Is there any use left for Strength? Str vs Dex


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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Lantern Lodge

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In many recent PFS games, it is becoming overwhelmingly clear that Str is effectively useless as an ability score. As Dex builds are simply equal to or way better then any Str build.

There are now many ways to use Dex for attacking and melee damage. Not to mention that many of these Dex builds benefit from an increase in the attacks of opportunity they have via Combat Reflexes.
Even range attacks are useless against Dex builds with feats like Cut from the Air.

With so many options leaning heavily towards Dex, why even brother with making any Str-based character at all?

Is the Pathfinder system even doing anything to balance this?

Strength
- Attack
- Melee Damage
- CMB
- CMD
- Carry weight
- Str Skills (Climb, Swim)

Dexterity
- Attack (Weapon Finesse, Advanced weapon training)
- Damage (Advanced weapon training, style feats, Slashing Grace, Agile weapon)
- CMB (Some combat maneuvers can use Dex if Dex is used to attack and there is a feat to use Dex for all maneuvers)
- CMD
- Attack of Opportunity (Combat Reflexes)
- Initiative
- AC
- Reflex saving throws
- Dex Skills - More then Str ones (Escape artist, Stealth, Disable Device, Fly, Ride, Slight of hand)
- STOPPING attacks via Parry and Repose

Just looking at the pros of each ability score and its clear Dex clearly leads in almost every way.
Hope that future source materials can make Str builds viable again.

Liberty's Edge

In a vacuum strength is still viable.

I believe strength edges out dexterity when it comes to fully optimized melee damage. Otherwise, it's a useless stat and you're better off tanking it minus a token amount you might need for power attack.

It's worth noting that your comparison doesn't mention ranged attacks at all. Dexterity still has a huge advantage there but strength does something with certain weapons at least.


I can tell you Barbs are gonna be going with strength still.

Shadow Lodge

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Even my Dex based characters tend to have, at the very least, 13 Strength so they can use power attack. And now that there are options out their for adding even more Damage when using your Dex to hit and Str to damage(Vigilante's Lethal Grace jumps to mind) I'm not sure Dex is as good as it once was.

Especially with all the options but Dervish Dance and Agile getting the nerf bat since they came out.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Massive carrying capacity is a pretty nice perk. My campaign mode Druid in Skull and Shackles can wildshape and pick up our ship as needed. In normal PFS play, that tends to only come into play when you need to haul dead allies out of the dungeon in a hurry.

Sovereign Court

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In addition to other things, I find myself thinking twice before duping Strength on anything but a wizard simply because of encumbrance. While there are ways around that, they still have costs and take time to come online. By the same token, I often find myself begrudging the need to spend valuable feat slots and other character resources on Weapon Finesse and its ilk.

So... I don't think so, not yet. ^_^

Lantern Lodge

Strength is still very relevant.

Two handed weapon will outpace a one hander unless they have access to precise strike, requiring your build to focus on precise strike. Two-weapon fighter requires either three levels in unchained rogue or two agile weapons (which you won't get till over half your adventuring career).

Dex requires either two feats with restrictions or one feat and build specific tailoring / restrictions just to get dex to damage.


How does Advanced Weapon Training give you dex to damage? Not seeing that option/effect on the list.

At any rate, "Dex is the God stat," is kind of an issue a lot of games have. But... at the same time, it's kind of necessary to deal with the MAD issues of a lot of melee types and give muggles in general a bit of a boost, so I wouldn't say the usefulness of strength is necessarily something that needs to be *fixed*.

Lantern Lodge

Dragonborn3 wrote:
Even my Dex based characters tend to have, at the very least, 13 Strength so they can use power attack.

Check out Piranha Strike. Its the Dex version of Power Attack.

Lantern Lodge

Omnius wrote:

How does Advanced Weapon Training give you dex to damage? Not seeing that option/effect on the list.

At any rate, "Dex is the God stat," is kind of an issue a lot of games have. But... at the same time, it's kind of necessary to deal with the MAD issues of a lot of melee types and give muggles in general a bit of a boost, so I wouldn't say the usefulness of strength is necessarily something that needs to be *fixed*.

*I stand corrected. It is only dex to attack.

You still get to use dex to attack tho. Add agile weapon property and you get to use dex and damage with anything.

