What's Your Weapon?

Friday, April 30, 2018

For many heroes, their choice of weapon says more about their personality and sense of aesthetics than their penchant for mechanical optimization. For others, form follows function, and still others blend the two. But what sort of weapon fits your personality best? Let's take a look at various weapons and figure it out!

Simple, Martial, or Exotic?

All weapons in Pathfinder are simple, martial, or exotic, based on their rough level of power. Unlike in Pathfinder First Edition, exotic weapons are not just a mixture of powerful European weapons and weapons from other cultures that only occasionally had a leg up over their martial kin. In Pathfinder Second Edition, we have a different way of talking about whether a weapon is likely to be found in a particular region, and so a weapon's type instead describes a weapon's mix of power and flexibility. Simple weapons usually have a smaller damage die than similar martial weapons (d6 rather than d8, for instance), and exotic weapons usually use the same damage die as a martial weapon but include additional abilities that make the weapon more complex.

Characters start with proficiency in either groups of weapons or lists of individual weapons, and they can take ancestry or general feats (and, rarely, class feats) to gain more!

Weapon Traits

Whatever your weapon proficiencies, you'll want to choose a weapon with useful traits that match your taste and play style. Even among martial weapons that use two hands, a bo staff, a greatsword, and a glaive all feel very different.

A greatsword deals a lot of damage, perfect for a bruiser character like a worshiper of Gorum: its damage die is d12 and you can seamlessly switch between piercing and slashing damage to avoid enemy resistances and exploit their weaknesses.

A bo staff is all about controlling the fight. Its damage die is only d8, but it has reach (allowing you to Strike enemies up to 10 feet away), parry (allowing you to spend an action to increase your AC much like a light shield), and trip (giving you several benefits to your attempts to trip enemies). Plus, it has the monk trait, which weapon-wielding monks particularly enjoy.

The glaive has a d8 damage die like the bo staff and shares its reach, but that's where the similarities end. The glaive has deadly d8 (dealing additional d8s of damage on a critical hit), and it is forceful (which means once you get it going and build up momentum, your attacks become more and more powerful: 1 extra damage per die on the second attack of your turn, 2 extra damage for any attacks after that). The glaive-user isn't interested in giving up an action for defense like a character with a bo staff; instead, she does best if she artfully sweeps the blade like a brush, focusing on accuracy and multiple attacks to really dish out the damage—particularly fitting for a follower of Shelyn.

We want to give every weapon a different personality like this so that we can better serve the infinite personalities that players bring with their characters!

Some other fun weapon traits I haven't covered yet: Twin weapons like the saw-toothed saber deal more damage if you fight with two of them. Backswing weapons like the greatclub gain a little accuracy after a miss. Backstabber weapons like the dogslicer deal more damage to flat-footed targets. Agile weapons like the shortsword decrease the penalty for making multiple attacks in a single turn. Finesse weapons like the rapier use your Dexterity modifier for attack rolls if you prefer. Two-hand weapons like the bastard sword deal much higher damage if you wield them in two hands instead of one!

Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

Critical Specialization and Weapon Groups

Traits give us some really cool ways to distinguish weapons, but we decided to throw one more customization factor into the mix, this time for similar groups of weapons: critical specialization effects.

Characters who unlock their weapon's critical specialization effect gain a special bonus effect on a critical hit that's different for each weapon group. For example, let's compare swords, spears, and axes.

Swords make the target flat-footed on a critical hit, making it easier for you and your allies to hit the target again (and making the group's rogue very happy). This cements swords like the greatsword or a longsword as great choices for dealing damage to challenging foes like bosses, as they have high damage and decrease the boss's AC so your team can hit more often.

Spears pierce the target and weaken its attacks. This makes a spear a good option for someone using a more defensive strategy built around negating enemy attacks.

Axes swing to an adjacent target (if any), damaging that target, too! Combined with the fact that axes usually have the sweep trait, giving you a bonus on attacks when you move on to a new target in the same turn, this makes axes extremely well suited for sweeping up groups of enemies.

These are just a few of the possibilities. For instance, daggers can cause persistent bleed damage, and clubs can knock the target up to 10 feet away (particularly amusing on a well-placed Attack of Opportunity).

