Do 'Improvised' Weapons Threaten?


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Silver Crusade

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If a creature is holding a non-weapon object that could be used to attack using the rule for improvised weapons (such as a bottle or an empty bucket or a large book), does that creature threaten adjacent squares with that object, for purposes such as making attacks of opportunity with that object?

Silver Crusade

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This question was prompted by a discussion in an earlier thread. Although I was convinced about the answer that was asked there, when it comes to this question I really don't know.

I originally thought that, no, improvised weapons don't threaten, because unarmed attacks don't threaten (without a feat or special ability that changes that), but 'unarmed' might mean 'no object in hand' or 'no weapon in hand', so the question of threatening would be different depending on the answer to the question in the OP.

I can see that if, for example, you were standing over a prone foe with a broken bottle that you picked up to use as a weapon, if the foe stands up (provoking an AoO), then it seems sensible that you should be able to belt him with the bottle you picked up to do just that.

On the other hand, if all you're carrying is a heavy book when you spent the first round running away, would that let you threaten squares when standing with your fists ready doesn't threaten? Should carrying a non-weapon make you count as armed? Where does it end? Does my signet ring count as improvised knuckle dusters, so I always threaten just because I'm wearing a ring or gloves or boots, when being 'unarmed' means I don't?


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Pathfinder Maps Subscriber

Holding ? No.
Wielding ? Yes.

There is a difference between holding and wielding. They must specifically wield the item (whatever it may be) as an improvised weapon.

Imagine you're moving a chair to another table. Now imagine you're using a chair as an improvised weapon to hold off that lion. Completely different way of using the chair. One is holding, the other is wielding.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

It is not clear in the rules but as you can make an attack with one, albeit normally at a -4 penalty, and it does damage, I would say yes. It does not say that you draw an attack of opportunity when using one, so it would seem that you are armed and dangerous and so should threaten and be able to flank, take attacks of opportunity, etc. with an improvised weapon.

A guy with a dagger is only slightly more menacing than a guy with a broken bottle or table leg in my opinion.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

It seems like this is another example of a place where there are no clear rules (and a definitive ruling either way creates absurdities), so why not just take it case by case? For the book, if a player says "I snatch up the heavy book and prepare to swing away if anything comes near", then yes, it threatens, IMO. If the player says "I snatch up the book and run to the door" then no, it doesn't. Same with the ring. If a player just tries to make an improvised attack of opportunity with a ring, without giving me some form of narrative forewarning, then that's not going to fly. If instead the player says something like "I'm uncomfortable leaving my weapons outside, so I'll try to at least adjust me rings to give me something to punch with if things go bad", then I feel like it's pretty reasonable (although depending on the situation I might make a perception check to have someone notice him fidgeting with his rings).

Shadow Lodge

MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
It seems like this is another example of a place where there are no clear rules (and a definitive ruling either way creates absurdities), so why not just take it case by case? For the book, if a player says "I snatch up the heavy book and prepare to swing away if anything comes near", then yes, it threatens, IMO. If the player says "I snatch up the book and run to the door" then no, it doesn't. Same with the ring. If a player just tries to make an improvised attack of opportunity with a ring, without giving me some form of narrative forewarning, then that's not going to fly. If instead the player says something like "I'm uncomfortable leaving my weapons outside, so I'll try to at least adjust me rings to give me something to punch with if things go bad", then I feel like it's pretty reasonable (although depending on the situation I might make a perception check to have someone notice him fidgeting with his rings).

Edit: I really like the idea of having a bunch of huge rings lined up like brass knuckles.

Edit(again): I obviously misread this the first time. I completely agree with this.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I totally agree that while "any" object may be used as an improvised weapon, not just any object is an improvised weapon. Clear?

Like you said, I may be carrying a book, but in that case it is just a book. When I take it as SlimGauge said and begin to purposely wield it, then it becomes an improvised weapon. The same can be said with a bottle or whatever else may be taken and used. I have never thought of the idea of using rings, but if it is something like a class or school ring, then yes, I could see that as a weapon. I have been thumped on the head by my brother's class ring in the past when he spun it around and gave me an open hand whap to the head. It hurt!!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
PatientWolf wrote:

I agree for the most part except I think the player would have to start with the book, or whatever, in hand not just sitting nearby. However, this is of course a judgement call.

Edit: I really like the idea of having a bunch of huge rings lined up like brass knuckles.

Yeah, I wasn't entirely clear there - I meant those descriptions to represent what the player did on his/her turn prior to attempting to use the improvised weapon for an AoO. Basically, my standard would generally be if you did something on your turn to tell me you were effectively "wielding" the item, then I would probably count you as "threatening", but otherwise probably not. Same deal with flanking etc. If you just hold an item near someone, that's not automatically threatening them unless you make it clear you are intending to use the object as a weapon (and I agree that such a use is reasonable in the first place).

Actually, I think the question isn't really about if improvised weapons threaten, because I think RAW improvised weapons are still weapons, and thus if you are wielding one, you count as "armed", but I also think that "wielding" an improvised weapon is typically demonstrably different narratively from merely "holding an item". I think the issue is more asking when you "count" as wielding an improvised weapon.

To take an example from the "other thread", a player saying at the end of his/her turn "I adjust my grip on my spear to allow me to bash with the haft if anyone comes too close" would IMO allow the character to threaten adjacent with an improvised weapon, but give up the ability to make an AoO at reach. Remember, it's a free action to switch your grip, but you can typically only take free actions on your turn in my games, so there's no real danger of threatening AoO at reach AND adjacent because you can't change grip as a free action when it's not your turn.

