Somehow, this Faq made Spell Combat more confusing


Rules Questions

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Kazaan wrote:
To be fair, the dev team is debating this issue because if the attacks for spell combat really do constitute a full-attack in the same way that the attacks in a Pounce-modified Charge do, then it means that a slew of other abilities can also be brought into play which may have unforeseen consequences. You could Fight Defensively and use Combat Expertise on your Spell Combat attacks and Fight Defensively, in turn, brings back in Crane style. If you have the Mobile Fighter's Rapid Attack ability, you can combine a full-attack with a single move action, allowing you to move during your spell combat. You could make a Whirlwind Attack during your spell combat. So on and so forth. On the other hand, if they conclude that Spell Combat only allows you your iterative attacks as a specific exception to the general rule that you only get iteratives on Full-Attack, but maintain that Spell Combat itself neither is nor involves making a full-attack, they're essentially changing Haste such that it functions when you make Iterative Attacks rather than when you make a Full-Attack. Honestly, I hope the rule the second way as I think making Spell Combat involve a full-on full-attack will turn out incredibly unbalanced.

The examples you provide do not sound incredibly unbalanced to me. I'll go through them, please correct me if I overlook dangerous consequences.

- Yes, you could combine spell combat for touch spells with fight defensively and combat expertise and even crane style. That leaves you with a very nice AC, even one melee block. But your regular attacks are going to be quite penalized, so your touch attacks are the only ones that are likely to hit. Seeing that most spellcasters just stay back and make ranged touch attacks with impunity (that tend to deal more damage than melee touch attacks), a magus with boosted AC that deals one touch attack per round does not strike me as incredibly unbalanced. Und this magus needs dodge, improved unarmed strike, crane style and crane wing, and/or combat expertise, which because of the lesser BAB is not that effective.

- Whirlwind Attack would only mesh especialy well with multiple touch spells like frostbite and chill touch. While those are a great damage boost when used with spellstrike in the whirlwind attack, the feat cost balances it, I think. Also, most magus builds do not have the AC to stand right in the middle of all opponents, where whirlwind attack gets really good. Fireballing clustered enemies would probably do similar damage than jumping between them and whirlwind attacking them with sword and frostbite.

- Mobile fighters Rapid Attack sounds nice, but it is effectively a pounce for the price of 11 fighter levels. I think your magus levels will be so few that you almost attack like a fighter anyway, with the spell from spell combat making not that much of a difference.

- A monk could probably flurry with spell combat, since he can make all those attacks wit one hand. That is very nice, but it requires no armor whatsoever and only gets effective with more monk levels. Those in turn cut into the magus levels, lessening the power of the spells. A primary magus with a few monk levels attached will have one additional attack, but such at AC, not an unbalancing combo. A primary monk with a few magus levels will have a few spells of middling damage to add to his monk attack, which is nice, but not balance-threatening I think.
A Maneuver Master can add a Flurry of Maneuvers to spell combat to get an additional maneuver, even wearing armor, two if he has eight monk levels. One additional maneuver is nice, but not threatening balance, two require a cost of 8 monk levels, which balance the advantage again.


I'm not at all sure Spell Combat is any more of a problem than any of the other cases.

What I am mostly confused by is how, before today's updated ruling, people found the idea that other examples of possible impacts might be relevant to the discussion offensive, and were derisive and snide towards me for asking how else it might matter. Now that the ruling's changed, suddenly examples of other possible impact are relevant...

I think the underlying issue is that there's a distinction between "a full attack" (your iterative attacks, even if there's only one of them, which are generally a full-round action) and "the full attack action", which is a single specifically-named combat action which is not the same as other full-round actions which grant iterative attacks, and it seems that this distinction was not entirely intentional. Worse, I think the reality may be that the distinction was sometimes intentional -- in some cases, it was being used as a tool for fine-tuning balance, in others it wasn't.

