Is the "pass the magic dagger around the circle" really going to be allowed?


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In the GCP playtest, the crew ended up passing around a magic dagger to fight an incorporeal enemy, with up to three different PCs making attacks with the same dagger in the same round. Honestly it was pretty goofy, and they didn't even break it as badly as it could be broken - you could imagine a case where 8 PCs are totally surrounding an enemy, and each one on his turn takes one action to grab the dagger and then two actions to attack. The same dagger ends up getting used for 16 attacks in six seconds!

Should that really be allowed? Is there any reasonable formulation of a rule in the vein of "the same object may only be interacted with (e.g., picked up, attacked with) for a total of 3 actions in each round" that isn't open to unintended abuse (e.g., "I attacked with my sword three times so the enemy can't disarm me because that would be the fourth action that interacts with it.")

Or should we just live with this, in the same vein as the "peasant railgun"?


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This is where the GM steps in and says "You don't have time to do that," end of issue.


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Well, it IS a playtest, so presumably they just didn't have a rule against that yet because the people writing it didn't even think of someone trying that. Now that it has been abused in play, hopefully they'll disallow that in the draft rules. I certainly wouldn't allow it in play.


Since they do have this resonance system, one easy fix would presumably be saying magic weapons also cost Resonance to attune, a given item can only be attuned to one person at a time, and it takes longer than just one action to attune.


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Demon Lord of Paladins! wrote:
This is where the GM steps in and says "You don't have time to do that," end of issue.

"This is where the GM..." aka it's a design flaw


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Demon Lord of Paladins! wrote:
This is where the GM steps in and says "You don't have time to do that," end of issue.

WHAAAAAT?!

The GM, cannot, just, arbitrarily decide that a character is not allowed to do something if the rules say she can.


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MR. H wrote:
Demon Lord of Paladins! wrote:
This is where the GM steps in and says "You don't have time to do that," end of issue.
"This is where the GM..." aka it's a design flaw

No, its not. The round has set time limit. Your actions must take place in that time limit. Someone may go first, bu you are still all acting in the same amount of time.

This is non-sense theory crafting


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Terquem wrote:
Demon Lord of Paladins! wrote:
This is where the GM steps in and says "You don't have time to do that," end of issue.

WHAAAAAT?!

The GM, cannot, just, arbitrarily decide that a character is not allowed to do something if the rules say she can.

Its not Arbitrarily, The game does ask you use common sense. Its not a programmed computer game. Unless your PC's are the flash, they simply do not have time to all share the same weapon


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As the GM or one of the players said, this is also something that happened in PF1 in that situation. In PF1, players didn’t pass weapons around in a circle either. I would take it instead as the rules being bent to accommodate an otherwise hopeless encounter.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I had a similar thought in mind with regards to wands being limited by resonance rather than charges now:

1) Use wand of summon monster
2) Give the wand to the summoned creature
3) Order creature to use the wand, then pass it along
4) Profit

Summoned creatures will definitely need a "no resonance" rule to avoid this kind of abuse.

Demon Lord of Paladins! wrote:

No, its not. The round has set time limit. Your actions must take place in that time limit. Someone may go first, bu you are still all acting in the same amount of time.

This is non-sense theory crafting

So where do you draw the line? When does the action go from being legal to being nonsense? If there's no guidance on that matter, the game master is left to make an arbitrary ad-hoc decision. The entire reason we buy a game system in the first place is so we have sensible, consistant, and well-tested rules to rely on rather than winging it.

There will always be weird edge cases, but the fewer the better. With more actions per round in PF2E than in PF1E there stand to be more edge cases this time around.

Demon Lord of Paladins! wrote:
Its not Arbitrarily, The game does ask you use common sense.

Rule of thumb: if there's disagreement on a matter, it's probably not common sense.

Ask different people what the reasonable limit on the dagger-passing chain, and I'm pretty sure you'll get a variety of different answers. This means it's not common sense, but rather individual subjective calls, which are arbitrary and unpredictable.


Demon Lord of Paladins! wrote:
This is non-sense theory crafting

Welcome to playtesting. We all find the bugs before the GM has to patch it with rule 0!

