Whats the "point" of the starknife?


Advice

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So one of my players is a cleric of desna and he was asking me about using a starknife cause it fits with his character and stuff. I've honestly never looked over it as a weapon and at first glance its mechanics look underwhelming... am i missing somthing?

Are thier any low level enchantments that make a starknife particularly useful?

thanks :)
G


Returning.


giving him one ranged attack per round with an incriment of 20ft and 1d4/x3 damage... really?


you can trhow it and use the returning property, but otherwise yeah, it is not a strong option.


Returning, maybe? Then you could use it at range or in melee.

But really, like certain similar weaponry, the flavor is much more compelling than the mechanics.


Ever watched naruto?

Seen that windmill shuriken?

Something like that. Plus a cleric of desna gets proficiency in starknives for free.

Only mechanically it sucks.


If an opponent is at a distance and they might be about to cast something, you could ready an action to throw it. At which point, returning would be be nice. Otherwise, there's not a lot going for it. It is light, so you could wield two of them, and throw them.


Basically, flavor. That's about it.


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It is similar to a dagger with some difference. A dagger has a range of 10 ft. and a crit of 19-20/x2. The starknife has a range of 20 ft. and a crit of x3.

I played a twf rogue who used 6 starknives alternating between melee and ranged attacks with them. I took quick draw to quickly replace the thrown knives. There was a rogue talent that when you sneak attack, the opponent can't make attacks of opportunity for the round, so I'd sneak attack one target and throw a starknife at another. At later levels, improved two weapon feint allowed me to catch the ranged target flat-footed as well.

Granted, it wasn't the strongest character, but I enjoyed playing it.


It is competitive with other light, throwable melee weapons. It is kind of nice that Weapon Focus and Improved Critical can do double duty for melee and ranged, which helps make up for the mediocre stats.

Liberty's Edge

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A non-optimized but quite flavorful favored weapon is a very little price to pay for access to the best domains in the game.

I swear some people just want it all

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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The "design niche" the starknife fills is that it's a light throwing weapon that does x3 damage on a crit. No other light weapon in the core rules does this.

The "flavor niche" the starknife fills is that it not only gives the Pathfinder RPG a weapon it can truly call its own, and to give Desna a unique weapon that matches her themes. (I originally invented the starknife for her religion decades ago for my home campaign, and when Desna "graduated" into Pathfinder, she brought her favored weapon with her.)


hmmmm... well i *really* like how he is going for it for flavour... so how about a returning grey-flame star knife that doubles up as a holy symbol. He could hold it in his off hand (but not twf with it) and have a mace in his right hand.

That way if he is at range *throw*, if he's close up, smash with the mace (or twf if thats his thing), if he's chanelling stick'em with an extra 1d6 of damage?

It dosn't look like i can make it the "best" mechanical option but i want to make it viable and up the coolness factor that he wants to have of being a cleric of desna with the diety's signature weapon.


Tinalles wrote:

Returning, maybe? Then you could use it at range or in melee.

But really, like certain similar weaponry, the flavor is much more compelling than the mechanics.

Chakrams give archers a way to overcome DR/Slashing, and they can use their archery feats (Point Blank, Deadly Aim, Rapid Shot) with it to not be terrible. Chakrams are good, if niche.

Dark Archive

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It's a good enough weapon, but it's unfortunately worse than several simple options. It's not bad, it just loses in the comparison.

I would love to ask the same question for the sling staff, especially considering recent FAQs.


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It gives its x3 crit to a cleric's spiritual weapon. That's nice.


You take 2 levels in sphere walker as a Magus and get a free returning weapon that you can spell combat with.

I guess.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Mergy wrote:
It's a good enough weapon, but it's unfortunately worse than several simple options. It's not bad, it just loses in the comparison.

Frankly, I'm not seeing that at all. It's not fair to compare it to anything other than light weapons, first of all... and compared to the simple light weapons... it does quite well. A better range and comperable crit to the dagger makes it better than the dagger, and no other simple light weapon can be thrown.

