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Person_Man
2009-02-24, 04:25 PM
The title says it all.

Benefits of boosting Str:

Bonus to damage.
Bonus to Bull Rush, Grapple, and Trip attempts.
Bonus to carrying capacity.
Bonus to Climb and Swim


Benefits of boosting Dex:

Bonus to AC.
Bonus to Initiative.
Bonus Attacks of Opportunity.
Bonus to Ref Save
Bonus to a wide range of useful Skills


Looking at this, it seems to me that you should always take Weapon Finesse and boost Dex as high as possible. But in reality, the costs far outweigh the benefits:

You need to burn a feat to get Weapon Finesse.
If Str is 13+ (needed for Power Attack) and Dex is 18 or less, then an extra +1 to +3 bonus to-hit just doesn't justify wasting a feat.
If you're playing a Con, Int, Wis, or Cha based build (Totemist, Warblade, Psychic Warrior, Paladin, etc), then you generally need to invest heavily in whatever ability score your class runs off of, and Dex will stay in the 18 or less range for most of your career.
If you're playing a build that relies on Bull Rush, Grapple, or Trip, then Str needs to be as high as possible.
You rarely have an opportunity to use more then 3-4 attacks of opportunity per round.
You need to worry about limiting what weapons you use.
You need to worry about max Dex bonus on armor.
In the games that I've played in and DM'd, I've observed that builds with Weapon Finesse are far more squishy then builds without it. So while a Rogue or Factotum or Scout or whatnot might be great for Skills, they're usually a poor choice if your main goal is to be effective in melee.


My conclusion is that even though a Dex based build should be superior, it almost never is. So assuming assuming your main goal is to be good at melee combat, when is Weapon Finesse a good idea?

Lycanthromancer
2009-02-24, 04:32 PM
Rogues. Scouts. Sometimes factotums. Occasionally psychic warriors. Any other class that is mainly Dex-based and can stack on the damage dice, or grant additional means of adding damage, other than through Str and Power Attack.

Especially if your race has a high Dexterity, low Strength, and Small size.

Otherwise, really not a good idea.

Hunter Noventa
2009-02-24, 04:37 PM
Swordsages do especially well with Weapon Finesse, because with that they can take Shadow Blade, and add their dex instead of their strength to their melee attacks. Sure it's two feats to do that, and the BAB requirement on Finesse menas you can't do it at level 1 (which is silly, weapon finessse chould reqruie proficiency and dex, not BAB), but I've done some pretty silly amounts of damage that way.

Draz74
2009-02-24, 04:40 PM
You need to worry about max Dex bonus on armor.
I can paraphrase this one, only make it sound like a good thing: "You can wear light armor, which is good for mobility and skills, without having an AC any worse than that of a full plate warrior."


In the games that I've played in and DM'd, I've observed that builds with Weapon Finesse are far more squishy then builds without it. So while a Rogue or Factotum or Scout or whatnot might be great for Skills, they're usually a poor choice if your main goal is to be effective in melee. [snip] So assuming assuming your main goal is to be good at melee combat, when is Weapon Finesse a good idea?

In short? When one of these skillful classes is built to not suck in melee.

Note a few key things you missed: Swashbuckler 1 gets you the feat for free. Swashbuckler 3 makes you less dependent on Strength for your damage, when you use Finesse. Swordsage can give you several nifty things for having light armor, for using finesse-able weapons, and for having good DEX-based skills. Shadow Blade can make you less dependent on Strength for your damage when using finesse-able weapons. Some melee builds really may have much lower than 13 Strength and no Power Attack; two-weapon fighters (whether Sneak Attack builds or Tiger Claw builds) can't use Power Attack effectively anyway.

Not to mention archers. Though some optimizers say archers shouldn't spend a feat "in case they get into melee by accident" anyway.

Saph
2009-02-24, 04:52 PM
My conclusion is that even though a Dex based build should be superior, it almost never is. So assuming assuming your main goal is to be good at melee combat, when is Weapon Finesse a good idea?

