Cleave and Unwieldy


Rules Questions


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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

So, cleave is one of those traditional feats that most heavy melee fighters get. A way for non-dual wielding characters to get an extra attack. As I understand it, story-action wise, you swing, and you hit them so darned hard that you cleave right through the target and carry through to another target on the same swing. This scenario, physics wise, is most likely with heavy weapons such as greatswords or heavy axes, since they're still going to have momentum.

It transfers over to starfinder...but due to the way it is written, I'm seeing a problem. The flavor text says that you hit an additional target with a single swing....and in the case of greater cleave, multiple opponents. It does however, require an additional attack roll.

The "unwieldy" special rule states that you can ever only make one attack per round with an unwieldy weapon, and can't use it for attacks of opportunity. This makes sense. But unwieldy melee weapons, such as the doshko, the ones most LIKELY to have enough momentum to continue on and strike something else, can't. Cleave states that they're only swinging once, which fits the flavor of a big heavy unwieldy doshko.

Is this intended? Doshko's without the unwieldy rule, such as flame or plasma are clearly usable with this feat. Is it intended that the regular ones aren't?

Grand Lodge

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Unwieldy Weapons with the unwieldy special property are large and awkward, can’t be fired without cooling down first, or are otherwise difficult to use with repeated attacks. You can’t use an unwieldy weapon as part of a full attack (or any other action in which you could make multiple attacks), you can’t attack with it more than once per round, and you can’t use it to make an attack of opportunity.

Note the brackets no action to make multiple attacks, so as I see it no, as long as the weapon is unwieldy. If that is not in the weapon description then it should be fine


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I agree, for the most part, rules as written unwieldy would preclude it. It's more so whether or not cleave counts as "multiple attacks" since, although you are making more than one role, thematically you're hitting the second(or more) target on the same swing.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

It's basically a question of if a cleave counts as "multiple attacks" (Which is clearly not allowed with unwieldy), or if it's a continuation of the same attack.

My support for this argument: I'd think that it's a single attack, just requires an additional roll to connect with additional targets, much in the way that an unwieldy weapon with blast (Such as a flamethrower) must roll to hit every target in their attack zone, even though they are still making only one attack.

Their unwieldy rule doesn't prevent them from hitting multiple targets, even though they must make multiple attack rolls to do so. It says in the text for both cleave and greater cleave that you're hitting multiple targets with the same blow, so I'd think that mechanically, it's similar.


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

Yeah, at first pass, RAW does seem to rule out cleaving with Unwieldy weapons, for precisely the reason OtrovaGamos gives. Too bad.

The alternate understanding you suggest is interesting, but the Blast wording is at pains to make it clear that *per attack you make*, you make an attack roll against each person in the cone (making Blast and Unwieldy compatible). Whereas the wording of Cleave isn't like this... it talks about using a standard action which allows you to make an attack, and if the relevant conditions obtain, make another attack. Which, unfortunately, sounds just like what Unwieldy rules out.

But FWIW, I agree that this is weird, and that it seems (thematically) like you should be able to Cleave with Unwieldy weapons.

Liberty's Edge

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Cleave absolutely constitutes multiple attacks:

Core Rulebook wrote:
As a standard action, you can make a single melee attack against a foe within reach. If you hit, you deal damage normally and can make an additional melee attack (using your full base attack bonus) against a foe that is adjacent to the first and also within reach.

Any time you need to make an attack role to determine whether a target is hit, you're making an attack. If you need some head canon to justify the exclusion of unwieldy cleaves, think of the weapon as being too large or imbalanced to make an effective cleave motion with it.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Except that in my example with blast, you are also making multiple attack rolls as part of a single attack, so for it to work with unwieldy, this implies a roll does not inherently constitute a separate attack, just because it is a separate roll. It even states as part of the Blast rules "Roll one attack against each..." implying multiple attacks, albeit this is preceded by "For each attack you make....". It could be argued that there's actually a conflict of rules between blast and unwieldy, awkward on the same weapon.

Again, I point to the fact where both cleave feats state that it is "A single blow". Unlike blast however, getting to hit a second or more targets is conditional on the first hitting.

Furthermore, a multi-attack typically has a penalty to each roll (Oddly enough, blast does have a penalty but is still permitted), where as you've pointed out, cleave very specifically states that it's at full attack bonus. A cleave is also a "standard action", where as most multi-attacks are full actions.

I see the justification for RAW prohibiting it, but I would love to hear an official ruling on this.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Adder007USA wrote:
Except that in my example with blast, you are also making multiple attack rolls as part of a single attack, so for it to work with unwieldy, this implies a roll does not inherently constitute a separate attack, just because it is a separate roll. It even states as part of the Blast rules "Roll one attack against each..." implying multiple attacks, albeit this is preceded by "For each attack you make....". It could be argued that there's actually a conflict of rules between blast and unwieldy, awkward on the same weapon.

Yeah, it's definitely right that we can't identify "number of attacks" with "number of attack rolls", since the description of Blast explicitly distinguishes between them.

Given that these two things are distinct, I don't think there's a problem with weapons with both the Blast and Unwieldy weapon properties (e.g., flamethrowers).

Why might one think there's a conflict? Well, if "number of attacks" = "number of attack rolls", then since the description of the Blast property says that you make multiple attack rolls (one against each creature in the cone), and you can't make more than one attack/round with an Unwieldy weapon, then the identification of number of attacks with number of attack rolls would entail that you can never attack with such a weapon (unless there was only one creature in the cone of effect).

