Need a defacto / official PF answer on some "as-read" feat rules issues


Rules Questions


Hi all -

I'm in a 30-yr long running campaign and we converted to PF a couple of years ago. Now that the gang is getting more familiar with the PF game system, we're running into some problems with some of the wording in the feat, ability, spell descriptions and it's causing some unnecessary conflict. So I'm looking for clear answers if I can find them.

I've trudged through the rules and lots of threads here and elsewhere regarding things like Vital Strike, Attack/Standard actions, action substitution, etc. and players seem to interpret some of these "as-read" rules in very very different ways. In our case, we have players who are getting confused, but do want to abide by a fair interpretation of the rule(s).

It would help SO much if we could get an official Paizo/Pathfinder clarification on at least two things (for now):

1. Take a feat like Vital Attack which reads, "When you use the attack action, you can make one attack at your highest base attack..." The language isn't really specific (to some) and can be interpreted at least two ways:

1.a. This Vital Strike is in ADDITION TO the normal available attacks during an attack action.

1.b. This Vital Strike is INSTEAD OF the normal available attacks during an attack action.

Personally, I read it to be as 1.b above: It is one attack INSTEAD OF the normal attacks. It uses up your standard/attack action to accomplish. The character is basically winding up for the biggest smack down possible in a single blow.

However, a couple of others in the group, including the current DM, feels the language is loose enough to mean 1.a above: The attack is IN ADDITION TO the normal attacks. The character hauls off and BOOM, then gets the normal bevy of attacks.

So what's the actual, official intent of that rule wording?

Keep in mind, I'm not arguing with the DM if they want to let me have an extra big attack in front of my normal attacks... but I think that's probably stretching the spirit of the feat's rule/description.

Please advise.

Dark Archive

Vital strike requires a standard action and gives you a single attack at your highest attack, it's one, hard hit instead of a full series of attacks, so you're right.


Suthainn is correct. It is intended to replace the iterative attacks that are lost when a martial character uses a move action during their turn.

It is not combinable with any other standard or full action such as charge, spring attack, whirlwind attack, cleave, or great cleave.

Although it can proc cleaving finish should you drop your target.


1b. Handy if you want to stay mobile.


Don't hold your breath on getting an official answer from the Paizo Development Team. These sorts of request engender no love from them, and rather evoke disdain for these types of threads.

However, this issue is well documented. Vital Strike is performed as a standard action (preculding full-round actions or other attacks) and it provides you bonus weapon damage. It is meant to supplant the fact that almost no martial characters (except beast totem barbarians) can move and get a full-attack. It is not meant to be as good as a full-attack, only to make up some of what you would otherwise lose. It is widely considered to be an inferior feat.

In any event, you are correct and the other players have misinterpreted the feat.


There's actually a FAQ on Vital Strike, so in this case you do have as official an answer as you can get:

FAQ wrote:


Vital Strike: Can I use this with Spring Attack, or on a charge?

No. Vital Strike can only be used as part of an attack action, which is a specific kind of standard action. Spring Attack is a special kind of full-round action that includes the ability to make one melee attack, not one attack action. Charging uses similar language and can also not be used in combination with Vital Strike.

So your 1.b is the correct rule.


Thanks gang. I appreciate the help.


Felling Smash was confirmed to be combinable with vitl strike.

Observe the wording and go from there for there feats.

Sovereign Court

Vital Strike works "when you use the attack action". The attack action is a specifically listed action, that takes a standard action and makes an attack.

Felling Smash likewise works "if you use the attack action". It triggers off the same action as Vital Strike.

However, not all attacks made as a standard action use "the attack action". Cleave for example says "as a standard action you can make a single attack..." - and that's not the "attack action", it's just an action that involves attacking.

And yes, VS is considered a usually weak feat, because it combines so poorly with others. It's been said by developers that it's a sort of consolation prize for warriors that can't make a full attack anyway because they have to Move to the enemy first.

Although there do exist some situations where VS becomes powerful; particularly for wildshaping druids whose forms have one attack with a lot of damage dice. Like the Arsinoitherium (a rhino with two horns that uses one attack to deal double-barrell damage) or the Cave Druid that changes into a Carnivorous Crystal Ooze. With a dip in Barbarian you can add Furious Finish.


1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

[Note that my tongue is in my cheek, where admittedly I am biting on it out of frustration, i.e. I am being facetious, but with serious intent. In other words, don't take it personally!]

