CMB Bonuses and Attack Forms


Rules Questions

Sczarni

8 people marked this as FAQ candidate. 1 person marked this as a favorite.

I posted this somewhat off topic in another thread. Tyring to get a discussion going apropos the right thread and not hijack someone elses.

SKR wrote a blog post in 2011 where he mentioned several rulings in an attempt to clarify CMB bonues acquired from weapons and other sources. The blog has four pages of posted messages with it that bring up several questions as well:

See this link for more information.

My main question is about when is it applicable to add the bonuses from unarmed strike (weapon focus (unarmed strike), AoMF, Brawling armor property etc) to some Combat Maneuvers (CMs)? Between the SRD on CMs, and the linked blog post above, I see a lot of wiggle room for multiple interpretations.

In the blog post like I pointed out above, the question about bonuses to grapple was asked in the posts following the Blog linked above. Some of the relevant dialogue is here:

Spoiler:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
#1:
SKR wrote:
Like I said, I'd be on board for changing the trip property to also give a +2 on trip combat maneuver checks. We just have to get Jason to agree to it.
I guess you guys are still deliberating on that one?

Jason feels that "you can't trip me in return" is a significant benefit for the trip weapon, even though it doesn't make your trip attempts any more successful, and even though the guy specialized in tripping probably isn't going to ever fail by 10 or more and need that ability.

Jiggy wrote:
Belafon wrote:
#2 So... My monk has Weapon Focus (Unarmed Strike) and is wearing an Amulet of Mighty Fists +1. Does this mean he gets to add those two bonuses to other Combat Maneuvers such as Grapple?
Still consulting on that one too, I presume.

Yes.

Jiggy wrote:
#3: If you have Tripping Strike and attempt to disarm someone, can you "crit" the disarm attempt and thereby trigger your Tripping Strike?

Combat maneuvers don't have threat ranges and can't critically hit.

someone wrote:
Does rolling a 1 on the combat maneuver check automatically count as failing by 10 or more?
No.

in the spoilered quote, @jiggy's post and SKR said he would consult with JJ and get back to us. As it's been two years, I'm not holding my breath (and yes they're busy and have higher priorities, but I would love to see this readdressed...so hit FAQ! And in this case, I really think it needs it, and is NOT an overuse of the FAQ). The blog post isn't quite as good as an errata; the RAW often can't withstand a detailed parsing of their contents; and the blog didn't go through the devs review process the way an errata would, but it's what we have to work with.

I don't carry the rep on these boards that some of the common and well known posters do like @wraithstrike, @ravingdork, @cheapy or @jiggy do, but I do have a fair amount of system mastery...I just happen to be a professional lurker rather than an avid poster. So, I do want your opinions, but I think this issue has multiple references which I will try to cover here along with the link above.

SRD wrote:


When you attempt to perform a combat maneuver, make an attack roll and add your CMB in place of your normal attack bonus. Add any bonuses you currently have on attack rolls due to spells, feats, and other effects. These bonuses must be applicable to the weapon or attack used to perform the maneuver.

(emphasis mine)

This seems clear to me, in that if you use something to affect the CM, you get to add any bonuses from that attack method to the CM.

A. The blog post muddied the waters IMO for unarmed strikes with grapple. The SRD quote above was what I always used to allow unarmed strike bonuses for grapple, as your clearly using your hands. Under the grapple rules, you take a -4 penalty for not using both hands to make the grapple. Once you have the grapple condition (attacker or defender) you can only use actions that require one hand, meaning your other hand is involved. So an attack to grapple is clearly using your hands by game mechanics.

Now to SKR's blog. He says

SKR wrote:


Disarm, sunder, and trip are normally the only kinds of combat maneuvers in which you’re actually using a weapon (natural weapons and unarmed strikes are considered weapons for this purpose) to perform the maneuver, and therefore the weapon’s bonuses (enhancement bonuses, feats such as Weapon Focus, fighter weapon training, and so on) apply to the roll.

