Fighter Archetype Question (Polearm Master, "Pole Fighting")


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Relevant text:

"Pole Fighting (Ex): At 2nd level, as an immediate action, a polearm master can shorten the grip on his spear or polearm with reach and use it against adjacent targets. This action results in a –4 penalty on attack rolls with that weapon until he spends another immediate action to return
to the normal grip. The penalty is reduced by –1 for every four levels beyond 2nd. This ability replaces bravery."

I have a player claiming that despite shortening his grip that he can attack at both 10 feet and 5 feet simultaneously with a -4 penalty, not just at 5 feet with a -4 penalty. Is he correct?


Balkoth wrote:

Relevant text:

"Pole Fighting (Ex): At 2nd level, as an immediate action, a polearm master can shorten the grip on his spear or polearm with reach and use it against adjacent targets. This action results in a –4 penalty on attack rolls with that weapon until he spends another immediate action to return
to the normal grip. The penalty is reduced by –1 for every four levels beyond 2nd. This ability replaces bravery."

I have a player claiming that despite shortening his grip that he can attack at both 10 feet and 5 feet simultaneously with a -4 penalty, not just at 5 feet with a -4 penalty. Is he correct?

A) Flagged for wrong forum: should be in RPG rules, not the card game one.

B) This said, answer in no: if you change grip, reach becomes 5ft, you can't have both reach distances at the same time.


Frencois wrote:
A) Flagged for wrong forum: should be in RPG rules, not the card game one.

Whoops, sorry, flagged it as well.

Frencois wrote:
B) This said, answer in no: if you change grip, reach becomes 5ft, you can't have both reach distances at the same time.

He claims that the ability does exactly what it says -- and that it doesn't say he loses reach. I mean, I'm the GM, I can just override him if I want, but I was looking for something more concrete if possible.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, PF Special Edition, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Not 100% applicable to your situation, but this FAQ is for a related topic (shortening grip on a polearm to use as an improvisesd blunt weapon, as opposed to using Pole Fighting to shorten grip). FAQs are narrowly defined for the specific question they answer, so it is not an official ruling on your question, but you can use the logic provided in that answer to back up your own ruling if you'd like (you're the GM, after all).

I would say you can either threaten 5' or 10', but never both at once, using Pole Fighting. The text itself says that you "shorten the grip" to use it against adjacent targets. If your grip is shortened, then you no longer have the physical reach to hit targets 10' away. As this is an Ex ability rather than Su or Sp, there is no magic involved to indicate it won't work similarly to how shortening your grip on a long pole would work in the real world.


Let's state the obvious: if by shortening the grip you would win both a 5' and 10´ reach, what would be the point to change again the grip?
The simple fact that the Pole Fighting (Ex) explicitely explains how to change back would make absolutely no sense if you weren't losing the 10' reach by shortening the grip. IMHO.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Frencois wrote:

Let's state the obvious: if by shortening the grip you would win both a 5' and 10´ reach, what would be the point to change again the grip?

The simple fact that the Pole Fighting (Ex) explicitely explains how to change back would make absolutely no sense if you weren't losing the 10' reach by shortening the grip. IMHO.

The point of changing it back would be to lose the -4 to hit, I suppose.


skizzerz wrote:
but this FAQ

Thanks.

skizzerz wrote:
If your grip is shortened, then you no longer have the physical reach to hit targets 10' away. As this is an Ex ability rather than Su or Sp, there is no magic involved to indicate it won't work similarly to how shortening your grip on a long pole would work in the real world.

I agree with your assessment. He claims that the shorter grip is why you get a -4 penalty when trying to attack targets 10' away since the ability doesn't specifically say you lose reach.

ryric wrote:
The point of changing it back would be to lose the -4 to hit, I suppose.

That is precisely his claim. That you give up 4 AB to threaten both 5' and 10'.


nope, you've shortened your reach. You can't have long reach with short grip


How far does a medium creature with a small size reach weapon threaten? 10 feet

How long is a small size reach weapon? About half of a medium size one

Shortening my grip makes it more awkward to hit people I get a -4 to hit. Where does it say "until the wielder switches his grip back he loses reach with the weapon" I can understand why mentally your picturing it and saying that's how it would work in real life. However this is a fantasy would where you cannot always go by real world logic. You can't just add extra stuff onto feats and abilities because "it makes sense".

Well I mean you CAN but it's called a house rule.

Tldr the ability doesn't remove reach so it doesn't remove reach.

Silver Crusade

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You can in fact use common sense, it's encouraged.

