Can I use my Dex modifier with Athletics when using a Finesse weapon?


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

Say, if I were using a rapier to disarm, for example.

Liberty's Edge

Finesse indicates Attack Rolls and the Athletics uses for a variety of these types of "maneuvers" all include the Attack trait so I think this is totally 100% legit.

While Disarm, Break Open, Grapple etc are not Stike Actions, they are attacks and from what I can tell suffer from the MAP so it seems perfectly legitimate to use Dex in place of Str since it seems that the Finesse ability is a case where Specific beats General.


Ravingdork wrote:
Say, if I were using a rapier to disarm, for example.

Nope.

Finesse only apply to attack rolls.


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SuperBidi wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Say, if I were using a rapier to disarm, for example.

Nope.

Finesse only apply to attack rolls.

And Disarm is an attack.

Shadow Lodge

As you can probably tell by these responses, this is currently a point of contention. As such, it's up to your GM.


Squiggit wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Say, if I were using a rapier to disarm, for example.

Nope.

Finesse only apply to attack rolls.
And Disarm is an attack.

Yep. But it asks for an Athletics check, not an attack roll.

Attack roll is clearly defined in the rules, it doesn't mean "any roll during an attack".


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SuperBidi wrote:

Nope.

Finesse only apply to attack rolls.

Finesse wrote:
You can use your Dexterity modifier instead of your Strength modifier on attack rolls using this melee weapon.
Attack Rolls wrote:
When you use a Strike action or any other attack action, you attempt a check called an attack roll.
Attack wrote:
An ability with this trait involves an attack.
Disarm (trait) wrote:
You can use this weapon to Disarm with the Athletics skill even if you don’t have a free hand. This uses the weapon’s reach (if different from your own) and adds the weapon’s item bonus to attack rolls (if any) as an item bonus to the Athletics check.

And Disarm, the action, has the Attack trait listed in its ability block.

Seems pretty clear that you can use Finesse with Disarm in this case.

That being said, Disarm does list the requirement of having a free hand to perform it, so as long as you have a free hand, you can utilize a Finesse weapon (which I believe generic Unarmed Strikes fall under), or if you have a weapon with the Disarm trait (which a Rapier does indeed possess, which circumvents that requirement based on the trait description).


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SuperBidi wrote:

Yep. But it asks for an Athletics check, not an attack roll.

Attack roll is clearly defined in the rules, it doesn't mean "any roll during an attack".

It literally does.

CRB p.446 wrote:
When you use a Strike action or any other attack action, you attempt a check called an attack roll.

edit: Ninja by Darksol, but yeah there it is.


"When you use a Strike action or any other attack action, you attempt a check called an attack roll. Attack rolls take a variety of forms and are often highly variable based on the weapon you are using for the attack, but there are three main types: melee attack rolls, ranged attack rolls, and spell attack rolls. Spell attack rolls work a little bit differently, so they are explained separately on the next page.

Melee attack rolls use Strength as their ability modifier by default. If you’re using a weapon or attack with the finesse trait, then you can use your Dexterity modifier instead.
Melee attack roll result = d20 roll + Strength modifier (or optionally Dexterity modifier for a finesse weapon) + proficiency bonus + other bonuses + penalties

Ranged attack rolls use Dexterity as their ability modifier.
Ranged attack roll result = d20 roll + Dexterity modifier + proficiency bonus + other bonuses + penalties

When attacking with a weapon, whether melee or ranged, you add your proficiency bonus for the weapon you’re using. Your class determines your proficiency rank for various weapons. Sometimes, you’ll have different proficiency ranks for different weapons. For instance, at 5th level, a fighter gains the weapon mastery class feature, which grants master proficiency with the simple and martial weapons of one weapon group, expert proficiency with advanced weapons of that group and other simple and martial weapons, and trained proficiency in all other advanced weapons."

So, no Athletics in there.


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Quote:
When you use a Strike action or any other attack action, you attempt a check called an attack roll.

Did you just miss this part or are you ignoring it?


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The rules are a little obtuse on this, but a disarm check, grapple, trip and so on are attack rolls as defined by the system.

