Rules question re. Targeted Spells (ranged touch)

I'm working on a new character who has several abilities & spells that are targeted (Ranged Touch) which are identified differently then Rays. I have seen several posts about different aspects of these, but all of them degenerate into the "Way it is Run in Our Nightly Group"... which is to say W.R.O.N.G. I might be able to get our GM to allow something, but it is always easier to start with RAW.

The authors identify them differently, so I would like to assume there is a difference.
Here is my understanding of the difference (if I am wrong, please let me know):

RAY: a laser that fires out directly at the target passing through the intervening spaces. (example: Ray of Frost)

TARGETED SPELL: The effect occurs at the point the caster designates without passing though the intervening spaces. (example: Daze)

In addition, a "Ray" can be interpreted as a weapon due to the wording of the Weapon Focus feat, and therefore can benefit from Point Blank Shot and Precise Shot.

Would the Targeted spells (or abilities) that utilize "Ranged Touch" be subject to the: (a) cover bonus for intervening characters, and (b) penalty for attacking into melee? Though I would like to believe they would not as they are targeted rather than rays, by RAW it would seem these do come into effect, therefore, is there any way to mitigate these by RAW? (3rd party is usually accepted)

Is there something I am missing, or do Targeted Ranged Touch spells (and abilities) have all the drawback of both spell casting (1 per round & AoO for casting the spell) as well as all the drawbacks of ranged combat (AoO for attacking from within melee range, AC bonus to target for cover, Atk penalty for attacking into melee), with none of the feat support provided to other ranged combat types (specifically Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Point Blank Master, etc)?


  • edited October 2019
    In the end the decision would be up to your DM. I do not advocate rule lawyering. 
    That being said, I would say you need line of sight, to your target but not a clear line of fire. And, does not the Ray effect contact all targets along its line? While Ranged Touch only attack its intended target.
    As Ray attacks are spells I would say they should be modified by magic feats only, not weapon feats. The intent, in my opinion, of ranged weapon feats is that a ranged weapon has a trajectory and those feats relate to understanding that trajectory. Leading the target, understanding ballistics and estimating/accounting for range. Like a laser, a ray attack is instantaneous, and direct without ballistics. Again this final decision is up to the DM at the table. 

  • I would agree on the line of sight vs line of fire, but I could not find anything in the rules. I was hoping that someone else had found a passage or sidebar that addressed this somewhere that I had missed. I will of course make the best of whatever the DM will let me get away with, but if we can point to something in the rules, it would help us be consistent done the line.

    oldraven said:
    And, does not the Ray effect contact all targets along its line?  

    I think you are thinking of a "Line". "Aura", "Burst", "Cone", "Cylinder", "Line", "Sphere", etc. all effect everyone in their area. A "Ray" effect only the target it hits. Some spells allow the caster to fire multiple rays, but each one only effects one target.

    As for the feats, the key comes from Weapon Focus which specifically states that "Ray" can be taken as a weapon. This implies that "Ray" can be treated as a weapon for other feats (there is some level of interpretation, so your mileage may vary). Point Blank Shot and Precise Shot both apply bonuses (or negate penalties) for ranged attacks with "Thrown" or "Ranged Weapons". Therefore it is easy to argue that these would apply to a "Ray" as well, but as above, I cannot find anything that would indicate that they would be able to apply to a Targeted Ranged Touch without a Rule 0 ruling.

    I love Rule 0, but I don't want to rely on it.

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