CMB and CMD, a Broken System With No Point?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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So while I was trying to create a maneuver focused fighter and going over the various rules and rulings that pertain to them, I kept having one thought over and over.

Wow this system is stacked against the PCs.

I'm sure you've all had similar experiences. A PC goes to tumble past an enemy and is shocked by the CMD, your fighter specialized in tripping and sundering goes up against the approximately one billion flying natural attacking monsters in the bestiary, etc. The problems with the system seem to lie in a couple of areas, which I'll lay out.

The Problems

1. CMD scales way too fast and high (for monsters). The gap between average AC and CMD starts out 2 at CR 1, increases to 4 at CR 5, to 8 at CR 10, and to a whopping 14 at CR 15. CMD scales way, way faster than AC, and this wouldn't be a problem, except...

2. There are very few ways to increase CMB. Most combat maneuvers can't be used with a weapon, and this severely limits them in terms of bonus. CMB for those maneuvers will in most cases just be your BAB, your main stat, and four for the improved and greater maneuver feats. While this is fine for early levels, as you level up monster CMD scales dramatically while your CMB advances at a snail's pace. By the time you hit about level 10, you'll really start to feel the pain, any higher than that and it's a pipe dream.

3. The only maneuvers that can be used with weapons suck at mid-high levels. By default the only maneuvers that can be used with weapons are disarm, sunder, and trip. Wanna take a guess as to how many higher CR monsters don't fly and carry vital equipment? It's not many. Thus the only maneuvers you can get real, meaningful bonuses to are crap by mid level.

4. Maneuver based characters face heavy feat taxes. Wanna use a maneuver at all competently? Get ready to spend those feats. Improved and greater versions are essential if only for the numerical bonuses. Most of those require combat expertise, so that's another feat. Oh, you say you're a dex fighter? Weapon finesse wasn't enough, get agile maneuvers as well please. All this investment for a style of combat that you're at best playing catchup with, is situational in many cases, and will eventually be completely useless. Why in the heck would any sane player do this again?

5. Monster CMB scales faster than your CMD. Monster CMB scales faster than their attack bonus in much the same way that CMD scales faster than AC, albeit at a little bit slower of a pace. By contrast, player CMD usually scales slower than their AC, as there are fewer way to increase it. This means that more and more as you advance in level if a monster wants to hit you with a maneuver, he will. Enjoy being grappled by that beast with all the natural attacks. That demon with no weapons to disarm? He'll gladly send your shiny adamantine weapon flying.

All this combines to make combat maneuvers something the monsters do, not the players, especially at high levels. So what can be done to fix this problem? Unfortunately, some of the issues are with the basic math of the system, and are intrinsic to the way CMB and CMD are calculated. However, a couple of things can be done to help.

Potential Solutions

1. Remove combat expertise as a prerequisite to any maneuver feats. These things cost enough feats already, do we really need to exacerbate that?

2. Make all maneuvers useable with weapons. This one's big. Yeah, in some cases this doesn't make much sense, but given the scaling we're dealing with I don't see much alternative. Besides, is it really much of a stretch incorporating a weapon into a dirty trick or a bull rush?

3. Allow some sort of extra bonus to apply to CMD. Armor enhancement bonus, resistance cloak bonus, whatever. The number is just too low as you level up, and monster conditions become less a matter of "my defenses will save me" and more a matter of "ok, how do I deal with what just happened".

Thoughts, opinions? Do you think the system isn't broken? Do you disagree on the solutions? I'd love to hear more opinions on the matter.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

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Here's the number one solution to balancing the system without completely rewriting it: remove size modifiers from the equation. You see, the reason that monster CMD scales so ridiculously quickly is that every monster is double-dipping their size benefits; for example, in following the rules on the monster creation chart a colossal creature would see a 32 point increase in its strength over a medium creature, but only a 4 point decrease in its dexterity. This means that just by virtue of its size, the creature has already seen a net 14 point increase in its CMD. Add in its size bonus to CMD and a colossal creature is getting a +22 to its CMD before factoring in BAB and any other relevant factors. That +14 is an achievable number through feats and class abilities; the +22 much less so, especially when many maneuvers are already unuseable against such creatures due to limitations on the size of creature you can affect baked into the maneuvers themselves.

Remove the additional size modifiers from the CMB/CMD equation, and everything balances much more smoothly (though poorly balanced archetypes that attempt to cheat the system, like the Lore Warden, will need to be revoked or rebalanced; I'd suggest as a quick fix, halving the bonus to CMB granted by such archetypes).

Another thing I houserule is, as mentioned in the OP, allowing weapons to be used with most maneuvers, as long as it makes sense. I've allowed a character to add his weapon bonus to a bullrush when using an earthbreaker, and to a dirty trick (the character slashed the opponent's helmet strap, causing its helmet to fall over its eyes and temporarily blind it).


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You're making a lot of interesting claims about scaling and how it affects CMD/CMB/AC, etc. I presume this means you have some tabulated data by CR on each of these, and I'm curious if you have that available to look at? Because I've been wanting something like that for a while!


I like the system in that it is simple but it does have problems. I do the following:

1. Size bonuses/penalties only apply to when in a grapple. The reasoning being that the size bonus/penalty seems to only reflect increased force not increased accuracy so I add both the size bonus for being big and forceful and the size penalty for being easier to dodge, since they are equal and opposite they net out to zero.

2. Fold Feats Together (I do this for a lot of feats)

Brutal Maneuvers
Prerequisite: BAB +1, Str 13
No attacks of opportunity for Bull Rush, Overrun, Sunder, or Grappling
At BAB +7: Deal 1d6+Str damage to enemies on successful Bull Rush or Overrun.