I think you won't typically take Weapon Finesse if melee combat is your main goal. You take Weapon Finesse if you want to build a skillmonkey character who can fight in melee as well.

There are also quite a few Tome of Battle builds that can do tons of melee damage with no Strength at all (the Shadow Hand Swordsage being the main one).

Also, from an armour point of view, remember that you need to be wearing non-restrictive armour to use Tumble.

- Saph

enygmatic_me
2009-02-24, 04:52 PM
Shadow-Walker Whisper Gnome Swordsage or Rogue with max Dex = Weapon Finesse

Dragonborn Goliath Fighter or Paladin with max Str = no Weapon Finesse

A feat is only as good as the build it is used in.

Telonius
2009-02-24, 04:54 PM
Many key Rogue skills (Hide, Move Silently, Open Lock, Balance, Tumble, Escape Artist) rely on Dexterity, and their Trapfinding ability puts them up where Reflex saves might matter a great deal.

A fairly standard build is Rogue/Swashbuckler with Daring Outlaw. The AC isn't any better than Rogue, but the HP is almost as good as a Fighter's. Most of the damage will be from bonus dice rather than the weapon. Escape Artist will prevent you from being grappled just as well as a high strength would. And you get Finesse for free anyway, from the first level of Swashbuckler.

kalt
2009-02-24, 05:04 PM
swashbuckler and dervish can make weapon finesse builds not only good, but are some of the best out there. heck if you are an elf you can go into champion of corellan latheran (sp?) and choose and elven courtblade and just walk through stuff. The second level ability grants you dex to damage! along with the int from swashbuckler. The character while in a dervish dance becomes a power attacking monster because not only is the courtblade finessable it also has all the other properties of a big two handed sword aka power attack!

Tokiko Mima
2009-02-24, 05:04 PM
I might also add that Weapon Finesse is fantastic for casters, who benefit little from Power Attack and two handed weapon damage, but benefit greatly from having only one stat to boost to increase all melee combat offensive and defensive stats. It's also essential for warlocks who want to make maximum use of Eldritch Glaive in the levels where it's still possible to miss a touch attack.

holywhippet
2009-02-24, 05:08 PM
A monk is a grade A candidate for weapon finesse. More STR = more damage in melee, but monks suffer heavily from low AC which makes high DEX a higher priority.

Person_Man
2009-02-24, 05:52 PM
RE: Rogue, Scout, Factotum, Ninja

If your goal is to be good at Skills and not horrible at melee, then yes, I can see Weapon Finesse being a good idea. But if your goal is to be good at melee, then light armor, no shields, and d6 hit die is just far too squishy. You'll probably be much better off using a ranged build instead.


RE: Swordsages

I could see this working, but I don't think it's worth spending 2 feats unless your staring Str is piss poor and your starting Dex is quite high. You need high Wis to boost the Save DCs of your manuevers, you get Wis to AC, you rarely make more then 3 AoO per turn, plus you have to worry about boosting Con as well.


RE: Swashbuckler

Instead of Swash 1 for Weapon Finesse, you could take Fighter 1 for almost any feat, or Warblade 1 for a stance and manuevers, or Anything 1 for whatever other class abilities you can find. It's still a trade off. And the Swash's Insightful Strike rarely gives you more then +5 to damage (negligible compared to Power Attack bonuses, or Str *1.5), and it introduces even more MAD into your build, making Weapon Finesse even less worth it.


RE: Archers

Invest in Tumble. With a DC 25 check, you can Tumble through an enemy's square, and thus will almost never have to make a melee attack.

ericgrau
2009-02-24, 07:09 PM
Let's make it even simpler:

Strength: The biggest thing to gain from strength is damage and special attacks.
Dexterity: The biggest thing to gain from dex are skill modifiers (x2, see following sentances), initiative and reflex save. Someone might say "hey, there's AC too", but you could get just as much AC from full plate. Why don't you? Because of the armor check penalty. So dex is for skills. It's almost like you're getting double your dex bonus to skill checks, since you add your dex mod to the skill check and then you reduce your armor check penalty by your dex mod. Someone with a dex bonus lower than his armor's max dex bonus might wear lighter armor for higher skill modifiers, but that implies he values a +1 to his skills more than a +1 to his AC and he has actively chosen to be worse in combat as a trade-off.