Again, I'm only comparing Core Ruleboook weapons here. If we've introduced a better simple throwing weapon since then... that's an argument that weapon is broken, not that the starknife is underpowered.

Dark Archive

It has the same numbers as the dagger, barring the longer range increment, and daggers are both easier to learn (simple proficiency) and easier to conceal (+2 to sleight of hand).

Since throwing builds are incredibly sub-optimal with the Pathfinder rules, the ranged increment doesn't do it for me, and I'm left seeing a martial weapon that is slightly easier to throw, but lesser in every other way to the humble dagger.

It's a very cool weapon, and any cleric of Desna I made would carry one. However, I wouldn't expect a build making use of it to be rewarding from an optimization point of view.


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It has value for a knife master who wants to make the occasional ranged sneak attack without missing because of the dagger's tiny throwing range.


I guess it's more that throwing weapons suck, and even if you did go that way, you'd be throwing with Two handed thrower. And then there's light weapons also sucking in general, only good for TWF offhand... which also sucks...

I guess if both of those options were better, the starknife would be more popular for other than fluff reasons.


As it's Desna's favored weapon, you can also get Guided hand and use your wisdom to hit with both ranged and melee and have it be your main casting stat, and get heavy armor proficiency. It is comparable to the dagger, and as it has been said, is similar to the dagger in it's crit range. The higher crit does make it better at Coup de Grace, and it just plain looks cool. It's plenty awesome, and it's versatile.


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The starknife is 100% biodegradable. It's friendly to the earth and it can hurt you in 100 different ways. It has warrior capacities and it looks a little bit funny.


Yes, it's an incredibly cruddy weapon. Just carry one for emergencies and show, and use something else for your real weapon.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Hmm. Interesting that throwing weapons are perceived as that huge of a lame duck.

Point taken, but at the same point, the fact that being able to damage at a range where you can't be retaliated against by melee attacks is still an advantage that we need to keep in mind when balancing weapons. Whether or not one agrees that the weapon is too good or not.

Shadow Lodge

Flavor is nice, and so is guided hand. Personal favorite use is flaming returning greyflame starknife just for flavor. Throw stars across the field.

Liberty's Edge

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James Jacobs wrote:

Hmm. Interesting that throwing weapons are perceived as that huge of a lame duck.

Point taken, but at the same point, the fact that being able to damage at a range where you can't be retaliated against by melee attacks is still an advantage that we need to keep in mind when balancing weapons. Whether or not one agrees that the weapon is too good or not.

Anything not maximizing DPR or some other spread sheet numerology, apparently sucks...

Personally, I think it is an interesting piece of fluff and a cool weapon. But I must be playing the game wrong I guess.


James Jacobs wrote:

Hmm. Interesting that throwing weapons are perceived as that huge of a lame duck.

Point taken, but at the same point, the fact that being able to damage at a range where you can't be retaliated against by melee attacks is still an advantage that we need to keep in mind when balancing weapons. Whether or not one agrees that the weapon is too good or not.

Not by me, but I wouldn’t make a build focusing on them. Fine for a cleric who mostly casts spells, or a back up weapon.

I like the flavor and utility of a starknife for a cleric of Desna. Compared to a simple weapon, like a dagger, it’s fine, and the Cleric of Desna gets it for free. There’s also a trait that gives proficiency in it for free.

Would I burn a feat and specialize in the Starknife as my main weapon as a warrior type? Not so much.


I wish there were more "chosen weapon" enhancing spells in Pathfinder. Like a low level spell that gave obvious and flashy payoff for carrying a starknife would be really awesome.

I usually try to get clerics a sweet version of their weapon as early in the campaign as possible.


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James Jacobs wrote:
Hmm. Interesting that throwing weapons are perceived as that huge of a lame duck.