Hi, I am the DM that kewlpack is referring to. Let me please explain my rationale, because I want clarification, preferably from a Pathfinder developer (if it is not too much trouble to assist the paying customer). The rule system is complicated and at times contradictory, as this example shows. I don’t like a rule system that requires assumed knowledge and cross-referential analysis to understand.

The key sentence here is "When you use the attack action, you can make one attack at your highest base attack bonus that deals additional damage.” This is a matter of determining the meaning of “attack action”, and properly parsing the sentence.

An ‘attack’ can be a standard action, part of an attack in a standard action that can result in subsequent attacks, or part of a full-attack in a full-round action (there may be more, but this starts to illustrate my point). The term ‘full-attack action’ is quite clear, but the term ‘attack action’ is used in a variety of ways:

1) See the Core Rulebook, page 124 for an example of the phrase ‘attack action’ being used in a feat, “Great Cleave”, that involves multiple attacks during a standard action.

2) See the reference to ‘the attack action’ on page 178, which refers to page 182 where the exact term ‘attack action’ is not defined. This seems to imply that an ‘attack action’ is a ‘Standard Action’, but does not exclude it from being part of a full-attack or other multiple attacks.

3) See Sunder on page 201 for an example of an ‘attack action’ being something in place of a melee attack, implying it is not strictly a Standard Action, but this then depends on the meaning of ‘melee attack’, which is used profusely and inconsistently though never defined. The closest is footnote 6 on page 183: "Some combat maneuvers substitute for a melee attack, not an action. As melee attacks, they can be used once in an attack or charge action, one or more times in a full-attack action, or even as an attack of opportunity. Others are used as a separate action.” This supports my interpretation.

I took it to mean ‘an attack’, which can be done as part of a standard action or a full-round action, i.e. as one of many attacks.

Next comes the sentence parsing. The clause "you can make one attack at your highest base attack bonus that deals additional damage.” could be parsed to have two different meanings:
1) "you can make one attack, at your highest base attack bonus that deals additional damage” meaning you literally can make only one attack, it is at your highest attack bonus, and it deals additional damage.
2) "you can make one attack, at your highest base attack bonus, that deals additional damage” meaning that you can make only one attack (one that is at your highest bonus) that deals this additional damage, and any other attacks do not.

The Vital Strike series of feats are the only ones that use this exact phrasing, whereas others explicitly use the phrases “a single attack” or “a full-attack action” to distinguish between one-and-only-one attack or something that is part of a full-round action that could include multiple attacks. So I assumed that there was a reason for this, and that it was to be interpreted according to the second parsing, because the missing specific phrases would have been more consistent with the first parsing.

I realize that I have ignored the phrase ‘single attack’ in the descriptive text of the Vital Strike feats. This is because the descriptive text tends to have generalized and sometimes conflicting statements, so I defer to the specified subsections of the feat format as stated on page 113, where the descriptive text is not technically part of the feat definition. To use information in the descriptive text to decide what the rule means would be like using something in the abstract of a specification (RFC) to determine how to implement the specification (this is what I do for a living for 20+ years, analyze protocol and software specs to determine how they are to be implemented.) The abstract is just a descriptive introduction and has no further purpose in defining the spec, as is the descriptive text at the beginning of a feat.

However, since that phrase is there, I will grant Kewlpack the right to restrict his Barbarian as he wishes. God help him if that barbarian gets a chance to refute him face-to-face.

Yet, there is one last issue here! How do you know for what the Vital Strike feat is meant when this asserted intention is not in the text? This is assumed knowledge (supposedly said by the developers). The FAQ being referenced herein says nothing of the sort. Furthermore, there are several precedents that contradict what the FAQ states: See page 109 of the NPC codex, the Grove Guardian Half-Elf Monk, which states "Against foes too large to grapple or immune to stunning, she uses her ki pool to boost her movement, then Spring Attack with Improved Vital Strike to make hit and run attacks." (Find a similar examples on Page 206 and 218.) There is another example on Page 124, the Axe Lord Dwarf Paladin, who "uses Improved Vital Strike and Cleave if he has a few targets close together", which goes against what Quintain said, that Vital Strike cannot be combined with other standard actions such as Cleave. In other words, there is plenty of official precedence showing that Vital Strike can be combined with both standard actions and full-round actions, and therefore is not exclusively for occasions where the martial character only gets a single (one-and-only-one) attack. If it can be combined with other full-round actions, then why not with a full-attack action?

So, now for the real reason that I posting such an in depth analysis:
If it is not too much bother, I humbly ask that someone who can act officially for Pathfinder to kindly address the discrepancies and inconsistencies in the rule system. Either fix them, or at least reply to some of these disdainful threads.