I will post the text that defines it as such tomorrow (going to bed now) if nobody else ninjas me.

It is why those actions are effected by MAP. If they weren't attack rolls they wouldn't be.


theservantsllcleanitup wrote:
Quote:
When you use a Strike action or any other attack action, you attempt a check called an attack roll.
Did you just miss this part or are you ignoring it?

There is a whole chapter defining what an Attack Roll is. It is called Attack Rolls. There's a part speaking about Finesse weapons, a part speaking about MAP to combat maneuver, but there is nothing about Athletics checks being Attack Rolls. So, you found one sentence in the whole book that is general enough to enforce your point of view, and you ignore the rest.

Sorry, I'm not the one ignoring the biggest part of the rules :)


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SuperBidi wrote:
Sorry, I'm not the one ignoring the biggest part of the rules :)

I mean, you're quite literally looking at the actual rules text in the actual book and then deciding that you think it doesn't count.

So... yeah you are.


Even Disarm states it:

"You can use this weapon to Disarm with the Athletics skill even if you don’t have a free hand. This uses the weapon’s reach (if different from your own) and adds the weapon’s item bonus to attack rolls (if any) as an item bonus to the Athletics check."

If it was an attack roll, why this rule specifically separates attack rolls from Athletics check?


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Because normally you don't disarm with a weapon, so the trait that modifies that includes bits that you now add to to the check since it's being used with the weapon.

Again, the rule you told us to go check defines attack rolls pretty clearly, do you actually have anything that says otherwise?


Squiggit wrote:

Because normally you don't disarm with a weapon, so the trait that modifies that includes bits that you now add to to the check since it's being used with the weapon.

Again, the rule you told us to go check defines attack rolls pretty clearly, do you actually have anything that says otherwise?

Well, let's agree to disagree, then, as I don't read it the way you do.

Scarab Sages

Based on the disarm weapon trait, it would seem you can only use your weapon to disarm if it has that trait. Otherwise, you are using your hand.

So, if you add in the parts that Darksol pointed out: You'd need a weapon to have both the finesse and disarm traits to use your Dex mod to disarm.

However, base unarmed attacks have the finesse trait and can be used for maneuvers, so they should be able to use Dex for any that have the attack trait.

"...adds the weapon’s item bonus to attack rolls (if any) as an item bonus to the Athletics check."
"If it was an attack roll, why this rule specifically separates attack rolls from Athletics check?"

This part calls out the item bonus specifically. You need a weapon to have the disarm trait to get its item bonus to disarm maneuvers, just like you need the barbarian-exclusive grapple trait to get an item bonus to grapples from handwraps of mighty blows.

The Exchange

SuperBidi wrote:

"... there are three main types: melee attack rolls, ranged attack rolls, and spell attack rolls ...

So, no Athletics in there.

The phrasing "three main types" shows that there are more than the three types enumerated. If the paragraph wanted to show that there were ONLY those three three, they would have omitted the word "main" and have it read "there are three types: ..."

The paragraph does not provide an exclusive, explicit, and exhaustive list of actions. It provides a description of the three main general ones.


Say we allow Rapier to Disarm using DX in place of ST for Athletics.

Cool.

Can my ST-10 DX-18 "swashbuckler" also roll to Force Open, Grapple, Shove, and Trip (all of which also have the Attack trait) using their Rapier and thus DX in place of ST by the same logic?

Or is the answer "no" because the Rapier only has the Disarm trait?

Cheers.


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SuperBidi wrote:

"When you use a Strike action or any other attack action, you attempt a check called an attack roll. Attack rolls take a variety of forms and are often highly variable based on the weapon you are using for the attack, but there are three main types: melee attack rolls, ranged attack rolls, and spell attack rolls. Spell attack rolls work a little bit differently, so they are explained separately on the next page.

