Weapon Focus and Weapon "type"


Rules Questions

Sovereign Court

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This was argued raged awhile ago at a table I was playing at, I'm only now remember the argument to toss on the forums for clarity...

So if you read the text of Weapon Focus:

PRD wrote:

Choose one type of weapon. You can also choose unarmed strike or grapple (or ray, if you are a spellcaster) as your weapon for the purposes of this feat.

Prerequisites: Proficiency with selected weapon, base attack bonus +1.

Benefit: You gain a +1 bonus on all attack rolls you make using the selected weapon.

Special: You can gain this feat multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time you take the feat, it applies to a new type of weapon.

Then you look in the weapons section:

PRD wrote:

Type: Weapons are classified according to the type of damage they deal: B for bludgeoning, P for piercing, or S for slashing. Some monsters may be resistant or immune to attacks from certain types of weapons.

Some weapons deal damage of multiple types. If a weapon causes two types of damage, the type it deals is not half one type and half another; all damage caused is of both types. Therefore, a creature would have to be immune to both types of damage to ignore any of the damage caused by such a weapon.

In other cases, a weapon can deal either of two types of damage. In a situation where the damage type is significant, the wielder can choose which type of damage to deal with such a weapon.

So, the argument was whether or not with Weapon Focus you're supposed to choose a "specific weapon", such as a longsword to be tied to the feat, or rather you are supposed to select from the follow list:

bludgeoning
piercing
slashing
unarmed strikes
grapple
ray

Side A said it was a specific weapon, that the feat was to give a bonus to the use of a longsword, and only longswords.

Side B said that because the feat was referring to "type" it meant that you selected one of the listed weapon types, such as slashing and so the feat would apply to all slashing weapons that the character was proficient in.

Side A countered that due to the additional examples, Side B's argument falls apart due to the fact that unarmed strikes cause bludgeoning damage, and thus it showed that a "specific weapon" was the intent of the feat.

Side B countered that Grapple and Ray are special forms of attacks that don't have a set type of damage tied to them. Unarmed strike, while it does cause bludgeoning damage, is tied only to Monks and so fits into a special category just like Grapple and Ray.

Who's interpretation is correct? Is it +1 to hit with a longsword, or +1 to hit with slashing weapons?


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Weapon Focus applys to a single weapon each time it is taken. As per your example, you get get +1 attack bonus with longswords only. There are countless examples of this you can find in Paizo official material.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

Maezer wrote:
Weapon Focus applys to a single weapon each time it is taken. As per your example, you get get +1 attack bonus with longswords only. There are countless examples of this you can find in Paizo official material.

I think the point that Mok is making, is the RAW is not as clear.

We can all agree that the RAI of WF is to be one weapon (type being used to specify specific weapons where Longswords are a different type of weapon than Daggers.)

But the word Type is defined and used in a different context (S/P/B) somewhere else in the rules.

There should be errata in the PRSRD to change "type of weapon" in WF to "specific weapon"

Dark Archive

bludgeoning, piercing and slashing aret weapon types, they're damage types.

bludgeoning isn't a weapon type. you dont attack with a +2 slashing or keen piercing.

Sovereign Court

Name Violation wrote:

bludgeoning, piercing and slashing aret weapon types, they're damage types.

bludgeoning isn't a weapon type. you dont attack with a +2 slashing or keen piercing.

Type is listed as a kind of "Weapon Quality" in the weapon section of the rules and under the "Type" entry...

"Type: Weapons are classified according to the type of damage they deal"

As James said, it's an issue of RAW. The way it is written gives a compelling argument for the B side. Each term in RAW is supposed to be a tag that cascades into other parts of the system, that way rules can be efficiently written.

Sovereign Court

I should note that I'm quite aware of how WF is used, and if you go to, say... the Bestiary, you should find examples in the stat blocks that will be written as "weapon focus (longsword)".

Still, why I'm bringing it up is just to point out that the RAW is actually quite confusing if you're using the rules properly with the "tags" and exceptions that it constantly evokes.

I went back to the 3.0 entry on Weapon Focus:

3.0 SRD wrote:

Weapon Focus [General]

Prerequisites: Proficient with weapon, base attack bonus +1 or higher.

The character can choose “unarmed strike” or “grapple” for the character's weapon for purposes of this feat. The character can choose “ray,” in which case the character is especially good with rays.

