Another look at Power Attack Feat - bonus on all melee damage rolls?


Rules Questions


I have been using Power Attack with a number of my characters, and I seem to understand it the same way everyone else sees it (based on the forums I have looked through I seem to use it the same way), however I looked at it again today, and I saw it in a slightly different light.

I am mostly just curious, can I interpret the rules in this way?

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The text I want to focus on is the opening sentence, "Benefit: You can choose to take a –1 penalty on all melee attack rolls and combat maneuver checks to gain a +2 bonus on all melee damage rolls."

Over the years I have been taking the minus penalty from the attack rolls as indicated (e.g. my bab of +1 + d20 -1 power attack), and for damage I have been adding the bonus to the weapon as such: e.g. Longsword (one-handed) 1d8 + STR mod + 2 power attack damage.

Now, looking again specifically at, "+2 bonus on all melee damage rolls," I have interpreted it as all rolls as a cohesive bunch, but it now seems to me that it could also be interpreted as +2 "per melee damage dice rolled"

What this means is that there are two different outcomes if I have a weapon with multiple damage dice. Lets say I use the spell Lead Blades to up the damage dice on the Longsword from a 1d8 to a 2d6; Under the original interpretation this would mean that we would have the following equation:

PAD = Power Attack Damage
STR Mod = 2 for this example

Longsword (one-handed) 2d6 + 2 PAD + 2 STR
The range of damage dealt is 6 to 16

However, if we interpret it as a +2 per dice roll we get the following:

Longsword (one-handed) 2d6 + (2*2 PAD) + 2 STR
The range of damage dealt is 8 to 18

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Personally, I would be fine if I could interpret it to be +2 "per melee damage dice rolled," - I like to min-max - but I also understand this could quickly grow out of control for a DM. The second interpretation would mean that it would then increase the damage gap even further if you then apply this to two-handed weapon damage rolls.

"This bonus to damage is increased by half (+50%) if you are making an attack with a two-handed weapon, a one handed weapon using two hands, or a primary natural weapon that adds 1-1/2 times your Strength modifier on damage rolls."

Longsword (two-handed) 2d6 + (2*3 PAD) + 3 STR
The range of damage dealt is 10 to 21

Then we have to consider vital strike

Normally I would calculate it out to be (continuing with the two-handed)

Longsword (two-handed) (2 * (2d6)) + 3 PAD + 3 STR
The range of damage dealt is 10 to 30

However with Power Attack would look like this:

Longsword (two-handed) (2 * (2d6)) + (4*3 PAD) + 3 STR
The range of damage dealt is 19 to 39

NOTE: Vital Attack's "Roll the weapon’s damage dice for the attack twice and add the results together before adding bonuses from Strength, weapon abilities (such as flaming), precision-based damage, and other damage bonuses," meaning that Power Attack bonus damage is applied afterward, but since we are still rolling multiple damage dice, it would still apply +3 to each d6.

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Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

If something gives you extra dices the notation is Xdy. The feat doesn't say 2d6, so it doesn't give extra dices, it give a flat numeric bonus.


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Dragonarkon wrote:
Now, looking again specifically at, "+2 bonus on all melee damage rolls," I have interpreted it as all rolls as a cohesive bunch, but it now seems to me that it could also be interpreted as +2 "per melee damage dice rolled"

This is not correct, you've been using it correctly.

When the GM says "Roll for damage" and you roll 6d6+45. This is considered "one damage roll".

My Aberrant Bloodrager in Iron Gods is set to get a Chainsaw with a Gravity Clip, so when I Enlarge I'll actually be dealing 6d6 damage per hit. If that gave me -3 to hit for +54 damage at level 8 I'd be pretty happy ... also that's stoopid.


Dragonarkon wrote:
Now, looking again specifically at, "+2 bonus on all melee damage rolls," I have interpreted it as all rolls as a cohesive bunch, but it now seems to me that it could also be interpreted as +2 "per melee damage dice rolled"

It could, if you hate English.


blahpers wrote:
Dragonarkon wrote:
Now, looking again specifically at, "+2 bonus on all melee damage rolls," I have interpreted it as all rolls as a cohesive bunch, but it now seems to me that it could also be interpreted as +2 "per melee damage dice rolled"
It could, if you hate English.

Wait, so you're telling me I don't get an additional +2 for all my sneak attack dice? And I don't do double/triple power attack damage with vital strike/improved vital strike? Boy have I been playing this game wrong.

What a truly insane question, how in the world was OP drunk at 8:00 in the morning.


RAWmonger wrote:
...how in the world was OP drunk at 8:00 in the morning.

To be fair, time-stamps change based on the viewers timezone and, to me, the OP shows it was posted at just before midnight on Saturday, and being drunk at that time makes sense!