Dexterous Maneuvers
Prerequisite: BAB +1, Dex 13
No Attacks of opportunity for Dirty Trick, Disarm, Trip, or Steal maneuvers. Can use Dex instead of Str for CMB.
At BAB +7 Can Feint as an attack equivalent action.
At BAB +14 Can Steal as an attack equivalent action

Weapons with the qualities disarm, or trip never provoke attacks of opportunity or give +2 CMB if you have the above feat.

3. Paragon Bonuses (my version of automatic bonuses replacing +X enhanced armor and weapons) apply too CMB and CMD


Oddly I have found that the maneuvers are really useful at all levels in our home game. But our GM likes most of our enemies to be leveled humanoids of one kind or another.

We face our fair shares of demons, dragons and monsters but about half our enemies are some type of humanoid so our maneuvers are often used.

Mostly bullrush and trip, occasionally disarm. Generally we face fewer flying opponents as well though.

So I guess the issue could be campaign design specific.


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Cheapy wrote:
You're making a lot of interesting claims about scaling and how it affects CMD/CMB/AC, etc. I presume this means you have some tabulated data by CR on each of these, and I'm curious if you have that available to look at?

Of course, meant to include this in the original post, here's where I found it.

http://www.minmaxboards.com/index.php?topic=12967.0

Not my table, I by no means am taking credit for it. Just something useful I stumbled upon.

*Edit* Not the direct link, couldn't seem to get that to work, so here's where I found it instead.


That link doesn't seem to work - you sure you sent the share link?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

So I take it you haven't actually played your maneuver fighter.

I will absolutely admit that your contention that not all maneuvers are appropriate to all foes, but other than that I don't think your concerns are very valid.

While 'big beasties' do scale up in CMD faster than AC, what you are missing is that at this point you are probably expecting to hit on second and maybe even third iterative attacks. Usually a full BAB characters first attack is pretty close to an auto-hit. Manuevers are behind this generally (some of them anyway) but you generally have a fair shot of succeeding.

Which brings me to my second point. Maneuvers can be very powerful. Their effects are usually a whole lot more significant than a single hit, and often more significant than a whole round of solid hits. There should be an exchange for that sort of power.

Lastly, on PCs CMD, I don't think you understand how it works. While the simple formula of 10+BAB+STR+DEX is what most people see, that is the beginning, not the end of CMD.

"A creature can also add any circumstance, deflection, dodge, insight, luck, morale, profane, and sacred bonuses to AC to its CMD."

PCs increased stats, deflection, luck and insight (at a minimum for medium to high level PCs) usually give them a very good CMD.


Well then. That saves me a weekend of work.

Thanks!


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Cheapy wrote:
You're making a lot of interesting claims about scaling and how it affects CMD/CMB/AC, etc. I presume this means you have some tabulated data by CR on each of these, and I'm curious if you have that available to look at? Because I've been wanting something like that for a while!

Pathfinder Bestiary with Statistics link

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Gilfalas wrote:

Oddly I have found that the maneuvers are really useful at all levels in our home game. But our GM likes most of our enemies to be leveled humanoids of one kind or another.

We face our fair shares of demons, dragons and monsters but about half our enemies are some type of humanoid so our maneuvers are often used.

Mostly bullrush and trip, occasionally disarm. Generally we face fewer flying opponents as well though.

So I guess the issue could be campaign design specific.

Yes, since the majority of the issues with CMB/CMD are directly tied to the double-dipping effect of size category changes, a campaign that features predominantly humanoid opponents will probably not have any issues. Other issues, such as not being able to trip a flying creature or disarms not working against opponents with natural attacks, tend to be more logical and easier to live with in the context of the campaign, given that when you can trip or disarm, it tends to be a massive game-changer. One thing I do suggest though, is that GMs give their players some basic information about the campaign along the lines of that found in the various Player Guides for Paizo's APs. IN the same way a Ranger should be given a heads up about what type of enemies may be common in the campaign, a character building a maneuver specialist should be given a heads up that a campaign may predominantly feature opponents that can't be affected by his chosen maneuver (e.g. If it's a campaign about dragons going crazy and almost all the encounters involve true dragons, I might let a Fighter know that Improved Trip would be a poor allocation of his resources).


I am of the opinion that it's not broken, it just doesn't apply to all situations and all types of baddies.

Like Justus said, you are assuming that CMD should always be similar to AC. The reason the CMD scales differently (close to AC at low levels and further apart at higher) is that as a PC levels they gain iterative attacks. The first attack gets a much higher chance of hitting compared to to when you were low level and only had the 1 attack (think 60% chance of hit vs 25%). Thus if CMD scaled like AC or you received weapon enhancement on non-weapon combat maneuvers the chance of success would be too high.

Another reason is the Str scales differently for monsters. This is done to offset magical enhancements that PCs have and monsters don't. So stop trying to grapple things that are larger and way way stronger than you are.


Your proposed solutions don't actually seems to address the issues you've pointed out. I'll go through the list.

1. Monster CMD scales so high and so fast for monsters because of two reasons. First, after a certain point monsters generally have more HD than CR (see Table: Creature Hit Dice). This means that any with full BAB will have more than PCs of the appropriate level. Second, CMD is based on Strength and Dexterity and many monsters (outsiders specifically) have lots of both. PCs are restricted in what stats they can have (and usually forced to focus on one or two by the system), monsters just have whatever stats someone felt like assigning them.
Solution: Well, there really isn't a system one. The stat imbalance can be fixed but it still leaves the BAB imbalance which exists because any individual creature is supposed to fight four PCs. The solution is to use multiple lower CR monsters against the PCs who would have more reasonable CMDs.