Weapon Master's Handbook wrote:

Fighter's Finesse (Ex)

Source Weapon Master's Handbook pg. 18

The fighter gains the benefits of the Weapon Finesse feat with all melee weapons that belong to the associated fighter weapon group (even if they cannot normally be used with Weapon Finesse). The fighter must have the Weapon Finesse feat before choosing this option.


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Honestly, you could probably smash Strength together with Constitution into a single "Brawn" stat and be fine, at least from a level of base design. But that would have repercussions throughout the rest of the game.


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Secane wrote:
Add agile weapon property and you get to use dex and damage with anything.

Agile is fine, but many STR-based fighters can think of a better use of that +1 ability, especially when that +1 adds to the total pluses squared price of the weapon.

Lantern Lodge

Pirahhna strike is only for light weapons so has limited potential.

Agile weapon takes awhile to get online and is restricted to weapons that are naturally able to be used with weapon finesse (so light, rapier, and scimitar)


Secane wrote:
Dragonborn3 wrote:
Even my Dex based characters tend to have, at the very least, 13 Strength so they can use power attack.

Check out Piranha Strike. Its the Dex version of Power Attack.

Only for Light weapons, not non-Light Finessable weapons.

Edit: Super-Ninja'd.


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Secane wrote:
Add agile weapon property and you get to use dex and damage with anything.

Just because you can gain the benefits of Weapon Finesse with a weapon doesn't make it a valid recipient of the agile weapon property. Expect significant table variation there, if anyone allows it at all.


Piranha Strike doesn't count as Power Attack, and more than a few feats require Power Attack or a certain Strength Score. Or sometimes both.

Cleave, Cornugon Smash, or a number of Style chains like Dragon or Jabbing, for example. Or using your own example, Cut from the Air, which requires 13 Strength and Power Attack.

The common requirement of 13 may not be much, depending on your point-buy or your character's attribute-dependencies, but it still means you can't reasonably dump Strength if you want a certain feat. Though you could just start with or raise it to 13 and ignore it thereafter, for the most part.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

We still need the Dex to damage to everything for everyone feat! ;-)


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Strength can give you attack, damage, and +50% to your damage bonus when fighting two-handed, for no investment.

Strength is easier to improve through wild-shape, rage, Dragon Disciple, etc.

Imagine two similar non-optimized builds with BAB 5:
One has Dex of 22, Weapon Finesse and a +1 Agile rapier.
The other has Str of 22 and a +2 Greatsword.
The Dex guy fights with +12 1d6+7.
The Str guy fights with +13 2d6+11 and has a spare feat.

With Power Attack, the distance between their damage outputs only increases.


Gorbacz wrote:
We still need the Dex to damage to everything for everyone feat! ;-)

Path of War comes close with Deadly Agility, but even then, that's only applicable to weapons that also function with Weapon Finesse.


it entirely depends on stat generation lower the stat generation the more powerful dex builds become, with higher stat generations an str build will utterly crush a dex build


ManlyMan wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
We still need the Dex to damage to everything for everyone feat! ;-)
Path of War comes close with Deadly Agility, but even then, that's only applicable to weapons that also function with Weapon Finesse.

Stalker gets a talent that lets them apply weapon finesse with any weapon of their choosing, though you have to choose a small number of specific weapons.


Matthew Downie wrote:

The Dex guy fights with +12 1d6+7.

The Str guy fights with +13 2d6+11 and has a spare feat.

(Actually, maybe that should be a Falchion, +13 2d4+11, for equal crit ranges.)


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Secane wrote:
In many recent PFS games, it is becoming overwhelmingly clear that Str is effectively useless as an ability score. As Dex builds are simply equal to or way better then any Str build.

You could interpret the PFS PCs in another way: Dex based characters got new options relatively recently, so building them is currently more popular than building yet another Str based greatsword wielder.

Given that Dex based melee PCs need more investment (feats, class levels, weapon abilities etc.), it's actually good if they eventually beat a Str based melee build. Still, the player of the Str version is free to invest their resources (feats etc.) to keep up again - or advance on other fields, like out-of-combat versatility.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Secane wrote:
Omnius wrote:

How does Advanced Weapon Training give you dex to damage? Not seeing that option/effect on the list.

