On the Validity of Dumping Attack Attributes on a Fighter


Advice


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Say I wanted to play a fighter who was really tough, smart, or charismatic, or wise, or all of the above. Is there any significant harm in dumping my primary attack attribute (Strength or Dexterity) so that I can boost everything else much higher than is typical on such a character?

After all, the fighter class has +2 attack bonus over every single class in the game by default. That gives me a 4 point range to play around with. For example, if I were to start out with 14 Strength instead of 18, I'd still be about as effective at hitting things with my axe as the barbarian. If I started with a 14 Dexterity, I'd still be as effective at shooting things with my bow as the ranger.

I know this is not optimal, as I don't have rage or...whatever it is rangers get, but at least I won't have to spend actions to activate such abilities and can instead do other things that might help close any small gap that might have been created by my build (even if that's just an additional Strike). Is there anything suggesting that going this route isn't still perfectly viable in normal play? Such a character could have more skills, or better saves, or have an easier time multiclassing to get unique ability combos that make the combined parts stronger than the one whole.

What do you think? Discuss.


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Not the best choice.

Knowing that you can invest either in dex or str leave you 4 more stats to deal with.

Since you are a fighter, Investing everything you have in 1 stats woukd be the best deal.

If you want to also be skilled than a standard fighter, you could go with dex over str.

- acrobatics
- stealth
- thievery

Will benefit from your dex, as for ranged and finesse weapons.

Assurance athletics is also one of the best exploit for a dex build, since it allows you with a -1 str to be powerful as a +7 str, even if this would be totally nonsense.

A fighter can also rely on good reflex saves, so Investing in dex will make you so damn good against both aoe effects and trip attacks.

Remember that with a 14 str ( maybe start with +1 and go for a +2 by lvl 5 or 10 ) you would be fine with a mithril heavy armor ( the str needed would be 14 instead of 16 ).

You will also have enough point for other stuff, like wis/int/char.

Const is indeed needed, but you could trade for it and increase it till 18 during the campaign.

However, not to invest in dex or str till 18 is not a good idea, because you will lose one of the best partd of being a fighter.

That said, even a party composed of 4 old characters with 8 in physical stats could take part to an adventure, so everything would be balanced around your party.

What could happen is getting way more miss than a Normal fighter build, or your team mates sighing for your choice.


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Ravingdork wrote:
Say I wanted to play a fighter who was really tough, smart, or charismatic, or wise, or all of the above. Is there any significant harm in dumping my primary attack attribute (Strength or Dexterity) so that I can boost everything else much higher than is typical on such a character?

You will lose 25-30% damage at level 1-4, and then 15% until the end of your career. So, it's not incredibly bad, but it's still a hit.

I wouldn't do that if my party is very efficient, as even if Fighter is a very good class, it's bonuses won't compensate such a big flaw. Now, if the party is not much about optimization, it may allow you to be more in line with the other characters fighting abilities.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
SuperBidi wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Say I wanted to play a fighter who was really tough, smart, or charismatic, or wise, or all of the above. Is there any significant harm in dumping my primary attack attribute (Strength or Dexterity) so that I can boost everything else much higher than is typical on such a character?

You will lose 25-30% damage at level 1-4, and then 15% until the end of your career. So, it's not incredibly bad, but it's still a hit.

I wouldn't do that if my party is very efficient, as even if Fighter is a very good class, it's bonuses won't compensate such a big flaw. Now, if the party is not much about optimization, it may allow you to be more in line with the other characters fighting abilities.

That seems kind of high to me. Could you give a practical example so I can better see how you came by those numbers?


-1 to hit is 10-15% less damage.
And if you are strength-based, there's the malus to damage (depends on weapon, and gets less and less important at the end of the game).
In PF2, +1 to hit is extremely important. Maths are tight.

That's why the Fighter is so strong. +30% damage thanks to +2 to hit.


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IMO 16 in a key stat is ok. 14 is not advisable. It is important to remember your other stats will keep rising as you level up, so it isn't a great idea to devalue your key stat initially.

Also there are lots of ways to pick up skills or whatever if you need versatility. Multiclassing is an easy example.

Liberty's Edge

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Ravingdork wrote:
That seems kind of high to me. Could you give a practical example so I can better see how you came by those numbers?

I can. A typical monster AC at 1st level is 17.

A 1st level Fighter with Str 18 swings with a +9 for 1d12+4, while the Str 14 Fighter swings with a +7 for 1d12+2.

