The Courageous Property: What does it really do?


Rules Questions

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68 people marked this as FAQ candidate. Answered in the FAQ. 1 person marked this as a favorite.

Self-explanatory title, created due to discussion from this thread here.

Several posters have argued this property and its capabilities. Here is the complete entry for reference.

Courageous wrote:

This special ability can only be added to a melee weapon.

A courageous weapon fortifies the wielder's courage and morale in battle. The wielder gains a morale bonus on saving throws against fear equal to the weapon's enhancement bonus. In addition, any morale bonus the wielder gains from any other source is increased by half the weapon's enhancement bonus (minimum 1).

(Emphasis Mine)

Although a couple things posters agree on are that it only works on melee weapons, and that it grants a morale bonus on saving throws against fear effects equal to the weapon's enhancement bonus. However, afterward, that is where the discrepancy lies; the bolded part has led some people to interpret that it only increases morale bonuses to saving throws, whereas others interpret it to mean any effect that grants a morale bonus.

Only one interpretation is correct. The real question is which one; to determine it, I found it best to make a thread and have it FAQ'd so the PDT (that is, Pathfinder Design Team) will clarify it.

For the purposes of the FAQ, I will phrase it thusly:

Courageous Weapon Property: Does the phrase 'any morale bonus the wielder gains from any other source' refer to saving throws only, or does it affect all kinds of morale bonuses?

Until they weigh in, this thread will serve as a host for discussion involving this predicament. Please hit the FAQ button on this post so it can get resolved!

Sovereign Court

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James Risner already linked the answer from SKR in the other thread. Answer to same question on the Hero Labs forums.


King of Vrock wrote:
James Risner already linked the answer from SKR in the other thread. Answer to same question on the Hero Labs forums.

Does anybody have a link to SKR actually saying that rather than an un-sourced quote?

Not that his non-FAQ/Errata word means anything anyway, but still.

Sovereign Court

Seriously the rule has been clarified to the staff of an officially licensed Pathfinder product (Hero Lab) and the quote is attributed to a member of the rules team. Take it for what it is. Jason or Stephan are likely neck deep in GenCon deadlines so they're probably not going to serve you the answer notarized, in triplicate on a silver platter anytime soon.


Well for what it's worth I'm firmly in the "You have to actually be using the durn thing to get the benefits" camp, but I define "using" in a bit of a nebulous sense...if you're wielding with intent to use, that's fine by me. If you choose not to attack, that's cool. Just don't attack with another weapon entirely and expect to still get the benefit.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Rynjin wrote:
Well for what it's worth I'm firmly in the "You have to actually be using the durn thing to get the benefits" camp, but I define "using" in a bit of a nebulous sense...if you're wielding with intent to use, that's fine by me. If you choose not to attack, that's cool. Just don't attack with another weapon entirely and expect to still get the benefit.

I can agree with that.

Wield is nebulous.

What SKR said long ago (paraphrased to extend the meaning to skill use) that it mean "You are actively using the item". That would limit the usefulness of the courageous ability as it is hard to actively use a weapon and use a morale bonus to the disable device or survival skill (a inquisitor can use a morale bonus to his knowledge skills while fighting).

For weapons "being capable to make a AoO" as someone suggest maybe is sufficient to cover the wield requirement.
But then we will find people arguing that they are always ready to make a AoO, even outside of combat and trying to get the courageous bonus running for long stretches of time (they will not try this, but the bard and inquisitor in my group have heroism running for most of the adventuring part of the day, so from my experience having a morale bonus to which you can apply the courageous isn't difficult if you have the right class).

What I think we need is:
1) a clear distinction between holding/wielding/using/wearing and a clear definition of what each term mean in the rules;
2) convincing the different authors that they should use the terms in the correct way;

and the hardest thing

3) checking the old products and correcting the improper uses of the term.


