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The way Blood Crow Strike is written does not make sense.

The casting time is 1 Round, and the duration is Instantaneous. Now this can be taken two ways:

  1. The change is instantaneous, and permanent, allowing a Sacred Fist to have a permanent ranged attack. This seems totally overpowered, and I can't believe this is what was intended; or

  2. The spell takes the whole round to cast, the effect is instantaneous, but leave no time for the Sacred Fist to attack. Next round the spell is spent, and the character gained no advantage from it. This seems even worse than Option 1.

What was really intended with this spell, and how can a Sacred Fist benefit from it?

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It's instantaneous the way a fireball is instantaneous: the spell effect happens, hurts people, and then is gone.

You cast the spell, taking a round to cast it. When it is complete, it has the effect in its description: you hit the target with a variable number of crows for X [fire/negative] damage per crow, with the number of crows being equal to the number of successful attacks you roll as if you were using your normal number of unarmed attacks / flurries, and X being whatever normal damage those attacks would have dealt. At no time do you actually use an unarmed strike on the target — the unarmed strikes only power the spell.

The confusion seems to be that you're reading it as if it changes your unarmed attacks, and then you make some attacks afterwards. That's not what's going on.

Picture it like this, instead: the monk stands 100 feet away from their target, punches the air a lot, and each well-executed punch turns into a blood crow that flies 100 feet to the target and slams into them as if the monk had been standing right beside them. (Plus it's fire/neg damage instead, and looks pretty cool.)

It's just a fancy way to make a variable number of variably-sized magic missiles, basically.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It makes a lot more sense after this explanation. Thank you very much. PS: This question was raised on a Pathfinder group I'm part of on Facebook, and I copied your answer there for them as well. I hope it is OK. \$\endgroup\$ – Sam Jul 19 '15 at 12:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Sam if you click the share button below his post you will get a link you can repost. This way, you also give us some visibility and this increases the number of people who can ask and reply here, which is, I think, good for everyone here and there. \$\endgroup\$ – Zachiel Jul 19 '15 at 12:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Sam Glad to help! Sharing is fine, yes. RPG.se's content license allows copying, so long as the copy includes a link back to this page. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 19 '15 at 17:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ I did mention Stack Exchange in my reply on the post on Facebook, but could not use the Facebook link from here, as it would have created a new thread and I wanted to answer on an existing thread. However, I will go and edit my reply there and add a link to this page as well. \$\endgroup\$ – Sam Jul 20 '15 at 6:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ But this is a 4th level cleric/oracle spell, but is only useful for monks to cast (or someone else with good unarmed strikes I guess), so are they supposed to get this as a wand or scroll or something? \$\endgroup\$ – Kevin Wells Mar 23 '17 at 19:59
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By my reading:

Casting Time 1 round, so the spell doesn't go off until immediately before your next turn. Pretty straightforward.

Next round, just before your turn comes up, the spell completes and you may take an unarmed full attack or flurry of blows as if you had taken a full attack action. I agree it's poorly worded, but the example in the text makes it pretty clear.

Basically, you spend a turn charging up (without actually losing a turn, just going really slowly that turn) and then make your unarmed full attack or flurry of blows at a range. Note that you have to deal damage (half fire and half sort-of-negative-energy), you can't replace these with trips or disarms or sunders, etc.

I'm having a lot of trouble imagining a situation outside of a 'gestalt' campaign where this spell would be particularly useful, but maybe there's a cleric archetype somewhere I missed that gains a monk's flurry of blows and unarmed damage progression, or (more likely, imo) a monk archetype that gains the ability to cast a limited number of cleric spells and thus could use this spell to deliver their flurry at a range.

Had I written this spell, I'd have made these changes:

Target: You

Range: Personal

Duration: One unarmed full attack or unarmed flurry of blows (see text)

Your unarmed strikes release blasts of energy in the form of bolts of fire or glowing red crows, which fly instantaneously to strike your target. Upon completion of this spell, you may immediately make a number of unarmed strikes exactly as if you had taken a full-attack action, including your flurry of blows class feature (if you have one), against a single creature within Medium range (100 ft + 10 ft/level). Your attack bonus for these attacks work exactly as they would for a normal unarmed full-attack action or flurry of blows, but the damage for these attacks are half fire and half negative energy (this negative energy damage does not heal undead). You may not substitute or augment these attacks with combat maneuvers or special attacks (such as Stunning Fist). For example... (example from text about a 14th level monk continues here).

It's important that you don't lose a turn when casting this spell. Your attack doesn't happen until just before your next turn, but immediately after the spell goes off and you make a full attack it becomes your turn again. It's also important to note that while casting the spell provokes attacks of opportunity normally, the "ranged" attacks granted by the spell are not ranged and do not provoke attacks of opportunity unless your normal unarmed strikes would do so.

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As written, it permanently (or, rather, instantaneously) grants you the ability to make unarmed and flurry of blows attacks against the target regardless of distance. So you could, for example, use this on your minions to keep them in line as you would then forever after be able to employ unarmed strikes against them no matter where they went or what they did, more or less. Unless you are playing the game by the rules, it is unlikely that the ability will work this way in practice. Ask your DM what his house rules regarding it are, in that case.

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