2. This one is just wrong. Anything that adds to attack rolls adds to CMB. Heroism, True Strike, Pale Green Prism Ioun Stone, flanking, etc. This is true even for maneuvers that don't use weapons.

3. This is absolutely true, but the problem isn't with using weapons with maneuvers but with the maneuvers. Disarm is exceedingly situational. Sunder is similarly so (unless you're a barbarian). Trip is needlessly, pointlessly nerfed by specific circumstances (flying, extra legs).
Solution: Combine some maneuvers? Let trip force Fly checks? I don't know.

4. This one is just true. Again though, the problem is with feats in general and not this specific subsystem.
Solution: Has unchained Stamina feats made this any better?

5. For the same reason monster CMD scales faster their CMB scales faster as well. Any solution you implement here could just increase how fast monster CMD scales as well.
Solution: Same as last time, multiple lower CR monsters instead of one big solo monster.

Solution: Give everyone Strength Surge. Or something similar, maybe lower scaling. Maybe base it on Stamina feats (if they're actually any good, I haven't checked). Seriously, +level to CMB or CMD 1/battle, 1/round, whatever, would be a huge boon.


Dave Justus wrote:

So I take it you haven't actually played your maneuver fighter.

I will absolutely admit that your contention that not all maneuvers are appropriate to all foes, but other than that I don't think your concerns are very valid.

While 'big beasties' do scale up in CMD faster than AC, what you are missing is that at this point you are probably expecting to hit on second and maybe even third iterative attacks. Usually a full BAB characters first attack is pretty close to an auto-hit. Manuevers are behind this generally (some of them anyway) but you generally have a fair shot of succeeding.

Which brings me to my second point. Maneuvers can be very powerful. Their effects are usually a whole lot more significant than a single hit, and often more significant than a whole round of solid hits. There should be an exchange for that sort of power.

Lastly, on PCs CMD, I don't think you understand how it works. While the simple formula of 10+BAB+STR+DEX is what most people see, that is the beginning, not the end of CMD.

"A creature can also add any circumstance, deflection, dodge, insight, luck, morale, profane, and sacred bonuses to AC to its CMD."

PCs increased stats, deflection, luck and insight (at a minimum for medium to high level PCs) usually give them a very good CMD.

Respectfully, I believe your opinion is likely drawn mostly from low level play. The system does work there, but it's mid-high levels I'm referring to.

For example, the level 11 character I statted out would have a CMB of 22 to use non weapon maneuvers, and that's with a 7 main stat bonus, 11 bab, and both improved and greater feats. There is very little else that can even be done to increase that number (Lore Warden being a special case and not really entering into my line of thought). Average CMD for an equal CR opponent at that level is 35, meaning you need at least a 13. Facing a somewhat challenging CR+2? Average CMD is 37, leaving you needing a 15 on your highest attack. Good luck with your iteratives, you'll need it. Oh, and that's if the maneuver you're using allows iteratives, which many don't.

I believe you are failing to account for both increased CMD over AC and lack of bonuses to CMB in your reasoning. Mostly this applies to maneuvers you can't use your weapon for, which is why that's one of my suggestions. A simple weapon enhancement and weapon focus bonus could do wonders there.

CMD for PC's, I believe you're failing to account for the difference between AC and CMD made by armor bonuses, shield bonuses, amulets of natural armor, etc. You're also failing to account for monster CMB being generally higher than it's highest attack bonus. Once again, this is fine at low levels, it's mid-high levels I'm referring to.

Lab_Rat wrote:

I am of the opinion that it's not broken, it just doesn't apply to all situations and all types of baddies.

Like Justus said, you are assuming that CMD should always be similar to AC. The reason the CMD scales differently (close to AC at low levels and further apart at higher) is that as a PC levels they gain iterative attacks. The first attack gets a much higher chance of hitting compared to to when you were low level and only had the 1 attack (think 60% chance of hit vs 25%). Thus if CMD scaled like AC or you received weapon enhancement on non-weapon combat maneuvers the chance of success would be too high.

Another reason is the Str scales differently for monsters. This is done to offset magical enhancements that PCs have and monsters don't. So stop trying to grapple things that are larger and way way stronger than you are.

The problem with this reasoning is that the system hits you twice on non weapon maneuvers. Once for not allowing your weapon bonuses, and again for the increased CMD, so you're falling behind at twice the rate. Not to mention a lot of these maneuvers are standard actions and take up your entire turn.


Bob Bob Bob wrote:
2. This one is just wrong. Anything that adds to attack rolls adds to CMB. Heroism, True Strike, Pale Green Prism Ioun Stone, flanking, etc. This is true even for maneuvers that don't use weapons.

I would argue that since the majority of methods that add straight attack bonuses are spells, something martials generally don't have access to, my point still stands. The fact that you pointed out the ioun stone, which costs 30,000 for a +1, sort of proves my point. It's one of the few unqualified attack bonuses, and it is super expensive for very little benefit.


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One misgiving I have with trip is that it's restricted to one size category larger. Not only is this bull, it's also not even slightly realistic. My cat has successfully tripped me a few times and I'm pretty sure my cat is a tiny creature while I'm a medium creature.


Triune wrote:
Bob Bob Bob wrote:
2. This one is just wrong. Anything that adds to attack rolls adds to CMB. Heroism, True Strike, Pale Green Prism Ioun Stone, flanking, etc. This is true even for maneuvers that don't use weapons.
I would argue that since the majority of methods that add straight attack bonuses are spells, something martials generally don't have access to, my point still stands. The fact that you pointed out the ioun stone, which costs 30,000 for a +1, sort of proves my point. It's one of the few unqualified attack bonuses, and it is super expensive for very little benefit.

