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So with all the Martial / Caster discrepancy threads coming in I figured that I delve into probably is one of the most systemic problems facing Martials with v3.5 and Pathfinder. The two being a Full-Attack action and descending attack bonuses. Now this isn't just a problem for Martials as all classes are affected by this to some degree however I feel Martial classes are affected, by far, more than spellcasters since they are the ones that use that particular system the most.
The first problem is Full-Attack. One of the problems this creates is rooting a weapon-based user in place. It doesn't matter if they wield a sword or bow, they only ever benefit from one of their biggest class features when they're standing completely still or have only moved 5-ft. Now imagine if a spellcaster, to cast higher level spells (5th level +), was under the same limitation. I think the entire game would shift in a different way in the way it's played. This also creates a divide in melee-weapon choices, thus making reach weapons FAR more preferable to one-handed/light weapons IF you want to make sure enemies don't slip by you and conversely, weapons like the Spiked Chain become #1 overall.
I'm not entirely sure why the rule of Full-Attack is in place? I don't really understand what it's exactly trying to emulate within the narrative of the game world? Why can't a warrior move 30-ft. and swing a weapon in 6-seconds? Is the time constraint of a round that pivotal to maintain that ALL classes are reduced to move + 1 attack or don't move + ALL attacks? Why is it there?
The second problem are descending attack modifiers. As the AC is static, the modifier is static too and the die roll represents chance / luck / fate / etc. But then why make it further complicated by making iterative attacks worse? What exactly changed between attack #1 and #2 or #3 or #4? What is this specific rule attempting to simulate? I don't think it's endurance or fatigue because it's the same with the opposed hand (a hand that is often 'weaker' by comparison). Does the monster somehow react exceptionally fast after the first swing is created? Even if you take a more narrative view of multi-attacking (each attack isn't 1 swing but the whole round is a commotion of parries and thrusts) then descending attacks don't necessarily make much sense. In sword fighting it's often the 1st attack that is a decoy or ruse that will open up you opponent to secondary and iterative attacks. Except in D&D/PF-Land where the first attack is always swung hardest and all other attacks sort of become weaker and slower and less useful.
So what this boils down to is a Warrior/Martial character who has to stand-still (barring a 5-ft. step) to get his full benefit BUT even then that benefit is hampered as those last attacks become just hopefull-critial threats anyways.
Now imagine if both those rules were removed! Yep, what would happen if the Martial / Warrior didn't have to stand in a 5-ft. area to be a Weapons-Master? What would happen if ALL of their attacks were accurate (and deadly)?
Now one serious downside to removing these restrictions is that you have to remove them from everyone. That means creatuers like Dragons and Hydras and the like can make all their attacks, fly, and be destructive forces of nature in their own right. Well, honestly, I'm OK with that. Dragons are scary dangerous and walking into it's DEN to throw down should be a sure-fire way to get eaten. If a Hydra has come upon you in surprise, best to scatter and used Ranged options until it's close to death. It would change the way the game is played but I think that change is ultimately for the better.