At any rate, "Dex is the God stat," is kind of an issue a lot of games have. But... at the same time, it's kind of necessary to deal with the MAD issues of a lot of melee types and give muggles in general a bit of a boost, so I wouldn't say the usefulness of strength is necessarily something that needs to be *fixed*.

*I stand corrected. It is only dex to attack.

You still get to use dex to attack tho. Add agile weapon property and you get to use dex and damage with anything.

Weapon Master's Handbook wrote:

Fighter's Finesse (Ex)

Source Weapon Master's Handbook pg. 18

The fighter gains the benefits of the Weapon Finesse feat with all melee weapons that belong to the associated fighter weapon group (even if they cannot normally be used with Weapon Finesse). The fighter must have the Weapon Finesse feat before choosing this option.

You still have to survive ~ 5 levels with no damage bonus, and unless taking weapon finesse, no attack bonus. And then if you already have weapon finesse, why bother? As a fighter your static damage is going to significantly outscale the few points you get from a larger weapon.


Most of the time, Dex-based means trading damage for an initiative and reflex save bonus, with possibly a minor AC bonus.

All the dex-to-(attack/damage) have an opportunity cost, be it feats, weapon enchantment, levels in a crappy class, or not being able to profit from easy strength increases.

Secane wrote:

You still get to use dex to attack tho. Add agile weapon property and you get to use dex and damage with anything.

Weapon Master's Handbook wrote:

Fighter's Finesse (Ex)

Source Weapon Master's Handbook pg. 18

The fighter gains the benefits of the Weapon Finesse feat with all melee weapons that belong to the associated fighter weapon group (even if they cannot normally be used with Weapon Finesse). The fighter must have the Weapon Finesse feat before choosing this option.

For the record, you can't even use Weapon Finesse with those weapons - you get an effect that does the same, but don't use the actual feat. Fighter's Finesse doesn't help for anything Weapon Finesse-related.

Scarab Sages

The only problem with Dexterity is that it's always a prime secondary stat. This doesn't have anything to do with Attack rolls or anything, but rather because it impacts AC and Initiative, two of the most important defensive abilities in the game (arguably more important than Constitution). This is likely why abilities that add Dexterity to damage are relatively few/expensive.

The benefit of Strength vs. Dexterity is simplicity. A dexterity-based martial character typically is looking at a roughly 2 feat investment MINIMUM on getting their Dexterity stat to pull double duty over a strength-based warrior(the exception being the Unchained Rogue). This means you've spent a fair chunk of your build consolidating rather than improving. With the same feats, a strength character already has Power Attack, maybe Furious Focus, maybe an AC booster, or maybe something to round out his skills. Plus, if you're planning on wearing Heavy Armor, your Dexterity may matter less depending on your class/archetype choices. I frequently have a hard time justifying having higher than a 16 Dex on heavy armor characters because that's about all I'll get to AC with Mithral Full Plate.

Basically, if you have feats you'd rather spend elsewhere, you can ignore Dex-based combat, and that's enough characters that they end up balancing out.

Grand Lodge

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Strength builds out preform on all polymorph builds. Larger creatures, better reach, and better options.

Reach builds fauchard is a superior weapon to a whip or the eleven branched spear.

Any build that needed feats. Shield bash, trip etc. Being 2 or 3 feats behind slows the progression of these builds dramatically.

And cmb based build only 3 combat manuevers can use dex without agile manuevers. None of which are grapple. Grapple especially your going to want a good cmd. This means no dumping strength so the stat arrays look the same.

In general dex builds are 2 points higher in dex than the strength build would be. Ref is the least important save and if you want initiative you can spend the saved feats on improved initiative, additional traits.

Silver Crusade

Also dex damage its piercing (i think ever) and some creatures get rd from that. Also to crash things str is the key

Shadow Lodge

Secane wrote:
Dragonborn3 wrote:
Even my Dex based characters tend to have, at the very least, 13 Strength so they can use power attack.
Check out Piranha Strike. Its the Dex version of Power Attack.

Oh, I know, but Power Attack is better for one-handed weapons(which typical have higher dice) and amazing for two-handed finesse weapons.