In PF 1, It's either a move action (generous ruling) or a standard action to pass the dagger.

You couldn't swing the same dagger 16 times or even 8 times without a generous interpretation of what a sheath is to include an allies hand.


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I'm fine with this. There is precedent for this in fantasy(ill admit usually more kid or comedy based fantasy) in which the heros play hot potato with the magi mcguffn. Which at low levels a magical dagger very well maybe. Not to mention for me at least thr 6 second rule always seemed like a bit of a stretch and combat is a bit more abstract/ timey-wimey


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From what I saw, the encounter was poorly designed. You can't give a bunch of level 1's with no magic weapons an incorporeal creature and then give them no way to defeat it. So they had no choice but to pass the dagger around. A good GM wouldn't put people in that situation in the first place. If he was going for realism, what would be realistic is a party wipe.


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This sounds like a really weird game. I can't wait to read the rules.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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I feel a Lord Xeen vibe from this.

In Might and Magic IV, the boss can only be hurt by the unique Xeen Killer Sword - but you can swap inventory in between combat turns, meaning your whole party can individually use the unique weapon to fight. Once you figure this out the fight goes from a reasonable endgame boss to pretty trivial.


I would think they would have to spend a Resonance, which with a static item like a weapon I would think took at least one action. But that wouldn't be enough to hamper passing around a nice mundane weapon, like one bow for the group. "Why do you all have quivers, but only one of you carries a bow?"

Since somebody is wielding the dagger, it's not readily available to grab. The second person would have to disarm (albeit against an opponent that lets them auto-succeed).
This in turn would lead to the second person attacking once at a minus, but then presenting the dagger to the next person with a third action.
Grab-Attack-Present weapon to next attacker. So 4 attacks/6 seconds.

This would be cool if they were some finely synced band of veterans (given the genre), but that's with rookies straight out of the tavern so...
Yep, this needs fixing.

And yes, a GM, especially in a playtest (!) can say that wow, the rules are really botched here. Let me patch it up. The game is based upon GM oversight of rules, not the rules overseeing the GM. Yes, GM rulings shouldn't be arbitrary, but what makes you, Terquem, think this is so? It appears reasoned & reasonable to me, and I would expect any of my players to accept that too, and not simply due to Rule 0.

BTW: I'd played this module with a group of halflings (so lower Str. vs. a Str. damaging critter) who had all sworn not to use blades (so no using the macguffin dagger!). Force effects & CLW for the very slow & lucky win.

Funny thing is, this could be done in PF1 too!
Move to take dagger (if not counted as disarm), stab, repeat. OR
Pick up dropped dagger, stab, drop dagger near friend, repeat.
(Which would provoke, but once w/o enemy Combat Reflexes, and still a better balance of attacks vs. enemy attacks). And just as good for a bow.

This is similar to the TWF switching the better weapon back and forth as a free action. I don't yet know of an elegant way to prevent the dagger trick without simply banning the dagger trick. Hmm...

Maybe items can only be used by one wielder per round?


RumpinRufus wrote:

Should that really be allowed? Is there any reasonable formulation of a rule in the vein of "the same object may only be interacted with (e.g., picked up, attacked with) for a total of 3 actions in each round" that isn't open to unintended abuse (e.g., "I attacked with my sword three times so the enemy can't disarm me because that would be the fourth action that interacts with it.")

That last bit sounds silly. As long as the other person who is disarming doesn't use it, it's fine. Dropping an item is a free action.. picking it up is a move action (in PF1).

I think your ruling is fine otherwise. Although there is the corner case of haste and other bonus-action-thingies.

I don't know how Paizo plans on making haste work, but some people have suggested it would add a 4th action. The rule might need to be formulated in a way that it doesn't cut those off? Like um, if you have three actions, and use the dagger for two, and then pass it to someone who is hasted (and thus has four), the 'dagger' has already 'spent' two actions this turn, they could then use it for two more attacks.

