How Often Do Combat Maneuvers Show Up In Your Games?


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In all of the games that I've played and run since Pathfinder came out, combat maneuvers tend to fall by the wayside pretty quickly. Our players just don't bother with them, preferring to simply deal damage rather than spend feats on abilities that they find suffer greatly against anything that's not their size or smaller and standing right in front of them. My old DM and I have been discussing a few ideas to pull our players back to combat maneuvers, as we feel they make combat much more cinematic and interesting, but I wanted to ask the community and see what other players and DMs think of combat maneuvers before I decide to "fix" them.

So, do your players use combat maneuvers? Is there a point where they stop bothering? Which maneuvers get used, and which get ignored?

Sovereign Court

Like you said, it's generally better to make characters that will kill the bad guys fast rather than use combat maneuvers which are generally designed to hamper/debuff the bad guys.

I do see combat maneuvers used, but they tend to be used by characters without the "improved" version of the combat maneuver feat they're using against bad guys that can't take attacks of opportunity - most often casters and archers.


Check out this thread: http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2pp6i?Are-combat-manoeuvers-often-used-in-Paizo #23

It's more focused on NPC usage of CMBs, but the same things really apply.
I think the most effective way to convince PCs to use CMBs is have them be used effectively by NPCs.
That doesn't mean purpose building the NPCs to be CMB-machines, it just means using good tactics.
Long story short, you DON'T need to specialize/take Feats to make effective use of CMBs sometimes.


Don't add every stat in the game to your combat maneuvers defense like the book suggests. Just take BAB plus strength or dex which ever is higher.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

We see combat manuevers fairly frequently in my games, particularly against humanoid opponents and at lower levels. One thing i would recommend is removing the fact that most manuevers provoke an attack of opportunity without the feat, and the fact that both dex and str add to CMD (as mentioned by rebel arch). Do those two changes and you should see them used more. Particularly if an enemy turns up that is particularly good at them (polearm tripper or something)

Lantern Lodge

I as a player enjoy making CMB characters aslong as the other players take advantage of it. Like one of my friends decided to play a Two-Weapon Warrior archetype Fighter that sunders and takes advantage of my Toppling Spell Magic Missile Wizard. MY Wizard uses Magic Missile to trip targets that provoke AoO when it goes down and gets up thanks to Greater trip and he gets to attack the target with both his main hand and off hand attack when ever it goes down and gets back up. He sunders targets armor and weapons every time he can in order to increase the Rogues chance to hit which is usually a SA since he is usually in flank position with the fighter and or the Alchemist. Lucky for me btw DM agreed to let me be a large creature and thanks to Enlarge Person i get to become Huge. Sadly i still cant trip flying targets o well. Also to take care of the sunders my character has the Make Whole spell so we dont loose out on cash.

Silver Crusade

I have a friend who played a grappling specialist ranger. She could shut down just about any enemy, but it works especially well on spellcasters.

I've also seen a monster intentionally designed to use the disarm combat maneuver, and do it well.

I have a lore warden fighter who specializes in tripping with a guisarme. 10 foot reach + combat reflexes + trip = bad guys fall down before they get close enough to attack me. If I just hit them for damage, they'd still get their attack that round. Instead, I knock them down when they're still 10 feet away, moving towards me, and then they provoke when they try to stand up. At least, that's the theory - I've only played him once so far, so he's still only level 2, and I haven't gotten a chance to use this strategy much.

Sovereign Court

When our 2H fighter got possessed, we felt it necessary to blind, trip and disarm him until he came to his senses.


In two of the games we have going on we have two trip-specialized fighters. Me in one game with a Glaive and another player in a differen't game with a dwarven warhammer.

I trip all the damned time. Very rarely do I fail to trip trippable things and I believe every member of this group is melee oriented so it certainly is quite useful to do.


I see monsters use them all the time, especially grapple via grab. PC's, not so much. They just fail too often and it's so easy to do super high damage and simply inflict the "dead" condition in the time it might take to get off a maneuver.