Melee attack rolls use Strength as their ability modifier by default. If you’re using a weapon or attack with the finesse trait, then you can use your Dexterity modifier instead.
Melee attack roll result = d20 roll + Strength modifier (or optionally Dexterity modifier for a finesse weapon) + proficiency bonus + other bonuses + penalties

Ranged attack rolls use Dexterity as their ability modifier.
Ranged attack roll result = d20 roll + Dexterity modifier + proficiency bonus + other bonuses + penalties

When attacking with a weapon, whether melee or ranged, you add your proficiency bonus for the weapon you’re using. Your class determines your proficiency rank for various weapons. Sometimes, you’ll have different proficiency ranks for different weapons. For instance, at 5th level, a fighter gains the weapon mastery class feature, which grants master proficiency with the simple and martial weapons of one weapon group, expert proficiency with advanced weapons of that group and other simple and martial weapons, and trained proficiency in all other advanced weapons."

So, no Athletics in there.

What you posted supports the opposite of what you're saying.

Scarab Sages

@rainzax:

The Rapier has both the Disarm and Finesse traits, so it should be able to use Dex for Disarm. It does not have the grapple, shove, trip, etc. traits, so you can't use your weapon for those 'attacks'.

If you have a free hand and the regular unarmed attack you can still use Dex for those maneuvers because unarmed attacks have the finesse trait but you won't get your item bonus from your Rapier, both because you aren't using the Rapier for those maneuvers as it doesn't have the traits and because the disarm trait is what is giving you the item bonus to that maneuver.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
rainzax wrote:

Say we allow Rapier to Disarm using DX in place of ST for Athletics.

Cool.

Can my ST-10 DX-18 "swashbuckler" also roll to Force Open, Grapple, Shove, and Trip (all of which also have the Attack trait) using their Rapier and thus DX in place of ST by the same logic?

Or is the answer "no" because the Rapier only has the Disarm trait?

Cheers.

I believe the answer would be no, because there is no general rule allowing you to use weapons with maneuvers (at least none that I'm aware of).

It works because of the disarm trait allowing you to make disarm attempts with a weapon.


Oh snap I forgot about unarmed attacks. Thanks Kios.

Using a Rapier to Disarm via DX feels legit to me.

However, as all characters are trained in unarmed attacks, saying all of Athletics attacks functions can be substituted DX for ST feels disingenuous.

Yeah I said "feels" both times...

Scarab Sages

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I find it strange that Athletics has so many actions compared to other skills. It only really becomes balanced with other skills if you take out all the 'attacks'.

I don't think its unbalanced that the attack trait actions can be used with Dex, though. It requires a free hand for unarmed and specific traits for weapons. Plus if you have low strength, you are going to be subpar at the other athletics actions (jumping, climbing, swimming - which all seem like they could be important)


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It does feel like it would be stranger to have a game where the dashing swashbuckler with a rapier is downright bad at disarming foes because there is otherwise no other way to substitute Dex for combat maneuvers. Same with Dex based monks. Even if the rules here feel potentially ambiguous, I don’t see allowing finesse weapons to be used for maneuvers overpowering, but denying it means there are a lot of PF1 builds not even possible. And where would Agile maneuvers come into PF2? As a class feat? That feels pretty harsh.


If it can be generally agreed that using DX to Disarm with Rapier is thematic enough to allow without additional investment beyond basic training with that weapon and it's purchase, that's one issue.

But what about Force Open, Grapple, Shove, and Trip?

Should a DX character be able to bypass ST completely to perform these with out the assistance of tools (specific weapon traits) and/or investment (class feats, etc)?

Sovereign Court

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rainzax wrote:

If it can be generally agreed that using DX to Disarm with Rapier is thematic enough to allow without additional investment beyond basic training with that weapon and it's purchase, that's one issue.

But what about Force Open, Grapple, Shove, and Trip?

Should a DX character be able to bypass ST completely to perform these with out the assistance of tools (specific weapon traits) and/or investment (class feats, etc)?

I would require weapon traits to do so. If a hypothetical weapon had both the Finesse and Shove traits, for example, then yes, you can use Dex with the Shove. Or a whip has Finesse and Trip, so you can use Dex to trip with it.

Liberty's Edge

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

If indeed Finesse applies to Disarm actions, then it is only because the Finesse weapon has the Disarm trait as well. A similar trait would be necessary for any other attack action, as without it you cannot use your weapon to perform those actions.