If you shorten the grip you obviously have less reach, which is shown in the ability to now hit adjacent targets.


So the next time I get hit by a gargantuan size creature I should roll a d100 to see how many squares I go flying? I'm about baseball size to him. Common sense doesn't work with pathfinder. Go by the rules instead that's why they exist

And we're not asking what makes sense we are asking for a raw rules on the ability. Adding stuff because it makes sense is a house rule

Silver Crusade

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vhok wrote:

So the next time I get hit by a gargantuan size creature I should roll a d100 to see how many squares I go flying? I'm about baseball size to him. Common sense doesn't work with pathfinder. Go by the rules instead that's why they exist

And we're not asking what makes sense we are asking for a raw rules on the ability. Adding stuff because it makes sense is a house rule

No, you're intentionally strawmanning now. There is common sense in reading the rules for switching the grip on a polearm, which this archetype provides. Common sense, not realism, two different things.

And also Awesome Blow is a feat.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

For what it's worth, my Serpent's Skull group had a cohort with this archetype and we played it as you either had 10' or 5' reach, but not both at the same time. I mean, it's only an immediate action to switch and it's not like a fighter has a lot of things vying for his swift action each turn.

I can definitely see the argument the other way though. If a player had brought that up to me I probably would have said "meh, whatever, sure," and gotten on with the game. Giving a fighter a little love isn't going to hurt anyone.


I am going to go with vhok on this one.

A strict RAW reading does indeed lack any mention of loss of reach. In fact, reach is specifically mentioned as a requirement for the ability to work, but no mention of loss of reach.

Pole Fighting (Ex): At 2nd level, as an immediate action, a polearm master can shorten the grip on his spear or polearm with reach and use it against adjacent targets . This action results in a –4 penalty on attack rolls with that weapon until he spends another immediate action to return to the normal grip. The penalty is reduced by –1 for every four levels beyond 2nd. This ability replaces bravery.

*Bolding mine

The second bold section can be read two ways:

1. You ONLY threaten adjacent targets
2. You now threaten adjacent targets as well as targets at 10 feet

*leaving above section even though while typing just realized something.

No where in the ability does it say you change the space you threaten. So strictest reading, you can attack any target with two squares of you, but you cannot take AoO against targets next to you.

As to Rysky's common sense comment; as someone who has training in the use of certain polearm type weapons, it is near effortless to change your grip to allow close range attacks and you still have alot of extra reach with the weapon. So common sense would allow for vhok's scenario as well.

EDIT: So my personal reading of this ability, this turns reach weapons into something similar to a reverse whip only slightly better. You threaten out at 10', but not 5', but you can attack anything from 5'-10'.

Silver Crusade

Andarion wrote:
As to Rysky's common sense comment; as someone who has training in the use of certain polearm type weapons, it is near effortless to change your grip to allow close range attacks and you still have alot of extra reach with the weapon. So common sense would allow for vhok's scenario as well.

Near effortless to change your grip to maintain reach and to be able to attack adjacent people with the pointy end still? Not the haft.


Pathfinder Maps Subscriber

Do you really want Paizo to waste word count on making "and use it against adjacent targets." into "and use it against adjacent targets [and ONLY adjacent targets]." ?.


Rysky wrote:
Andarion wrote:
As to Rysky's common sense comment; as someone who has training in the use of certain polearm type weapons, it is near effortless to change your grip to allow close range attacks and you still have alot of extra reach with the weapon. So common sense would allow for vhok's scenario as well.
Near effortless to change your grip to maintain reach and to be able to attack adjacent people with the pointy end still? Not the haft.

Yep, no problem. In fact, you don't even need to change grip.

For right handed person, grip at base "near" counter weight with right hand, grip near "weapon" end with left. Use right hand as main force for weapon propulsion and left to control. Think pool cue motion for ease of imagery. If you need more reach and control than that, adjust foot placement. And yes, you can get AT LEAST 4 on target attacks in six seconds this way.

Not the most efficient use of weapon, but most polearms in real life are designed to use all parts of the weapon, which DnD in general (not just Pathfinder) can't seem to grasp.

In all honesty, if weapon can ONLY be used at a distance, they would not catch on in battle. There is a reason that Spears are the some of the oldest known weapons and continued to be used in battle until guns fully replaced everything.

Yes if you are fighting someone who has a spear and you have a sword you want to get in close. That is NOT because the spear user is at a disadvantage in close range, it is because YOU are screwed unless you get in close.