So for straight combat, there's just initiative and reflex saves for dex. For strength there's damage. Initiative and reflex saves are nice, but the damage you get from strength is much better and the bonus to special attacks is icing on top of that.

Like Saph said, weapon finesse isn't for people who want to focus on melee combat. It's for people who want to focus on skills and still be okay at melee combat. That's what annoys me about people who think weapon finesse is a "must have" for rogues. That's like saying to play a cleric you must get combat feats. Maybe it's nice, but there are other options like caster feats. If you want to focus on melee then make strength your primary stat or play a different class besides a rogue.

BRC
2009-02-24, 07:27 PM
RE: Rogue, Scout, Factotum, Ninja

If your goal is to be good at Skills and not horrible at melee, then yes, I can see Weapon Finesse being a good idea. But if your goal is to be good at melee, then light armor, no shields, and d6 hit die is just far too squishy. You'll probably be much better off using a ranged build instead.

So, what you are saying is that if you want to be a melee-combat focused character, play a melee combat focused class (like Fighter or Barbarian). Nobody is arguing with that point. Really, I don't see what your argument is here, you've admitted that Weapon Finesse is good for some characters, and you can't argue that a feat is automatically bad if it isn't good for all characters (or else every metamagic feat would be a bad feat).

Weapon Finesse is for when you want to be a skillmonkey that can hold their own in melee.

Starbuck_II
2009-02-24, 07:32 PM
Swordsages do especially well with Weapon Finesse, because with that they can take Shadow Blade, and add their dex instead of their strength to their melee attacks. Sure it's two feats to do that, and the BAB requirement on Finesse menas you can't do it at level 1 (which is silly, weapon finessse chould reqruie proficiency and dex, not BAB), but I've done some pretty silly amounts of damage that way.

Hunter, Shadow blade is in addition: not in place of Str.

Kroy
2009-02-24, 07:34 PM
-snip-

So for straight combat, there's just initiative and reflex saves for dex. For strength there's damage. Initiative and reflex saves are nice, but the damage you get from strength is much better and the bonus to special attacks is icing on top of that.

-Snip-

There is also, y'now, AC.

ericgrau
2009-02-24, 07:54 PM
Remove those snips this instant, your statement makes no sense without them. Sheesh, it's like I wrote a paragraph for nothing. At least quote that part of my post and try to counter it instead.

JeminiZero
2009-02-24, 08:02 PM
My conclusion is that even though a Dex based build should be superior, it almost never is. So assuming assuming your main goal is to be good at melee combat, when is Weapon Finesse a good idea?


High Dex is also a requirement for the 2WF tree, so thats another "advantage" for weapon finesse. And of course, you want 2WF when you get bonus damage per hit.

Sneak Attack Fighters (unorthodox and uncommon as they are) are probably strong enough to stand on the front lines and make full use of that 2WF, provided they have some means of garunteeing sneak attacks.

Stormguard Warriors, used in conjunction with either a lockdown build (combat reflexes, thicket of blades etc) or combat rhythm abuse (2WF/time-stands-still/raging mongoose) combo can also arguably make use of a high Dex/Weapon Finesse effectively.

Ascension
2009-02-24, 08:29 PM
I think one of those Cityscape Dex-boosting variant barbarians with Finesse, levels in Swordsage, and Shadow Blade might be able to match or even exceed a Str-based barbarian in terms of raw damage, and the Dex build would certainly have higher AC and Reflex (though at the cost of HP). I haven't done the math, but it seems it would work out.

Hawriel
2009-02-24, 08:38 PM
Its pritty much been coverd. If your character is not a dex based consept then weapon forcus then weapon focus is not for you. Skills that use dex are cross class skill for most if not all classes that dont need a high dex. Ride being the exeption.

