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If a creature is hit by multiple of the same continuous damage spell, would they all stack?

Take for instance Acid Arrow, which does 2d4 for (CL/3, max 6) rounds. If someone was hit by two of these spells with a long enough duration, both would take effect, correct?

The same should be true for Constricting Coils since each of them would force the affected person to make the save and then be free of the spell, or take the damage, right?

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    \$\begingroup\$ MORE DOT! MORE DOT!!! \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Sep 12 '16 at 2:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk It took me almost a year, but I finally realized DOT means damage over time \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Jul 25 '17 at 1:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sometimes knowledge is a slow burn. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Jul 25 '17 at 1:58
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While the Acid Arrow spell has a duration of several rounds, its effect is damage, which is instantaneous.

DM_Blake, on the Paizo forums, explains it well:

Oh yeah, damage always "stacks".

Or more accurately, it doesn't "stack" at all because damage is always instantaneous. No, the spell isn't an instantaneous spell, but each round when it does damage, the damage itself is instantaneously applied which means there is nothing to "stack" - just subtract the HP from the target as the damage is applied.

While DM_Blake is not a Paizo employee, he is Executive Founder of Goblinworks, developer of the forthcoming Pathfinder Online. Given these credentials, I am reasonably confident that he has a good understanding of the rules.

(All respondents on that post, and another on ENWorld, were in agreement that that's how it works. There was no official Paizo response either way.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think a stronger case can be made for multiple Melf's acid arrow spells doing their damage individually because the spell's a Conjuration school spell of the creation subschool; that means this particular spell creates an actual, short-lived, real-life thing rather than just magical acid energy. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 12 '16 at 6:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Perhaps, but the spell's duration belies that argument; the acid damage would be suppressed in an AMF, because it's not instantaneous. \$\endgroup\$ – Chemus Sep 12 '16 at 14:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Chemus Truthfully, I was just giving the answer somewhere else to go because, although I think his opinion is as valid as anyone else's in a similar position, I don't think the opinion of a third-party software developer has the same degree of rules authority as the opinion of a Paizo tabeltop RPG designer. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 12 '16 at 14:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Agreed, third party is not as good as official. But there is no official clarification that I can find, so 3pp + forum consensus is (arguably) better than nothing. \$\endgroup\$ – Adeptus Sep 12 '16 at 14:31
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I find no ruling in the Core Rulebook FAQ, so the general Combining Magic Effects rules apply:

Stacking Effects: Spells that provide bonuses or penalties on attack rolls, damage rolls, saving throws, and other attributes usually do not stack with themselves.

Same Effect More than Once in Different Strengths: In cases when two or more identical spells are operating in the same area or on the same target, but at different strengths, only the one with the highest strength applies.

Same Effect with Differing Results: The same spell can sometimes produce varying effects if applied to the same recipient more than once. Usually the last spell in the series trumps the others. None of the previous spells are actually removed or dispelled, but their effects become irrelevant while the final spell in the series lasts.

Neither spell provides a bonus or penalty, but the sections following the 'Stacking' segment are not only regarding bonuses, as evidenced by the section on Multiple Mental Control Effects.

So, the continuing damage would overlap, not stack, as each effect is indeed identical. The only benefit to multiple castings would be to continue the duration.


Clarification: Damage dealt always stacks, but multiple identical effects dealing damage do not stack.

Example:

A creature hit by 3 acid arrows takes 6d4 acid damage this round, and only 2d4 acid damage the next. This is because the acid damage is caused by a continuing effect, not an instantaneous residue.

Had the spell description shown "Duration: Instantaneous", and the rules text said "the acid conjured lasts for 1 round per caster level, unless neutralized, dealing 2d4 damage each round it lasts", then the cause of the damage would have stacked.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That limits the options for reusing some spells \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Sep 11 '16 at 20:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Fering I think that's kind of the point. I mean, the fighter must be made to feel he's contributing sometimes, after all. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 12 '16 at 0:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ That is actually a fair point to make Hey I Can Chan \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Sep 12 '16 at 0:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ So... what? Roll both & keep the highest? I still don't think "effect" is meant to apply to damage. \$\endgroup\$ – Adeptus Sep 12 '16 at 3:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1; Using Bleed as a template, you'll notice that even Bleed does not stack if it's the same type of damage. While I'm awfully surprised it works this way, because it's not logical, the RAW supports this position in other types of recurring damage situations. \$\endgroup\$ – phyrfox Sep 12 '16 at 4:08

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