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SuperBidi wrote:
theservantsllcleanitup wrote:
Quote:
When you use a Strike action or any other attack action, you attempt a check called an attack roll.
Did you just miss this part or are you ignoring it?

There is a whole chapter defining what an Attack Roll is. It is called Attack Rolls. There's a part speaking about Finesse weapons, a part speaking about MAP to combat maneuver, but there is nothing about Athletics checks being Attack Rolls. So, you found one sentence in the whole book that is general enough to enforce your point of view, and you ignore the rest.

Sorry, I'm not the one ignoring the biggest part of the rules :)

Ugh not this again :( A dev has already said in the past (going back to playtest days) that Trips are indeed attack rolls which use Athletics. Therefore Athletics checks to Trip are attack rolls. I for one believe that dev, for he is God and this is his world, we just live in it.

Samurai two comments above is correct.


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Samurai wrote:
rainzax wrote:

If it can be generally agreed that using DX to Disarm with Rapier is thematic enough to allow without additional investment beyond basic training with that weapon and it's purchase, that's one issue.

But what about Force Open, Grapple, Shove, and Trip?

Should a DX character be able to bypass ST completely to perform these with out the assistance of tools (specific weapon traits) and/or investment (class feats, etc)?

I would require weapon traits to do so. If a hypothetical weapon had both the Finesse and Shove traits, for example, then yes, you can use Dex with the Shove...

Light Mace says 'Hi.'

Shadow Lodge

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Stephen Radney-MacFarland wrote:
If you are performing the Trip with a finesse weapon (such as the whip that has the trip trait), you add your Dexterity instead of Strength to that particular Athletics attack roll.

This was on Facebook during the Playtest. The thread is no longer available.


Allowing a Dex based Force Open manuver would be weird to me, the other would not.
Are there any weapons that have Agile and Force Open?


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CRB PG. 233 "Key Ability" wrote:
Each skill is tied to a key ability. You add your modifier for this ability to checks and DCs when using that skill. For example, skulking about the shadows of a city at night with Stealth uses your Dexterity modifier, navigating the myriad personalities and power plays of court politics with Society uses your Intelligence modifier, and so on. The key ability for each skill is listed on Table 4–1: Skills, Key abilities, and Actions on page 235 and also appears in parentheses following the skill’s name in the descriptions on the following pages. If the GM deems it appropriate for a certain situation, however, they might have you use a different ability modifier for a skill check or when determining your skill DC.

This line would support the idea that under the proper circumstances, like using a whip to trip an opponent (that's just fun to say), you could in fact be allowed to use your Dex rather than your Str for that trip check despite trip being an Athletics ability.

I for one am all for it. Otherwise there would be no way to build an agile wrestler or Judo martial artist who uses their dexterity to throw around their opponents more than their brawn. Or the fencer deftly disarming their opponent with a lithe flick of their wrist rather than brutally snatching the weapon from the opponents hands all Guts style.

The real question in my mind is this: Does this do anything to severely unbalance the game? I don't believe so personally. Thoughts?


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The Ronyon wrote:

Allowing a Dex based Force Open manuver would be weird to me, the other would not.

Are there any weapons that have Agile and Force Open?

You mean finesse and force open, and no, Force open is not a weapon trait, except for maybe the crowbar


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beowulf99 wrote:
CRB PG. 233 "Key Ability" wrote:
Each skill is tied to a key ability. You add your modifier for this ability to checks and DCs when using that skill. For example, skulking about the shadows of a city at night with Stealth uses your Dexterity modifier, navigating the myriad personalities and power plays of court politics with Society uses your Intelligence modifier, and so on. The key ability for each skill is listed on Table 4–1: Skills, Key abilities, and Actions on page 235 and also appears in parentheses following the skill’s name in the descriptions on the following pages. If the GM deems it appropriate for a certain situation, however, they might have you use a different ability modifier for a skill check or when determining your skill DC.

This line would support the idea that under the proper circumstances, like using a whip to trip an opponent (that's just fun to say), you could in fact be allowed to use your Dex rather than your Str for that trip check despite trip being an Athletics ability.

