Why is the spiked chain so good?

Hypersmurf

Moderatarrrrh...
phindar said:
Being a 2-handed weapon gives it a +4 on Disarm and Sunder attempts, making it a light weapon would basically negate this.

It wouldn't just negate the bonus; it also imposes a -4 penalty.

The difference between a two-handed weapon and a light weapon is 8 points, for Sunder and Disarm.

-Hyp.
 

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Herzog

Adventurer
I think Phindar means making it a light, two-handed weapon would mean both a +4 (for two-handed) and -4 (for being light) on the Disarm and Sunder attempts.

Herzog
 

Kat'

First Post
phindar said:
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.

Well, there are still a lot of monsters that are hard to trip. Those with four legs or more, those with no legs at all (can you trip a Purple worm?), those with flight...
 

Rackhir

Explorer
Another thing is that at medium-high levels lots of monsters have greater than or equal reach to that provided by the spiked chain, which negates the reach advantage.

The spiked-chain seems mostly to me, to only be "too good" if you permit pcs to run things like a large creature that's enlarged all the time. We've had a character using a spiked chain in Shil's campaign from 3rd to 16th lvl and he's never been overpowered. If anything he's one of the weakest members of the party.

So in actual usage, I just have not seen the spiked chain being overpowered.
 

Kerrick

First Post
The boards ate the post I tried to make yesterday, so let's do this again - hopefully it'll take this time.

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).
I'm not sure how Paizo does it - I don't think I've seen it come up yet. They do have a really good system for handling disarm, trip, etc., though - they condensed all the opposed rolls into one roll called a CMB (combat maneuver bonus), which is your BAB + Str + size mod* vs. DC = 15 + opponent's CMB. Obviously this needs a bit of work - the base DC is too high (drop it to 10) and the size mods too low (double them) - but it's a pretty good system, and it makes grappling SO much easier.

*Size mod is much lower - +1 for Large, then +2, +4, etc.

I didn't realize that 3.5 flat out doubled the reach, but I came up with an idea - a reach weapon increases the creature's reach by 150%, instead of 200% (round up). So, a Medium creature still has a reach of 10 ft., a Large is 15, a Huge 25, Gargantuan 30, and Colossal 45. This is much more than simply extending it by 5 ft. (imagine a storm giant waving around a toothpick) but much less than double the reach. (What they actually did wasn't "double the reach", but increased the reach by 5 ft. per size over Medium - it just happens to double.)

I was going to combine this with another rule - you can make attacks within the range of your natural reach with the butt of a reach weapon (polearm or longspear), but it deals damage as a staff and you suffer a -4 penalty.

I think Phindar means making it a light, two-handed weapon would mean both a +4 (for two-handed) and -4 (for being light) on the Disarm and Sunder attempts.
Light weapons and 2-handed weapons are totally different things. You can wield a Light weapon with two hands, but you won't get anything out of it. You cannot, however, make a weapon Light AND 2-handed.
 

phindar

First Post
The chain would be an exception. You also can't Finesse a non-light weapon by the rules; the exceptions are listed in the weapon description. Instead of reading, "You can Finesse the Spiked Chain even though it is not a light weapon," it would be, "The Spiked Chain is a Light Weapon that must be wielded with two hands."
 

Bad Paper

First Post
my proposed change

The thing I have always hated about the spiked chain is that it never really existed out here in the real world, presumably because it's so impractical. Think about the comic misuse of nunchaku that leads to hitting yourself in the face. Can you imagine that with a spiked chain?

That being said, I suggest any roll of a natural 1 on a spiked-chain attack results in the wielder getting a critical hit...on himself.
 

Hypersmurf

Moderatarrrrh...
phindar said:
The chain would be an exception. You also can't Finesse a non-light weapon by the rules; the exceptions are listed in the weapon description. Instead of reading, "You can Finesse the Spiked Chain even though it is not a light weapon," it would be, "The Spiked Chain is a Light Weapon that must be wielded with two hands."

You can do that, but it still ends up with a -4 penalty to Sunder and a -2 penalty to Disarm (-4 for being light, +2 bonus to disarm checks).

Wielding with two hands doesn't give a +4 bonus; wielding a two-handed weapon does.