Two points, first, you can get a cracked version of the ioun stone for only 4,000 gold that gives the same bonus to attack. you can also pick up a flawed version for 28,000 that gives a moral bonus instead (yeah too expensive until way late game)

second, Don't all of the combat maneuvers you are saying can't be done with a weapon benefit from amulet of mighty fists?


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HyperMissingno wrote:
One misgiving I have with trip is that it's restricted to one size category larger. Not only is this bull, it's also not even slightly realistic. My cat has successfully tripped me a few times and I'm pretty sure my cat is a tiny creature while I'm a medium creature.

Cat's have a feature to trip any humanoid regardless of size


Avadriel wrote:
Triune wrote:
Bob Bob Bob wrote:
2. This one is just wrong. Anything that adds to attack rolls adds to CMB. Heroism, True Strike, Pale Green Prism Ioun Stone, flanking, etc. This is true even for maneuvers that don't use weapons.
I would argue that since the majority of methods that add straight attack bonuses are spells, something martials generally don't have access to, my point still stands. The fact that you pointed out the ioun stone, which costs 30,000 for a +1, sort of proves my point. It's one of the few unqualified attack bonuses, and it is super expensive for very little benefit.

Two points, first, you can get a cracked version of the ioun stone for only 4,000 gold that gives the same bonus to attack. you can also pick up a flawed version for 28,000 that gives a moral bonus instead (yeah too expensive until way late game)

second, Don't all of the combat maneuvers you are saying can't be done with a weapon benefit from amulet of mighty fists?

No, mighty fist doesn't boost combat maneuvers any more than a weapon would. Example: AoMF = no grapple bonus.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

HyperMissingno wrote:
One misgiving I have with trip is that it's restricted to one size category larger. Not only is this bull, it's also not even slightly realistic. My cat has successfully tripped me a few times and I'm pretty sure my cat is a tiny creature while I'm a medium creature.

Agreed. And whatever happened to "the bigger they are, the harder they fall"? Given the legacy in fantasy literature of defeating larger creatures by tripping them and the large assortment of creatures that are either flat-out immune to trip or have innate flight available and are effectively immune unless you catch them napping, a further size restriction seems unnecessary.


A few things to keep in mind about the linked spreadsheet. It doesn't include B4, but it does include a lot of the campaign setting material up until or a little after B3.

Crunching numbers, it looks like removing the size bonus to CMD doesn't actually help all that. Assuming a modest Str progression (starting at 17 with racial bonus included), here are the chances of success at the different levels of play (low level, mid level, high level)

1-6: 64.1%
7-12: 46.6%
13-20: 19.3%

By removing the bonuses based on Size, it becomes:

1-6: 62.5% (average size at CR 1 is small, which is a -1 penalty based on size)
7-12: 51.6%
13-20: 28.7%

Maybe I messed up a bit of the math, but it's all a difference of less than 10% at each tier.

The key thing here is that before level 20, only 5 CRs have average sizes larger than Large, so the Huge / Gargantuan / Colossal modifiers tend to not actually come into play all that much.


Without going all math on the game, I decided (arbitrarily) that weapons with the "trip" feature do not provoke an AoO when used to attempt a trip.

I DM two game groups and participate in one whose DM adopted this rule as well, about a dozen players total; the various campaigns levels 1-6 (so far.)

Not only is no one abusing this house rule, it has made no measurable impact at all.

I *WANT* to encourage more CM attempts. I think it's time to house rule some more...

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Cheapy wrote:

A few things to keep in mind about the linked spreadsheet. It doesn't include B4, but it does include a lot of the campaign setting material up until or a little after B3.

Crunching numbers, it looks like removing the size bonus to CMD doesn't actually help all that. Assuming a modest Str progression (starting at 17 with racial bonus included), here are the chances of success at the different levels of play (low level, mid level, high level)

1-6: 64.1%
7-12: 46.6%
13-20: 19.3%

By removing the bonuses based on Size, it becomes:

1-6: 62.5% (average size at CR 1 is small, which is a -1 penalty based on size)
7-12: 51.6%
13-20: 28.7%

Maybe I messed up a bit of the math, but it's all a difference of less than 10% at each tier.

The key thing here is that before level 20, only 5 CRs have average sizes larger than Large, so the Huge / Gargantuan / Colossal modifiers tend to not actually come into play all that much.

Small to Fine creatures should in my opinion, be buffed up slightly; they actually lose out on the size modifier equation due to DEX scaling up much more slowly with size decreases than STR scales up with size increases.

Also, there's nearly a 10% positive difference in the chance of success with a maneuver at levels 13-20 (and a solid 5% at levels 7-12) the biggest problem levels. In the original Bestiary alone there's 350 monsters, with a roughly equal amount in bestiaries 2,3, and 4 (as well as, presumably, the upcoming Bestiary 5). That 10% difference could equate to 100 or more additional encounters a maneuver specialist can meaningfully contribute to over the current system.


Let's also note that going from 19.3% up to 28.7% represents a 48% increase in the number of successful maneuvers at those levels.

While the numbers are bad in an absolute sense, they actually do indicate that the size modifiers change significantly helps on the whole.


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1. CMD scales just fine, IMHO.

2. There are plenty of ways to increase one CMB checks.

3. Agreed that disarm, sunder and trip could use some help. but there are a couple of ways to use the weapon related bonuses for the others maneuvers.

