Why is the spiked chain so good?

Kerrick

First Post
And what would you do to fix it?

A spiked chain has reach, so you can strike opponents 10 feet away with it. In addition, unlike most other weapons with reach, it can be used against an adjacent foe.

You can make trip attacks with the chain. If you are tripped during your own trip attempt, you can drop the chain to avoid being tripped.

When using a spiked chain, you get a +2 bonus on opposed attack rolls made to disarm an opponent (including the roll to avoid being disarmed if such an attempt fails).

You can use the Weapon Finesse feat to apply your Dexterity modifier instead of your Strength modifier to attack rolls with a spiked chain sized for you, even though it isn’t a light weapon for you.
 

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StreamOfTheSky

Adventurer
I'd do nothing to "fix" it. It's one of the few exotic weapons actually worth a feat.

As to why it's so good, it's not useful for sheer damage output. It's goood because a Fighter can handle that just fine already. It lets a Fighter easily do all kinds of other stuff: threaten every square out to double his normal reach (best used with enlarge), trip at range (including stopping an enemy charge dead with the aoo for reach), +2 disarm as well as the two-handed bonus (note: disarming a prone foe is effectively another +8 bonus), and using dex to hit (not that important to me; you 2H to add massive str to the damage, usually). Also, now for some builds, it's worth it to get Shadow Blade, adding your dex to damage on top of strength x1.5

So, it's good for the same reason a whip (the only other core exotic weapon "worth it") is good: it lets you do all kinds of tricks you couldn't with a greatsword.
 


pawsplay

Banned
Banned
It's not that strong. What it does is give you options. You can't exercise them all at the same time, though. It's finessable, but if you go for high Dex, lower Str, it's no good for tripping. You can use it for tripping, but if you have to drop it, you lose your threatned squares. It's really not that great, it just has an edge over conventional weapons, like other exotic weapons.
 

Elder-Basilisk

First Post
There is a simple reason that the spiked chain is too good: the exotic weapon master prestige class. The flurry of blows ability gives a spiked chain wielder an extra attack which scores full two handed power attack damage and that wielders of other weapons cannot duplicate.

How to fix it?
1. Ban the exotic weapon master prestige class
2. Open it up to non-exotic weapons and let flurry of blows work with anything.

Absent the exotic weapon master prestige class, the spiked chain is a silly weapon that gives you marginally more flexibility than the alternatives at the cost of a feat and marginally reduced offensive ability.
 

Jeff Wilder

First Post
I spoke to Jonathan Tweet at GenCon one year over breakfast, and he told me the spiked chain was his addition to the rules, and that he considered it hands-down the best weapon in the game. (He considered the greatsword to be second-best.) I didn't really ask him if he thought it was "too good," though.

Personally, I see -- and am guilty of -- much more cheese with the greatsword. Not that you can't get cheesy with the spiked chain, but it just doesn't seem as acceptable as greatsword-cheese somehow, so nobody does it in our group.
 

Kerrick

First Post
Hmm. I always hear people complain that the spiked chain is far and away the best weapon in the game, that it's overpowered, blah blah blah... I'm thinking about removing the Finesse component because it weighs 10 pounds, far more than any other finessable weapon.

Question: is a monk build with a spiked chain (we'll say pure monk) overpowered? I mean, core rules only... can it be too much?
 

Jack Simth

First Post
Kerrick said:
Hmm. I always hear people complain that the spiked chain is far and away the best weapon in the game, that it's overpowered, blah blah blah... I'm thinking about removing the Finesse component because it weighs 10 pounds, far more than any other finessable weapon.

Question: is a monk build with a spiked chain (we'll say pure monk) overpowered? I mean, core rules only... can it be too much?
1) Monk Builds, especially Core monk builds, generally aren't broken period (except, perhaps, in the "too weak" sense).
2) Monk can't flurry with a Spiked Chain in Core.

So no, not broken for a pure Core monk.
 

frankthedm

First Post
What makes the spike chain too good is 'threatening reach', as 4E would describe it.

Simply rule that the Spiked Chain works much like a whip's reach, you can melee attack at a distance, can strike adjacent, but no extra 'AoO threatened area' beyond what you have coming for your size. If you want to throw the chain a bone after this, allow some of the following

Strike out to 15' [as whip] (Double natural reach +5')
Also can be used as a non reach double weapon.
Also can be used as a grapnel
Damage Type can be switched to 'Bludgeoning'.
Can take advantage of whatever 'garroting' rules the campaign uses.
 

Hawken

First Post
Regarding the OP:

I would make the following changes:

1) On a successful Trip attack, the weapon inflicts 1d4 damage (no bonuses or extra damage since you're not making an "attack"). --A spiked anything wrapping around someone's leg or striking someone's leg with enough force to sweep is going to hurt.

2) No bonus damage for 2-H weapon from Str, just keep it at X1. --Just because you have to hold the thing with two hands doesn't mean you're putting the power of two hands into the swing.