In the same way, even if you realize after your turn is done that the heavy book you are holding would make a passable club, since it's not your turn, you can't shift to "wielding" it - if you try to make an AoO, I would just say "You realized a fraction of a second too late that you could use the book as a weapon, but at least on your next turn you can swing away", or the like.

Shadow Lodge

MrTsFloatinghead wrote:


Actually, I think the question isn't really about if improvised weapons threaten, because I think RAW improvised weapons are still weapons, and thus if you are wielding one, you count as "armed", but I also think that "wielding" an improvised weapon is typically demonstrably different narratively from merely "holding an item". I think the issue is more asking when you "count" as wielding an improvised weapon.

Yeah, sorry about that misread your post the first time through. I think you make a very important point here. "Wielding" vs "Holding" seems to be the key. You can threaten when "wielding" an improvised weapon and I personally consider "wielding" to be when a character has stated the intent to actually use that object as a weapon.

So if the character holding the book says, as you stated in your first post, "I'm raising this 24K gold plated NY phone book over my head to bash anyone who gets to close" I consider him to be wielding and thus threatening.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Of course, there is a separate issue of the size of the weapon in each case -- many of the items being discussed are far larger than the items that were originally considered as improvised weapons. All a DM has to do to disallow a particularly big item from being used as an improvised weapon by a size Medium creature is to rule that the item is a Huge improvised weapon.

Silver Crusade

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Here we come up against another common rules misconception: 'wielding'.

In the rules, 'wielding' sometimes means 'holding', sometimes means 'attacking with' and sometimes....something in between. : /

As far as combat is concerned, in order to be able to use (attack with) a weapon, all that is required is that you are holding it (unsheathed) in the required number of hands, and that there is nothing preventing you from making an attack with it.

There is absolutely nothing in the rules about needing to 'switch' between 'just holding' and 'wielding'.

By the rules, when it's not your turn you can't take free actions (without written exceptions), so cannot shift your grip between turns, such as to add your free hand to a weapon you are holding in just one hand so that you are holding it in two, or vice versa. There is no action required to switch from holding a weapon in two hands to holding it in two hands! It's already in two hands!

Similarly, there is no action needed to decide or switch between weapons you are holding to choose which of them you are 'wielding'. When you attack, you choose between any weapon you are holding (or, in some cases, wearing, like boot blades, spiked gauntlets, armour spikes, boulder helmet, even trained unarmed strikes or natural weapons).

If you are holding a longsword in your right hand, a short sword in your left, wearing boot blades on each foot, wear armour with armour spikes and are trained in unarmed strikes, and have a natural bite attack, then any idiot foolish enough to provoke an AoO when standing adjacent can be attacked with any one of those! But only one, even if it could have been any one of ten. And there is no action you need to take in order to decide, beforehand, which one of these you really threaten with. You threaten with them all.

Shadow Lodge

David knott 242 wrote:
Of course, there is a separate issue of the size of the weapon in each case -- many of the items being discussed are far larger than the items that were originally considered as improvised weapons. All a DM has to do to disallow a particularly big item from being used as an improvised weapon by a size Medium creature is to rule that the item is a Huge improvised weapon.

Yeah this is an area that is going to have to be determined by the GM because the rules don't contain specific restrictions on size limits for improvised weapons. We don't know what size of objects were intended to be considered as such.

Shadow Lodge

Malachi Silverclaw wrote:


There is absolutely nothing in the rules about needing to 'switch' between 'just holding' and 'wielding'.

My understanding is that there is a FAQ that states that to "wield" you must attack. I don't know where it is, I haven't personally read it, and I have no inclination to look for it because I don't like that rule and won't use it in my games. However, it would be RAW as a dev ruling.

Silver Crusade

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The improvised weapon rule requires the DM to decide which actual weapon most resembles the non-weapon object in question, including the size of that weapon. The rules on using a weapon of inappropriate size don't go away, and if the DM rules that the equivalent weapon is too small or too large for a creature of your size to use effectively, then 'unusable' is the correct answer.

Shadow Lodge

Malachi Silverclaw wrote:
The improvised weapon rule requires the DM to decide which actual weapon most resembles the non-weapon object in question, including the size of that weapon. The rules on using a weapon of inappropriate size don't go away, and if the DM rules that the equivalent weapon is too small or too large for a creature of your size to use effectively, then 'unusable' is the correct answer.

Good point, that is correct.

Silver Crusade

PatientWolf wrote:
Malachi Silverclaw wrote:


There is absolutely nothing in the rules about needing to 'switch' between 'just holding' and 'wielding'.
My understanding is that there is a FAQ that states that to "wield" you must attack. I don't know where it is, I haven't personally read it, and I have no inclination to look for it because I don't like that rule and won't use it in my games. However, it would be RAW as a dev ruling.

The FAQ you mean is one about gaining the benefit of the Defending weapon property, and in that instance, 'wield' means 'attack with'.

But 'wield' is meant in different ways in other instances. The wizard's bonded object used to say that the object must be wielded while casting a spell, which would mean that the staff would be unuseable as a bonded object if 'wield' meant 'attack with' in that context, because you wouldn't be able to cast a spell in the same round as attacking with your staff if both actions used your standard action, which is nearly always. This is why it was errata'd to say 'worn or held' instead of 'wielded'.

So different FAQs will have a different meaning for 'wield' in different contexts. 'Wield' is not a game definition.

Shadow Lodge

Malachi Silverclaw wrote:


The FAQ you mean is one about gaining the benefit of the Defending weapon property, and in that instance, 'wield' means 'attack with'.