The simplest approach is just to let the ability function while the spiked gauntlet is equipped. I mean, that is as 'wielding' as a spiked gauntlet gets. You don't just have it partly on, it is either on or it isn't.

Next, the courageous enchant for weapons is sorta silly anyway. That isn't thematically what a weapon ability does in the first place. Having a defensive enchant on a weapon is why this thing is an issue at all.

Lastly, all it does it boost saves vs fear. Having that running all the while it is equipped seems perfectly reasonable.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Remy Balster wrote:

The simplest approach is just to let the ability function while the spiked gauntlet is equipped. I mean, that is as 'wielding' as a spiked gauntlet gets. You don't just have it partly on, it is either on or it isn't.

Next, the courageous enchant for weapons is sorta silly anyway. That isn't thematically what a weapon ability does in the first place. Having a defensive enchant on a weapon is why this thing is an issue at all.

Lastly, all it does it boost saves vs fear. Having that running all the while it is equipped seems perfectly reasonable.

That shouldn't be wielding, but wearing.

You essentially are saying that it is a permanent bonus, but only if applied to a spiked gauntlet or armored spikes, while the guy putting it on a greatsword will benefit from it only when the weapon is drawn and ready to use?

Seem a bit questionable.


Diego Rossi wrote:
Remy Balster wrote:

The simplest approach is just to let the ability function while the spiked gauntlet is equipped. I mean, that is as 'wielding' as a spiked gauntlet gets. You don't just have it partly on, it is either on or it isn't.

Next, the courageous enchant for weapons is sorta silly anyway. That isn't thematically what a weapon ability does in the first place. Having a defensive enchant on a weapon is why this thing is an issue at all.

Lastly, all it does it boost saves vs fear. Having that running all the while it is equipped seems perfectly reasonable.

That shouldn't be wielding, but wearing.

You essentially are saying that it is a permanent bonus, but only if applied to a spiked gauntlet or armored spikes, while the guy putting it on a greatsword will benefit from it only when the weapon is drawn and ready to use?

Seem a bit questionable.

Eh, I think for armor spikes or gauntlets the whole 'wielding' issue is moot. I mean... how does gripping a sword’s pommel make the magic of the gauntlet all of a sudden shut off?

Is it worth the hassle of tracking this? The actual enchant seems much more like a defensive enchant anyway, almost all of these are built into items that you simply wear. Personally I don't much like the idea of building in a defensive property like this into a weapon in the first place. It makes it clunky.

But, say you have a greatsword of awesomeness and a spiked gauntlet of courageousness... is it too powerful to simply allow it to work while worn, even if you happen to be attacking with the sword? Doesn't seem like it, not really. You just spent 6k for a +1 to fear saves (10k for +2, 14k for +3, 18k for +4, or 22k for +5)… yay?

There just doesn't seem like enough of a tangible difference when it comes to a spiked gauntlet/armor spikes etc between worn and wielded to necessitate keeping track. Aside from all the other weirdness of having to create new definitions for when something is wielded, what action types allow you to wield, how long does the new wielded condition last... bleh.

It just isn't necessary.


While I love barbarians and I love furious courageous weapons, I will admit the combination was absurdly effective. If courageous was truly meant to only apply to other bonuses to will saves against fear affects the ability was written poorly, though not that this would be the first time. While it does seem reasonable to me that it should not apply to all morale bonuses, I've seen nothing from a remotely official source to back this up.

We've been given a quote by a employee of herolab, that is supposedly from SKR (whom is no longer a Paizo employee) that is purpotedly from an e-mail. Sorry if I don't find this level of hearsay convincing. It is reasonable to at least ask to see the e-mail or other source of the quote. If only because it flies directly in the face of the language of how it was writen.

Does it seem more balanced to apply courageous only to other bonuses against fear? Yes. Is that how it at all ever read to me? No. And I wasn't trying to game the system ever, but it's just something that appeared to have unbelievably good synergy with the barbarian or if you happened to have a bard in the party.

In short, sauce plz?