I recently attempted to make the most twinked-out non-monster/Synthesist grappler I could for a 1-shot gestalt (take the best HD/saves/etc... of two classes and all the class features) level 6 game, went with a Scarred Witch Doctor // Barbarian w/ Greater Grapple and Con-based prehensile hair. With Raging Vitality, I had something stupid like Con 28.

Grapple still sucked... Takes too many actions to do anything, and enemies can break out of pin to scott free with one success, so I stopped bothering to pin real quick... Ended up just dishing out damage, it was more effective. (The Slumber Hex Strike on unarmed proved awesome, though).

Assistant Software Developer

I merged the threads on this topic.

Sovereign Court

We use them a lot. However, we tend to have humanoid heavy games so they are easier to pull off.

Shadow Lodge

Combat maneuvers are a very effective strategy in the game that can change the course of a battle.

Tripping means everyone gets +4 to their melee attacks until the bad guy gets up, and then that provokes. That's huge!

Grappling means the bad guy gets the grappled condition (heaps of penalties) and he still has to escape before he can do anything. That'll burn off his action economy, and (as far as I know) there's no penalties for trying to hit someone in a grapple with melee, and they can't retaliate and others don't provoke AoOs from them.

Bullrush can one-hit-kill a bad guy if they're at the edge of a cliff or a stream of lava or similar.

Reposition can mean multiple flanking bonuses and better movement for everybody. Great for a rogue in the party, especially - here's that damage you're talking about.

Sunder can kill spell component pouches on casters so that the caster can't cast.

Dirty Trick can do almost anything you want.

And then there's the boring ol' "I move up and attack".

Sovereign Court

I have a fighter who uses a spiked chain (10' version)and trips and disarms stuff all over the place. It can be very useful against a bunch of lower level stuff, as our mage doesn't really do battlefield control. Against stuff my level I would say that stuff only works about 1/3 of the time. I prolly won't make another tripping fighter, as I suspect that as stated above, it is better to just kill them than harass them.

As to how often they show up in our games, I would say rarely. There is a monk who does stuff in my AoW campaign. No one does it in the SS campaign I play in, and the Runelords campaign I am in it's just my fighter. My previous campaign had a gnome who tripped with a hooked hammer.


Tripping: Yeah, shame so many foes are outright immune or have huge bonuses against it. Definitely the best maneuver, though.

Grappling: Heaps of penalties? Really? REALLY? It's fairly inconsequential other than the movement restrictions. He can do a LOT without needing to escape, including murder the F out of you while you spend your actions to maintain the grapple and maybe damage him once.

Bull Rush: Yes, because that's a common occurance, and foes are routinely dumb enough to stand next to such places. Also, flight and teleportation totally doesn't exist.

Reposition: Unless it's tight quarters, you can just walk around someone or do coordinated 5 ft steps to get around into flanking. You spend your standard action to put an enemy into a bad spot he can possibly get out of with so little as a 5 ft step. *yawn*

Sunder: You mean casters in your games only carry one pouch?

Dirty Trick: Is great for trading your standard action to maybe make the enemy lose his move action. And "almost anything" is an exclusive list of half a dozen mostly-weak conditions now?

It's a shame, because move and attack is kind of boring. Though exploding people's heads with huge damage is inherently amusing.


StreamOfTheSky wrote:
Tripping: Yeah, shame so many foes are outright immune or have huge bonuses against it. Definitely the best maneuver, though.

While there sure are some that are immune I don't find that often comes up as an issue. I believe my fighter has a +22 to trip at level 8 and often Outflanks with the monk for another +4 which means I have more than a 50% chance to trip any non-immune CR8 creature. And even then its the spiders and beatles that have the super high CMD vs trip (46 for the spider). Most CR8's seem to have 25-30 which is easy peasy.

So if you specialize in a particular combat maneuver they seem to be pretty simple to pull off. And your totally right, it's a lot less boring than move -> attack.


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My group uses combat maneuvers A LOT. Yes the person who is focused on a combat maneuver does less damage but sets up the rest of the party fabulously and often saves us form certain disaster...or at the very least makes the rest of the part's life much easier.

Shadow Lodge

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A trip feat I like is felling smash, combined with greater trip and you get 2 attacks for a standard action.