Kerrick said:
I didn't realize that 3.5 flat out doubled the reach, but I came up with an idea - a reach weapon increases the creature's reach by 150%, instead of 200% (round up). So, a Medium creature still has a reach of 10 ft., a Large is 15, a Huge 25, Gargantuan 30, and Colossal 45.

If you increase a Large creature's reach by 150%, it goes from 10 feet to 25 feet. I suspect you mean increase it by 50%.

-Hyp.
 

phindar

First Post
hyp said:
Wielding with two hands doesn't give a +4 bonus; wielding a two-handed weapon does.
Which, if it were a two-handed light weapon, it would. Granted, this makes it an exception to the general rule about light weapons, but it already is (in that it is a non-light, two-hand weapon that can be Finessed).

That is separate from the issue that I've never been sold on the difference between a two-handed weapon and a weapon wielded with two hands. But once that discussion starts up, we're no longer arguing about the Spiked Chain and should really continue on in a different topic.

Now, if you say the Spiked Chain is fine and doesn't need fixing, I can respect that. Or if you say the Spiked Chain is horribly broken and making it a Light Weapon doesn't go far enough, I can respect that as well. (As I said, I perceived the problem to be with the combat maneuvers and in house-ruling that I never had another issue with the Spiked Chain.)

I am responding primarily to the OP, in that making the Spiked Chain a 2-Handed Light Weapon (as opposed to a 2-Handed Non-Light Finessable Weapon) is a fairly minor change that I think will remove some of the balance issues surrounding the weapon.

The things that annoyed my GM the most in regards to the Spiked Chain was that it was almost impossible for that character to fail at tripping or disarming any opponent that wasn't specifically designed around avoiding trip or disarms, and that in addition to being a very versatile weapon in maneuvers, combined with Power Attack the chain-fighter was also doing the most damage (on the "free 8 points of damage" program I detailed above). Making the Spiked Chain a 2-Hand Light Weapon solves those specific problems.

If the complaint is the solution isn't RAW, I would say, "Yeah. It's a house rule."
 

Hypersmurf

Moderatarrrrh...
phindar said:
Which, if it were a two-handed light weapon, it would.

There's no such thing.

Light, One-Handed, and Two-Handed Melee Weapons: This designation is a measure of how much effort it takes to wield a weapon in combat. It indicates whether a melee weapon, when wielded by a character of the weapon’s size category, is considered a light weapon, a one-handed weapon, or a two-handed weapon.

A melee weapon is a light weapon, or a one-handed weapon, or a two-handed weapon.

Your use of the phrase "two-handed light weapon" is like saying "He's a Large Medium creature", or "He's a Humanoid Dragon", or "He's Chaotic Lawful Good".

If it's a light weapon, it's not a two-handed weapon. If it's a light weapon with a special rule that it must be wielded in two hands, it's not a two-handed weapon.

-Hyp.
 

phindar

First Post
There's no such thing.
There would be now, since I just made it up. This is my last post on the subject, because honestly, I feel I am simply repeating myself.

For the purposes of this house rule (to address the specific balance issues I have listed in the posts above), the Spiked Chain is a special weapon. It's considered a Light Weapon that is wielded with two hands.

This keeps the trip/disarm/sunder bonuses from getting out of control (since the effectively cancel each other out, leaving the chain with a +2 to disarm), removes Power Attack from the equation, and it still threatens adjacent and at Reach which is the main benefit of the weapon.
 

Hypersmurf

Moderatarrrrh...
phindar said:
For the purposes of this house rule (to address the specific balance issues I have listed in the posts above), the Spiked Chain is a special weapon. It's considered a Light Weapon that is wielded with two hands.

There's nothing wrong with that.

This keeps the trip/disarm/sunder bonuses from getting out of control (since the effectively cancel each other out, leaving the chain with a +2 to disarm)

... that's where your problem comes in. There is nothing to cancel the penalty, since wielding a Light weapon in two hands doesn't give a +4 bonus.

What you need to do is say "A spiked chain is a light weapon. It must be wielded in two hands. It gains a +4 bonus to Sunder and a +6 bonus to Disarm."

Now, you have some bonuses to cancel out the -4 penalty for being a light weapon.

-Hyp.
 