Strength saves you feats, does more damage, and works with all weapons whereas the Dex-to-Damage feats are almost always specific to a single weapon, wielded in one hand with nothing in the off hand.

Path of War has the Deadly Agility feat for Dex-to-Damage with all finesse weapons, along with other feats that allow finesse with katanas, and spears & polearms, and in my experience it hasn't led to the Strength-based martials being lined up against the wall and shot on the Day of the Rapier.


Sometimes you want to wear heavier armor and you don't have a ton of feats to spare.

Like say you're building a half-elf occultist that wants to use a reach weapon. Sure, you could finesse the branch spear... but you wouldn't get dex-to-damage until 5th level, and you could just pick the Fauchard and use strength instead and now you have three feats you can spend on whatever. Is this character better off spending their early feats on "basic martial prowess" or "survivability"?


Carrying capacity is kind of a big deal if you actually track encumbrance. My group just started a campaign with a bit more of a survivalist flavour than we have played in the past. The DM asked us to keep careful track of food and water in a party of dumped Str casters and Dex based martials. We played the third session last night and in each session we’ve had to leave behind all kinds of useful and/or valuable things that no one could afford to carry without going into medium or heavy load. It is quite a challenge to be able to carry everything you need and still have room to pick up more stuff to use or sell along the way. I suspect at some point in the near future we are all going to agree to embrace the suck of medium load out of sheer necessity whereas I normally despise dealing with the slower speed and penalties associated with doing so.

I’m sure it will get a little better once we are able to get Haversacks or Bags of Holding but it’s extremely limiting at low levels. I really wish we had just one BDF with 16 or 18 strength so we could load him up with everyone’s junk LOL


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Dexterity is the better statistic for general use but more tricky to use for damage and hit chance. Ranged weapons dont convert Dexterity Bonuses to damage(aside from the Gunslinger).

If you look up any guides and many classes actually say "Use Dexterity, Weapon Finesse, a high Critical weapon(rapier), and enchant with Agile(if not a rapier)". Its easy to make a combat Magus, Bard, Investigator, and so on this way.

Hilariously 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons actually made it more of an exploit as by default ALL Finesse weapons can be used without Weapon Finesses(it doesnt exist there, so free) and all Finesses weapons are Agile for FREE. Basically all 5th edition classes should start with 14+ Dexterity, maybe more for even more Initiative, AC, Hit chance, damage, save rolls, and skills. A level 1 Rogue can outdamage a Barbarian.


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A donkey is a good substitute for a big dumb fighter, as far as carrying capacity is concerned. Or you could carry a bag of stuff that takes you to medium load, and then drop it as soon as a fight breaks out.

Shadow Lodge

ChaosTicket wrote:
Hilariously 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons actually made it more of an exploit as by default ALL Finesse weapons can be used without Weapon Finesses(it doesnt exist there, so free) and all Finesses weapons are Agile for FREE. Basically all 5th edition classes should start with 14+ Dexterity, maybe more for even more Initiative, AC, Hit chance, damage, save rolls, and skills. A level 1 Rogue can outdamage a Barbarian.

Except they can't unless they are sneak attacking. Barbarian's will have higher damage dice weapons and likely rage for even more damage. They can also affored to skimp a little on armor since the resist weapon damage types while raging, where as a rogue needs better armor.

Funnily enough, even with the above example, all the classes are pretty balanced against each other.


Who wants to bother with several feats just to deal damage? Not me, give me a full plate and STR!


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Matthew Downie wrote:
A donkey is a good substitute for a big dumb fighter, as far as carrying capacity is concerned. Or you could carry a bag of stuff that takes you to medium load, and then drop it as soon as a fight breaks out.

There are many places a donkey can’t go but where I need the stuff the donkey is carrying. A donkey can’t sneak, a donkey can’t navigate stairs, a donkey can’t squeeze into places other medium creatures can etc. As well, a donkey sitting laden with my stuff by itself somewhere is an inviting meal for many dangerous creatures that might pass by otherwise, a donkey sitting laden with my stuff by itself somewhere is a sign that interlopers are about for many dangerous creatures that might pass by otherwise, a donkey sitting laden with my stuff by itself somewhere is a free parting gift to any passer-by that feels like taking hold of its bridle and leading it away, etc. There are tons and tons of reasons a donkey is not the answer to low carrying capacity.

