Combat Maneuvers and Dexterity


Combat & Magic


Designers: I love the new Combat Maneuvers rules, much simpler. However, one thing that bugs me is that a rogue with Str 8, Dex 18 is going to be easier to Trip than a cleric with Str 10, Dex 10 (all else being equal).

My suggestion:
Add one more defense score, the Combat Maneuvers Defense Class (CMDC).

CMDC = 15 + base attack bonus + (Str modifier OR Dex modifier) + special size bonus.

The target gets to use her Str modifier OR her Dex modifier, whichever is better.

Pros:
It is clear what it adds, Dex-based characters can also avoid combat maneuvers performed on them. It is still just one step (as opposed to the 3.5 rules) that now covers both the difficulty of getting to the target, and the difficulty of overpowering him.

Cons:
This is another stat to keep track of. However, it isn't really any more difficult than AC, because you calculate it once and then write it next to AC. The stat block might look like:

BAB +2, CMB +3, CMDC 21
(a human fighter 2 with Str 13, Dex 18, for example)

Thanks.

Liberty's Edge

Good for trip and overrun, but Grapple? Sunder? I like what you're suggesting, but if it's in the name of logic, it isn't as cut and dry as you suggest. It might be better to have a feat that lets a character use Dex to avoid getting Tripped than to change the mechanic.


Check out "Agile Maneuvers" in the Feat section, which does address a Dex based build. A rogue with pimped out Dex and that feat would be a match for the fighter.


Does it make sense to require a feat for using dex v. trip and disarm attempts when those are opposed dex or str. in 3.5?

And grapple being strength based only has never made sense. I figure that Fezzik was far stronger than Wesley... but Wesley won the grapple. Why? dex.

Requiring dex based fighters to take 2 feats to be effective (weapon finess and agile fighting or whatever) is a substantial character investment (particularly for classes other than fighter that don't get dozens of feats).

Saga uses str. or dex for grapple checks without running into any problems.


Ryan. Costello wrote:
Good for trip and overrun, but Grapple? Sunder? I like what you're suggesting, but if it's in the name of logic, it isn't as cut and dry as you suggest. It might be better to have a feat that lets a character use Dex to avoid getting Tripped than to change the mechanic.

Dexterity does make sense for grapple. A quick, agile opponent can be hard to pin (which is why Escape Artist can be used).

As to Sunder, while Strength makes the most sense, leverage and weapon design can play a part as well. In general, I would agree that Sunder is best tied to Strength.


Thraxus wrote:
As to Sunder, while Strength makes the most sense, leverage and weapon design can play a part as well. In general, I would agree that Sunder is best tied to Strength.

Sometimes the sticks that are more flexible are harder to break than the stronger, more inflexible ones.

If someone is capable of maneuvering their weapon to avoid the full blunt of the blow, or relax their grip enough to allow some of the energy from the blow to go into moving the weapon rather than force the weapon to absorb the entire strike... one's weapon might not be sundered.

I don't see why someone shouldn't be able to use their agility to avoid/minimize the sunder attempt rather than force them to stand rock solid, hold the weapon firmly in hand and hope for the best.

Scarab Sages

Just remember.... abstract, not simulation.

Sure, there is an amount of dexterity involved in defending against a sunder... but if you can't even hold onto the weapon when it is struck hard then it's pointless. You still need enough strength to divert the incoming weapon well enough so it doesn't hit you.

There are very few things in the system which would honestly rely on a single statistic. That's why it's an abstract. If we're trying to turn Rogues into the primary fighting class then sure, make all of this dependent upon dex. I suspect that much of it was based on strength because they were supposed to be things that fighters were good at, and it was an easy way to do that without introducing lots of simulationist elements to the game (which makes the math required skyrocket fairly quickly).


hmarcbower wrote:

Just remember.... abstract, not simulation.

Sure, there is an amount of dexterity involved in defending against a sunder... but if you can't even hold onto the weapon when it is struck hard then it's pointless. You still need enough strength to divert the incoming weapon well enough so it doesn't hit you.

There are very few things in the system which would honestly rely on a single statistic. That's why it's an abstract. If we're trying to turn Rogues into the primary fighting class then sure, make all of this dependent upon dex. I suspect that much of it was based on strength because they were supposed to be things that fighters were good at, and it was an easy way to do that without introducing lots of simulationist elements to the game (which makes the math required skyrocket fairly quickly).

One problem. In 3.5 it wasn't opposed strength checks. It was an opposed attack roll. Thus a dex based fighter (1 feat, weapon finesse) would use his dex, not strength to sunder someone else's weapon or to avoid having their weapon sundered.

In Alpha, the dex based fighter now needs 2 feats to do the same trick.

This isn't about giving fighters an advantage because this is what being a fighter is about. This is a case of a simplified system overlooking the fact that dex is used in 3.5 in some instances that the CMB applies.

Dex in 3.5 can be used in: Sunder, Trip, and Disarm.

For purposes of backwards compatibility, using Dex or Str. makes the most sense. Even for the grapple or bull rush (which in 3.5 are solely strength based), having the opposed dex or str. would not be game-breaking, and still allow a rogue dex-based tripper to be able to trip as well as they could under 3.5.

