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Calculating a monster's attack bonus


Beginner Box


We have been playing with the Beginner's Box, and we have now picked up a copy of the Core rules and the first Bestiary. Our question is how do we calcuate a monster's attack bonus? Thanks much, and any examples would be appreciated!


It's in the Offense section of the monster's stat block.

For example: Aboleth on page 8.

Offense:
Speed 10 ft, swim 60 ft
Melee 4 tentacles +10 (1d6+5 plus slime)

So it gets +10 on the attack roll, and hits for 1d6+5 damage, and slimes the player (described below the block in Special Abilities). The melee attack is called "4 tentacles".


seiken wrote:

It's in the Offense section of the monster's stat block.

For example: Aboleth on page 8.

Offense:
Speed 10 ft, swim 60 ft
Melee 4 tentacles +10 (1d6+5 plus slime)

So it gets +10 on the attack roll, and hits for 1d6+5 damage, and slimes the player (described below the block in Special Abilities). The melee attack is called "4 tentacles".

Ok. So the number listed for the Base attack is already calculated into that number? If say a skeleton has 2 claw attacks at +2, is that number doubled (one for each hand) to arrive at the attack bonus +4 as in the Skeleton King's Crypt adventure?


Can you type it out exactly as it's shown in the stat block? I don't have that adventure, so I can't look it up.


I looked up this in the SRD:
http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/monsters/skeleton.html#skeleton

Is that what you mean?

It says:
Melee broken scimitar +0 (1d6), claw –3 (1d4+1) or 2 claws +2 (1d4+2)

So if he uses his scimitar, he gets +0 on the d20 attack roll and does 1d6 damage.

If he attacks with a claw, he takes a -3 penalty on the attack roll, and deals 1d4+1 if he hits.

He can also choose to attack with both claws (maybe he dropped his sword), and get +2 on the attack roll instead, dealing a bit more damage if he hits. The d20+2 is just rolled once. If it hits the player, the skeleton has successfully hit with "2 claws".


seiken wrote:

I looked up this in the SRD:

http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/monsters/skeleton.html#skeleton

Is that what you mean?

It says:
Melee broken scimitar +0 (1d6), claw –3 (1d4+1) or 2 claws +2 (1d4+2)

So if he uses his scimitar, he gets +0 on the d20 attack roll and does 1d6 damage.

If he attacks with a claw, he takes a -3 penalty on the attack roll, and deals 1d4+1 if he hits.

He can also choose to attack with both claws (maybe he dropped his sword), and get +2 on the attack roll instead, dealing a bit more damage if he hits. The d20+2 is just rolled once. If it hits the player, the skeleton has successfully hit with "2 claws".

Thanks, Seiken. I now understand the stat block numbers thanks to your help. What we were confused about is that in the Beginner Box adventure the Skeleton King's Crypt it says that the skeleton has a +4 attack bonus. Hm. . .


I thought the Beginner Box adventure was called Black Fang's Dungeon (I have the BB, btw). Where are you seeing this Skeleton King's Crypt adventure with the skeleton with +4?


seiken wrote:
I thought the Beginner Box adventure was called Black Fang's Dungeon (I have the BB, btw). Where are you seeing this Skeleton King's Crypt adventure with the skeleton with +4?

In the Hero's Handbook, refer to page 6 in the stat block under paragragh number 15, the skeleton has an attack bonus of +4. Is he a boss?


Ah, okay. I see now :) Yeah, that is just a little intro simulation to show you how rolling and adding modifiers work. Don't read too much into it. It's +4 just because they wanted it to have a chance at actually hitting you in the simulation so you could see what it's like to deduct hp from yourself. It's just for fun, and doesn't mean he's a boss or anything.


seiken wrote:
Ah, okay. I see now :) Yeah, that is just a little intro simulation to show you how rolling and adding modifiers work. Don't read too much into it. It's +4 just because they wanted it to have a chance at actually hitting you in the simulation so you could see what it's like to deduct hp from yourself. It's just for fun, and doesn't mean he's a boss or anything.