But 'wield' is meant in different ways in other instances. The wizard's bonded object used to say that the object must be wielded while casting a spell, which would mean that the staff would be unuseable as a bonded object if 'wield' meant 'attack with' in that context, because you wouldn't be able to cast a spell in the same round as attacking with your staff if both actions used your standard action, which is nearly always. This is why it was errata'd to say 'worn or held' instead of 'wielded'.

So different FAQs will have a different meaning for 'wield' in different contexts. 'Wield' is not a game definition.

Hmmm...yeah looks like they have done a poor job of defining a word that really does have a lot of impact. I'm sure that context can tell you in most cases what they meant but there are cases, like here in the improvised weapons rules, where that context is not as clear.

Silver Crusade

Although there is no doubt that a DM can make any ruling he wants at his own table, it would be nice to know what the rule actually is.

It would be even more important if the PDT rule that reach weapons can attack adjacent foes as an improvised non-reach club.

Please hit FAQ. : )


In the previous thread, I tried to demonstrate that an object could not be both an Improvised Weapon and the object it normally is simultaneously. Most of the time this is fairly obvious. You can't sit in a chair while you wield it as a greatclub. Sometimes it's not so obvious. One of the counter arguments in that other thread, was that a boot could be an Improvised Weapon, so as long as you were wearing a boot, you were armed and threatening.

Improvised weapons don't gain the benefits of any weapon description. So, they don't have any exception to the rules that another weapon might gain, like the Barbezu Beard. That said, I would argue, that barring a specific ruling from a DM, specific to a situation, an Improvised Weapon must be held in the hands. (If your character wants to Jackie Chan a bucket onto his foot, and kick people with it... yes! But, that has to be on a case-by-case basis.)

Merely holding an item doesn't seem to meet the criteria, though. You also would have to be utilizing the item in a way that creates enough distraction and menace to affect other aspects of an ongoing battle. What I mean by that, is threatening affects movement and combat bonuses not applied to you. If your opponent is completely ignoring you, because you are only holding a book, then the rogue opposite you will not gain the bonus of flanking. Why? Because the opponent is not distracted by your actions. He is intent on protecting himself from the daggers in your ally's hands.

So, until you create some actual menace... in other words, until you make an attack with your book, it will never be "threatening" an opponent. After that point, as long as you continue to wield it (i.e. not thrown or dropped) you would threaten with it until the beginning of your next action (next turn).

The problem with merely declaring that you are wielding it as a weapon, such as if you readied an action, is that "threatening" mostly affects other creatures/characters. So, it's less important whether you feel "threatening" than that they feel "threatened".


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Malachi Silverclaw wrote:

Although there is no doubt that a DM can make any ruling he wants at his own table, it would be nice to know what the rule actually is.

It would be even more important if the PDT rule that reach weapons can attack adjacent foes as an improvised non-reach club.

Please hit FAQ. : )

You already know what the answer actually is - again, we depart ways on the need or desirability of an FAQ. Whatever the "official" ruling turned out to be, it would, if read as a strict RAW errata, assuredly create some absurd situations, which everyone already agrees are easily solved by having GMs make situation appropriate rulings. What value, then, is there in establishing a rule that we all acknowledge won't help us resolve the situations that seem to be a problem (the edge case absurdities), and thus doesn't seem to add any value to the game?

If you want to know what the design team thinks a good general guideline is, that's fine, but whatever their intent was in a general sense will still not be "what the rule actually is". What the rule "actually is" is unclear, which currently allows us all to resolve it however makes the most sense. No clarification can possibly improve on that, so why bother?

Silver Crusade

Why bother? AoOs are an important feature of combat, combat may be the most important part of the game for many, surely most game time is spent resolving combat.

In fact, combat should work exactly the same whether there is a DM or not. Combats can be played out entirely by following the combat rules without any 'on the fly' decisions at all. therefore they have to function without making rules up as you go along.

So, do you threaten when holding a book? There is a definate answer, without a DM needing to invent it.

Trouble is, I don't know what the answer is. So I ask in the rules thread, which exists for precisely this kind of question.

'You don't need to follow the rules' is not an answer to the question 'what is the rule?'


The Crusader wrote:
In the previous thread, I tried to demonstrate that an object could not be both an Improvised Weapon and the object it normally is simultaneously.

Why? A double weapon is two different weapons AND a whole weapon at the same time. Why couldn't one of those two weapons be an improvised one? Does wielding my sword stop me from hitting someone with the hilt?

Shadow Lodge

MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
Malachi Silverclaw wrote:

Although there is no doubt that a DM can make any ruling he wants at his own table, it would be nice to know what the rule actually is.

It would be even more important if the PDT rule that reach weapons can attack adjacent foes as an improvised non-reach club.

Please hit FAQ. : )

If you want to know what the design team thinks a good general guideline is, that's fine, but whatever their intent was in a general sense will still not be "what the rule actually is". What the rule "actually is" is unclear, which currently allows us all to resolve it however makes the most sense. No clarification can possibly improve on that, so why bother?

Stephen has kind of clarified this as well in his posts over on the vital strike thread. Nothing a Dev posts in a thread should be taken as an "official ruling". Only official FAQs and errata should be considered official.

Edit: So I think we need to reopen the entire Human/Kobold/Tail Terror debate. Just kidding! Please don't hit me with whatever improvised weapon is handy!

Shadow Lodge

graystone wrote:
The Crusader wrote:
In the previous thread, I tried to demonstrate that an object could not be both an Improvised Weapon and the object it normally is simultaneously.
Why? A double weapon is two different weapons AND a whole weapon at the same time. Why couldn't one of those two weapons be an improvised one? Does wielding my sword stop me from hitting someone with the hilt?

That topic has been thoroughly discussed on another thread to the point a moderate locked it. Better not to open that can of worms. Those posting on this thread have very strong views which conflict about that particular point.