It seems to me that the main focus in crafting the CMB was to streamline the grapple rules. I applaud that. However, I don't think there was as much attention given to the other special attacks, and thus the role that dex plays in 3.5 was overlooked. The simple solution is to make it strength or dex for these things. This does not overly complicate the CMB (as a player, I know my dex is higher than my str. or vice versa; as a GM I know if I have a rogue character tripping someone to use dex, but if I have a giant bull rushing to use strength).

Scarab Sages

Doug Bragg 172 wrote:

One problem. In 3.5 it wasn't opposed strength checks. It was an opposed attack roll. Thus a dex based fighter (1 feat, weapon finesse) would use his dex, not strength to sunder someone else's weapon or to avoid having their weapon sundered.

In Alpha, the dex based fighter now needs 2 feats to do the same trick.

This isn't about giving fighters an advantage because this is what being a fighter is about. This is a case of a simplified system overlooking the fact that dex is used in 3.5 in some instances that the CMB applies.

Dex in 3.5 can be used in: Sunder, Trip, and Disarm.

Ahhh, see, I missed that part. :)

I wouldn't want to see effective things from 3.5 (that aren't broken) removed from 3.P. (this is one of my beefs with specialization, but that's in a few other threads :).

However, I think there is a case to be made where Sunder is concerned that perhaps it should only be strength and combat ability (ie. BAB). Weapon Finesse is explained as being able to strike more accurately and get around armour rather than hitting it hard and going through. When striking a weapon, it's all about hitting it hard and going through... it doesn't matter if you're able to do a weird thing with your arm and strike the weapon using dex because no matter what you still have to punch through the material.

I'm not that concerned about this topic, as I'm fine either way it ends up. Just adding to the discussion and perhaps rationalizing why it would only be strength.

Oh, and the issue of needing two feats now to do something that only took one in 3.5... not much of an argument when you're going to get 50% more feats using the Pathfinder rules.

PS: I guess the real question to be answered by Jason would be if this was an intentional change, or one that is a result of other changes and not fully considered.


hmarcbower wrote:


However, I think there is a case to be made where Sunder is concerned that perhaps it should only be strength and combat ability (ie. BAB). Weapon Finesse is explained as being able to strike more accurately and get around armour rather than hitting it hard and going through. When striking a weapon, it's all about hitting it hard and going through... it doesn't matter if you're able to do a weird thing with your arm and strike the weapon using dex because no matter what you still have to punch through the material.

But the Sunder check was an opposed attack roll. Thus, it was a question of whether your skill with your weapon was good enough to hit mine, and then do the damage you need to do at the proper place. Compared to my skill with my weapon to maneuver it out of your weapon's path, or to minimize the force of impact.

I took 3 years of fencing in college... and it was amazing how effective a flick of the wrist could be in terms of slipping past someone's guard, or binding their blade. Not a question of strength, but more agility and speed.

Conan may have all the strength in the world, but if his sword comes crashing down at my sword, and I slip the blade out of his way, how is he going to sunder it?

hmarcbower wrote:


Oh, and the issue of needing two feats now to do something that only took one in 3.5... not much of an argument when you're going to get 50% more feats using the Pathfinder rules.

This was something I thought odd for pathfinder... 3 extra feats, but then changing the intervals means backward compatibility for NPCs is going to be difficult. As a player, I enjoy the ability to gain more feats, but I don't think it was needed.

Even so, Improved Trip, Weapon Finesse, and Agile Fighting = 3 feats. A human rogue can't do this until level 3.

In 3.5, you need 2 feats, Improved Trip and Weapon Finesse = 2 feats. The human rogue is a tripping fool at level 1.

Why delay a character 2 levels to develop a character concept when the delay wasn't built into 3.5 to begin with?

And I'm also interested to know if this was a conscious decision by Jason to make previously potentially dex based special attacks into strength only.

Scarab Sages

Doug Bragg 172 wrote:

I took 3 years of fencing in college... and it was amazing how effective a flick of the wrist could be in terms of slipping past someone's guard, or binding their blade. Not a question of strength, but more agility and speed.

Conan may have all the strength in the world, but if his sword comes crashing down at my sword, and I slip the blade out of his way, how is he going to sunder it?

I can definitely see your point... but one would also likely be safe in assuming that you need a certain amount of strength to be able to flick your wrist, and that Conan is swinging at your head assuming your weapon will be there. If your weapon is NOT there, then your head takes a shot. I suppose we could say that if you choose to use Dex to try to defeat a Sunder attempt that you are automatically struck if you fail... but I suspect that wouldn't be satisfactory, either. ;)

This is becoming a simulationist discussion, though, once you bring real-world fencing into it (where, if I'm not mistaken, there are no sunders...).


hmarcbower wrote:


I can definitely see your point... but one would also likely be safe in assuming that you need a certain amount of strength to be able to flick your wrist, and that Conan is swinging at your head assuming your weapon will be there. If your weapon is NOT there, then your head takes a shot. I suppose we could say that if you choose to use Dex to try to defeat a Sunder attempt that you are automatically struck if you fail... but I suspect that wouldn't be satisfactory, either. ;)

This is becoming a simulationist discussion, though, once you bring real-world fencing into it (where, if I'm not mistaken, there are no sunders...).