Thanks for your help. After being away from the game for years and then taking it back up, it can be hard to make the rules connections!

Qadira

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

An attack labeled "2 claws" actually means that the creature gets 2 attacks with it's claws, at the listed bonus and damage.

skeleton wrote:

Melee broken scimitar +0 (1d6), claw –3 (1d4+1) or 2 claws +2 (1d4+2)

The correct way to read this entry is that the skeleton listed has two options. It can:

1. Attack with its scimitar (+0 bonus to attack) and one claw (-3 bonus to attack)

-or-

2. Attack with each of it's two claws (+2 bonus to each attack)

When any attack hits, it deals the listed damage. Note that it still requires that a creature take a full attack action in order to get more than one attack per round. If they're only using a standard attack action, they only get one attack.

In the Aboleth's case, it gets 4 attacks with its tentacles, each at +10 with a full attack action.

In answer to the question about the Base Attack Bonus (BAB), it's listed in each creature's stat block under "Statistics":

skeleton wrote:
Base Atk +0; CMB +2; CMD 14

So, in the skeleton's case, it has a BAB of +0.

Monster BAB is determined by their type and Hit Dice. See table 1-4 (Bestiary, page 293) for details.


Thorkull wrote:

An attack labeled "2 claws" actually means that the creature gets 2 attacks with it's claws, at the listed bonus and damage.

skeleton wrote:

Melee broken scimitar +0 (1d6), claw –3 (1d4+1) or 2 claws +2 (1d4+2)

The correct way to read this entry is that the skeleton listed has two options. It can:

1. Attack with its scimitar (+0 bonus to attack) and one claw (-3 bonus to attack)

-or-

2. Attack with each of it's two claws (+2 bonus to each attack)

When any attack hits, it deals the listed damage. Note that it still requires that a creature take a full attack action in order to get more than one attack per round. If they're only using a standard attack action, they only get one attack.

In the Aboleth's case, it gets 4 attacks with its tentacles, each at +10 with a full attack action.

In answer to the question about the Base Attack Bonus (BAB), it's listed in each creature's stat block under "Statistics":

skeleton wrote:
Base Atk +0; CMB +2; CMD 14

So, in the skeleton's case, it has a BAB of +0.

Monster BAB is determined by their type and Hit Dice. See table 1-4 (Bestiary, page 293) for details.

Thanks much for the clarification. I appreciate you guys taking time to answer these basic questions. So does a monster's Base Attack Bonus also get added into its specific type of attacks? Does a size modifier come into play at all? In the case of a skeleton attacking with its claws, it gets a +2, but because its BAB is 0, the attack still remains at +2?


Thank you, Thorkull. I wasn't aware of the multiple attacks. I could use some clarification on the part about "full attack action" though.

Does that mean if the skeleton moves first, then he can't hit with the scimitar and 1 claw as his attack? But if he's already adjacent and doesn't have to move, then he can hit with both?

I don't get it for the Aboleth either. Are there any situations where he would hit with 1, 2, or 3 tentacles, or is it always 4? Thanks!


The Fellowship of Bag End wrote:
Thorkull wrote:

An attack labeled "2 claws" actually means that the creature gets 2 attacks with it's claws, at the listed bonus and damage.

skeleton wrote:

Melee broken scimitar +0 (1d6), claw –3 (1d4+1) or 2 claws +2 (1d4+2)

The correct way to read this entry is that the skeleton listed has two options. It can:

1. Attack with its scimitar (+0 bonus to attack) and one claw (-3 bonus to attack)

-or-

2. Attack with each of it's two claws (+2 bonus to each attack)

When any attack hits, it deals the listed damage. Note that it still requires that a creature take a full attack action in order to get more than one attack per round. If they're only using a standard attack action, they only get one attack.