Weapon Quality

Weapons, as well as other non-weapon items (but come on, those aren't as cool as weapons, right?), can be poor quality, standard quality, expert quality, master quality, or legendary quality.

Quality grants an item bonus or penalty of the same value as the matching proficiency (so an expert bow grants a +1 item bonus to hit and a legendary axe grants a +3 item bonus to hit). You have to have the matching proficiency to Craft a weapon of that quality though, so you can't make a master sword, for instance, unless you are a master at Crafting.

And now you know the basics about weapons! All there is to do now is choose the weapon that suits you. Until next time!

Mark Seifter
Designer

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Pathfinder Playtest Wayne Reynolds
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7 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm glad to hear that the greatsword is still going to be mechanically distinct from the greataxe despite them sharing the same damage types and damage dice! I just hope that exotic weapons in general bring enough to the table to justify taking feats for them, or if nothing else gaining proficiency with them is a tad more universal, as in P1e most of my exotic weapon builds were with Half-Elves due to Ancestral Arms.

Speaking of exotic weapons, are Golarion staples such as the Aldori Dueling Sword going to be included in the playtest?


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Those Critical specializations are very cool, so how do character manages to unlock them?


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Interesting. I enjoy the thought of weapons being more diverse, and from earlier blogs it looks like they are lowering crit fishing.


8 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Weapon traits are pretty interesting. I just hope they aren't adding too many layers of complexity and easily-forgotten modifiers.


Was hoping for a class blog like Wizard or Ranger, real curious what they are going to do with Ranger, but this is awesome info. I love how they are looking to make different weapons really weigh in on character build.


7 people marked this as a favorite.

I like a lot of what I'm seeing here.

…Except, should we really keep the term "exotic" when it doesn't really describe the purpose of that category of weapons?

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

This is all very awesome.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

I had the hope that proficiency on individual weapons were gone, I think the hassled of checking for individual weapons just make them not worthy.

Paizo Employee Designer

15 people marked this as a favorite.
Meophist wrote:

I like a lot of what I'm seeing here.

…Except, should we really keep the term "exotic" when it doesn't really describe the purpose of that category of weapons?

We had other options for the name like superior or advanced that we were thinking of using, but more people in house liked exotic because of the cachet from PF1.


Does quality level grant any other bonuses other than bonus to hit?


13 people marked this as a favorite.

I like pretty much all of this. I'm still hoping weapon Proficiency turns out to be by weapon group though. So, if you're Untrained in a weapon group you can only use the Simple weapons from that group, if you're Trained you can use the martial weapons, if you're Expert you can use the "Exotic" weapons, and above Expert you start getting the special ability unlocks perhaps?

Silver Crusade

23 people marked this as a favorite.

Love it! Adds some great detail/complexity that was always disappointingly lacking for PF1 weapons. This is the kind of character option I love to tinker with, and should enable a wide variety of flavorful play styles without feeling like you're sacrificing too much by picking a "suboptimal" weapon. Very excited for my first Playtest martial (especially if the Playtest rules make a spear & shield fighter viable; I've always wanted to play the Greek hero look).

One reservation:

Blog wrote:
Even among martial weapons that use two hands, a bo staff, a greatsword, and a glaive all feel very different.
Blog wrote:
Two-hand weapons like the bastard sword deal much higher damage if you wield them in two hands instead of one!

Having both "two handed" weapons and "two-hand" weapons, which signify different things, seems less than great in terms of rules clarity.

Is there a more distinct terminology in the Playtest that doesn't come through in the blog? Because this seems prime for confusion. ("Oh do you mean the two-hand weapon quality, or a weapon that uses two hands?")


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Joe M. wrote:

Love it! Adds some great detail/complexity that was always disappointingly lacking for PF1 weapons. The kind of character optionI love to tinker with, and should enable a wide variety of flavorful play styles without feeling like you're sacrificing too much by picking a "suboptimal" weapon. Very excited for my first Playtest martial (especially if the Playtest rules make a spear & shield fighter viable, always wanted to do the Greek hero look).