The game mechanics should have some basis in real world expectations though. Sure, if I go outside and waive my hands about trying to cast Magic Missile, I'm going to look like an idiot and do nothing. But still, many of the skills, the movement, actions are distilled from what can a person reasonably expect to be able to do.

As for strength... sure, you need to be strong enough to maintain a grip on the blade. But that's not the primary stat used in fencing. I'm not particularly strong (always been more of a bookworm; last organized sports team I was on was in the second grade). So if I was able to do a Circle 6 and bind someone's blade, it wasn't because I was stronger than them, just that I was quick enough to pull off the manuever before they could respond.

Ultimately, Sundering is about attacking the weapon, not the person. It seems like most of the time in movies (yup, realism at its best) when you see someone sunder a weapon... the guy holding it isn't in danger of being hit. It was never the focus of the attack.

Liberty's Edge

Doug Bragg 172 wrote:
Conan may have all the strength in the world, but if his sword comes crashing down at my sword, and I slip the blade out of his way, how is he going to sunder it?

Because in the abstraction of the d20 rules, "high Strength = better attack and damage", not just "better damage". Slipping a blade out of someone's way in the 3.5 sense of sundering is a function of the attack roll, which is a function of Strength unless you have Weapon Finesse. In Pathfinder, it's a function of CMB, which is derived from Strength unless you have the Agile Maneuvers feat.

I don't actually see a problem here, except in the sense of trying to drag extremely subjective real-world arguments into the context of game rules. The combat rules are an abstraction, and in that abstraction Strength = better attack.

What's really being asked for here is a costless exception in a cost-oriented gaming system, which never really works. Saying that you should get better stuff earlier on "because it's my concept" is about the same as asking for a +10 bonus to a skill "because I practice it all the time." There's no benefit without cost in d20. Ultimately, if you want to replicate "real world" fencing, then take Weapon Finesse and Agile Maneuvers, and there you go.

Jeremy Puckett


Why not STR and DEX?

Someone with both a good STR and DEX should be better a combat maneuvers than someone with just a good STR or a good DEX.

Seems to make sense since combat maneuvers as an abstract encompass actions that use both STR and DEX.


hida_jiremi wrote:


Because in the abstraction of the d20 rules, "high Strength = better attack and damage", not just "better damage". Slipping a blade out of someone's way in the 3.5 sense of sundering is a function of the attack roll, which is a function of Strength unless you have Weapon Finesse. In Pathfinder, it's a function of CMB, which is derived from Strength unless you have the Agile Maneuvers feat.

In 3.5 it is an opposed attack roll. So a high dex character with Weapon Finesse uses his Dex; a high strength character uses his strength... the one with the better skill/luck (d20) wins.

In Alpha 1 & 2 - the High dex character now needs 2 feats where he used to only need 1 to represent that he uses his dex for fighting rather than strength. This hurts backwards compatability, and is an unnecessary additional cost. If Weapon Finesse allowed you to use your Dex with the CMB, I'd have less to complain about. Granted, I'm used to Saga where everything is str. or dex... and that works just fine (and is a logical improvement, even in a abstract system).

hida_jiremi wrote:


I don't actually see a problem here, except in the sense of trying to drag extremely subjective real-world arguments into the context of game rules. The combat rules are an abstraction, and in that abstraction Strength = better attack.

In 3.5, Strength or Dex = better attack or better able to avoid being tripped. That abstraction works fine. In Saga, Str. or Dex works against grapple - that abstraction works fine. All I'm arguing for is an abstraction that is truer to the old system (3.5).

hida_jiremi wrote:


What's really being asked for here is a costless exception in a cost-oriented gaming system, which never really works. Saying that you should get better stuff earlier on "because it's my concept" is about the same as asking for a +10 bonus to a skill "because I practice it all the time." There's no benefit without cost in d20. Ultimately, if you want to replicate "real world" fencing, then take Weapon Finesse and Agile Maneuvers, and there you go.

What is being discussed is an abstraction that makes more logical sense and is more inline with 3.5. Requiring 2 feats in Alpha where 1 feat was required in 3.5 isn't a costless option... it's a more expensive option. Feats aren't particularly free, and the characters who were supposed to be more likely to benefit from the CMB (casters) aren't going to be likely to spend their few feats on the Agile Maneuvers. Thus... the design goal of helping casters misses the mark, and the design goal of backwards compatibility misses the mark.

Using Str. or Dex instead of just Str. in the abstraction solves both problems.

Community / Forums / Archive / Pathfinder / Playtests & Prerelease Discussions / Pathfinder Roleplaying Game / Alpha Playtest Feedback / Alpha Release 1 / Combat & Magic / Combat Maneuvers and Dexterity All Messageboards
Recent threads in Combat & Magic