Changes to reach weapons from 3.5 to PFRPG


Rules Questions

The Exchange

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Note: I'm sorry if this was brought up before, but my search-fu did not work on finding any thread related to this issue. Also adding some filler so that my diagram loads correctly underneath my avatar.
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This was brought up in a PFS game last week that I was DMing. In 3.5 D&D a small/medium character with a reach weapon threatened two squares away, regardless of it being 15 feet away or not. A diagram is below (C is character, - is not threatening, X is threatening)

XXXXX
X---X
X-C-X
X---X
XXXXX

d20srd.org wrote:

Reach Weapons

Most creatures of Medium or smaller size have a reach of only 5 feet. This means that they can make melee attacks only against creatures up to 5 feet (1 square) away. However, Small and Medium creatures wielding reach weapons threaten more squares than a typical creature. In addition, most creatures larger than Medium have a natural reach of 10 feet or more.

Note: Small and Medium creatures wielding reach weapons threaten all squares 10 feet (2 squares) away, even diagonally. (This is an exception to the rule that 2 squares of diagonal distance is measured as 15 feet.)

However, in PFRPG it seems that you threaten 10 feet away, not 2 squares away. Which would give us a diagram like this:

-XXX-
X---X
X-C-X
X---X
-XXX-

PRD Combat Section wrote:
Reach Weapons: Most creatures of Medium or smaller size have a reach of only 5 feet. This means that they can make melee attacks only against creatures up to 5 feet (1 square) away. However, Small and Medium creatures wielding reach weapons threaten more squares than a typical creature. In addition, most creatures larger than Medium have a natural reach of 10 feet or more.
PRD Equipment Section wrote:
Reach: You use a reach weapon to strike opponents 10 feet away, but you can't use it against an adjacent foe.

I ruled as you can see above (the diagonal = 15 feet, which is not threatening nor reachable). Can anyone else confirm that it looks like PFRPG changed how reach weapons work in this regard?


your ruling appears correct to me. Though, personaly, I would still allow a character to get an AoO on someone closing with him allong a diagonal as a house rule.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Caineach wrote:
your ruling appears correct to me. Though, personaly, I would still allow a character to get an AoO on someone closing with him allong a diagonal as a house rule.

And in fact, this is the correct way to rule it. At some point, the creature approaching you was 10 feet away, were they not? That is more than 5 feet away, so it should happen in the second square, not the adjacent one.

However, for someone running past you, perhaps that square shouldn't be threatened.

It's not worth splitting hairs though, so I just rule the same as 3.5E did.


Seems easiest just to allow reach weapons to hit the diagonals, rather than make the opportunity attack rules even more complex than they already are. Hew too closely to the letter of the rules and you inevitably run into such problems.

Save the diagonal range calculations for ranged weapons, movement, and area effects -- which they are clearly intended for.


Just wondering... Why can't reach weapons strike at adjacent targets, again?
I know it's in the rules, but I can't figure out the underlying reason (mainly because I can grasp a polearm closer to its head, or strike with the wooden part).


I'm going to go with "Because otherwise it would be stupid to take a non-reach weapon". Seriously, with the exception of sword and board or TWF builds, everyone would run about with longspears or guisarmes (or guisarme-glaives...glaive-guisarmes...guisarme-glaive-guisarmes...). If I could hit at 5' and 10' at only a slightly smaller damage die (which becomes more or less irrelevant at high levels), why would I take the weapon that can only hit at 5'? This is part of the allure of the spiked chain. If the guisarme was to give inclusive reach, it would be one step away from the spiked chain (which also has disarm).

Yes, logically, reach weapons should have a mechanic for inclusive reach. We have a houserule that you can switch the distance of your reach weapon as a swift action. Swift action to draw it closer, swift action to extend it outwards. This way you either threaten close or threaten at reach, not both, and it requires an action to switch, so it's not automatic. It's there to emulate the feat "short haft" which isn't worth spending a feat on compared to the other options, so we downgraded it to a freebie that is attached to the reach property.

The Exchange

Mauril wrote:
Yes, logically, reach weapons should have a mechanic for inclusive reach. We have a houserule that you can switch the distance of your reach weapon as a swift action. Swift action to draw it closer, swift action to extend it outwards. This way you either threaten close or threaten at reach, not both, and it requires an action to switch, so it's not automatic. It's there to emulate the feat "short haft" which isn't worth spending a feat on compared to the other options, so we downgraded it to a freebie that is attached to the reach property.

I like that. I was even thinking that I'd add in that when you use a reach weapon on an adjacent target the damage is automatically non-lethal, as you are basically clubbing with the shaft of the spear or polearm instead of stabbing with the sharp pointy part :) Maybe even treat it as a normal non-lethal attack with a lethal weapon, ie, -4 to attack and damage is non-lethal. That would, of course, be in conjunction with your rule of using a swift action to change your grip etc.