BuzzardB wrote:
StreamOfTheSky wrote:
Tripping: Yeah, shame so many foes are outright immune or have huge bonuses against it. Definitely the best maneuver, though.

While there sure are some that are immune I don't find that often comes up as an issue. I believe my fighter has a +22 to trip at level 8 and often Outflanks with the monk for another +4 which means I have more than a 50% chance to trip any non-immune CR8 creature. And even then its the spiders and beatles that have the super high CMD vs trip (46 for the spider). Most CR8's seem to have 25-30 which is easy peasy.

So if you specialize in a particular combat maneuver they seem to be pretty simple to pull off. And your totally right, it's a lot less boring than move -> attack.

I have similar experiences with trip.

Also a couple for the DPR feat also help with the maneuvers, I am talking about Weapon focus and Greater weapon focus.

So if the monster is inmune to trip the fighter I have played could just resort to do hit point damage.


TO The OP.

AS a GM I like combats to be the more varied posible. I try to use combat maneuvers at every oportunity, particulary Big monsters with reach are good for it even if they do not have the "feats".


Alright, I'm seeing points for both sides. For my two cents, it seems too easy to get out of Grapple, except for the times that it's totally impossible. I've never seen anyone use Bull Rush, but it seems like that can be easily fixed by altering combat environments. Dirty Trick was pretty disappointing to me, it takes 4 feats to make it a worthwhile combat option.

Basically, my old DM and I were discussing a few homebrew options to encourage combat maneuvers:

1) combat maneuvers deal damage. This makes more sense if you view HP as morale or fatigue, so that then when you disarm an enemy, you mechanically get closer to the end of the fight. I'd probably do something small, like 1.5x Strength bonus, unmodified by enhancement bonuses or power attack.

2) combat maneuvers and attacks can be chained together on critical hits (so you roll a 20 on your bull rush and get a free disarm or trip or attack at -2 or something). I realize there are feats that do the reverse of this (Bull Rush Strike, etc.) but we feel like having it as an option attached to the maneuver instead of to the attack encourages maneuvers more.

3) when using a full attack, only one attack can be an attack. Any other "attacks" made must be combat maneuvers. This only works if you also make maneuvers more accessible, such as by consolidating the feat chains. I don't love this idea, but it was part of the discussion, so I'll bring it up.

The basic assumption here is that we really want maneuvers to be a more attractive option. These are pretty off-the-cuff, but I'm curious as to what more experienced players/DMs think of them. If you dislike it, please give a few examples of play to show why they would be a bad idea.

Silver Crusade

StreamOfTheSky wrote:

Tripping: Yeah, shame so many foes are outright immune or have huge bonuses against it. Definitely the best maneuver, though.

Grappling: Heaps of penalties? Really? REALLY? It's fairly inconsequential other than the movement restrictions. He can do a LOT without needing to escape, including murder the F out of you while you spend your actions to maintain the grapple and maybe damage him once.

Tripping - Your group never fights humanoids? A good tripper dominates against humanoid enemies. They shouldn't be everything you fight, but I'd expect them to be 25-50% of enemies in most campaigns, and they're very vulnerable to tripping.

You really don't know much about grappling, do you? First round - grapple the enemy. Assuming they don't break out before next round, you then pin them, with a +5 bonus because they're already grappled, on top of them having -4 dex which makes the CMD lower. At that point, all they can do is try to break the grapple or take verbal or mental only actions (which allows some spells, but not many, and they still have to concentrate to cast). In other words, a good grappler can win a fight against many BBEGs in exactly two rounds, and it's over, with no HP damage necessary. That's what my friend's grappling specialist ranger used to do. I remember the greatly feared BBEG from a notoriously deadly PFS scenario going down this way.


The most common combat manuevers I see my players do are bull-rushes attached to shield slams. If you've got greater bullrush you can grant your fellow melees attacks of opportunity when you force them to move. You can also make them prone if there's a wall handy, contributing to yet more attacks of opportunity when they try to get up.

This is in fact where a large fraction of the DPR of a good weapon/shield TWF fighter comes from. He sets up his buddies the two-handed or reach weapon fighters for lots of attacks at their highest bonus. Needless to say, they'd better be paying for combat reflexes.


