A crazy idea for combat customization: Fighting Styles


General Discussion


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First, we define a set of fighting styles:

Brawling
Martial Arts
Single Weapon (Subdivide by long or short weapon?)
Two-handed weapon
Two weapon
Weapon and Shield
Weapon and Spell

Ranged:
Thrown
Bow
Crossbow
Firearm
Spell

Everyone gets the basics of Brawling, Single Weapon, and Thrown. From there, your class determines which additional ones you get, and how many advances you get in them. In general, Martial classes get more styles and more advances they can allocate to styles, caster classes get fewer.
Ex: In addition to Brawling, Single Weapon, and Thrown, a Barbarian gets Two-handed weapon and Two-weapon fighting styles. A Paladin gets Weapon and Shield and Two-handed Weapon. A rogue would get two-weapon, Bow, and Crossbow. A Cleric Weapon and shield, weapon and spell, and Ranged Spell. And so on

Most classes get to improve one or two combat styles, and take one to legendary. Fighters can take multiple styles to legendary, and take a hell of a lot of special abilities along the way.

Regardless of class, players can take a general feat to add a fighting style, plus there is a level-gated general feat to improve proficiency with a single fighting style by a step.
Ex: Donna really wants a paladin with a crossbow. She can use a general feat to buy her paladin the Crossbow ranged weapon style. At a later level, she can spend another feat to improve her paladin’s crossbow style to “expert”, and so on.

Each advance in expertise opens up new maneuvers you can do with that style as well as feats you can take to improve your abilities or open up new ones. For instance, just being proficient in two-weapon style might open up a double-attack maneuver, but if you advance your two-weapon fighting skill to Expert, you can take the “Blades Like Lightning” feat, which makes that double-attack take only one action (or something like that. The point is you can take a cool thing because you’re good at the style).

All these maneuvers and special abilities can be put together in a handy, easy-to-read “Combat Maneuvers” section. This will not only make referencing them easier, but also shorten the class descriptions while cutting down book-bloating ability duplication.

This systems does everything everyone wants. By giving some set fighting styles and controlling how classes advance in them it provides flavor to the classes. But by allowing players to spend feats to expand their range of abilities, it allows for extensive player customization beyond those normal boundaries. The system is easily extensible by creating new combat maneuvers and new style feats. And because these maneuvers are interesting to multiple classes, they can all be get used together and balanced together so fights aren’t an endless series of boring basic attacks.


i'll assume that this is meant as a replacement to the current weapon-siloing of classes by weapon choice (such as having to be a fighter for TWF because only they have the TWF feats):

I'd recommend right off the bat that each class get a free choice in weapon style at level one, or else you've missed one of the main sticking points of people's complaints on the current system--people dont like being locked into a class by their weapon choice. your idea currently just trades one silo for another (instead of "only fighters have X weapon feats", it becomes "only fighters have X style")

it also currently limits off-type options, such as ranged paladins (serving Erastil, for example), since having the ability to choose an unconventional weapon (or style for it in this case) as a general feat means that once again you're not playing your character, the one you sat down at the real or digital table to play, until level 3-4 when you get your first general feat for weapon style expansion--or at level 6-8 if you need weapon proficiency first.
humans might be able to get around that at level 1, but that means that any character design with a non-human race and an unconventional weapon is just impossible.

giving everyone a general feat at level 1 as well could solve the second problem initially (for gaining weapon proficiency, for example), though without natural scaling for these styles on the various martial class chassis you're still paying a feat to access a feat, further delaying your build by another 2 levels if style feats can be taken as class feats, or 3-4 levels if they're general feats.

tl;dr - if people got a free style and general feat at level 1, and styles scaled on the class (at the very least for martial classes), i could see this being pretty good, otherwise it still takes too long to actually get to the "playing your envisioned character" part.


I like PF2 but I dont think it needs more widgets.

The devs have it right to just fold assorted combat styles into the feats of martial classes. Casters can multiclass to get that stuff. Its elegant and it works but it just needs more development.