(emphasis on normally mine).

B. SKR references unarmed strikes (US) as weapons for the three CMs. This is important if you have neither the feat IUS (FIUS) or the Monk's IUS (MIUS). The MIUS is the only one that says your hands become weapons. So SKR's comment is important in that it allows both those with just FIUS and without the feat to count their hands as weapons for Trip, Disarm and Sunder. It's being permissive for USs and natural weapons against those three CMs. It is NOT being restrictive in saying the CANNOT apply to other CMs. Further more, the IUS feat says "You are skilled at fighting while unarmed.", which could be fairly inclusive for CMs.

C. SKR says normally only those three use weapons, allowing for exceptions. He cites a couple in 1) polearm master using a polearm to bull rush, 2) weapons with trip property for drag or reposition. There are clearly other exception as with shield slam feat and supporting feats (shield focus, shield specialization, weapon focus shield).

D.

SKR wrote:
For other maneuvers, either you’re not using a weapon at all, or the weapon is incidental to making the maneuver and its bonuses shouldn’t make you better at attempting the maneuver.

This is generally true, and I hate to infer what SKR was saying, but I assess in this context he was saying 'weapon' as in a manufactured weapon. The examples he uses are a longsword and a dagger, which aren't helpful in a grapple (unless you have Hamatula Strike and a piercing weapon). As I pointed out above, hands are used in a grapple and are certainly not just "incidental" to the grapple based upon the grapple rules and the penalties required for using hands. So I assess they are an exception.

E.

SKR wrote:
Of course, the GM is free to rule that in certain circumstances, a creature can apply weapon bonuses for these maneuvers

From my points above, I have always ruled that bonuses to unarmed strike support the grapple CM in all circumstances, and by extension, weapon finesse would allow you to sub Dex for Str as unarmed strike is a light weapon.

Grapple to me is the most clear cut case, the other CMs are more ambiguous to me.

1. Drag - in most circumstances would include you grabbing your opponent with your hands (or a weapon) and dragging them with you. So yes to unarmed strike. Besides that, I only know of weapons with the 'trip' property being able to transfer bonuses.

2. Reposition - less clear. If you are manhandling them into the new square, then yes unarmed strike would apply, but if you do it through constantly threatening their left side so the move right, then no. Leaves some room for interpretation. Besides that, I only know of weapons with the 'trip' property being able to transfer bonuses.

3. Bull rush - maybe if you did a sumo wrestling style push you could use unarmed strike bonuses, but probably not. Shields work awfully well with the right feats (and shield focus and weapon focus (shield) would help out). Without them, this one benefits from Agile Maneuvers and not much else (if you have a high DEX build obviously).

4. Over run - I would probably allow shields to help in some circumstances, but there's no RAW to support this. Agile Manuevers still helps here without shield builds (and the shields is just my (probably generous) interpretation.)

5. Steal - definitely use hands. Rules even allow the use of a whip. However it's an odd one and not an 'attack' per se like the others, so unarmed strike probably wouldn't help. But it is an attack cause it uses CMB. Hell, I don't know on this one. Never seen it in play.

6. Feint - NOT a CM and uses a different mechanic.

Noting how a bull rush build can easily be made using shields, and drag and reposition can use weapons with the 'trip' property, grapple, overrun and steal are getting left behind on CMB bonuses as you level up.

I believe this whole issue is important for a couple of game balance issues. If you don't allow something like unarmed strike to be used with a grapple, then by mid levels when compared to trip, disarm and sunder, grapple and the other CMs start to fall behind in their CMB check by 4-5 points as the others start to pile on bonuses from weapon enhancement, weapon focus, fighter weapon training etc, and it gets worse. This clearly makes some CMs superior to others on just what you can add to CMB, which doesn't support variety of play, nor do I think is good for the game. We all know that CMD climbs into the stratosphere in the late game, so the only way to have grapple, overrun, and steal to keep up with Trip, sunder, and disarm is to have some way to help add to them.