By the way. two weapon fighting is another vexing, convoluted rule. It requires one to locate the correct phrase under the Full-Attack action of the Combat chapter, page 187. There is no reference to this critical information within the Two-Weapon Fighting feats, or the Two-Weapon Fighting special attack to which they reference. It is unfortunate that the players don’t all read and memorize the core rulebook cover-to-cover, but it does happen. This has resulted in much abuse and arguing over what a two weapon fighter can do in a round. It could be fixed simply by putting the phrase, “when making a full-attack action”, in the feat and/or special attack definitions.

Sovereign Court

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@muidnepmoc/kewlpac: unfortunately, you're not likely to get the developer response you're hoping for.

See, the question has been asked before, and they've provided anwers. And then the question got asked again. And again. And again.

We, as paying customers, of course want some developer commentary, and get some of it too. Which is nice. But we're not helping ourselves by repeating ourselves; developer time is a finite resource and having them answer the same questions again and again isn't helping.

Try searching the forums; the search function works pretty well, and chances are your question has been answered before. It saves you the time waiting for a response.


This has already been covered in the Core Rulebook FAQ:

Quote:

Vital Strike: Can I use this with Spring Attack, or on a charge?

No. Vital Strike can only be used as part of an attack action, which is a specific kind of standard action. Spring Attack is a special kind of full-round action that includes the ability to make one melee attack, not one attack action. Charging uses similar language and can also not be used in combination with Vital Strike.

Text that refers to an "attack action" without further qualification or context always refers to the action "Attack", listed in the Combat section and defined as a standard action and hereafter referred to as "Attack™".

Text that states, "As a standard action" (or "as a full-round action", etc.) defines a new action distinct from the standard attack action. Great Cleave muddles things by using the colloquial "attack action", but this is not the Attack™ action listed in the combat section, as Great Cleave defines itself as distinct via "As a standard action".

An "attack action" is most definitely not any attack. An attack is just an attack. It can be the attack granted by the Attack action. It can be the multiple attacks granted by a full-attack. It can be an attack of opportunity. It can be a free attack that occurs as part of the casting of a touch spell. But when a feat states that it is used "as part of an attack action" without qualification, it will always refer to Attack™.

Short version: An Attack™ action grants an attack, but an attack is not itself an Attack™ action.

As for the NPC Codex: It's wrong. Happens.


muidnepmoc wrote:
The FAQ being referenced herein says nothing of the sort.

Part of the FAQ in question says "Vital Strike can only be used as part of an attack action, which is a specific kind of standard action." That's a fairly clear statement that VS can only be used as part of a regular attack (and not, for instance, as part of a full-attack action).

The developers have, in the past, acknowledged that this is an area of the rules that could be clearer. They've also stated that the NPC Codex tactics blocks suggesting the use of Spring Attack alongside Vital Strike were erroneous.

[Late edit: By the way, I agree completely with your observation regarding rules pertinent to a particular situation needing to be hunted down all over the rulebook. That's one of the major things I hope Paizo takes steps to prevent if/when they create another version of the Pathfinder game.]

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies, Representative - D20 Hobbies

muidnepmoc wrote:
If it is not too much bother, I humbly ask that someone who can act officially for Pathfinder to kindly address the discrepancies and inconsistencies in the rule system. Either fix them, or at least reply to some of these disdainful threads.

You have asked for something that has been provided in the form of a FAQ.

This subject has been discussed in probably 1 or 2 threads a week since 2009. This is extremely well understood, probably more understood than any other single subject short of what a Medium Longsword does in the hand of a human Fighter 1 in an anti-magic field.

In short, to Vital Strike you must say "I'm spending my Standard Action for an Attack Action to Vital Strike."


I usually err on the side of "Let's get some official answers."... But in this instance I think the FAQ is so clear that I really cannot say that it hasn't been answered satisfactory. Furthermore this is so clear when it comes to RAI.

I don't understand why the devs would be disdainful of people asking questions though. If a question has been asked and answered in the past then not responding should be sufficient. Especially for threads that haven't got some kind of minimum threshold of FAQ requests.


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It may or may not be necessary to mention this, as you may be well aware already, but there are a few things to keep in mind regarding Vital Strikes.