PatientWolf wrote:
graystone wrote:
The Crusader wrote:
In the previous thread, I tried to demonstrate that an object could not be both an Improvised Weapon and the object it normally is simultaneously.
Why? A double weapon is two different weapons AND a whole weapon at the same time. Why couldn't one of those two weapons be an improvised one? Does wielding my sword stop me from hitting someone with the hilt?
That topic has been thoroughly discussed on another thread to the point a moderate locked it. Better not to open that can of worms. Those posting on this thread have very strong views which conflict about that particular point.

LOL I know, I was there.

For me, this is an easy question.
Improvised threaten? yes
Wield? that's a hot mess you'll never get an answer to...

Shadow Lodge

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graystone wrote:
Wield? that's a hot mess you'll never get an answer to...

I agree. I'm not sure they could fix that if they wanted to.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Malachi Silverclaw wrote:

Why bother? AoOs are an important feature of combat, combat may be the most important part of the game for many, surely most game time is spent resolving combat.

In fact, combat should work exactly the same whether there is a DM or not. Combats can be played out entirely by following the combat rules without any 'on the fly' decisions at all. therefore they have to function without making rules up as you go along.

So, do you threaten when holding a book? There is a definate answer, without a DM needing to invent it.

Trouble is, I don't know what the answer is. So I ask in the rules thread, which exists for precisely this kind of question.

'You don't need to follow the rules' is not an answer to the question 'what is the rule?'

Part in bold is the problem. I don't share these assumption. I see no reason to imagine that there is a "right" definite answer to every question or combat situation, and since the phrase "holding a book" can have so many possible meanings, trying to come up with any one rule to cover all of them is inevitably going to create a place where GMs are going to need to 'invent' a new ruling anyway.

And I'm really not interested in going back down the road where you misinterpret "The rules are unclear, so do what makes sense to you" with "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law". That is not my argument. My argument is that RAW when something is unclear, the GM makes the call, and that "official" clarifications do not rise to the level of being "rules", merely guidelines letting us know what the intent was. I don't believe intent is terribly important in determining the "right" ruling for a given situation, because each situation is different that it typically makes more sense to evaluate them case by case and apply whichever rules seem to fit the situation best, instead of trying to treat the rules like some comprehensive set of machine code that I, as the GM, and merely responsible for "executing". In my formulation, the GM is not simply reduced to an executor of a set of objective "rules", but rather is a vital part of the process of putting together an engaging play experience that is informed by the rules, but never limited by them.

More practically, I simply don't think "clarifications" actually help us as much as people think. If the PDT comes in and issues a FAQ that says "Improvised weapons always threaten", then the next fight is about "when do I have an improvised weapon?" which becomes a fight about what books are heavy enough to count, and what "holding" versus "wielding" actually mean, all boiling down to inanities like:

"Okay, so if it's Tuesday, and my character has taken a vow to never damage a book on Tuesday, but I've folded a pamphlet into a makeshift shuriken, does it still count as a 'book' for the purposes of my vow, does folding it count as 'damage', can I improvise with it as if I were improvising with a shuriken in melee (can I improvise with a shuriken in melee?), and if all the above are okay, can I make an attack of opportunity against a fire elemental, which should logically burn up my paper shuriken but I think RAW won't because "burn" says I take damage, not the weapon and I think all of this is legal because on the forums the FAQ said that books are legit improvised weapons and improvised weapons threaten and in the dictionary a pamphlet is defined as 'a short book or <some other stuff>', but it says book so I can do it RAW, right?"

There are always going to be areas where the rules are unclear, is my point. That's a good thing, is my opinion. Put together, I feel like clarifications don't really solve any problems, and risk being actively harmful to the game by becoming perceived limits on GMs that can lead to absurd situations where we put the integrity of the game rules over the integrity of the part of Pathfinder that is important to ME, which is the creation of an interesting and engaging collaborative story with my friends.

YMMV, but please don't try to impose your standards on everyone.

Silver Crusade

@MrTsFloatinghead: If my question were: 'What is the damage of a medium greatsword?' is the 'correct' answer:-

1.) 2d6

OR

2.) there is no correct answer, because we don't have to follow the rules, and merely asking the question means that you're trying to impose your playstyle on me, you rules Nazi!

Shadow Lodge

MrTsFloatinghead wrote:
Part in bold is the problem. I don't share these assumption. I see no reason to imagine that there is a "right" definite answer to every question or combat situation, and since the phrase "holding a book" can have so many possible meanings, trying to come up with any one rule to cover all of them is inevitably going to create a place where GMs are going to need to 'invent' a new ruling anyway.

Wow, something I can agree with you on. The rules don't cover every possible scenario that may come up in combat. Any combat other than the most simple of confrontations in PF is not intended to, and indeed cannot be, run without a GM to make decisions.

We all agree that the definition of what it means to be wielding is not clear. In this instance reasonable people can read this to mean different things. Without an official ruling a definitive answer does not yet exist.

Shadow Lodge

Malachi Silverclaw wrote:

@MrTsFloatinghead: If my question were: 'What is the damage of a medium greatsword?' is the 'correct' answer:-

1.) 2d6

OR

2.) there is no correct answer, because we don't have to follow the rules, and merely asking the question means that you're trying to impose your playstyle on me, you rules Nazi!

You picked a question for your example that does have a correct answer. That does not, however, mean every question has a correct answer.

From the evidence I have seen regarding wielding I don't feel there is a correct answer yet to your question. That is why I hit FAQ. Why FAQ a question to which an answer already exists.