In which case, modifying haste specifically to state that it applies to any action which gives a full attack, not just to the full attack action, is probably the lowest-impact way to get the intended results.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
seebs wrote:
Nefreet wrote:

Seebs, let me give you two hypothetical situations:

1) There is another clas feature exactly like Spell Combat, mixing things up that disturb you and attack your understanding of the rules.

2) Spell Combat is truly unique, and there really is nothing else outside of the "full attack" and "single attack" options.

What would you do if I gave you either answer?

With the first, I'd concede that I apparently did not understand the way the rules divide attack categories previously, and had missed this case, and would ask whether there was a general term in the rules for "a thing which gives you all your iterative attacks, but which is not a full attack".

With the second, I'd ask whether there was a specific design reason to need to create this new category, and if so, what it was. Was this a game balance thing, or what?

And looking at SKR's newer response, it looks to me like the design team has sort of concluded that the special case of "it's all your attacks but not a full attack" was indeed a special case, and not one which served a particularly useful purpose

And so why they are keeping it a special case? It is still not a full attack.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
harzerkatze wrote:
Kazaan wrote:
To be fair, the dev team is debating this issue because if the attacks for spell combat really do constitute a full-attack in the same way that the attacks in a Pounce-modified Charge do, then it means that a slew of other abilities can also be brought into play which may have unforeseen consequences. You could Fight Defensively and use Combat Expertise on your Spell Combat attacks and Fight Defensively, in turn, brings back in Crane style. If you have the Mobile Fighter's Rapid Attack ability, you can combine a full-attack with a single move action, allowing you to move during your spell combat. You could make a Whirlwind Attack during your spell combat. So on and so forth. On the other hand, if they conclude that Spell Combat only allows you your iterative attacks as a specific exception to the general rule that you only get iteratives on Full-Attack, but maintain that Spell Combat itself neither is nor involves making a full-attack, they're essentially changing Haste such that it functions when you make Iterative Attacks rather than when you make a Full-Attack. Honestly, I hope the rule the second way as I think making Spell Combat involve a full-on full-attack will turn out incredibly unbalanced.

The examples you provide do not sound incredibly unbalanced to me. I'll go through them, please correct me if I overlook dangerous consequences.

- Yes, you could combine spell combat for touch spells with fight defensively and combat expertise and even crane style. That leaves you with a very nice AC, even one melee block. But your regular attacks are going to be quite penalized, so your touch attacks are the only ones that are likely to hit. Seeing that most spellcasters just stay back and make ranged touch attacks with impunity (that tend to deal more damage than melee touch attacks), a magus with boosted AC that deals one touch attack per round does not strike me as incredibly unbalanced. Und this magus needs dodge, improved unarmed strike, crane style and crane wing,...

I think you are focusing too much on touch spells.

Let's do it the other way.

I want to cast dimension door (or any other non touch spell) but I am threatened by one or more enemies and can't disengage.

Normal spellcaster have the option to cast defensively or to take an AoO. A Magus can add some extra bonuses if spell combat count as a full attack:
- fighting defensively for a +2 (or +3) to AC taking a -4 to hit (or combat expertise);
- a bonus to his concentration check up to his intelligence bonus at the expense of a similar penalty to his attack;
- if he has it, he could add power attack too. As he i hitting with a nat 20 or so, an extra penalty isn't a problem and the extra damage can be nice.
In this situation the magus isn't really interested in hitting. If he get a natural 20 and hit it is simply a stroke of luck.
What he want is getting off his spell and keeping his AC up.

The Broad study arcana require you to be a 6th level mgus so it is not a small dip (probably it is limited that way exactly for this reason), but a lot of arcane spellcasters would love to be able increase their AC by 3 points and their concentration check by several points at the "expense" of having the melee attack the can make together with casting a spell hit only with a very high roll. The trick is casting a spell that don't require a to hit.


Diego Rossi wrote:
seebs wrote:
Nefreet wrote:

Seebs, let me give you two hypothetical situations:

1) There is another clas feature exactly like Spell Combat, mixing things up that disturb you and attack your understanding of the rules.

