Friday, January 16, 2015

Still More Rules Pathfinder Players Keep Forgetting

I've said it before and I'll say it again; Pathfinder is a really dense game as far as rules go, so it's only natural for players to miss a few here and there. This is the fourth installment of a series covering often-overlooked, obscure, or mis-remembered rules, and the previous installments are:

Playing By The Book: Some Pathfinder Rules That Players Keep Forgetting
MORE Rules Pathfinder Players Keep Forgetting
Even MORE Rules Pathfinder Players Keep Forgetting
Still More Rules Pathfinder Players Keep Forgetting
5 More Rules Pathfinder Players Keep Forgetting

Some of these rules might not be new to you, particularly if you're the sort of player who reads the entire rule book cover-to-cover. If you're just a casual player, though, hopefully these rules will help you bring your A game to the table.

Let's get started with this latest installment, shall we?

#1: Powerful Magic Weapons Ignore Damage Reduction

Damage reduction is the bane of low-to-mid-level combat characters. If you don't deal the right kind of damage, or your weapon is made from the wrong kind of material then you're going to find even your mightiest blows reduced to little more than cuts and bruises. DR doesn't represent as big a threat at higher levels though; mostly because particularly powerful magic weapons ignore it.

They also deal bonus damage to non-magical rocks!
According to the chart on page 562 of the Core Rulebook a weapon that has an enhancement of at least +3 overcomes cold iron/silver damage reduction. A +4 overcomes DR that would require an adamantine weapon, and a +5 or higher overcomes alignment-based DR. It should be noted that if a creature has a flat damage reduction (as you get from wearing adamantine armor or being a high-level barbarian) there is no weapon powerful enough to overcome it. You're just going to have to hit them really, really hard.

#2: Cover And Concealment Are Different Things

Cover and concealment are the bread and butter of tactical combat. Whether you're tossing down a smokestick so the wizard can't pinpoint you with a blast, or you're crouching behind a low wall to avoid being shot at by archers you are taking away at least some of the enemy's ability to do you harm. While a lot of tables don't bother with them, cover and concealment can be the life or death of characters.

Also, they're very different mechanics.

Pictured: Concealment
Let's start with concealment. If you're making a ranged attack and there's anything blocking your line of sight between a corner of your square and a corner of the target's square then the target has concealment. If a target is in a square completely enveloped by a condition that grants concealment (like a smokestick) then you have a 20% miss chance. If you have line of effect to an opponent but not line of sight then the opponent has total concealment (a 50% miss chance). You can't take attacks of opportunity, or even attack the opponent; you can only attack the square and hope for the best. These conditions don't stack; so if you're attacking in a cloud of smoke in pitch blackness then the defender only gets the one 50% miss chance.

Now on to cover!

Cover is an actual, physical barrier between you and an enemy. This includes door frames, walls, and even other people! If there is any sort of barrier you can hide behind it grants you a +4 to your armor class and a +2 on reflex saves. If more than half of you is sticking out of the cover then you reduce the bonus by half to a +2 to your armor class and a +1 to reflex saves. Improved cover, such as crouching behind an arrow slit, typically grants double the bonus (+8 and +4 respectively). If a target has total cover, meaning it's completely hidden behind a wall or other obstacle then you can't attack it.

You can have cover and concealment, and in fact it's a great idea to get both if you can! The details on these states of being are listed in the Core Rulebook 195-197.

#3: Armor Check Penalty Is Hell On The Non-Proficient

Most adventurers are familiar with the armor check penalty rules; your armor makes it harder for you to perform strength and dexterity-based actions based on how cumbersome it is. It's frustrating, but combat characters have been dealing with it for years.

If you're not proficient with an armor though that check can get heinous in a big hurry.

"Guys... guys?" Wizard's Last Words
If you are using armor you're not proficient with then you take a penalty because you just aren't trained to deal with the armor, but according to page 150 of the Core Rulebook the armor check penalty for armor you're not proficient with also applies to your attacks. This penalty stacks with any non-proficiency you take for wielding a shield you're not trained with as well.

This is the reason you never see wizards putting on plate armor without at least a level or two of fighter.

#4: You Can Direct Attacks of Opportunity Against Potions

Everyone knows that drinking a potion provokes an attack of opportunity (which is one reason the Drunken Brute barbarian variant is great, as it allows you to ignore this rule). If an enemy is drinking down a game-changing spell though a single attack might not make the difference... unless you direct the attack at the potion.

And hope it doesn't blow up in your face.
According to page 478 in the Core Rulebook you may choose to take your attack of opportunity against a potion when an enemy provokes you by trying to quaff it while threatened. If you manage to destroy the container then the target can't drink the potion, since your attack of opportunity happened before the target could pour even a little of the magical elixir into his mouth.

#5: Clerics Can Seriously Ruin A Vampire's Day

We've all seen classic Dracula movies where the count is shown a crucifix and he recoils in atavistic dread. We've also been in games where the villain is a vampire, and the party is overmatched, outgunned, and needs to pull out every trick they know in order to carry the day. If you're in a party like this then be really glad you've got a cleric or a paladin on hand (though a religious fighter will do, in a pinch).

Assuming you're all out of gummy Type-O treats, that is.
If you are fighting a vampire (which is any creature with the vampire template according to the Bestiary) then you can keep it at bay by using a standard action to present a holy symbol. The vampire has to stay 5 feet away from the person presenting the symbol, and cannot touch or make melee attacks against the target. After 1 round has gone by the vampire can attempt to overcome this repulsion by making a DC 25 Will save. At that point you'll get more use out of a good gorget than you will a holy symbol, but it's still a good idea to keep something sacred on hand if you're worried you'll be set upon by undead bloodsuckers.

What's Next...

That's all for this installment of overlooked and mis-remembered rules, but I'm sure there will be another installment. If you'd like to help support Improved Initiative then stop by my Patreon page and consider becoming a patron today! If you want to be sure that you don't miss any of my updates then either plug your email into the box on your right, or follow me on Facebook and Tumblr!

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