Dex to Damage (Again)


General Discussion

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Goodness. I'm reminded why I gave up forum roleplaying, less free time for posting these days than I used to have. Been spacing working on this reply out over several days. Not going to get to everyone. Apologies to those I do not specifically reply to. Look for bolded text if you just want to skim, will include a very rough TL;DR at the end.

BerserkOne wrote:

Took your adjusted stats from further down.

Spoiler:
The comparison which has been presented of the relative AC of the strength-based Fighter and the dexterity-based Rogue seems disingenuous. The Fighter's armor class is higher because the Fighter has class features that increase his proficiency with armor, whereas the Rogue gets other features, such as his many extra skill increases. Since we are talking about dex-to-damage as a general feat, it seems only fair to limit AC comparisons to situations where those proficiency differences don't apply. Thus, let's consider two human Fighters, one Str 18/Dex 12, one Str 12/Dex 18, and both level 2 (when full plate first becomes available). I'm going to call these two Fighters Bolt Vanderhuge and Punt Speedchunk, mostly for my own amusement.

Bolt Vanderhuge (full plate)
AC: 19 TAC: 15 Armor Penalty: -5 Reflex Save: +4 Speed: 15ft

Punt Speedchunk (studded leather)
AC: 18 TAC: 17 Armor Penalty: -1 Reflex Save: +7 Speed: 25ft

In this comparison, we see that Vanderhuge indeed has a slight lead in AC, but a -2 deficit in TAC. But when we consider the penalties he's taking on his skill checks, reflex save, and movement speed it's clear that he is still paying a price for not investing in dexterity. Heavy armor is not the equal of the attribute.

Compare this to the versatility of Speedchunk. He is much faster, better at all non-combat uses of athletics, can fight in melee or at range, and has far more survivability against an enemy spell-caster. From a balance perspective, we must ask ourselves what damage output difference is the equivalent of all those advantages.

Huh. I'll confess I hadn't noticed a rogue was being compared to a fighter. The original poster was all like "this proves how bad armor is and shows how OP Dex is" and I was like "I'll gladly crib your numbers that show being dex-based results in lower AC across the board." You are quite right, of course, to switch the comparison to that of a fighter versus a fighter, that's my bad. Your new results are interesting, think I like them better conceptually, though the negatives of heavier armor definitely need to be less negative/more positive. Worth pointing out that if we're talking two fighters, the heavy armor fighter does still benefit from increased proficiency use, but I suspect that you and I both intend to assume class/race neutrality for the sake of reducing outside complexity that introduces too many variable to be measured appropriately, in which case your numbers are correct, and my arguments shall be based on the same (though to my knowledge everything I've stated has already been based around this assumption). Now, to your points:

First off, I must object to some of your framing here. You make valid points, and I thank you for looking at the numbers, but you're doing a bit of double-dipping on some of them here. Saying the Strength Fighter suffers a hit to movement speed and then saying that the Dex Fighter is much faster or better at Athletics strikes me as more of an issue with armor that needs fixing and not something the Dex Fighter inherently gains for having Dexterity. Building Strength is going to ultimately make... Vanderhuge... good at Athletics even in heavy armor, and comparatively phenomenal at the combat uses of it.

And in a practical sense, I never observed much difference in ability to be in combat between my players in heavy armor versus those in light armor, even in Part 2 of the playtest, which was the poster child for large outdoor spaces. I acknowledge this as anecdotal, of course, and I'm sure accounts differ. I actually dislike that point of differentiation; when made properly, heavy armor weight is dispersed such that the wearer barely feels it. It limits range of motion (hence some penalty to dex-based checks might be suitable, but I'm not fond of that solution either), not movement speed or ability to apply raw force in athletics (in fact, one could argue for a bonus on the latter, armor means more weight getting thrown around). Long and short of it, I agree with those voices saying that seeing less negatives and more positives for the heavier armors would be nice, they went too far as written, I think.

As for the increased option presented from ranged combat for ...Speedchunk, you're largely correct. I've got nothing there from a numbers standpoint. My argument there stems more from a thematic issue: you can do ranged combat, but it's not part of the fantasy/concept. It's not what you're there for, and it's unlikely to be backed up by substantial class feat or wealth investment, in which case it's a sub-par option. A better option for Speedchunk than Vanderhuge, sure, but both would be better served mechanically and conceptually in close combat. That said, not liking/using an advantage is different from pretending it is not present, and so I do grant this as a point in favor of Speedchunk.

Regarding the difference in damage versus Reflex saves, sure, Speedchunk might take half damage from an area effect attack, but that only benefits Speedchunk. Vanderhuge could grapple a spellcaster to much more useful effect. Or use the damage difference to just murder the spellcaster, really, but Speedchunk could also theoretically do so, albeit mildly less efficiently. Moreover, Vanderhuge's lack of need to invest heavily in Dex means the opportunity cost isn't terribly high.

We're also forgetting Bulk, which my players found to actually be limiting, as opposed to the weight system, but as that problem is eventually solved by a Bag of Holding, we'll just call this 1 point of Resonance in favor of Vanderhuge instead of discussing the back and forth of Bulk.

So, in summation for what we have so far, expressed in positive attributes versus each other:
In Vanderhuge's favor:
+1 AC (+5%)
+25% Damage
+3 Athletics, +7 on Combat Maneuvers (+15/35%)
+1 point of Resonance (+5%)
+3 damage on ranged attacks (N/A; meaningless at high levels)

In Speedchunk's favor:
+2 TAC (+10%)
+10 movement speed (+40%)
+10 Stealth, Acrobatics, Thievery (+50%)
+6 attack on ranged attacks (+30%)
+3 on Reflex saves (+15%)
+1 ability boosts

So far most of Speedchunk's advantages come from not being saddled with heavy armor. At this juncture, the difference is primarily down to that enormous difference in Vanderhuge's melee damage and combat maneuvers versus Speedchunk's skill checks, movement speed, reflex saves, and ability to switch hit. Keeping up with multiple skill checks means thinner spreading of skill training bumps, though, so it might be easiest to call that point a borderline wash (though still skewed in Speedchunk's direction, I'll grant).

