I am sure I read somewhere that bonus dice to attacks do not stack with each other, one of my players disputes this, and I can't find rulings about it either way.

I know that generally speaking, nothing stacks with itself in D&D...

Excerpt from wizards site:

That's about all there is. There's not much to stacking bonuses. Just remember the basic rules:

  • Bonuses with different names stack.
  • Bonuses with the same names overlap (don't stack)
  • Bonuses with no names stack with any other bonuses (but not with themselves).

Example 1:

If a character gets a flaming frost weapon, can they add both the flaming and the frost bonus die?

Example 2:

If a character is psychic and has the Psionic Weapon feat, can those bonus dice stack with other bonus dice from flaming/frost and such?

Can they stack with bonus dice granted from Deep Crystal?

I am looking for the Rules-As-Written answer comparing both 3.5 and 3.0 rules for this matter. Thank you.

  • \$\begingroup\$ If the rules are different for 3.0 and 3.5, do you expect a good answer to discuss both? If not, why is this tagged with both systems? \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Oct 7, 2015 at 10:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BESW Because I want to know if there is a difference, because maybe I remember one set of rules over another. \$\endgroup\$
    – Inbar Rose
    Oct 7, 2015 at 10:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that the Frost and Flaming effects cannot both be active on a weapon. Their Special Ability Descriptions state: "Upon command, a frost weapon is sheathed in icy cold. The cold does not harm the wielder. The effect remains until another command is given." So you can't give the command for the second without deactivating the first. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 21, 2016 at 3:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PaulHutton That is something I never noticed, do you have a citation? \$\endgroup\$
    – Inbar Rose
    Jan 21, 2016 at 9:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ d20srd.org/srd/magicItems/magicWeapons.htm#frost \$\endgroup\$ Jan 21, 2016 at 19:25

2 Answers 2

  • As a note, though the Rules of the Game articles are generally higher-quality than the FAQ, they are no more official primary rules sources than is the FAQ, and everything wrong with the FAQ is true also of the Rules of the Game. They have no place in a RAW discussion. So I suggest you ignore it if you are interested in RAW. That said, the quoted portion appears to be accurate.

Dice-based bonuses are no different from any other bonuses in terms of stacking. They just have a variable component. Thus, they stack if they would otherwise stack.

Most importantly, dice is not a type of bonus. For that matter, neither is cold or fire (those are types of damage). The Modifier Types List is not necessarily exhaustive (particularly considering possibilities present in later publications), but the lack of these alleged types is telling, since bonuses expressed as dice are prevalent in the core rules.

Damage bonuses, especially dice-based ones, are frequently untyped; every case you have listed here is. That means that they stack unless they come from the same source.

So if you activate Psionic Weapon twice (it is possible to get multiple psionic focuses), it wouldn’t stack with itself (though you would be able to roll twice and keep the higher, since in cases where bonuses don’t stack, you still have both).

But Psionic Weapon will stack with Deep Crystal, because the source of the two bonuses of 2d6 damage each are different: the Psionic Weapon feat and the Deep Crystal special material. However, pumping more power points into Deep Crystal will only create more non-stacking instances of 2d6 bonus damage, since each instance of 2 power points gives a bonus of 2d6 damage from the same source, the Deep Crystal. (Compare to other effects that say something like “For every 2 power points,” implying one bonus whose size depends on the number of points put in.)

The 1d6 fire damage from flaming stacks with the 1d6 cold damage from frost because those are both untyped bonuses to damage. On the other hand, a hypothetical flaming flaming weapon would not stack, though again you’d get to roll 1d6 twice and keep the higher. More relevantly, a flaming-burst flaming weapon would also only get 1d6 rolled twice (on a non-critical hit), because “A flaming burst weapon functions as a flaming weapon,” i.e. the source of the 1d6 fire damage on a non-critical hit is from a built-in flaming property. However, if some other property added fire damage to the weapon, and did not build flaming into itself, then that would stack with flamingfire is not a type of bonus, it’s a type of damage, and the type of the bonus here is untyped.

Finally, compare Sneak Attack: every1 instance of Sneak Attack in the game includes the following blurb:

If an assassin gets a sneak attack bonus from another source the bonuses on damage stack.