Silver Crusade

PatientWolf wrote:
Malachi Silverclaw wrote:

@MrTsFloatinghead: If my question were: 'What is the damage of a medium greatsword?' is the 'correct' answer:-

1.) 2d6

OR

2.) there is no correct answer, because we don't have to follow the rules, and merely asking the question means that you're trying to impose your playstyle on me, you rules Nazi!

You picked a question for your example that does have a correct answer. That does not, however, mean every question has a correct answer.

From the evidence I have seen regarding wielding I don't feel there is a correct answer yet to your question. That is why I hit FAQ. Why FAQ a question to which an answer already exists.

If the answer exists, but I don't know what the answer is, is it okay to ask, or is the mere act of asking 'trying to force my playstyle on everyone else'?

There are definate rules in the game. There are also things that the rules don't cover.

There are also things that the rules should cover. I don't know if the rules cover threatening with improvised weapons, but if they don't then they should, because threatening is fundamental to the PF combat rules, not some obscure corner case that is wasting the dev's time. If they rule that reach weapons may attack adjacent foes, then it will be even more important that we know if they threaten or not.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Malachi Silverclaw wrote:

@MrTsFloatinghead: If my question were: 'What is the damage of a medium greatsword?' is the 'correct' answer:-

1.) 2d6

OR

2.) there is no correct answer, because we don't have to follow the rules, and merely asking the question means that you're trying to impose your playstyle on me, you rules Nazi!

The answer is:

What is the context of the question? If the medium greatsword is being swung AS a medium greatsword in combat, then the answer is actually (2d6 +[STR bonus x 1.5]) slashing. If the Greatsword is free falling, then the answer would be different depending on how far the sword fell. If the greatsword was being used by an overly macho fighter as an improvised razor to shave in the morning, then I dunno - 1d2 CHA damage for a bad shave and generally looking like a dill-hole? If the greatsword was being used as an improvised club to pommel bash, then it's (1d6 + STR bonus), with a -4 to hit. If trying to use the flat of the blade, then it's (2d6 +[STR bonus x 1.5]) non-lethal with -4 to hit. If it's being used in an obvious straw-man to imply that I am incapable of distinguishing something that is clearly stated from something that is unclear? Then the answer is clearly zero damage, and you may provoke an AoO in the attempt.

Shadow Lodge

Malachi Silverclaw wrote:


If the answer exists, but I don't know what the answer is, is it okay to ask, or is the mere act of asking 'trying to force my playstyle on everyone else'?

There are definate rules in the game. There are also things that the rules don't cover.

There are also things that the rules should cover. I don't know if the rules cover threatening with improvised weapons, but if they don't then they should, because threatening is fundamental to the PF combat rules, not some obscure corner case that is wasting the dev's time. If they rule that reach weapons may attack adjacent foes, then it will be even more important that we know if they threaten or not.

Right...I agree with all of that. You can definitely ask if there is an answer but you don't know it. The problem is we don't really know because of the confusing "wield" terminology which of those three categories this falls into lol.

There could be a current answer we just don't know. There could be no answer because of a lapse in the rules. While I think it would be nice to have a rule on this I don't think this is something that is really that vital to combat as whether or not you can wield a reach weapon as an improvised weapon to strike adjacent foes but you may feel differntly.


Pathfinder Maps Subscriber
Malachi Silverclaw wrote:
In the rules, 'wielding' sometimes means 'holding', sometimes means 'attacking with' and sometimes....something in between. : /

I would amend your statement to be "'wielding' sometimes means 'holding ready for (a particular) use'".

I can wield a pick in a manner for digging and I can wield a pick as an improvised weapon. I can wield a pipe wrench to tighten a pipe or bash a zombie. They're different.

Malachi Silverclaw wrote:
As far as combat is concerned, in order to be able to use (attack with) a weapon, all that is required is that you are holding it (unsheathed) in the required number of hands, and that there is nothing preventing you from making an attack with it.

Well, you do have to have it the right way round.

Malachi Silverclaw wrote:
There is absolutely nothing in the rules about needing to 'switch' between 'just holding' and 'wielding'.

Perhaps there should be, but there were better things to spend word-count on.

Malachi Silverclaw wrote:

By the rules, when it's not your turn you can't take free actions (without written exceptions), so cannot shift your grip between turns, such as to add your free hand to a weapon you are holding in just one hand so that you are holding it in two, or vice versa. There is no action required to switch from holding a weapon in two hands to holding it in two hands! It's already in two hands!

Similarly, there is no action needed to decide or switch between weapons you are holding to choose which of them you are 'wielding'. When you attack, you choose between any weapon you are holding (or, in some cases, wearing, like boot blades, spiked gauntlets, armour spikes, boulder helmet, even trained unarmed strikes or natural weapons).

Only those weapons that you're holding in the proper manner as to make an attack with. I.E. wielding.

Malachi Silverclaw wrote:
If you are holding a longsword in your right hand, a short sword in your left, wearing boot blades on each foot, wear armour with armour spikes and are trained in unarmed strikes, and have a natural bite attack, then any idiot foolish enough to provoke an AoO when standing adjacent can be attacked with any one of those! But only one, even if it could have been any one of ten. And there is no action you need to take in order to decide, beforehand, which one of these you really threaten with. You threaten with them all.

Because you're wielding all of those simultaneously. You can hold without wielding. I can hold a number of loose swords in my arms like a bundle of firewood, but I am in no way wielding them all, or even one of them.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Malachi Silverclaw wrote:


If the answer exists, but I don't know what the answer is, is it okay to ask, or is the mere act of asking 'trying to force my playstyle on everyone else'?

There are definate rules in the game. There are also things that the rules don't cover.