Benefit: The character adds +1 to all attack rolls the character makes using the selected weapon.
Special: The character can gain this feat multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time the character takes the feat, it applies to a new weapon.

What's interesting is how the feat entry changed between 3.0 and 3.5 (and remained the same as 3.5 for Pathfinder). The 3.0 entry is unambiguous, it points to a specific weapon. However when 3.5 comes around the entry was changed and the word "type" was inserted twice.

So was someone editing 3.5 trying to revise the feat but it never caught on? I doubt it, but the revised entry is sloppy in terms of how RAW wording should work in the game.

In 3.0 the weapons qualities section is largely unchanged and the type entry is there, so they had it right back then to keep "type" out of Weapon Focus if you didn't intend for it to cascade to that quality.

Liberty's Edge

I guess that they added the "type" word in the WF description in 3.5 because the 3.0 is ambiguous : "the selected weapon" and "a new weapon" could mean that you get the WF bonus for a single clearly identified weapon (ie, Harald's longsword which has an ivory pommel and several scratches along the blade) and not for any weapon of the same type (ie, any longsword).

I guess that when they rewrote it for the 3.5, they did not realize it might create an ambiguity with the "type" mentioned in the weapon qualities section because, in their mind, the latter was quite clearly the type of damage.

My take is that Side A is right (use Occam's razor : the solution most simple is almost always the right one).

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Damage type =/= weapon type.

If it would be any different, then the whole of WotC, Paizo, Malhavoc, Green Ronin, Necromancer Games etc. would be writing their books wrong for the last 7 years.


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I think that part of the problem here is that some people are placing too much emphasis on the word 'type'. The quote includes the phrase 'choose one type of weapon...'

I suggest not over-thinking this phrase, but just choose a type of weapon, naturally. Remove from the equation any context of D&D and PF, and just choose one type of weapon.

Do it... right now... Choose a type of weapon.

What did you choose? Did you choose 'all weapons that deal blugeoning damage'? Or did you choose, say, a mace? Probably not the former, as that is actually a 'category of weapons' and not a 'type of weapon'.

I believe that sometimes these sort of tactics are commonly used by rules lawyers {which I, of course, am} for the purpose of taking advantage of the rules and exploiting cracks in an otherwise fine system.

Here is a somewhat unrelated example:

Consider the sentence

'I didn't say he beat his wife.'

Now, consider emphasizing each word in turn, and saying the sentence again.

'I' didn't say he beat his wife.

I DIDN'T say he beat his wife.

I didn't SAY he beat his wife.

I didn't say HE beat his wife.

I didn't say he beat HIS wife.

I didn't say he beat his WIFE.

Note how every time a new word is emphasized, the meaning of the sentence ENTIRELY CHANGES.

So, to get back to the argument:

'CHOOSE one type of weapon'.

Do not 'Choose one TYPE of weapon'.

Keep It Simple, Silly.

Add to this the evidence easily available in the bestiary {i.e. Weapon Focus (Longsword)} and the meaning of the RAW should become clear. If it still remains unclear, go back to Rules Lawyer School. I'll be there, we can do lunch.


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The black raven wrote:
My take is that Side A is right (use Occam's razor : the solution most simple is almost always the right one).

Or in this case, use Munchkin's War Razor: The solution most beneficial to the power gamer is almost always the wrong one.


jakebacon wrote:
The black raven wrote:
My take is that Side A is right (use Occam's razor : the solution most simple is almost always the right one).
Or in this case, use Munchkin's War Razor: The solution most beneficial to the power gamer is almost always the wrong one.

+1

Sovereign Court

Interesting... We had always played it the way it is meant to be when we were playing D&D 3.5. But now, we moved on to 4.0 and come back to PFRPG, after (albeit a long time ago) having played D&D Online, so reading it in the core rulebook after all those years made us think that it had changed and was now like the video game: choose a damage type.

As a GM, I don't really mind my players being able to wield an axe and a longsword with equal success. SO I might allow them to keep it the way we understood it.


Maezer wrote:
Weapon Focus applys to a single weapon each time it is taken. As per your example, you get get +1 attack bonus with longswords only. There are countless examples of this you can find in Paizo official material.