One reservation:

Blog wrote:
Even among martial weapons that use two hands, a bo staff, a greatsword, and a glaive all feel very different.
Blog wrote:
Two-hand weapons like the bastard sword deal much higher damage if you wield them in two hands instead of one!
Having both "two handed" weapons and "two-hand" weapons, which signify different things, seems less than great in terms of rules clarity. Is there a more distinct terminology in the Playtest that doesn't come through in the blog? Because this seems prime for confusion. ("Oh do you mean the two-hand weapon quality, or a weapon that uses two hands?")

Agreed, 1.5 hand weapons could use a better term. 5e uses Versatile, but I'm sure there's other words that convey the same idea without conflating the two-handed weapon property and trait. Plus, versatile might be a Piercing/Slashing conversion trait.


4 people marked this as a favorite.

I have already said this when Shields were presented, and now seeing Weapon Traits I have that same feeling again, that combat for PF2 draw some inspiration from Dark Souls, which I think is very cool.

Grand Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Another thing i'm really excited to see in version 2!

Surprised they chose to tackle this but glad they did.
Love to see a little more character using the different weapons.
And they even added good stuff for staff and spear guys!


I like the sound of this.


Meophist wrote:

I like a lot of what I'm seeing here.

…Except, should we really keep the term "exotic" when it doesn't really describe the purpose of that category of weapons?

Agreed. I'd prefer something like...

Common/Martial/Advanced, or Basic/Professional/specialized
... or make weapons require a certain Proficiency level to wield.

That aside, this article made me excited about weapons. I like how the new action economy adds more to what you can do with weapons.


Nifty! It’s nice to see that weapons are more interesting now. I’m looking forward to figuring out what weapons fit my characters’ fighting styles. Also, it’ll be cool to have more variety!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

It's a bit odd to get something so uncontroversial like this as a Monday blog. I imagine they must be setting up for Ranger or Barbarian this Friday.


5 people marked this as a favorite.

On a critical note: There isn't enough here for us to argue about! Do better next time!

On a less critical note, overall this looks interesting and gives people a reason to not use the same old same old.

Silver Crusade

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Fuzzypaws wrote:
It's a bit odd to get something so uncontroversial like this as a Monday blog. I imagine they must be setting up for Ranger or Barbarian this Friday.

Yeah, this makes me doubt we'll see the Wizard this week. (Barring a three blog week.) But I guess we had a week full of magic last week.

I'd be surprised if we saw the Ranger before the Druid (even if Playtest Ranger loses spellcasting). Barbarian sounds like a good guess.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Sounds cool. Gonna make it a lot of fun to really specialize in a weapon and make it your style. Though as a big fan of Monks, I'm curious what kinds of cool weapon qualities and things they can gain on their unarmed attacks. :P


I guess those Critical Unlocks come from Weapon Group Proficiency?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Not thrilled about exotic weapons now just being better weapons. If they're going to exist, they really should be weapons that are harder to use. But at least it's no longer where all non-European weapons get dumped (bo being there in PF1 is just mindboggling. It's a stick). And it does give a reason why you'd actually want to use these weapons that require extra feats. The rest is all rather cool though.

I already liked the weapon traits. We didn't get too many new ones here, but they're still great and go a long way to making weapons different and interesting.

Crit specializations are new to me, and again seem pretty cool in helping make weapons unique. I wonder if cleave is still around, and how it interacts with the axe critical specialization. If they stack, then axes are certainly going to be the go-to cleave weapon, which is much more flavorful than just critting less often but with a bigger multiplier.

Weapon quality gives more granularity than normal/masterwork. Will their effects stack with magic weapon abilities? Will there be a difference between say a +1 expert longsword and a +1 legendary one? Or do all magic weapons have to be a certain quality, like expert for +1, master for +2 and legendary for +3 or higher?

I'm kind of surprised this was a Monday blog. I'm having a hard time seeing anything that should be controversial. But maybe that's just my own biases in that this looks great to me (with the slight exception of exotic weapons). I guess because it's different enough from PF1 that might get some controversy.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Joe M. wrote:
Fuzzypaws wrote:
It's a bit odd to get something so uncontroversial like this as a Monday blog. I imagine they must be setting up for Ranger or Barbarian this Friday.

Yeah, this makes me doubt we'll see the Wizard this week. (Barring a three blog week.) But I guess we had a week full of magic last week.