Witch's Knight wrote:

Alright, I'm seeing points for both sides. For my two cents, it seems too easy to get out of Grapple, except for the times that it's totally impossible. I've never seen anyone use Bull Rush, but it seems like that can be easily fixed by altering combat environments. Dirty Trick was pretty disappointing to me, it takes 4 feats to make it a worthwhile combat option.

Basically, my old DM and I were discussing a few homebrew options to encourage combat maneuvers:

1) combat maneuvers deal damage. This makes more sense if you view HP as morale or fatigue, so that then when you disarm an enemy, you mechanically get closer to the end of the fight. I'd probably do something small, like 1.5x Strength bonus, unmodified by enhancement bonuses or power attack.

2) combat maneuvers and attacks can be chained together on critical hits (so you roll a 20 on your bull rush and get a free disarm or trip or attack at -2 or something). I realize there are feats that do the reverse of this (Bull Rush Strike, etc.) but we feel like having it as an option attached to the maneuver instead of to the attack encourages maneuvers more.

3) when using a full attack, only one attack can be an attack. Any other "attacks" made must be combat maneuvers. This only works if you also make maneuvers more accessible, such as by consolidating the feat chains. I don't love this idea, but it was part of the discussion, so I'll bring it up.

The basic assumption here is that we really want maneuvers to be a more attractive option. These are pretty off-the-cuff, but I'm curious as to what more experienced players/DMs think of them. If you dislike it, please give a few examples of play to show why they would be a bad idea.

I don't think combat maneuvers are bad but the issue is that they require a fairly large investment of resources to be usable otherwise they're very bad.

This makes them completely inaccessible for some of the more feat heavy combat styles or feat light class options. Two weapon fighting and not a fighter? Goodluck with having any extra feats before level 8 for a combat maneuver and once you get it you're still significantly behind the curve because you don't have the greater feat etc.

This tends to result in people either being highly dedicated to maneuvers or largely ignoring them. If you wanted to make them more generally used I would probably say give full BAB characters access to 2 maneuver trees for free, 3/4 BAB get 1 tree, and half BAB get none. This means that you're going to be able to do it when you want to without needing to pull feats off of your core build to do so. You can make the tree as long as you like but I'd probably make it just IUS/C.E. @ 1, improved at 3, and greater whenever BAB +6.

It's alot of "extra" feats which some might say devalues the fighter but I think that's not necessarily a bad thing even fighters don't really enjoy having to dump a million feats into maneuvers and they can still go further into the trees if they want to than anyone else can afford to.


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Witch's Knight wrote:
Basically, my old DM and I were discussing a few homebrew options to encourage combat maneuvers:

You could start by undoing some of the damage pathfinder inflicted on the entire maneuver system:

Combine Improved and Greater maneuver feats into a single feat that gives +4 bonus and the other benefits of each, with the pre-reqs of the Improved feat. 3E had no "greater" feats - you just got the full benefit w/ one feat (and its inevitable power attack, expertise, or imp. unarmed required).

Grapple can replace any attack, including AoOs. You do NOT have to "maintain" the check each round, if you're content to just hold them till they break free. Each successful grapple check deals unarmed damage to the target (unless you don't want it to). It takes TWO checks to go from pinned to free - one to get out of pinned, one to get out of grapple. If you are pinning someone, you can prevent them from speaking. Foes that are grappling lose dex to AC against anyone other than the foes they're grappling.
ALL of the above was how it worked in 3E. Grapple got nerfed super hard in PF. Honestly, I probably forgot some things.

Bull rushing someone causes him to provoke AoOs, even if you have no BR feats. As in 3E.

Having more than 2 legs never gives more than +4 vs. trip, as in 3E. Flyers are NOT auto-immune to trip and you can use the 3E Rules of the Game rules for stalling fliers with trip.

Then you can do some more:

Let people attempt maneuvers against foes of any size. If you have the check high enough to have a chance, you should be allowed to try!

Make bull rush add +5 ft moved per 3 you win by, or something. CMD is stupidly high, using the old 3E rule of 5 ft per 5 is just too punishing.

