Can a character with the sneak attack ability, deal sneak attack damage with a swarm attack while under the effects of a spell like Verminous Transformation? (Unfortunately Swarm Skin isn't an ideal example, as it has an additional effect of causing you to loose all other abilities, I am looking for a better example and will update the question when I have found one. In the mean time there is a Vampire specific feat called Improved Swarm Form from Blood of the Night, or the Nosferatu variant Vampire Template, Verminous Transformation and GM Fiat (e.g. via appyling the swarm template))

I realise that Swarms cannot flank, so it would be harder to meet the criteria even if they can in theory, although Verminous Transformation might be an exception?

Why can I not sneak attack with Magic Missile? may be relevant. Though the RAW reasoning for the negative answer there relies on wording specific to Magic Missile.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The spell swarm skin might not be the best example as "you cannot use any of your own abilities" while the spell is in effect, and that probably includes sneak attack. Maybe a different example is in order, like the swarm form of the prestige class spherewalker? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 13, 2016 at 2:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ The swarm form of that class also states it cant make attacks, but it can cast spells. Offhand I dont know of any spells which can deal sneak attack by itself. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Nov 13, 2016 at 4:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ Huh. I'm struggling to find a third PC ability that lets you turn into a swarm. Though there are at least some designed for NPCs. And Verminous Transformation isn't an ideal choice to use as the basis of the question — being more complex than just turning into a swarm. As for not being able to flank, the second to final paragraph on the swarm subtype states that they do not threaten, and threatening is required for flanking. \$\endgroup\$
    – Isaac
    Nov 13, 2016 at 14:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ With regards to sneak attack with spells, any spell that requires an attack roll will work with sneak attacks. However the RAW for this appears to be based on 3.5 and a book called complete arcana. So far I haven't found a Pathfinder specific rule that directly states that you can, though I have found FAQ entries that assume that you can. Without seeing the direct rule, I'm not sure if such spells are allowed because they are attack rolls, or allowed because they are attacks. \$\endgroup\$
    – Isaac
    Nov 13, 2016 at 14:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Reminder: comments are for clarifying content, not posting small or incomplete answers, or discussion. The comments focusing on revising the question to be the best it can be are appreciated. If one is tempted by the comments to slide over into discussion or answering (even guesses), please resist the temptation so people can focus on using comments for revising. Thanks! (Prior comments containing answers have been removed.) \$\endgroup\$ Nov 13, 2016 at 18:17

1 Answer 1


In your question you have given us two use cases.

First lets look at the critical terms.


When making a melee attack, you get a +2 flanking bonus if your opponent is threatened by another enemy character or creature on its opposite border or opposite corner.

Creatures with a reach of 0 feet can't flank an opponent.


A swarm is a collection of Fine, Diminutive, or Tiny creatures that acts as a single creature. A swarm has the characteristics of its type, except as noted here. A swarm has a single pool of Hit Dice and hit points, a single initiative modifier, a single speed, and a single Armor Class. A swarm makes saving throws as a single creature. A single swarm occupies a square (if it is made up of nonflying creatures) or a cube (of flying creatures) 10 feet on a side, but its reach is 0 feet, like its component creatures. In order to attack, it moves into an opponent’s space, which provokes an attack of opportunity. A swarm can occupy the same space as a creature of any size, since it crawls all over its prey. A swarm can move through squares occupied by enemies and vice versa without impediment, although the swarm provokes an attack of opportunity if it does so. A swarm can move through cracks or holes large enough for its component creatures.

Swarm Attack: creatures with the swarm subtype don’t make standard melee attacks. Instead, they deal automatic damage to any creature whose space they occupy at the end of their move, with no attack roll needed. Swarm attacks are not subject to a miss chance for concealment or cover. A swarm’s stat block has “swarm” in the Melee entries, with no attack bonus given.

Sneak Attack:

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. This extra damage is 1d6 at 1st level, and increases by 1d6 every two rogue levels thereafter. Should the rogue score a critical hit with a sneak attack, this extra damage is not multiplied. Ranged attacks can count as sneak attacks only if the target is within 30 feet.

So with those clearly defined lets look at the use cases;

Swarm Skin:

This power clearly states that you cannot use "any of your own abilities or take any actions other than controlling the swarms" so this will exclude sneak attack completely.

Verminous Transformation:

This power does not limit your actions or your abilities. So any attacks you make could benefit from sneak attack as long as you meet the criteria. The standard action that it gives can also benefit from sneak attack.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I only commented on swarm's inability to flank due to it making it harder for them to sneak even if they can in theory. Swarm Form is unable to attack at all — not even a swarm attack. Which is why I didn't add it to the original question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Isaac
    Nov 14, 2016 at 14:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ When I read the entry for Swarm Form it did have an attack. Any creature that you share a space with. Similar to a swarm attack. But maybe I read the ability wrong, I'll check. I also included the abiltiy to flank in all of the cases as Verminous Transformatiom could potentially allow to flank (i couldn't find out if it was a ranged or reach melee attack) so just to highlight the difference. I also included the information for anyone else looking into how swarms work in relation to flanking. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 14, 2016 at 15:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Second sentence of the second paragraph for Swarm Form: "Unlike most swarms, a spherewalker in swarm form does not do swarm damage to creatures she’s swarming over." \$\endgroup\$
    – Isaac
    Nov 14, 2016 at 15:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Issac: Perfect. Miss read. I'll edit it out. Sorry ;) \$\endgroup\$ Nov 14, 2016 at 16:16

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