The problem with thrown weapons is simply one of cost James. You can only reasonably afford to throw non-magical weapons because you need to have lots of them if you intend for throwing them to be your main combat technique. And getting iterative attacks with thrown weapons requires that you get Quick Draw. So now you've spent a feat, bought a bunch of non-magical weapons that are heavy and not going to work on a lot of enemies to do much less damage than a guy with a proper ranged weapon. And soon enough, he's going to be packing an awesome bow which you can't afford to match.

Returning doesn't solve the problem either; now you can't move after you attack, and even if you could afford to enchant multiple thrown weapons, you'll only be able to catch the first one since they all show up at the same time.

The only throwing weapon build that I've ever seen that was plausibly useful was in 3.5 built entirely around the glove of endless javelins, and even that was of limited use once you reached a level where the javelins it created were outclassed.


I guess I never really gave much thought to Clerics needing much in the way of combat optimization. I guess if we're talking battle cleric then yes, but I'd hardly put a follower of Desna in that category.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

2 of them (and a blinkback belt) work really well for a 2WF switch-hitter... one set of focus/spec/crit feats apply to all of your melee and ranged attacks, they're light so no extra 2WF penalties and you can use finesse to make all attacks Dex based (and put Agile on the weapons). you can do all this with daggers too but the extra range is handy and in some cases the x3 crit is better than the 19-20 crit range (like if you have a friend with butterfly's sting, for example).

@ZanThrax- the belt i linked is the fix for that... although, as loneknave, points out, it isnt a perfect solution


Well, there's that belt magic item that blinks your weapons back to you... so now only your most important slot (the one for the physical buffs) is taken, you can't wear bracers of archery, you don't have many-shot, and you have had to spend more feats than the archer guy to be able to just full attack at half range.

On the up-side, you had to take the TWF feats, so although you had to split your focus between dex and strength, you can at least TWF in melee when it comes to it. Also, two handed thrower is sorta okay, I guess.

The single thrown weapon I can even imagine working standalone as the focus of a build is the Rope Dart, or maybe the opium laced shuriken ninja.


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James Jacobs wrote:

Hmm. Interesting that throwing weapons are perceived as that huge of a lame duck.

The problem is equipment. Your +3 shocking bow of coruscating awesome is +3 shocking coruscating awesome on every single shot it fires. Your similarly pimped out star knife is that way for one shot... and then you to shell out all of your cash for a second shot.

Returning not only eats up a +1 bonus, it doesn't let you get iteratives because the weapon comes back to you next turn.

The blinkback belt helps this, but takes up the very valuable belt slot.

Dark Archive

There have been a few items that help throwing, but they are unfortunately all on the same slot. Blinkback has been mentioned, and the belt of mighty hurling is the other.

If the hurling property was on the glove slot instead (or available as a feat), there would be more throwing builds I think.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

i don't think anyone is going to argue that this is the weapon for an optimal dpr build, but honestly i think you could build a pretty decent atypical fighter with them... it would be a slow starter (not really coming together until you can afford 2 +1 agile starknives and a blinkback belt), but all your melee and ranged attacks would get Dex to hit and damage, so you'd only need minimal strength- that would free up stat points for Int on a lore warden, or Cha for a face/eldritch heritage fighter. it could actually be a nice solution for someone looking to play a small sized fighter- not a big difference between a d3 and a d4 and the strength penalty won't matter by mid levels, and in exchange you get +1 to hit and AC! could be fun?


James Jacobs wrote:

Hmm. Interesting that throwing weapons are perceived as that huge of a lame duck.

Point taken, but at the same point, the fact that being able to damage at a range where you can't be retaliated against by melee attacks is still an advantage that we need to keep in mind when balancing weapons. Whether or not one agrees that the weapon is too good or not.

Actually, with Quick Draw and a good Strength, they're pretty cool...

