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Pathfinder 1E Balancing Iterative Attacks Against an Alternative

One of the things I like about The Starfinder Roleplaying Game is that anyone can make two attacks at -4/-4 instead of their normal attack bonus for a single attack.

Our group added that rule to our house rules for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, this past weekend and it worked great. Ultimately, only one character used it, but he was the character with the highest effective attack bonus in the group.

So, I got to thinking, what would the modifier need to be for it to be balanced against normal iterative attacks while allowing a character to get 3 or 4 attacks?

Two attacks at -4/-4 versus an iterative (+0/-5) seems balanced.

Would three attacks at -6/-6/-6 be balanced against iteratives of +0/-5/-10 ???

How about four attacks at -8/-8/-8/-8 against iteratives of +0/-5/-10/-15 ???
 

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One of the things I like about The Starfinder Roleplaying Game is that anyone can make two attacks at -4/-4 instead of their normal attack bonus for a single attack.

Our group added that rule to our house rules for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, this past weekend and it worked great. Ultimately, only one character used it, but he was the character with the highest effective attack bonus in the group.

So, I got to thinking, what would the modifier need to be for it to be balanced against normal iterative attacks while allowing a character to get 3 or 4 attacks?

Two attacks at -4/-4 versus an iterative (+0/-5) seems balanced.

Would three attacks at -6/-6/-6 be balanced against iteratives of +0/-5/-10 ???

How about four attacks at -8/-8/-8/-8 against iteratives of +0/-5/-10/-15 ???

Trailblazer is a "mod set" of rules for 3.5e that came out in 2009, so at about the same time as Pathfinder (and indeed, the Pathfinder Beta is referenced as part of its OGL Section 15). There, they changed multiple attacks as such:

  • Level 6: Make two attacks, each at -2.
  • Level 11: Make two attacks, each at -1.
  • Level 16: Make two attacks at your normal bonus.
This is slightly more powerful than the regular iteratives, particularly at low levels. But if you're interested in making multiple attacks easier, that's where I'd start.

The thing to remember about Starfinder though is that the -4/-4 isn't supposed to balance out the loss of iterative attacks. It's supposed to be a (slight) buff of your normal damage in exchange for using a full action to attack instead of a standard action, and it's something anyone can do - not just people with BAB 6+. The loss of iterative attacks, rather, is handled via higher-level weapons dealing more damage. At around level 6, weapons start dealing 2 dice of damage instead of 1, though they scale a bit differently from there.
 

Thanks, Staffan. Much appreciated.

I do remember Trailblazer's option and that it was "slightly more powerful than the regular iteratives, particularly at low levels."

I may just start with that, at least for the full BAB classes.

What I have in mind is (and am already doing) is combining stuff from several editions. Right now, I'm looking at how the 5E Fighter's Extra Attack feature might convert over to Pathfinder. At first, I thought it would work similarly to the two-weapon fighting rules (-4/-4 unless the weapon was light; which also matches Starfinder's option). But, I didn't want the -5 on each extra attack that the 5E fighter gets (at 11th and 20th) if the two-weapon fighting feats were mimicked for this class feature. For the feel to remain the same, I wanted the same bonus for each of the 5E Fighter's attacks. So, that's why I was thinking of -6/-6 and -8/-8.

But, Trailblazer's option might be the answer as it is slightly more powerful than regular iteratives (which this should be, since it is intended to be a class feature).

I haven't looked very deep into Starfinder (as my players really don't want to learn a new game, right now), so I wasn't aware of the additional damage dice at higher levels that Starfinder characters get.
 

Andor

First Post
I haven't looked very deep into Starfinder (as my players really don't want to learn a new game, right now), so I wasn't aware of the additional damage dice at higher levels that Starfinder characters get.

Starfinder has higher HP total due to a split system, with correspondingly higher damage totals. It parallels 5e, except that in 5e the escalating HP/Damage numbers replace the inflating Attack/AC numbers. Starfinder uses both and I'm not sure that's wise, but it's not like I've got a lot of high level play with the system so what do I know?

As an example, here is the Starfinder Improved Unarmed Strike feat:
IMPROVED UNARMED STRIKE (COMBAT)
You have trained to make your unarmed attacks lethal and strike with kicks, head-butts, and similar attacks.

Benefit: Your unarmed attack damage increases to 1d6 at 4th level, 2d6 at 8th level, 3d6 at 12th level, 5d6 at 15th level, and 7d6 at 20th level. You threaten squares within your natural reach with your unarmed strikes even when you do not have a hand free for an unarmed strike. If you are immobilized, entangled, or unable to use both legs (or whatever appendages you have in place of legs, where appropriate), you lose the ability to make unarmed strikes without your hands. When making an unarmed strike without your hands, you can’t use such attacks for combat maneuvers or similar abilities—only to deal damage.

Normal: You don’t threaten any squares with unarmed attacks, and you must have a hand free to make an unarmed attack.
 

I haven't looked very deep into Starfinder (as my players really don't want to learn a new game, right now), so I wasn't aware of the additional damage dice at higher levels that Starfinder characters get.

Technically, it's not higher-level characters that deal extra damage, it's higher-level gear. The idea is basically that as a starting character, you can't really afford anything better than an azimuth laser pistol (1d4), and even if you could you wouldn't have the connections to buy it. But at 4th to 6th level you might be able to both afford and have the reputation to get a corona laser pistol (2d4), and later an aphelion laser pistol (3d4), and so on. There's technically nothing stopping a 1st level character from using a parallax laser pistol (5d4), but it'd be similar to a 1st-level Pathfinder character having a +6-equivalent weapon.
 


WOW !
That Unarmed Strike feat is insane! (Initial reaction without understanding what's different in that game.) It's way beyond a Pathfinder Monk's unarmed strike damage (not considering all the ways a Monk could boost damage in PF), but perhaps it's compensated for by allowing only one attack, normally, versus the Monk's flurry.

I think maybe the most I'll pull from Starfinder for Pathfinder is the option to full attack at -4/-4 even if BAB is less than +6. That doesn't seem to hurt anything, at this point. I think it'd even work in 5E.
 

Lord Mhoram

Adventurer
WOW !
That Unarmed Strike feat is insane! (Initial reaction without understanding what's different in that game.) It's way beyond a Pathfinder Monk's unarmed strike damage (not considering all the ways a Monk could boost damage in PF), but perhaps it's compensated for by allowing only one attack, normally, versus the Monk's flurry.

I think maybe the most I'll pull from Starfinder for Pathfinder is the option to full attack at -4/-4 even if BAB is less than +6. That doesn't seem to hurt anything, at this point. I think it'd even work in 5E.

Starfinder weapons do more damage as they go up in level (one of the weapons does something like 10d12, another 12d8 or something at 20th). Compared that kind of damage, the unarmed damage isn't all that awesome, but it means it can still be effective.
 

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