4. Agreed, feat taxes sucks.

5. Not sure about this one. But as DM i like to use maneuvers against the players so I don't complain.

=========================

Most definitely combat expertise should go away as prerequisite for the maneuver feat, it was a terrible idea back in the day and it is still a terrible idea today.


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HyperMissingno wrote:
One misgiving I have with trip is that it's restricted to one size category larger. Not only is this bull, it's also not even slightly realistic. My cat has successfully tripped me a few times and I'm pretty sure my cat is a tiny creature while I'm a medium creature.

This is the real problem with maneuvers, no the CMD vs CMB. Manevers should be buffed, perhaps not in the sense that make them just plain stronger (some do need that though) but this kind of restriction should go away.


Ssalarn wrote:
Cheapy wrote:

A few things to keep in mind about the linked spreadsheet. It doesn't include B4, but it does include a lot of the campaign setting material up until or a little after B3.

Crunching numbers, it looks like removing the size bonus to CMD doesn't actually help all that. Assuming a modest Str progression (starting at 17 with racial bonus included), here are the chances of success at the different levels of play (low level, mid level, high level)

1-6: 64.1%
7-12: 46.6%
13-20: 19.3%

By removing the bonuses based on Size, it becomes:

1-6: 62.5% (average size at CR 1 is small, which is a -1 penalty based on size)
7-12: 51.6%
13-20: 28.7%

Maybe I messed up a bit of the math, but it's all a difference of less than 10% at each tier.

The key thing here is that before level 20, only 5 CRs have average sizes larger than Large, so the Huge / Gargantuan / Colossal modifiers tend to not actually come into play all that much.

Small to Fine creatures should in my opinion, be buffed up slightly; they actually lose out on the size modifier equation due to DEX scaling up much more slowly with size decreases than STR scales up with size increases.

Also, there's nearly a 10% positive difference in the chance of success with a maneuver at levels 13-20 (and a solid 5% at levels 7-12) the biggest problem levels. In the original Bestiary alone there's 350 monsters, with a roughly equal amount in bestiaries 2,3, and 4 (as well as, presumably, the upcoming Bestiary 5). That 10% difference could equate to 100 or more additional encounters a maneuver specialist can meaningfully contribute to over the current system.

Frankly I've always found Strength scaling with size to be a little ridiculous. Being larger already increases damage dice, increases your strength multiplier for purposes of carrying capacity, provides a bonus on Combat Maneuvers and should provide a bonus on Strength check to break s#+~ built by smaller creatures.

There's nothing in the game that actually necessitates granting inflated strength scores to bigger creatures just because they're bigger.


I think comparing bestiary monsters CMB/CMD is misleading because many many monsters are humanoids or other creatures that derive most of their stats from class levels, and those creatures are frequently easy marks for maneuvers.

I see things like sunder as perhaps too situational for most campaigns, but trip or grapple? If tripping and grappling suck, I've been playing the game wrong all this time.

EDIT: I thin the main problem with PCs specializing in combat maneuvers is that it makes for boring, repetitive combats. Who hasn't been at a table with the spiked chain guy who trips the hell out of everything with legs?


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So, what I'm hearing is that it's really hard to wrestle a hydra or a 9000 lb. statue.


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Hydras are actually easy; their CMD is pretty low. Xp

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Fergie wrote:

I think comparing bestiary monsters CMB/CMD is misleading because many many monsters are humanoids or other creatures that derive most of their stats from class levels, and those creatures are frequently easy marks for maneuvers.

This varies by table. I personally have never seen a high level BBEG who was susceptible to most maneuvers, and rarely see any class level opponents at all who aren't casters of one kind or another, usually the 9 level variety, who typically have more than enough tools to avoid getting caught in a situation where they can be tripped or grappled. I, personally, find that trip gets much less useful after about level 7 or so, and unless you happen to be a Tetori or something similar, grappling can be as dangerous (or moreso) for the grappler as the grapplee. Moreover, trip and grapple are far from the only maneuvers in the game; Dirty Trick, Steal, Drag, and Reposition are also maneuvers which in many cases make perfect sense as the solution to a given scenario but are mechanically unfeasible.

Fergie wrote:


EDIT: I thin the main problem with PCs specializing in combat maneuvers is that it makes for boring, repetitive combats. Who hasn't been at a table with the spiked chain guy who trips the hell out of everything with legs?

Spiked chain guy hasn't been a big deal since 3.5 when the chain had reach, and even then most of the time it seemed like people were misusing the rules and tripping people who were already prone.

More to the point though, I find the exact opposite to be true: I think it's incredibly boring when all people do is hit things over and over with no ingenuity, no verisimilitude of real combat, and no originality. I would much rather my players be tripping, grappling, disarming, stealing, dragging, sundering, bull rushing, etc. and keeping things fun and dynamic, and my experience has been that when they are doing those things, we're more likely to attract and keep new players in the group and we're much less likely to have people zoning out, checking their texts, or playing Angry Birds during combat. Combat maneuvers make combat vibrant and interesting, and provide a more engaging environment for players and GMs alike.

RJGrady wrote:

So, what I'm hearing is that it's really hard to wrestle a hydra or a 9000 lb. statue.[/url]

Or tumble past a demon, or trip a giant, or hurl sand into the eyes of a dinosaur whose head is at shoulder height, or have your halfling thief steal a key from an ogre guard. I'd appreciate it if you kept your snide and dismissive comments to yourself when others are actually trying to have a conversation; just because you want to come in and paint people with different opinions from yourself as crazy or unreasonable doesn't make it so.


kestral287 wrote:
Hydras are actually easy; their CMD is pretty low. Xp

For CR 4, CMD 23 isn't bad. And they are Huge, so characters can't use certain maneuvers on them.