In the Aboleth's case, it gets 4 attacks with its tentacles, each at +10 with a full attack action.

In answer to the question about the Base Attack Bonus (BAB), it's listed in each creature's stat block under "Statistics":

skeleton wrote:
Base Atk +0; CMB +2; CMD 14

So, in the skeleton's case, it has a BAB of +0.

Monster BAB is determined by their type and Hit Dice. See table 1-4 (Bestiary, page 293) for details.

Thanks much for the clarification. I appreciate you guys taking time to answer these basic questions. So does a monster's Base Attack Bonus also get added into its specific type of attacks? Does a size modifier come into play at all? In the case of a skeleton attacking with its claws, it gets a +2, but because its BAB is 0, the attack still remains at +2?

The numbers listed on the line that begins with "Melee" include absolutely everything. That means the monster's BAB, any size modifiers, and bonusses from feats, any magical nature of the attack etc. etc. etc. have ALL been included. When the GM wants to have the skeleton attack, he picks up the dice, chooses the attack mode it is using (the 2 options that Thorkull listed), rolls the dice and uses the modifier off of that line. There's no need to reference anywhere else on the stat block. All of the work is already done.


seiken wrote:

Thank you, Thorkull. I wasn't aware of the multiple attacks. I could use some clarification on the part about "full attack action" though.

Does that mean if the skeleton moves first, then he can't hit with the scimitar and 1 claw as his attack? But if he's already adjacent and doesn't have to move, then he can hit with both?

I don't get it for the Aboleth either. Are there any situations where he would hit with 1, 2, or 3 tentacles, or is it always 4? Thanks!

Generally speaking, if a creature moves, it gets only 1 attack. If it stays in one place, it gets all the attacks it is entitled to (it takes a "full attack action"). That means that the aboleth has the following options:

1) move, then attack with a single tentacle
OR
2) stay in place, and attack with 4 tentacles.

You got it right for the skeleton. If he moves, he gets only the scimitar, but if he starts adjacent, then he gets to use his claw as well.


Drakir2010 wrote:
The Fellowship of Bag End wrote:
Thorkull wrote:

An attack labeled "2 claws" actually means that the creature gets 2 attacks with it's claws, at the listed bonus and damage.

skeleton wrote:

Melee broken scimitar +0 (1d6), claw –3 (1d4+1) or 2 claws +2 (1d4+2)

The correct way to read this entry is that the skeleton listed has two options. It can:

1. Attack with its scimitar (+0 bonus to attack) and one claw (-3 bonus to attack)

-or-

2. Attack with each of it's two claws (+2 bonus to each attack)

When any attack hits, it deals the listed damage. Note that it still requires that a creature take a full attack action in order to get more than one attack per round. If they're only using a standard attack action, they only get one attack.

In the Aboleth's case, it gets 4 attacks with its tentacles, each at +10 with a full attack action.

In answer to the question about the Base Attack Bonus (BAB), it's listed in each creature's stat block under "Statistics":

skeleton wrote:
Base Atk +0; CMB +2; CMD 14

So, in the skeleton's case, it has a BAB of +0.

Monster BAB is determined by their type and Hit Dice. See table 1-4 (Bestiary, page 293) for details.

Thanks much for the clarification. I appreciate you guys taking time to answer these basic questions. So does a monster's Base Attack Bonus also get added into its specific type of attacks? Does a size modifier come into play at all? In the case of a skeleton attacking with its claws, it gets a +2, but because its BAB is 0, the attack still remains at +2?
The numbers listed on the line that begins with "Melee" include absolutely everything. That means the monster's BAB, any size modifiers, and bonusses from feats, any magical nature of the attack etc. etc. etc. have ALL been included. When the GM wants to have the skeleton attack, he picks up the dice, chooses the attack mode it is using (the 2 options that Thorkull listed), rolls the dice and uses the modifier off of that line....

