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In Pathfinder 2, bards get the Inspire Courage cantrip which, among other things, provides a +1 status bonus to damage rolls.

For the most basic scenarios, this is a no-brainer: hitting with a sword should deal 1d10+4, now it deals 1d10+5.

For spells most of the time it stays simple: fireball goes from 6d6 to 6d6+1.

That said, I remember reading somewhere about an errata that made it so that it applies only once on a spell that would require multiple damage rolls (like Magic Missile/Arcane Barrage). I can't find it though.

Anyway, how does it work for alchemical bombs and other "weird" attacks? Does it apply on persistent damage rolls? Does it apply on the weapon's main damage if it doesn't require a roll (like for Acid Flask)? Can it apply several times on the same bomb?

I don't think this question is the same as questions about other specific things that could apply to bombs but are not Inspire Courage. Answers to those questions could indeed help answering mine but they are not a specific answer to this one. For example Burn It! explicitly provides a bonus to persistent damage (whether it's a roll or not) while Inspire Courage doesn't.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The only difference between the linked question and this one is the persistent damage; I don't think that's enough justification for having a full separate answer. We'll see if the rest of the community disagrees. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 23, 2023 at 4:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ I do not think the handling of splash damage on a miss is clear in the answers of the other question \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Nov 23, 2023 at 15:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does this answer your question? How exactly does Burn It! (and similar effects) affect splash and ongoing damage? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Nov 23, 2023 at 16:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ Another distinction is that this question applies to all damage rolls, rather than fire damage and persistent fire damage in particular ways \$\endgroup\$
    – brandon
    Nov 23, 2023 at 17:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NotArch It doesn't, unless I am mireading it completely. I think the explanation I gave in my edit is clear enough. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 25, 2023 at 14:37

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The cantrip text reads +1 to damage rolls, to me this means any damage roll.

My interpretation is that you add +1 every time you roll for damage against a specific target or group of targets in consequence of a single action.

Let's see some examples:

  1. you perform an action that damages a single target: you roll once and add +1 damage (chill touch: 1d4 + spellcasting modifier + 1)

  2. you perform an action that damages a group of targets: you roll once, add +1 damage and apply that damage to all targets (fireball: 6d6+1 to each target)

  3. you perform an action that deal damage to each target of a group: you roll the damage for each specific target and add +1 damage every time (magic missile(+2): 1d4+2 for each target)

This seems pretty straightforward, but problems arise when as a result of single action you deal damage from different sources like a Corrosive Rune or similar.

In this case i think that the intended behaviour of the cantrip is to add +1 damage only once, but this leads to some inconsistencies if the target has resistences or immunities.

Resistences reduce the amount of damage taken by the listed amount and apply to each source indipendently and that means that you need to perform a damage roll for each damage source.

If you add the bonus only once, what kind of damage it deals? Should the player choose which one to use? This is even more significant when a target is immune to one of the damage source.

Another reason that makes me think that multiple source of damage should lead to different damage rolls is that additional damage from runes and similar are not doubled as a result of a critical hit. That is because they are not part of the same roll.

In conclusion i think that if the attacker has to roll for different damage sources as a result of a single action he should add +1 damage for each one of them.

This makes Inspire Courage a little more powerful than what the original designer intended, but it is consistent with other rules.

Finally i don't think that this applies to persistent damage because it is not the result of a direct action of the attacker but a later effect that indeed starts on the next round of the target.

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A +1 bonus to damage is a +1 to damage (per target)

Every target you target with an attack or spell (arguably that you roll damage against*) will take one additional damage.

Damage is determined in a number of steps:

  1. Roll damage and apply modifies, bonuses and penalties
    • "As with checks, you might add circumstance, status, or item bonuses to your damage rolls, but if you have multiple bonuses of the same type, you add only the highest bonus of that type."
    • Persistent damage is its own Condition and not part of this step
  2. Determine damage type
  3. Apply the target's immunities, weaknesses, and resistances
  4. If damage remains, reduce the target's hit points

*User Andras points out something that I've missed before; inspire courage specifies +1 status bonus to "rolled damage". Some damage, such as splash, is not rolled and therefore might not benefit from the ability. I personally don't think that was the intention and will continue letting it apply to all damage (once, per target, per attack).


If you're not sure if this is RAW, know that it is at least RAI, per the answer to this strongly related question.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Dangerous Sorcery specifically adds +damage to "spell's damage" as a whole, in this case you have +1 damage on "damage rolls" \$\endgroup\$ Nov 27, 2023 at 11:38
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Every Damage Roll Gets the Bonus

Each damage roll has a singular type of damage—grouped together as an instance of damage. As such, effects dealing multiple types of damage have multiple damage rolls, which would each gain the +1 status bonus from inspire courage (or courageous anthem for a remastered bard).

For a +1 flaming longsword wielded by a creature benefiting from inspire courage, the damage would be 1d8+1 piercing plus 1d6+1 fire.

Persistent damage comes from effects like acid, being on fire, or many other situations. It appears as “X persistent [type] damage,” where “X” is the amount of damage dealt and “[type]” is the damage type.

Persistent damage has a damage type and therefore also has it's own instance of damage, with a damage roll happening at the end of the creature's turn rather than when applied. So if a creature under the effects of inspire courage deals persistent damage, that would also gain the +1 status bonus.

Damage is sometimes given as a fixed amount, but more often than not you’ll make a damage roll to determine how much damage you deal.

Splash damage is given as a fixed amount rather than a damage roll, so the bonus from inspire courage wouldn't apply. This would also prevent the bonus from applying for any persistent damage given as a fixed amount, like for an alchemist's fire.

For a lesser alchemist's fire wielded by a creature benefiting from inspire courage, the damage would be 1d6+1 fire plus 1 persistent fire plus 1 fire splash. A lesser acid flask in the same situation would deal 1d6+1 persistent acid damage plus 1 acid splash damage.

That said, I remember reading somewhere about an errata that made it so that it applies only once on a spell that would require multiple damage rolls (like Magic Missile/Arcane Barrage).

This is addressed in the spell itself—the bonus to damage would apply for each creature targeted only once, regardless of how many missiles are sent their way:

You choose the target for each missile individually. If you shoot more than one missile at the same target, combine the damage before applying bonuses or penalties to damage, resistances, weaknesses, and so forth.

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    \$\begingroup\$ There is no roll in the splash damage \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Nov 24, 2023 at 12:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @András You're very correct, thanks for the spot. Checking every splash damage effect it seems this is always the case. \$\endgroup\$
    – brandon
    Nov 24, 2023 at 18:41

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