Consolidate the maneuvers. Seriously, there's too damn many. IMO, Steal shouldn't even be a maneuver, roll it into Sleight of Hand, use rules similar to the feinting rules of Bluff for stealing in combat. Combine Drag with Bull Rush. Combine Reposition with Trip. Combine Dirty Trick with Disarm. That way feats or bonuses can apply to the pair of them. I especially don't know why drag needed its own maneuver when it's so ridiculously similar to bull rush...

Make available feats to perform a maneuver on top of attacking for damage. PF has the [name] Strike feats, but basing it on crits is lame and random. Eidolons are cool for maneuvers specifically because they get cheap evolutions to tag their regular attack routine with things like Grab, Pull, Push, and Trip. If it's balanced for a caster's class feature, why is it such a no-no for actual martial characters to do it?!


Fromper wrote:
StreamOfTheSky wrote:

Tripping: Yeah, shame so many foes are outright immune or have huge bonuses against it. Definitely the best maneuver, though.

Grappling: Heaps of penalties? Really? REALLY? It's fairly inconsequential other than the movement restrictions. He can do a LOT without needing to escape, including murder the F out of you while you spend your actions to maintain the grapple and maybe damage him once.
You really don't know much about grappling, do you?

SoS's post was kind of ridiculously negative and ignoring the fact that plenty of people DO productively use maneuvers semi-regularly both on the PC and NPC side, and seem to enjoy the resulting games...

But he was pointing out a relevant fact about Grapple: the victim can still Full Attack, with only 2-Handed actions barred (not sure if that bars 2WF using 2 hands, or just 2-Handed weapons). The previous poster, Avatar-1, had written that the victim can't retaliate and can only try to escape before doing 'anything', which is just not true. Pinned is closer to that, but Grappled itself is usually not that huge a deal except for 2H Weapon Specialist, Archers, and Casters with no other good options.

Oh, I forget: Lunge is great for increasing your Reach to allow evading AoO for ALL Maneuvers without the Feat, and it also applies to 'normal' damaging attacks. So even for the 'rare' occasions where CMBs are especially appropriate, you can make them without fear of AoOs, and not worry about dedicating Feats to specific CMBs. Reach Weapons also work for many Maneuvers as well (Trip, Disarm, Sunder by default). Barbarian Knockback allows Bullrush via weapon, synergizing with Strength Surge.


Removing combat epertise and int 13 as prerequisites for several maneuvers is a step in the right direction.


Fromper wrote:
Tripping - Your group never fights humanoids? A good tripper dominates against humanoid enemies. They shouldn't be everything you fight, but I'd expect them to be 25-50% of enemies in most campaigns, and they're very vulnerable to tripping.

Your campaigns are very different than mine... In all of my experience, we fight not that many humanoids past the very early levels (where you can kill anything in one hit w/ 2h weapon anyway), and any that we encounter past that point often are either casters or caster-backed and thus flying, or are just a horde of weak mooks there solely to be in our way till we murder them. There's just so many other monster types in the bestiary... So for me, trip w/ PF's changes is fairly situational in use... It is definitely great against non-flying humanoids with some class levels on them, no argument there.

Fromper wrote:

You really don't know much about grappling, do you? First round - grapple the enemy. Assuming they don't break out before next round, you then pin them, with a +5 bonus because they're already grappled, on top of them having -4 dex which makes the CMD lower. At that point, all they can do is try to break the grapple or take verbal or mental only actions (which allows some spells, but not many, and they still have to concentrate to cast). In other words, a good grappler can win a fight against many BBEGs in exactly two rounds, and it's over, with no HP damage necessary. That's what my friend's grappling specialist ranger used to do. I remember the greatly feared BBEG from a notoriously deadly PFS scenario going down this way.

I admit, I am new to using PF grappling and may have been slightly hindered by "thinking like it's 3E."