Thank you very much, Drakir! I appreciate it.


seiken wrote:
He can also choose to attack with both claws (maybe he dropped his sword), and get +2 on the attack roll instead, dealing a bit more damage if he hits. The d20+2 is just rolled once. If it hits the player, the skeleton has successfully hit with "2 claws".

I didn't see this specifically corrected by anyone already in this thread, but it should be noted that this portion is not correct.

If something lists as "2 claws", it's still two attack rolls. The skeleton gets two separate claw attacks each rolled at +2. You roll damage for each successful hit. Effectively, "2 claws +2 (1d4+2)" is the same as listing "claw +2 (1d4+2) and claw +2 (1d4+2)", but is shorter, saving space in stat blocks, especially for things like octopuses with 8 tentacles.


Mauril wrote:
seiken wrote:
He can also choose to attack with both claws (maybe he dropped his sword), and get +2 on the attack roll instead, dealing a bit more damage if he hits. The d20+2 is just rolled once. If it hits the player, the skeleton has successfully hit with "2 claws".

I didn't see this specifically corrected by anyone already in this thread, but it should be noted that this portion is not correct.

If something lists as "2 claws", it's still two attack rolls. The skeleton gets two separate claw attacks each rolled at +2. You roll damage for each successful hit. Effectively, "2 claws +2 (1d4+2)" is the same as listing "claw +2 (1d4+2) and claw +2 (1d4+2)", but is shorter, saving space in stat blocks, especially for things like octopuses with 8 tentacles.

Hi, and thank you for this correction. Without your explanation, it is very confusing. How is a GM supposed to know this?

"Melee broken scimitar +0 (1d6), claw –3 (1d4+1) or 2 claws +2 (1d4+2)"

So in one scenario, we have the skeleton attacking with a scimitar in one hand, and his claw in the other hand. On the claw in this case, he takes a -3 penalty because the chances of hitting are much less than his hand with the scimitar in it.

In another scenario, we have him simply attacking with 2 claws instead of using the scimitar. Logically, I have to wonder why the claws now each get +2 (and each deal more damage) when one of them before didn't receive this +2. It makes me wonder why the skeleton would ever use his scimitar; The scimitar+claw attack will do between 3-11 damage while the 2 claws attack will do 6-12. It seems like attacking with a scimitar & claw should do more damage than 2 claws. This is why I find it confusing, and wonder how a GM is supposed to just know this. Is it explained somewhere?

Thanks again for all your help. I really appreciate it! I and my players are all very new and still running through the Bash demos, so it's great to clear this all up before getting into the Core rules.


I'm not sure where you would find this information, to be honest. I looked in the likely places in the bestiary and core rulebook and it seems to not be explicitly mentioned. Other than a practical reading of "2 claws" meaning "2 separate claw attacks", that is.

Quote:
So in one scenario, we have the skeleton attacking with a scimitar in one hand, and his claw in the other hand. On the claw in this case, he takes a -3 penalty because the chances of hitting are much less than his hand with the scimitar in it.

Actually, we have a few things going on here. From strength and BAB, the skeleton naturally has a +2 attack bonus (+0 from BAB and +2 from strength 15). With his broken scimitar, he takes a -2 to this from the broken condition. Broken, in this case, is a mechanical distinction which you can find in the Glossary of the core rulebook. This means that the attacks the skeleton makes with the scimitar are at a total of +0 (+0 from BAB, +2 from strength and -2 from broken).

Since the skeleton is wielding a manufactured weapon, and wants to use a natural weapon as well, the natural weapon takes a penalty to its attack rolls. In this case, a claw attack would normally be at +2 (primary attack, +0 BAB, +2 strength), but becomes a secondary attack when used with the scimitar (or any other manufactured weapon), which means it takes a -5 to the attack roll. This results in the total attack bonus for a secondary claw attack being -3 (+0 BAB, +2 strength, -5 secondary). Secondary attacks also only add 1/2 strength bonus to damage, meaning the claw only gets 1d4+1 damage, instead of the normal 1d4+2.