Mauril wrote:
If I could hit at 5' and 10' at only a slightly smaller damage die (which becomes more or less irrelevant at high levels), why would I take the weapon that can only hit at 5'? This is part of the allure of the spiked chain. If the guisarme was to give inclusive reach, it would be one step away from the spiked chain (which also has disarm).

This was part of the allure of the spiked chain. In (non-beta) Pathfinder, the spiked chain is no longer a reach weapon.


I go with a houserule that individuals that are armed with a reach weapon can generally strike with the haft of a polearm but that the haft strike is the equivalent of a strike with a club (d6 x2). If a person armed with a quarterstaff can strike with various parts of the staff, I fail to see why someone armed with a glaive can't do something similar.

That way the reach weapon is useful at all ranges but you are generally going to want to step back with a 5' step and use the pointy end of the stick.

Caveat: In the case of magical polearms the + to hit/+ damage part of the reach weapon is only the sharp pointy end of the stick. If you want to be + to hit with the haft you'd have to enchant the other end of the weapon like you would a quarterstaff or double weapon.

Essentially this turns a polearm into a double weapon that can't be used for twf. It's a marginal improvement over the spiked gauntlet backup weapon but I don't find it to be especially gamebreaking.


vuron wrote:

I go with a houserule that individuals that are armed with a reach weapon can generally strike with the haft of a polearm but that the haft strike is the equivalent of a strike with a club (d6 x2). If a person armed with a quarterstaff can strike with various parts of the staff, I fail to see why someone armed with a glaive can't do something similar.

That way the reach weapon is useful at all ranges but you are generally going to want to step back with a 5' step and use the pointy end of the stick.

Caveat: In the case of magical polearms the + to hit/+ damage part of the reach weapon is only the sharp pointy end of the stick. If you want to be + to hit with the haft you'd have to enchant the other end of the weapon like you would a quarterstaff or double weapon.

Essentially this turns a polearm into a double weapon that can't be used for twf. It's a marginal improvement over the spiked gauntlet backup weapon but I don't find it to be especially gamebreaking.

I had recommended that this be allowed during the beta, but that didn't end up making it into the final. Instead, the spike chain nerf happened. There was some debate as to what was actually referred to by reach weapons, whether they were 7'-8' or 11' polearms, and no real consensus was ever really reached.


TreeLynx wrote:
vuron wrote:

I go with a houserule that individuals that are armed with a reach weapon can generally strike with the haft of a polearm but that the haft strike is the equivalent of a strike with a club (d6 x2). If a person armed with a quarterstaff can strike with various parts of the staff, I fail to see why someone armed with a glaive can't do something similar.

That way the reach weapon is useful at all ranges but you are generally going to want to step back with a 5' step and use the pointy end of the stick.

Caveat: In the case of magical polearms the + to hit/+ damage part of the reach weapon is only the sharp pointy end of the stick. If you want to be + to hit with the haft you'd have to enchant the other end of the weapon like you would a quarterstaff or double weapon.

Essentially this turns a polearm into a double weapon that can't be used for twf. It's a marginal improvement over the spiked gauntlet backup weapon but I don't find it to be especially gamebreaking.

I had recommended that this be allowed during the beta, but that didn't end up making it into the final. Instead, the spike chain nerf happened. There was some debate as to what was actually referred to by reach weapons, whether they were 7'-8' or 11' polearms, and no real consensus was ever really reached.

True, I generally assume that most polearms are roughly 7-8 in total length. The Halberd and other poleaxes were actually closer to 6 ft in length (not that much longer than a zweihander sword). Outside of the longspear/pike variations most polearms are not that long.

Further many polearms where expressly designed with a weighted bludgeon on the opposing end, while it was useful as a counterweight a naginata (glaive) would definitely be used for bashing attacks in addition to slashing or piercing attacks with the blade end.

Pikes are problematic because some variations of the pike are simply too lengthy to be used out of formation. I pretty much assume that the 15+ foot pikes are battlefield weapons and that adventurers will typically use a shorter easier to wield variation. That avoid the possible necessity of creating a +10' reach weapon.


Louis IX wrote:

Just wondering... Why can't reach weapons strike at adjacent targets, again?

I know it's in the rules, but I can't figure out the underlying reason (mainly because I can grasp a polearm closer to its head, or strike with the wooden part).

Because otherwise you can strike an adjacent foe, then tumble away, and get an opportunity attack on them as they try to close. Rinse and Repeat.

Having the reach "hole" means that if you want to attack a target next to you, you can only take a 5' step back -- which means they can then take a 5' to avoid your opportunity attacks. So it's possible to get "inside" a polearm's reach and at least be on equal footing.

I'm guessing this is also the reason why Spring Attack can no longer be used while attacking a foe that started the round next to you.

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