Like one combat against some cult priest and his underling mook priests. I got a surprise round and rolled max on Initiative. Surprise round I could not get to the lead priest, so I chose to grapple an underling. Then I had first turn on round 1 and could 5 ft to grapple-pin the leader. That seemed like a good idea, so I released the other guy and rolled well twice, pinning the leader. His followers (level 1 clerics) then spammed Command ("Flee") on me till I failed the save and had to run. Leader delayed till I ran and thus didn't even lose a turn. I won Init and had a surprise round, started within melee range... and STILL did literally nothing the first 3 rounds of combat! I had been thinking of in 3E, how every grapple at least does damage. DM also didn't have me roll init until after surprise round, so I was not aware at that moment I would be going first again. Those two things lead me to waste a fair bit of precious initial actions.

The next, and final, battle of the 1-shot I grapple-pinned the boss after a lot of effort, only for him to roll lucky his first try and go from pinned to scot free.

So I was kind of left with a sour taste about grapple.... I do agree it's good on monsters and eidolons who can chain it for free to attacks. But for the martial dudes? Just not worth the trouble. And I built *heavily* towards optimizing grapple, both CMB and CMD (IMO, CMD is ultimately the more important stat for a grappler).


Nicos wrote:
Removing combat epertise and int 13 as prerequisites for several maneuvers is a step in the right direction.

That would also be exquisite.


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Quote:

In all of the games that I've played and run since Pathfinder came out, combat maneuvers tend to fall by the wayside pretty quickly. Our players just don't bother with them, preferring to simply deal damage rather than spend feats on abilities that they find suffer greatly against anything that's not their size or smaller and standing right in front of them. My old DM and I have been discussing a few ideas to pull our players back to combat maneuvers, as we feel they make combat much more cinematic and interesting, but I wanted to ask the community and see what other players and DMs think of combat maneuvers before I decide to "fix" them.

So, do your players use combat maneuvers? Is there a point where they stop bothering? Which maneuvers get used, and which get ignored?

My regular group sees occasional use of combat maneuvers against much weaker, or non-martial opponents. I do not recall the PC martial types ever using a combat maneuver against a level appropriate martial foe, except reactively (grapple checks to escape). We are 15th level now and I have been playing since level 10; couldn't say if this was the same at low level. Enemies make frequent use of combat maneuvers (monsters with grab being probably the most common).

That's my experience, now veering into opinion:

-Getting good mileage out of a combat maneuver seems to take quite a bit of specialization. Probably multiple feats (some of which are buried deep in feat trees) and ideally a class feature or two, perhaps a magic item.

-The introductory feats seem to offer relatively little compared to their 3.x counterparts, though some options deep into the feat trees do look decent to me.

These two are related and together encourage heavy specialization while discouraging just dipping in for an intro feat for occasional use. As far as builds with combat maneuver investments, typically I would expect to see large investment or none at all.

-Combat maneuvers heavily discourage amateur use along the lines of the regular fighter just deciding to try a maneuver because it seems cool or appropriate, but without having specialized in it in advance. The AoOs in particular make that difficult to swallow. This last is most relevant to us: so our group only ever uses these against foes which are not martially threatening in the first place. I've used disarm against a hostile wizard and grapple against a "hostile" party sorcerer, that I can recall, and otherwise only against insignificant foes. The former contributed, the latter would have been a poor tactic were it an actual fight.

So, power is backloaded in the feat trees and entry barriers to nonspecialists are relativey high. If I wanted mechanics to encourage more combat maneuvers, I would look at changing these two things.


The look on the GM's face when you ki-throw a huge dragon is priceless. :D

Shadow Lodge

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So, it seemed like you wanted experiences relayed, and that is what I'll do.

I see them used somewhere between 1/4 to 1/6 of the encounters in my home games. I see it a bit less in PFS games.

I used to not see them at all, and then I printed out a handy little cheat sheet for all the martial PCs and handed them out at the beginning of a game oSuddenly I saw CMs getting used.

Also, for those that have never seen a bull rush: best use I ever saw was a BBEG that was blocking a passage way so only one person could attack at a time (essentially) get pushed back enough to allow for flanking.

The Exchange

All of the martials in our PFS group have at least greater trip, some have vicious stomp, and I have reach... this trivializes most encounters. Those things that can't be tripped are usually disarmed or have their component pouches stolen. We are built around complete CM synergy and it is mad fun.