Silver Crusade

Andarion wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Andarion wrote:
As to Rysky's common sense comment; as someone who has training in the use of certain polearm type weapons, it is near effortless to change your grip to allow close range attacks and you still have alot of extra reach with the weapon. So common sense would allow for vhok's scenario as well.
Near effortless to change your grip to maintain reach and to be able to attack adjacent people with the pointy end still? Not the haft.

Yep, no problem. In fact, you don't even need to change grip.

For right handed person, grip at base "near" counter weight with right hand, grip near "weapon" end with left. Use right hand as main force for weapon propulsion and left to control. Think pool cue motion for ease of imagery. If you need more reach and control than that, adjust foot placement. And yes, you can get AT LEAST 4 on target attacks in six seconds this way.

Not the most efficient use of weapon, but most polearms in real life are designed to use all parts of the weapon, which DnD in general (not just Pathfinder) can't seem to grasp.

In all honesty, if weapon can ONLY be used at a distance, they would not catch on in battle. There is a reason that Spears are the some of the oldest known weapons and continued to be used in battle until guns fully replaced everything.

Yes if you are fighting someone who has a spear and you have a sword you want to get in close. That is NOT because the spear user is at a disadvantage in close range, it is because YOU are screwed unless you get in close.

Okay, that would allow you stab adjacent people, sorry for my question being vague, I meant can you use that to strike multiple adjacent and reach targets effortlessly doing that?

I can't really picture how feet placement would allow you more reach, short of just precariously leaning towards the target.


SlimGauge wrote:
Do you really want Paizo to waste word count on making "and use it against adjacent targets." into "and use it against adjacent targets [and ONLY adjacent targets]." ?.

Yes, in a sense.

They could have used:

Pole Fighting (Ex): At 2nd level, as an immediate action, a polearm master can shorten the grip on his spear or polearm with reach and use it against adjacent targets . This action results in a –4 penalty on attack rolls and loss of reach until he spends another immediate action to return to the normal grip. The penalty is reduced by –1 for every four levels beyond 2nd. This ability replaces bravery.

Original "word" count 68, "word" count for above changed and clarified version, 69.


SlimGauge wrote:
Do you really want Paizo to waste word count on making "and use it against adjacent targets." into "and use it against adjacent targets [and ONLY adjacent targets]." ?.

No, we want Paizo to give martials nice things.


Rysky wrote:
Andarion wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Andarion wrote:
*snip

Okay, that would allow you stab adjacent people, sorry for my question being vague, I meant can you use that to strike multiple adjacent and reach targets effortlessly doing that?

I can't really picture how feet placement would allow you more reach, short of just precariously leaning towards the target.

Again, this is highly inefficient use of the weapon but it does the job.

Yes the above method does allow targeting of both adjacent an non-adjacent foes. Using only hands, to attack adjacent foes, you will bring the right hand forward only a foot or two. This results in a quick short "jab" as it were. This will hit adjacent foes.

To hit foes further away, you would bring you right hand as close to you left as possible without losing control of the point. It IS tricky, which can be explained by the -4 to attack rolls. Not tricky to do, but you do need practice to not just allow the point to drop into the ground.

On footwork, you obviously do not want to be precariously leaning; leaning bad, anyone who trains will tell you to never lead with you face, but weight pressed solidly forward and other tricks of body positioning can make weirdly impressive things happen.

Also consider that almost no person is a 5'x5'x5' cube, so if you need to attack a foe who is "10 feet" away from you, you target them when they are at the closest edge of their square while you are at the closest edge to their square.

I suggest you watch some YouTube videos of spear demonstrations. Not for the techniques, but just to see the mobility and range abilities of spears.

***DISCLAIMER*** I am not saying that all these techniques are usable. Many of them are form exercises only, and their spears are flimsy and "will break over my knee, like so". I just think that seeing the changes in grip and angle along with some of the more conservative footwork can shed light on what we are talking about.


These were written in a non-technical and in a conversational tone. The basic impression would be, reach weapon, shorten reach to attack adjacent means no more reach.
So it's not about word count, but the style that the books are (unfortunately to the boards) written in.


Chess Pwn wrote:

These were written in a non-technical and in a conversational tone. The basic impression would be, reach weapon, shorten reach to attack adjacent means no more reach.

So it's not about word count, but the style that the books are (unfortunately to the boards) written in.

While inclined to agree with you for the most part, things like the FAQ for Power Attack and Lances lead to other conclusions.


A few outliers or exceptions doesn't overwrite the general rule.