I for one am all for it. Otherwise there would be no way to build an agile wrestler or Judo martial artist who uses their dexterity to throw around their opponents more than their brawn. Or the fencer deftly disarming their opponent with a lithe flick of their wrist rather than brutally snatching the weapon from the opponents hands all Guts style.

The real question in my mind is this: Does this do anything to severely unbalance the game? I don't believe so personally. Thoughts?

Beowulf your absolutely right, I think the excerpt you pulled out stating "If the GM deems it appropriate for a certain situation, however, they might have you use a different ability modifier for a skill check or when determining your skill DC." As Athletics is both a skill check and can be an attack roll this is the most underrated and important statement of all. I don't even need an errata, this will do for me just fine.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Personally, I don't think you're supposed to be able to use dexterity to athletics checks when using your bare hands,even though your unarmed strikes are finesse. The reason is bthat Wolf Stance gives you the trip trait, which would be redundant with the more generous reading. So you can use Dex to trip with Wolf Strikes, because it has both finesse and trip traits.

Probably not hugely unbalanced either way though.


Captain Morgan wrote:

Personally, I don't think you're supposed to be able to use dexterity to athletics checks when using your bare hands,even though your unarmed strikes are finesse. The reason is bthat Wolf Stance gives you the trip trait, which would be redundant with the more generous reading. So you can use Dex to trip with Wolf Strikes, because it has both finesse and trip traits.

Probably not hugely unbalanced either way though.

I reckon it's not redundant because the trip trait allows you to get the item bonus from handwraps, which you wouldn't normally be able to do. That is, yes you can trip with wolf jaw when you aren't flanking, but if you are flanking the trip trait also gives you the item bonus.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Captain Morgan wrote:

Personally, I don't think you're supposed to be able to use dexterity to athletics checks when using your bare hands,even though your unarmed strikes are finesse. The reason is bthat Wolf Stance gives you the trip trait, which would be redundant with the more generous reading. So you can use Dex to trip with Wolf Strikes, because it has both finesse and trip traits.

Probably not hugely unbalanced either way though.

I don’t even understand how you could read the rules as allowing for fists to be used to make a trip attack. If you make a trip attack with an open hand, you are not making the attack with the weapon “fist.” You are just making an athletics check. The trip, or disarm, or shove trait is clearly needed by the weapon to make the attack roll with that weapon, instead of just making an athletics check, which requires an open hand, not that you are using your fist as a weapon. The wording in the requirement for those actions, and in the weapon traits are all pretty explicit.

The best you could hope for, I think, would be trying to justify how your specific attempt to trip someone involved using your Dex instead of STR. As a GM, i’d Probably allow it only if it was paired with another action or environmental hazard that could really justify it.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I'm not sure I agree that it is an attack roll. I think it is a athletics check with the attack trait, not the same thing.


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Kennethray wrote:
I'm not sure I agree that it is an attack roll. I think it is a athletics check with the attack trait, not the same thing.

The rulebook disagrees with you.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

It never says if a skill has the attack trait that it is a attack roll.


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Kennethray wrote:
It never says if a skill has the attack trait that it is a attack roll.

I don't mean to be rude, but it literally does.

CRB PG. 446 "Specific Checks- Attack Rolls" wrote:
When you use a Strike action or any other attack action,you attempt a check called an attack roll. Attack rolls take a variety of forms and are often highly variable based on the weapon you are using for the attack, but there are three main types: melee attack rolls, ranged attack rolls, and spell attack rolls. Spell attack rolls work a little bit differently, so they are explained separately on the next page.

Any action with the Attack trait is an attack action, which means that any check made for those actions is by default an Attack Roll.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

you are reading as if it has the attack trait that makes it an attack action. I disagree. It's a skill action with the attack trait. The trait doesn't change the type of action it is, just what can affect it, like MAP.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

even in the description of disarm, trip etc in the weapons section state that the item bonus from the weapon can be added to the skill check, so it points out what extra can be added to the roll, dex is not mentioned.


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Kennethray wrote:
you are reading as if it has the attack trait that makes it an attack action. I disagree.

So your argument is that attack action and an action that is an attack are completely distinct concepts from each other?

