I revived it because this is the only thread addressing this question that comes up on the first page of a google search; and the reasoning used to settle the issue is self defeating, so I felt like someone needed to point that out for posterity.
I was actually trying to find a good ruling on the same issue for 3.5, which I am still looking for.
I don't actually play Pathfinder much, so I will take Eridan's word for it that 'Declaring' is not a defined term of art in the Pathfinder rules. If that is the case, you should only be interpreting the meaning of 'declare' within the context of the language used to define the feat. Declaring an attack must be something other than making an attack, otherwise the language would simply refer to an attack roll instead of a declaration. The common sense reading is that the word declaration is specifically inserted to give coverage to the entire turn.
The other language cited, "You can choose to take a –1 penalty on melee attack rolls and combat maneuver checks to gain a +1 dodge bonus to your Armor Class," doesn't even say an attack needs to be made to receive the dodge bonus. Just that the player may opt to take a penalty on any potential attacks they may end up making.
I'm not familiar with internal defense rules. Do they use up Build Points? But yeah, I'll buy that some ships will have countermeasures against borders. I don't buy the assumptions that all or most ships are going to divert resources away from their main systems and spend points on anti-personnel systems unless the rules say that they are included in the cost of the hull.
The cramped environment will give an advantage to defenders, but grenades are what attackers will use to mitigate that advantage. Ammo won't be a factor because a boarding action will succeed or fail before most weapons need to be reloaded. (I would expect both sides to be relying more heavily on melee weapons that ranged weapons because of the close quarters).
The abilities of the ship that deployed the boarders is only relevant as far as it needs to survive long enough to deploy said boarders. After that, it will either escape or perish; but that won't effect the hand to hand fighting going on inside the target ship.
Historically, boarding action depended on a combination of stealth and speed. Boarders needed to overwhelm the defenders before they realized what was happening or at least before they could organize an effective defense. It could very well turn into a race to see how much ground the marines could cover before the crew got the doors and hatches closed. And then I guess the marines would be scrambling to cut through or blow open the doors while the captain was reassigning crew (that wasn't already cut off) from their regular stations to set up a layered defense between the breach and the bridge.
There's a lot of room to swing the advantages back and forth between boarders and crew depending on how the GM sets the DC to do stuff like breach the hull, cut through doors, identify what is going on inside the rest of the ship from the bridge. Maybe it wouldn't be feasible in your game the way you run it. But there is definitely room in the rules for a handful of elite marines with superior firepower to clear a path through a capital ship against a typical ship crew.
I think you're comparing apples to oranges here. A capital ship may have a lot of crew, but crew have assigned jobs on a ship and they can't all drop everything to repel boarders. (Or, if they do, that boarding action has already succeeded in its mission by neutralizing the capital ship and taking it out of the larger fight). Plus a dedicated troop transport can carry more marines than a larger ship designed for ship to ship combat. And ship crew aren't equivalent to marines skilled close combat. If their were rules for boarding, it is easy to imagine twenty Soldiers and Solarians overwhelming fifty Envoys and Mechanics whose attention is divided between repelling boarders and participating in an ongoing space battle.
First off, I agree that that is probably the correct interpretation. But I also want to point out that that is not the literal interpretation of the rules as written.
For reference, here are the Feats as they are written:
IMPROVED COMBAT MANUEVER:
The BENEFIT of Adaptive Fighting is that you temporarily gain the BENEFIT of a different predetermined Feat. The BENEFIT of Improved Combat Maneuver includes the choosing of a combat maneuver to gain a +4 to. If this were code running on a computer, a user activating Improved Combat Maneuver via Adaptive Fighting would be presented with that choice every time they did so. No question.
But that is, of course, ignoring all context. (And the ability to apply context is the biggest strength pen and paper games still have over computer games). Context such as Improved Combat Maneuver's Special Rule:
SPECIAL: You can take Improved Combat Maneuver multiple times. The effects don’t stack. Each time you take the feat, it applies to a new combat maneuver.
That Special rule does not explicitly state that Improved Combat Maneuver is, in fact, seven distinct feats; but strongly suggests that it should be treated as such. Maybe they were lumped together to save space because they were so similar.
The thing that makes me pause is the way context actually confused everyone's understanding of Versatile Specialization, when we should have just been following the rules as written. The false assumption was that you have to spend a feat on Weapon Specialization to meet the prerequisite for Versatile Specialization, and that the multiple Bonus Feats in Weapon Specializations the every class gets at level 3 don't count towards that prerequisite. The reasoning behind that conclusion was that there would be no reason to ever spend a feat on Weapon Specialization if everyone automatically qualified for Versatile Specialization at level 3. Unless you believe that Paizo would waste space on an inherently obsolete rule, why would Weapon Specialization even be included unless it was a feat you needed to take before Versatile Specialization.
