Weapon Focus and Lance

If You have the weapon focus proficiency lances, charge with a lance and score a natural 20 what happens? Do you do 4 times weapon damage?

It isn’t actually in the book, but Alex clarified it at http://autarch.co/comment/8553#comment-8553 - twice-doubled is tripled, thrice-doubled is quadrupled and so forth.


I houseruled Weapon Focus to also give +1 damage, otherwise it’s pretty weak as written.

Yeah, Weapon Focus is… not strong, as written. Even with a two-handed d10 weapon, you’re looking at 5.5 points of damage per natural 20 on average, or an extra 0.275 points of damage per hit in expectation. I think it might be OK if it didn’t apply to just one category of weapon, as some sort of like Dirty Fighting or Bloodlust proficiency, but that’s sort of the opposite of Weapon Focus thematically. Then it would have some utility for either midgame fighters who have filled out their Fighting Styles and who aren’t that interested in the Command/Leadership track, or for generalist fighters of all levels who don’t want to deal with Fighting Style at all.

Then it would make fighting styles less interesting. I certainly could see a good case to give +1 damage on a natural 20 though as I think Weapon Focus shines mostly when you have to fight heavily armored opponents with armor 7+

I don’t agree. The Fighting Styles are pretty damned useful even with that, not least because they give always-on bonuses, and when you have more than one, tactical options in switching around how you’re fighting from one round to the next.

As it stands, Weapon Focus is a paltry bonus. Double damage 5% of the time, with a specific type of weapon, that costs you a Class Proficiency slot.

I’d proposed this elsewhere a long time ago:

Fighting Style: Mounted: The character is particularly adept at mounted charges; you gain an extra +1 to-hit when making a mounted charge, and will triple your damage on a successful hit.

which I don’t think is too far off-balance from Weapon Focus as written, given that this thread’s consensus is that it’s a little weak.

Your mileage may vary depending on how often your players get to mount a charge, so to speak.

That’s a good point; I did not condition my +expected damage on a hit. On the other hand, when you look at it that way, Weapon Focus is basically just a +1 to hit that applies even against foes you wouldn’t hit on a 19, and foes that you would hit even on a natural 2 (ie, it doesn’t lose utility quite as badly at the ends of the spectrum). On the one hand, +1 effective-to-hit that stacks with Fighting Style is not terrible; on the other hand, it’s sort of swingy, still specific to one weapon group, and doesn’t come with any of the quickdraw bonuses that Style does.

(I also personally tend to think it’s bad policy to pick proficiencies based on cases like “fighting opponents who I can barely hit”; this calls for a change in tactics (oil-fires, spellcasting, ambush, retreat) in my book rather than a long-term, expensive mechanical choice. But that’s just me)

On the third hand, it’s also inferior to +1 to-hit in that the ‘bonus hits’ you get don’t get any magic weapon, Strength, or fighter bonus damage.

Sooo… probably strongest at very low levels, when your odds of hitting are bad and you don’t have much bonus damage to lose out on. But, if you take it at low levels you’re stuck with it forever…

I’ve thought about making Weapon Focus a general thing, but then I thought that just makes it something every fighter will have to take sooner or later, which isn’t what I’m after.

Then I thought, heck, just make double damage on a 20 a class feature for fighter-types. Its no more powerful than cleaving, and tying it to the fighter progression gives fighter PCs their criticals without extending it to every goblin and kobold in the game.

I added the following to Riding Proficiency (which as it stands is essentially just “get to fight in mounted combat”): +2 to Reflex (Petrification/Paralysis in the original set) saves against being involuntarily unhorsed.

If you’re going to add a Fighting Style for mounted charging, arguably you should add one for mounted archery too.

Good point. Under ACKS as written, the horse archer may make a combat move and attack, so that proficiency would sound like:

Mounted Archery: You may still make an ranged attack at any opponent in range after your mount moves up to triple combat movement (a full run)

My immediate concern with this is how it interfaces with Domains At War; I can’t speak to how often a horse archer unit would kite around the battlefield firing into the enemy in real life.

Perhaps a penalty to attack would be involved.

Astonishing Swordsman and Sorcerers of Hyperborea handles it like so:

Saddle Fire: A character may fire a ranged weapon from horseback, while the horse is in motion. A walking horse has no penalty. A trot causes a -1 penalty; canter -2, and full gallop -4.

A walking horse is moving at one-half their current (based on encumbrance or other situational modifiers) movement rate. A trot is their regular rate, a canter twice that, and a gallop three times their movement rate.

Question for Alex: if you make a lance-charge, drop an opponent, and cleave, do you get double damage on the cleaves?

If so, d10x3 lance charges are really, really strong. The only other single-source of x3 damage is backstab, and that’s restricted to people in light armor with low HP, and often gated by stealth rolls with mediocre odds. x3 damage as an opening move is nonlinearly better than x2 even without cleaving, because early spike damage forces the enemy to check morale sooner (this is why damage-over-time spells are usually discounted compared to a spell that does the same amount of damage in a single round). Speaking in Core, Fighting Style and Riding are available at 1st level to all characters but Mages, and all of those classes to which they are available can use lances except for clerics (who can get lances with Martial Training; in a dedicated charger-party I would expect to see Martial Training as the first class profiency and Fighting Style as the second) and craftpriests. It’s certainly more viable to bring a bunch of L0 henchmen up to L1 fighters and train them in these two profs than it is to bring an assassin henchman up to 5th level where he gets x3 backstab… I think with the early availability and potence of x3 charging, parties will seek engagements in which they can charge and avoid ones in which they cannot, distoring the frequency with which these charges occur.

In short, I think this is a bad idea. x3 multipliers are nearly-nonexistent, and only available to nonbackstabbers under much more limited and personally-hazardous circumstances than a mounted charge (stacking two of ambushing, lance charge, weapon focus crit, and Giant Strength is not a situation which arises often).

Interesting. If you made it a general feat, you could allow it to be taken multiple times in order to reduce the penalty for firing from horses at trot and full gallop. That way you could conceivably have elite horse archers like the Mongols. Devastating.

I’m not Alex, but I don’t think it makes any sense to allow the multiplication to apply on any attack beyond the initial one.

A related question, then - does the +2 to hit from charging apply to cleaves off of a charge attack?

Again, I’d say no. Both the bonus to hit and damage multiplication are caused by the momentum of the impact itself. Cleaves are opportunities created by the initial attack, rather than extensions of it, IMO.

I don’t know… I rather like the idea of chargers crashing through multiple people.

Given that cleaving allows you to move up to five feet and make an attack, my ruling was that you keep the charging bonuses as long as you keep moving.

If you stop moving for whatever reason (out of movement, wall in the way, don’t want to run past the enemies), you lose the charge bonuses.