Sundering Question


Rules Questions


Hello, first post and I'm about to run my first campaign. "Attack action" is killing me on this. In what instances can you sunder? Charge? Vital Strike? Whirlwind attack? every attack on your full attack? The more I think about it the more undecided I become and it's going to become vital in the campaign.

Sczarni

any time you can attack you can sunder, during a charge, with vital strike or with all or one of your itterative attacks (if your base attack is high enough to make more than on attack per round)


Feel free as the GM to modify the ruling in whichever way you feel comfortable. It can be used on any attack, however if you feel vital strike won't apply because a weapon has no anatomy, or if whirlwind attack would just look way too awesome, then just get some feedback from the players and adjust as you see fit.

Liberty's Edge

Let's see if I can go into more detail; the above posters are correct in their explanations, and they did answer the question being asked, but I think they missed the OP's real question, which seems to be a fundamental (and entirely understandable) confusion regarding the nature of Attacks, Actions, and so on - in other words, "how does a combat turn work normally, and how do all of these various special actions change things?"

I'm going to start out extremely basic, because I don't know what you know, what you don't know, and what you've misunderstood. Please don't take offense.

Combat begins when two (or more) hostile individuals meet and roll initiative; there is the possibility that one or more will be able to gain the advantage of a Surprise Round, based on circumstances. Technically, characters that can't act during the surprise round do not roll initiative until the start of the first full round of combat (more on that later), but personally as a DM, I have everyone roll and just skip the the surprised people the first time around - simplifies the bookkeeping.

A Combat Round consists of each Player and NPC taking their Combat Turn, in initiative order, with the highest roll going first, then the next highest, and so on. In the case of ties, you have to pick how to resolve it - I'm honestly not sure what the actual rule on ties is; I've always used higher Initiative modifier, but I've seen some people use higher roll; in either case, if there's a tie among the tiers, re-roll - only one character/NPC can act at a time.

(There's no good place to mention this, so I'm putting it here: At the start of each character's Combat Turn, all duration-based effects focused/dependent on him "tick"/"expire"/"lose one round of duration and have any dependent effects trigger". Poison damage, spell duration, etc all "count down" at the start of each character's Combat Turn, unless specifically noted otherwise. Summon Monster is one such example.)

A Character's Combat Turn consists of three main actions: Standard, Move, and Swift, preformed in any order. A character can also take as many Free Actions as he likes, in whatever order he prefers. It might be more helpful to think of the action types as "Major, Moderate, Minor, and Free" instead.

A Standard Action consists of a single 'big action', such as making a single attack or casting a normal spell. A Standard Action can be downgraded into a Move Action.

A Move action consists of a single 'simple action', such as moving up to your base speed, retrieving an item from your belt or pocket, putting an item into your belt/pocket, and so on. A Move Action can be downgraded into a Swift Action.

A Swift Action is best thought of as a single 'skilled action' - while there are some things any character can do as a swift action, most of the worthwhile one require skill, like the Quickdraw feat, the Quicken Spell metamagic feat, or a Bard's ability to start Bardic Music more quickly. I suppose, technically, a Swift action can be downgraded into a free action, though why you'd want to is beyond me.

With me so far?


Sundering players' items is probably a bad idea most of the time though.

Liberty's Edge

Like I said, I don't know what you know, so I wanted to go over the basics.

Anyway, there are three other types of actions that need to be discussed before we can go into the nitty-gritty details of your question.

A Full-Round action uses both the Standard and Move actions of a Character's Combat Turn. A Full Round action consists of something that requires pretty much all of a character's attention and effort. A Charge (move up to twice your speed in a straight line and make a single attack), a Full Attack Action (make as many attacks allowed by your iterative attack bonus, special effects like haste, and feats like Two Weapon Fighting), and a Full Round Spellcasting Action (cast a big spell) are all examples of Full Round actions.

A Partial Action is basically "half a turn". It entitles you to preform a single standard action (which you can downgrade to a move). There are a few special rules for Partial Actions, such as the Partial Charge (move up to your base speed in a straight line and make a single attack; you cannot preform a Partial Charge unless you are restricted to only a partial action this turn). Partial Actions happen whenever a character wouldn't be able to act at full speed, such as during a surprise round or when under the effects of a Slow spell; some monsters (most notably zombies) are limited to Partial Actions.

(for the record, if you want "fast zombies", check out the Ghoul. They are fast, they eat people, and they have a disease that turns people into ghouls. Fun times)

Finally, there is the Attack of Opportunity (AoO); it's a special action that any character can preform when a hostile character does something "risky" or "distracting". An Attack of Opportunity is an Attack Action. There's a common point of confusion here, so I will point this out right now: an Attack Action is a kind of Standard Action, so anything that you can do as a Attack Action can be done as an Attack of Opportunity (AoO), but anything that requires a Standard Action cannot be done as an Attack of Opportunity (AoO), because it is not a Standard Action.