Again, I tend to agree, but a few outliers lend credibility to the exceptions.

The above mentioned FAQ is a good example. I know FAQs are for the specific question they address, and only that question, but this one in particular is almost an identical situation, almost.

Lances are 2-H weapons, but when mounted can be used in 1-H. If mounted and using as 1-H weapon it still counts as 2-H for the effects of Power Attack, because the weapon is still a 2-H weapon that in this situation is called out specifically to work this way and it does not specifically say it now counts as a 1-H weapon.

Polearms are reach weapons that cannot be used to attack adjacent creatures. Pole Fighting allows for polearms to be used to attack adjacent creatures at an incrementally decreasing penalty. Polearms are still reach weapons and the ability does not specifically say it is no longer a reach weapon.

I get that the ability can be read to change the weapon to non-reach for the time period the character chooses to use it, but you need to admit that it can also be read as NOT changing the weapon from reach to non-reach.

And since it can be read as just allowing attacks on both adjacent and non-adjacent targets, at a penalty, and such a situation is in fact not going to destroy any game as it is not over powered, letting it work more in the player's favor is not a bad thing.

Paizo may come out and say it works your way. I get that, and I might not agree with it, but I will get it.

I am not trying to prove anyone wrong. I did not write the ability and I obviously do not work for the Development Team. I can not judge intent nor decide what is the proper reading. All I can do is say, I can easily see this ability working either way and I have my opinion on how it should work.


no, trying to read it as not losing reach is bending the wording.

Look I have this long weapon and can attack far away.
I can shorten my grip and attack adjacent.
Why in the world would I think that I can still attack far away like normal if my grip is shortened to attack adjacent?

"BUT it doesn't explicitly say you lose reach"
Sure, you shortened your grip to attack adjacent, shortening for adjacent is losing reach.
"BUT that still doesn't EXPLICITLY say you lose reach"
And dead doesn't EXPLICITLY say you lose actions. But we know that dead is without actions, like we know that shortening your grip to be able to attack adjacent would lose the grip that allows you to attack at reach.


But there is absolutely no bending of any wording. None.

Ability-

Pole Fighting (Ex): At 2nd level, as an immediate action, a polearm master can shorten the grip on his spear or polearm with reach and use it against adjacent targets . This action results in a –4 penalty on attack rolls with that weapon until he spends another immediate action to return to the normal grip. The penalty is reduced by –1 for every four levels beyond 2nd. This ability replaces bravery.

Example weapon for ability:

Table Entry:
Longspear 5 gp 1d6 1d8 ×3 — 9 lbs. P brace, reach

Weapon Description
Longspear: A longspear is about 8 feet in length.

How is my grip initially? Am I shortening my grip by pulling my lead hand back 1 foot, 2 feet, 6 feet, 6 inches? Am I bringing my back hand up towards my lead hand?

Am I targeting my opponents chest, head, or feet?

The ability says shortening grip, it does not specify by how much. The ability does not specify a loss of reach.

The Lance PA FAQ is a FAQ that flies in the face of your argument. A lance is a 2 handed weapon. It can be wielded in 1 hand while mounted. Power attack does 50% extra damage with 2 handed weapons.

Your logic would dictate that since a lance is wielded in one hand in this situation, it counts as a one handed weapon and therefore does not get the 50% extra bonus from PA. The FAQ says the opposite of that. The FAQ basically says, yes it is a 2 handed weapon, the weapon specifically says it can be wielded in 1 hand while mounted. This ability from the weapon does not state it is no longer a 2-handed weapon, therefore it does in fact gain the 50% PA bonus.

I am using the exact same logic on Pole Fighting.

The weapons in question are reach weapons, reach weapons cannot be used to attack adjacent creatures, this ability allows for the use of a reach weapon to be used to attack adjacent creatures, the ability does not specify a loss of the reach property, therefore the reach property remains.

No bending of any reading, plain written English.

Shorten the grip is a vague undefined term. Search the PRD, there is not one other use of that wording (at least according to the search feature with the PRD). We do have a defined word in that ability though; Reach. The only time that word is used, is to describe what type of weapons are valid choices for use with the ability, that is it.


that's your problem. We've been told repeated that FAQ logic is only valid for the material covered by the FAQ and isn't to be extrapolated to other things.

Like I said before, an exception to the rule (that lances are some special situation) doesn't override the general rule, that it's written in conversational manner and is to be interpreted as such.

