos Max Feb 13 at 12:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ As any video gamer could tell you, never aim at the target with an explosive weapon or spell; aim at the ground at the target's feet instead. That way, if you miss, you're far more likely to still hit the target. (Does Pathfinder have rules to cover this?) \$\endgroup\$ – Mason Wheeler Feb 13 at 17:26
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I think you misunderstood (but the wording is kinda confusing)

The example that your image comes from does not use the range increment to count squares, but the number of range increments thrown. This gives a very different number, as it means the distance by which you are off depends on the total distance thrown and you'll never hit yourself.

So in the case of the example, with a 25ft throw and a 20ft range increment, what you would do is determine the number of range increments thrown (which is 2, since you're outside the first range increment of 20ft and into the second) and then count that many squares. That means your bomb would fall 10ft short of the mark, a long way off from you.

It also means that the further you try to throw your weapon, the further off from the mark you'll be if you miss.

I'm fairly sure "the number of range increments" is also what they mean in the normal rules, although it's written in a confusing fashion.

Note that with your reading, you could even throw backwards, which is possible if you try to hit something within 10ft of yourself with a 20ft range increment bomb, and that makes no sense at all.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras it's extra complicated because the example on the very wiki page does use this interpretation. It might be useful to just have both answers up here and let people pick for themselves. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Feb 13 at 11:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ So as long as you stay within one range increment, you will always hit your target with the splash effect (since it will at most be offset by one square and splashes around itself)? \$\endgroup\$ – Suthek Feb 13 at 15:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Suthek yep; you'll always get that part at least \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Feb 13 at 16:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Shadowkras you do realise that the 3.5 wording you provided is identical to the Pathfinder wording in the question, right? The only difference is the example... \$\endgroup\$ – YogoZuno Feb 13 at 20:52
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That depends on the splash weapon being thrown

First off, the thrower is 25 feet away from the target of her throw. Meaning that the thrown weapon has miss and "roll" another 20 feet to be able to hit the square in front of her.

Alchemical weapons, and thrown weapons in general, have a range increment of 10 feet. This means that the thrower cannot hit herself with her thrown weapon in that situation described in the image, even if the weapon fly all that distance back at the thrower.

Acid: Treat this attack as a ranged touch attack with a range increment of 10 feet

Alchemist's Fire: You can throw a flask of alchemist’s fire as a splash weapon. Treat this attack as a ranged touch attack with a range increment of 10 feet.

Holy Water: Treat this attack as a ranged touch attack with a range increment of 10 feet.

But this isnt true for all alchemical weapons, some have a higher range increment (for whatever reason, maybe they are lighter):

Thunderstone: You can throw this stone as a ranged attack with a range increment of 20 feet.

And some have no "range increment", which sounds like mistake:

Bottled Lightning: You can open the bottle as a standard action, unleashing a small bolt of lightning toward an enemy within 20 feet of you.

But "range" and "range increment" are the same thing, as noted under Ranged Attacks. Each "range increment" is equal to the weapon's "range", up to a maximum of (usually) 5 or 10 times the weapon's "range".

With a ranged weapon, you can shoot or throw at any target that is within the weapon’s maximum range and in line of sight. The maximum range for a thrown weapon is five range increments. For projectile weapons, it is 10 range increments. Some ranged weapons have shorter maximum ranges, as specified in their descriptions.

Alchemist's Bombs, specifically, have a range of 20 feet, so an alchemist in that situation could hit herself and whoever would be standing next to her and around the area that her bomb exploded.

Thrown bombs have a range of 20 feet and use the Throw Splash Weapon special attack.

And that's not "overly harsh". Iv had two alchemists, a ranger with a love for bombs, and a shaman who loved acids and fire bottles, in my Pathfinder groups and I never seen a splash weapon hit the thrower back (her allies are another story). The chance of missing a touch AC against a level-appropriate enemy is low (usually 10-15%), especially if you build your character around that kind of thing (like alchemists), then you have another roll of 1d8 (for another 12,5%). We are looking at a chance of around 1-2% of hurting yourself with a splash weapon, assuming the target of those throwns are always 20-25 feet away.

In my experiences, either the player will throw the splash weapon at an enemy that is more than a range increment away (resulting in a penalty to the check due to the distance) and then misses, causing it to explode halfway in the worst possible scenario. Or the player will throw the weapon against an enemy a few feet away, and in the worse case scenario the bomb will explode behind the group. Or, finally, they will target the ground, which has a much lower touch AC (5) and has nearly no chance of missing and will guarantee that all enemies in the area will take some damage.

Clarifying the wording on the rule

Finally, the 3.5 rules for this clarified that the weapon travels a number of squares equal to the number of range increments of the throw:

If you miss the target (...), roll 1d8. This determines the misdirection of the throw, with 1 being straight back at you and 2 through 8 counting clockwise around the grid intersection or target creature. Then, count a number of squares in the indicated direction equal to the range increment of the throw. So, if you miss on a throw out to two range increments and roll a 1 to determine the misdirection of the throw, the splash weapon lands on the intersection that is 2 squares away from the target in the direction toward you.

But this wasn't ported to the 3.5 SRD for some reason, and as result, Pathfinder also got the misleading text (resulting in dozens of threads asking this same question):

f you miss the target (whether aiming at a creature or a grid intersection), roll 1d8. This determines the misdirection of the throw, with 1 being straight back at you and 2 through 8 counting clockwise around the grid intersection or target creature. Then, count a number of squares in the indicated direction equal to the range increment of the throw.

Going back to that example on the Pathfinder's SRD, the alchemist could never hurt herself by throwing a bomb against her target (T), because the bomb would land in the second square south of her target (because she is 25 feet away, thus on the second range increment), and would cause damage on the targets as noted on this image:

enter image description here

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I would assume that bottled lightning has no range increment because you are aiming the mouth of the bottle at the target to unleash lightning and not throwing the bottle as it only states you are opening it. \$\endgroup\$ – IT Alex Feb 13 at 16:06

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