I'd be surprised if we saw the Ranger before the Druid (even if Playtest Ranger loses spellcasting). Barbarian sounds like a good guess.

Turns out it's a fake-out and we're getting the Paladin on Friday


Mark Seifter wrote:
Meophist wrote:

I like a lot of what I'm seeing here.

…Except, should we really keep the term "exotic" when it doesn't really describe the purpose of that category of weapons?

We had other options for the name like superior or advanced that we were thinking of using, but more people in house liked exotic because of the cachet from PF1.

I would like to eco Meophist and suggest keeping an open ear for a better term than "exotic" for specialized weapons that require advanced training to use effectively. Even the term "special weapons" feels more accurate than "exotic" since exotic implies a regionality rather than a training level.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

1 person marked this as a favorite.
edduardco wrote:
I have already said this when Shields were presented, and now seeing Weapon Traits I have that same feeling again, that combat for PF2 draw some inspiration from Dark Souls, which I think is very cool.

I haven't played Dark Souls, but I'm getting a Might&Magic VI-VIII vibe from advanced weapons skills occasionally doing extra things based on the weapon.

In those Might&Magic games, a Master or Grand Master weapon skill might give a small %chance per hit to stun, or paralyze, or add to your AC.


Sounds like the bastard sword is still going to be a good option. And yes I play one of those half-elves using ancestral arms to get it. A strength magus in PFS.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Loved! The last part is really interesting: item quality rules was something my gaming group was discussing some time ago, and everyone complained about the lack of such rules in most games.
Also, weapon variety is something I really enjoy in my games. It makes weapon choice much more than sheer damage.
Nothing really to complain here ^^


This is the first blog I actually like in it's entirety, so mad props there. Well, the art is a bit iffy, but that's minimal.

While I don't mind Exotic as a designation, "Special" fits a bit better (or maybe another WHFB designation, "Rare", but that one has availability implications that I don't think the designers are going for).


14 people marked this as a favorite.

I am very hopeful for the viability of "staff wielding monks" in PF2.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I like that swords can switch between piercing and slashing damage. Very good. :)

I would rather swords give a defensive bonus than the flat footed deal as swords are extremely good at parrying.

Otherwise it sounds pretty fun, I have some minor other gripes but nothing too concerning.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Unicore wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Meophist wrote:

I like a lot of what I'm seeing here.

…Except, should we really keep the term "exotic" when it doesn't really describe the purpose of that category of weapons?

We had other options for the name like superior or advanced that we were thinking of using, but more people in house liked exotic because of the cachet from PF1.
I would like to eco Meophist and suggest keeping an open ear for a better term than "exotic" for specialized weapons that require advanced training to use effectively. Even the term "special weapons" feels more accurate than "exotic" since exotic implies a regionality rather than a training level.

Hard agree. Special gets the point across pretty well, actually.

A new name for weapons that can be wielded with one or two hands would be nice as well. I can't get behind two hand. "Unwieldy" maybe? "Versatile" or even something as lame as "double grip" might work better to convey the distinctness of the mechanic.


5 people marked this as a favorite.

All of those weapon qualities sound fun as hell. I'll take one of each, please.

No, don't bother to wrap them. I've got a golf bag in the trunk of my car, I'll just put them in there when I get to the parking lot.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

One hope: polearms. Now with this weapon variety, I just hope that polearms get their time in the spotlight too. I loved these polearms lists in old-school editions. Gygax was crazy on those ones, not for no reason :)


These "bo staff" feats are given automatically on getting the weapon proficiency, or are like "Improved Trip" of the Pathifinder 1, that you need to spend a character Feat to gaind the benefit?

Paizo Employee Designer

28 people marked this as a favorite.

My favorite moment about the weapons system was when Luis's bastard sword fighter Randyll died and he made a new flail/shield fighter, Solveig, and after just one battle with the new character, he said he was blown away by how different it felt just from switching weapons, even before all the differences from feats, the shield, and all the rest.

Paizo Employee Designer

17 people marked this as a favorite.
soulkata wrote:
These "bo staff" feats are given automatically on getting the weapon proficiency, or are like "Improved Trip" of the Pathifinder 1, that you need to spend a character Feat to gaind the benefit?