Kerrick

First Post
If you increase a Large creature's reach by 150%, it goes from 10 feet to 25 feet. I suspect you mean increase it by 50%.
Uh... yeah. That's what I meant.

That is separate from the issue that I've never been sold on the difference between a two-handed weapon and a weapon wielded with two hands.
A two-handed weapon is a weapon that MUST be wielded with both hands - it's specifically designed that way. A one-handed weapon is designed to be used in one hand (duh), but CAN be used with both. Since it's not designed to take advantage of two-handed use, however, it doesn't grant double Strength bonus like a true two-handed weapon.

A spiked chain is a corner case - it requires two hands to be wielded properly (because it's so big), but technically you're only using one hand to attack with it - you're holding one end with one hand, and lashing out with the other. If you've ever seen Kill Bill 2, I'm thinking it's similar to the Japanese girl's ball and chain (I can't remember her name - she was O-Ren's bodyguard), except that you lash with it, like a whip. So it'd require two hands to use, you don't get the double Strength bonus, but you CAN finesse it like a whip.

So all that's left, really, is to drop the auto-attack with Imp Trip, change the special size bonus for the opposed check, and I think it'd work just great.
 

Kaisoku

First Post
Both Two-Handed weapons, and One-handed weapons used with two hands, get the 1.5x Strength damage and 2x conversion from Power Attack.

There is literally no other place, other than in Disarm, that Two-handed weapons are differentiated from a One-handed weapon held in two hands, and even then it's only a differentiation through omission. It's quite possible the rule was written by someone who simply thought it was implied in the rest of the rules that it was the same thing.

The question really is then...
Does a Two-Handed weapon get this +4 bonus because it's a "big weapon", and a Light weapon get the -4 penalty because it's a "smaller weapon"? Or is it because it's being held in two hands?



As for the Spiked Chain itself, it's given up quite a bit of damage capability (two steps lower than the Greatsword or Greataxe) AND costs an extra feat in order to gain the reach capabilities and couple other bonuses.
Also, it has mixed bonuses... Finesse with a weapon that you'll want to pump your Strength as high as possible? If you go mostly Dex, you give up the extra damage from Two-Handed Strength bonus and give up bonuses to Tripping. Variety is a bonus, sure.. but not that big a deal.

My personal feelings are that Disarm and Trip bone characters not built to defend against them in core rules, and the Spiked Chain just happens to be a smart choice for either tactics.

Honestly, you can pick up a Guisarme and get nearly the same benefits as a Trip Monkey anyways. Grab Short Haft if you are really REALLY wanting to use it for close quarters combat.. otherwise some spiked gauntlets are easily accessible. The Spiked Chain gives up that extra x3 crit damage to have an additional +2 Disarm (and the largely unused Finesse in the Trip builds).


If you go with the new Pathfinder rules (adding BAB to the check instead of a straight Strength check, and automatic 15+mods for the defender, lesser size bonus, and nerfed Imp Trip feat), you are already making the Trip/Disarm tactic less overpowered options.
You can allow or deny any overly ridiculous PrCs at your choice too (Weapon Master).


Lastly, do we really need to nerf the Fighter while the flying, greater invisible Wizard is tossing (insert whatever save the target is weakest again) spells around? Really?
 

pawsplay

Banned
Banned
Elder-Basilisk said:
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.

Well, that makes it suck slightly less. A few points:

- You've got a fairly weak AC, because you have no shield and do not benefit from the heavier armors. Until you get an animated shield and mithril armor, life will be hard.
- Power Attack already has diminishing returns. Slapping another -2 to hit on top of the for another attack may or may not help.
- Elusive Target.
- There are a variety of monsters that will mess you up. The Rust Monster, Black Pudding, and Hydra spring to mind.
- You've already spent feats on EWP, Weapon Focus, and Power Attack. What do you do for ranged attacks?
- Greater Manyshot is way more impressive in terms of extra damage.
 

Kerrick

First Post
The question really is then...
Does a Two-Handed weapon get this +4 bonus because it's a "big weapon", and a Light weapon get the -4 penalty because it's a "smaller weapon"?
I would say so. Light weapons sized for a Medium creature are considered Tiny; one-handed weapons are Medium; and two-handed weapons are Large. Therefore, they probably assigned the same modifiers for weapon size as they did for monster size.