2) Spell Combat is truly unique, and there really is nothing else outside of the "full attack" and "single attack" options.

What would you do if I gave you either answer?

With the first, I'd concede that I apparently did not understand the way the rules divide attack categories previously, and had missed this case, and would ask whether there was a general term in the rules for "a thing which gives you all your iterative attacks, but which is not a full attack".

With the second, I'd ask whether there was a specific design reason to need to create this new category, and if so, what it was. Was this a game balance thing, or what?

And looking at SKR's newer response, it looks to me like the design team has sort of concluded that the special case of "it's all your attacks but not a full attack" was indeed a special case, and not one which served a particularly useful purpose

And so why they are keeping it a special case? It is still not a full attack.

I think it is now a full attack, but not the full attack action. But basically, they're saying "if it looks like a full attack, it probably is one for purposes of things that claim to work with a full attack". Because the distinction was not useful and served only to create a gigantic festering swarm of ambiguities, because the language has never been carefully considered or planned; some things say "a full attack" when others say "the full attack action", and it is not an intentional distinction -- in general, no one wrote those words with the intent to distinguish the cases. Except maybe if sometimes they did. But it wasn't a planned, considered, distinction being drawn consistently, so if it's a distinction, suddenly every reference to this has to be checked to see whether it's on the intended side. And since mostly no one intended the distinction to exist, the "intent" isn't known. You can't usefully ask "when you wrote this, did you mean to make it the kind of full attack which is the same as a full attack action, or just any old full attack", because the writers didn't have such a distinction in mind in the first place, in general.


There's a FAQ that allow to extra-attack with haste when spell combat. Now, that's not a thing for to rip you clothes on. It's not unreasonable, and seems it fit really wel with the haste concept. Nobody here seems to be shocked from other option that allow extra haste attack. So, why did you seems so upset? Spell Combat is much more like a full attack, so it benefit from haste. I don't see nothing of unblanaced or similar. Yes, haste can increase the chance to cast and hit in the same round, as it give an extra attacks and a +1 to hit, and so haste in some way "speed up" your actions. But, wait, this means haste make you quickly... I don't know if you feel the same, but it seems to me that a spell that increase your actions speed should increase your action speed. So, I can't see why you continue to argue...


Diego Rossi wrote:

I think you are focusing too much on touch spells.

Let's do it the other way.

I want to cast dimension door (or any other non touch spell) but I am threatened by one or more enemies and can't disengage.

Normal spellcaster have the option to cast defensively or to take an AoO. A Magus can add some extra bonuses if spell combat count as a full attack:
- fighting defensively for a +2 (or +3) to AC taking a -4 to hit (or combat expertise);
- a bonus to his concentration check up to his intelligence bonus at the expense of a similar penalty to his attack;
- if he has it, he could add power attack too. As he i hitting with a nat 20 or so, an extra penalty isn't a problem and the extra damage can be nice.
In this situation the magus isn't really interested in hitting. If he get a natural 20 and hit it is simply a stroke of luck.
What he want is getting off his spell and keeping his AC up.

The Broad study arcana require you to be a 6th level mgus so it is not a small dip (probably it is limited that way exactly for this reason), but a lot of arcane spellcasters would love to be able increase their AC by 3 points and their concentration check by several points at the "expense" of having the melee attack the can make together with casting a spell hit only with a very high roll. The trick is casting a spell that don't require a to hit.

OK, that can be done, but I for one don't think a spellcatser losing 6 levels of main class progression grows too powerful from this, rather the other way around.

So I would not have a problem with it. I also see no problem with power attack that only works once every 20 attacks, that should statistically not make much of a dent.

Nefreed posted in the other thread how he used to combine a True Strike spell combat with fight defensively to get a better AC AND a sure weapon hit. Again, not a problem in my eyes: Investing a level 1 spell per round to get 1x weapon damage is probably less than e.g. casting Shocking Grasp with the extra attack from spellstrike or just a touch attack.