They are traits of the bo staff, not feats for the character.


What's that weapon on the center at the bottom with the concave edge...?


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

It sounds like the weapons will be generating more minor bonuses and penalties for the poor GM to keep track of, though. Will there be new conventions in the stat-blocks to make it easier for the GM to remember, without having to open the equipment chart in the book for every NPC?


6 people marked this as a favorite.

Tons of new customization options and depth. This update is great, long overdue in fact. PF1 had a number of "dead" weapons, made irrelevant by a superior version of the same. Now we're going to go shopping at the local armory emporium and really, really think our choices over. Kudos!


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ChibiNyan wrote:
What's that weapon on the center at the bottom with the concave edge...?

That's Charlene.

Paizo Employee Designer

12 people marked this as a favorite.
Mimo Tomblebur wrote:
It sounds like the weapons will be generating more minor bonuses and penalties for the poor GM to keep track of, though. Will there be new conventions in the stat-blocks to make it easier for the GM to remember, without having to open the equipment chart in the book for every NPC?

Statblocks will list any weapon traits you need (so for instead, they won't list "finesse" because we'll take care of applying the Dex bonus already, but they will list sweep or versatile piercing)


Is "deadly" d8 for the glaive a weapon quality as in deadly, and do deadly weapons do additional damage dice on a critical than a non-deadly weapon on a critical?

Or is "deadly" not a quality, because weapons have quality of workmanship? Just a little confused.


Sounds fun! It's really exciting to see that weapons all feel different and all seem to have a niche of usefulness.

Quote:
and clubs can knock the target up to 10 feet away (particularly amusing on a well-placed Attack of Opportunity)

Oh heck yeah, Awesome Blow is a really fun feat.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Another vote for using "Special" or "Advanced" or "Hectic" or something rather than "Exotic". Exotic says a lot of other things that aren't always contextually appropriate.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
OCEANSHIELDWOLPF 2.0 wrote:

Is "deadly" d8 for the glaive a weapon quality as in deadly, and do deadly weapons do additional damage dice on a critical than a non-deadly weapon on a critical?

Or is "deadly" not a quality, because weapons have quality of workmanship? Just a little confused.

It appears "deadly" is a quality that adds additional dice to a Critical Hit, on top of what you'd get from the critical in the first place.

So like, a Sword would do 2d8 on a crit, but a "deadly" sword would do 3d8. At least that's how I understand it.

Paizo Employee Designer

33 people marked this as a favorite.
gwynfrid wrote:
Tons of new customization options and depth. This update is great, long overdue in fact. PF1 had a number of "dead" weapons, made irrelevant by a superior version of the same. Now we're going to go shopping at the local armory emporium and really, really think our choices over. Kudos!

One of our core goals was to have few or no weapons (and armor types, while we're at it) that are rendered pointless by having another weapon in the same proficiency category that is just a better weapon. While some weapons do have a fairly narrow niche, there shouldn't be any that don't have a playstyle or situation where they are a good option for their proficiency. And if any do have issues (or if there' like one or two that are just too good somehow and blocking the other options out), I bet you guys will let us know during the playtest so we can fix it!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Oh hey, it's the weapons blog Mark said he wanted to show me last week. I will happily take full credit for this. ;)

I am happy with pretty much everything in this blog. Weapon choice has always been a very important aesthetic choice for my characters and I'm very happy to see that there will be more variety in what to use. I'm tempted to make a glaive wielding Shelynite for my playtest character now. The only question is, Fighter, Paladin, or Barbarian?


7 people marked this as a favorite.
Mark Seifter wrote:
Mimo Tomblebur wrote:
It sounds like the weapons will be generating more minor bonuses and penalties for the poor GM to keep track of, though. Will there be new conventions in the stat-blocks to make it easier for the GM to remember, without having to open the equipment chart in the book for every NPC?
Statblocks will list any weapon traits you need (so for instead, they won't list "finesse" because we'll take care of applying the Dex bonus already, but they will list sweep or versatile piercing)

Could we still have those traits listed, perhaps with an asterisk to denote that they are already factored in? I like to modify stat blocks for creatures on occasion, and I don't want to have to go hunting for explanations for unexpected values.

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