Dex for AC is needed for classes that are limited to medium, light or no armor. This really doesnt matter any way. Because any enchantment that is found on premade heavy armor can be put on almost any other wearable clothing or object using the magic item creation rules.

What makes weapon finess more usfull than it should be is how many weapons it can be used with. Rapiers, short swords, whips and daggers are obvios. light hammers and maces are obserd.

Myrmex
2009-02-24, 10:15 PM
Weapon finesse is good if you are going TWF.
Why?
3 reasons:
Cheap sources of bonus damage
You're squishy, since you are probably using light or med armor.
At high levels, dex is more valuable than equipping armor, since it applies to touch attacks, which can be associated with nasty things like level loss and being disintegrated, and your small HD won't keep you up for long, anyway.

If you are TWF, you want bonus damage from as many sources as possible. 3 levels swashbuckler (which incidentally gets you weapon finesse free) gets you intelligence, a level of swordage gets you dex. A +2 item of con, a +2 item of dex, and a +2 item of int gives you more than a +4 item of str, and costs less. With the leftovers, you could get a pearl of power for the wizard to put an extra mage armor on you, or invest in consumables.

As long as you have multiple sources adding to the same thing (like getting cha to hit or what not), MAD is not as big a deal, due to the exponential cost of increasing ability scores, both with gp & point buy.


If you aren't using all the supplements, a dexterous fighter benefits from weapon finesse because that +3 to hit is really +6 damage (power attack). And what else are you going to be investing all those feats in?

Zaq
2009-02-24, 10:41 PM
It's been mentioned, but not focused upon: I think the big draw is for dual-wielding builds. Unless you're getting the TWF feats from Ranger levels (generally not the best idea because you won't get bonus damage from Ranger, but this is not new information), you need really high DEX to take the TWF tree, and since most (not all I suppose, but most) TWF builds do far less damage from their weapon and way more damage from their bonus damage (such as sneak attack), Weapon Finesse lets you take a stat which, for your archetype, must be high anyway, and have it do the work of STR, which you can then neglect. The fact that most TWFers, by virtue of generally needing sneak attack or something similar, tend to be rogue-types (or ninja, scouts, spellthieves, whatever) with lots of valuable DEX-based skills doesn't hurt either... and of course sneak attackers want every point of initiative they can get, so the ability to focus on DEX for that helps too.

Only very rarely could I ever see taking Weapon Finesse and Power Attack in the same build. In my mind, they're almost antitheses.

Draz74
2009-02-24, 10:44 PM
If your goal is to be good at Skills and not horrible at melee, then yes, I can see Weapon Finesse being a good idea. But if your goal is to be good at melee, then light armor, no shields, and d6 hit die is just far too squishy. You'll probably be much better off using a ranged build instead.

To nitpick, Factotums and Scouts have d8 Hit Dice and Factotums have Shield Proficiency. So those things help them be a little less squishy.

To not nitpick: yes, you're right. If you care about being good in melee more than you care about being skillful, then you are generally better off as a Strength-based character than as a Finesse character. In fact, I would be upset if this were not true. All else being equal, strong tough traditional warriors should be the best in melee.

(A carefully built DEX-based Swordsage can still be just as nasty in melee as a traditional strong warrior, though, in spite of MAD. Its maneuvers are just that good.)

Siosilvar
2009-02-24, 10:59 PM
If you aren't using all the supplements, a dexterous fighter benefits from weapon finesse because that +3 to hit is really +6 damage (power attack). And what else are you going to be investing all those feats in?

I don't argue with your other points, but this one is wrong. Only a spiked chain gets you the x2 bonus while being finessable. A rapier is x1 and no other finessable weapons can be used with power attack.

Myrmex
2009-02-24, 11:47 PM
I don't argue with your other points, but this one is wrong. Only a spiked chain gets you the x2 bonus while being finessable. A rapier is x1 and no other finessable weapons can be used with power attack.