Dropping your overloaded bag for combat is good in theory but is nothing more than cheating in practice. Every bag-dropper I have ever played with consistently “forgets” their overland speed is lower for non-combat purposes and it’s just an eventuality that they also start to “forget” to even drop their bag in combat. They are the same type of player that never runs out of ammunition. I will not do it and I do not respect players that do.

Mainly though, both of these solutions boil down to hand-waving that is only possible if facilitated by a very permissive DM.


Using light armor means no movement penalty. It also means far more mild (or no) penalties towards strength and dexterity skills.

Using a Chain shirt means your character can use Acrobatics to dodge Attacks Of Opportunity while using a Full Plate means you are probably going to be attacked unless you charge which in itself reduces your Armor Class meaning what is the point of haing heavy weight armor?. a Mithril Chain Shirt is actually cheaper than the Full Plate and reduces all the penalties down to zero.

Unchained Rogues start with Weapon Finesse for free. Even for others classes its easy to start with it at level 1. If you are Human its even easier.

a Strength based build is easy to use, while a Dexterity build is more about getting the necessary items. When you do you end up with a character able to run around a Strength build.

Mobility(both the feat and tactic) is a heavy advantage. Having characters able to move and attack, possibly multiple times is an easy way to multiply your potential damage. Some builds can specialize in that.

the Dancing Dervish (Bard) takes that to the conclusion of being able to dance to avoid attacks while making full attacks every time it moves while having high movement and boosts to one attack boosts ALL the attacks. Add in critical tools like a Keen Rapier(with 15-20 critical chance).


Except when there is no one strength based in the party and a barred door is in the way while other people ranged attack out windows then things start to get the door open is almost a bit sad to watch if you did not have a character in the game.


ChaosTicket wrote:
Dexterity is the better statistic for general use but more tricky to use for damage and hit chance. Ranged weapons dont convert Dexterity Bonuses to damage(aside from the Gunslinger).

And Starry Grace which grants Dex to damage for both melee and ranged attacks.


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Gisher wrote:
And Starry Grace which grants Dex to damage for both melee and ranged attacks.

The tradeoff of course being that Starknives are fairly weak weapons, and that most of the classes that are good at throwing builds (fighters and MAC Warpriests notably) have access to weapon training, hence advanced weapon training, and "Trained Throw" and "Trained Grace" are better than dex-to-damage once you can get gloves of dueling.

Personally, I strongly prefer "scaling static damage addition when using dex-to-hit and str-to-damage" as a mechanic (both as a player and a GM) than "dex-to-damage". There just aren't enough of the former yet.

Lantern Lodge

doctor_wu wrote:
Except when there is no one strength based in the party and a barred door is in the way while other people ranged attack out windows then things start to get the door open is almost a bit sad to watch if you did not have a character in the game.

We face these kind of situations regularly in PFS.

*Thanks to season 6's hardness based constructs, EVERY weapon wielder in my area uses adamantine weapons.
The Dex build usually just attacks the barrier with an adamantine weapon and cut through it.
Even the Str builds won't bother to use Strength to force open the door, cos seriously in PFS, DPR counts, especially with the newer and tougher scenarios.

And as some has mentioned, the key point about Dex builds is that they usually have more survivability then Str builds. So what if arrows are in the air? Dex have higher AC and as mentioned, can have feats to actually cut down the arrows.
And if they get attacked by melee? A 1 level class dip into swashbuckler and combat reflexes, give them plenty of chances to stop melee attacks.

In a 1 vs 1 fight Dex can stop Str's attacks and still deal out as much if not more damage.

Sure, in the first few levels Str might have an edge, especially at lv 1~2. But the game doesn't end at low levels, it continue on to lv 20 and for PFS, lv 11, which give Dex builds plenty of time to catch up, surpass and leave Str in the dirt.

*Maybe my local PFS group are all min-maxers or really good with character builds, but every Dex character is like way ahead of other builds and can eat encounters up all day.

Grand Lodge

Issues I find with dex.

- I have seen sunder used by enemies. If you need an agile weapon this is way more dangerous for your character.

- Agile puts you behind if dealing with DR compounded with lower static mods DR becomes an issue.