Mustachioed wrote:
From what I saw, the encounter was poorly designed. You can't give a bunch of level 1's with no magic weapons an incorporeal creature and then give them no way to defeat it. So they had no choice but to pass the dagger around. A good GM wouldn't put people in that situation in the first place. If he was going for realism, what would be realistic is a party wipe.

It was kinda mean to do that, but there are other things the players could have done. They could have Aided Another to bolster AC or attack (well, in PF1).

My DM would have totally done something like that, although there would have been a room a ways back in the crypt that had a weird orb that blinded us during an encounter or something, and we'd go, "oh yeah! maybe that blinding light orb could destroy the shadow?". He's from 1e AD&D era, and likes those sorts of .. logical puzzly encounters.


I've played that adventure before. That part sucked. I don't remember fully what happened but I think there was something in the room we needed and I just tried to run and dodge the ghost until I got it.

Liberty's Edge

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Terquem wrote:
Demon Lord of Paladins! wrote:
This is where the GM steps in and says "You don't have time to do that," end of issue.

WHAAAAAT?!

The GM, cannot, just, arbitrarily decide that a character is not allowed to do something if the rules say she can.

Why not? If it doesn't make sense the GM should make a ruling of no. The rules don't build worlds, write adventures, set up a place to play, invite people, teach the rules, buy the books and RPG extras, and make everything run smooth. Not even the designers do all of that.

The GM does. The rules flow from the GM, the rules don't run the game. The rules aren't Pathfinder any more than a recipe is the meal. The play at the table is the game just like the meal is what the chef is ultimately trying to create. And like a chef who finesses ingredients and presentation, so to the GM sometimes has to adapt on the fly. Often times actually.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I think there's nothing wrong with passing around the same weapon/wand/whatever in the same combat, as long as there's an opportunity cost of doing so. When this sort of situation comes up for me in PF1, I consider it enough that one of the parties spends a move action on the exchange. Either the current user spends a move action to hold it out to make it easy for the next, or the new user can take a move action to grab it from the former with that player's permission.

In PF2 I can already tell that I would rule it as "an action" unless specifically codified elsewhere. I don't think it's game-breaking to allow that kind of teamwork (unless you want to have it for free). It seems more nonsensical to me to make it impossible because reasons.


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I would allow:
1 action to hold the dagger out for someone else to take
1 action to take the dagger from someone holding it out.

Liberty's Edge

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The problem is that once you start saying "You can't pass a weapon around because all the turns are happening at the same time.", you have to start looking at the massive number of other situations where that logic should apply just as much, but where it gets glossed over. The fact of the matter is that we can't possibly accurately model real-time combat in a turn-based system, so we have to sacrifice some elements of realism in order to get a playable game. This is one of those elements.


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I'm scratching my head at why this is a problem that needs to be addressed at all.

Like seriously what's so wrong about this? There's a cost associated with doing it and it makes sense mechanically, narratively and actually gives the players who otherwise wouldn't be able to something they can do in the round.

It seems fine


So people think passing around a weapon from one party member to another to hit one monster they surround, therefore giving up one action a round and the advantages of tactical positioning like flanking bonuses and threatening squares adjacent to them, is somehow broken, hmmm .... interesting.


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Well its going to be difficult to find something more funny than this today :)


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"No fun allowed at MY table!"

Seriously, this is not a problem.

Liberty's Edge

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People aren't saying the tactic is broken, they're just saying that it's unrealistic, and that it doesn't fit the tone of a more serious game. It's unrealistic because turns are technically meant to be simultaneous. The actions you spend to attack with the dagger are supposed to be occuring at the same exact time as the actions your ally is spending, so how can they attack with the dagger as well if it's in your hands being used to attack with at the time? Again, that's why this is a sacrifice of realism to support a playable game.

As for tone, in a high action/adventure story, heroes tossing a powerful weapon back and forth to take turns striking an enemy is fine. But some people prefer games with a more grim, serious tone, and that sort of thing doesn't really fit. In that situation, though, I'd say that's up to the GM to talk to the players and make sure they understand that their characters' actions should fit the tone of the game.


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Sounds fine to me, it was really cool when Captain American and Sebastian Stan the Winter Soldier did it.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I’ve played this adventure in 1st edition Pathfinder, and we used the same tactic of passing the magic dagger around to kill that shadow.