You've shortened your grip to be able to attack adjacent, ALL you need to know, is that it's now short enough to attack adjacent, AND since it's short enough to attack adjacent, that would mean it's short enough to not attack at reach. Since normally if something is short enough to attack adjacent it can't attack at reach. SO it doesn't matter HOW much you change your grip. The fact is it's the first reaction you'd have from reading the text.

If I've shortened my grip to attack close, my grip is obviously not the one I use to attack at reach. Only by invoking the bad rule of "BUT IT DOESN'T SAY EXPLICITLY..." do you have any interpretation that keeps reach while having shortened your grip to attack adjacent enemies with the "blade" of the weapon.

Dark Archive

I asked Mark S about this in his thread. Although not "official" he has stated that the fighter loses his reach when he shortens the grip.


when paizo wants an ability to remove reach or for it to do anything they say that is how it works. they did not include removes reach in this abilities text so it doesn't. you can houserule it and add not only a -4 to hit but also loses reach if you wish but that's all it would be, a houserule. feats and abilities only do what they say they do.

example of an ability that actually does remove reach
spear style
they aren't afraid to say it, they just chose not to with polearm master.

Community & Digital Content Director

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Removed a post and the posts in reply/quoting it. It's fine to disagree with play style or rules interpretation, but it is completely inappropriate to conflate something you don't like with a real-life neurodevelopmental disorder.


NO, the just realized that dumb people were trying to exploit and twist the rules so they've changed and started writing things in a more technical manner. Since obviously just the conversational manner wasn't satisfying a small and loud percentage of their player base that refuses to accept that the view the 90% have, that doesn't require a "But it doesn't EXPLICITLY say..", is the correct view.

Because the feat implicitly loses reach since you're shortening your grip to be able to attack adjacent.


RAW it doesnt say you lose reach, so he is correct.

RAI are unclear, youre the DM so your word is law. Make a fair call


Baval wrote:

RAW it doesnt say you lose reach, so he is correct.

RAI are unclear, youre the DM so your word is law. Make a fair call

RAW also doesn't say you can't act when you're dead.


Chess Pwn wrote:
Baval wrote:

RAW it doesnt say you lose reach, so he is correct.

RAI are unclear, youre the DM so your word is law. Make a fair call

RAW also doesn't say you can't act when you're dead.

not true, a dead character is also dying, and dying says you cant act.


I am the character in this case but its not a real character. my guy is a witch. this was just a rules debate about a fighter archetype no one is actually playing.


Creatures that have negative hit points and have not stabilized are dying. On the character's next turn, after being reduced to negative hit points (but not dead), and on all subsequent turns, the character must make a DC 10 Constitution check to become stable. The character takes a penalty on this roll equal to his negative hit point total. A character that is stable does not need to make this check. A natural 20 on this check is an automatic success. If the character fails this check, he loses 1 hit point

A character who was dying but who has stopped losing hit points each round and still has negative hit points is stable.

The rules would make me stable and dead. NOT dying. Thus removing the ban of not having actions. Because it doesn't EXPLICITLY say that when I'm dead I can't take actions.


Chess Pwn wrote:

Creatures that have negative hit points and have not stabilized are dying. On the character's next turn, after being reduced to negative hit points (but not dead), and on all subsequent turns, the character must make a DC 10 Constitution check to become stable. The character takes a penalty on this roll equal to his negative hit point total. A character that is stable does not need to make this check. A natural 20 on this check is an automatic success. If the character fails this check, he loses 1 hit point

A character who was dying but who has stopped losing hit points each round and still has negative hit points is stable.

The rules would make me stable and dead. NOT dying. Thus removing the ban of not having actions. Because it doesn't EXPLICITLY say that when I'm dead I can't take actions.

stable also says you are still unconscious, and unconscious cant take actions. So nope, still cant do anything

That said, what makes you think youre stable? By your own logic, nothing about being dead stops you from losing HP each round. Youre just not allowed to make stabilization checks anymore.


please keep this discussion on topic


stable also says how you regain consciousness, and then there are probably other ways too.

You're stable because your not taking damage, and since you're not making any checks you can't fail the checks and thus you can't lose 1 hit point on a fail.


right, cause this thread was being so productive before because you're going "but it doesn't explicitly say, only implies"


it doesn't imply anything to me. if a medium creature can use a small size reach weapon which is only half the size of a medium creature but still threaten only at 10feet then choking up on my hilt wouldn't remove my threatening at 10feet with a medium size reach weapon but would simply allow me to attack at 5 and 10 with a -4 to hit. which is what the ability says.

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