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Our party is planning to fight a powerful demon with dual-wielded vorpal weapons (I only have limited knowledge of its stat block, so no spoilers please). Those weapons terrify me. We're planning ways to get through this fight with a minimal risk of decapitation. This enemy, as a powerful demon, is also expected to have sky-high saving throws and spell resistance, so most of my sorcerer spells won't be too effective against it.

One strategy I am considering is to deprive it of its weapons. Of the spells I have, disintegrate looks like the best bet. If I hit an object and it fails its saving throw, the object is instantly destroyed. As an attended item, the object would receive its wielder's saves, so it will probably pass the save, but the 5d6 (average 21) damage on a successful save is probably enough to destroy or severely damage the object anyway (see weapon hit points).

I want to disintegrate my foe's weapons. But there is something I am unclear on.

  • Can I even target the weapon? If so, what would I roll to hit the weapon? The Armour Class for objects seems to assume an unattended object, and isn't the touch AC anyway. The sunder combat manoeuvre, usually used for destroying attended objects, is for melee weapon attacks, not ranged spell attacks.

(I also want to know whether the weapon benefits from its wielder's spell resistance, as if it does it makes this strategy less effective, but that is a separate question.)

If answers boil down to "ask the GM", please provide suggestions which I might pass on to the GM.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @BBeast Are you open to solutions to "it has vorpal weapons" other than your stated "disintegrate them"? \$\endgroup\$ – Stop Being Evil May 9 at 1:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @StopBeingEvil Not in this question. I may consider another question to ask that, although I've already looked into that more generically (my research so far indicates several buffs which can negate critical hits, although I know this thing can also dispel our buffs so the more layers/strategies the better). \$\endgroup\$ – BBeast May 9 at 10:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MikeZ. Do you mean disarm? Disengage (or withdraw in Pathfinder) is for running away. If I could disarm it, then that would be viable, but no one in our party is built for disarming which means (by design of combat manoeuvres in PF) we're all terrible at it. \$\endgroup\$ – BBeast May 9 at 10:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MikeZ. We ask that users please not answer in comments. And if you can't support the answer, we ask you don't post it at all. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil May 9 at 11:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah @BBeast, I got those to mixed up. \$\endgroup\$ – Mike Z. May 9 at 14:38
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You can target held/worn items (including one weapon per cast) with Disintegrate

Disintegrate allows, as you've noted

Saving Throw Fortitude partial (object); Spell Resistance yes

and your options for targets is included in its Description

You must make a successful ranged touch attack to hit. Any creature struck [...]

When used against an object, the ray simply disintegrates as much as a 10-foot cube of nonliving matter. [...]

A creature or object that makes a successful Fortitude save is partially affected.

How do we know we can target held items? I draw your attention back to my first quote, about the saving throw.

  • (object)

Some spells can be cast on objects, and the object only gets a saving throw if it is a magic item or is held by a creature; these spells should have “(object)” listed after the type of saving throw

The object designation explicitly allows targeting attended objects. If a spell does not want spellcasters to do so, it would need to restrict that in its Target or Description.


As for the difficulty of targeting it, which is not well defined; that has been asked as its own question and I'd direct you toward its accepted answer which seems to me to still be accurate.

I would personally rule you're targeting the creature's Touch AC +1 for targeting a 'small' object (per the item size chart) on their person.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It is worth noting that many people would consider destroying a weapon (especially a vorpal one) a huge waste when you could be using Telekinesis or similar to disarm them, or simply targeting the creature. Granted, a successful save may still render a sword inoperable, but that's a lot of lost damage if they were to fail their saving throw as well as a lot of lost value to the party. \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso May 9 at 3:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Here I was trying to sunder and smash an object and all sorts of other stuff that can only be done in melee. This is a perfectly elegant solution. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan May 9 at 3:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't particularly recommend it as a go-to because that's a lot of extra bookkeeping for your GM and potentially disgruntled players/characters. But it's a good option to have \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso May 9 at 4:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ The possibility of looting the weapons would give serious pause to me destroying them (the chance of disintegrate doing meaningful damage against this foe is around 5% by my estimates, so directly targeting the creature is probably a wasted action, and we don't have means to disarm), but I also need to weigh that against the risk of funding multiple resurrections or suffering character deaths. But as you said, it's a good option to have. \$\endgroup\$ – BBeast May 9 at 11:01
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Yes, you can target the object.

Melee weapon attacks have special rules for attacking worn objects ('attended' objects), referred to as Sunder. Spells don't. Spells indicate if they can be used only on an unattended object via their text, as many do, using specifically the phrase 'unattended object' in most cases.

Disintegrate specifies that it can target objects (and what happens if it does) in both description and header, and then does not specify unattended objects. By any reading, that allows targeting of held or otherwise attended objects. Shatter is a more-discussed spell in this role, and the general consensus in every example I could find is that it can target attended objects - it has the exact same situation of saying it can target objects and then not noting that means only unattended ones. I'll reiterate - I couldn't find anyone saying the opposite.

It may be that due to the rules for melee attacks (and the emphasis placed on making Sunder its own thing) your GM or other players may believe that this also applies to spells - i'd suggest that when broaching this tactic you intend to try, that you use Shatter as an example of a spell with the same traits that can also target objects, that may help illustrate the difference between the Sunder rules and what you are doing with Disintegrate.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ While you've covered that this is a valid target, would I need to roll to hit an attended object? \$\endgroup\$ – BBeast May 9 at 11:06

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