When it drops the scimitar, its claw attacks become primary weapons again and return to the full attack bonus of +2. It also adds full strength modifier to damage rolls, giving it 1d4+2.

The skeleton will likely wield the scimitar for one of two reasons:
1) The metagame reasons of balance. If you look at the table in the monster creation portion of the bestiary, you'll see that a CR 1/2 monster should have an attack bonus of about +1. The stock skeleton has a CR of 1/3, and thus should have a lower average attack bonus. It should also be dealing 3 or 4 damage on a successful hit. The averages of 1d6 and 1d4+1 are both 3.5, which is right where it ought to be for a CR 1/2. Undead also get a lot of immunities and resistances, so they have to have some weaknesses somewhere to compensate. This, for skeletons, is that they can't gain feats or skill points and use inferior attacks.
2) The flavor reasons of what mindless undead do. Mindless undead will try to continue doing the last thing they were set to do. In the case of the stock skeleton, it seems to have been a living being with a scimitar and a chain shirt. So, since the last thing the now-mindless skeleton knew was to swing its scimitar at things it was supposed to hurt, it swings its scimitar at things it is supposed to hurt. Mechanically, it is inferior, but skeletons are also supposed to suck a bit.

Qadira

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Ok, let's break down the attack bonuses the skeleton's attacks for you:

Skeleton statistics

BAB +0
Strength 15 (+2 modifier)

Two claw attacks

Claws are considered natural attacks, as described in the Universal Monster Rules section of the Bestiary and the PRD. Looking at the table, we see that they are considered Primary attacks (this is a designation that only matters to natural attacks, not weapon attacks).

Spoiler:
PRD wrote:
Primary attacks are made using the creature's full base attack bonus and add the creature's full Strength bonus on damage rolls. Secondary attacks are made using the creature's base attack bonus –5 and add only 1/2 the creature's Strength bonus on damage rolls. If a creature has only one natural attack, it is always made using the creature's full base attack bonus and adds 1-1/2 the creature's Strength bonus on damage rolls. This increase does not apply if the creature has multiple attacks but only takes one. If a creature has only one type of attack, but has multiple attacks per round, that attack is treated as a primary attack, regardless of its type.

Based on this, we see that we add the BAB and strength bonus to determine the attack bonus on the claws (0 BAB + 2 STR = +2 total attack bonus).

Scimitar and claw attack

Why doesthe skeleton only have a +0 with its scimitar? Let's take a look at that. As with primary natural attacks, melee weapon attacks are BAB + STR modifier, so why is it so low? You'll notice that the scimitar is broken, so he's taking a -2 penalty to attacks with it. If he had a normal scimitar, his attack bonus would be +2 instead of +0.

Finally, the claw attack in conjunction with the scimitar is a -3. That seems odd, doesn't it, as we just determined that it's a primary attack and that we should use BAB + STR for that, as well? Turns out there's another clause in the natural attack rules:

Spoiler:
PRD wrote:
Creatures with natural attacks and attacks made with weapons can use both as part of a full attack action (although often a creature must forgo one natural attack for each weapon clutched in that limb, be it a claw, tentacle, or slam). Such creatures attack with their weapons normally but treat all of their natural attacks as secondary attacks during that attack, regardless of the attack's original type.

So, as you can see, the claw is now considered a secondary attack with a corresponding -5 penalty to the attack. This puts it at +0 BAB +2 STR -5 Secondary = -3 to the attack.

Actions in combat

If you're confused about actions in combat and the difference between a full attack action and a (normal or standard) attack action, I recommend reading through the Combat chapter of the Core Rulebook. However, to sum up, there are five types of actions you can take on your turn in a round, which I'll list in descending order:

Full-round action
Standard action
Move action
Swift action
Free action

You can take the following combinations:

1) A full-round action, a swift action, and as many free actions as your GM will allow.
2) A standard action, a move action, a swift action, and as many free actions as your GM will allow.
3) Two move actions, a swift action, and as many free actions as your GM will allow.