Now, from here argumentation can go a few ways. For instance, I consider lack of movement speed easily circumnavigated in combat, usually in ways that obviate the need to switch-hit while they're at it. I also consider Reflex to be the least important save because all that failing a save means is you take some damage which can be healed (as opposed to being rendered useless or a liability instantly via any of the save-or-suck spells that tend to take specific spells to fix efficiently). That said, these are opinions and they get into the realm of hypotheticals and what-ifs. In a vacuum and on their own merits, the benefits a Dex character gets are not insubstantial, but the question is whether that's a fair trade for 25% less damage and no combat maneuvers. I don't think it is, but again, that's my opinion. Others who value switch-hitting and mobility more than I do would likely disagree. The net result is that Dexterity to Damage being allowed as a feat taxes the Speedchunk character a little further while allowing the character concept to exist competently with some fringe benefits, and is probably the least work versus any of the other solutions proposed here, but as I expressed earlier, I'd be fine with alternative solutions executed well. The issue (and reason this thread exists) is that those other solutions don't currently exist in the system. If they did, I'd likely have no issue with Dex being unable to be added to damage.

BerserkOne wrote:

Spoiler:
The 25% damage difference assumes that both characters are using a two-handed weapon. For Speedchunk, that means an Elven curved blade or a spiked chain, which are d8 weapons, while Vanderhuge gets a d12 greatsword or maul. If we assume that both characters are duelists, the damage difference is slightly less than 15%. A d8 longsword is much closer to the d6 rapier. In fact, that difference gets steadily closer to 14% as they approach level 20 and the modifier accounts for less of the overall damage.

So, again, is 14.5% extra damage worth all the penalties Bolt is receiving from his armor? That is the measure of balance between strength-based and dexterity-based Fighters.

Edit: Just to make clear, those percentages are based on the example submitted above, which assumes dex-to-damage is present. That scenario represents the new balance which is being proposed.

Assuming both fighters are duelists is the most favorable example against Speedchunk, but that could just as easily go the other way (in fact, a strictly RAW reading of Finesse Striker says two-handed finesse weapons like the elven curve blade or spiked chain are not compatible). A d6 finesse weapon vs a d12 two-hander yields... Oh. Coyler's math undershot things. I'll demonstrate how in a bit. But first I'll express things by the metric we've been using.

Level 1:
Dex (Rapier, d6 (average 3.5) damage, deadly d8 (average 4.5)):
0.5x(3.5+3)+0.05x(7+9+6)=4.35 average damage
Str (Greatsword, d12 (average 6.5) damage): 0.5x(6.5+4)+0.05(13+8)=6.3 average damage
(4.35/6.3)*100 = 69.05%, so a 30.95% increase in damage for the str

Level 20:
Dex (Legendary +5 Rapier, 6d6 (average 21) damage, deadly 3d8 (average 13.5):
0.5x(21+5)+0.05x(42+27+10)=16.95 average damage
Str (Legendary +5 Greatsword, 6d12 (average 39) damage):
0.5x(39+6)+0.05x(78+12)=27 average damage
(16.95/27)*100 = 62.78%, so a 37.22% damage increase

Now, I was going to use the above 30 or 37% damage difference to say that 25% was not misleading and more a reasonable median, but then I looked at the way that math was carried out and realized the math was solid but the framing was inordinately kind to Speedchunk. The percentages are an expression of how much less damage Speedchunk deals, not how much more damage Vanderhuge deals. If we use those same numbers, we get..

d6 Dex vs d8 Str (Level 1):

Spoiler:
Dex (Rapier, d6 (average 3.5) damage, deadly d8 (average 4.5)):
0.5x(3.5+3)+0.05x(7+9+6)=4.35 average damage
Str (longsword d8(average 4.5) damage):
0.5x(4.5+4)+0.05(9+8)=5.1 average damage
(5.1/4.35)*100% = 117.24%, aka Vanderhuge deals 17.24% more damage at this juncture.

d6 Dex vs d8 Str (Level 20):

Spoiler:
Dex (Legendary +5 Rapier, 6d6 (average 21) damage, deadly 3d8 (average 13.5):
0.5x(21+5)+0.05x(42+27+10)=16.95 average damage
Str (Legendary +5 Longsword, 6d8 (average 27) damage):
0.5x(27+6)+0.05x(54+12)=19.8 damage
(19.8/16.95)*100 = 116.81%, so 16.81% more damage from Vanderhuge at this juncture.

That's your best case scenario against Speedchunk. It gets worse.

d6 Dex vs d10 Str (Level 1):

Spoiler:
Dex (Rapier, d6 (average 3.5) damage, deadly d8 (average 4.5)):
0.5x(3.5+3)+0.05x(7+9+6)=4.35 average damage
Str (guisarme d10(average 5.5) damage):
0.5x(5.5+4)+0.05(11+8)=5.7 average damage
(5.7/4.35)*100% = 131.03%, aka Vanderhuge deals 31.03% more damage at this juncture.

d6 Dex vs d10 Str (Level 20):

Spoiler:
Dex (Legendary +5 Rapier, 6d6 (average 21) damage, deadly 3d8 (average 13.5):
0.5x(21+5)+0.05x(42+27+10)=16.95 average damage
Str (Legendary +5 Guisarme, 6d10 (average 33) damage):
0.5x(33+6)+0.05x(66+12)=23.4 damage
(23.4/16.95)*100 = 138.05%, so 38.05% more damage from Vanderhuge at this juncture.

d6 Dex vs d12 Str (Level 1):

Spoiler:
Dex (Rapier, d6 (average 3.5) damage, deadly d8 (average 4.5)):
0.5x(3.5+3)+0.05x(7+9+6)=4.35 average damage
Str (Greatsword, d12 (average 6.5) damage): 0.5x(6.5+4)+0.05(13+8)=6.3 average damage
(6.3/4.35)*100% = 144.83%, aka Vanderhuge deals 44.83% more damage at this juncture.

d6 Dex vs d12 Str (Level 20):

Spoiler:
Dex (Legendary +5 Rapier, 6d6 (average 21) damage, deadly 3d8 (average 13.5):
0.5x(21+5)+0.05x(42+27+10)=16.95 average damage
Str (Legendary +5 Greatsword, 6d12 (average 39) damage):
0.5x(39+6)+0.05x(78+12)=27 average damage
(27/16.95)*100 = 159.29%, so 59.29% more damage from Vanderhuge at this juncture.

