SF Help me understand sunder

Kinematics

Explorer
I'm working on building a vanguard character for a Starfinder game. As I've gone back and forth, I settled on an Aspect that provided the Improved Combat Maneuver (sunder) as the bonus feat (it was chosen for the Acrobatics bonus). I started looking into how viable it was to make use of the sunder maneuver, and I'm left puzzled and frustrated.


The character is being created at level 1, but I looked ahead at level 5 because I figured level 1 might just be underpowered without the Entropic Attunement bonus that allows adding Penetrating to the attack's properties. But no, it doesn't get any better.


We'll set up a level 5 Vanguard with Cascade Aspect (Sunder maneuver feat), Penetrating Entropic Attunement, and a Frost Maul for the sunder special (pretend it's level 5).

If he uses the sunder combat maneuver:

1) His to-hit will be +6 (+4 from the feat, +2 from the weapon) vs KAC+8, making it a check vs KAC+2. (I'll assume the basic attack is enough to make it a 50/50 hit chance vs normal KAC.) Then I can vaguely approximate this as dropping from a 50% chance to hit to a 40% chance to hit (or a 30% chance without the maul). That's already a significant penalty, and still requires a feat and special weapon just to make it "just a little bit" bad.

2) The average hardness of a weapon (p.409) is 5 + 2 * weapon/armor level. Assuming the enemy has a level 5 weapon to match the character, that's a hardness of 15. With the Penetrating Entropic Attunement, that's reduced by the attacker's weapon level (5), so we're at 10.

3) The Entropic Strike damage for a level 5 Vanguard is 1d6 + Con. Con at level 5 is likely 19, for a +4 bonus. The maximum possible damage that can be done by the Vanguard is 10 damage. The target weapon hardness reduces damage by 10. It is therefore impossible to ever do any damage with the sunder maneuver.

4) Even if something did manage to push the damage result into the net positive, the level 5 target weapon has 15 + 3*weapon level hit points. So for our level 5 weapon, that's 30 hit points. If I add an extra +2 Con augment and manage to roll max damage, I can now do 11 damage, reduced to 1 damage due to the weapon's hardness. So after 30 attacks (with a 30%-40% hit chance, and rolling max damage each time), I'd manage to finally break the opponent's weapon. Or, using the actual probabilities, it would take me an average of 450 attacks to break a level 5 weapon.

Compare with Entropic Grasp, a level 3 spell which can do 6d6 damage when attempting to sunder an object. That's an average of 21 damage, compared to the maximum of 10-11 (and average of about 8) for the Vanguard's attack. Even that would still take 5 casts to break a level 5 weapon, assuming the full 15 hardness applies its damage reduction. (If it doesn't, then only 2 casts.)


So, baseline, I have a crappy chance to do nothing. This seems beyond ludicrous.

Please tell me I'm missing something. Two of the Vanguard's Aspects provide the Improved Combat Feat (sunder), which means two of the Aspects might as well not give any bonus feat at all. Having two such Aspects also suggests that Paizo is leaning towards this being the more intended design goal for the Vanguard class, relative to the other available combat maneuvers.

Note: I'm aware it's easier to sunder non-weapon/armor objects, but that doesn't invalidate the issues with what seems the most likely intended use case.
 

Advertisement

Top