I doubt many other groups have the fortitude to play such specialized characters to the levels required for things to really become broken, but for us I think it is fun enough to be worth it this time around. With all our party bonuses going this character can max out trip CMB's somewhere around 57-59 at level 11, I haven't fought anything yet that isn't immune to trip that wasn't sitting down at some point in the encounter. Also out of deference to my GM's I haven't added dueling to my horsechopper yet, that would get silly.

Sovereign Court

The group I GM for is still only level 3, but maneuvers have been pretty useful so far; mainly a Flowing Monk who's good enough at tripping to get spiders prone, and the druid's Small Cat companion. The cat trips the enemies and the druid clubs them while they're down. It's simple but it works pretty well.

The usual run of things is: monster gets tripped. Gets up, provoking AoO from about 3 PCs who've surrounded him by that time, and those kill it. The funny thing is that this is one of their most effective ways of putting down critters with AC that's otherwise giving them trouble.


NOG the Demoralizer wrote:

All of the martials in our PFS group have at least greater trip, some have vicious stomp, and I have reach... this trivializes most encounters. Those things that can't be tripped are usually disarmed or have their component pouches stolen. We are built around complete CM synergy and it is mad fun.

I doubt many other groups have the fortitude to play such specialized characters to the levels required for things to really become broken, but for us I think it is fun enough to be worth it this time around. With all our party bonuses going this character can max out trip CMB's somewhere around 57-59 at level 11, I haven't fought anything yet that isn't immune to trip that wasn't sitting down at some point in the encounter. Also out of deference to my GM's I haven't added dueling to my horsechopper yet, that would get silly.

As a point I think part of the disconnect is that as I understand it(never played just based on what I hear so correct me if I'm wrong) PFS consists of much more humanoids than your average home campaign. At least I know at my DMs table we have 50/50 monsters vs humanoid encounters and this is the most humanoids we've seen in the last three campaigns we've done. Monsters are invariably the immune things so the lower number of them in PFS would be very beneficial to such builds.


Remember Swimmers and Earth-Gliders aren't immune to Trip :-)

The Exchange

gnomersy wrote:


As a point I think part of the disconnect is that as I understand it(never played just based on what I hear so correct me if I'm wrong) PFS consists of much more humanoids than your average home campaign. At least I know at my DMs table we have 50/50 monsters vs humanoid encounters and this is the most humanoids we've seen in the last three campaigns we've done. Monsters are invariably the immune things so the lower number of them in PFS would be very beneficial to such builds.

Luckily it is still a 26 STR 2h fighter, so there are still things to do, but I agree, there is a glaring weakness.

Indeed, I have made it my personal goal to avoid CM's as much as possible in my contribution to our next batch of characters, I am pretty sure our DM's are going to go out of their way to give us things with too many legs or flight from now on, in PFS they just aren't allowed to alter the encounters to add challenge to our very focused setup, in a home game it would be completely different.

Silver Crusade

gnomersy wrote:


As a point I think part of the disconnect is that as I understand it(never played just based on what I hear so correct me if I'm wrong) PFS consists of much more humanoids than your average home campaign. At least I know at my DMs table we have 50/50 monsters vs humanoid encounters and this is the most humanoids we've seen in the last three campaigns we've done. Monsters are invariably the immune things so the lower number of them in PFS would be very beneficial to such builds.

There are a lot of humanoids in PFS. At higher levels (7+), you do run into flying dragons, demons, and devils quite a bit, though, as well as a couple of flying enemies here and there at lower levels (harpies only show up in one or two scenarios, but they're notoriously dangerous).


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In my game, combat maneuvers tend to be used primarily by monsters and by my eidolon, usually as a result of that maneuver being part of a damaging attack. It is very rare to see a character use a combat maneuver instead of a damaging attack.


How often? Considering one of my players is a flurry of maneuvers style monk I would say every session. Having your NPCs almost consistently blinded or sickened is wicked.

Silver Crusade

"How Often Do Combat Maneuvers Show Up In Your Games?"

Every game Bruno in.


Pretty frequently. Mostly from my NPCs, though.