- Max Dex. If you have ways of boosting dex you can hit max dex really quickly which caps AC.

- No Dragon style for UAS. There are other good styles.

- Movement from light armor can be replicated, mithril kikko or breastplate. Dip in Barb/bloodrager for +10 move.

- Mithral Full plate armor + max dex is 12 most other armor add up to 11 or less.

- Strength build can more easily switch damage types. I consider versatile weapon important for most dex builds, thus requiring an additional feat.

- Starry grace being good for melee and thrown becomes marginal because you will not likely optimize for both as that requires a lot of feats. In addition to range feats you will also need Ricochet Toss. If do not have weapon training that two more feats.


Mondragon wrote:
Also dex damage its piercing (i think ever) and some creatures get rd from that.

Feats like slashing grace, weapon versatility or spells like versatile weapon help.

Grandlounge, celestial armor is standard dex-build mid to late game gear. It adds up to 13 without its enhancement bonus. Or one of the +1 AC/no max dex options for those who have raised their dex too high for that.


doctor_wu wrote:
Except when there is no one strength based in the party and a barred door is in the way while other people ranged attack out windows then things start to get the door open is almost a bit sad to watch if you did not have a character in the game.

Who needs strength for strength checks? The Knowledge Is Power discovery and the Kinetic Enhancement Psi-tech discovery makes wizards and psychics Better than most martials at them.

Or the Animal companion/Eidolon/summon does it. Or cast a spell[disintegrate, battering blast, ect]... heck, even some crowbars and some aid another checks can work.

If a strength check stymie's a party they aren't trying very hard.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
Gisher wrote:
And Starry Grace which grants Dex to damage for both melee and ranged attacks.

The tradeoff of course being that Starknives are fairly weak weapons, and that most of the classes that are good at throwing builds (fighters and MAC Warpriests notably) have access to weapon training, hence advanced weapon training, and "Trained Throw" and "Trained Grace" are better than dex-to-damage once you can get gloves of dueling.

Personally, I strongly prefer "scaling static damage addition when using dex-to-hit and str-to-damage" as a mechanic (both as a player and a GM) than "dex-to-damage". There just aren't enough of the former yet.

I wasn’t advocating for Starry Grace. I was just correcting the statement that gunslinger was the only way to get ranged Dex to damage.

Sovereign Court

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Expect table variation on "any adamantine weapon is the perfect skeleton key". Too tired and lazy to dig up references at the moment.

Sovereign Court

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graystone wrote:
Who needs strength for strength checks? The Knowledge Is Power discovery and the Kinetic Enhancement Psi-tech discovery makes wizards and psychics Better than most martials at them.

PFS characters, presumably, since neither of those are PFS-legal (probably for that reason).

Crowbars and aid might still get there eventually, I suppose.


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Kalindlara wrote:
graystone wrote:
Who needs strength for strength checks? The Knowledge Is Power discovery and the Kinetic Enhancement Psi-tech discovery makes wizards and psychics Better than most martials at them.

PFS characters, presumably, since neither of those are PFS-legal (probably for that reason).

Crowbars and aid might still get there eventually, I suppose.

To be honest any gm worth their salt uses forcing a door open/chopping through it as a free alarm for literally every antagonist in the dungeon.

Grand Lodge

avr wrote:
Mondragon wrote:
Also dex damage its piercing (i think ever) and some creatures get rd from that.

Feats like slashing grace, weapon versatility or spells like versatile weapon help.

Grandlounge, celestial armor is standard dex-build mid to late game gear. It adds up to 13 without its enhancement bonus. Or one of the +1 AC/no max dex options for those who have raised their dex too high for that.

I was not giving an exhaustive list but there is the haramaki which starts out better than the bracers but offers a max ac bonus of +6 then you start buy other enhancements. Bracers can give you up +8 but cost more.

Yes that is true that celestial armor is good. But it still has a max dex of 8. Which can be exceed buy builds with mutagens, rage, or polymorph effects fairly early. The armor can't get a higher enhancement which becomes a second limiting factor. But most importantly for comparison Celestial Plate Armor offers more available AC.

9 full plate + 3 enhancement + 6 max dex = 18

vs

6 chainmail + 3 enhancement + 8 max dex = 17

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