.... until you get to the point where all your friends are using +2 flaming ammo. An archer can just enchant their bow, but a thrower is mostly out of luck. Even defeating DR /magic is a bit of a pain. This is the guy who seriously considers taking Penetrating Strike. If you make use of the advantage of using the same feats for both melee and ranged, hulk up your Strength, take Two-Weapon fighting, Quick Draw, and Penetrating Strike, you're in business. You'll still need one or two returning weapons, but you'll at least be able to fight. Unfortunately, one obvious patch, Vital Strike, is a poor choice because throwing weapons have almost universally poor damage dice. So, you're basically looking at damage falling off pretty quickly for your iteratives. Almost none of the damage is going to come from the base weapon die. Fighters get enough feats to pull this off, and barbarians have a Strength advantage; it's going to be hard to get this to work for a cleric.


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To me it looks like a mostly ceremonial weapon, by stats. Sure, it is a thrown version of the punch dagger, but at higher levels that is just one attack per round. It definitely isn't something most warriors (or anyone else with the martial weapon proficiency) would care much about.

It is fun on a cleric or some other zealot, but it tends to do notably worse than most other weapons in the category it is put in.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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(shrug)

Your mileage may vary, I guess.

Not every build needs to be a damage per round contender.


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Compared to a dagger, a starknife is
* 12 times the cost
* 3 times the weight
* P only vs S/P
* Harder to conceal
* Martial vs Simple
* Incompatible with River Rat
* Less likely to crit, should you like crit feats

In compensation, it goes twice as far when you decide to throw it away and buy 12 daggers instead.

For the OP: The point is the sharp bit on the end. Actually 4 points. Of which you can use only one at a time.


Mudfoot wrote:


For the OP: The point is the sharp bit on the end. Actually 4 points. Of which you can use only one at a time.

Ha! I wasn't the first to fail my will save


So what's the starknife good for if not damage...? It's not a utility weapon like, say, the whip is.


To be fair, people who use weapons usually want to use them to hurt people, and those who don't probably don't want something that requires an investment if they want to use it at all. Thrown unfortunately requires an investment, and still comes out subpar.

While, the star knife isn't particularly great, you can always use houserules or reskinning or something to make it nifty. Even drop a magical one that doesn't something awesome but not so overpowered to make it interesting. A named magical starknife with a Desnan ancestory for instance might be cool for instance.


those sharp bits, at the ends.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

It would be awesome if, instead of just proficiency in their deity's favored weapon, clerics actually got bonuses at using it as they went up in level. Might give them something to do with all those empty even levels and an actual reason to use a d4 weapon instead of a d6-10 one other than putative brownie points from their god.

The Exchange

it is like a sling, it is never meant to be a good choice. You want flavor take your pick, you want to not look gimpy get a bow


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James Jacobs wrote:

(shrug)

Your mileage may vary, I guess.

Not every build needs to be a damage per round contender.

But every build* that you want to not be perceived as a huge lame duck needs to either be a damage per round contender, require less investment than the cheapest DPR contender, or do something other than DPR well enough to justify the build long term.

The way CMD out-scales CMB there really isn't a good "something else" and in any case thrown weapons aren't a contender for maneuvers so it'd DPR or lame duck.

Thrown weapons are basically killed by WBL and the magic item treadmill.

The terrible range increments don't help. The only thrown weapon I'm aware of that even has a first range increment that covers "point blank" is the chakram.

The casket has been well and truly nailed shut and the adaptive composite longbow has seen it buried under a crossroads.

* or in this context the portion of a build dedicated to using weapons since it doesn't really matter if you're comparing clerics, fighters, or experts and whether the build as a whole is optimized for fighting, spell casting, or basketweaving.


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The problem with throwing builds is the horrible returning power. Fix returning and you fix throwing builds.


Hey I love cool weapons and flavor. I hate when that seems to be an excuse for the weapon sucking mechanically.

With that said the starknife is not the worse offender by far and at least is a decent martial throwing weapon.

Of course then there's the whole problem with throwing weapons, but that's an issue with throwing weapons, not the starknife specifically.


Furious Kender wrote:
The problem with throwing builds is the horrible returning power. Fix returning and you fix throwing builds.

Or let Vital Strike actually double damage instead of just adding bonus damage dice.

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