There are also things that the rules should cover. I don't know if the rules cover threatening with improvised weapons, but if they don't then they should, because threatening is fundamental to the PF combat rules, not some obscure corner case that is wasting the dev's time. If they rule that reach weapons may attack adjacent foes, then it will be even more important that we know if they threaten or not.

And, though in your opinion this is one of those things, in my opinion it is not. I feel like I did a pretty good job demonstrating that you are not meaningfully improving the game by replacing the ability of the GM to make an on the fly ruling, with a straight-jacket generalism that I think we all agree will not reduce the number of questions from rules lawyer players etc, merely shift what those questions are about. Hell, this is literally a perfect example of that - you have ALREADY decided that based on a possible answer in your previous thread now there is another vital rules issue that demands attention. Where does it end?

We're already up to "Do improvised weapons threaten?" and "What 'counts' as 'wielding'?" in this thread. I had several unanswered from the last thread, like "If we apply all potential rules to an object at once, such that "reach" property prevents improvised adjacent use, then what do we do with a 6 foot mithril pole? The clear improvised use would be a quarterstaff, but the material rules for mithril clearly prohibit using mithril to make a quarterstaff, so..."

It seems to me that the obvious answer is to just make a DM ruling on the fly, based on what seems to the players to make sense, and go on. I don't care that different tables will come up with different answers, because I'm not playing at those tables, and don't really care what they do, as long as they are having fun. I also, again, feel like it's regrettable that you seem to be advocating that the part of the game that you feel is most important (combat) is a part where the GM should be utterly extraneous, since I think allowing the GM the flexibility to make rulings on the fly makes the game better AND is more in line with both the RAW and RAI, overall.

Edit: Also, it's not the act of asking the question that is the problem, that you won't take "It cannot be determined" as a definite answer. In my view, "It cannot be determined" is something that is provable, in the mathematical sense, and thus it constitutes a definite answer, even if it's not the one you wanted. The problem to me, then, is that you are seeking to replace what I already see as a valid and sufficient objective answer to the rules issue with a subjective one that you prefer, all while pretending to be merely seeking a neutral and objective answer. I see that practice as unnecessary and probably actively harmful to the game as a whole, as well as being simply bad a practice in terms of logic and knowledge seeking.

Silver Crusade

'It cannot be determined' is a demonstrably false answer. As soon as the PDT answer it, it has been proved to be false. Since there is nothing stopping them ruling one way or the other, the answer most certainly can be determined.


Malachi Silverclaw wrote:
'It cannot be determined' is a demonstrably false answer. As soon as the PDT answer it, it has been proved to be false. Since there is nothing stopping them ruling one way or the other, the answer most certainly can be determined.

The point is that given the available information a conclusive answer cannot be determined. MrT is saying that the developers opinion on how it should be is no more valuable than anyone else's and certainly less valuable than your table's opinion.

I happen to agree. Once the words are printed then developer or authorial intent don't matter nearly as much. It could be interesting to know, but it doesn't change the RAW.

Silver Crusade

BigDTBone wrote:
Malachi Silverclaw wrote:
'It cannot be determined' is a demonstrably false answer. As soon as the PDT answer it, it has been proved to be false. Since there is nothing stopping them ruling one way or the other, the answer most certainly can be determined.

The point is that given the available information a conclusive answer cannot be determined. MrT is saying that the developers opinion on how it should be is no more valuable than anyone else's and certainly less valuable than your table's opinion.

I happen to agree. Once the words are printed then developer or authorial intent don't matter nearly as much. It could be interesting to know, but it doesn't change the RAW.

I get that it doesn't matter to him. What I don't get is that it's important to him that other people shouldn't get the answer; that it shouldn't matter to us.

What's hypocritical is his dislike of some people telling other people how to play, when information on the rules doesn't govern how he plays anyway, then trying to prevent us getting the answer to a question that helps us play how we want to play.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Malachi Silverclaw wrote:
'It cannot be determined' is a demonstrably false answer. As soon as the PDT answer it, it has been proved to be false. Since there is nothing stopping them ruling one way or the other, the answer most certainly can be determined.

First of all, I'm saying we can prove that if we still only to the current text (the "RAW"), many of these questions cannot be determined. This doesn't mean that there are problems with our logic, or that we are ignorant, etc. It just means that we can prove that there are limits to what we are able to prove within the text of the RAW.

For example:

X^2 = 9. If the question is "What is the one correct value of X?", the only logical answer is "It cannot be determined", because X could be 3 or -3, and both are equally valid. That is where the rules are now. You are essentially saying that it must be true that either 3 or -3 is the right answer, so we have to ask additional questions in order to answer the question. I'm saying we've already got a sufficient answer, and there's no need to discard it in favor of another simply because you don't like it.

Further, from a purely subjective standpoint, I believe that you are arguing out of both sides of you mouth when you act like you are trying to protect the integrity of the RAW by arguing that we should best interpret the RAW by appealing to either our implicit interpretation of the RAI, or else the explicit Dev statement of RAI. In either case, you are basically saying that RAW alone is not sufficient, yet at the same time you are acting like I'm the one who is disregarding the RAW. I'm not sure if it's intentional or not, but it certainly feels a lot like this thread is about you mistaking "what you want" with "what the rules should be" with "what the rules actually are", and thus are essentially not seeking "answers" so much as validation of your subjective opinions.

What if the answer the PDT gives is "It cannot be determined"?

