Cumulative -5 penalty to iterative attacks


Rules Questions

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Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
OldSkoolRPG wrote:
This is a legitimate case of RAW not matching RAI and needs to be corrected.

'Need' feels like too strong a word. It would be nice to see an explicit wording in the text someday.


Crimeo wrote:
Noobz wrote:


Crimeo wrote:

I don't think i saw any discussion of this above, but aren't there actually at least TWO other interpretations even without -5 being a rule?

1) "+6/+1" --> "+level/+level", i.e. you use level for both of two iterative attacks.

1) "+6/+1" --> "+level", i.e. you lose your iterative attack entirely, because you only have a single number as a BAB now instead of a double slashed number.

I'm not exactly sure what you're trying to...

It's not entirely clear if your BAB is literally the entire phrase "+6/+1" or if you have 2 BABs "+6" and "+1"

If the BAB just IS "+6/+1" and if that itself was the thing that gave you iterative attacks (the fact that your BAB is a slashed double value!)...tThen when you "replace your BAB with your class level" at, say, level 8, your BAB is now just "+8" and you no longer have iterative attacks, because you've replaced the double value that gave them to you with a single value.

Alternatively, if you actually have two BAB's, a +6 and a +1, then they would both be +8/+8, but I don't see anything that clearly suggests this versus the other.

Is this concept a bit silly? Sure, but so is pushing the issue that there's no such thing as a -5 rule. I don't mind being literal and hardcore about by the letter, but if you choose that, you gotta run with it. Can't be super literal until the moment it starts hurting you then stop.

We also have the phrasing from Spellstrike to consider.

PRD wrote:
Spellstrike (Su): At 2nd level, whenever a magus casts a spell with a range of "touch" from the magus spell list, he can deliver the spell through any weapon he is wielding as part of a melee attack. Instead of the free melee touch attack normally allowed to deliver the spell, a magus can make one free melee attack with his weapon (at his highest base attack bonus) as part of casting this spell.

This suggests to me that you have multiple BABs and here are using the highest valued one. If the entire statement "+6/+1" was your BAB I would expect phrasing like "use the highest value of your BAB."


"At his highest base attack bonus" could mean either "You have two BABs and you use the higher one" OR "You have one BAB which includes one or more bonuses separated by slashes, and you use the highest bonus within your one BAB"

The latter interpretation, although weirder, is more consistent with other text, I think, such as the class advancement tables that label the whole column "Base Attack Bonus" not "Base attack Bonuses" and other places they talk about it as if you have one.

On the other hand, it is called "Base attack BONUS" perhaps implying it should only refer to a singular bonus.

Super vague/messy, I still don't see a clear truth here either way.


All other things remaining equal, a 6th level fighter has two attacks at bonuses of +6/+1 according to the table on page 56 of the Core Rules. When using power attack, does the 6th level fighter attack at +4/-1 or +4/+0? And is the damage at +4/+4 or +4/+2?


CWheezy wrote:
Gauss wrote:


Can you really say that occasionally new people come in and don't have issues reading the rules?
The sheer number of questions by new people on the boards would seem to contradict that.

Can you say that occasionally people do not read the rules in the most pedantic or literal way possible?
We know that occasionally there are raging debates because some people do.

yeah new players have problems with the rules because the rules are really poorly written. Its ok to just say that instead of blaming new players lol.

There are debates because the rules are really poorly written, and often the debate is "the rules say X, that's dumb, but how it works" and the other side is "Well I don't think it was supposed to be that way, it was obviously intended to be Y".

If you think I was in any way blaming new players then you really need to re-read my post. I was stating WHY new players have problems with the rules. The statement that occasionally people are reading the rules in the most pedantic of literal way possible is a separate statement.

You continue to conflate the two statements. The problem here is in how you are reading my posts, not the post.


Common sense, people.

Use it.

Silver Crusade

Crimeo wrote:

If the BAB just IS "+6/+1" and if that itself was the thing that gave you iterative attacks (the fact that your BAB is a slashed double value!)...tThen when you "replace your BAB with your class level" at, say, level 8, your BAB is now just "+8" and you no longer have iterative attacks, because you've replaced the double value that gave them to you with a single value.

Alternatively, if you actually have two BAB's, a +6 and a +1, then they would both be +8/+8, but I don't see anything that clearly suggests this versus the other.

Ok, gotcha now. Yeah, that's basically another possible reading that adds to the ambiguity.

