Vestigial Arms + 2 Two-Handed Weapons + Two-Weapon Fighting + Power Attack = ???


Rules Questions


So I’m building a new Mutation Warrior when I notice the Vestigial Arms discovery. Immediately I think, “Oh boy, dual greatswords!” until I realized the math that might entail. Offhand power attacks have the strength modifier on damage halved, but power attacks also mentions upping the strength modifier by half when wielding two-handed weapons. Do these modifiers cancel each other out or is there some additional math involved?

Also, if Double Slice is added into the picture, does that simply mean I do a regular power attack or, again, is there more math involved?

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
FAQ wrote:

Alchemist, Tentacle/Vestigial Arm: What does "extra attacks" mean for these discoveries?

It means "extra," as in "more than you would be able to make if you didn't have that discovery."

For example, if you're low-level alchemist who uses two-weapon fighting, you can normally make two attacks per round (one with each weapon). If you take the tentacle discovery, on your turn you can make
* two weapon attacks but no tentacle attack,
* a weapon attack with your left hand plus a secondary tentacle attack, or
* a weapon attack with your right hand plus a secondary tentacle attack.
At no time can you make a left hand weapon attack, a right hand weapon attack, and a tentacle attack on the same turn because the tentacle discovery says it "does not give the alchemist any extra attacks or actions per round." This language is calling out that the tentacle is not a standard natural weapon and doesn't follow the standard rules for using natural weapons (which would normally allow you to make the natural weapon attack in addition to your other attacks).

Likewise, if you instead took the vestigial arm discovery and put a weapon in that arm's hand, on your turn you can make
* a weapon attack with your left hand and one with your right hand,
* a weapon attack with your right hand and one with your vestigial arm, or
* a weapon attack with your left hand and one with your vestigial arm,
At no time can you make a left hand weapon attack, a right hand weapon attack, and a vestigial hand weapon attack on the same turn because the vestigial arm discovery says it "does not give the alchemist any extra attacks or actions per round."
The exact same restrictions would apply if your race had claws or you had some other ability to add claws to your limbs: the text of both discoveries says they do not give you any extra attacks per round, whether used as natural weapons, wielding manufactured weapons, or adding natural weapons to a limb that didn't originally have natural weapons.

Remember that these two discoveries do not have any level requirements, and therefore are not especially powerful; permanently adding additional attacks per round is beyond the scope of a discovery available to 2nd-level alchemists.

From some Dev comment about that FAQ, 2 2-handed weapons attacks are "more than you would be able to make if you didn't have that discovery."


But it’s not adding more attacks, it’s just being used to increase the grade of weapons that you can use with TWF. So it’d be using your right hand and right vestigial hand to wield one greatsword while using your left hand and left vestigial hand to wield another greatsword.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Doesn't work. You have two hands worth of attacks, and a two handed weapon takes up both of them.


Diego's right about the developer comment (tho' I can't remember where it was either) and the vestigial arm mechanics look to be that you can't use it to gain extra hands to attack with. You get another hand for utility or defence.


I understand now. Thank you for the clarification.


Even if you could 2 weapon fight with one of your weapons being a Greatsword or something, remember that you'd suffer some pretty big penalties if your off-hand weapon weren't Light.

I agree with Diego. I've been down this road before, and would have given you the same advice had he not beaten me to it.

You could wield a Greatsword in 2 of your hands and use a Shield in one of your Vestigial Arms. You would still get the AC bonus of the Shield, but you couldn't Full Attack with both the Greatsword and Shield Bash.

Even if you didn't have any extra arms, you could fight with Sword, Shield, and Armor Spikes, 2 weapon fighting with the sword and armor spikes while enjoying the AC bonus of the Shield.

You could fight with different weapons in each hand and have a choice as to which 2 you use in a round, using your Lucerne hammer to set and receive charges and your Light Flail to Trip and Disarm them with, while using a Shield in your 4th hand or something, maybe take Shield Slam to Bull Rush them back to within Range of your 'Hammer.

But Full Attacking with 2 Greatswords with your Vestigial Arms? Sorry, no.

There might be ways to do something like that using 3.5 and/or 3rd party materials. I think I know of some such ways.


WatersLethe wrote:
Doesn't work. You have two hands worth of attacks, and a two handed weapon takes up both of them.

You have two attacks, the exact same number you would have using longswords one-handed in each hand.