Again, you are assuming that the PDT "intended" one and only one answer to this question (which seems unlikely), and assuming that the intended answer must ONLY be "yes" or "no", and assuming that having that answer is better than simply accepting the fact that the game works perfectly fine now without the clarification (and has for years, in fact). What do we gain, then? Consistency? Doubtful, since people are free to disregard the ruling (if they ever even find out about it). Plus, why does consistency even matter? If in your mind people at other tables are "Playing it wrong", so what? Their games are no less valid as "Pathfinder", nor is yours. If you simply want to "know" the answer to what the rules (as they exist now) "actually" are, the answer is "It cannot be determined", and replacing that answer with a different one merely because it's what you want the rules to be, then why can't you just make the ruling you want in your personal game, and leave it at that? Why do we all have to essentially request that the PDT change the rules to something you are more comfortable with, when we can all already play the game just fine?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Malachi Silverclaw wrote:


What's hypocritical is his dislike of some people telling other people how to play, when information on the rules doesn't govern how he plays anyway, then trying to prevent us getting the answer to a question that helps us play how we want to play.

Yay! The hypocrisy argument again!

A) I'm NOT telling you how to play your game. I'm telling you that the way in which you are asking for developer clarifications is, intentionally or not, an attempt to change the rules of the game to better suit YOUR playstyle, and I'm asking you to stop. I've even suggested several times that a good solution might be simply for you to ask the question in a different way. Instead of presenting it as "I want a clarification about what the rules actually, objectively are", just say "My group and I prefer to play the game as close to the designer's intent as possible - so, can any designers tell me what the intent was for <question>?"

The distinction is pretty important. In one case, you are asking a question that assumes that everyone should view the RAI as indistinguishable from RAW, which is seeking, in effect, to judge other people's play. In the second, you are openly acknowledging that you are seeking information that is relevant because of a personal preference, but isn't something that is necessarily relevant to everyone. Thus, in the first situation, people who hit the FAQ button are basically being deceived - you don't really care what the rules actually ARE, you are turning the FAQ tool into a way to petition that the PDT effectively change the rules of the game to suit your group better. In any case, none of that is relevant to actually playing the game, unless you feel like mistaking RAI for RAW on the forums is a vital part of your gameplay experience.

2) To the extent that I am being hypocritical, that doesn't mean I'm WRONG, it just means that it's psychologically and linguistically very very difficult to advocate for tolerance without coming across as being intolerant of intolerance. If you really do feel like it's important to your play-style that we all agree to confuse RAI with RAW, and seek to establish a style of Pathfinder where the GM can be written entirely out of the game, then yes, I will cop to making a judgement about that. Pragmatically, however, I would point out that the only part of your play-style I really have a problem with is the part where you try to apply it to everyone. Again, note my alternate question above. It's not asking for the clarification of intent that's the issue - it's not even that your table really cares about intent of the rules. It's the WAY you are presenting your question as if it is the "best" or "only" way to do things. On balance, while I'm not perfectly achieving my "don't judge and regulate" principle, I think I'm much, much closer to it than you are.

Shadow Lodge

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BigDTBone wrote:
Malachi Silverclaw wrote:
'It cannot be determined' is a demonstrably false answer. As soon as the PDT answer it, it has been proved to be false. Since there is nothing stopping them ruling one way or the other, the answer most certainly can be determined.

The point is that given the available information a conclusive answer cannot be determined. MrT is saying that the developers opinion on how it should be is no more valuable than anyone else's and certainly less valuable than your table's opinion.

I happen to agree. Once the words are printed then developer or authorial intent don't matter nearly as much. It could be interesting to know, but it doesn't change the RAW.

That is where I disagree. My last post on the other thread was an example of the absurdity of that position. You, and MrT, certainly feel that you are authoritative on the meanings of your own posts.

If I were to misrepresent your argument you would certainly accuse me of a straw man fallacy. However, if your intent ceases to matter as soon as the words are written I could not commit a straw man fallacy as my opinion on what you meant to write is as valid as your own opinion. That is clearly absurd.

We couldn't have a meaningful discussion if you lose control over the interpretation of your words as soon as you hit the Submit Post button. I could put words in your mouth all day long and you would have no standing to object. Clearly, however, you do have the authority to clarify what you meant to say in your own posts. Likewise, the developers are best qualified to tell us what they meant by what they wrote in the rules.

I will agree that their interpretations are no more binding than the basic rules of the game. In a non-organized play game you are free to disregard whatever rules you as a group of players desire whether it be one written in the core book, a FAQ entry or errata. My group could decide they want longswords to do 1d12 damage and have 20' reach. However, if I want to know exactly what the rules mean by the word wield the developers alone are authoritative in telling me what they meant when they wrote it.

Shadow Lodge

I don't know where the idea of "wielding" and "holding" being different is coming from.

If you are holding an improvised weapon (ala any object), and you want to threaten with it, you can. You don't have to declare that you're holding or wielding it just the same as if you're holding or wielding an actual weapon.

There's still a -4 to attack, and it's probably not going to do great damage, but it's enough to flank.


@PW,

That is true if my words are unclear or leave a gap AND my words were meant to give you a guideline on how to accomplish some task.

If there is some gap or my words are unclear about matters of my personal opinion or in an arguement I am putting forward then my intent is important after the fact.

In short, I'm not trying to give you rules or guidelines that you will later be expected to complete without my presence.

Shadow Lodge

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Avatar-1 wrote:

I don't know where the idea of "wielding" and "holding" being different is coming from.

If you are holding an improvised weapon (ala any object), and you want to threaten with it, you can. You don't have to declare that you're holding or wielding it just the same as if you're holding or wielding an actual weapon.

There's still a -4 to attack, and it's probably not going to do great damage, but it's enough to flank.

By that standard you always threaten adjacent squares if you are holding anything at all. Holding a scarf...you threaten because you could use it as a whip. Sitting at your desk writing you threaten all adjacent squares because you are holding a quill. I don't believe that is the intent and that is why I, and others, think that wielding is different than holding.