The other game balance issue is that allowing bonuses to unarmed strike to support the CMB for grapple, you help the monk with an AoMF just a little by keeping grapple a good option for them. Everyone know's they need it.

Last point. Weapon Focus (WF) lists grapple as a possible focus. While this is currently RAW, I think it causes more problems than helping. If I can take grapple, I can take trip. If I have a WF (flail) and WF (trip), they stack, causing further inflation of the three you can clearly use with weapons.

Not to mention that if I can take WF (grapple), which fighter weapon group does it fall into? Does it come under close or natural? Is there another one for just CMs?

SKR and the other devs still should provide an answer on the use of unarmed strike bonuses with grapple CMB, but I think my points above provide solid support that they should, both mechanically from how the rules are written, as well as from a game balance perspective.


By RAW, any bonuses you receive to your unarmed strike only apply to trip, disarm, and sunder. Nothing else. They are the only Combat Manuevers that use weapons so weapon modifiers would only apply to those. Even though a monk may use his hands during a grapple attempt or a reposition or whatever his bonuses to unarmed strike do not apply to these actions.

Edit: BTW, you have made a keen observations as to why you don't see people use may combat manuevers besides trip, disarm, and sunder.

Sczarni

Appreciate the nod @claxon, but I'm not sold that RAW limits it to just those three. The SRD quote informs us that any applicable bonuses would apply. It just fails to fully define what is "applicable" and when. SKR's comments I cited also leave it open that in some cases other bonuses apply. Part of my point in the spoilered quote is that SKR acknowledged the direct question about unarmed strike bonuses OVER two years ago, and said he would clarify, but has yet to do so. That leads me to conclude that it's a still open question.


Don't get me wrong, I don't think it would be a big problem to let monks use their unarmed strike attack bonuses to many of the combat maneuvers. Irori knows monks could use a little help to keep up with everyone else.

I just don't think there is any clear implication that that is how it works. Now, if you want to raise the question back to SKR again and ask for further rulings and clarifications I would be all to happy to FAQ that for you.

Sczarni

That's exactly what I'm trying to do. So yes, please FAQ my post!


Monks can't be allowed nice things. It's rule 117.

:)

Hit the FAQ button for you.

Sczarni

Thanks dude. Not just for monks, it just seems the right way to use the CMB mechanic and balance grapple et. al. with trip and the gang.

Sczarni

Somewhat related question, does having weapon focus ( unarmed strike) or other like bonuses help with a touch attack?

I've always said yes, but if it doesn't help with a grapple, then it might not help this either.


I would say RAW no, because unarmed strike =! touch attack.


@ the OP: Your hands are not unarmed strikes so that would not work. They are just used to make unarmed strikes.

If you are the GM I would just houserule it. It does not break the game, so it should not be an issue.

Sczarni

Agree, they are not the same. But if it was clearly one way or the other RAW, I wouldn't have to ask. The actual paragaph describing touch attack is very sparse on the attack side and mostly describes touch AC. Nor under touch spells in the magic section does it say.

Unarmed strike is hitting with a body part. Bonuses to it help you. Touch attack is hitting with the hand (Magus excepted of course). Ergo and all that. It's not a stretch. Any other bonuses you had from spells, bard performance etc would apply.

Sczarni

wraithstrike wrote:

@ the OP: Your hands are not unarmed strikes so that would not work. They are just used to make unarmed strikes.

If you are the GM I would just houserule it. It does not break the game, so it should not be an issue.

And the razor edge of my dagger and knobs on my brass knuckles are even less related to tripping someone, yet weapon focus helps there. The RAW still says
SRD wrote:
Add any bonuses you currently have on attack rolls due to spells, feats, and other effects. These bonuses must be applicable to the weapon or attack used to perform the maneuver.

That seems very clear that bonuses to unarmed strike would help. That lines supports it , and I haven't found a line in RAW that contradicts that view.

