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Combat Maneuvers and held charges of touch spells


Rules Questions


21 people marked this as FAQ candidate. Answered in the errata. 2 people marked this as a favorite.

You are able to use a weapon to perform a Disarm, Sunder, or Trip combat maneuver, and when doing so, gain the weapons enhancement bonuses and relevant feats to the combat maneuver check. Natural weapons and unarmed strikes are considered weapons for this purpose. (See Blog)

Disarm and Trip can both be made in place of a melee attack. Sunder can be made in place of a melee attack as part of an attack action.

When Holding the Charge of a Touch Spell, you may make a normal unarmed attack (or an attack with a natural weapon) and if that attack hits, you deal normal damage for your unarmed attack or natural weapon and the spell discharges.

Questions:

If you succeed at a Trip combat maneuver with a natural weapon while holding the charge of a touch spell, what happens?

Does the touch spell discharge on the target? Does it dissipate? Or does it remain held?

If you succeed at a Sunder combat maneuver with a natural weapon while holding the charge of a touch spell, what happens?

Does the touch spell discharge on the object, and if so, does any damage caused by the spell apply along with the normal sunder damage? If the spell deals energy damage, is that damage halved (assuming that type of damage is not "particularly effective" against that type of object)? Or does the spell discharge against the creature, instead of the targeted object? Does the spell dissipate instead? Or does the spell remain held?

If you succeed at a Disarm combat maneuver with a natural weapon while holding the charge of a touch spell, what happens?

Does the touch spell discharge on the object, and if so, does any damage caused by the spell apply to that object? If the spell deals energy damage, is that damage halved (assuming that type of damage is not "particularly effective" against that type of object)? Or does the spell discharge against the creature, instead of the targeted object? Does the spell dissipate instead? Or does the spell remain held?


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

If you touch something, the spell discharges on it.

1) Trip: Discharges on the enemy.

2) Sunder: Probably discharges on the enemy. If you can touch his shield to have the spell go off, you can do the same with the weapon. Unless you were trying to deal it to the weapon. (Why? Because it shouldn't be so limiting.)

3) Disarm: See above. Except you aren't trying to sunder.

The energy damage is always halved first.


With all of them succeeding, the spells should discharge. But what would happen if they all fail? That is the real question. Though, to humor you, I will answer for each:

1. The spell discharges, and only the spell deals damage. The creature is otherwise left prone.

2. If performing a Sunder with an Improved Unarmed Strike or Weapon, you should do both Sunder Damage to the weapon (with your own kind of weapon, including standard modifiers and damage rolls), and the Spell discharges on the creature.

3. When performing a Disarm with an Improved Unarmed Strike or Weapon, the item within the creature's possession is forcefully removed; the spell would discharge on the successful attempt (since you only have to make contact with the target), and the spell again discharges on the creature.

However, what would happen if the attempts fail?

The thing about CMB and CMD is that it does not make the discrepency of the character being able to physically affect the creature (sometimes you could attempt a sunder and just completely miss the creature altogether).

Because of this dilemma of touching and missing, the best solution is to make a Combat Maneuver check, and either use the total roll for your check against the creature's Touch AC. If the roll is successful, the spell discharges regardless. If the roll fails, compare the total to the creature's Touch AC. If the roll is superior than the number, then the spell should discharge as you still make physical contact with the creature.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Because of this dilemma of touching and missing, the best solution is to make a Combat Maneuver check, and either use the total roll for your check against the creature's Touch AC. If the roll is successful, the spell discharges regardless. If the roll fails, compare the total to the creature's Touch AC. If the roll is superior than the number, then the spell should discharge as you still make physical contact with the creature.

If you are holding the charge, and make a normal natural attack (say, a claw attack), you target normal AC, not touch AC. If you hit, you deal claw damage and discharge the spell. If you miss, you miss, and you continue to hold the charge. You don't get to miss normal AC but hit touch AC and discharge the spell with no claw damage.

I don't see why missing with a combat maneuver would work any differently.


Since I'm getting opinions without citations, I'll list some of the arguments as to why this may not be so cut and dry, which is why I'm seeking FAQ requests.

Citations:

A) Holding the Charge: "If the attack hits, you deal normal damage for your unarmed attack or natural weapon and the spell discharges. If the attack misses, you are still holding the charge."

Notable: "hits" and "deal normal damage"

B) Performing a Combat Maneuver: "When performing a combat maneuver, you must use an action appropriate to the maneuver you are attempting to perform. While many combat maneuvers can be performed as part of an attack action, full-attack action, or attack of opportunity (in place of a melee attack), others require a specific action."

Notable: "in place" of an attack

C) Determine Success: "If your attack roll equals or exceeds the CMD of the target, your maneuver is a success and has the listed effect."