That seems needlessly unintuitive and clunky to me. Not to mention requires us to pretty much ignore the attack trait entirely and disregard the developer comments mentioned upthread.

How do you define an Attack then?

Look, the sidebar on page 447 even says:

CRB wrote:
The multiple attack penalty (detailed on page 446) applies to each attack after the first, whether those attacks are Strikes, special attacks like the Grapple action of the Athletics skill, or spell attack rolls.

Bolded for emphasis. This seems really clear to me.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

What I stated was just because it has the attack trait dosent change it from one type of check to another. You can mess with the wording all you like. After looking over the weapon section I'm even more convinced that dex should not apply.


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Quote:
even in the description of disarm, trip etc in the weapons section state that the item bonus from the weapon can be added to the skill check

I seem to see this argument pretty frequently.

The disarm, trip, and shove traits mention adding item bonus to the athletics roll precisely because it is an attack roll. They are affirming that the athletics check, like any other attack roll, gets the benefit of the item bonus of the item being used to perform it.

Attack roll and athletics check are not mutually exclusive. The rules on attack rolls are very clear about that. Any type of check can be an attack roll, so the attack trait doesn't change it from one thing to another, it just adds another... well, trait to the roll.


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My answer would be you can only apply your dex modifier to the athletics checks if
1) The weapon you're using has a trait that implies you use the weapon to perform the maneuver. Example: Rapiers have the Disarm trait
2) The weapon in question also has the Finesse trait. Example: Rapiers have the Finesse trait

If both those are true then I would allow it, for example using dex while using a rapier to make a disarm check. You would use your athletics proficiency (which includes level) + str (or dex if using the appropriate weapon) + weapon rune bonus if appropriate + other item bonuses to athletics checks. Have I forgotten anything?

But, I wouldn't for example allow you use dex modifier on a grapple check while wielding a rapier, because you don't use a rapier to grapple.


Kennethray wrote:
What I stated was just because it has the attack trait dosent change it from one type of check to another. You can mess with the wording all you like. After looking over the weapon section I'm even more convinced that dex should not apply.

The post right above yours has a direct quote from the CRB saying Grapple is an attack. Explicitly. I'm not even sure what else could be said at this point.

Also, who said anything about changing types? A skill check that's an attack isn't no longer a skill check, it's just also an attack.


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Squiggit wrote:
Kennethray wrote:
you are reading as if it has the attack trait that makes it an attack action. I disagree.

So your argument is that attack action and an action that is an attack are completely distinct concepts from each other?

That seems needlessly unintuitive and clunky to me. Not to mention requires us to pretty much ignore the attack trait entirely and disregard the developer comments mentioned upthread.

How do you define an Attack then?

I suspect that the distiction between attack action and an action that is an attack is legacy of how Pathfinder 1st Edition named its actions. PF1 explicitly defines an "attack action" as a standard action spent to make a single attack. A "full attack" is a full-round action spent to make multiple attacks.

This terminology was important for attack modifying feats such as Vital Strike. The description of Vital Strike starts, "Benefit: When you use the attack action, you can make one attack at your highest base attack bonus that deals additional damage." This means that Vital Strike cannot be used on a full attack nor with a charge nor with Spring Attack, because those are not attack actions.

Pathfinder 2nd Edition uses clearer language. When the developers wanted a distinction for a special type of attack, they gave the attack its own name. They kept the distinction for PF1's "attack action" by naming it "Strike." However, since Strikes are not the only kind of attack, they invented the "attack" trait to denote non-Strike attacks. They also have activities, such as Sudden Charge (two-action activity granted by barbarian and fighter feat 1), that have Strike as a subordinate feat. Checking the barbarian Sudden Charge on page 88, we see that it has the traits Barbarian (class feat for barbarians), Flourish (only one flourish per turn), and Open (only the first attack), but not Attack. That is because the subordinate Strike action has the Attack traits, so Sudden Charge does not need it independently.

I performed a search on my PDF of the PF2 Core Rulebook for the Attack trait, so see how the trait and related words are used.