First, and most obviously, although they don't combine with the Charge action, they can combine with a move action. At higher levels when your PC gains iterative attacks, that is probably where the feat will see most of its utility. If you have foes separated from you by more than 5 feet, there will be times you will only get one attack after moving or times you expect a single Vital Strike to be sufficient to finish off your current foe, allowing a subsequent move action to the next opponent. That second possibility can matter if you are trying to "tank" the enemy and keep them off the squishier members of your party.

Second, Vital Strike works with ranged attacks as well, although it's usually not worth it for attacks with bows.

Third (and this one is very often overlooked), Vital Strike can be used for a readied attack and is FAR more likely than a normal attack to disrupt a spellcaster during the casting of a spell, because the Concentration check in those circumstances is based upon damage taken in the single attack that forces the check. Too often I have seen this forgotten, even by players who have taken this feat.


muidnepmoc wrote:


Hi, I am the DM that kewlpack is referring to. Let me please explain my rationale, because I want clarification, preferably from a Pathfinder developer (if it is not too much trouble to assist the paying customer). The rule system is complicated and at times contradictory, as this example shows. I don’t like a rule system that requires assumed knowledge and cross-referential analysis to understand.

You are not going to get any developer clarification for this, because it has been discussed on this forum and clarified by developers more times than I can count and has an official FAQ which completely answers your question.

As for the NPC codex: it has been stated in previous threads that this was a mistake due a rules misunderstanding by the writer.

Finally, vital strike 'as written' is a pretty bad feat. Because you are the DM you are well within your rights to house rule it as working with other forms of attack... although beware of the possibility for cheese (lance vital striking for example).

Double finally, yes, pathfinder is badly written. 3.5 DnD is also badly written, although probably less so than pathfinder (except the grapple system, urgh), as is 2e and 1e in many respects. At some point you'll have to accept that DnD is just not a well written system and if you want to make it work you'll have to houserule and/or deal with convoluted arguments. If you are looking for a strong, internally consistent rule set I suggest a different game entirely, like GURPS, 4e or something simpler like FATE -- although chances are none of these games have the style and theme you are comfortable with.


The trick with vital strike is don't compare it to a full attack. Its for moving and attacking which happwns all the time. For a fighter with lots of feats its not a horrible choice. Just look at it in perspective.


If we can't rely on the published rule books to understand the rules, then the rule system is broken. It makes no sense to have to search for developer comments in thousands of forum posts to be able to understand the rules. As far as efficient search, the number of results...
- for "vital strike" is 4,622 - no chance of me going those results. The fact that there are this many forum discussion involving "vital strike" indicates a problem with the rules. Good rules should not generate thousands of discussions.
- for "vital strike full-attack action" is 753 - still no chance of me going through them all.
- for "vital strike clarification" is 167 - OK I tried going through some of these but there was just a lot of user comments with conflicting interpretations that often ignored what I found in the books. I did not come across a single post from a developer.
- the FAQ? I saw the FAQ everyone keeps pointing me to. Read my post. That FAQ does not answer the question and conflicts with what is in the books, not just one minor mistake, but multiple cases in several variations of using Vital Strike in combination with other actions, both standard and full-round actions.

Someone please point me to just one developer discussion on this topic, besides the one useless FAQ answer, because I can't find that needle in this haystack. I will be happy to see it, and admit that I could easily have missed it in this heap.

As the customer community we should be pushing back on the developers to improve their material. I did go through all the errata and cross referenced multiple rule books to determine my interpretation. I spent significant time on this, which I am being told, though arguably correct according to the published materials, was a waste of my time. I SHOULD NOT HAVE TO GO THROUGH ALL THIS!

Pathfinder is better (more clear and concise) than 3.5, which was better (more reasonable and logical) than AD&D, but being better still sucks without quality control. A lack of quality begs for market competition.


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muidnepmoc wrote:
Someone please point me to just one developer discussion on this topic, besides the one useless FAQ answer, because I can't find that needle in this haystack. I will be happy to see it, and admit that I could easily have missed it in this heap.

I agree with most of what you said in terms of the rule system and improvement of such, so I'm happy to track down some developer posts for you :)

Jason Bulmahn (lead designer) mentioning Vital Strike's action type
Jason Bulmahn (lead designer) on the NPC Codex tactics
Jason Bulmahn (lead designer) on why he designed the feat

Sczarni

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No gaming system that I've ever run across is perfect. Pathfinder included. It stems from having multiple authors spanning years and different interpretations by those authors of how the rules work. When it comes time for editing, even the Editors rotate in and out. I suspect many problems are caught and the few we encounter here in the Rules Forum are the ones that fell through the cracks.

compendium, try a different search. This time look for "official response". You'll find that every day people come to this forum demanding an official response to what they believe to be a simple question. "Surely this would be easy and quick to answer", they say. Then, when posters answer them, and the answers are the same, they continue to ask for an "official response".