Summary:
Full Round Action: uses both Standard and Move actions; subtypes include Charge Action and Full Attack Action.
Standard Action: basic unit of what one can do in a turn; subtypes include Attack Action and Spellcasting Action.
Move Action: relatively minor action that requires some time or attention. Does not require you to actually move.
Swift Action: anything that is almost, but not quite, quick and easy enough to count as a free action; usually represents something that requires skill to learn.
Free Action: anything that doesn't require hardly any time or attention. Can still only be taken on your turn.

Alright, so far so good. Now, we're going to go to this absolutely amazing resource: http://www.d20pfsrd.com/

Seriously, bookmark that website. We'll be going through the "Gamemasters" -> "Combat" -> "Special Attacks" section step by step.

Liberty's Edge

http://www.d20pfsrd.com/gamemastering/combat#TOC-Special-Attacks
hyperlink directly to the section you are asking about.

Aid Another: concept is pretty simple; spend your standard action, make an "action X" d20 check against AC/DC 10, and if you succeed, you give someone else a +2 bonus on their next "action X" check versus the same target.
Note that it is a Standard Action.

Charge: move up to twice your speed in a straight line under restrictions and make a single Attack Action at the end. Powerful action, especially at low levels. This is a Full Round action, with special rules for a Partial Action variant.

Combat Maneuvers: most of the rest of this section is devoted to Combat Maneuvers, which are powerful but confusing. The description of this section does explain how to calculate the bonus very well, but it fails in one simple but very important aspect: A Combat Maneuver is an attack, therefore anything that adds to attacks also adds to combat maneuvers. Bard Song, Bless, the +2 bonus from preforming a charge, Weapon Focus, etc - all of these can apply.

Likewise, Combat Maneuver Defense counts as AC. The Dodge feat adds to Combat Maneuver Defense, as does Deflection bonuses from your Ring of Protection; this is why Monks get their Wisdom here. Likewise, anything that penalizes AC also applies here, such as the AC penalty for charging or being flat-footed (Rogues, PAY ATTENTION TO THAT!). About the only thing that doesn't apply to Combat Maneuver Defense is Armor, Natural Armor, and Shield bonuses.

All of this is technically in the book, but it's not explained well, and knowing the above is really important if you want to make a character that focuses on Combat Maneuvers.

(rant)

(Rogue comment: people see the massive Sneak Attack damage bonuses the class gets and become obsessed with min-maxing it, which is silly; Combat Expertise + Improved Feint + Agile Maneuvers = almost an auto-win for any Combat Maneuver you want to preform. Target is flat-footed, so no dex bonus or dodge bonus to CMD and he can't make Attacks of Opportunity, so not having Improved Whatever doesn't matter. Why more Rogues don't do this is beyond me.)

(random comment: something else that's not explained well is Ranged Attack damage. Every single weapon - all of them, with the sole exception of Crossbows and Guns - applies your Strength Penalty to the damage roll. All of them. Thrown also always apply your Strength bonus, and Bows will if they are mighty, but your Strength penalty, if any, is always applied. I am continually surprised at how many people do not know that. Ranged Characters cannot dump strength, unless they are Gunslingers.)

(/rant)

Anyway, Combat Maneuvers. You seem to understand the general concept behind them, so I won't go into detail; hopefully all of the above has been helpful to you. Here's a basic list of the Combat Maneuvers and the type of action required:

Bull Rush - Standard Action. Special: can also be used at the end of a Charge (full or partial), instead of the normal Attack Action. Does not normally use a weapon to preform the action (so Weapon Focus would not apply to the Combat Maneuver Bonus).

Dirty Trick - Standard Action. Introduced in the Advanced Player's Guide, it's the generic "I want to do X to the guy instead of stab him" maneuver. May or may not involve a weapon.

Disarm - Attack Action (meaning it may be used at the end of a charge or as an Attack of Opportunity). Uses a weapon, so Weapon Focus applies.

Drag - Standard Action, no weapon involved.

Grapple - Standard Action, no weapon involved. It's not complicated, really it's not, but it is poorly explained. Print off the flowcharts on that website, keep a cheat-sheet that lists the effects of the Grappled and Pinned Conditions, and you are good to go.

Overrun - Standard Action, no weapon. Utterly useless as currently written.

Reposition - Standard Action, no weapon.

Steal - Standard Action, no weapon.