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I had never even thought of the possibility of Courageous not applying to all morale bonuses before I read this thread. There is nothing in the text implying that is the case.

Had it been "In addition, any such morale bonus the wielder gains from any other source", then it would obviously be the case that it only applies to morale bonuses on saving throws against fear, but that is simply not the case. As written, any means any.


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My interpretation is that it does add the bonus on any morale bonus.

"A courageous weapon fortifies the wielder's courage and morale in battle. The wielder gains a morale bonus on saving throws against fear equal to the weapon's enhancement bonus. In addition, any morale bonus the wielder gains from any other source is increased by half the weapon's enhancement bonus (minimum 1)."

I think that it's pretty clear.

Like I say, if there is no official statement, go by RAW or talk the RAI in your table, don't try to be the next mesias and make your words the ultimate truth.

Now you can continue twisting the words like lawyers, these are my 2cts.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Thymus Vulgaris wrote:

I had never even thought of the possibility of Courageous not applying to all morale bonuses before I read this thread. There is nothing in the text implying that is the case.

Had it been "In addition, any such morale bonus the wielder gains from any other source", then it would obviously be the case that it only applies to morale bonuses on saving throws against fear, but that is simply not the case. As written, any means any.

I have to agree with this. To me it is pretty clear. There is no reference to the first part of the ability after 'In addition to', so it is a separate additional effect


Claxon wrote:
We've been given a quote by a employee of herolab, that is supposedly from SKR (whom is no longer a Paizo employee) that is purpotedly from an e-mail. Sorry if I don't find this level of hearsay convincing. It is reasonable to at least ask to see the e-mail or other source of the quote. If only because it flies directly in the face of the language of how it was writen.

Beyond this, we were recently instructed to not use statements and posts of even developers as definitive answers on the way rules are supposed to work; only FAQs and Errata do that.

So while I think the intent probably is to apply only to saves and while I think the Hero Lab quote demonstrates that intent (particularly of the power balance issue), nobody can claim that a purported email quote definitively resolves the issue, even if the email is produced.


It's quite clear from the vociferousness of the arguing for it that the Courageous weapon property, read loosely, is far too good. There were some in another thread that didn't even know the primary ability of Courageous was a boost to fear saves.

Unfortunately, beyond that, it's entirely unclear what it should do, other than the SKR quote (completely valid, and not doubt-worthy at all, but also unofficial and perhaps off-hand, we can't know).

This is the Rules Forum, we use common sense here.

Sadly, common sense doesn't help resolve this.

fretgod99 wrote:
Beyond this, we were recently instructed to not use statements and posts of even developers as definitive answers on the way rules are supposed to work; only FAQs and Errata do that.

Yes, but that was a statement in a post, so it isn't definitive ;)


I think it boils down like this:

If you were to ask a laymen to read the ability of the Courageous property they would likely read it as applying to all morale bonuses, not just bonuses to fear.

Once you understand how this can be taken advantage of by having strong knowledge of the rules of Pathfinder it is exploitable, particularly for barbarians. Because of this it seems better to interpret the statement as only applying to morale bonuses against fear. Especially when considering the cost. This interpretation would also relegate this weapon enhancement to uselessness (which isn't an argument for or against).


Rynjin wrote:
King of Vrock wrote:
James Risner already linked the answer from SKR in the other thread. Answer to same question on the Hero Labs forums.

Does anybody have a link to SKR actually saying that rather than an un-sourced quote?

Not that his non-FAQ/Errata word means anything anyway, but still.

I went and looked, but a search of his posts here revealed none that included that quote. It may be in some non public location or on a non Paizo site.


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Majuba wrote:
fretgod99 wrote:
Beyond this, we were recently instructed to not use statements and posts of even developers as definitive answers on the way rules are supposed to work; only FAQs and Errata do that.
Yes, but that was a statement in a post, so it isn't definitive ;)

The following sentence is true. The preceding sentence is false.

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