All the illustrations I've seen show one hand stabilizing or controlling the chain while the other throws or aims it. To me, that makes it a "one handed weapon that you have to hold in 2 hands", just like a bow. You have to use two hands to operate a bow, but you don't get X1.5 Str for damage with it, same principal.

3) I would not allow it to "break" a charge. If someone is charging, sure, AoO as normal, but I would have an exception to this weapon that unless it is used to Trip the person charging it is not going to stop a charge. Or rule that if the attack is successful, the charging person is knocked to either side of the chain wielder.

4) Change the threat range from "double" to "extends threat range by +5'". This prevents excess and potential for abuse from Enlarge effects and similar situations. If an effect, such as Enlarge, doubles threat range, fine. Your range is doubled, (from 5' to 10' for a Med going to Lg), then using the spiked chain increases that by an extra 5'; so, 15' threat range.
 

phindar

First Post
The main point of contention I've seen with the spiked chain in my group had to do with a character that used it with his Improved Disarm, Improved Trip feats. Without getting into the balance side of it, I know that for the GM, it was really, really annoying.

Recently, as a character I faced a group of monks who had gone the Imp Trip route, and it made for a nightmarish couple of rounds. Fine in small doses, but I could see how it would get old fast. It made me think back to that old game, and I could see why the GM would get frustrated. Basically, any humanoidish-type monster (something that relied on using a weapon or standing) either had to be built to withstand disarms and trips, or was effectively neutered. (Disarm is easier to get around than trip, a locking gauntlet being an easy item to toss in, but trip is a bit thornier.)

As a weapon that can threaten adjacent and at Reach, the spiked chain is a good buy for an Exotic Wpn. If you wanted to limit it, you could throw in move-equivilent action to switch between its Reach and Non-Reach quality, but honestly that just seems nit-picky to me.

For my money, if Imp Trip and Disarm were "fixed" (hey, that's another thread), a lot of the spiked chain's seeming offensiveness would disappear. At least, that's how I saw it in my group. YMMV.
 

moritheil

First Post
There are - without exaggeration - at least a dozen other threads on this that may also be helpful. Most of these explanations surfaced then, and some of them were handled in much greater detail in previous threads.
 

Kerrick

First Post
I would make the following changes:

1) On a successful Trip attack, the weapon inflicts 1d4 damage (no bonuses or extra damage since you're not making an "attack"). --A spiked anything wrapping around someone's leg or striking someone's leg with enough force to sweep is going to hurt.
Hmm... makes sense, but wouldn't that be giving it an added bonus?

2) No bonus damage for 2-H weapon from Str, just keep it at X1. --Just because you have to hold the thing with two hands doesn't mean you're putting the power of two hands into the swing.

All the illustrations I've seen show one hand stabilizing or controlling the chain while the other throws or aims it. To me, that makes it a "one handed weapon that you have to hold in 2 hands", just like a bow. You have to use two hands to operate a bow, but you don't get X1.5 Str for damage with it, same principal.
That makes sense too - the chain's a finessable weapon, so I think it would be like a light weapon - too light to effectively get your full Strength bonus.

3) I would not allow it to "break" a charge. If someone is charging, sure, AoO as normal, but I would have an exception to this weapon that unless it is used to Trip the person charging it is not going to stop a charge. Or rule that if the attack is successful, the charging person is knocked to either side of the chain wielder.
I didn't know you could break a charge with a chain...

4) Change the threat range from "double" to "extends threat range by +5'". This prevents excess and potential for abuse from Enlarge effects and similar situations. If an effect, such as Enlarge, doubles threat range, fine. Your range is doubled, (from 5' to 10' for a Med going to Lg), then using the spiked chain increases that by an extra 5'; so, 15' threat range.
I'm not sure where you're getting "doubles threat range" - if that were the case, a whip would triple it, which is simply not true. Reach increases by 5 ft. per size, so an ogre (Large) using a chain would have a 15-ft. reach.

For my money, if Imp Trip and Disarm were "fixed" (hey, that's another thread), a lot of the spiked chain's seeming offensiveness would disappear. At least, that's how I saw it in my group. YMMV.
Yeah, I think that's the main problem people have with it. Paizo's done a good job of making all the combat maneuvers much more useful and balanced - I've yoinked their rules.
 

Corsair

First Post
The problem isn't the chain (as you can do many of the same tricks with one of the other reach weapons + armor spikes, and save yourself a feat). The problem is that if you build someone to trip or disarm, they will completely overwhelm any humanoid type enemy not specifically prepared to counter the tactic.
 