A full attack is a full-round action that permits you to take more than one attack. An attack action is a standard action that permits you to take a single attack.

I hope that clears things up.


Mauril & Thorkull: Thank you very much! Both of your posts were extremely helpful, and I understand now.


Glad to help. This board is generally pretty good about giving helpful and courteous responses.

Qadira

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mauril wrote:
Glad to help. This board is generally pretty good about giving helpful and courteous responses.

Oops. Did I miss a chance to drag things into the gutter? :)

I'm always happy to help out new players.


Thorkull wrote:
Mauril wrote:
Glad to help. This board is generally pretty good about giving helpful and courteous responses.

Oops. Did I miss a chance to drag things into the gutter? :)

I'm always happy to help out new players.

Much appreciated, believe me. You guys save us a lot of time and prevent us from messing up the rules even more than we have been! :)Thorkull, I wouldn't want to run into you in a dark dungeon!


These are some amazing and useful breakdowns. But something else to point out is the 5-foot step: if a creature doesn't otherwise move during its turn, it can also take a 5-foot step.

So if the skeleton starts its turn 5 feet away from its opponent, it can still use both it's attacks: first it takes its 5-foot step, then it takes a full-round action. (And if you are using the Attack of Opportunity rules, 5-foot steps are great because they don't provoke AoOs.)

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
The Rot Grub wrote:

These are some amazing and useful breakdowns. But something else to point out is the 5-foot step: if a creature doesn't otherwise move during its turn, it can also take a 5-foot step.

So if the skeleton starts its turn 5 feet away from its opponent, it can still use both it's attacks: first it takes its 5-foot step, then it takes a full-round action. (And if you are using the Attack of Opportunity rules, 5-foot steps are great because they don't provoke AoOs.)

Good point, but I'm sure AoO are NOT in the BB. Don't know of 5-foot step is either.


HangarFlying wrote:
The Rot Grub wrote:

These are some amazing and useful breakdowns. But something else to point out is the 5-foot step: if a creature doesn't otherwise move during its turn, it can also take a 5-foot step.

So if the skeleton starts its turn 5 feet away from its opponent, it can still use both it's attacks: first it takes its 5-foot step, then it takes a full-round action. (And if you are using the Attack of Opportunity rules, 5-foot steps are great because they don't provoke AoOs.)

Good point, but I'm sure AoO are NOT in the BB. Don't know of 5-foot step is either.

Well, the OP said they were playing BB but had picked up the core book and bestiary, so this question is really just in the wrong forum. It should be in the Rules Questions forum...

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Mauril wrote:
Well, the OP said they were playing BB but had picked up the core book and bestiary, so this question is really just in the wrong forum. It should be in the Rules Questions forum...

I'm comfortable with people posting here when they're looking to understand how the core rules work in specific contrast to the Beginner Box.


Fair enough. I was just pointing out to HangarFlying that 5-foot steps and AoOs would be included since the question was mostly about the core game.

Also, I think this is the first time I've had anyone that gets paid by Paizo respond to one of my posts. I feel weirdly honored...

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yeah, true. I forgot that the OP mentioned picking up the CRB and assumed was just asking a general "beginner" question.


To explain the 5 foot step:

On any round you do not use a move action to actually move you are entitled to move yourself five feet in any direction you can travel without penalty or provoking an attack of opportunity (explained later) provided you are not in difficult terrain.

Attacks of opportunity are free attacks you get to make when someone does something that requires dropping their guard for a second. Every creature gets one attack of opportunity it can make in a round (if you take the combat reflexes feat you can make more). You only get this attack if someone provokes within your threatened range (what you can attack with a melee weapon generally).

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