Years ago Developers used to respond in a timely manner and engage in discussions. But when a simple answer devolves into a 1000+ post thread, and that process repeats itself, year after year, you can begin to see why Developers are leery to give a "simple answer".

This is why the FAQ system was invented. The only Sticky in this Forum explains how it works. There are several pending FAQs, including one recent one with over 150 hits. I have faith it will be answered in a timely manner. I've had a FAQ posts come to fruition, as many others have.

Your question, compendium, is no more or less important than the queue of FAQs that are pending. If you think this is a legitimate problem that needs clarification, start a new thread as outlined in the Sticky I mentioned earlier. That's how you can get your "simple question" answered.

Or you can take our word for it. After you play some more, and read the forums some more, you'll gain a better insight into how the PFRPG rules set works, and where the real conflicts occur. This Vital Strike issue you have is understandable, since you're new to PF. It isn't to us, because we're used to it.

From one old gamer to another, my advice is to take our advice. There are more vexing questions out there than this, and it isn't worth the time arguing over it.

Sovereign Court

Zog of Deadwood wrote:

Third (and this one is very often overlooked), Vital Strike can be used for a readied attack and is FAR more likely than a normal attack to disrupt a spellcaster during the casting of a spell, because the Concentration check in those circumstances is based upon damage taken in the single attack that forces the check. Too often I have seen this forgotten, even by players who have taken this feat.

That's a good point.


If you can ready an attack to hit him while he casts, you could have instead full attacked and killed him most of the time.

Sovereign Court

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I generally have good results with the search, but you do of course need to do some refinement. For example, if you want to know if Vital Strike will work with some other feat, put them both in the search bar. "Vital Strike Spring Attack" gives you quite a few relevant hits.

But the best place to start may well be the FAQ. It's organized per-book, so knowing that Vital Strike is in the CRB, you select that FAQ and use Ctrl-F to quickly hunt for it, and find your answer.

If an FAQ seems unclear, pasting some of that text back into the forum search will probably yield some threads of people discussing the FAQ.

---

I think your question is a good example of precisely why the developers don't answer every question directly. Because your question has been asked and answered numerous times, and is in the FAQ as well.

Developer time could be spent making new stuff, answering new questions, or answering already-often-answered questions. What would you rather have them do?

As for the tone - yeah, it's not nice if they sound frustrated. But on the other hand, it IS understandable. Not something to be proud of, but I can understand getting frustrated. Many of the question posts start with "I'm a paying customer... I demand answers... I didn't bother to look this up myself first... how dare you ignore me..."

---

As for the quality of writing. Personally, I think it's fairly good. I've tried writing game systems myself, and from experience, it's pretty hard to write solid rules.

Sometimes you write things that sound perfectly clear to you, but other people can't make heads or tails of it. Sometimes that's your fault, but other times people just aren't really paying attention to what they're reading. They complain that something isn't explained, but it IS explained two sentences later.


Vital Strike is abusive when you have a siege mage (weezurd archetype) using a cannon. (normal 6d6 turns into 12d6 from this feat alone). There are really horrible ways to cheese up the cannon to do amazing damage.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Not going to add any commentary to the thread topic (sorry), since the VS feat clearly works only when using the attack action.

I'm going to wax slightly lyrical on an idea I had a while back in another of these threads, which is that the clarity of the rules could be enhanced by the inclusion of a term for "a single attack", which I suggest be called a Strike.

This would require a large number of changes to the rules (so is probably an idea for Pathfinder 2.0), and leads to the following (examples, not meant to cover all of the possible situations):

The attack action: make a Strike.
Vital Strike: when using the attack action...
Spring Attack: as a full-round action, you may move, make a Strike, and move again...
Full-attack action: make multiple Strikes...
Two-weapon Fighting: gain an extra Strike with the off-hand weapon...
Various combat manoeuvres: When making a Strike.../when making an attack action...

This allows for questions like this one to be more easily parsed.

Just my 2cp.


Actually all arguments muidnepmoc provided are perfectly legit, FAQ says that "Vital Strike can only be used as part of an attack action, which is a specific kind of standard action." so why other part is not your regular attack you have for using attack action? But that is clearly not intent, and we can see it because ruling does not say "extra attack" (Haste, Two-Weapon fighting rules, Rake) or "in addition" (Constrict monster rule), so it implies that it just alters your attack from "attack action" to have additional weapon dice.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Lifat wrote:


I don't understand why the devs would be disdainful of people asking questions though. If a question has been asked and answered in the past then not responding should be sufficient. Especially for threads that haven't got some kind of minimum threshold of FAQ requests.