So so far, none of the issues look too troubling to me. Let's keep going through tricks that can be pulled off with this. I would be happy if we found out that spell combat counting as regular full-attack wasn't too balance-threatening. I agree with SKR that it would be best if we could keep things simple and intuitive and not have to treat an ability that "functions much like two-weapon fighting" (spell combat) totally different than actual two-weapon fighting.


Diego Rossi wrote:
I think you are focusing too much on touch spells.

Probably true. One very nice tactic would be to fight defensively and Combat Expertise, attacking thin air, on round when you wanted to cast spells that have no attack roll anyway. You can get a free dodge bonus of between 2 and 7 on any round that you want to cast offensive save spells like fireball, or group buffs like haste, or any other spell without an attack roll, just by taling a full-round action instead of a standard action and paying the Combat Expertise feat. That IS nice I freely admit.


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Abraham spalding wrote:

Except it's not a full attack.

It's a charge -- with a special ability that gets the rest of the attacks.

Here's what is happening:

Charge == full round action.
Pounce == get a full attack.
Haste requires a full attack action.

Did you take a full attack action?

No as that is a full round action, and your full round action was a charge.

Ergo you didn't take a full attack action (as then you couldn't have charged).

Since you didn't take a full attack action, you do not get the haste attack.

You're assuming that the rules differentiate between "Full Attack" and "Full Attack Action". A cursory of reading of the relevant part of the Combat chapter shows that this is not the case.


Pupsocket wrote:
Abraham spalding wrote:

Except it's not a full attack.

It's a charge -- with a special ability that gets the rest of the attacks.

Here's what is happening:

Charge == full round action.
Pounce == get a full attack.
Haste requires a full attack action.

Did you take a full attack action?

No as that is a full round action, and your full round action was a charge.

Ergo you didn't take a full attack action (as then you couldn't have charged).

Since you didn't take a full attack action, you do not get the haste attack.

You're assuming that the rules differentiate between "Full Attack" and "Full Attack Action". A cursory of reading of the relevant part of the Combat chapter shows that this is not the case.

Not to be rude, but completely irrelevant now due to the new FAQ (my argument). However such distinction was being made at the time by the Paizo staff. There is an entire thread on it in the rules forum though if you want to take a look see.

However again with the new FAQ it is really not an issue now.


Pupsocket wrote:
Abraham spalding wrote:

Except it's not a full attack.

It's a charge -- with a special ability that gets the rest of the attacks.

Here's what is happening:

Charge == full round action.
Pounce == get a full attack.
Haste requires a full attack action.

Did you take a full attack action?

No as that is a full round action, and your full round action was a charge.

Ergo you didn't take a full attack action (as then you couldn't have charged).

Since you didn't take a full attack action, you do not get the haste attack.

You're assuming that the rules differentiate between "Full Attack" and "Full Attack Action". A cursory of reading of the relevant part of the Combat chapter shows that this is not the case.

This is interesting, since the entire context of this was a previous FAQ ruling that Paizo said showed exactly that these were differentiated. Could you point to what you found in the combat rules that shows that this is not the case?

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

I have to agree with Pupsocket. While it doesn't really matter now, there was never any distinction made between a full attack and a full attack action. That distinction was something Abraham created and screamed up and down forum threads about. The closest that anyone came to differentiating between the two was when the FAQ said "You can make as many weapon attacks as you would normally be able to make with a full attack." This meant you couldn't ((at that time) use haste, because even though you got as many attacks as you normally would on a full attack, you weren't actually making a full attack action. That's a little different than saying that there's actually a rules difference between a Full Attack and a Full Attack action. The ability gave you as many attacks you could make if you were taking that action, but you weren't actually making it.

No one/where in the rules or design team ever stated that there was a difference between a full attack and full attack action.

Scarab Sages

Ssalarn wrote:
No one/where in the rules or design team ever stated that there was a difference between a full attack and full attack action.

They did, very briefly, before immediately reversing with the current FAQ.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Artanthos wrote:
Ssalarn wrote:
No one/where in the rules or design team ever stated that there was a difference between a full attack and full attack action.
They did, very briefly, before immediately reversing with the current FAQ.