Yeah. At the upper end, someone trying to use dexterity to hit and strength to damage who manages to deal 100 damage will watch in impotent horror as their Vanderhuge teammate deals 159 damage in the same circumstances. These are the results you get if you do a strict RAW interpretation of Finesse Striker, and we really need some clarification from Paizo on whether spiked chains and elven curve blades can benefit from it. My guess is that people like the non-analytical nay-sayers in this thread are present in sufficient numbers that the game developers meant "one-handed weapons" when they included the script reading "one-handed weapons" in response to that lot, but I digress. For the sake of the argument, I'll do the numbers versus an elven curve blade, the most damaging of the two-handed finesse weapons. Now, the reason it's arguably more damaging is forceful, which someone asked be included in the damage numbers. Now, all previous calculations were based on single-primary attack per round. If you want to factor full-attacks, there are d10 Forceful weapons that might merit measuring against Speedchunk's d6s and possible d8s.

The following measurements are based on full attacks where the first attack hits on a 10, crits on a 20, the second attack hits on a 15, crits on a 20, and the third attack hits on a 20 and - for the sake of maximizing the Forceful damage on the elven curve blade - still crits on a 20, even though the odds of that in gameplay are quite small. If you follow the math, the third attack will have no normal-hit damage factored in, since the only damage it lands is a crit, which is greater anyway)

Dex d8 vs Str d10 (Level 1)

Spoiler:
Dex (Elven Curve Blade, d8 (average 4.5) damage, forceful (+0/+1/+2) damage, note: an uncommon weapon): 0.5x(4.5+3)+0.25x(4.5+3+1)+0.05(9+6)+0.05(9+6+2)+0.05(9+6+4)=8.43 average damage on a full attack.
Str (guisarme d10(average 5.5) damage):
0.5x(5.5+4)+.25x(5.5+4)+3*0.05x(11+8)=9.98 average damage on a full attack.
(9.98/8.43)*100 = 118.39%, so 18.39% more damage from Vanderhuge at this juncture. Can be alternatively expressed as a (8.43/9.98=) 15.53% damage loss on Speedchunk's part as the price paid for the advantages of being Dex-based.

Dex d8 vs Str d10 (Level 20)
Dex (Legendary +5 Elven Curve Blade, 6d8 (average 27) damage, forceful (+0/+6/+12), note: an uncommon weapon):
0.5x(27+5)+0.25x(27+5+6)+0.05x(54+10)+0.05x(54+10+12)+0.05x(54+10+24) = 36.9 average damage on a full attack.
Str (Legendary +5 Guisarme, 6d10 (average 33) damage):
0.5x(33+6)+.25x(33+6)+3*0.05x(66+12) = 40.95 damage on a full attack
(40.95/36.9)*100 = 110.98%, so 10.98% more damage from Vanderhuge at this juncture. Can be alternatively expressed as a 9.01% damage loss on Speedchunk's part as the price paid for the advantages of being Dex-based.[/spoiler]

So the Forceful trait can work to close the gap in the later game but still falls short of being worth a whole die step of damage. In the early game it's outright worse than Deadly. This comparison is versus a d10 weapon with no effects to boost to-hit or damage further. If we run it versus a Forceful d10 weapon like, say, the Falchion...

Dex d8 vs Str d10 (Level 1)

Spoiler:
Dex (Elven Curve Blade, d8 (average 4.5) damage, forceful (+0/+1/+2) damage, note: an uncommon weapon): 0.5x(4.5+3)+0.25x(4.5+3+1)+0.05(9+6)+0.05(9+6+2)+0.05(9+6+4)=8.43 average damage on a full attack.
Str (Falchion, d10(average 5.5) damage, forceful +0/+1/+2)):
0.5x(5.5+4)+.25x(5.5+4+1)+*0.05x(11+8)+.05x(11+8+2)+.05x(11+8+4)=10.53 average damage on a full attack.
(10.53/8.43)*100 = 124.91%, so 24.91% more damage from Vanderhuge at this juncture. Can be alternatively expressed as a 19.94% damage loss on Speedchunk's part as the price paid for the advantages of being Dex-based.

Dex d8 vs Str d10 (Level 20)

Spoiler:
Dex (Legendary +5 Elven Curve Blade, 6d8 (average 27) damage, forceful (+0/+6/+12), note: an uncommon weapon):
0.5x(27+5)+0.25x(27+5+6)+0.05x(54+10)+0.05x(54+10+12)+0.05x(54+10+24) = 36.9 average damage on a full attack.
Str (Legendary +5 Falchion, 6d10 (average 33) damage, forceful(+0/+6/+12)):
0.5x(33+6)+.25x(33+6+6)+0.05x(66+12)+0.05x(66+12+12)+0.05x(66+12+24) = 44.25 damage on a full attack
(44.25/36.9)*100 = 119.92%, so 19.92% more damage from Vanderhuge at this juncture. Can be alternatively expressed as a 16.61% damage loss on Speedchunk's part as the price paid for the advantages of being Dex-based.

Forceful being more useful for the curveblade is to be expected; it's a flat damage bonus that doesn't care about base weapon die size, so percentage-wise it's a larger boost to damage. Versus a d12, of which there are no damage-boosted weapons...