Sunder - Attack Action (can be used at end of a charge or as an AoO), weapon involved.

Trip - Attack Action (can be used at the end of a charge or as an AoO), certain weapons can be involved (whip yes, longsword no). Note that, as the FAQ states, standing up from prone provokes an AoO before the action resolves, so you can't trip-lock.

Finally, the last Special Attack is Feint, which is either a) complete crap or b) a fun way to annoy your DM, depending on who you ask.

I realize that I could have just given the above list as a reply, but I don't think that it would have helped. Hopefully ,the more in-depth and only slightly wrong explanation will take care of most of your questions.

If you need any more help, don't hesitate to ask. These boards are awesome.

Oh yeah, welcone to the boards, have a good time, so and so forth. "[" "i" "]" for italics, "b" for bold, "url=http://www.d20pfsrd.com" for hyperlinks.


One mistake in BobChuck's initial explanation -- a move action cannot be "downgraded" to a swift action.

This is not 4E. You have one swift action per turn, and other actions cannot be "traded in" to give you additional swift actions. Generally two different abilities requiring swift actions to use cannot be used on the same turn.


One thing I don't think was covered, and it's very confusing to new players ...

Attack Action = Melee Attack = Standard Action

Careful with these terms, as they are used in many descriptions. An Attack Action and a Melee Attack are the same thing, and they are both Standard Actions.


Noah Fentz wrote:

One thing I don't think was covered, and it's very confusing to new players ...

Attack Action = Melee Attack = Standard Action

Careful with these terms, as they are used in many descriptions. An Attack Action and a Melee Attack are the same thing, and they are both Standard Actions.

This is incorrect.

A "melee attack" is a kind of attack, usually made with a melee weapon, natural weapon, or unarmed strike. It can occur as part of an AoO, as part of a full-round action, as part of a standard action, or even as part of a swift action. Some powers can be used in place of a melee attack, and many abilities will have you make a melee attack as part of using them.

An "attack action" is a specific standard action that allows you to make one attack, either a melee or ranged attack. An attack action is a standard action. You can use an attack action to make a melee attack, but...

There are many, many different ways to make a melee attack other than using the attack action. Not all of them are standard actions.

Please don't confuse "melee attack" with "attack action". They are NOT the same thing.


Ummm, no.

Maybe I should have been more specific. I didn't feel like writing a novella.

The point I was making is to know the difference and similarities between the terms, as it gets confusing.

One thing I can always count on here is a nice, condescending post.

Thanks for being there for me, AvalonQX!

PS: Is that a cold medicine?


BobChuck wrote:
Technically, characters that can't act during the surprise round do not roll initiative until the start of the first full round of combat (more on that later), but personally as a DM, I have everyone roll and just skip the the surprised people the first time around - simplifies the bookkeeping.

The designers of Pathfinder agree with you. While what you said was true in 3.5, in Pathfinder, all combatants roll their initiative when combat begins.

"1. When combat begins, all combatants roll initiative. (Pathfinder Core Rulebook, p. 178)"


Noah Fentz wrote:

Ummm, no.

Maybe I should have been more specific. I didn't feel like writing a novella.

The point I was making is to know the difference and similarities between the terms, as it gets confusing.

I agree with doing that; I don't agree with telling new players inaccurate information. Information like:

Noah Fentz wrote:
An Attack Action and a Melee Attack are the same thing, and they are both Standard Actions.

This is very, very wrong. Many players believe this to be true, and it causes them no end of trouble when trying to figure out how certain combat feats and abilities work. A "melee attack" isn't a specific action type, and isn't a standard action.

An "attack action" is a standard action that you can use to make a melee attack.
An "attack of opportunity" is a non-action that you can use to make a melee attack.
A "spring attack" is a full-round action that you can use to make a melee attack.
A "full-attack action" is a full-round action that you can use to make one or more melee attacks.
A Quickened shocking grasp is a swift action that you can use to make a melee attack.

A "melee attack" isn't an action. You don't choose a "melee attack" for your action; you choose one of these other actions, and then choose a "melee attack" as part of the effect of those actions.

A new player being told that when he sees "melee attack" he should think "standard action", is learning something wrong. That's bad.

Quote:
One thing I can always count on here is a nice, condescending post.

I apologize if you interpreted my post as condescending. The explanation in my post wasn't really directed at you -- it was directed at any new player reading this thread, to whom you had just given inaccurate information, in an attempt to correct your mistake and give them accurate information.

I really wasn't trying to hurt or shame you at all -- I am just worried that an inaccurate post on this thread may have a bad result for new players.