SKR acknowledged the question as valid and refused to make a call then. I just want them to make a call now, so please FAQ it. My position is noted and I think I make a good case. I haven't seen a good analysis saying otherwise.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

...Is the goal here to get something clarified, or to get something changed?


I understand what you mean, but I also see their side of it.

PS: I will FAQ it because I do want the bonus to unarmed strikes to apply. :)

Sczarni

Jiggy wrote:
...Is the goal here to get something clarified, or to get something changed?

Clarified ( preferably to my understanding). If you look through the references above, you can easily go either way on unarmed strike with grapple. In the blog link above is a post (with your involvement) where the same question was asked and no clarification given. There is a lot of 'consensus' among board posters that bonuses to unarmed strike to grapple should NOT apply. The wall of text above is my analysis of the same rules and my assessment that it should.

I would enjoy someone else's cited analysis of why I'm wrong, but it honestly seems to be more of an apacrophyl assumption at this point based upon one line of SKR's blog from two years ago (that still had lots of room for interpretation as noted above).


Blogs and FAQ's show the intent of the rules so until the rules change or a new FAQ or Blog comes out the previous ruling is in place. As of now only certain maneuvers are allowed to use weapons, and those have been named.

You are wrong because the devs have shown their intent. They have stated that when rules are clarified it is not just one person. They actually sit down and talk about it as a team, and that is how they want combat maneuvers to work.

Now if you want them to reconsider the previous idea that is another issue altogether.

Sczarni

wraithstrike wrote:

Blogs and FAQ's show the intent of the rules so until the rules change or a new FAQ or Blog comes out the previous ruling is in place. As of now only certain maneuvers are allowed to use weapons, and those have been named.

You are wrong because the devs have shown their intent. They have stated that when rules are clarified it is not just one person. They actually sit down and talk about it as a team, and that is how they want combat maneuvers to work.

Now if you want them to reconsider the previous idea that is another issue altogether.

I agree with you, except his blog said things that left it ambiguous. Each quote I have above for SKR's blog cites why I think it's still unclear. Please read them again, cause my logic is not horrible. I see how the current consensus is reached, but I don't think my conclusions are wild-ass non-sense either.

1. Weapon focus (any manufactured weapon) (WF(mw)), gives a +1 with ANY attack using that weapon.
2. Combat Maneuvers (CM) are attacks. (If this is not true, then using a CM does NOT break invisibility. )
3. If the CM uses a weapon, you get the WF bonus.

I am very comfortable and clear about what CMs use manufactured weapons and when. They have done a good job with that.

4. WF ( unarmed strike) gives a bonus to any attack using hands (or by extension, elbows, feet or knees).
5. Grapple CM uses hands.

This is the contested point. I assess it does as the grapple CM penalizes you for NOT using them.

6. Touch attacks use hands.
7. Ergo, both grapple CM and touch attacks should benefit from WF(unarmed strike).

It's not gamesmanship, or even unfair / OP. I think clarifying/ adjudicating it this way actually balances it with the other CMs as I argue in my first post.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Renitent Rover wrote:
I would enjoy someone else's cited analysis of why I'm wrong
Weapon Focus wrote:
unarmed strike or grapple


Claxon wrote:

By RAW, any bonuses you receive to your unarmed strike only apply to trip, disarm, and sunder. Nothing else. They are the only Combat Manuevers that use weapons so weapon modifiers would only apply to those. Even though a monk may use his hands during a grapple attempt or a reposition or whatever his bonuses to unarmed strike do not apply to these actions.

Edit: BTW, you have made a keen observations as to why you don't see people use may combat manuevers besides trip, disarm, and sunder.

They are the only combat maneuvers that NORMALLY use weapons. if the monk have the hamatula strikean the Hamatulatsu feat he should be able to impale his target with his unarmed strike therefore in that case he should add all the bonuses he have to the roll (like the +2 from brawling)

blog wrote:
Disarm, sunder, and trip are normally the only kinds of combat maneuvers in which you’re actually using a weapon (natural weapons and unarmed strikes are considered weapons for this purpose) to perform the maneuver, and therefore the weapon’s bonuses (enhancement bonuses, feats such as Weapon Focus, fighter weapon training, and so on) apply to the roll.