Picturing a half-orc ranger named Hydra Dundee. :)


Triune wrote:

...

Wow this system is stacked against the PCs.

...

The Problems
1. CMD scales way too fast and high (for monsters).
2. There are very few ways to increase CMB.
3. The only maneuvers that can be used with weapons suck at mid-high levels.
4. Maneuver based characters face heavy feat taxes.

Triune is absolutly right and hits all the issues with Combat maneuvers.

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1. There should be more ways to raise CMB.
2. Combat Expertise is basically a pure Feattax-Feat. Just eliminate it from the prereqs, instead of forcing people to take it. If it would be a worthy feat by its own merit people will take it anyway *cough, cough,... yeah*.

There are more issues to solve, but i dont have any further good ideas.


RJGrady wrote:
kestral287 wrote:
Hydras are actually easy; their CMD is pretty low. Xp

For CR 4, CMD 23 isn't bad. And they are Huge, so characters can't use certain maneuvers on them.

Picturing a half-orc ranger named Hydra Dundee. :)

The baseline Hydra's solid. As they scale up in CR, though, they fall off hard.

CR 4 five-headed Hydra, CMD 23. CR10 eleven-headed Hydra, CMD 28. It's worse for their variants, since those are supposed to bump CR by two but do nothing for CMD, so a nine-headed Cryohydra is CMD 26 at CR10.


You are slightly incorrect about #3, dirty trick is done with a weapon and is pretty great the whole game


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HyperMissingno wrote:
One misgiving I have with trip is that it's restricted to one size category larger. Not only is this bull, it's also not even slightly realistic. My cat has successfully tripped me a few times and I'm pretty sure my cat is a tiny creature while I'm a medium creature.

You have chosen not to crush/kick your cat, your cat didn't trip you.

Source-cat owner.


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The fix for this issue you are having is to run the game a bit differently:

Don't JUST use the Bestiary books. Have humanoid races with levels be bad guys.

The CMB/CMD rules work just fine for them.

It's okay that a two ton fire breathing monster is nearly impossible to trip, they are SUPPOSED to be scary.

The mechanics aren't broken, they just favor big critters, which is totally cool. Monsters need love too.

Scarab Sages

The biggest problem with combat maneuvers is that there's this kinda lie that game perpetrates by giving you this scaling CMD and CMB that says "Hey! You've got this bonus thing you're not using! You should use it!", but unless you play a character that actually devotes a majority of their resources to combat maneuvers, you can't really do it terribly well.

I mean, what character is going to devote two feats just to perform a single combat maneuver WITHOUT PROVOKING AOOs? Some martials might consider the ones that require power attack, but most of them aren't even that great. The two best ones in a majority of situations (trip & dirty trick) require feats most characters don't want to take, so they're just not going to. Sure, you get an extra +2 bonus, but unless you're planning on taking future feats, or increasing your CMB by some other means, you just won't be getting that much out of it.

So, to build a character that uses combat maneuvers well, you NEED to specialize, and I do mean hyper-specialize. This is because you can't just pick a single combat maneuver with which to be a specialist, because when it doesn't work (most combat maneuvers are situational), you need a backup plan. So you end up taking double the combat maneuver feats, the ones that give you bonus attacks and better action economy, and all of a sudden you've spent your mountain of feats as a fighter, or you're 11th level and wondering where all your feats went.

And, of course, to make sure your CMB/CMD stays competitive, you need to take classes that grant you scaling bonuses. The Flowing Monk and Bounty Hunter slayer are both examples of this, and of course the Lore Warden fighter, though several martial classes can be decent with weapon-based maneuvers if they possess a scaling bonus to attack rolls. But let's be honest: You're going to pick a character that can do it exceptionally well, and that means you're pretty dang limited in your choices.

That being said, maneuver specialists are a heck of a lot of fun. I just wish more classes got to enjoy them, and that it didn't require such a big feat investment.


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Man, it's maneuver specialists in our games that often make the most powerful martial characters.

We had a monk in our Skull and Shackles game that would deflect, trip, an double curb stomp his enemies...on their turn! Every time he tripped someone, the other party members got attacks of opportunity too. It was crazy powerful all the way through his career, even against larger enemies, like giants.

I myself played a trick fighter in Carrion Crown who made frequent use of Greater Disarm and Greater Trip along with Whirlwind Attack to essentially take whole gangs of enemies out of the fight. It was an incredible thing to see. He too, was even able to use some of his maneuvers against larger stronger monstrous creatures.

Both characters made it to ~12th-level. The monk was ultimately killed when a cyclops crit him with a greataxe and Power Attack (the character's player was absent, and the "babysitter" made an unfortunate decision and ended up surrounded).

The fighter, on the other hand, retired along with the adventure arc he was a part of. I have no doubt in my mind that both characters could have done quite well all the way to level 20.

Sure, there would have been (and were) situations where they couldn't use their primary abilities, but that's true of everybody, as it should be. That's what allows other characters to shine.

The system works just fine.


I've played a human 2 handed weapon fighter who used his FCB to increase his CMD vs Grapple and Disarm - he was just about untouchable against those two manoeuvres (shame the rest of his group weren't...)

So you can spend resources to increase your manoeuvre offence and defence.

I agree the 'feat tax' is annoying however any attempt to reduce the feat requirements penalises fighters mostly (as they are the ones most likely to take advantage of these manoeuvres due to the large number of feats available to them). Overall I see this as a reason to play a fighter, heaven knows there are few enough otherwise.


I like fighters for the simplicity. If a new player joins a game, I always try to start them with fighters...