But since "number of attacks" =/= "number of attack rolls" -- as the description of the Blast property makes clear -- it doesn't look like there's any conflict between the Blast and Unwieldy descriptions. You can make one attack per round (as Unwieldy requires), and in making this attack, you make one attack roll against everyone in the cone of effect (as the Blast description says).

So I feel that, at least, works out cleanly: it's unproblematic to have a weapon (like the flamethrower) with both Blast and Unwieldy.

Adder007USA wrote:
Again, I point to the fact where both cleave feats state that it is "A single blow". Unlike blast however, getting to hit a second or more targets is conditional on the first hitting. ...

Yeah, so what about Cleave? As you note, the description of "a single swing" in the descriptive text of the feat suggests one attack. But when we turn to the mechanical description of the feat:

CRB wrote:

Benefit: As a standard action, you can make a single melee

attack against a foe within reach. If you hit, you deal damage normally and can make an additional melee attack (using your full base attack bonus) against a foe that is adjacent to the first and also within reach. You can make only one additional attack per round with this feat. When you use this feat, you take a –2 penalty to your Armor Class until your next turn.

The line "you can only make one additional attack per round with this feat" seems to explicitly say that you're making, well, an additional attack. Not just an additional *attack roll*, as with a Blast weapon attack, but an additional *attack*. And since Unwieldy says:

CRB wrote:
Weapons with the unwieldy special property are large and awkward, can’t be fired without cooling down first, or are otherwise difficult to use with repeated attacks. You can’t use an unwieldy weapon as part of a full attack (or any other action in which you could make multiple attacks), you can’t attack with it more than once per round, and you can’t use it to make an attack of opportunity.

it seems to flatly rule out the option of using the Cleave action with an Unwieldy weapon.

OK. All that said, I don't really like this result. It really seems like Unwieldy melee weapons should be able to be used with Cleave attacks. And the "single swing" in the descriptive text gives me the faint hope that a developer might allow them to work together (or issue an errata changing the wording of Cleave or Unwieldy). So I'm certainly game for asking. FAQ button pressed!


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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Thank you. And yeah, I agree. RAW, it's not allowed...but I really don't like it, doesn't seem to fit. It really feels like it should behave more like a blast or line attack, a single attack that has the potential to hit more than one target, as opposed to two separate attacks.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

For the benefit of anyone else looking at this, here's the logic summary, since the above posts came out kind of fragmented.

Current: RAW, cleave and great cleave cannot be used with unwieldy melee weapon. Unwieldy prevents a weapon from making multiple attacks, and/or being part of a full attack action, or being used for attacks of opportunity.

The rules for cleave say that if the first attack hits, you may make a second attack against another target that is adjacent to the first, and within your reach. This "second attack" would appear to disqualify using the cleave feat with an unwieldy weapon

Argument:

The description for cleave and greater cleave both state that you hit two/multiple foes with a single swing, thus implying that you are not actually making multiple attacks, but actually hitting multiple targets with the same attack, much like a blast or a line attack. There do exist weapons with both the unwieldy tag and one of these two other tags, as a side note.

Further supporting this, unlike the "full attack" action that usually permits multiple attacks, a cleave attack does not have a penalty to hit for any of the secondary attacks, and cleave is a standard action, instead of a full action, since you still have time for both a move and a swift action before/after using cleave. This implies that, as per the description, a cleave is just one attack, as permitted by the unwieldy rules, that happens to hit more than one target, with each additional hit requiring a separate roll.

Further consideration: What's the point of cleave otherwise? For non unwieldy weapons, cleave does the following

1. Give the chance of an extra attack which does permit movement and swift actions before/after the attack, unlike a full attack action.

2. Give the option of taking a 2AC penalty instead of the normal penalty to hit for multiple attacks, albeit at a chance that the first doesn't hit.

The first is useful, admittedly, and with great cleave becomes significant damage potential. But the second doesn't really feel like a good choice, I'd rather take the penalty to hit, along with the guaranteed second/third/fourth attack for the classes that can do this. Cleave has traditionally been the way for great weapon wielders to get an extra attack after a heavy blow.

Flavor wise, it also makes the most sense that a big melee weapon, heavy enough to be considered unwieldy, would also be heavy enough to have enough momentum to cleave through a primary target and still have enough force to injure one or more secondary targets.

Liberty's Edge

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On attack roll equating to an attack, I must concede that can't necessarily be the case: There are weapons with both the unwieldy property and the blast property, after all. I think I was generalizing too much from a bit about spell-casting:

Core Rulebook wrote:
Some spell descriptions refer to attacking. All offensive combat actions, even those that don’t damage opponents, are considered attacks. Anytime you would need to make an attack roll to determine whether your spell hits a target, you are considered to be making an attack.


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I think I would allow cleave with an unwieldly two handed weapon. Just because it makes sense from a dramatic perspective. That is pretty much what two-handed melee weapons do.


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Vidmaster7 wrote:
I think I would allow cleave with an unwieldly two handed weapon. Just because it makes sense from a dramatic perspective. That is pretty much what two-handed melee weapons do.

Certainly no problem with house ruling until we get an official response.


I pressed FAQ button because I was already doing Cleave with Unwieldy weapons. This is the way I understood the Rules.

Paizo Employee Starfinder Lead Designer

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Indeed, you can't use Cleave with an unwieldy weapon.

Sczarni

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Thanks again, Joe!

Paizo Employee Starfinder Lead Designer

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Nefreet wrote:
Thanks again, Joe!

My pleasure! Also: nice direct-address comma.

Sczarni

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I thank public school for that.

I still don't know all of the 48 state capitals, though.

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