Bulwark and reflex


Rules Discussion


Hi there,

Do you think you can forgo the bulwark trait if your reflex bonus from dex is higher? Or are you forced to use it?


As written no, it says you do something, not that you can do something.

That said it's contrary to the flavor of the feature for the armor to make you worse at surviving fireballs, so I think you should be able to and this might be an oversight.


I agree as written you can't add the Dex modifier. I wouldn't think it'd be a common issue, however.

If you have a high Dex you're really gimping yourself by wearing Full Plate. You'd need an 18 Dex to even need to ignore the Bulwark ability, You'll also need an 18 Str to ignore the heinous -3 armor check penalty and -10 speed. No starting character can manage that; you'll need to be 5th level at least to make it.

Mechanically, a high Dex character, with heavy armor training, is best off in half plate. Same effective AC, but only a 16 Str needed avoid penalties. Pathfinder characters are slow compared to real humans. That -10 speed is really evil.


Aservan wrote:

I agree as written you can't add the Dex modifier. I wouldn't think it'd be a common issue, however.

If you have a high Dex you're really gimping yourself by wearing Full Plate. You'd need an 18 Dex to even need to ignore the Bulwark ability, You'll also need an 18 Str to ignore the heinous -3 armor check penalty and -10 speed. No starting character can manage that; you'll need to be 5th level at least to make it.

Mechanically, a high Dex character, with heavy armor training, is best off in half plate. Same effective AC, but only a 16 Str needed avoid penalties. Pathfinder characters are slow compared to real humans. That -10 speed is really evil.

In practice, I think very few characters are going to use armor they don't have the strength for though.


Aservan wrote:

I agree as written you can't add the Dex modifier. I wouldn't think it'd be a common issue, however.

If you have a high Dex you're really gimping yourself by wearing Full Plate. You'd need an 18 Dex to even need to ignore the Bulwark ability, You'll also need an 18 Str to ignore the heinous -3 armor check penalty and -10 speed. No starting character can manage that; you'll need to be 5th level at least to make it.

Mechanically, a high Dex character, with heavy armor training, is best off in half plate. Same effective AC, but only a 16 Str needed avoid penalties. Pathfinder characters are slow compared to real humans. That -10 speed is really evil.

Also, bulk. Armor is EXTREMELY heavy in this edition, and will completely nullify your STR bonus. Half-plate will at least get you 1 extra bulk versus a 10 STR wizard running around in their robes. Not much at all and you're still going to have trouble carrying everything you need to fight, but it does take at least 5 boosts total between STR and DEX to come out ahead on Bulk so you might as well make use of it.


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I still don't get why Pathfinder characters are so slow. A reasonably athletic person (so anyone going adventuring) can run 120 feet in 5 seconds (truly fast people can do it in about 4 seconds). 1 second less than a 6 second round. A Pathfinder human with the speed feat can only manage 90 feet in 6 sec. Heavy armor compounds this absurdity.


Aservan wrote:
I still don't get why Pathfinder characters are so slow. A reasonably athletic person (so anyone going adventuring) can run 120 feet in 5 seconds (truly fast people can do it about 4 seconds). 1 second less than a 6 second round. A Pathfinder human with the speed feat can only manage 90 feet in 6 sec. Heavy armor compounds this absurdity.

I think it is largely because they got rid of the run action. 90 feet in a round may not be very fast when you consider it a straightline sprint, but that's generally less relevant than how quickly you can manuevers around the battlefield.

I don't know that the run action was worth it's additional complexity. I've got some players that are still salty because the final boss of an adventure used Run to escape because she happened to be perfectly positioned to utilize it in a straight line shot across a bridge, and the players couldn't do a darned thing to stop her or catch up and didn't even know Run was a thing.

Things like Run or Charge added a lot of complexity for very little additional fun. I'm pretty ok with losing some of that, given that movement rules are an abstraction anyway given how they interact with turns.


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It doesn't need to be a straight line though. Look at NFL players dodging obstacles on the practice field. They can blaze up, over, and around orange obstacles with amazing alacrity. By Pathfinder standards every running back or receiver is a monk. And a pretty high level one at that.

I get that it's a game, but this one sticks in my craw.