Dex d8 vs Str d12 (Level 1)

Spoiler:
Dex (Elven Curve Blade, d8 (average 4.5) damage, forceful (+0/+1/+2) damage, note: an uncommon weapon): 0.5x(4.5+3)+0.25x(4.5+3+1)+0.05x(4.5+3+2)+0.05(9+6)+0.05(9+6+2)+0.05(9+6+4) =8.43 average damage on a full attack.
Str (Greatsword, d12 (average 6.5) damage): 0.75x(6.5+4)+3*0.05(13+8)=11.03 average damage on a full attack.
(11.03/8.43)*100 = 130.84%, so 30.84% more damage from Vanderhuge at this juncture. Can be alternatively expressed as a 23.57% damage loss on Speedchunk's part as the price paid for the advantages of being Dex-based.

Dex d8 vs Str d12 (Level 20)

Spoiler:
Dex (Legendary +5 Elven Curve Blade, 6d8 (average 27) damage, forceful (+0/+6/+12), note: an uncommon weapon):
0.5x(27+5)+0.25x(27+5+6)+0.05x(54+10)+0.05x(54+10+12)+0.05x(54+10+24) = 36.9 average damage on a full attack.
Str (Legendary +5 Greatsword, 6d12 (average 39) damage):
0.5x(39+6)+0.25x(39+6)+3*0.05x(78+12)=47.25 average damage on a full attack.
(47.25/36.9)*100 = 128.05%, so 28.05% more damage from Vanderhuge at this juncture. Can be alternatively expressed as a 21.9% damage loss on Speedchunk's part as the price paid for the advantages of being Dex-based.

It does possess some relevance, but still is not a serious gap-closer like some seemed to think it could be.

Now for a bit of relevance. None of this math so far has assumed a character has an applicable Finesse Striker ability. All of this is system-current. Everything that you have read so far has been under the assumption Vanderhuge is running a 22 Str, 12 Dex build, whereas Speedchunk has been running a 22 Dex, 20 Str build. See the problem already? Speedchunk is running behind by five ability boosts when forced to use Str for damage. Allowing Dexterity to Damage brings these evenly in line. The one ability boost spent by Vanderhuge on Dexterity that Speedchunk gets to not spend on Strength will likely be spent on Charisma to offset the Bag of Holding Speedchunk will invariably need.

Now, some of you will no doubt have a knee-jerk response along the lines of "But if you allowed Dexterity to Damage, all those numbers change and the gap shrinks, and posting them first is misleading." To which I say that yes, the numbers change, albeit much less in Speedchunk's favor than you all no doubt expect, and posting these numbers first was important for establishing what leaving the system as-is looks like. So, how do things change if we actually allow Finesse Striker on anybody using a Finesse weapon (even if a feat must be spent for it), aka what does a Finesse Striker rogue's damage look like when they can't sneak-attack?

d6 Finesse Striker vs d8 (Level 1)

Spoiler:
Dex (Rapier, d6 (average 3.5) damage, deadly d8 (average 4.5)):
0.5x(3.5+4)+0.05x(7+9+8)= vs. 4.95 average damage
vs. 4.35 average damage without Finesse Striker
Str (longsword d8(average 4.5) damage):
0.5x(4.5+4)+0.05(9+8)=5.1 average damage
(5.1/4.95)*100% = 103.03%, aka Vanderhuge deals 3.03% more damage at this juncture. Can be alternatively expressed as a (4.95/5.1=) 2.94% damage loss on Speedchunk's part as the price paid for the advantages of having Finesse Striker.
This improves on the previous ratios of 17.24% and 14.71%, respectively.

d6 Finesse Striker vs d8 (Level 20)

Spoiler:
Dex (Legendary +5 Rapier, 6d6 (average 21) damage, deadly 3d8 (average 13.5):
0.5x(21+6)+0.05x(42+27+12)= 17.55 average damage
vs. 16.95 average damage without Finesse Striker
Str (Legendary +5 Longsword, 6d8 (average 27) damage):
0.5x(27+6)+0.05x(54+12)=19.8 damage
(19.8/17.55)*100 = 112.82%, so 12.82% more damage from Vanderhuge at this juncture. Can be alternatively expressed as a 11.36% damage loss on Speedchunk's part as the price paid for the advantages of having Finesse Striker.
This improves on the previous ratios of 16.81% and 14.39%, respectively.

d8 Finesse Striker vs d12 (Level 1)

Spoiler:
Dex (Elven Curve Blade, d8 (average 4.5) damage, note: an uncommon weapon): 0.5x(4.5+4)+0.05(9+8)=5.1 average damage
vs. 4.5 average damage without Finesse Striker
Str (Greatsword, d12 (average 6.5) damage): 0.5x(6.5+4)+0.05(13+8)=6.3 average damage
(6.3/5.1)*100% = 123.53%, aka Vanderhuge deals 23.53% more damage at this juncture. Can be alternatively expressed as a 19.05% damage loss on Speedchunk's part as the price paid for the advantages of having Finesse Striker.
This improves on the previous ratios of 40.0% and 28.57%, respectively.

d8 Finesse Striker vs d12 (Level 20)

Spoiler:
Dex (Legendary +5 Elven Curve Blade, 6d8 (average 27) damage):
0.5x(27+6)+0.05x(54+12)=19.8 average damage
vs. 19.2 average damage without Finesse Striker
Str (Legendary +5 Greatsword, 6d12 (average 39) damage):
0.5x(39+6)+0.05x(78+12)=27 average damage
(27/19.8)*100 = 136.36%, so 36.36% more damage from Vanderhuge at this juncture. Can be alternatively expressed as a 26.67% damage loss on Speedchunk's part as the price paid for the advantages of having Finesse Striker.
This improves on the previous ratios of 40.62% and 28.89%, respectively.

d8 Finesse Striker, Forceful vs d12 (Level 1 - Full Attack)