Barbarian's Spirit's Wrath, page 92, and monk's Sleeper Hold, page 163, are the only class feats with the Attack trait. The Athletics activities Force Open, Grapple, Shove, Trip, and Disarm are the only skill activities with the Attack trait.

On page 278 in the Weapons section of the Equipment chapter, the Core Rulebook defines Attack Rolls, which are definitely not Athletics checks. However, careful reading shows that it defines melee attack rolls and ranged attack rolls specifically, not attack rolls in general. There rolls must be made with weapon attacks and unarmed attacks.

On page 298 in a sidebox in the Spells chapter, the Core Rulebook defines Spell Attack Rolls with further details on page 305. Spell attack roll = your spellcasting ability modifier + proficiency bonus + other bonuses + penalties. These are definitely not weapon attack rolls nor Athletics checks. Later in the chapter, we have spells with the Attack traits: Abyssal Plague, Acid Arrow, Acid Splash, Chill Touch, Chilling Darkness, Death Knell, Divine Lance, etc.

Page 446 in the Playing the Game chapter defines attack rolls again. In the same chapter under Basic Actions, we begin to get actions with Attack trait again: Escape (used unarmed attack modifier) and Strike.

Page 523 in the Hazards section of the Game Mastering section describes several traps with attack rolls, such as Poisoned Lock and Spear Launcher. Those attacks are listed as melee or ranged attacks.

I skipped the Crafting & Treasure chapter, due to too many uses of the word "attack." The later chapters had no activities with Attack trait.

The most comprehensive definition of attack roll is in the Playing the Game chapter. That has already been quoted in this thread.

PF2 Core Rulebook, Playing the Game chapter, page 446 wrote:

Attack Rolls

When you use a Strike action or any other attack action, you attempt a check called an attack roll. Attack rolls take a variety of forms and are often highly variable based on
the weapon you are using for the attack, but there are three main types: melee attack rolls, ranged attack rolls, and spell attack rolls. Spell attack rolls work a little bit differently, so they are explained separately on the next page.

Apparently, the only attack rolls outside the melee, ranged, and spell attack rolls are the Athletics attack activities, the Escape action, and the two attack class feats. And Escape's attack roll is just like an unarmed melee attack roll, except that the Athletics skill on page 241 says, "When you use the Escape basic action (page 470), you can use your Athletics modifier instead of your unarmed attack modifier."

Also revelant are the weapon traits on pages 282-283 related to and named after the Athletics attack activities Grapple, Shove, Trip, and Disarm. The Athletics attack activity Force Open does not have a related weapon trait, not until someone invents the battering ram. And of course, we have the Finesse weapon trait, the source of this entire argument, because it say "attack roll" without saying "attack trait."

And finally we have the Glossarry and Index,

PF2 Core Rulebook, Glossarry and Index, page 629 wrote:
attack (trait) An ability with this trait involves an attack. For each attack you make beyond the first on your turn, you take a multiple attack penalty. 12, 446–447

Next, I searched for "attack action."

The first use of "attack action" in the PF2 Core Rulebook is in the introduction,

PF2 Core Rulebook, Introduction chapter, page 12 wrote:

Attack

When a creature tries to harm another creature, it makes a Strike or uses some other attack action. Most attacks are Strikes made with a weapon, but a character might Strike with their fist, grapple or shove with their hands, or attack with a spell.

The barbarian class feat Furious Bully on page 91 links Athletics checks and attack actions.

FURIOUS BULLY FEAT 8
Barbarian
Prerequisites master in Athletics
You bully foes across the battlefield. While raging, you gain a +2 circumstance bonus to Athletics checks for attack actions.

The Unseen Servant on page 380 cannot use attack actions. If the Athletics attack activities are not attack actions, then it would be able perform those.

The definition of Multiple Attack Penalty on page 446 says "attack actions;" in contrast, the definition of Multiple Attack Penalty on page 278 in the Equipment chapter says, "an action with the attack trait."

I found many other examples of the phrase "attack action," but those examples use the phrase rather than define it. Nevertheless, what these examples have in common is that they are in descriptions that need brevity. The evidence accumulates that "attack action" is just short for "an action with the attack trait," especially in the absence of a definition that says otherwise.

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