The ability description states (emphasis mine):

The slayer then gains a +1 bonus on Bluff, Knowledge, Perception, Sense Motive, and Survival checks attempted against that opponent, and a +1 bonus on weapon attack and damage rolls against it.

Some people I asked tried to say that the bonus does not apply on sneak attack cause it says "On weapon attack and damage rolls" As I see it, it's unclear if "damage rolls" is tied to "weapon", but even if it is, your sneak attack is a result of your weapon hitting a targets vital spot. So that extra damage comes from your own attack/weapon. Additionally the Sneak Attack is not a "fixed" number, like Str bonus mod, it's a damage roll/you throw dice and the part where the ability says that it applies on damage rolls fits.

So I would think that a lvl 20 slayer doing a sneak attack/performing a sneak attack with his weapon, by flanking/catching the enemy flat footed doing 6d6 sneak attack, on every dice of those 6 dices rolled is applied +5 from studied target.

Does anybody know/have any source that states/clarifies that the studied target ability does not apply on the sneak attack dice rolls as well? Or can someone who is able to contact the creators of pathfinder to illuminate us/me, about it?


2 Answers 2


If I am interpreting your question correctly, no, you don't get to double dip.

DR does not negate sneak attack damage. The sneak attack damage is not a special effect that accompanies the attack, it is part of the damage roll. Hope that clears it up.

Jason Bulmahn Lead Designer Paizo Publishing

...Meaning the damage is one lump sum.

The +5 hit and +5 damage (at level 20) applies to the individual attack. If you have multiple attacks (as would be expected of a 20th level slayer) then each attack also gets this bonus. This means that the +20/+15/+10/+5 you have for your attack bonus is +25/+20/+15/+10 before you add in your stat modifiers, flanking, weapons bonuses and spells. Additionally, each attack in that multiattack sequence gets a flat +5 to damage (totaling +20 damage should all attacks hit) before calculating strength bonus, weapon bonus and other magics.

One damage "roll" can contain multiple additions and dice from different sources, but it is still one damage roll. So if your slayer was using a +3 flaming greatsword and had a +4 STR bonus and 6d6 sneak attack and +5 studied target bonus, the damage roll is 2d6 (sword) + 3 + 1d6 (flaming) + 4 + 6d6 +5. When an ability intends to add a point per die, it is instead worded as e.g. "+1 per die of damage."

So you do get a +5 to hit and damage but they are not treated as separate entities. Ergo, its a one time addition to damage and to hit. Its not meant to be a boon per die being rolled. Otherwise you would have a rogue that would always hit on targets they are able to sneak attack and always do massive amounts of damage.

Remember, although not stated in the rules, the concept "damage roll" refers to the whole pack of dices rolled and it's bonuses when damage is rolled, in opposition to "single dice roll". You can see similar language in all strength damage bonus descriptions in the rules:

Strength: Temporary increases to your Strength score give you a bonus on Strength-based skill checks, melee attack rolls, and weapon damage rolls (if they rely on Strength). The bonus also applies to your Combat Maneuver Bonus (if you are Small or larger) and to your Combat Maneuver Defense.

And yet, a Greatsword (2d6, or 1d6+1d6 to damage if you prefer), only gets the strength bonus once (which is 1.5 in this case because it is a 2-handed weapon), and it doesn't matter if you apply sneak attack or a flaming effect to it, the strength bonus only applies once to the damage roll.


  • \$\begingroup\$ @TechImp , your explanation is very nice and detailed and I will take it as it is but I would like to have a source that states the part "When a tabletop RPG refers to a "damage roll", they refer to all the dice used to determine that damage, not the individual dice." And yes as you assumed I did read the "roll-s" like that. Because the +5 to hit on attack rolls it applies on all/every attack roll you perform at lvl 20 individually. So I assumed it works the same way on damage rolls. \$\endgroup\$
    – A Guest
    Oct 20, 2014 at 18:41
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ You are treating it as a special effect when it comes to that class feature. If it were a straight +X damage rather than a roll for sneak attack you would not fight for this. Sneak attack is part of the damage roll. Studied target is part of the damage roll. You are trying to apply logic of what sneak attack damage is abstracted to, to the actual game mechanic. You have an answer from the lead designer on how sneak attack damage works. There is nothing more I can add. \$\endgroup\$
    – TechImp
    Oct 20, 2014 at 19:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion and this thread will be deleted. Please do some combination of a) improving the answer, b) improving the question, and/or c) posting another answer. Or taking it to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Oct 20, 2014 at 20:48

Bonuses on damage rolls are not added to extra damage

The slayer's extraordinary ability studied target says that

A slayer can study an opponent he can see as a move action. The slayer then gains a +1 bonus on Bluff, Knowledge, Perception, Sense Motive, and Survival checks attempted against that opponent, and a +1 bonus on weapon attack and damage rolls against it.

Damage says that

If your attack succeeds, you deal damage. The type of weapon used determines the amount of damage you deal.

The rogue class feature sneak attack says that

The rogue's attack deals extra damage anytime her target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), or when the rogue flanks her target.

I know it's weird, but this extra damage is different from damage.1 This extra damage is not multiplied on critical hits, isn't affected by bonuses on damage rolls, and is of the same type (e.g. nonlethal, energy, negative energy) as the damage type of the weapon that delivered it. It doesn't exist on its own, and only those effects that say they modify it do so (e.g. the feat Sap Master, the weapon special ability flaming burst.)

(Note that the phrase extra damage is sometimes used without reference to dice at all (e.g. the feat Focused Shot) or mislabeled additional damage (e.g. the feat Channel Smite). And while it'd be awesome were everything consistent, the sheer volume of Pathfinder material and its fluidity make that nearly impossible.)

Specific Questions

  • Does anybody know of a source or have a source that states that the studied target special ability does not apply on sneak attack damage rolls?
    You'll rarely find an effect that is clarified by negation (e.g. "This ability does not..."). The game relies on special abilities enabling occurrences. Occurrences that aren't enabled by the effect remain disabled. Specific versus general is at the game's core, so clarifying by negation is unnecessary except in extreme corner cases (e.g. the feat Poison Focus), and, honestly, this isn't an extreme corner case.
  • Can someone who is able to contact the creators of Pathfinder tell me if I'm right?
    You can try to get the Pathfinder designers to answer your questions on Paizo's forums. Good luck.

  1. Similar confusing language is used with concealment (the game makes a distinction between concealment and total concealment) and cover (the game makes distinctions between--I swear I'm not making this up--cover, partial cover, total cover, and improved cover).

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