Fairly recently a synthesist in my game got a bit too ballsy dealing with some gnolls, and ended up tripped in the threatened zone of three of them. He tried to stand up and ate an x3 critical that ended his life. Rest in peace.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I actually have to constantly remind my players there are more Maneuvers than Grapple and, even then, they seem to play as if they think Grapple can only be performed by the NPCs.

Sovereign Court

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The AoO you get by performing a maneuver untrained is annoying, but if the monster's already used his AoO (on an "incautious" summoned monster perhaps?), the way is clear...


Not very often.

Which kind of disappoints me because I even implemented a houserule that does away with the AoO for performing one in the hopes they'd get more use from non CM based characters.


Not quite caught up yet, but my GM is particularly cruel when it comes to manuevers. My buffed up cleric-knight lost a duel thanks to his 10 dex and weak CMD, being disarmed and utterly unable to recover from it. He still refuses to acknowledge the loss. It almost felt like cheating.

In another 1v1 combat, my cavalier was DESTROYED in an arena by a two weapon warrior archetyped fighter with shield slam. He'd charge me for two attacks, knock me back 10 feet seriously hurting, and I was denied my hasted full attack. In turn I was forced to fall back on manuevers myself. I knew I couldnt keep trading hits like this, but if I could get a trip off I might pin him down for but a moment so I could blow him up with my challenge damage.

I find that often all that manuevers need is a decent strength score. I often intentionally provoke low-attack bonus enemies with a bullrush on my better armoured characters to clear the way for fallen allies to stand up or withdraw. An AoO spent harmlessly on your 22 AC is one that cant be spent on your party members.


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Hello, my name is Lurk3r, and I'm a sunder addict.

All: Hi Lurk3r.

I love building characters around the sunder maneuver. Breaking things is just so satisfying! I use it out of combat too- I once sundered a hole in the bow of a pirate ship to goad the pirates into fighting me (adamantine vs. wood, adamantine wins). And in deference to SotS, PF did a LOT to help sunder. The silly magic item +X protection clause is gone, so with the bonuses provided by the feats I can sunder your armor with a teaspoon if I'm high enough level. Also, the most of the greater feats have some additional effect which they didn't in 3.5 because it was only the improved feat. Sure, some of the other greater feats are lame, but a lot of them aren't. Greater Bull Rush makes your target provoke just like SotS suggested. Greater Dirty trick makes them waste a standard action, so you can just pick entangled and lock any melee character down forever. And sunder's is the best- damage overflows on to the victim? Yes please!


Witch's Knight wrote:

Basically, my old DM and I were discussing a few homebrew options to encourage combat maneuvers:

2) combat maneuvers and attacks can be chained together on critical hits (so you roll a 20 on your bull rush and get a free disarm or trip or attack at -2 or something). I realize there are feats that do the reverse of this (Bull Rush Strike, etc.) but we feel like having it as an option attached to the maneuver instead of to the attack encourages maneuvers more.

We started using the Critical Hit deck, but decided it was too limited, so I whipped up a Critical Hit chart. I put every combat maneuver in there somewhere, as well as just about every condition. We use the chart on every threat. With some luck, you can stun or nauseate your enemy, though those are rare. But often you get a free trip or disarm or sunder, even a bullrush or reposition, always with a bonus of +2 or +4 to the roll and that never provokes.

I made another one for fumble, some of which let you do a CMB against yourself, like tripping over your own feet.

With those charts, we see lots of combat maneuvers accidentally rolled when we threaten criticals (monsters too). But I still don't see anyone really trying to use them deliberately, except for my occasional bad guys - I don't even do that very often since as others have said, damaging the PCs is much more deadly than most combat maneuvers.


Rynjin wrote:

Not very often.

Which kind of disappoints me because I even implemented a houserule that does away with the AoO for performing one in the hopes they'd get more use from non CM based characters.

Well, if the players weren't using CMBs fairly often/when appropriate in situations where the AoO isn't relevant per RAW (reach advantage, flat-footed target, target already spent AoO) then giving them a freebie about the AoO isn't likely to change anything. The list of no-AoO cases is really common enough to happen, that CMBs should be seen more often in those cases. If PCs don't see the light, NPCs should take advantage of those situations to provide an example.

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