StreamOfTheSky

Adventurer
@Kerrick:
As for reach, you're thinking of 3.0 and Arcana Evolved. Perhaps Paizo, too (I know nothing of that). These systems have reach weapons adding +5 ft to your reach and leaving the first 5 ft around you the area you cannot attack (unless it's a spiked chain or similar reach weapon).
3.5, on the other hand, has reach weapons literally doubling your natural reach and making your entire natural reach the "no attack zone." Thus, a large giant with a longspear threatens out to 20 ft, but not the 10 ft around himself (with the spear, if he has natural attacks, spiked guantlets, etc... he can). A whip doesn't follow these rules because it's oddly treated as a ranged weapon, not a reach melee weapon, so it's always a static +15 ft. So, a Human w/ Enlarge Person and a spiked chain takes up a 10 ft space and threatens a 20 ft radius around himself, tripping and disarming in an area larger than the wizard's fireball (when you count the space he takes up). Hence why he effectively is using "battlefield control," a term normally used for stuff like Evard's Black Tentacles type spells.

@Hawkin:
Kerrick's right on the first change.
On removing the 2H str bonus, why not just remove the finesse? A high str is more useful anyway, for bonuses to damage, trip, and disarm. I always found the finesse thing unnecessary (though my dex 20 whisper gnome swordsage liked it). Scrap that if having both is conflicting.
On rule #3, what? A spiked chain breaks a charge on an aoo by either a) killing the person, simple enough; b) tripping them, as you could with any tripping reach weapon or sheer natural reach; c) Disarming, which can be done with any reach weapon or long reach + unarmed, but is an inferior option since charge is (I rule, at least) adding +2 to their opposed attack roll; d) using some other option via class feature or feat, like Stand Still. There's no need for rules to stop a piked chain from breaking a charge, because all the things it can do to break one apply to every other long reach aoo, generally.
For #4, as long as that's a universal rule, not just to screw over spiked chain, sure. I honestly prefer doing it 3.0 like that myself, likewise for weapons tables.
 

phindar

First Post
I'd be more inclined to consider it a Light Weapon, and leave it at that. I think a lot of the Spiked Chain's perceived unbalance comes from it being the best weapon across the board. If you take away the 2-hand Power Attack benefit, it still remains a very versatile weapon without also being a high damage weapon.
 


Felix

Explorer
phindar said:
I think a lot of the Spiked Chain's perceived unbalance comes from it being the best weapon across the board.
Substandard base damage.
Substandard criticals.
Feat intensive.
Worst damage type (piercing).

It is not the best weapon across the board.
 

Legildur

First Post
Felix said:
Substandard base damage.
Substandard criticals.
Feat intensive.
Worst damage type (piercing).

It is not the best weapon across the board.
Agreed. Although I'm not sure if my DM would agree with when my optimised spiked-chain wielder disarmed a Hill Giant wielding a two-handed maul.... and the DM rolled a natural 20 on the opposed disarm check (and yes, factored in size and weapon-size bonuses). Mind you, I wasn't silly enough to try and trip him... that has a measurably lesser chance of success.

But yeah, no where as much damage as the longsword-wielding elf fighter, or the hammer-wielding dwarf fighter. And his survivability (particularly with no shield) is low with a crappy AC.
 

phindar

First Post
I wouldn't change anything about it other than to consider it a Light Weapon (it'll still be two-handed), although now that you mention it, I think a Dex-based TWF who wielded two chains would be less annoying than one who wielded one two handed and got the 2-hand Power Attack damage.

"The best weapon across the board" was in reference to it's use in maneuvers, and granted, I could have made that more clear. Being a 2-handed weapon gives it a +4 on Disarm and Sunder attempts, making it a light weapon would basically negate this. The weapon would retain it's +2 on rolls to Disarm, making it an okay weapon for someone who was going that route, but not game-breaking. (I mean, anytime a particular weapon/feat combo makes the GM think I can't use any monsters that have weapons or stand up, then it might be over the top.)

For my money, I think the Trip build is more annoying than the Disarm build (not that most spiked chain fighters don't do both), if for no other reason than more monsters stand than use weapons. Even if you can't use Power Attack with the chain, there's still plenty of incentive to make a STR based character who uses one.

As it is, Power Attack and Imp Trip is essentially 8 free points of damage, since the Trip is a touch attack to begin (probably doesn't hurt to give up Attack Bonus on that), an opposed STR check to trip the opponent (PA doesn't penalize), and then a free attack at +4 for striking a prone target, basically what you would have to roll to hit the standing monster if you didn't use Power Attack. Plus the monster will either have to provoke when it stands or crawls away, or will attack from prone at -4. (I think this is also level dependent, and at the higher levels the PC's routinely face much larger, much higher strength opponents that are much harder to trip. Trip really stands out below 10th level, and will seem like a bigger deal if that's where most of your games take place.)

If you think the Spiked Chain is fine the way it is, then I wouldn't expect any change to how it works to seem necessary. But, if you think the Spiked Chain is unbalancing (either in the "game-destroying" or simply "too good for the cost" sense), then I think considering it a Light weapon you wield 2-handed would be a fairly simple limitation to impose.

Although, I do stand by my original comment that the problem isn't so much with the Spiked Chain as it is with the way the Combat Maneuvers are written. I houseruled those in my game and having done that, I honestly wouldn't have a problem with any character wielding a Spiked Chain as written.
 

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