My personal feelings are that Disarm and Trip bone characters not built to defend against them in core rules, and the Spiked Chain just happens to be a smart choice for either tactics.
So... you think the feats are overpowered, and the chain just adds to it?

If you go with the new Pathfinder rules (adding BAB to the check instead of a straight Strength check, and automatic 15+mods for the defender, lesser size bonus, and nerfed Imp Trip feat), you are already making the Trip/Disarm tactic less overpowered options.
I'm using a modified form of the PF rules - DC 15 + mods is way too high, and doesn't fit the standard 10 + mods formula, so I dropped it to 10. And what's wrong with making them "less overpowered"? If they're overpowered in the first place, they NEED to be nerfed. If they're relatively balanced, they'll see much more use by both sides without people bitching about it, and that's a win in my book - I like seeing people do stuff besides "I swing at the ogre with my sword".

Lastly, do we really need to nerf the Fighter while the flying, greater invisible Wizard is tossing (insert whatever save the target is weakest again) spells around? Really?
I know this isn't really relevant to this discussion, but don't worry - the spells are getting a good lookover too.
 

Hypersmurf

Moderatarrrrh...
Kerrick said:
I would say so. Light weapons sized for a Medium creature are considered Tiny; one-handed weapons are Medium; and two-handed weapons are Large. Therefore, they probably assigned the same modifiers for weapon size as they did for monster size.

A weapon’s size category isn’t the same as its size as an object. Instead, a weapon’s size category is keyed to the size of the intended wielder. In general, a light weapon is an object two size categories smaller than the wielder, a one-handed weapon is an object one size category smaller than the wielder, and a two-handed weapon is an object of the same size category as the wielder.

In general, for weapons sized for a Medium creature, Light->Tiny, One-Handed->Small, Two-Handed->Medium.

-Hyp.
 


Kaisoku

First Post
Kerrick said:
So... you think the feats are overpowered, and the chain just adds to it?

No. I think the core rules mechanics for things like Disarm and Trip are already designed in such a way that anyone not focused on defending against them are going to be hurt inordinately by them.

It becomes a binary system essentially, and this is beyond the problem with the Improved Trip feat.

It's an aspect of the game that could be tweaked to make it so it can be used more often.


Kerrick said:
I'm using a modified form of the PF rules - DC 15 + mods is way too high, and doesn't fit the standard 10 + mods formula, so I dropped it to 10. And what's wrong with making them "less overpowered"? If they're overpowered in the first place, they NEED to be nerfed. If they're relatively balanced, they'll see much more use by both sides without people bitching about it, and that's a win in my book - I like seeing people do stuff besides "I swing at the ogre with my sword".

I think you misunderstood here. I was saying that what Pathfinder is doing IS nerfing the mechanics on a whole. I agree with this. This is a good thing. Like you said, it'll see more use.

However, my point was that you don't need to also Neuter the Spiked Chain so completely. It has one thing over other reach weapons: useable in close quarters.

If you were to give a feat that allows reach weapons to be used within close quarters, it loses it's power. And if spending a feat (exotic weapon proficiency) is okay in that direction, then spending a feat on a more open version of Short Haft should work just as well.


Now, Improved Trip had the issue (similar to Spiked Chain) that it was clearly the better choice over the other feats because it gave the free attack. Basically it was no longer a choice of just "damage or tactic", rather "tactic, then damage".

I'd like to go one step further and give the option (in some form.. Fighter only, expanding the feat trees, etc), to allow all combat tactics to do damage AND the tactic. If you make it a Fighter thing, then it gives them something a bit more unique and actually "fightery" too.


Kerrick said:
I know this isn't really relevant to this discussion, but don't worry - the spells are getting a good lookover too.

Save or Die vs Save or take 100+ damage isn't much different. But still, scry and fry, teleport, fly, greater invisibility... there's a lot of things you'd have to nerf before you could make the Wizard more like the Fighter.

And by then, you'd have 4e anyways, so whats the point? Give the Fighter his powerful options is all I'm saying, instead of nerfing something that doesn't even come close to what other powerhouses can still do in the modified PRPG rules.
 

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