They get disdainful because of the hate expressed by people who are surprised that the devs won't give them a personal answer for the same question that gets repeated on a weekly basis despite the fact that it has been laid out in FAQ in a completely non-ambigous answer.

So the people posting these threads are either....

1. Those who refuse to use the search functions.

2. Don't like the answer they're finding in FAQ.


All people here seems to think author do not diferentiate between attack and attack action, while i belive the question is
"attack action lets me make 1 attack. Vital strike lets me make an attack. why 1+1 = 1 attack?"

It should probably be errataed to sould like Focused Shot, but that makes so other feats may stop work with it because "omg Vital Strike is not an attack action" that will repeat magus "spell combat is not full-round attack" thing


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muidnepmoc wrote:
See page 109 of the NPC codex, the Grove Guardian Half-Elf Monk, which states "Against foes too large to grapple or immune to stunning, she uses her ki pool to boost her movement, then Spring Attack with Improved Vital Strike to make hit and run attacks."

Unfortunately the NPC Codex and other published material are written by people with imperfect system knowledge - hardly surprising when the original feat was written with that unclear 'attack action' language.

(See also: many NPCs carrying illegal potions of Personal spells.)
FAQs trump stat blocks.
What the GM thinks is fair trumps the FAQs.

Sovereign Court

Sarrah wrote:
Vital Strike is abusive when you have a siege mage (weezurd archetype) using a cannon. (normal 6d6 turns into 12d6 from this feat alone). There are really horrible ways to cheese up the cannon to do amazing damage.

A wizard with a +6 BAB? Cut him some slack. If all he's doing at level 12 is 12d6 damage, there's nothing to worry about.


Are wrote:

I agree with most of what you said in terms of the rule system and improvement of such, so I'm happy to track down some developer posts for you :)

Thank you 'Are'. This is exactly what Kewlpack and I wanted to know. Just some simple links to authoritative sources settles this quickly. I just wish they had been easier to locate. Kewlpack's and my searches together did not lead to these.

I want to apologize to everyone else, because I realize this was the wrong place to try to make my point. I did not mean to say that Pathfinder is no good. If I thought such a thing I would not put the time into it. Pathfinder is quite good, much better than its precursors in my opinion. I am not new to Pathfinder, but I don't have copious amounts of time to sift through all rules every time a character chooses a yet unplayed and controversial feat in our group. Plus, Kewlpack and I are the only ones in our group willing to search for answers instead of going with the misinformed misinterpretation of the moment. I also don't have time to peruse forums for answers buried among end user posts that lack references. 'Are' solved my issue very simply with three links. I did not need the developers to answer me on this. I needed to see a developer's word on this or something similar that addresses the crux of the issue.

However, I admit that I somewhat hoped to try to get the designers' attention. I believe that a few explicit definitions and minor refactorings in the core rulebook could clear up a world of confusion. I do such things for a living in the world of Internet and Software, and I would be willing to give some input. Those of us that rely on the published materials as the source and don't have time to spend on forums could greatly benefit from such a thing.

By the way, the FAQ really does not address the question unless you are aware of the other posts to which 'Are' referred me. This is assumed knowledge, and assumed knowledge always leads to endless discussion, as each newcomer tries to understand.

Thanks to all who gave additional advice.

Again, this was not personal, just venting a little frustration.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies, Representative - D20 Hobbies

muidnepmoc wrote:

If we can't rely on the published rule books to understand the rules, then the rule system is broken.

FAQ ... conflicts with what is in the books

Someone please point me to just one developer discussion on this topic

The rulebooks is crystal clear. Really it is on this matter.

The FAQ confirms this.

Core page 182 describes the "Attack" action, which is a standard action. It is the action you must take to use Vital Strike.

Please explain in a way I can understand why it is you think you can do Vital Strike with anything other than the Attack action detailed on page 182 left column middle of column.

Jason post

muidnepmoc wrote:

try to get the designers' attention.

By the way, the FAQ really does not address the question

You won't get their attention, as this was a "settled" issue for them in 2009. So I'm positive they (and I if I were them) would ignore any thread talking about Vital Strike.

The FAQ says "specific kind of standard action", what do you think that means?