Spoiler:
Dex (Elven Curve Blade, d8 (average 4.5) damage, forceful (+0/+1/+2) damage, note: an uncommon weapon): 0.5x(4.5+4)+0.25x(4.5+4+1)+0.05(9+8)+0.05(9+8+2)+0.05(9+8+4)= 9.48 average damage on a full attack
vs. 8.43 average damage without Finesse Striker.
Str (Greatsword, d12 (average 6.5) damage): 0.75x(6.5+4)+3*0.05(13+8)=11.03 average damage on a full attack.
(11.03/9.48)*100 = 116.35%, so 16.35% more damage from Vanderhuge at this juncture. Can be alternatively expressed as a 14.05% damage loss on Speedchunk's part as the price paid for the advantages of having Finesse Striker.
This improves on the previous ratios of 30.84% and 23.57%, respectively.

d8 Finesse Striker, Forceful vs d12 (Level 20 - Full Attack)

Spoiler:
Dex (Legendary +5 Elven Curve Blade, 6d8 (average 27) damage, forceful (+0/+6/+12), note: an uncommon weapon):
0.5x(27+6)+0.25x(27+6+6)+0.05x(54+12)+0.05x(54+12+12)+0.05x(54+12+24) = 37.95 average damage on a full attack
vs 36.9 average damage without Finesse Striker.
Str (Legendary +5 Greatsword, 6d12 (average 39) damage):
0.5x(39+6)+0.25x(39+6)+3*0.05x(78+12)=47.25 average damage on a full attack.
(47.25/37.95)*100 = 124.51%, so 24.51% more damage from Vanderhuge at this juncture. Can be alternatively expressed as a 19.68% damage loss on Speedchunk's part as the price paid for the advantages of having Finesse Striker.
This improves on the previous ratios of 28.05% and 21.9%, respectively.

So, what do we learn? Mostly nothing that really comes as a surprise to proponents of Dexterity to Damage. The attribute bonus matters most at level 1 and is largely insignificant by level 20 if you go by percentages. By the raw numbers, it's not worth a full point of damage ever, and a full attack sees it come out to only a single extra point of damage regardless of level. Moreover, even at level 1, when you're talking about a comparison between two one-handed weapons, Dexterity to Damage never outshines Vanderhuge, whose d8 still edges out the d6 with deadly rapier. It comes awfully close though at only a 3% difference and since my thesis here is not that Dexterity should be on par with Strength in terms of damage, but merely a feasible alternative for the sake of relative character concepts, we come back to my suggestion to make it a general feat at 3rd level. That's right around when weapons start getting magical, which means higher weapon damage dice favored by Vanderhuge get another step up, so the boost Speedchunk gets as a result returns to not coming anywhere close to edging out Vanderhuge. It also puts Speedchunk down a general feat, which should put at ease some of those more squeamish about the whole thing.

So, if Dexterity to Damage matters so little over just using Strength, why push for it? The answer lies in the ability boosts. My first set of examples, where Speedchunk uses Strength for damage? As previously pointed out, down five ability boosts versus Vanderhuge to get there, and down on damage. I'm fine with Speedchunk being down on damage, have never advocated otherwise. However, the same people who will bemoan endlessly that a Dex to Damage Speedchunk will have little need for Strength see no issue with Vanderhuge having an extra five ability boosts to their name on top of dealing better damage. Now, you can say that a Vanderhuge generally must put at least one ability boost into Dexterity to benefit from the maximum Dexterity allowed by heavy armor, and this puts him down an ability boost versus a Speedchunk who leaves Strength at 10, and thus Speedchunk with Dex to Damage gains a net of one ability boost. However, this is leaving aside one of the two big strengths of... Well, of Strength. Putting Athletics checks aside - which are incredibly important - Bulk is actually fairly important, and much more limiting when enforced than weight ever was in PF1, at least in my experience. To that end, a Speedchunk who has Dexterity to Damage is almost going to have a mandatory need to pick up a Bag of Holding or equivalent. If they don't want to be down a Resonance Point comparatively, Speedchunk will need to put that extra ability boost into Charisma. Thus, I'd posit that without Finesse Striker Speedchunk is down 5 ability boosts - or Vanderhuge is up 5, however you prefer to think of it - and with Finesse Striker available to all you end up with a more or less even playing field on the ability boost front at net 0 ability boosts either way, and that's putting aside the importance of Athletics checks which would make Speedchunk likely unwise to ignore Strength completely, but such a thing would be a choice as opposed to a requirement, which brings me to my next point.

Allowing Finesse Striker for All opens up some interesting choices both mechanically and from a conceptual standpoint. We've already talked about Vanderhuge and Speedchunk - and those are very amusing names, thank you, BerserkOne - but there's a third some people have brought up: the pinnacle of physical perfection archetype that deliberately chooses to boast an 18 or higher in both Strength and Dexterity. Now, to me, that choice of stat spread says "medium armor, str-based attacking, enjoy a nice middle-ground of both worlds". The concept definitely has its place, but the second note is the part that's especially relevant: a few posters here have pointed out it's easy to have an 18 in Strength and Dexterity by level 10, and they aren't wrong, the system is generous with ability boosts, effectively giving out 16 of them across the scope of the game post level 1. However, these same people making that observation in opposition to Finesse Striker for All do so under the impression that a character with roughly equal levels of Strength and Dexterity will for some reason elect to use a Finesse weapon, and my running the numbers above serve as more than adequate demonstration that unless a character has a considerably higher Dexterity for attack roll bonuses, there is no real incentive to do so. There are solid reasons to push Strength and Dexterity to 18, but Finesse weapons neither are nor should be a reason to do so. Allowing Finesse Striker as a feat enables player choice to favor Strength, Dexterity, or both, and have any of them be viable in their own way.