Thanks for the input guys. So basically It will work anytime time with any attack, simple enough. I guess the only combo I will rule against is Vital Strike. Although I'm not sure if that's even a big deal. Thanks for clearing my head on the matter and for breaking it down for me Bob.


Rankle wrote:
Thanks for the input guys. So basically It will work anytime time with any attack, simple enough. I guess the only combo I will rule against is Vital Strike. Although I'm not sure if that's even a big deal. Thanks for clearing my head on the matter and for breaking it down for me Bob.

Two things. One, which was indirectly addressed in the clarifications above, is that an Attack of Opportunity does not provide you with an attack action (which is what was stated in the explanation), but rather with a melee attack (which was stated but not highlighted in a clarification). This means you cannot use an AoO to do things like vital strike or bull rush, but can use them to do things like trip or sunder.

Second, if you are saying no vital strike sunders because weapons don't have "vitals," while it might be true that weapons have no vitals, they do have "vital points." If I want to break a sword or an axe or a bow, there are spots I can target which are weaker than others. If I chop into the head of the axe it will do much less than if I had chopped into the handle, or the joint where the head and handle meet. Vital strike models this pretty well. If you are saying no vital strike sunders for another reason, then disregard this.


I get what you're saying with Vital Strike. It just might be too good considering that in the few practice fights I've run with them they were destroying weapons in 2 attacks anyway. I'm ok with them expending a little energy on completely changing the battle. Don't really want them one shotting everything or for myself to be altering battles drastically to punish them for sundering. So I guess the way I'd rule VS sundering would be that it works for weapons that specifically sunder. Like the swordbreaker could VS weapons and the meteor hammer could VS armor only. Something like that.

Oh and thanks for clearing up the AoO thing. I figured that's how it was.


Rankle wrote:

I get what you're saying with Vital Strike. It just might be too good considering that in the few practice fights I've run with them they were destroying weapons in 2 attacks anyway. I'm ok with them expending a little energy on completely changing the battle. Don't really want them one shotting everything or for myself to be altering battles drastically to punish them for sundering. So I guess the way I'd rule VS sundering would be that it works for weapons that specifically sunder. Like the swordbreaker could VS weapons and the meteor hammer could VS armor only. Something like that.

Oh and thanks for clearing up the AoO thing. I figured that's how it was.

There are two big controls with sunder which keep it from being overly powerful.

The first is the economic control. Every time that the party fighter destroys his enemy's sword, that is one less sword which the party can later use themselves or sell for cash. It can be repaired by magic, yes, but once they move into magic weapons, this becomes significantly harder to do.

The second control is hardness, which is subtracted from all damage against weapons. A longsword has 10 hardness and 5 hitpoints. Unless the attack does 11 damage, then nothing happens to the longsword. Each +1 enhancement adds 2 hardness and 10 hitpoints. Armor is even harder to sunder. All armor has HP equal to 5 times its AC bonus, and hardness according to its material. Fullplate has 10 hardness and 40 hitpoints. Also note that a weapon needs an enhancement bonus at least equal to the enhancement bonus of it's sunder target to even be able to damage it.

The final (bonus!) control against sunders is carrying an extra weapon. The enemy spends his turn whacking away at your sword until the blade breaks off? You quick draw your other sword and spend your turn whacking away at his face.


AvalonXQ wrote:
Noah Fentz wrote:

Ummm, no.

Maybe I should have been more specific. I didn't feel like writing a novella.

The point I was making is to know the difference and similarities between the terms, as it gets confusing.

I agree with doing that; I don't agree with telling new players inaccurate information. Information like:

Noah Fentz wrote:
An Attack Action and a Melee Attack are the same thing, and they are both Standard Actions.

This is very, very wrong. Many players believe this to be true, and it causes them no end of trouble when trying to figure out how certain combat feats and abilities work. A "melee attack" isn't a specific action type, and isn't a standard action.

An "attack action" is a standard action that you can use to make a melee attack.
An "attack of opportunity" is a non-action that you can use to make a melee attack.
A "spring attack" is a full-round action that you can use to make a melee attack.
A "full-attack action" is a full-round action that you can use to make one or more melee attacks.
A Quickened shocking grasp is a swift action that you can use to make a melee attack.

A "melee attack" isn't an action. You don't choose a "melee attack" for your action; you choose one of these other actions, and then choose a "melee attack" as part of the effect of those actions.

A new player being told that when he sees "melee attack" he should think "standard action", is learning something wrong. That's bad.

Quote:
One thing I can always count on here is a nice, condescending post.

I apologize if you interpreted my post as condescending. The explanation in my post wasn't really directed at you -- it was directed at any new player reading this thread, to whom you had just given inaccurate information, in an attempt to correct your mistake and give them accurate information.