A rapier gets you x2 if you wield it two handed, RAW, just not 1.5x str. And since everyone with weapon finesse gets prof in rapiers anyway, there's no reason to be using something else. Unless you go spiked chain.

Draz74
2009-02-25, 01:44 AM
I don't argue with your other points, but this one is wrong. Only a spiked chain gets you the x2 bonus while being finessable. A rapier is x1 and no other finessable weapons can be used with power attack.

Natural Weapons and Unarmed Strike can also be used with Finesse and Power Attack, for what it's worth. Oh, and the elven exotic swords (Courtblade and Thinblade), if you leave Core.

Fax Celestis
2009-02-25, 10:29 AM
Weapon Finesse is worth it for those characters that aren't supposed to rely on Strength for their damage (like a rogue, who instead relies on his Sneak Attack). As such, you can bomb your Strength and still hit things--and, if you do it right, hit them for a fistful o' d6s too.

Advocate
2009-02-25, 10:46 AM
The only way Weapon Finesse works out as worthwhile is if most of your damage is independent of your weapon, such as a Sneak Attacking Rogue. Otherwise, the result is that you can hit... but nothing cares that you hit them. Of course, Rogues should really just be using flasks, a wand chambered Wraithstrike, or otherwise attacking as touch attacks which renders the point rather moot.

Myrmex
2009-02-25, 11:49 AM
Natural Weapons and Unarmed Strike can also be used with Finesse and Power Attack, for what it's worth. Oh, and the elven exotic swords (Courtblade and Thinblade), if you leave Core.

I'm not sure you can two hand an unarmed strike.
Unless you're captain of the Enterprise.

Zherog
2009-02-25, 01:15 PM
... and then you reduce your armor check penalty by your dex mod.

Perhaps I'm just misunderstanding what you're saying. But your Dex mod doesn't reduce your ACP; only getting lighter armor does that, such as making it out of mithral.

Advocate
2009-02-25, 01:38 PM
Perhaps I'm just misunderstanding what you're saying. But your Dex mod doesn't reduce your ACP; only getting lighter armor does that, such as making it out of mithral.

I think he's saying the higher Dex you have, the lighter armor you will use, and lighter armors have lower or nonexistent armor check penalties.

Darth Stabber
2009-02-25, 01:38 PM
He means you would be wearing lighter armor, therefore have a smaller ACP, since most people never where armor with a max dex lower than their dex. There for the benefits of +1 dex mod is effectively +2 with dex based skills, assuming that you are always wearing armor with a max dex exactly equal to your dex mod.

Draz74
2009-02-25, 01:39 PM
I'm not sure you can two hand an unarmed strike.
Unless you're captain of the Enterprise.

:smallbiggrin:

No, AFAIK you can't. I was saying that unarmed strikes or natural weapons are like the Rapier (Finesse and 1x Power Attack), not the Spiked Chain (Finesse and 2x Power Attack).


Perhaps I'm just misunderstanding what you're saying. But your Dex mod doesn't reduce your ACP; only getting lighter armor does that, such as making it out of mithral.

He's using a little bit of hyperbole, not exact numbers. He's saying that, for every additional point of Dex bonus, you can move to one lighter type of armor (and still have a total of +9 AC from armor and Dex), thanks to the Max Dex Bonus rule. E.g. if your Dex increases from 16 to 18, your barbarian can switch from scale mail to hide with no loss of AC. In general, moving to one lighter type of armor like this gives you an ACP that's ~1 lower (such as -3 instead of -4 in my example). Thus, it's like raising your Dex bonus by 1 worked double on all your Dex-based skills that involve an ACP.

Mithral and the way certain types of armor are just plain better (chain shirt vs. hide, breastplate vs. chainmail), as well as the way skillful classes tend to stick with light armor anyway, wreak havoc with the fine details of his argument, though.

axraelshelm
2009-02-25, 01:53 PM
yeah unless you want to be a knife fighter strength is far more useful as a fighter type. But a high dex knife fighter can use archery feats to slow said opponant first and then go in melee. Like I said just for knifes.