Full plate, shield, longsword... nice basic build, very viable for survival.


You know, depending on the situation, i would prefer to be a warrior causing AoO than watch the enemies AoOing the rest of the group.
Specially if the monster isn't that smart.

As for CMB vs CMD, stronger and larger monsters obviously should have a higher CMD than average, thats the point of being strong and large afterall.

What would be the point of a dragon encounter when the halfing trips him with a whip every turn?

Sovereign Court

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Maneuvers scale just fine against humanoids, and pretty much all maneuvers apply to them. Also, there's often the most to gain by using maneuvers on them (especially on casters).

You can't decide to play a maneuver-build specializing in a single maneuver, without taking into account the long-term campaign you're going to play. If you pick a preferred playbook for combat without knowing what you're gonna fight, odds are it's gonna disappoint. (This is true for lots of things besides maneuvers as well.)

My recommendation would be to dip brawler for Brawler's Cunning (qualify for Combat Expertise), and to make a lot of use of Martial Versatility. That gets you around the situational-ness of a lot of maneuvers.

Furthermore, maneuvers are better going Strength-based than Dex-based. Because becoming Large+ is a thing. It'll increase CMB/D because of size, because of Strength. With increased reach, lacking feats doesn't always provoke AoOs anymore. Finally, by being bigger you get to use more maneuvers on big enemies.

I don't really get why the OP dismisses the Lore Warden. People don't dismiss the barbarian when we're talking about inflicting massive 2H trauma. It's an archetype focused on maneuvers, it's good at it. Which is not to say that there aren't a lot of other builds that also do well on maneuvers.

But to circle back to my earlier idea: don't focus on just one maneuver. It's not right that any character should use the same trick on every enemy ever.

Instead, add some maneuvers to your toolbox to use against enemies where that maneuver is especially valuable. Grapple the wizard, sunder the negative channeling cleric's holy symbol. Bullrush the golem off the ledge. Grapple the guy that's hyperspecialized in a 2H weapon.


Cheapy wrote:

A few things to keep in mind about the linked spreadsheet. It doesn't include B4, but it does include a lot of the campaign setting material up until or a little after B3.

Crunching numbers, it looks like removing the size bonus to CMD doesn't actually help all that. Assuming a modest Str progression (starting at 17 with racial bonus included), here are the chances of success at the different levels of play (low level, mid level, high level)

1-6: 64.1%
7-12: 46.6%
13-20: 19.3%

By removing the bonuses based on Size, it becomes:

1-6: 62.5% (average size at CR 1 is small, which is a -1 penalty based on size)
7-12: 51.6%
13-20: 28.7%

Maybe I messed up a bit of the math, but it's all a difference of less than 10% at each tier.

The key thing here is that before level 20, only 5 CRs have average sizes larger than Large, so the Huge / Gargantuan / Colossal modifiers tend to not actually come into play all that much.

Thanks Cheapy! This was my feelings too but I had not done the math. I never felt that the supposed double dip theory would pan out because the size bonus was not all that great for most monsters.

It really comes down to how Strength scales with monster HD to counter magical items.


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Couple of points.

1. People seem to keep bringing up trip and disarm and what not. These are weapon based maneuvers. The main problem is with non weapon based maneuvers. These are the ones with huge issues with scaling. That's precisely why that's one of the suggested changes, making them all weapon based.

2. Related to the first point, a lot of posters seem to be bringing up campaigns with a lot of humanoid enemies as proof the system is fine. Yeah, sure, if you ignore the majority of the bestiary, the system improves, but what does that say about the system?

3. Of course I discount the lore warden, because if only one or two archetypes of one or two classes can do something even competently, the system is broken. Can only one or two archetypes of a couple classes even try to be two handed weapon combatants?

The weapon based maneuvers are great when they work. The problem is, they require HUGE feat investments, and the higher level you go (if you use average stuff from the beastiaries) the less likely they are to work. The non weapon maneuvers won't even work. Notice how most of the examples of strong maneuver characters are trippers? There's a reason for that.


Triune wrote:

Couple of points.

1. People seem to keep bringing up trip and disarm and what not. These are weapon based maneuvers. The main problem is with non weapon based maneuvers. These are the ones with huge issues with scaling. That's precisely why that's one of the suggested changes, making them all weapon based.

2. Related to the first point, a lot of posters seem to be bringing up campaigns with a lot of humanoid enemies as proof the system is fine. Yeah, sure, if you ignore the majority of the bestiary, the system improves, but what does that say about the system?

3. Of course I discount the lore warden, because if only one or two archetypes of one or two classes can do something even competently, the system is broken. Can only one or two archetypes of a couple classes even try to be two handed weapon combatants?

The weapon based maneuvers are great when they work. The problem is, they require HUGE feat investments, and the higher level you go (if you use average stuff from the beastiaries) the less likely they are to work. The non weapon maneuvers won't even work. Notice how most of the examples of strong maneuver characters are trippers? There's a reason for that.

So are you saying that bullrushing an elephant should be easy?

To address what you said in order:

1)Big things have big weapons, and big limbs... of course it's gonna be hard to knock that giant's weapon out of his hand. This isn't a failure in the system, he has leverage and strength! As you mentioned, training (and good weapons) can help overcome this. Tackling that same opponent to the ground, or pushing him over a cliff SHOULD be harder, as you are trying to move his whole body, not just remove an item or take out a knee...

2)It says the system is intended for smaller opponents, but can also be used on larger/unusual ones, it allows you to try!. Fireball won't do anything to a Red dragon, that doesn't mean Fireball is a bad spell...