Shadow Lodge

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BigDTBone wrote:

@PW,

That is true if my words are unclear or leave a gap AND my words were meant to give you a guideline on how to accomplish some task.

If there is some gap or my words are unclear about matters of my personal opinion or in an arguement I am putting forward then my intent is important after the fact.

In short, I'm not trying to give you rules or guidelines that you will later be expected to complete without my presence.

Yes, and the developers clearly intend to be giving us guidelines on how we are to accomplish a task without having to be present at your table to tell you how to do it. We are, thankfully, free to stick our tongues out and do it differently anyway but I, and I am sure others, prefer to know what the experienced game designers intended before going our own way. They may have reasons for doing things the way they did that I didn't think of.


PatientWolf wrote:
Avatar-1 wrote:

I don't know where the idea of "wielding" and "holding" being different is coming from.

If you are holding an improvised weapon (ala any object), and you want to threaten with it, you can. You don't have to declare that you're holding or wielding it just the same as if you're holding or wielding an actual weapon.

There's still a -4 to attack, and it's probably not going to do great damage, but it's enough to flank.

By that standard you always threaten adjacent squares if you are holding anything at all. Holding a scarf...you threaten because you could use it as a whip. Sitting at your desk writing you threaten all adjacent squares because you are holding a quill. I don't believe that is the intent and that is why I, and others, think that wielding is different than holding.

I don't really have a problem with that. The GM calls all the shots when it comes to the effectiveness of an improvised weapon. A quill could do, e.g., 1d3-8 damage on a successful hit, and a scarf could do zero period. Combat maneuver? Sure, as long as you take the -4 to hit for the improvised weapon.


PatientWolf wrote:
BigDTBone wrote:

@PW,

That is true if my words are unclear or leave a gap AND my words were meant to give you a guideline on how to accomplish some task.

If there is some gap or my words are unclear about matters of my personal opinion or in an arguement I am putting forward then my intent is important after the fact.

In short, I'm not trying to give you rules or guidelines that you will later be expected to complete without my presence.

Yes, and the developers clearly intend to be giving us guidelines on how we are to accomplish a task without having to be present at your table to tell you how to do it. We are, thankfully, free to stick our tongues out and do it differently anyway but I, and I am sure others, prefer to know what the experienced game designers intended before going our own way. They may have reasons for doing things the way they did that I didn't think of.

A great deal of the time, rules are ambiguous by design. I assume this to be the case by default.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
PatientWolf wrote:
That is where I disagree. My last post on the other thread was an example of the absurdity of that position. You, and MrT, certainly feel that you are authoritative on the meanings of your own posts.

Okay, I'm glad you brought that up, because you really are still misunderstanding the position I'm taking. Take a look at this sentence:

PatientWolf wrote:
However, if I want to know exactly what the rules mean by the word wield the developers alone are authoritative in telling me what they meant when they wrote it.

Note the parts in bold. What I am saying is that these two concepts are NOT the same thing. I'm not saying that the devs don't have authority to clarify their intent, I'm saying that their intent is NOT necessarily the same thing as "what the rules mean", and that it is not a good idea to act like they are absolutely and objectively the same. That's what I was pointing out in my last post in the other thread - that you and Malachi are so closely wedded to this assumption that RAI = RAW that even though Malachi repeatedly explicitly clarified that he wanted only RAW, you and he both considered it "obvious" that he really meant RAI. Further, this is why you both, I think, keep acting like my statement that RAI doesn't matter to me is tantamount to throwing out the rules altogether, when I, at least, see a pretty clear distinction. Finally, it also explains why you think I'm being hypocritical, when I'm really not. My stance is not "You are wrong to equate RAI with RAW", it's "You are wrong to equate RAI with RAW UNIVERSALLY". I'm not saying you are wrong to value RAI personally, or that you are wrong to treat RAI as RAW in your own games. I'm saying that you are wrong to ignore that doing so is a choice, not an automatic given, and that making a different choice is exactly as valid as yours.

Shadow Lodge

blahpers wrote:


I don't really have a problem with that. The GM calls all the shots when it comes to the effectiveness of an improvised weapon. A quill could do, e.g., 1d3-8 damage on a successful hit, and a scarf could do zero period. Combat maneuver? Sure, as long as you take the -4 to hit for the improvised weapon.

I am just very wary of allowing a character to always threaten. It just seems to be begging for a power gamer to find a way to exploit. Also that seems to make Monk of the Empty Hand more powerful than intended if they are always threatening because now that improvised scarf can do damage, and do lethal damage, and of any damage type.


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PatientWolf wrote:
BigDTBone wrote:

@PW,

That is true if my words are unclear or leave a gap AND my words were meant to give you a guideline on how to accomplish some task.

If there is some gap or my words are unclear about matters of my personal opinion or in an arguement I am putting forward then my intent is important after the fact.

In short, I'm not trying to give you rules or guidelines that you will later be expected to complete without my presence.

Yes, and the developers clearly intend to be giving us guidelines on how we are to accomplish a task without having to be present at your table to tell you how to do it. We are, thankfully, free to stick our tongues out and do it differently anyway but I, and I am sure others, prefer to know what the experienced game designers intended before going our own way. They may have reasons for doing things the way they did that I didn't think of.

In the case of something like ice tomb hex I can get behind wanting to know what the intent was. But in a case of how to handle improvised weapons, a rule which by design is meant to be a play-by-ear rule I don't see any benefit on seeing "intent." I would actually be extremely surprised to hear that there was any design intention regarding this corner case at the time the rules were developed. I also believe that any "definitive" answer will be demonstrably worse than a "make the call when you need to" answer.

YMMV, and that's cool too.

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