Why double on Power Attack with Two-handed?


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    Ignore radmod

    Why double on Power Attack with Two-handed?

    When using Power Attack with a two-handed weapon, you add twice the bonus.
    A while back a friend of mine explained that there was a specific reason why WOTC made PA doubled instead of 1 1/2 times but I can't remember what it was.
    Does anyone know? Mathematics? Precedence? The whim of the Gods?

 

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    Mathematics and balance - to keep it on par damage-wise with TWF. Also, Freud.

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    Yeah, Two-Weapon Fighting seems to be the best explanation for double PA damage, though it's a piss poor one considering how terribly useless TWF tends to be for anyone but backstabbers, which most likely use weapon finesse and light weapons which gain no additional damage from PA.

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    Let's just say WotC doesn't quite get the mechanics of its own game.

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    Quote Originally Posted by radmod View Post
    When using Power Attack with a two-handed weapon, you add twice the bonus.
    A while back a friend of mine explained that there was a specific reason why WOTC made PA doubled instead of 1 1/2 times but I can't remember what it was.
    Does anyone know? Mathematics? Precedence? The whim of the Gods?
    How about the simple fact that when you're holding something
    with 2 hands you can smash it down a LOT harder than when
    you're holding something in one hand...? Look at lumberjacks,
    & why they use 2-handed axes...ok, chainsaws, but you get the
    idea...

    Simple explanation's usually the best...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxecat1 View Post
    How about the simple fact that when you're holding something
    with 2 hands you can smash it down a LOT harder than when
    you're holding something in one hand...? Look at lumberjacks,
    & why they use 2-handed axes...ok, chainsaws, but you get the
    idea...

    Simple explanation's usually the best...
    Bastard sword falls under the same logic. It being the flexible poster boy of the whole idea, a hand and a half sword.

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    Ignore radmod
    Max, Monty, I'm not sure you understood the question.

    Rephrased: Why does two-handed Power Attack get double bonus while two-handed Strength is one and a half times ?

    I think Uder and Hobo are probably right. At least it sounds like what my friend had said, but, then again, I seem to remember there was something else too.
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    Quote Originally Posted by radmod View Post
    Max, Monty, I'm not sure you understood the question.

    Rephrased: Why does two-handed Power Attack get double bonus while two-handed Strength is one and a half times ?
    You have got to kidding right?

    I mean when you spend one of the PC's feat choices shouldn't the feat grant something more than you can get without it?

    The simple logic for this one is to provide a benefit for having the feat and the math is a simple step up.

    Sorry about the mix up.

    I realized after I got in my car that I had posted too quickly.

    I realize the question was actually why didn't they follow the same math instead of 2x?

    In 3.0 power attack was a simple 1 for 1 tradeoff regardless of the weapon (or how used).

    I believe that when they updated to 3.5 they had realized that 2 weapon fighting was far more prevalent than power attacking with a great axe.

    And the image of an ogre or barbarian swatting feriously with a great ax is so engrained in the typical D&D player's minds (and the stories) that it seemed crazy not to make it more advantageous than it was.

    I do believe the jumpt to 2 times was to make the math easier though.
    Last edited by irdeggman; Tuesday, 31st August, 2010 at 11:18 PM.
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    Ignore Persiflage
    I once did a complex breakdown of the maths behind Power Attack, but here's the simple (and much-simplified) version.

    The standard "benefit" of Power Attack when attacking one-handed is that you take a -1 penalty to hit - or in other words decrease your chance to hit by 5% - in exchange for +1 point of damage, yes? So it's pretty obvious that if that 5% additional miss-chance is equivalent to more than 1 point of damage, you're completely wasting your time with Power Attack.

    In other words, once you are doing more than 20 points of damage on average with an attack made one-handed, Power Attack is a really silly thing to do: and that's without taking into account crit confirmations, which can be significant depending on your build.

    Doubling the payback for Power Attack when using a weapon two-handed makes it worth doing for longer, what with two-handed fighters doing more damage per blow anyway. Now you get +2 points of damage per 5% decrease in chance to hit, meaning that overall you are doing something worthwhile by using the feat so long as you're not expecting to do more than 40 points of damage in a blow. If two-handed weapon wielders only got 1.5x the amount they deducted from their attack rolls, it would only be worth using up to an average damage of 30 points per blow, rendering it useless at mid levels.

    It is, of course, more complicated than that. There will always be a range of AC's that you will hit on anything but a 1 or can't hit on anything but 20, which changes the game somewhat. Dice explosions on a crit also skew the figures, depending on threat ranges.

    For the record, I don't really believe that WoTC took all this carefully into account before deciding how Power Attack worked; if they had it would have gone against years and years of demonstrating that they Just Don't Get Statistics... but you never know

    If anyone's interested, I made a spreadsheet that allows you to input attack bonuses and damage for a variety of attack routines (up to 4 attack routines with up to 4 iterative attacks each) and compares them in graph output across a range of AC's. It's very useful for quickly answering questions about what your optimal strategy will be when comparing possible attack routines for a prospective build. By all means PM me for a copy

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    I have found a number of references online saying that the designers originally wanted it to be 1.5x for two-handed PA, but changed it to 2x to make the math easier. I can't seem to find an original source for this, though.

    From a statistics standpoint, when PA is always used on a 1-for-1 basis, it's actually better for TWF builds that use light weapons. This was an unintended effect in 3e that the designers wanted to fix in 3.5. They wanted PA to be more useful for big fighter with big weapons. IMO, they succeeded, but possibly a little too well.
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