Sneak Attack’s damage bonus is still not typed, but if you had Sneak Attack from multiple places, that would run afoul of the same-source rule. So Sneak Attack has this specific rule allowing it to stack anyway, so that you can multiclass between Sneak Attacking classes without having to start your Sneak Attack progression over.

  1. Technically, the rogue itself lacks this line, which is irrelevant since everything else has it and thus will stack with the rogue’s. The only other exception here is the factotum, which is a weird case where it not stacking appears to be a critical part of how the class is intended to function, but the factotum really should have gotten some more editorial love and much about its rule text is awkward or ambiguous.

The rules don't say, but it's heavily implied that you can stack multiple damage increasing attributes onto a single weapon. The rules state the following about additional damage dice:

Based on the rules that you linked about bonuses of similar names not stacking (Such as Enhancement bonuses not stacking with enhancement bonuses, etc.) Flaming wouldn't stack with Flaming Burst because Flaming burst already supplies the benefits of Flaming in its description. But there's nothing in Frost or Flaming that would indicate that they don't stack with one another.

Additional Damage Dice

Some magic weapons deal additional dice of damage. Unlike other modifiers to damage, additional dice of damage are not multiplied when the attacker scores a critical hit.

This means that the dice gained from the Flaming, Frost, or Shock weapons deal their extra damage, and if a crit is scored only the initial damage from the weapon is multiplied (unless you're using Flaming Burst, Frost Burst, or Shocking burst, in which case additional damage die of that element are rolled)

The weapons themselves specify that upon command the weapon emits flames, frost, or lightning, and that scoring a hit while this is active deals additional elemental damage of that type. However, The rule-set never expressly prohibits that you can't have any specific combination of enchantments on any given weapon.

For the latter, the Psionic Weapon feat requires you to expend your psionic bonus to deal additional damage, the deep crystal requires usage of power points, and the flaming and frost attributes only have to be active prior to hitting with them. The only instance where any of these abilities would counteract one another is if you had some second thing that also used a psionic focus that would prohibit you from using that and Psionic weapon simultaneously. Weapon enchantments, Deep Crystal, and Psionic weapon don't interfere with one another because Deep Crystal is a material weapons are made out of, Psionic weapon is a feat for using psionic power to deal additional damage, and Frost and Flaming are just enchantments that are placed on weapons.

Also, while it doesn't tie into the question directly, keep in mind that certain damage types are not reliable damage dealers past a certain stage of the game. Most things after level 10 start getting resistance to fire, which make the Flaming enchantment less effective, same with frost. The only reliable damage sources past a certain threshold in 3.5 are Sonic damage and Force damage. Other damage types normally have some degree of resistance beyond that point. Flaming is the least effective damage type for late game damage dealing and is the worst value of any of the other elemental enchantments.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ SO that fact that they are all adding additional dice is irreverent? So multiple sources can provide additional dice as long as they are different sources of different types? \$\endgroup\$
    – Inbar Rose
    Oct 7, 2015 at 11:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes. Its similar to how boosting the caster level of a spell will boost your damage with that spell. It doesn't matter where the additional dice come from, it only matters that they aren't the same type of damage. If damage sources of the same type are added to the same roll, only the largest number of dice counts, similar to multiple enhancement bonuses. Only the largest enhancement bonus counts towards and ability score. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sandwich
    Oct 7, 2015 at 11:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Okay, this seems to answer my question well enough, but I will leave your answer unchecked for now, just to see if I can some actual RAW. \$\endgroup\$
    – Inbar Rose
    Oct 7, 2015 at 12:01
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The main reason that its balanced is due to the cost for an increasing enchantment. To get a +1 flaming Longsword, it costs about 8000gp. To get just one more damage die ontop of that takes more than twice the money, at 18,000gp. When you consider that you could probably just get your damage some other way at a lower cost, the stacking of enchantments that add a paltry 1d6 seems pointless. For the most part that bonus damage will only be doing ~3 extra damage anyway. Even less if you're fighting something with resistances. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sandwich
    Oct 7, 2015 at 12:11
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ To my knowledge the only two properties that can't be put on the same weapon are Anarchic and Axiomatic, Holy and Unholy, Keen and Disruption, and Vorpal and Disruption. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sandwich
    Oct 7, 2015 at 12:14

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