Now to those who claim that Dexterity to Damage is not realistic: you're right, a certain amount of jumping through logic hoops is required to make it make sense, but the same can be said of using Strength for attack rolls, but nobody has a problem with those. Would you be upset by a proposal that all attack rolls be based on Dexterity, but all damage rolls be derived from Strength? If your answer is no, then fair enough, but be advised that in most systems that stick to such a metric, Strength becomes the dump stat between the two, and I'm not advocating for killing the concept of Strength-based characters, as they're as ubiquitous in media as more agile characters are, if not more so. Now, imagine for the sake of this thought exercise that the system actually were Dex to attack, Str to damage. I'm sure people would say “But brute strength characters can smash their way through defenses, strength to attack rolls should be a thing,” at which point let's say the system responded with “Okay, Barbarians can use Strength for attack rolls.” Then somebody said “allow this for everyone” and ran the numbers, finding it doesn't break the system because of the lost benefits of Dexterity. They backed this up by citing a desire to allow Strength-based characters that don't fly into a rage or shirk civilization. Further argumentation in their favor is that alternatives to the class feature allowing Barbarians to use Strength for attack rolls were promptly released. Is that person being a dirty min-maxer, or just trying to increase the diversity of viable character concepts that can be played in the game? I know that in my case, in arguing for Dexterity to Damage, it's the latter, full stop. If it were about optimizing, I'd only play Strength-based characters, and I'd only tell my players to play Strength-based characters, especially since Rogues are now also in the boat for being able to ignore Finesse weapons. I maintain that Finesse Striker for All does not break the system, and that most of the actual issues people have with it stem not from Dexterity to Damage but with current-system issues with heavy armor and PF1 anecdotes they think revolve around Dexterity to Damage but much more frequently revolved around damage bonuses like level or half-level to damage which currently do not and should not exist in PF2.

TL;DR: Allow access to Finesse Striker as a 3rd level general feat and make heavy armor more appealing.


Malkyn wrote:

Goodness. I'm reminded why I gave up forum roleplaying, less free time for posting these days than I used to have. Been spacing working on this reply out over several days. Not going to get to everyone. Apologies to those I do not specifically reply to. Look for bolded text if you just want to skim, will include a very rough TL;DR at the end.

*Omitted wall of text*

TL;DR: Allow access to Finesse Striker as a 3rd level general feat and make heavy armor more appealing.

I still don't want to see dex to damage (except for specific class features like the rogue or maybe a swashbuckler character later on) and overall the math of the weapon damage fails to really convince me that making str a bigger dump stat isn't a problem.

An issue I had with the math overall is that the damage comparison between Rapier and other weapons are all on the to-hit percentage that benefits the rapier the least at first level, but you did give deadly an extra boost by doubling the deadly dice on crits (it doesn't double). At first level the damage output of d8 over a rapier is 97,1% to 123,6% based on the to-hit.

Not including any property runes makes the difference in percentage seem larger at level 20 than it ought to be, so I think that would be a more fair comparison. However rapiers does fall quite behind d8 weapons due to damage dice and how deadly works. One changes that could help the rapier even the damage output a bit at level 20 would be to let deadly scale with potency instead of weapon quality (why doesn't it do that?). If deadly is changed and 3 properties with d6 dmg is added to the weapons, the damage difference scales from 90,3 to 113,8 % for the d8 over the rapier.
Elven Curve Blade seems to be a pretty bad weapon unless you are using Forceful with Certain Strike to get some bigger benefits from it, but it's one of the only finesse two-handed weapon which lets it be useful to certain classes (+elf being able to make it a simple weapon for proficiency purposes allowing non martial classes the ability to wield it).


Nettah wrote:

Spoiler:
I still don't want to see dex to damage (except for specific class features like the rogue or maybe a swashbuckler character later on) and overall the math of the weapon damage fails to really convince me that making str a bigger dump stat isn't a problem.

An issue I had with the math overall is that the damage comparison between Rapier and other weapons are all on the to-hit percentage that benefits the rapier the least at first level, but you did give deadly an extra boost by doubling the deadly dice on crits (it doesn't double). At first level the damage output of d8 over a rapier is 97,1% to 123,6% based on the to-hit.

Not including any property runes makes the difference in percentage seem larger at level 20 than it ought to be, so I think that would be a more fair comparison. However rapiers does fall quite behind d8 weapons due to damage dice and how deadly works. One changes that could help the rapier even the damage output a bit at level 20 would be to let deadly scale with potency instead of weapon quality (why doesn't it do that?). If deadly is changed and 3 properties with d6 dmg is added to the weapons, the damage difference scales from 90,3 to 113,8 % for the d8 over the rapier.
Elven Curve Blade seems to be a pretty bad weapon unless you are using Forceful with Certain Strike to get some bigger benefits from it, but it's one of the only finesse two-handed weapon which lets it be useful to certain classes (+elf being able to make it a simple weapon for proficiency purposes allowing non...

The issue with throwing properties and class feats into the mix is that none of them are a guarantee, and the above math is made with only factors that can be strictly guaranteed. If you start allowing situational factors your math gets really complicated really fast.

As for the accuracy point chosen, I'm not sure it will make a huge difference, especially since it turns out I was factoring Deadly wrong (which makes sense in retrospect, since it only activates on a crit). But I'll do an analysis of level 1 and 20 in which a hit is achieved on a 5 (50%) and a crit on a 15 (30%). Playtesting had that degree of hit chance be fairly rare even on primary attacks, but for the sake of the argument I'll allow it. Assuming Finesse Striker is in play we get...

d6 Finesse Striker vs d8 Str (Level 1):

Spoiler:
Dex (Rapier, d6 (average 3.5) damage, deadly d8 (average 4.5)):
0.5x(3.5+4)+0.3x(7+4.5+8)=9.6 average damage
Str (longsword d8(average 4.5) damage):
0.5x(4.5+4)+0.3x(9+8)=9.85 average damage
(9.85/9.6)*100% = 102.6%, aka Vanderhuge deals 2.6% more damage at this juncture. Can be alternatively expressed as a (9.6/9.85=) 2.54% damage loss on Speedchunk's part as the price paid for the advantages of having Finesse Striker.
This improves on the previous ratios of 3.03% and 2.94%, respectively.

d6 Finesse Striker vs d8 Str (Level 20):

Spoiler:
Dex (Legendary +5 Rapier, 6d6 (average 21) damage, deadly 3d8 (average 13.5):
0.5x(21+6)+0.3x(42+13.5+12)= 33.75 average damage
Str (Legendary +5 Longsword, 6d8 (average 27) damage):
0.5x(27+6)+0.3x(54+12)=36.3 average damage
(36.3/33.75)*100 = 107.56%, so 7.56% more damage from Vanderhuge at this juncture. Can be alternatively expressed as a 7.02% damage loss on Speedchunk's part as the price paid for the advantages of having Finesse Striker.
This improves on the previous ratios of 12.82% and 11.36%, respectively.