AndIMustMask wrote:

i'll assume that this is meant as a replacement to the current weapon-siloing of classes by weapon choice (such as having to be a fighter for TWF because only they have the TWF feats):

I'd recommend right off the bat that each class get a free choice in weapon style at level one, or else you've missed one of the main sticking points of people's complaints on the current system--people dont like being locked into a class by their weapon choice. your idea currently just trades one silo for another (instead of "only fighters have X weapon feats", it becomes "only fighters have X style")

it also currently limits off-type options, such as ranged paladins (serving Erastil, for example), since having the ability to choose an unconventional weapon (or style for it in this case) as a general feat means that once again you're not playing your character, the one you sat down at the real or digital table to play, until level 3-4 when you get your first general feat for weapon style expansion--or at level 6-8 if you need weapon proficiency first.
humans might be able to get around that at level 1, but that means that any character design with a non-human race and an unconventional weapon is just impossible.

giving everyone a general feat at level 1 as well could solve the second problem initially (for gaining weapon proficiency, for example), though without natural scaling for these styles on the various martial class chassis you're still paying a feat to access a feat, further delaying your build by another 2 levels if style feats can be taken as class feats, or 3-4 levels if they're general feats.

tl;dr - if people got a free style and general feat at level 1, and styles scaled on the class (at the very least for martial classes), i could see this being pretty good, otherwise it still takes too long to actually get to the "playing your envisioned character" part.

Fair points. While I'm wary of giving completely free style choices without consequences (as it makes classes too nebulous), the initial distribution of combat styles could easily be tweaked. Perhaps by by giving players a choice among options, or by adding a fighting style as a benefit from a previous choice. So if a Priest or Paladin chooses a particular god they may get the associated combat style for free as a benefit.

As part of this change, some class benefits would have to change, and characters would probably need to get a few more feats. I think that would allay several of your concerns.

Game design "philosophy" to this: I'm not as concerned with characters taking a few levels to grow into a player's vision, as this gives a player something to look forward to and strive towards. 3-4 levels is alright, but I think 6-8 is too long to wait. But this gets into the idea of just what it means to be a 1st level character.


DataLoreRPG wrote:

I like PF2 but I dont think it needs more widgets.

The devs have it right to just fold assorted combat styles into the feats of martial classes. Casters can multiclass to get that stuff. Its elegant and it works but it just needs more development.

I respectfully disagree. By folding the combat styles into the martial classes, it causes duplication of abilities and siloing those abilities away, as well as bloating the sections for each class. (Imagine if every spell was specific to a class, and each class description included a list of all spells).

This is less of adding a widget and more unifying a concept in a way that opens new design space. Or at least, that's the intention.


I disagree. By siloing those abilities you promote uniqueness since builds have less common widgets. You also produce more difference in play.

Also, since the design is less focused on feats removing penalties (as was the case with twf and archery specifically), there is flatly less need common weapon style feats.

Customization is now more of a product of weapon choice (since they function differently now) mixed with class abilities. Thats where the open design space is.

Moreover, PF2e design is centered on feats not numbers. As such, there is no longer BAB to ensure martials remain fighting top dogs. They get their distinctness in large part from feats. Gating those abilities behind class, ensures casters cannot poach those abilities without multiclass feats and simulates BAB requirements of 3.X.

Ultimately, there is no problem. If anything, its a huge boon. By having each class have two or three styles nested in its class, you put a real draw from multiclass feats and you make character building more interesting not less.


I like the concept of building these into general feats because of how sparse the selection opportunities are in that category, but it would need to come with a free feat as someone else mentioned and some classes would probably benefit from a natural increase in proficiency.

Not only because generals are less common but also because this means skills are going to get less feats chosen for them (essentially moving focus off them even more so and I already think they need love)

This concept is reminiscent of the way ranger fighting styles were introduced in 1E so I'd be curious to see if they entertained this as a concept. It certainly widens character concepts considerably and is far more organic than giving everyone their own version of "double Strike" as many devs have mentioned as being the plan. I understand they think it allows for more customization but I also think it's a lot of rules bloat for little gain (not to mention balancing them against each other is going to be tough as well).

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