Notable: "has the listed effect"

D) Disarm: "If your attack is successful, your target drops one item it is carrying of your choice (even if the item is wielded with two hands)."

Notable: "drops one item"

E) Sunder: "If your attack is successful, you deal damage to the item normally."

Notable: "damage to the item"

F) Trip: "If your attack exceeds the target's CMD, the target is knocked prone. If your attack fails by 10 or more, you are knocked prone instead."

Notable: "knocked"

Arguments:

1) If success on the combat maneuver is considered a "hit" for the purposes of the held charge, then any successful combat maneuver will not only apply the success condition of the maneuver, but it will also deal natural weapon damage and discharge the spell. (Citation A)

2) Since the combat maneuver replaces the attack (Citation B) then the attack never happens, so Citation A doesn't apply. This also meshes with Citation C in that the result of the successful combat maneuver is only the listed effect, not the result of a normal attack roll.

3) When sundering, damage applies to the object, not the bearer. (Citation E) If the "hit" deals normal damage and discharges the spell (Citation A), and Sunder applies that normal damage to the object, then the spell should therefore also discharge into the object.

4) A disarm attempt doesn't necessarily imply physical contact. The opponent drops the item, it doesn't say you knock it out of their grasp. (Citation D)

5) Trip does imply physical contact, hence "knocked prone" (Citation F). If being "knocked" is considered a hit for purposes of Citation A, then on a trip failure of 10+, would you not deal damage and discharge the spell on yourself, since you are "knocked prone" rather than falling prone?

I don't expect discussion to resolve most of those arguments (some are clearly more shaky than others) so hopefully we can get a simple clarification on how it all works.


Grick wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Because of this dilemma of touching and missing, the best solution is to make a Combat Maneuver check, and either use the total roll for your check against the creature's Touch AC. If the roll is successful, the spell discharges regardless. If the roll fails, compare the total to the creature's Touch AC. If the roll is superior than the number, then the spell should discharge as you still make physical contact with the creature.

If you are holding the charge, and make a normal natural attack (say, a claw attack), you target normal AC, not touch AC. If you hit, you deal claw damage and discharge the spell. If you miss, you miss, and you continue to hold the charge. You don't get to miss normal AC but hit touch AC and discharge the spell with no claw damage.

I don't see why missing with a combat maneuver would work any differently.

Just because I failed to Trip or Disarm a foe doesn't mean that I failed to make contact with my attempt. That's the whole concept of CMB and CMD; it's a comparison of physical prowess for separate combat arts. It doesn't make sense to say that just because I missed with my Claw (which is holding the charge) doesn't mean that I didn't touch the creature, which is all I need to do in order for the spell to discharge. Sure, the types are different, but the concept is the same; Combat Maneuvers are a completely different concept, and don't rely on Armor and Shields specifically, which comprises AC. Saying the laws of Combat Maneuvers and AC are the same is stupid, and defeats the entire purpose of making them separate concepts in the first place.

Honestly, that stuff needs to be errata'd, because realistically (and rules comparison wise) it makes no sense to say that I failed a CMB, meaning I automatically failed to discharge my spell against the creature, when the only reason my Trip attempt could've failed is because it wasn't good enough to successfully pull off the combat art(yet at the same time could've been good enough to make physical contact [via Touch AC]).


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Modules Subscriber

Problem being combat is abstract, just because you made contact with the opponent doesn't mean you made contact with the 4 inches of flesh that is holding the charge. During that entire exchange it "makes sense" that the opponent would have avoided that little gem you were holding like the plague.

The largest problem with rules questions is trying to quantify the abstract nature with "reasonable" possibilities. For every way it could work, there is a way for it not to work as well.

EDIT:
The other problem is RAW, when holding a charge, intent actually matters. If you decided to make an unarmed/natural weapon attack and fail, the charge DOESN'T go off. You don't get to play the "well I tried but failed so I'm going to sub in a touch attack instead so it works" game. You make the decision on your action how you will resolve the held charge (if you are going to use it at all). If you are using a weapon to trip, your held charge means nothing to the roll, you are tripping with the weapon and the charge doesn't go off.

Actually RAW, you can't even use a manuever to release a charge now that I'm reading it. You have two options under "holding a charge" touch attack or "Alternatively, you may make a normal unarmed attack (or an attack with a natural weapon) while holding a charge. In this case, you aren't considered armed and you provoke attacks of opportun as normal for the attack. If your unarmed attack or natural weapon attack normally doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity, neither does this attack. If the attack hits, you deal normal damage for your unarmed attack or natural weapon and the spell discharges. If the attack misses, you are still holding the charge."
It actually says normal unarmed attack, which would mean a strict unmodified attack.


Skylancer4 wrote:

Problem being combat is abstract, just because you made contact with the opponent doesn't mean you made contact with the 4 inches of flesh that is holding the charge. During that entire exchange it "makes sense" that the opponent would have avoided that little gem you were holding like the plague.