Sczarni

Jiggy wrote:
Renitent Rover wrote:
I would enjoy someone else's cited analysis of why I'm wrong
Weapon Focus wrote:
unarmed strike or grapple

Ah, gee thanks jiggy. Your locution sure keeps this a telic thread.

Seriously dude, did you miss where I discussed the issues with this in my OP? I know it's there, and it just causes me to ask more questions.

Sczarni

Jiggy wrote:
...Is the goal here to get something clarified, or to get something changed?

As I said above, I want it clarified, by dev staff preferably as they acknowledged the question needed to be considered.

If the board consensus proves correct and I'm wrong, the I would urgently request a consideration for rules change. My OP has my points on why I think my assessment is better for balancing the CMs power as the scale through the levels.

Several have noted that distinction as well; that they think my assessment of RAI is wrong, but they think the rules should work the way I assess they do.

You've pointed out that you thing I'm wrong against current RAI, but what is your (and other's) opinion on whether it should function like I posit?

And please hit FAQ if you think it should be the way it's run.


By RAW a bonus to unarmed strike does not help the CMB roll for grapple. Spells, feats and other abilities that do not call out a specific weapon would though. The key here is the ability needs to say "attack".

Spells/abilities like heroism, divine favor, aid, favored enemy would improve a grapple check as they provide a bonus to all attacks.

The area where this becomes confusing is the Grab special ability. In those cases, weapon specific bonuses would apply as long as they were for the limb used to start the grapple.

So a monk with the magic belt that gives grab and constrict could use all of those bonuses on the grapple check they make due to hitting with an unarmed strike and then using the grab special ability.

Sczarni

1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

Another piece of evidence I found (or remembered to be more precise) to support having bonuses to unarmed strike add to grapple maneuvers:

Improved Grapple is the only combat maneuver that has improved unarmed strike as a prerequisite.

You cannot improve you ability to grapple without first improving you ability to strike you opponent with your hands (and feet, elbows and knees).

Between this, and the grapple rules I cited above (not using both hands imposes a -4 on grapple checks), it seems fairly clear to me that RAI is for the hands to be the attack form used to conduct the grapple maneuver.

Again back to the core SRD:

SRD wrote:
When you attempt to perform a combat maneuver, make an attack roll and add your CMB in place of your normal attack bonus. Add any bonuses you currently have on attack rolls due to spells, feats, and other effects. These bonuses must be applicable to the weapon or attack used to perform the maneuver.

(emphasis mine).

SKR's blog was very helpful in clearing several things up, but it still was not definitive in that it said trip, sunder and disarm were "normally" the only maneuvers that used weapons and allowed for exceptions. I would again like SKR or another dev to take a look at this question again and clarify whether one of those exceptions was supposed to be unarmed strike with grapple.

The Exchange

Animating dead on thread:

What about a Danbong eastern weapon? Held in hands, adds +2 to grapple checks explicitly, but does not say you're using the weapon to initiate the grapple, rather its an aid.

So what if it was masterwork?

Or if you have weapon focus (specialization, etc) Danbong, and you have it equipped while initiating a grapple? While maintaining one?

-Goh

Grand Lodge

Gohaken wrote:

Animating dead on thread:

What about a Danbong eastern weapon? Held in hands, adds +2 to grapple checks explicitly, but does not say you're using the weapon to initiate the grapple, rather its an aid.

So what if it was masterwork?

Or if you have weapon focus (specialization, etc) Danbong, and you have it equipped while initiating a grapple? While maintaining one?

-Goh

I'd say yes to your Masterwork Dan Bong question and WF, after all the primary purpose of the Dan Bong is to grapple. I'm not sure as to Initiate vs Maintain as far as RAI or IRL but RAW seems to be a straight +2 to grapple.

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