I really wasn't trying to hurt or shame you at all -- I am just worried that an inaccurate post on this thread may have a bad result for new players.

No worries. :)

I was tired and thinking right and translating through the fingers poorly. I apologize for the confusion and the slight.


Bascaria wrote:
Rankle wrote:

I get what you're saying with Vital Strike. It just might be too good considering that in the few practice fights I've run with them they were destroying weapons in 2 attacks anyway. I'm ok with them expending a little energy on completely changing the battle. Don't really want them one shotting everything or for myself to be altering battles drastically to punish them for sundering. So I guess the way I'd rule VS sundering would be that it works for weapons that specifically sunder. Like the swordbreaker could VS weapons and the meteor hammer could VS armor only. Something like that.

Oh and thanks for clearing up the AoO thing. I figured that's how it was.

There are two big controls with sunder which keep it from being overly powerful.

The first is the economic control. Every time that the party fighter destroys his enemy's sword, that is one less sword which the party can later use themselves or sell for cash. It can be repaired by magic, yes, but once they move into magic weapons, this becomes significantly harder to do.

The second control is hardness, which is subtracted from all damage against weapons. A longsword has 10 hardness and 5 hitpoints. Unless the attack does 11 damage, then nothing happens to the longsword. Each +1 enhancement adds 2 hardness and 10 hitpoints. Armor is even harder to sunder. All armor has HP equal to 5 times its AC bonus, and hardness according to its material. Fullplate has 10 hardness and 40 hitpoints. Also note that a weapon needs an enhancement bonus at least equal to the enhancement bonus of it's sunder target to even be able to damage it.

The final (bonus!) control against sunders is carrying an extra weapon. The enemy spends his turn whacking away at your sword until the blade breaks off? You quick draw your other sword and spend your turn whacking away at his face.

I have two disagreements.

The economic control is not a control: It is a complete deterrent. I have never seen a player sunder in the games I play, because they dare not lose the precious value that the system expects them to gain after each fight. It seems to me that any object that is important enough to sunder is also too valuable to destroy. I've seen few exceptions.

Additionally, only weapons have enhancement bonus immunity.

In my game, I've implemented more sunder-friendly rules and still the players choose to avoid using it.

Liberty's Edge

"Economic Control?"

What are you talking about?

quote from the SRD: "If the damage you deal would reduce the object to less than 0 hit points, you can choose to destroy it. If you do not choose to destroy it, the object is left with only 1 hit point and the broken condition."

Quote from the Broken condition: "If the item is magical, it can only be repaired with a mending..."

So in other words, a successful sunder will never destroy the weapon/armor/etc unless the attacker wants to, and fully repairing it only requires a 0th level spell.

How is this an "Economic Control"?

Dark Archive

Retech wrote:
Sundering players' items is probably a bad idea most of the time though.

an item has to be greater than or equal to the item its sundering (basically) so if your +2 sword get sundered, you know the enemy has a +2 or greater sword...


BobChuck wrote:

So in other words, a successful sunder will never destroy the weapon/armor/etc unless the attacker wants to, and fully repairing it only requires a 0th level spell.

How is this an "Economic Control"?

Because a broken weapon is still functional. Spending two rounds of melee to cause a minor debuff to the enemy isn't really worth it. To actually deprive the villain of the weapon, you need to destroy it, which is a loss of value, which is a deterrent.


Quote from the Broken condition: "If the item is magical, it can only be repaired with a mending..."

...by a character with a caster level equal to or higher than the item's.

Which, looking at the CL of some of the items, may be a tad high for the party.

This having been said, due tue the game economics, sundering things to estroy them is almost always detimental to the party, no matter whether the PCs sunder stuff (which now they won't get after the fight) or the PCs' stuff is sundered (self explanatory).

<rant>
Bonus points when the GM tells you, with a s$%$-eating grin, that the equipment you just destroyed is part of the WBL he halculated for the party ("it was YOUR choice to flush it down the toilet"), as, of course, is the equipment the opponents destroyed ("It is a viable option for your enemies; you already had that stuff; if you lose it, your problem.")
</rant>


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

This just in!

Official FAQ wrote:

Can I make multiple sunder attempts in one round as part of a full-attack action? The sunder text says that I can make sunder attempts in place of melee attacks in an attack action, which is not technically a full-attack action.

Yes you can. The text is a little unclear here. Instead of saying "as part of an attack action in place of a melee attack", the text should read "in place of a melee attack", which would allow you to make multiple attempts in one round, or even make a sunder attempt as an attack of opportunity.

—Jason Bulmahn, 11/30/12

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Rules Questions / Sundering Question All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.