And you literally have four hands, if you want to evoke the ill-defined hands of effort, which has no bearing on actual number of attacks made.


Volkard Abendroth wrote:
WatersLethe wrote:
Doesn't work. You have two hands worth of attacks, and a two handed weapon takes up both of them.

You have two attacks, the exact same number you would have using longswords one-handed in each hand.

And you literally have four hands, if you want to evoke the ill-defined hands of effort, which has no bearing on actual number of attacks made.

This is about the famous "hands of effort ruling".

A regular character has two hands of effort that they can use.

A two-handed weapon takes both. Two one handed weapons take both.

You cannot with Vestigial Arms, use two two-handed weapons (four hands of effort) or four one handed weapons at once. You can hold two two-handed weapon or four one-handed weapons. But in a given round you could only attack with what you could normally attack with.

Vestigial arms basically allows you to hold extra stuff, but doesn't let you use more "hands of effort" than you otherwise could without Vestigial Arms.


Here's the SKR post on the huge thread about this.


In short, if you think you've come up with something clever to do with Vestigial Arms the response is probably that it's against the rules.


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willuwontu wrote:
Here's the SKR post on the huge thread about this.

This thread convinces me that a character should be able to dual wield two, two-handed weapons since it doesn't result in the character making more attacks then they might normally be able to make. The difference between a 2 armed character dual wielding two one handed swords and that same character dual wielding 2 two-handed swords is that the damage of the weapon is better. This is identical to the example in the quoted thread where it talks about a 2 armed tengu vs a 4 armed tengu. In that example, the tengu is allowed to use two manufactured weapons instead of 2 unarmed strikes. Instead of making two attacks that provoke an AoO and deal 1d3 non-lethal dmg. The tengu is allowed to make 2 shortsword attacks instead which don't provoke and deal 1d6 lethal dmg. This is effectively 2 size increases (d3->d4->d6) which is better then going from a normal 1-handed weapon to a normal 2-handed weapon.

This thread indicates that the only thing you need to pay attention to is how many attacks you're getting. Even if the quality of the attack is a substantial upgrade its fine so long as the number of attacks you're making is the same.


LordKailas wrote:
This thread indicates that the only thing you need to pay attention to is how many attacks you're getting. Even if the quality of the attack is a substantial upgrade its fine so long as the number of attacks you're making is the same.

Incorrect, this is covered somewhere in there (I hate going through that thread though, so you'll have to find it on your own), but if you have 2 arms, wield a two-handed weapon and get 1 attack, when you sprout 2 extra arms from vestigial arm, you're still only allowed a single attack while wielding a two-handed weapon. Otherwise you'd be gaining more attacks, which vestigial arms explicitly prevents.


What if they were bastard swords? Then you could dual wield them with just two hands, but using them 2 handed makes the proficiency easier and allows for extra strength damage.


Melkiador wrote:
What if they were bastard swords? Then you could dual wield them with just two hands, but using them 2 handed makes the proficiency easier and allows for extra strength damage.

If you could get the same number of attacks on a character with 2 hands when wielding them in the same manner, then yes. Otherwise, no.


willuwontu wrote:
LordKailas wrote:
This thread indicates that the only thing you need to pay attention to is how many attacks you're getting. Even if the quality of the attack is a substantial upgrade its fine so long as the number of attacks you're making is the same.
Incorrect, this is covered somewhere in there (I hate going through that thread though, so you'll have to find it on your own), but if you have 2 arms, wield a two-handed weapon and get 1 attack, when you sprout 2 extra arms from vestigial arm, you're still only allowed a single attack while wielding a two-handed weapon. Otherwise you'd be gaining more attacks, which vestigial arms explicitly prevents.

I will look. But this seems contrary to the tengu example.

A tengu would not normally be able to wield 2 short swords and make 2 claw attacks. However, with vestigal arms they suddenly can. The only reason they couldn't before is because they didn't have the extra hands required to hold on to said swords without occupying their claws. This seems to be as much a case of the arms giving an "extra attack" as dual wielding 2 two-handed weapons.

If I normally dual wield long swords I get 2 attacks (though at severe penalties even with the appropriate feats). Now, I grow an extra arm and 2 hand one of my long swords, no attacks gained. But it suddenly becomes illegal if I swap the long sword for a greatsword?


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Don't forget that natural attacks don't work the same way as manufactured attacks.