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I don't think that this is worth getting into. That situation sucked in the first place and tossing the only weapon back and forth to jump it is goofy but I would have done it if I could. I went in there as a lvl 1 Halfling Cavalier with no magic items along with three other people that had no way to deal with ghosts. If you don't wan't 'line stabbing' to be a thing then don't make that kind of situation.

Also I'm pretty sure I've seen this happen in Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Supernatural or something.


On the one hand, it's reasonable to hand off an item and for both people to use it. On the other hand, given that the combat isn't /really/ turn based in context, it doesn't make sense for this to happen /repeatedly/. So maybe just have a standing rule that only two people per round can directly interact with / use any given item.

Well, unless they do something like make rounds 1 minute again instead of the vaguely 6 seconds of all recent editions. Then anything goes I guess.


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tbf, I had a hunch something like that would happen as soon as I saw the new action economy. Although I'm not sure yet, If I have much of a problem with it, honestly...think of all the new tactical possibilities this opens

Scarab Sages

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In PF1, this only ever really became a problem when people used free actions to hand items off, thus giving other characters their full attack action with that item.

In this case, it sounds like they used one of their three actions a round to grab the weapon from their party member and then only attacked twice. I don't think this is broken at all if they are expending a finite resource to do so.


Meh. It's fine. If it's really an issue, we can request they make it cost an action.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

I really do not understand the problem, this happened in PF as well. More than once have I seen "I use the wand as a standard, pass it as a move" back and forth between 2-3 characters.

The only difference now is with three actions, I guess you get a little more use out of it, but this is far from any kind of issue in the mechanics in my opinion.

Corrik wrote:
Sounds fine to me, it was really cool when Captain American and Sebastian Stan the Winter Soldier did it.

Yes it was. That reminds me that civil war is next on my IW rewatch list

Scarab Sages

bookrat wrote:
Meh. It's fine. If it's really an issue, we can request they make it cost an action.

It does cost an action. The OP said it costs an action to take the dagger.


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Tallow wrote:
bookrat wrote:
Meh. It's fine. If it's really an issue, we can request they make it cost an action.
It does cost an action. The OP said it costs an action to take the dagger.

Well, there we go, then!

(I missed that during the podcast)

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

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Corrik wrote:
Sounds fine to me, it was really cool when Captain American and Sebastian Stan the Winter Soldier did it.

THIS.

I knew I'd seen this sort of thing in a movie somewhere, but I couldn't come up with a definite example. The fight in Civil War is perfect.


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Terquem wrote:
Demon Lord of Paladins! wrote:
This is where the GM steps in and says "You don't have time to do that," end of issue.

WHAAAAAT?!

The GM, cannot, just, arbitrarily decide that a character is not allowed to do something if the rules say she can.

Yes, the GM totally can, and should. Further, it's not arbitrary - it should always be done with an eye toward the "rule of fun." If it is an action that is clearly meant to abuse the game system at hand, designed by flawed human individuals with the best of abilities, then it stands to the gaming group, and ultimately the GM, to make rulings that handle corner cases. The Game Master is not constrained by the Rule as Written, the GM is constrained by social contract with their group to make rulings that are conducive to group fun and smooth play.

...I probably would have allowed passing the dagger around, because it sounds like an innovative solution to a problem.

...and I would have said "cut that crap out" to the peasant railgun. :)


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JRutterbush wrote:
As for tone, in a high action/adventure story, heroes tossing a powerful weapon back and forth to take turns striking an enemy is fine. But some people prefer games with a more grim, serious tone, and that sort of thing doesn't really fit.

Honest question, what about letting someone borrow your weapon breaks grim or serious overtures?


It's true this was also a problem in PF1, and also probably true that relying on GM fiat is probably acceptable. Still, if there were opportunity for a cut-and-dried rule, it certainly wouldn't hurt.

You could also extend the problem to "50 commoners lined up in a row, all using the same +2 holy dragonbane longbow". (Btw, do we have a hard-confirm that nat 20s always hit in PF2?)