An average human can move 75ft in six seconds, while watching out for danger. I don't feel like it's such a slow pace.


Were you OK with speeds in PF1, Aservan? Because it's important to remember that characters there were, by RAW, not running around the battlefield (when not using Run action), only "hustling," a combo of walking and running. IMHO 12.5'/sec is a reasonable hustle.


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Aservan wrote:

It doesn't need to be a straight line though. Look at NFL players dodging obstacles on the practice field. They can blaze up, over, and around orange obstacles with amazing alacrity. By Pathfinder standards every running back or receiver is a monk. And a pretty high level one at that.

I get that it's a game, but this one sticks in my craw.

40 yards is 120ft and even the fastest times are around 4 seconds (usually 4.5) and those are going to be at a dead sprint with no pads.

And that's peak physical condition in a straight line likely with at least Fleet for 30ft per action to 90ft in 6 seconds. If they had elf speed, that'd be 35ft per action to 105 ft in 6 seconds, which is fairly close.

And most of the players that run 4.5> times their primary role on the field is running quickly (heck everyone but OL and gunslinger QBs need to run in the NFL).

If you changed it to cuts (35ft cut other direction, 35ft cut other direction, 35ft finish it out) I imagine the times would be pretty close to accurate or even faster than an average NFL player.

And in all of the above hypothetical scenarios, the NFL player can still take a "reaction" (to catch a ball or whatever).

If you count those with Sudden Charge, that's 105 ft + tackle in 6 seconds.


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I feel guilty for hijacking the thread, but I never played 3.75 – I mean PF1.

I didn't like speeds in 3.x, but at least running was an option. Call me crazy, but I'd prefer a more middle ground. PF2 is too conservative with speeds, but I don't want to see them double either.

There's no use crying over spilled milk, but I feel that speeds should've been about 5 to 10 higher than they are. 105 feet per three actions feels more "real" to me.

Maybe a Run action: cost 3 actions to stride 4 times?


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

The more Athletic classes have options to run much faster than this. A Barbarian who takes Fast Movement (Barbarian 4) and Fleet can run 120 ft. in a round. If they take Furious Sprint at level 10 they can run 200 ft in a straight line for 2 actions or 320 ft in a straight line for 3 actions.

Monks of course have extremely high movement speeds that just keep getting better. They also have access to ki rush from level 1 to be able to move twice with a single action. Of course other than their high movement speeds most of their mobility is inherently supernatural.

I would have been fine with slightly higher base movement rates though.


Campbell wrote:

The more Athletic classes have options to run much faster than this. A Barbarian who takes Fast Movement (Barbarian 4) and Fleet can run 120 ft. in a round. If they take Furious Sprint at level 10 they can run 200 ft in a straight line for 2 actions or 320 ft in a straight line for 3 actions.

Monks of course have extremely high movement speeds that just keep getting better. They also have access to ki rush from level 1 to be able to move twice with a single action. Of course other than their high movement speeds most of their mobility is inherently supernatural.

I would have been fine with slightly higher base movement rates though.

That's part of my issue. A barbarian who takes a 4th level feat and a general feat isn't even as fast as a normal person. You have to be 10th level to actually be fast.

Think about it. It's a two feat tax and a class to be 1 second shy of normal. Apparently, Golarion has higher gravity.


I think the point is that, in encounter mode, characters are often not just running: they need to be on their guard, assess the battlefield, and all that. A triple move is not just a mad dash.

You could argue that sometimes a mad dash is just what you need, and I agree: on another thread I said that a "Run" activity like the one you proposed wasn't a bad idea. But to keep things simpler, what we have is good enough for me.


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The nice thing about the new pathfinder is that it is pretty easy to add stuff if you want it. A Run 3 action activity that lets you move four or five times hour speed in a straight line feels rather trivial to add in if you deem it appropriate.


I feel like the real point here is... does it matter how fast people are in real life? Your character isn't chasing actual nfl runningbacks, they are chasing monsters that use the same movement rules they use. The balance between things in the game is what matters.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Aservan wrote:
Campbell wrote:

The more Athletic classes have options to run much faster than this. A Barbarian who takes Fast Movement (Barbarian 4) and Fleet can run 120 ft. in a round. If they take Furious Sprint at level 10 they can run 200 ft in a straight line for 2 actions or 320 ft in a straight line for 3 actions.