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Also depending on your schedule 8 in the morning could be their turn in hours.


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We could also try being non-judgemental to a user's first post, let 'em hang around a while first. Or you know, not.


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"If you need to roll multiple dice of the same type, there will be a number before the “d.” For example, if you are required to roll 4d6, you should roll four six-sided dice and add the results together. Sometimes there will be a + or – after the notation, meaning that you add that number to, or subtract it from, the total results of the dice (not to each individual die rolled)." CRB pg. 8

Not 100% on the exact topic, but this part of the introduction shows how modifiers to rolls are handled.

Of course, if Power Attack would apply to every damage dice, so would everything else that applies to attack rolls, including strength and magic weapon enchantments, and the game would pretty much immediately break apart.


Java Man wrote:
We could also try being non-judgemental to a user's first post, let 'em hang around a while first. Or you know, not.

Heh, I was a little harsh, I suppose. : ) Sorry about that. (In my defense, I do hate English.)

Anybody wanna bring up Mythic Vital Strike's terrible wording and we can do this thread for reals?


blahpers wrote:
Java Man wrote:
We could also try being non-judgemental to a user's first post, let 'em hang around a while first. Or you know, not.

Heh, I was a little harsh, I suppose. : ) Sorry about that. (In my defense, I do hate English.)

Anybody wanna bring up Mythic Vital Strike's terrible wording and we can do this thread for reals?

I don't hate English. But a lot of posts and years on these forums have given me a strong dislike for it.

As for the OP no it's just the roll total not each die rolled.


blahpers wrote:
Java Man wrote:
We could also try being non-judgemental to a user's first post, let 'em hang around a while first. Or you know, not.

Heh, I was a little harsh, I suppose. : ) Sorry about that. (In my defense, I do hate English.)

Anybody wanna bring up Mythic Vital Strike's terrible wording and we can do this thread for reals?

The wording isn't as horrible as it may seem. "weapon damage dice" is fairly well defined as the die size and count listed in the weapon entry (or size entry for non-standard weapon sizes). "number of weapon damage dice you roll for that feat" doesn't change that any. If your weapon does 2d6 damage, then it's weapon damage dice is 2d6, if you vital strike you roll 2 weapon damage dice for a total of 4d6. Your number of weapon damage dice for mythic vital strike is still 2. It's a bit convoluted from an english grammar standpoint, but from a rules perspective it is perfectly clear.


Oh, a rules thread that devolves into how people do not like English! I like this thread^^

As others have said, the +2 is a flat bonus that applies to the total roll, not to the individual dice comprised in said roll.

Sometimes, I wonder if it is purely to save space that examples, let alone good complex examples - are not provided with the rules, as they are with good dictionaries.


Agénor wrote:
Oh, a rules thread that devolves into how people do not like English! I like this thread^^

Would you prefer a thread about (or a thread turning into the topic of) how apparently the writers don't like english? Because we can do that, too! *cough* Misused parantheses! *cough*

Agénor wrote:
Sometimes, I wonder if it is purely to save space that examples, let alone good complex examples - are not provided with the rules, as they are with good dictionaries.

As I've quoted, there is an example, but it's too narrow. What the CRB is really lacking is a glossary. It only has the "common terms" section, but that's a) way too short and b) often not entirely correct.

And before the common excuse is brought forth, a good and binding glossary would actually save pages, not add to them.


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Hey everyone. This week was a busy one for me, and just today I had the chance to check back on this post. I appreciate the feedback you have provided. Going into this I knew what I was proposing was "a truly insane question," because applying power attack in this way would result in a lot of broken things.

I do not anticipate that I will make any changes to how I am applying the bonus damage any time soon (not that my DM would allow it anyway ;P).

Derklord did provide a good reference to the rules that relates to the question.

Overall, I am willing to just chalk this up to the -for lack of better words- faults in the English language.

blahpers wrote:
Dragonarkon wrote:
Now, looking again specifically at, "+2 bonus on all melee damage rolls," I have interpreted it as all rolls as a cohesive bunch, but it now seems to me that it could also be interpreted as +2 "per melee damage dice rolled"
It could, if you hate English.

Having learned Spanish as a second language in my later years, I can understand the sentiment. After all, "English does not borrow from other languages. English follows other languages, knocks them down in a dark alley and then goes through their pockets for loose grammar."


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Just want to provide an example of when you get a bonus on each damage dice.

Orc Bloodline wrote:
Bloodline Arcana: You gain the orc subtype, including darkvision 60 feet and light sensitivity. If you already have darkvision, its range increases to 90 feet. Whenever you cast a spell that deals damage, that spell deals +1 point of damage per die rolled.

The template for when you get a bonus on every dice rolled is "per die rolled". The bonus from Power Attack is worded in such a way it means per instance rolled.

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