That's a DPR of 15.225 on the Str 18 guy (he can attack for +9/+4/-1, even that third attack adds meaningful DPR).

For the Str 14 guy, meanwhile, it's a DPR of only 8.5 (due to lower base damage, critting only on a 20 instead of 18+ on the first attack, and vastly reduced odds of hitting on his secondary attacks). That difference actually almost halves their DPR. Ouch.

Now, as they level, that DPR difference will be reduced significantly, both by extra damage dice and specialty adding on, and their Str gap closing (at 10th, it'd be Str 20 vs. Str 18), but the gap in damage remains a very real thing even then, just a smaller one.

None of these mean that this concept doesn't work (I think it does, and that it's by far the best and most effective '14 in my attack score' build), just that it'll be notably less powerful offensively than a more traditionally optimal Fighter, especially at levels 1 to 4.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
That seems kind of high to me. Could you give a practical example so I can better see how you came by those numbers?

I can. A typical monster AC at 1st level is 17.

A 1st level Fighter with Str 18 swings with a +9 for 1d12+4, while the Str 14 Fighter swings with a +7 for 1d12+2.

That's a DPR of 15.225 on the Str 18 guy (he can attack for +9/+4/-1, even that third attack adds meaningful DPR).

For the Str 14 guy, meanwhile, it's a DPR of only 8.5 (due to lower base damage, critting only on a 20 instead of 18+ on the first attack, and vastly reduced odds of hitting on his secondary attacks). That difference actually almost halves their DPR. Ouch.

Now, as they level, that DPR difference will be reduced significantly, both by extra damage dice and specialty adding on, and their Str gap closing (at 10th, it'd be Str 20 vs. Str 18), but the gap in damage remains a very real thing even then, just a smaller one.

None of these mean that this concept doesn't work (I think it does, and that it's by far the best and most effective '14 in my attack score' build), just that it'll be notably less powerful offensively than a more traditionally optimal Fighter, especially at levels 1 to 4.

Thanks, but you're still comparing it to a fighter. How does it compare to non-fighter martials that have no choice but to miss out +2 to hit? You can't tell me that a fighter with lower strength isn't viable, while claiming the barbarian, monk, and ranger are, when they all have similar DPR rates.*

*:
Just to be clear, I'm speaking generally; I don't actually think this is what you're saying.


Exactly. Also anybody telling you a given number always has flat increase in success/damage is nuts. Baseline numbers obviously impact relative impact of a given +1, and as you noted Fighters have highest numbers there, so additional +1 is less for them than anybody else.

The premise should be that you are increasing STR with level on ongoing basis. Even starting with just 14 that means by level 5 you will only be -1 behind permanently (VS max STR fighters), still with accuracy advantage from Fighter proficiency. Starting with 16 means half of level tiers you will be 100% equal, the other half -1 behind... Obviously playable, and gives you more flexibility elsewhere as you noted.

I really would have to ask what people who say this is unviable think of a switch-hitter build (including Thrown), since by definition they have similar attack stat situation some of the time. I guess detractors would find this more acceptable if you are using DEX for switch-hitter build, but I don't think that's necessarily the only option... and e.g. 14 DEX vs 16 DEX isn't huge difference there in long term, so I think other stats may be just as legit... To include 16 INT/WIS/CON especially if using caster multiclass or Innate spells (which may serve as ranged switch-hitter option).

Overall the position that nothing but max STR is viable would be damning judgement on the game, "look how flexible your builds are... oh wait, if you do anything but one minmax build you aren't viable ha ha". As long as you are getting legit benefit from it with stat you can directly leverage, I don't see the problem. Spreading around stats "just because" or for "balanced character" isn't good idea, but if you are working it, I say go ahead. Certainly 16 is less impact than 14, but I'm not going to say 14 is a "never ever do" thing, it's just a "be damnned sure what you are doing" thing.


Ravingdork wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
That seems kind of high to me. Could you give a practical example so I can better see how you came by those numbers?

I can. A typical monster AC at 1st level is 17.

A 1st level Fighter with Str 18 swings with a +9 for 1d12+4, while the Str 14 Fighter swings with a +7 for 1d12+2.

That's a DPR of 15.225 on the Str 18 guy (he can attack for +9/+4/-1, even that third attack adds meaningful DPR).

For the Str 14 guy, meanwhile, it's a DPR of only 8.5 (due to lower base damage, critting only on a 20 instead of 18+ on the first attack, and vastly reduced odds of hitting on his secondary attacks). That difference actually almost halves their DPR. Ouch.