Monks of course have extremely high movement speeds that just keep getting better. They also have access to ki rush from level 1 to be able to move twice with a single action. Of course other than their high movement speeds most of their mobility is inherently supernatural.

I would have been fine with slightly higher base movement rates though.

That's part of my issue. A barbarian who takes a 4th level feat and a general feat isn't even as fast as a normal person. You have to be 10th level to actually be fast.

Think about it. It's a two feat tax and a class to be 1 second shy of normal. Apparently, Golarion has higher gravity.

How long can a real person constantly keep those speeds up?


Assess the battlefield is probably a Seek action. In a real fight you are highly focused on what your opponents are doing. Tunnel Vision is more normal than not. Fighter pilots have been known to fly into the ground because they are so intently focused on shooting the enemy.

PF2 seems to lean towards this more gritty view in that actually keeping perspective slows you down. I like this, but I can see how some don't.

I just see spending all your actions on moving as just that. You are MOVING. "Damn the torpedoes!"

Real movement matters, because as a GM making hard calls you need to manage expectations. A player will base his or her expectations on what they can do in real life. It helps to do the math in your head if the game distances are close to real distances. PF2 distances are not close enough for me.

On a tactical grid artificial distances are not a big deal, but we don't always setup the table that way. For small encounters or chases it's not worth the wasted game time. When it's all in your head those expectations become very important.

As for how long people can keep it up? If you're in shape, at least a minute. Most encounters are less than that.


I forget to say that, since an elven chain mail gives you 1 more AC than a full plate, and ( +3 dex, which is pair as bulwark ), fullplate couldn't be used at all after you hit the item.

You have to hit 16 dex, but the bonus ac ( and the benefits from being lighter ) will do the stuff.

A dex based build could be optimal for an elven chain mail, but I am sure that in this system even a STR based build could find a good deal to hit 16 dex by lvl 10.


K1 wrote:

I forget to say that, since an elven chain mail gives you 1 more AC than a full plate, and ( +3 dex, which is pair as bulwark ), fullplate couldn't be used at all after you hit the item.

You have to hit 16 dex, but the bonus ac ( and the benefits from being lighter ) will do the stuff.

A dex based build could be optimal for an elven chain mail, but I am sure that in this system even a STR based build could find a good deal to hit 16 dex by lvl 10.

I am pretty sure the item bonus from elven chain will not stack with armor runes so once characters are expected to have +2/+3 armor runes anyways, the full plate comes out ahead.


Yes, I forget to edit here too.
Seems it was a misunderstood deriving from the app ( which still count it as a bonus apart. Even if it would have somehow explained the 55k cost for the high-grade armor ).


Excaliburproxy wrote:
K1 wrote:

I forget to say that, since an elven chain mail gives you 1 more AC than a full plate, and ( +3 dex, which is pair as bulwark ), fullplate couldn't be used at all after you hit the item.

You have to hit 16 dex, but the bonus ac ( and the benefits from being lighter ) will do the stuff.

A dex based build could be optimal for an elven chain mail, but I am sure that in this system even a STR based build could find a good deal to hit 16 dex by lvl 10.

I am pretty sure the item bonus from elven chain will not stack with armor runes so once characters are expected to have +2/+3 armor runes anyways, the full plate comes out ahead.

Armor potency runes are specifically defined as "this increases the armor's item bonus to AC," so stacking is not an issue.

While I'm here... there is no such thing as elven chain mail in the CRB. There is only an elven chain shirt (confusingly named just "Elven Chain"). It is nigh-identical to a regular chain shirt except that it's not noisy and is light Bulk. In particular its armor functionality is identical. It does not give better AC than full plate, nor does any other armor in the CRB.


Elven chain has a +2 bonus to AC. Regular chain shirt has a +2 bonus to AC. Both cap your DEX bonus to AC at +3, for a total of +5 like every other set of light or medium armor. It works with armor runes just fine.

The +2 bonus to AC is not in addition to the +2 bonus from being a chain shirt, it's just a chain shirt that uses mithral as material.

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