You can always combine natural attacks with manufactured attacks (with the appropriate penalties) if the limb with the natural attack is free.

"Hands of Effort" or "Virtual Hands" only really apply to manufactured attacks and iteratives.

The tengu could already equip a boulder helmet and boot blades and make two manufactured attacks in addition to the claw attacks without the Vestigial Arms.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
LordKailas wrote:


If I normally dual wield long swords I get 2 attacks (though at severe penalties even with the appropriate feats). Now, I grow an extra arm and 2 hand one of my long swords, no attacks gained. But it suddenly becomes illegal if I swap the long sword for a greatsword?

You would not be able to gain any benefit from two-handing your longsword, as that would incorporate an extra virtual hand of effort.


willuwontu wrote:
LordKailas wrote:
This thread indicates that the only thing you need to pay attention to is how many attacks you're getting. Even if the quality of the attack is a substantial upgrade its fine so long as the number of attacks you're making is the same.
Incorrect, this is covered somewhere in there (I hate going through that thread though, so you'll have to find it on your own), but if you have 2 arms, wield a two-handed weapon and get 1 attack, when you sprout 2 extra arms from vestigial arm, you're still only allowed a single attack while wielding a two-handed weapon. Otherwise you'd be gaining more attacks, which vestigial arms explicitly prevents.

I've read through the post further and the following quote I think sums up the argument after SKR's post quite well

jlighter wrote:
For what it is worth, my lengthy post operates on the assumption that SKR is wrong in saying that you can make the dagger/dagger/claw/claw/bite combination. Per the FAQ on Vestigial Arms and Tentacles by the PDT, you can't.

I'm paraphrasing but, the FAQ states that you can't attack with a weapon held in a vestigial arm if it's complimentary arm has been used to make an attack. This means that while you would normally be able to make 2 claw attacks and two unarmed strikes via dual wielding. vestigial arms would not allow you to trade in those unarmed strikes for dagger attacks via the vestigial arms. This directly contradicts the linked example I responded to.

By the logic of the FAQ I agree that you could not dual wield 2 two-handed swords. This is because your two non-vestigial hands were used to make an attack using a weapon two handed. As a result the other two can not be used to make an attack regardless if those hands are wielding a 2-handed sword, daggers or even claws.

By the logic of the linked statement by SKR you could. Since all that matters is how many attacks you get. The quality of the attack doesn't matter nor does it matter what limb is being used. By example 2 dagger attacks and 2 claw attacks is a legal combination.

If you're going to follow the logic of the FAQ then you could not use two bastard swords two handed, any more then you could use 2 longwords 2 handed. You could hold two 2 handed weapons, but as soon as you attack with one of them you lose the ability to attack with the other one.


Metaphysical hands!

*drinks*


blahpers wrote:

Metaphysical hands!

*drinks*

ah yes, those. Of course using those you would still be able to dual wield greatswords, you just would only get your normal str bonus instead of 1.5.

IMO I would lean toward the example simply being wrong. In this way you at least end up with a result that's inline with the RAI.


Claxon wrote:


A regular character has two hands of effort that they can use.

A regular character only has two hands.

Many non-standard characters, including those with vestigial arms, have more than the standard number of hands.


Claxon wrote:
In short, if you think you've come up with something clever to do with Vestigial Arms the response is probably that it's against the rules.

That thread also points out how different weapons can be used, weapons that would not be available without vestigial arms.

For example: kick/kick/bite/claw/claw can be changed to dagger/dagger/bite/claw/claw

As long as the total number of attacks does not change, you fall within the guidelines for vestigial arms.

WatersLethe wrote:
You would not be able to gain any benefit from two-handing your longsword, as that would incorporate an extra virtual hand of effort.

1. Hands-of-effort =/= number of attacks.

2. A character with vestigial arms literally has more hands.

The only restriction is that the number of attacks cannot increase. There is no restriction placed on how many hands can be used to swing any given weapon.


People have gone on and on about number of attacks, and the FAQ doesn't back that up.

Frankly this is such a contentious topic that we're not going to ever convince one another via argument so I wont try. I have my opinion on how it functions, and its not going to be changed by arguments on the internet.

So in short I will say, if you want to use Vestigial Arms consults with your GM how they're going to run it.


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blahpers wrote:

Metaphysical hands!

*drinks*

HHHHHAAAAANNNNNDDDDDDSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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