The largest problem with rules questions is trying to quantify the abstract nature with "reasonable" possibilities. For every way it could work, there is a way for it not to work as well.

Even with it being abstract, it doesn't make sense with the rules being compared with itself. A Touch Spell discharging requires physical contact; this is simulated through Touch AC. Saying that I did not hit the creature through its regular AC, when all I need to hit is the Touch AC for the Spell to discharge, doesn't sound right at all. Yes, my Claw wouldn't cut through the shield and/or armor of the target, but if I can just scratch the shield or armor, then I make contact, and because of that the Spell should discharge.


Agreed.

Normally, the rule seems to be that delivering the touch must be deliberate and expected. You actually will the spell through your fingers (or claw, or leg, or whatever) into the target. It requires a little more that just making physical contact, or the rules would have a subset setup for what happens when you miss, but then the enemy hits /you/.

That said, I think grapple would be a special case. I'd personally rule that if you are in a grapple and holding a charge, touch attacks are auto successes even if you aren't in control of the grapple.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Modules Subscriber
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Skylancer4 wrote:

Problem being combat is abstract, just because you made contact with the opponent doesn't mean you made contact with the 4 inches of flesh that is holding the charge. During that entire exchange it "makes sense" that the opponent would have avoided that little gem you were holding like the plague.

The largest problem with rules questions is trying to quantify the abstract nature with "reasonable" possibilities. For every way it could work, there is a way for it not to work as well.

Even with it being abstract, it doesn't make sense with the rules being compared with itself. A Touch Spell discharging requires physical contact; this is simulated through Touch AC. Saying that I did not hit the creature through its regular AC, when all I need to hit is the Touch AC for the Spell to discharge, doesn't sound right at all. Yes, my Claw wouldn't cut through the shield and/or armor of the target, but if I can just scratch the shield or armor, then I make contact, and because of that the Spell should discharge.

But it's RAW, we are here discussing what happens in the framework of the game, not the infinite possible fluff and "reasons" it could happen. RAW says you make your choice of melee touch attack or 'normal unarmed attack', if you decide to use 'normal unarmed attack' RAW says if you make the melee attack it goes off, else you continue to hold the charge. If you attempt a CM you are no longer using a 'normal' unarmed attack so the held charge being released via CMB roll is off the table RAW. Mechanically this is what you have to deal with in the game, I don't care about the fluff or how you dress up the details of it happening, it is irrelevant to the matter at hand.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Modules Subscriber

@ Grick, the citation I was using is under "Touch Spells in Combat; Holding the Charge"


FAQ'd.

The qouted statements seem to contradict each other:

PRD wrote:
If you touch anything or anyone while holding a charge, even unintentionally, the spell discharges.

So whoever or whatever you touch (apart from the ground, presumably) gets it. How do you trip someone pseudo-armed with a spell charge without touching them? (In good ol' 3.x, a trip maneuver started with a melee touch attack roll).

PRD wrote:
Alternatively, you may make a normal unarmed attack (or an attack with a natural weapon) while holding a charge

The word "normal" could be taken to mean that combat maneuvers are excluded. I do not think that was the intention, however; the context of that quote suggests that the word was added to make it undisputable that normal, not touch, AC is targeted when you try to deal ordinary damage along with delivering the spell.

So to the OP's questions, I think the spell should definitely discharge, and in the case of trip, on the target. Where the discharges go on disarm and sunder I will not opine on.

RAW, the only thing I can see that makes the held charge dissipate is casting another spell, though I could see someone rule that spell-y things like using Arcane Strike also does so.


How would this apply to the Magus class?

Also has this ever been officially resolved?


Jasonobi wrote:
How would this apply to the Magus class?

Pretty much the same way it applies to everyone else. Whatever happens when using a natural weapon will presumably also happen when using a melee weapon with Spellstrike.

Jasonobi wrote:
Also has this ever been officially resolved?

Not to my knowledge. Generally if a FAQ request gets answered, the flag on the post gets changed to "Answered in the FAQ" or "Staff response: no reply needed."

Sczarni

Regarding Sunder, since my Magus is built around Sundering, I interpreted the wording as quoted above, "If your attack is successful, you deal damage to the item normally." Energy would be halved before calculating DR, but since I'm using Adamantine that's a moot point.

FAQ'd.


"Answered in the errata". Like hell it is.


Pupsocket wrote:
"Answered in the errata". Like hell it is.

Does anyone know what the answer in the errata is supposed to be?

Lantern Lodge

harzerkatze wrote:
Pupsocket wrote:
"Answered in the errata". Like hell it is.
Does anyone know what the answer in the errata is supposed to be?

I certainly don't know. Has it shown up in a recent edition?

Lantern Lodge

It hasn't, I looked back in november. Nothing in the errata.

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