My "improves on" ratios are almost certainly off due to learning all my math on the deadly was benefiting from doubling it when it shouldn't be getting that. Which is alarming, because even taking the crit chance to a very nice place for the rapier, it still doesn't make up the difference in die size. This is without factoring that going the other way - only a 15+ hits - probably skews things against Speedchunk, or that a strict RAW reading makes it clear Finesse Striker doesn't work with two-handed Finesse weapons. The actual median measurement for comparison is probably the d6 vs the d10. But I digress. I ran some more math, and I think a real issue now to be addressed has to be potency. I appreciate the idea of making damage dice have as much/more impact than solid modifiers, but they have gone a smidge too far, methinks. I ran a Finesse Striking d8 vs a d12 with no damage modifier, just a +5 potency and got...

Dex d8 Finesse Striker

Spoiler:
(Legendary +5 Elven Curve Blade, 6d8 (average 27) damage, forceful (+0/+6/+12), note: an uncommon weapon):
0.5x(27+6)+0.25x(27+6+6)+0.05x(54+12)+0.05x(54+12+12)+0.05x(54+12+24) = 37.95 average damage on a full attack
vs 36.9 average damage without Finesse Striker.

vs.

A d12, no attr mod

Spoiler:
(Legendary +5 Greatsword, 6d12 (average 39) damage):
0.75x(39)+3*0.05x(78+12)=29.25 +13.5 = 42.75 average damage on a full attack
vs.
47.25 average damage on a full attack benefiting from Strength.

42.75/37.95 = 12.65% more damage for an attribute-less d12 late-game weapon than a Finesse Striker using a weapon of dubious RAI legality. While this does further illustrate that Finesse Striker for all wouldn't be a problem, it does highlight a further issue: potency right now is so... potent... that it completely overrides any other choice regarding weaponry damage.


Malkyn wrote:
...

In response to your analysis of Vanderhuge and Speedchunk, I will say that I don’t think you can really separate armor out of this discussion. The point of creating a Strength-based character is primarily melee combat, and for that you will need AC. That has to come from some combination of armor and Dexterity. As I said previously, it’s a good bet armor is as penalizing as it is on purpose, and that even if those penalties are reduced it will still be the case that lighter armor and more Dexterity will be superior to heavier armor. The tradeoff for not increasing Strength is less melee viability and the tradeoff for not increasing Dexterity is more armor penalties, and the relative value of those two tradeoffs is the measure of balance. I think just about everyone agrees that the armor penalty side of that equation is too severe in a general sense, but more specificity is required in order to make a judgement on how that tradeoff would be balanced under a regime where Dexterity was allowed to further encroach on the territory of Strength.

Building on that notion, if there were to be a dex-to-damage mechanic in the game, there would still have to be sufficient reason to invest in Strength for a character like Speedchunk. You’ve suggested that carrying capacity and Athletics checks alone are sufficient, and I respectfully do not agree. I don’t think many others will either. In fact, if we are to include Athletics in our comparison, then we must also include Acrobatics, Stealth, and Thievery, and that only further complicates the equation. And if we refrain from considering Athletics, then that only leaves carrying capacity. There would need to be some other reason to invest in Strength, something beyond what currently exists.

You point out in your damage analysis that I made both Bolt and Punt duelists, and that this is “the most favorable” comparison. In my opinion, it’s the only valid comparison. It’s true that Bolt could wield a two-handed weapon and deal more damage, but this would either be what you called “switch hitting”, or would be a different build entirely. Comparing a duelist and a great-weapon user is another apples-to-oranges scenario. Your own math bears this out. Just compare Bolt Vanderhuge with his long-time friend Dirk Hardpeck:

Bolt Vanderhuge (level 20)
Str (Legendary +5 Longsword, 6d8 (average 27) damage):
0.5x(27+6)+0.25x(27+6)+3*0.05x(54+12)=34.65 damage

Dirk Hardpeck (level 20)
Str (Legendary +5 Greatsword, 6d12 (average 39) damage):
0.5x(39+6)+0.25x(39+6)+3*0.05x(78+12)=47.25

(47.25/34.65)*100 = 136.36%, so 36.36% more damage from the greatsword, or a 26.67% damage reduction for playing as a duelist. To reiterate, these two have the same stats. That is the tradeoff for choosing one build over the other, which is presumably compensated by the other advantages granted to the duelist. You could argue whether or not those other advantages are of equal value to the lost damage, but that argument has nothing to do with Dexterity.

I should note here that I’m using the term “duelist” to refer to a combatant with a one-handed weapon, regardless of whether the other hand is free or holding a shield. The math remains consistent for both the true duelist and the sword-and-board character, and both paths are equally available to Bolt and Punt. On that note, let’s take a moment to revisit the original Vanderhuge/Speedchunk duelist comparison using the updated math that’s been provided.