The flaw in that reasoning stems from looking at the list of feats as a menu instead of a reference. There is, in fact, no reason for anyone to ever spend a feat on Weapon Specialization. But literally every character class receives multiple Bonus Feats in Weapon Specialization at level 3, so of course it needs to be covered in the Feats chapter for reference.
So the lesson I took away from that is don't assume that there is a mistake in the rules as written just because I don't immediately see the reason behind them. Maybe Improved Combat Maneuver is indexed as one feat even though it is actually seven distinct feats just to save space. Maybe it's a convention left over from previous D20 games. Maybe it is deliberately defined as a single feat with seven options to allow synergy with rules that temporarily grant it to a charcter. Maybe not that last one, but I appreciate discussion on the topic.
If you’re going to allow the existence of a bayonet in the first place, you can’t in good faith say that attacking with one is not using the weapon as intended. It would be reasonable to say that only some types of Long Arms have barrels or shapes that make them suitable for use with a bayonet.
Bayonets are essentially pointy sticks, the simplest weapon since the club, so proficiency with them should be Basic Melee. A bayonet on a Small Arm should be at least an Advanced Melee weapon, if not a Special Weapon.
A couple of reddit threads I've looked at have drawn the conclusion that choosing Improved Combat Maneuver as one of your three combat feats to go with Adaptive Fighting effectively gives you limited access to all versions of Improved Combat Maneuver.
The reasoning goes like this:
"Adaptive Fighting says that once per day 'you can gain the benefit of one of these feats'. The 'Benefit' line of Imp. Combat Maneuver begins with '(c)hoose one combat maneuver'. Put those together, and I'd say it allows you to pick the maneuver each time you use Adaptive Fighting."
According to the most pedantic reading of the rules as written, that is the absolutely correct. And I really want use that combination to round out my swashbuckling dwarven space capatain.
...and yet, I just can't convince myself that is the intended interpretation of the rules. Can I get an official ruling so I can stop wrestling with this moral dilemma?
I took this archetype because it was too thematically appropriate to my character to pass on; but my Intimidate was already higher than my Diplomacy, (Envoy Skill Expertise invested in Intimidate), which makes the Diplomatic training a bit of a dud in exchange for a class power. Is there some advantage to invoking Diplomacy to Demoralize that I'm missing? Is there an obscure rule somewhere that gives you a synergy bonus for having two skills that do the same thing?
To determine if it fulfills a prerequisite.
It seams to be the consensus that proficiency granted by class is not a feat, it's just a class feature; while specialization that is granted by class is a bonus feat that is granted as part of a class feature. This has been discussed in the context of whether or not the specializations you automatically get at level 3 count as a prerequisite for Versatile Specialization or Adaptive Fighting. The consensus seems to be that the proficiencies do not count as feats towards prerequisites because they are not explicitly described as such, but the specializations do, because they are specifically described as bonus feats.
Dwarven Weapon Familiarity is not important for Versatile Specialization because it is agreed that everyone qualifies for that at level 3 by virtue of one specialization bonus feat. But you need 3 combat feats as a prerequisite to Adaptive Fighting, so whether or not a Dwarf's specialization with Advanced Melee weapons is a bonus feat grated by a racial trait or just a racial trait will effect whether or not a Dwarven Envoy, for example, could take Adaptive fighting at level 3 (if they didn't already take an additional combat feat as their level 1 feat).
Is it clear now why I am posing the question?
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
It calls out that dwarves gain specialization with the weapons at 3rd level. The race grants it to you, becasue the class doesn't.
Yes, that's what I said. Let me reparse, because I guess the question wasn't as clear as I thought it was. Does the Dwarf gain the specializations as a bonus feat, or just a racial trait?
An Envoy, Mechanic, Mystic or Technomancer, which only gain proficiency in Basic Melee and Small Arms (and grenades for some, but there si no specialization for grenades), wouldn't qualify for Adaptive Fighting at level 3 unless they had taken another combat feat at level 1. A Dwarven character, however, would also be proficient with Advanced Melee weapons and gain specialization with them at level three. The class descriptions explicitly state that specialization in Basic Melee and Small Arms at level 3 are bonus feats. The description of the Dwarven racial trait Weapon Familiarity does not describe either the proficiencies or specializations in Basic and Advanced Melee weapons as feats. By the letter of the rules as written, Dwarven Envoys/Mechanics/Mystics/Technomancers don't automatically have 3 bonus combat feats at level 3, but should this be taken as an intentional distinction or an oversight in the description of Weapon Familiarity?
What about the Dwarven racial trait, Weapon Familiarity. As written, it says, "Dwarves are proficient with basic and advanced melee weapons and gain specialization with those weapons at 3rd level." It seems like the intent behind that trait is to allow all dwarves to treat melee weapons as class weapons, but it doesn't explicitly say that specialization is a bonus feat like it does in the class descriptions.