Combat initial thoughts


Playing the Game


We played a little, so just my initial reaction

Combat feels a little lackluster. I think it would be better if it were less passive. there should definitely be a dodge or parry reaction mechanic. Armor should just function as damage reduction. this edition suffers from the same problem 3.0, 3.5. 5.0 and PF1 all had in that you can't really have battles or combat that matches what you see in the comics or the movies, or read in books, or imagine, because the system is so passive. a character can't really show off their superior skills or agility in an active way.

I'm stealing shamelessly from shadowrun, but I think every time you get attacked and you are aware of the attack, the player should get a free reaction to roll to either block or dodge. parry using weapon skill modifiers and dodge using dexterity modifiers, and if you beat the attack roll by 10 then you get a counter attack that the attacker can neither block or dodge or maybe a bonus on your next attack against them, or a special action like a disarm or trip.

I think that it would be better player wise, to be able to say I blocked or dodge 50% of the attacks against me, rather the enemy missed 50% of the time.


Part of the fix is easy - allow rolls where there is otherwise the static base of 10, for non-passive type rolls/checks. I've never found this to be much a slow-down on combat. However, unless you have mechanics which specifically impact the die roll itself (like rolling again and taking the higher), the modifiers are the same, so the character isn't really showing off any more than under the static system. But rolling does feel more invested.

As for counter attacks or maneuvers on great success, there's the Dueling Riposte fighter feat, which has a similar mechanic (make an attack when an opponent critically fails an attack). Unfortunately, it's just for fighters and not accessible until level 8, and only allows Strike or Disarm, and can only be used when another specific ability was used earlier.


First, I want to say that there is a lot right with the playtest rules. However, adding the character level to everything can be problematic. I understand the theory behind doing this in combat. As it stands now (in the original rules) two level 1 fighters hit each other a little less than 50% of the time, but level 15 fighters tend to hit each other on nearly every swing. Adding the character level to both Armor Class and the Attack bonus fixes that.

However, consider the case of a level 2 fighter facing off against silenced level 12 mage who is also out of spells. The fighter wears plate armor, caries a heavy shield, and wields a battle axe. The mage has no armor and a dagger. What happens? The mage cuts the fighter to ribbons. Run the numbers. It's true. Don't get me wrong. The level 12 mage should beat the level 2 fighter but with magic not fighting ability.

The new rules simply trade one problem for another. It also leads to ridiculously high armor classes for higher level monsters. But there is a way to fix both problems at the same time. I suggest The following"

1. Calculate Armor Class as it is in the current rules with the exception or adding 1 for armor expertise, 2 for armor mastery, etc.

2. Calculate an attack bonus for each wielded weapon using only strength (or Dexterity bonus), the bonus for the quality (or magic bonus) of the weapon, and a proficiency bonus of 1 for expertise, 2 for mastery, etc.

3. Create one more stat called "Fighting Proficiency" which is simple to calculate as follows: Fighting Proficiency = character level divided by 2 and rounded down. Semi fighting classes like Bard, Cleric, Druid and Rogue add 1 to this stat. Fighting classes like Barbarian, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, and Ranger add 2. So a first level Wizard has a fighting proficiency of 0, a level 1 Rogue 1, and a level 1 fighter 2. Whenever one character (or monster) attacks another compare their fighting proficiencies. If they are the same use only the attack bonuses and Armor class as described above. If they are different, subtract them. The one with the higher bonus adds the difference to their attack roles against this opponent. The lower one subtracts the difference from their attack rolls. To illustrate using the level 2 fighter and level 12 wizard from above consider: The fighter has strength of 18, dex of 12, and con 16. The Mage has Dex = 14 and con =14. Thus the fighter has an attack bonus of 4(str) + 1(expertise) = 5 and an Armor Class of 6(Plate) + 2(heavy shield) + 1(dex) + 10 = 19. The wizard has an attack bonus of +2(dex) and an Armor Class of 2(dex) + 10 = 12.
The Fighter has a fighting proficiency of 1 (half his level) + 2 (for being a fighter) = 3. The Wizard has a Fighting Proficiency of 6(half her level). 6 - 3 = 3 so the Wizard gets +3 to her attacks and the Fighter subtracts 3 from his. Thus the Wizard attacks at +5 verses the fighters armor class of 19 and hits on a roll of 14+. The Fighter attacks at +2 (5-3) against an armor class of 12 and hits on a 10+. (Under the playtest rules the Wizard on a 9+ while the Fighter would hit on 15+ on their 1st attacks each round.)

While this system does add an additional stat, it is easy to calculate and use and only needs to be recalculated when switching targets. Moreover, it removes the problem of an unarmored Wizzard cutting heavilly armored fighting classes to pieces with a non-magic dagger. It also makes extreemly high Armor Classes unnecessary. Fighting proficiencies for monsters could be easily calculated at half the monster level and then adding 1 (for monsters considered semi-fighters) or 2 (for monsters known for physical attacks).

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Aramar wrote:

Part of the fix is easy - allow rolls where there is otherwise the static base of 10, for non-passive type rolls/checks. I've never found this to be much a slow-down on combat. However, unless you have mechanics which specifically impact the die roll itself (like rolling again and taking the higher), the modifiers are the same, so the character isn't really showing off any more than under the static system. But rolling does feel more invested.

As for counter attacks or maneuvers on great success, there's the Dueling Riposte fighter feat, which has a similar mechanic (make an attack when an opponent critically fails an attack). Unfortunately, it's just for fighters and not accessible until level 8, and only allows Strike or Disarm, and can only be used when another specific ability was used earlier.

I played with a GM who did this, and while I expect it works great for some I can also attest it can be really awkward too. For this particular case, most of the players were amateurs to where it did slow things down having them involved in rolls (and usually tracking down their stats) more often, plus that GM added the little quirk of always asking how specifically the person wanted to try and dodge which slowed things down more and also didn't feel that great in practice because no matter how good or bad a dodge you thought of it didn't effect your chances (I know that doesn't reflect on the defense roll idea, it just came along with the only GM I've seen who did that. He also always "requested" [read: implicitly demanded] to roll for defense in my games which got a little irritating sometimes and threw things off a little, but again not particularly on topic). The rest were just fine with how things are and found it kinda awkward. Myself included. XD

Again, not saying this system doesn't necessarily work (Heck, I think PF1 even has an alternate rule for it), it just can also be awkward.


John DeVita wrote:
3. Create one more stat called "Fighting Proficiency" which is simple to calculate as follow... While this system does add an additional stat, it is easy to calculate and use and only needs to be recalculated when switching targets.

Except that in a normal fight, you could easily be switching targets every round, making it another piece of math you need to do. The Goblin Bombardier changes your attack, then you take your Fighter Attack of Opportunity on the Goblin Wizard that runs past you, then you decide you'll make your second attack at the simpler-to-hit Ooze... each time, a recalculation. The math isn't hard, but it is tedious.

Base Attack Bonus allowed Fighters to be much better at hitting than Wizards without all the calculation involved.


Reverse wrote:


Base Attack Bonus allowed Fighters to be much better at hitting than Wizards without all the calculation involved.

BAB also prevented Wizards and other d6 classes from pretty much ever being even halfway decent at hitting. That's a reason I like PF2's approach, Fighters are better at hitting in straight % chance, by 10-20% hit chance depending on level (Even if the Wizard and Fighter both max Str/Dex), but it lets Fighters be better at hitting in more nuanced ways via feats and proficiencies, which I think is a great method as it lets Fighters be easily the best Fighters without making martially-focused Wizards absolute trash as fighters.

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