3)In an average game, you don't need to specialize to attempt something. Disarm is an OPTION. If you create a build around it, and get less than a 100% success rate, that doesn't mean the system is broken. Having to roll and having a chance of failure is part of the game. Classes that improve your chances of options like Disarm or Trip improve your odds. This is not a failure of the system.


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alexd1976 wrote:
So are you saying that bullrushing an elephant should be easy?

At level seven for a character specialized in Bullrushing [Martial Character with high strength and Improved Bullrush, maybe Greater Bullrush] and properly equipped?

Hell yes.

For a non-specialized level 7 martial character, or a specialized level 5 character?

Not easy, but reasonably doable.

Quote:

To address what you said in order:

1)Big things have big weapons, and big limbs... of course it's gonna be hard to knock that giant's weapon out of his hand. This isn't a failure in the system, he has leverage and strength! As you mentioned, training (and good weapons) can help overcome this. Tackling that same opponent to the ground, or pushing him over a cliff SHOULD be harder, as you are trying to move his whole body, not just remove an item or take out a knee...

Leveling is supposed to be about becoming more powerful, about gaining the ability to go up against greater and greater foes.

If a specialist can't reliably pull off his schtick against level appropriate foes [say... 80% odds of success against CR = Level, 40-50ish against CR+4] then his schtick is invalid and he should feel bad for daring to try to do something interesting.

Quote:
2)It says the system is intended for smaller opponents, but can also be used on larger/unusual ones, it allows you to try!. Fireball won't do anything to a Red dragon, that doesn't mean Fireball is a bad spell...

See, a Wizard dedicates a single spellslot to fireball, he can do something else with the rest of his spells and he can even prepare something else in that slot with a day's rest.

Even a Sorcerer only spent one Spell Known on it which- although a much higher cost than the Wizard, is still only somewhat invested [and there is always metamagic for changing energy types if need be.]

A warrior who takes a combat style is investing major aspects of his character in it. If he specializes in something it had damned well better work far more often than not.

I'm ok with tripping being invalid on certain things [serpents, oozes, etc.] I'm not ok with it being invalid on the premise of size or flight. You know how you trip a flying creature? You throw it at the f@%+ing ground.

Quote:
3)In an average game, you don't need to specialize to attempt something. Disarm is an OPTION. If you create a build around it, and get less than a 100% success rate, that doesn't mean the system is broken. Having to roll and having a chance of failure is part of the game. Classes that improve your chances of options like Disarm or Trip improve your odds. This is not a failure of the system.

You need to specialize to attempt something with any sense of reliability. Randomly trying to disarm 'for teh lulz' is usually wasting an attack that could have been dealing damage to the enemy.

EDIT: to clarify my response to item 3, this was in reference to your typical comparable opponent. If you can actually get into his reach and disarm a mage's bonded object or spell component pouch a casual disarmer might have a chance of accomplishing something of value... but that's a really, really big if.


So really your saying that you don't LIKE how it works...

I'm on your side, frankly.

However, in NO reality will any amount of training allow a human to run at an Elephant (full grown) and knock it over.

No way. Heck, even a cow or a horse is really hard to knock over. REALLY hard, even harder if they see you coming.

That's where I experience a bit of cognitive dissonance, I essentially agree with you, that Fighters should get more love... but it seems weird if they can start doing magical stuff.

Frankly, I'm torn.

I just don't BOTHER using CMB/CMD stuff with my characters, I do damage/cast spells.

So, to sum up, I personally don't agree that the existing rules are broken, but I do hate how they work. In regards to everything you said, for the same reasons you said, mostly.


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alexd1976 wrote:

So really your saying that you don't LIKE how it works...

I'm on your side, frankly.

However, in NO reality will any amount of training allow a human to run at an Elephant (full grown) and knock it over.

No way. Heck, even a cow or a horse is really hard to knock over. REALLY hard, even harder if they see you coming.

I do recall reading about a guy wrestling a bull and breaking its neck once. Might have been a myth, not sure.

Quote:
That's where I experience a bit of cognitive dissonance, I essentially agree with you, that Fighters should get more love... but it seems weird if they can start doing magical stuff.

This is a function of level. Nobody that's ever existed IRL was over level 5 [and frankly I prefer to draw the line at level 4 as the Best There Ever Was. IF Bruce Lee lived up to the hype, which I doubt he did, then MAYBE he would have broken through the barrier to level 5.]


kyrt-ryder wrote:
alexd1976 wrote:

So really your saying that you don't LIKE how it works...

I'm on your side, frankly.

However, in NO reality will any amount of training allow a human to run at an Elephant (full grown) and knock it over.

No way. Heck, even a cow or a horse is really hard to knock over. REALLY hard, even harder if they see you coming.

I do recall reading about a guy wrestling a bull and breaking its neck once. Might have been a myth, not sure.

Quote:
That's where I experience a bit of cognitive dissonance, I essentially agree with you, that Fighters should get more love... but it seems weird if they can start doing magical stuff.
This is a function of level. Nobody that's ever existed IRL was over level 5 [and frankly I prefer to draw the line at level 4 as the Best There Ever Was. IF Bruce Lee lived up to the hype, which I doubt he did, then MAYBE he would have broken through the barrier to level 5.]

Not gonna lie, I despise the whole level based system. Not to say I dislike Pathfinder, it just creates problems like this.

Could be fixed by giving Fighters a floating pool of points (in addition to feats) that they can use for Ex or Su abilities... stuff like offsetting size penalties for bullrushing, further enhancing damage, adding to crit range even more etc.

I'm probably going to houserule fighters a bit in my next campaign, maybe just add level to damage, like Swashbucklers... Casters are still gonna pwn the world.

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