Now, as they level, that DPR difference will be reduced significantly, both by extra damage dice and specialty adding on, and their Str gap closing (at 10th, it'd be Str 20 vs. Str 18), but the gap in damage remains a very real thing even then, just a smaller one.

None of these mean that this concept doesn't work (I think it does, and that it's by far the best and most effective '14 in my attack score' build), just that it'll be notably less powerful offensively than a more traditionally optimal Fighter, especially at levels 1 to 4.

Thanks, but you're still comparing it to a fighter. How does it compare to non-fighter martials that have no choice but to miss out +2 to hit? You can't tell me that a fighter with lower strength isn't viable, while claiming the barbarian, monk, and ranger are, when they all have similar DPR rates.*

** spoiler omitted **

18 strength barbarian and ranger do about even damage with an 18 strength fighter actually. Rage damage and precision are two easy examples of hitting less often but harder when you do, and flurry can also be really significant. I don't think monks have comparable DPR but they have a bunch of other cool things going for them.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Captain Mogan: Has anyone done the math to show that to be definitively true?


Citricking did. The Fighter is a bit ahead in a party without buffs. The more buffs, the lower the difference. But we are speaking of a very small difference anyway.
Of course, giant barbarian is ahead of fighter, especially at low levels where +6 to damage is roughly equivalent to +60% damage.


Other classes are balanced around other mechanics than the +2.

You will technically under perform. Question is will you notice it.

Play how you want. See if you eat a dirt nap

Liberty's Edge

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Ravingdork wrote:
Captain Mogan: Has anyone done the math to show that to be definitively true?

They have, yes.

As a quick example, a Dragon Instinct Barbarian attacks at +7 for 1d12+8, which has an average DPR of 15.225 on three attacks in a round...which is in fact exactly the same as the Fighter's. In practice, going into a Rage is an action, so it's a tad lower than the Fighter's in a vacuum, but flanking and other buffs help them more than Fighter so it evens out.

Monk, Ranger, and Rogue the math is a little less easy to figure, but as noted citricking has done it, and they definitively do about as well (well, the Rogue does assuming flanking).

Champions are a bit weaker offensively but have other advantages.


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I could see it if you were for example in a 5 person party and you were gonna be the second martial. So you could explore a bit more with the character. see if the other advantages could make it worth it for you. I think what could be potentially interesting is if in later books their were some feats to take advantage of other attributes being high for a given class. I can't think of specific examples atm maybe some multi-classing for right now would work.


Wouldn't it flow better to still start with STR 18 as usual, but only pump it up at 2 of the 4 ability raisings, or maybe even none of them?

That lets you "pilot" the concept, testing if STR 18 cuts it all the way to level 20, or if you feel you need to compromise by getting STR 20, or if STR 22 really is make or break even for Fighters.

Not counting an Apex item here.

Sovereign Court

I'd like to reframe a bit. I think you can be a fighter with a strong mental side, without having to sacrifice too much on the physical side.

Consider my PFS2 #2001, Yngvarr.

Yngvarr is a level 2 human fighter with wizard MCD. Ability scores are:
Str 18
Dex 10
Con 12
Wis 12
Int 16
Cha 10

Compared to a "brawns only" fighter, I'm at the same AC (full plate, shield); a little behind on Reflex saves but only in cases not covered by the full plate's Bulwark property; a bit behind on Con/Fort/HP, as Con could have been a 16. But the HP difference is a difference between 11 and 13 HP per level, so it's not the end of the world. With regards to offensive prowess, I sacrifice nothing.

Actually, since wizard MCD gives me cantrips, I don't have to walk into melee so urgently. I can hammer enemies with cantrips until they come close and then go on with sword and board double slice. If I can get one round of ranged attacks against them without them retaliating because they happen to be pure melee, then I've won back the reduced HP from having not maxed Con.

I could have gone lower Strength, but for what? Raising Cha and Wis too? Eh. I figure with Int 16 I already cover a decent swath of the skills game.

At higher levels, the gap between me and a pure brawn build will only close. At level 10, I'll have Con 16 and they'll have Con 19, and we'll both have Str 20. But I'll also have Int 18 or 19, Wis 16, and (if I didn't go for the Int 19), Cha 12 or Dex 12.


Here's a chart
Here's a chart

For a longsword using fighter making two strikes:
You do 60% of the damage until level 5, from level 5 to 20 you do 83-87%.

Wither or not that is viable is up to you...

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