Zherog
2009-02-25, 02:18 PM
He's using a little bit of hyperbole, not exact numbers. <<snipped for space>>

Thanks for clarifying (to everybody who chimed in, even though I only quoted Draz).

In my experience, a high-Dex character looks to get a mithral chain shirt as soon as possible. (assuming the character can wear light armor, of course). So yeah, the "step down" makes some sense - but only to a point. Once the character can afford the 1100 gp for the mithral chain shirt, ACP becomes a moot point.

Dragonsdoom
2009-02-25, 02:20 PM
:smallbiggrin:

No, AFAIK you can't. I was saying that unarmed strikes or natural weapons are like the Rapier (Finesse and 1x Power Attack), not the Spiked Chain (Finesse and 2x Power Attack).


Light
A light weapon is easier to use in oneís off hand than a one-handed weapon is, and it can be used while grappling. A light weapon is used in one hand. Add the wielderís Strength bonus (if any) to damage rolls for melee attacks with a light weapon if itís used in the primary hand, or one-half the wielderís Strength bonus if itís used in the off hand. Using two hands to wield a light weapon gives no advantage on damage; the Strength bonus applies as though the weapon were held in the wielderís primary hand only.

An unarmed strike is always considered a light weapon.

You are absolutely correct, yet the RAW leaves me wondering why that is in the first place.
A completely illogical in reality rule with no real reason for being.

The only reason I think you might have that rule is to not allow a monk to THF while TWF, but I would assume that would be covered by a specific rule for that situation.

Any ideas?

Quietus
2009-02-25, 02:35 PM
Thanks for clarifying (to everybody who chimed in, even though I only quoted Draz).

In my experience, a high-Dex character looks to get a mithral chain shirt as soon as possible. (assuming the character can wear light armor, of course). So yeah, the "step down" makes some sense - but only to a point. Once the character can afford the 1100 gp for the mithral chain shirt, ACP becomes a moot point.

Not necessarily true. Mithral increases the max dex by 2; This means a mithral chain shirt has 4 AC, max dex 6, and is light armor. But if you don't have a +6 mod (score of 22), you might want to consider a Mithral breastplate instead. +5 AC, max dex 5, so if your dex is less than 22, you get one more point of AC. Oh, and it's also light armor.

Advocate
2009-02-25, 02:45 PM
The breastplate is 4.2k though. So while it is a good idea if you intend on ending up with a Dex of 20, but not 22, there is going to be a chain shirt interlude.

Person_Man
2009-02-25, 03:40 PM
So, if I'm reading the comments correctly, the consensus is that Weapon Finesse is only a good idea if your main goal is Skills. If your main goal is to be good at melee combat, then boost Str (or the primary stat of your class) instead. That's pretty much what I thought at the beginning, and I just wanted to see if someone had a good counter argument to prove me wrong.

Can anyone think of a Class or Prestige Class or highly useful feat that has Save DC's based on Dex (or a Dex based Skill)? Because if so, that would be a very strong counter point.

Zaq
2009-02-25, 04:28 PM
There are feats and classes that turn tripping and/or grappling into a DEX situation, such as many of the Setting Sun maneuvers and I believe Confound the Big Folk, though I may be mistaken on that last bit.

Interesting point that DEX doesn't really drive save DCs. I'm sure someone will come up with a counterexample, but I can't think of anything offhand that uses your standard "10 + blah + DEX" formula.

Advocate
2009-02-25, 05:18 PM
Nope. Con, mental stats, and Str yes. Not Dex.

Also, skills are trivially easy to boost, and you should be using light armor anyways.

Trying to make Dex replace Strength just means burning a whole lot of resources.

Fax Celestis
2009-02-25, 05:32 PM
Can anyone think of a Class or Prestige Class or highly useful feat that has Save DC's based on Dex (or a Dex based Skill)? Because if so, that would be a very strong counter point.

All of the Dexy stuff I can think of is really just skill stuff in disguise.