No, they didn't. What I just quoted was that FAQ. I'm the one who started this whole mess of a thread.


Actually there was a difference and I didn't create it, you seem to have an odd memory Ssalarn.

Also I didn't "scream up and down the forum"

I was in exactly two threads.

Finally you'll notice I went with what they had said in the FAQ in the spell combat decision (the first one) to give my reasons in the pounce one.


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Ssalarn wrote:
Artanthos wrote:
Ssalarn wrote:
No one/where in the rules or design team ever stated that there was a difference between a full attack and full attack action.
They did, very briefly, before immediately reversing with the current FAQ.
No, they didn't. What I just quoted was that FAQ. I'm the one who started this whole mess of a thread.

Correct. They did not ever state there was a difference between 'full attack' and 'full attack action'.

They did state that there was a difference between saying something was a full attack action and saying that something behaved like a full attack action (which is what the FAQ stated). The belief that there was a 'difference' was because that was read to be a statement of equivalency (which wasn't intended) rather than a comparison (which was).

Scarab Sages

Ssalarn wrote:
Artanthos wrote:
Ssalarn wrote:
No one/where in the rules or design team ever stated that there was a difference between a full attack and full attack action.
They did, very briefly, before immediately reversing with the current FAQ.
No, they didn't. What I just quoted was that FAQ. I'm the one who started this whole mess of a thread.
FAQ wrote:

Pounce and Haste: If a creature with pounce is under a haste effect, and it charges, does it get the extra attack from haste?

Yes.

Edit 9/9/13: This is a revised ruling about how haste interacts with effects that are essentially a full attack, even though the creature isn't specifically using the full attack action (as required by haste). The earlier ruling implied that pounce did not allow the extra attack from haste because pounce wasn't using the full attack action.

—Pathfinder Design Team, Monday

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Artanthos wrote:
Ssalarn wrote:
Artanthos wrote:
Ssalarn wrote:
No one/where in the rules or design team ever stated that there was a difference between a full attack and full attack action.
They did, very briefly, before immediately reversing with the current FAQ.
No, they didn't. What I just quoted was that FAQ. I'm the one who started this whole mess of a thread.
FAQ wrote:

Pounce and Haste: If a creature with pounce is under a haste effect, and it charges, does it get the extra attack from haste?

Yes.

Edit 9/9/13: This is a revised ruling about how haste interacts with effects that are essentially a full attack, even though the creature isn't specifically using the full attack action (as required by haste). The earlier ruling implied that pounce did not allow the extra attack from haste because pounce wasn't using the full attack action.

—Pathfinder Design Team, Monday

Yes, but the design team never made that implication. It wasn't until people came in and started saying that that's how they interpreted it that the design team decided to make a ruling that fewer people would find confusing. They still never at any time stated there was a difference between a full attack and a full attack action. They don't state that even in your quote.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

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Okay, I think we're ready to go beyond "I said this and you said that" and realize that we should now be at "ruling made, who cares who said what, let's move on."


Sean K Reynolds wrote:

Okay, I think we're ready to go beyond "I said this and you said that" and realize that we should now be at "ruling made, who cares who said what, let's move on."

Agreed, and my magus thanks you heartily for the new ruling. We had a near TPK last night, and having that extra attack made the difference :)


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Sean K Reynolds wrote:

Okay, I think we're ready to go beyond "I said this and you said that" and realize that we should now be at "ruling made, who cares who said what, let's move on."

Oh, come on, modern forensics can still tell us there was almost certainly a horse, or at least some sort of vertebrate. This isn't bad yet. (Compare it, if you will, with the couple years of alignment flamewars in rec.games.frp.dnd a few years back, which led to probably some of the dumbest questions I ever sent to Sage Advice.)

Those flame wars were awesome -- one of the things that came out of them was someone who took snippets of the posts later in the debate and used them as samples of the random gibberish spouted by allips.

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