Crimeo wrote:
Is this concept a bit silly? Sure, but so is pushing the issue that there's no such thing as a -5 rule.

But...there isn't. Literally, there is no rule in Pathfinder that addresses this issue. If you can show me the rule, please do. Directing me to a table of numbers without an explanation of those numbers is insufficient.

Crimeo wrote:

"At his highest base attack bonus" could mean either "You have two BABs and you use the higher one" OR "You have one BAB which includes one or more bonuses separated by slashes, and you use the highest bonus within your one BAB"

The latter interpretation, although weirder, is more consistent with other text, I think, such as the class advancement tables that label the whole column "Base Attack Bonus" not "Base attack Bonuses" and other places they talk about it as if you have one.

On the other hand, it is called "Base attack BONUS" perhaps implying it should only refer to a singular bonus.

Super vague/messy, I still don't see a clear truth here either way.

Again, yeah, the vague/messy business is what I'm trying to eliminate. I don't care if it helps or hurts my player's character, I just want to be fair.

@Rhaleroad: Please do not post if you are not going to contribute.
@Everyone: It's hard to truly interpret someone's tone/attitude through text. Try to give each other the benefit of the doubt, and choose your wording so as to avoid unnecessary conflict.

"Paulicus wrote:

Common sense, people.

Use it.

Common sense would suggest that a slippery slope might require an acrobatics check, not necessarily how the acrobatics check mechanic works.

darth_gator wrote:
Then we head to Chapter 3 and look for "Base Attack Bonus"...and we can't find it listed. Check the Index...nothing. So, where is this rule in Chapter 3. Oh, I found it. It's in the class tables for each class, where it's listed as a static number. Meaning THAT is the written rule. BAB progresses through a specific sequence in which each iterative is 5 lower than the previous. If someone wants to willfully misread this rule to say that by replacing a non-full BAB class's BAB with level, then you simply substitute their level for the listed BAB. In the Oracle's case as provided, the BAB would go from +6/+1 to +8 ONLY. Because the listed BAB is +6/+1, not BAB +6 and BAB +1. In this example, +6/+1 becomes +8 period; there is no iterative because the iterative is listed as a specific value rather than a separate BAB (+6/+1).

So you're saying that the ability replaces my +6/+1 BAB with only one trip at +8? Because that's different than what most people are saying on here (which is +8/+3, because of the -5), which means that another person has fallen victim of the BAB rule ambiguity!

Also, when you say "Because the listed BAB is +6/+1, not BAB +6 and BAB +1.", you are imposing your interpretation of what +6/+1 means. How do you know what it means? Where does it say that +6/+1 means one BAB and not multiple BABs? When something replaces my BAB, since according to you there is only one BAB, does that mean I only get that one attack, even when before I had multiple?

<><><>

Another example that points to having "multiple" BABs is the ruling of how to calculate an attack roll:

Base Attack Bonus + Str Modifier + Size Modifier
Base Attack Bonus + Dex Modifier + Size Modifier + Range Penalty

So if I have a sword and a BAB of +6/+1, what do my attack roll calculations look like (assume no size mod and 2 str mod)?

6 + 2 = 8
1 + 2 = 3

But wait a minute, we only have one Base Attack Bonus, so let me fix it:

6 + 2 = 8
6 + 2 = 8

That's not right...oh, I get it, the rule says I get an extra attack at BAB 6, not an extra BAB, so that extra attack would be at what value? Probably the one from the table. Let me rewrite the formula to match:

Base Attack Bonus + Str Modifier + Iterative Attack Value
6 + 2 + 0 = 8
0 + 2 + 1 = 3

Or simplified:
Base Attack Bonus/Iterative Attack Value + Str Modifier
6 + 2 = 8
1 + 2 = 3

Side Note: Interesting how the slash in Base Attack Bonus/Iterative Attack Value is the conjunction of two separate values, not much unlike the possibility that +6/+1 could be two separate but related values.

I doubt any of you believe that little farce, but that's really the ONLY WAY I can see there not being multiple BAB values and still making sense with that formula.


OldSkoolRPG wrote:

The tables for each class list their attack progression. For example a 6th level fighter has a BAB of 6/1. Their BAB for the initial attack is 6. The BAB for their second attack is 1, not 6 with a -5 penalty.

Thinking of the second attack as BAB - 5 is just an easy way of quickly calculating it under normal circumstances but not technically accurate.