I had a similar question. I realised it didn't refer to damage type, but I wasn't clear on whether it referred to "Short Sword" or to "Light Melee Weapons". The text really needs to be cleared up. Thanks.


IMO the words and sentences were shortened due to printing costs (which understandable) - except that it causes some very interesting ambiguities in language.

I'd like to see the PRD *at least* be expanded and include what they could not fit in the book.


This is yet another example of where we define a game term ("type," in the context of weapons) and then go ahead and use the same term in the vernacular sense instead all over the rules. We all know how Weapon Focus is supposed to work; it's just that some idiot forgot that the word "type" was defined earlier to mean something else, and no one ever bothered to look for stuff like that.

It's a lazy, shoddy process that shows a profound lack of interest in things like clarity and professionalism. If Paizo would just post a glossary of game terms on their wall and stick to it, things could be clearer in Pathfinfer than in 3.5 -- rather than the same (or, in some other cases, with an actual loss of clarity).

For my money: If a game term is specifically defined somewhere, then ALL uses of that term in a rules context should conform to that definition. Period. All the arguments of "well, we can pretty much tell what they meant" sound to me exactly like saying "well, the money you spend on the rulebook pretty much isn't enough to hire an editor, or maybe it was but they just pocketed the difference."

Another example:

PRD wrote:
Items replaced in this way do not possess any of the additional enchantments of the previous bonded item.

We all know that by "enchantments," the rule means to say "magical properties." But the fact is that the term "enchantment" already has a very specific game definition -- it's a school of magic, comprised of the [charm] and [compulsion] subschools. The rule uses a specifically-defined term in a broad, sloppy sense to mean things other than the term's actual game definition. And the thing is, there's no need for that at all. One master glossary and a "Find" function in Microsoft Word is all it would take to eliminate all of the ambiguity and produce a far more professional product.


Kirth Gersen wrote:
For my money: If a game term is specifically defined somewhere, then ALL uses of that term in a rules context should conform to that definition. Period. All the arguments of "well, we can pretty much tell what they meant" sound to me exactly like saying "well, the money you spend on the rulebook pretty much isn't enough to hire an editor, or maybe it was but they just pocketed the difference."

This is a bit harsher than I would have gone, but I concur with your sentiment and frustration - our job of rule interpretation is often hindered instead of helped when terms are not clearly defined.


Stynkk wrote:
our job of rule interpretation is often hindered instead of helped when terms are not clearly defined.

And it's even more annoying when the terms are VERY clearly defined -- but then used to mean other things based on the writer's whim.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Kirth Gersen wrote:
Stynkk wrote:
our job of rule interpretation is often hindered instead of helped when terms are not clearly defined.
And it's even more annoying when the terms are VERY clearly defined -- but then used to mean other things based on the writer's whim.

And then even MORE annoying when before your first RPG experience you were already a certified Rules Advisor for Magic: the Gathering where all rules/game terms are 100% standardized and consistently templated. The shock from the change in precision is pretty jarring. :P


I will note that Martial Weapon Proficiency feat & likely the Exotic Weapon proficiency as well have the same terminology

Dark Archive

Jiggy wrote:
Kirth Gersen wrote:
Stynkk wrote:
our job of rule interpretation is often hindered instead of helped when terms are not clearly defined.
And it's even more annoying when the terms are VERY clearly defined -- but then used to mean other things based on the writer's whim.
And then even MORE annoying when before your first RPG experience you were already a certified Rules Advisor for Magic: the Gathering where all rules/game terms are 100% standardized and consistently templated. The shock from the change in precision is pretty jarring. :P

i had that problem when i started 3.0

Grand Lodge

I realize this is a very old thread, but I just wanted to say that I had this issue today with a friend playing a dual weapon dwarf. He wants to use a dwarven waraxe MH and handaxe OH for the light weapon. In the Ultimate Combat book, they have a table of weapon categories (axes, swords, etc.). I made a GM decision to let him take axes so that he doesn't have to use two feats so that he can use his OH weapon effectively.

Paizo seems to do a great job of using common sense in their rules set, while keeping things balanced (like the ease of getting whirlwind attack). I think that this approach fits in with their general thinking and makes sense to me. I understand that the feel of a short sword as a piercing weapon and a longsword, as a slashing weapon, is going to be much different. The GM should make the call and do it before the game starts and lay down the rule to everyone for clarity.

Anyone else done this?

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