Bolt Vanderhuge (level 20, same as above)
Str (Legendary +5 Longsword, 6d8 (average 27) damage):
0.5x(27+6)+0.25x(27+6)+3*0.05x(54+12)=34.65 damage

Punt Speedchunk (level 20)
Dex (Legendary +5 Rapier, 6d6 (average 21) damage, deadly 3d8 (average 13.5):
0.5x(21+0)+0.25x(21+0)+3*0.05x(42+0+13.5)= 24.08 damage

(34.65/24.08)*100 = 143.93%, so 43.93% more damage for Bolt, or a 30.52% damage reduction for Punt. This is considering that Punt has no Strength investment at all, but it’s likely that Bolt has at least 14 Dexterity in order to get down to half-plate armor. What if Punt had a similar investment in Strength?

Punt Speedchunk (level 20)
Dex (Legendary +5 Rapier, 6d6 (average 21) damage, deadly 3d8 (average 13.5):
0.5x(21+2)+0.25x(21+2)+3*0.05x(42+4+13.5)= 26.18 damage

(34.65/26.18)*100 = 132.38%, so 32.38% more damage for Bolt, or a 24.46% damage reduction for Punt. It’s striking (haha!) how close that difference is to the earlier comparison between Bolt and Dirk, isn’t it? Dirk is the unquestionable king of damage output, Bolt is a tier below with a ~25% damage reduction for using a one-handed weapon, and Punt is a tier below Bolt with another ~25% damage reduction for minimal Strength investment. I don’t think the symmetry of that math is coincidental.

With the math aside, I have to say that I find the “diversity of viable character concepts” argument uncompelling. Just because a concept exists doesn’t mean it fits, unaltered, into a game where different types of characters have to be balanced against one another. Many popular concepts are drawn from stories where they are intended to be “the main character” or else are deliberately better than other characters in order to fulfill some narrative purpose. What is Batman’s dump stat?

Let me illustrate this by presenting a different concept for your consideration. Classical Eastern literature occasionally presents an archetype of a “monk” who is heftily built and brutally strong. This archetype doesn’t work in Pathfinder 2E because low Dexterity on a monk would cripple that character’s AC. Should we add a str-to-AC feat? After all, this is a game based on a pseudo-medieval setting. The agile duelist concept is a bit anachronistic, but the hefty monk concept is actually attested in period literature. Surely it deserves to be viable, if the former does?


Popping in to say that Athletics can be Dex-based when used with a Finesse weapon in a combat maneuver. Thus a Dex fighter can be just as good as a Str fighter at combat maneuver. This was said in the FB group early on, I believe it was Settner.


Sorry for not getting back to this sooner. Lost my taste for it when I learned the extent to which the playtest is a playtest. The final product could see my concern here moot, or it could finalize that an entire class of character concepts are just going to be dead.

For the record, what they did to Monk was abysmal. I'm in favor of all concepts being viable, especially when the system we've seen looks like it could work toward that fairly well. The decision to remove Wisdom (or at least any secondary attribute) from AC is yet another example of way too many systems going out of their way to treat unarmed combatants as red-headed step children. Interesting potential balance point with them and allowing Dex to Damage: what if Monks got to add Strength to AC? Blocking with one's body is a thing, after all. I'd have to run numbers to suggest an actual balance point, but I'm not going to because it's clear all of my work here is meaningless. Though I consider your point about anachronism bizarre and misguided when we consider this to be a setting with pirates, robots, and aliens, in addition to standard western fantasy fare.

Starfox wrote:
Popping in to say that Athletics can be Dex-based when used with a Finesse weapon in a combat maneuver. Thus a Dex fighter can be just as good as a Str fighter at combat maneuver. This was said in the FB group early on, I believe it was Settner.

And if that's the case, that really needed to make it into the book or an errata, as it weighs in on this quite a bit. As it stands, without a link, I'm not unsure you're not accidentally referring to PF1's Unchained skill rules.


Malkyn wrote:

Sorry for not getting back to this sooner. Lost my taste for it when I learned the extent to which the playtest is a playtest. The final product could see my concern here moot, or it could finalize that an entire class of character concepts are just going to be dead.

For the record, what they did to Monk was abysmal. I'm in favor of all concepts being viable, especially when the system we've seen looks like it could work toward that fairly well. The decision to remove Wisdom (or at least any secondary attribute) from AC is yet another example of way too many systems going out of their way to treat unarmed combatants as red-headed step children. Interesting potential balance point with them and allowing Dex to Damage: what if Monks got to add Strength to AC? Blocking with one's body is a thing, after all. I'd have to run numbers to suggest an actual balance point, but I'm not going to because it's clear all of my work here is meaningless. Though I consider your point about anachronism bizarre and misguided when we consider this to be a setting with pirates, robots, and aliens, in addition to standard western fantasy fare.

Starfox wrote:
Popping in to say that Athletics can be Dex-based when used with a Finesse weapon in a combat maneuver. Thus a Dex fighter can be just as good as a Str fighter at combat maneuver. This was said in the FB group early on, I believe it was Settner.
And if that's the case, that really needed to make it into the book or an errata, as it weighs in on this quite a bit. As it stands, without a link, I'm not unsure you're not accidentally referring to PF1's Unchained skill rules.

I can second this, I don't recall exactly where it was but it was on Twitter by a PF2 dev. Someone linked it to me on another thread where I mentioned this topic but I forget which. I think it was one debating if d4 weapons could be useful when we have d12 weapons.


Edge93 wrote:
I think it was one debating if d4 weapons could be useful when we have d12 weapons.

Based on my results, I can answer that handily: a d8 Finesse Striker deals less damage than a d12 with no ability modifier. The potency dice are a little too crazy.

But huh. With two people claiming that's a thing elsewhere, maybe it really does follow through, in which case I have to ask why they'd knee-cap Strength's biggest non-damage strength. I didn't want Dex to be on equal footing there, I just didn't want agile character archetypes to be down five ability boosts just for their concept.


I checked, and I don't see any reference to that in the Playtest. Things like Trip say they add their item bonus to the Athletics check, and Finesse notes that it applies to attack rolls with the weapon.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Trip is an attack roll. It has the attack trait. Therefore Finesse lets you add dex to trip attacks.

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