This, though I'm still confused as to why it would matter.

Silver Crusade

jimibones83 wrote:
OldSkoolRPG wrote:

The tables for each class list their attack progression. For example a 6th level fighter has a BAB of 6/1. Their BAB for the initial attack is 6. The BAB for their second attack is 1, not 6 with a -5 penalty.

Thinking of the second attack as BAB - 5 is just an easy way of quickly calculating it under normal circumstances but not technically accurate.

This, though I'm still confused as to why it would matter.

I address this multiple times on the first page of this thread.


jimibones83 wrote:
OldSkoolRPG wrote:

The tables for each class list their attack progression. For example a 6th level fighter has a BAB of 6/1. Their BAB for the initial attack is 6. The BAB for their second attack is 1, not 6 with a -5 penalty.

Thinking of the second attack as BAB - 5 is just an easy way of quickly calculating it under normal circumstances but not technically accurate.

This, though I'm still confused as to why it would matter.

If the attack progression listed in the tables is interpreted as: BAB then BAB-5, then BAB-10, etc.; there is only one BAB. In the case of a 6th level fighter using power attack, the fighter's BAB would be 6 and a full attack would then be:

Attack 1: +4 to attack, +4 to damage
Attack 2: -1 to attack, +4 to damage.

If, on the other hand, the attack progression listed in the tables is interpreted as a series of separate sequentially lower BABs, then the 6th level fighter has a BAB of 6 for the 1st attack and a BAB of 1 for the 2nd attack. The 6th level fighter's full attack would then look like the following, since power attack modifiers would need to be calculated separately for each BAB:
Attack 1: +4 to attack, +4 to damage
Attack 2: +0 to attack, +2 to damage.

Community & Digital Content Director

Removed a series of back and forth posts. Text is an imperfect medium for gathering the intent of other posters, so let's dial back the grar.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

TriOmegaZero wrote:
OldSkoolRPG wrote:
This is a legitimate case of RAW not matching RAI and needs to be corrected.
'Need' feels like too strong a word. It would be nice to see an explicit wording in the text someday.

I agree!

I don't think this needs to be clarified, I've literally never heard of this interpretation in 15 years of playing 3.5 and Pathfinder. I just think clarifying this when there are so many things more pressing would be a waste.

In any event, I'd never accept an Oracle of 8th level do two +6/+6 BAB attacks and I'd be happy enough to consider it RAW interpretation.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
James Risner wrote:
I just think clarifying this when there are so many things more pressing would be a waste.

Hence why I said it doesn't need to be clarified.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

What's the endgame here?

Silver Crusade

James Risner wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
OldSkoolRPG wrote:
This is a legitimate case of RAW not matching RAI and needs to be corrected.
'Need' feels like too strong a word. It would be nice to see an explicit wording in the text someday.

I agree!

I don't think this needs to be clarified, I've literally never heard of this interpretation in 15 years of playing 3.5 and Pathfinder. I just think clarifying this when there are so many things more pressing would be a waste.

In any event, I'd never accept an Oracle of 8th level do two +6/+6 BAB attacks and I'd be happy enough to consider it RAW interpretation.

I don't believe clarification on one of THE MOST CORE MECHANICS in the game is a waste of time.

@blackbloodtroll: Clarification.


You should read the FAQ guidelines. They specifically say they will not answer any questions that have obvious answers that any reasonable person would be able to understand. The general consensus here is that this is one of those cases. The design team has more important things to spend their time on than obvious questions like this.


It doesn't need clarifying. It's so self evident that is accepted by everyone. Groups that have picked up the game independently of one another. Groups that have never had contact with another group. It is most certainly not a frequently asked question. It takes some rules-lawyering to cause more trouble than it's worth.

If you aren't rules lawyering just for the sake of trouble then maybe what you should be asking is something like:

"how do abilities that increase your BAB for a specific purpose (Like the aforementioned manoeuver ability) interact when mixed with an action that doesn't increase your BAB?"

That is actually the question you want the answer to.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Nobody has needed clarification on this, since Beta Playtest.

It's just you.

Everyone has told you how it works.

You don't want clarification. You want satisfaction.


The closest thing I have been able to find regarding a cumulative -5 penalty, is in Pathfinder Unchained under the "Revised Action Economy" rules...

Community & Digital Content Director

Removed a post and locking. It is completely unacceptable to threaten anyone with physical violence on our site.

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