LoneKnave wrote:
If you can ready an attack to hit him while he casts, you could have instead full attacked and killed him most of the time.

That's exactly the mistake I was talking about when I said too many players with Vital Strike forget the option of spell disruption. If a fighter manages to get base to base with a caster, gambling that the very first spell cast won't matter is often a game changer unless the caster is not high enough level to be a real threat to begin with. Those iterative attacks don't even happen unless the caster's spell leaves the situation mostly unchanged. That caster might be about to cast Teleport, or Word of Recall, or Dominate Person, or Fear, or Maximized and Empowered Chain Lightning (the fighter might live, but what about his friends?) or Reverse Gravity or even just Charm Person. Only if there are multiple PCs on said caster and one of the others is designated as the spell disrupter should the fighter go to town with all of his or her attacks.


James Risner wrote:


Please explain in a way I can understand why it is you think you can do Vital Strike with anything other than the Attack action detailed on page 182 left column middle of column.

as seems clear in the OP and his GM's post, the ambiguity is in the word "part of".

The logic is more or less: "I use my Standard Action to make a single melee attack. As part of that Attack Action, I can *also* add in a vital strike."
combined with "Vital strike uses a different wording than the feats that just replace the Attack. There must be a reason for that".

The FAQ texts quoted are meaningless in the context as they adress a different problem. The whole issue in this thread combining Vital strike with a single standard melee attack, but working out the exact meaning of "combining".

However, there was linked a post by J.Buhlman where he said "Vital strike is an Attack action". Ie, is the Attack action, and not part of it. If you treat that as official clarification, then the ambiguity should be gone.


I'll say this - the 'attack' action is a specific type of action - it was a holdover from 3.5 - it doesn't read well and it is counter-intuitive from a 'plain English' reading of the rules unless you pay very close attention to the wording.

As such there are only a very small number of abilities or feats that use 'the attack action' - someone in the big sunder thread tracked them across all published Paizo material and it was less than 6 IIRC.

We also got word from an author/designer that they are requested to avoid using 'the attack action' whenever possible.

So (by conjecture) they know this is confusing and causes problems.

When using vital strike - the idea is almost nothing works with it in terms of 'stacking' - with the notable exception of power attack. You could replace the wording with 'As a standard action - make a single attack at your highest attack bonus and add the weapons base damage to the result - this can not be used in place of or with any other type of action except for free, swift or immediate'

I'm pretty sure that covers all the bases in terms of readability (and it's intended use). Outside of that the general rule of thumb on vital strike is:

Q: Can I use vital strike with.... (insert anything)

A: No - vital strike doesn't work with anything except Power Attack

There are a couple of exceptions to this - notably there is at least one feat that was designed to work with vital strike - but (IIRC) I think even it got tripped up by the wording and RAW shouldn't work with it.

Now - take all that and houserule what you want - if you try to run a game 100% RAW you will go insane. Take what you think makes the most sense and fun - and then go for it - don't be afraid to scale back if you find it's overpowering.

:)


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"The rule system is complicated and at times contradictory, as this example shows. I don’t like a rule system that requires assumed knowledge and cross-referential analysis to understand."

That's really gonna make this game hard for you. I've been playing since AD&D, and even having played this version and it's derivatives since 3.0 was released, I can say that this is a big part of being a DM -- developing an encyclopedic knowledge of the rules. The feats break the rules.

You can use it as you desire in your game. But it's liable to make fighters with vital strike overpowered.

Sczarni

compendium wrote:
I believe that a few explicit definitions and minor refactorings in the core rulebook could clear up a world of confusion.

The Developers agree with you here. If you open up your CRB you'll see within the first few pages what version your printing is. We're on the 6th version currently, and other books have been updated as well.

Perhaps a future version will have more clear language defining Vital Strike as a standard action.


'ARE' - THANK YOU for pointing us to J.Buhlman's official answer. That's exactly what we needed to know.

Thanks to everyone, including my friend of almost 30 years, Muidnepmoc, for helping to dig the answer(s) up and dive into several interesting ancillary points on game systems in general.

The more powerful and flexible any system is, the more complex it gets (that's the nature of the beast). Complexity will always introduce the chance for conflicts, issues, and misinterpretation... again, nature of the beast.

Appreciate all the interest and effort in helping us find the answers. Posted again here, for those who don't want to wade through the middle of the discussion:

Official Answer on Vital Strike feat


Ckorik wrote:
Now - take all that and houserule what you want - if you try to run a game 100% RAW you will go insane. Take what you think makes the most sense and fun - and then go for it - don't be afraid to scale back if you find it's overpowering.