Mustachioed wrote:
From what I saw, the encounter was poorly designed. You can't give a bunch of level 1's with no magic weapons an incorporeal creature and then give them no way to defeat it. So they had no choice but to pass the dagger around. A good GM wouldn't put people in that situation in the first place. If he was going for realism, what would be realistic is a party wipe.

In that podcast adventure, "Crypt of the Everflame" there is a lv1 fight with a SHADOW! And depending on how you explore dungeon, you might not have a magic weapon by that time. Cleric and Wizard are only ones that can hurt them.

At least that is how it was in the 3.5 edition of this adventure, Paizo's first!


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I've seen enough battle scenes in so many different movies (I can only remember Pirates of the Caribbean right now) to let this happen every time now that this wonderful new action economy lets you do more simple yet epic stuff.

Scarab Sages

ENHenry wrote:
Terquem wrote:
Demon Lord of Paladins! wrote:
This is where the GM steps in and says "You don't have time to do that," end of issue.

WHAAAAAT?!

The GM, cannot, just, arbitrarily decide that a character is not allowed to do something if the rules say she can.

Yes, the GM totally can, and should. Further, it's not arbitrary - it should always be done with an eye toward the "rule of fun." If it is an action that is clearly meant to abuse the game system at hand, designed by flawed human individuals with the best of abilities, then it stands to the gaming group, and ultimately the GM, to make rulings that handle corner cases. The Game Master is not constrained by the Rule as Written, the GM is constrained by social contract with their group to make rulings that are conducive to group fun and smooth play.

...I probably would have allowed passing the dagger around, because it sounds like an innovative solution to a problem.

...and I would have said "cut that crap out" to the peasant railgun. :)

I agree with the general sentiment. However I'm not sure this situation merits such a response.


I don't see it as much different than Pathfinder which would allow similar - Drawing the Dagger or picking it up is a Move Action. If you're already in position, that can allow 2 attacks, OR if you need to move into position you would only get 1 attack. (P1E would allow 5' step distinct from that, while not being able to ever get 2 attacks since you can't full attack). Potentially picking it up from ground might provoke AoO (although in this case Shadow doesn't have one) but I don't see reason to disallow picking it up from their hand which wouldn't. AFAIK that is what they did in playtest although I'm not going to go back and check in case they were naughty.

Of course you run into "cramming lots of sequential actions in round" but ultimately I don't think we should take round length as hard fact, it's also other abstraction that might be the general gist of things but doesn't need to be. As mentioned, there is PLENTY of other situations that are similar when you want sequential turns to actually be logically sequential to each other, and disallowing them all is simply too huge a burden on game solely to protect the holy 6 second round.

Liberty's Edge

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Squiggit wrote:
JRutterbush wrote:
As for tone, in a high action/adventure story, heroes tossing a powerful weapon back and forth to take turns striking an enemy is fine. But some people prefer games with a more grim, serious tone, and that sort of thing doesn't really fit.
Honest question, what about letting someone borrow your weapon breaks grim or serious overtures?

There's a difference between borrowing a weapon and tossing it back and forth in between attacks like a hot potato.


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Yeah, for the sake of realism, I'd only allow the passing around an object once per round per object if that object is consequently being involved in actions other than passing it around, with an obvious limit on how much it can get passed around period. It allows teamwork without the concept of apparent munchkin-ism, which is really the big problem behind it.


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
ChibiNyan wrote:

In that podcast adventure, "Crypt of the Everflame" there is a lv1 fight with a SHADOW! And depending on how you explore dungeon, you might not have a magic weapon by that time. Cleric and Wizard are only ones that can hurt them.

At least that is how it was in the 3.5 edition of this adventure, Paizo's first!

Crypt of the Everflame was the first adventure published for PfRPG rules. Paizo published several adventures before that in the 3.5 system.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

“Better to let level one players die from a shadow than pass a magic dagger about”.


Make it cost 2 actions. Get item, wield item. It significantly increased the opportunity cost ensuring it's only ever done in drastic situations. At the moment the opportunity cost is losing one attack with a -10 modifier which is just too low.

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