This is kinda where I'm at - focus on what makes the session exciting, interesting, and fun. Running a game well is a balancing act, and every DM and Player will find different things "do it" for them. It's up to those of us who DM to identify what those motivations and gratifications are - and drive the game to those. :)


Nefreet wrote:
Perhaps a future version will have more clear language defining Vital Strike as a standard action.

This is where those of us who are willing to do the deep dive on rules wording and interpretation really need to be a part of the playtesting!

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies, Representative - D20 Hobbies

kewlpack wrote:
'ARE' - THANK YOU for pointing us to J.Buhlman's official answer. That's exactly what we needed to know.

There are very few official clarifications that have ever happened.

So in the future, you need to not request or wait for one.

When you have a whole thread of everyone in unison saying it doesn't work like you say, chances are extremely high it doesn't work like you think.

If you have dissent, read the dissenting posts and formulate your own opinion.

These two tips will cause you lots less stress while playing this game.

Sczarni

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kewlpack wrote:
Nefreet wrote:
Perhaps a future version will have more clear language defining Vital Strike as a standard action.
This is where those of us who are willing to do the deep dive on rules wording and interpretation really need to be a part of the playtesting!

That's kind of insulting to the countless playtesters and designers who were a part of the playtesting. Don't think yourself to be superior. Nobody's perfect.


Nefreet wrote:
That's kind of insulting to the countless playtesters and designers who were a part of the playtesting. Don't think yourself to be superior. Nobody's perfect.

I agree, Nefreet. No dis or insult intended in any way. I was trying to give an encouraging word to those among us who care about such things, but didn't take the time to participate in the playtesting. We should have jumped in if we really cared that much about it.


James Risner wrote:
When you have a whole thread of everyone in unison saying it doesn't work like you say, chances are extremely high it doesn't work like you think.

Understood. I agree. But it comes down to the authority of the available answers. A primary source will always be given more authority than a secondary, tertiary, or quarternary source. Thus, when a designer or specialist (being a primary source) does give a clear answer, it helps so much to alleviate the frustrating debates over varied interpretations that suck the life and fun out of the game session.

We were simply trying to find the definitive statement, and thankfully, we did.

Thanks again folks.


muidnepmoc wrote:
I want to apologize to everyone else, because I realize this was the wrong place to try to make my point.

Not really. Your'e not the only one who experiences the same frustration. There is a small list of about a hundred things that I would like to see them clear up. From my perspective, this would vastly improve my experience and eliminate the annoyance degraded experience. But naturally Paizo isn't going to prioritize things the same as you or I.

I see it as a matter of financial priorities and circumstances.

1. Paizo doesn't take rule changes lightly. I believe they spend a lot of time discussing any changes they make because they know how much it can impact the players. So this means that changing rules may consume a fair amount of developer resources. Certainly some things might be easier to fix than others, but the last thing they want to do is overlook something they think is trivial only to have it blow up in their face.

2. $$$$. Fixing the old rules doesn't sell nearly as well as making an entirely new book. Sure, some people might go and buy a reprint of Ultimate Magic, but probably not as many those who bought Ultimate Campaign. Plus, when you're just fixing errors, you'll have to posts those on a website and this also kills books sales of a reprinted book.There are a finite number of hours the staff can spend and it probably makes more financial sense to devote those paid hours to making new books.

3. Not life threatening. This problems may seem huge to us as individuals, but none of them are show stoppers. As much as I'd like to see them address this rule or that, outside of PFS, the GM can adjudicate any discrepancy/issue in the rules. It's not like they've sold us laptops and the power supplies are dead. We can still play the game and do despite all the problems.

4. New to us, not new to them. As someone above suggested, the first time we ask a question isn't the first time they've seen it. I think they rely heavily upon the community to resolve these reoccurring questions, rather than answering them every time.

5. No perfect answer. Finally, in many cases, there many not be a perfect answer. There is no "truth" to how things are suppose to work. There's no formula or test lab where we can look at the interaction of two feats to see what's really suppose to happen. I am under the impression that even when things get misconstrued by the community (see Oracle Misfortune), Paizo may not feel that correcting it is ultimately an improvement to the game. i.e. "Hey, we didn't mean for that to happen, but we're hard pressed to say it's better if it does not."

So I feel your pain (not on this issue, but in general). At the same time, I get why Paizo isn't more responsive. Doesn't make me like it, but at least I can take it in stride.


you can make one attack

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