The Weirdness of Touch Attack AC

In this article I have so many footnotes that using asterisks becomes annoying, so instead I’m using bracketed footnote numbers, like this[0].

If you’re a wizard in 3E, it’s hard to hit with your attack-roll spells because your BAB is really low. And because 3E added a whole bunch of attack-roll spells[1], it’s fairly common for a wizard to have to make attack rolls.

For some attack forms, it makes sense that you don’t have to get through your target’s armor. For example, a death ray like disintegrate, probably just kills you if it touches you, and because the game rules say that your gear counts as you (and vice versa), hitting your armor is enough for it to affect you.

And thus was born the touch attack Armor Class: your AC without all of that pesky armor that’s intended to prevent things from hurting you. Suddenly wizards have a reasonable chance to hit with many of their attack-roll spells.

But I don’t think that all things defined as touch attacks really ought to completely bypass your armor.

For example, if you’re wearing full plate, then you are wearing a layer of clothes, a thick layer of padding to protect you from chafing from the metal armor, and the layer of metal armor itself. That’s a lot of material between the attack and your vulnerable skin. If I shoot you with a powerful laser, it would have to burn through all of that metal, padding, and cloth before it could actually hurt you. Likewise, if I threw alchemist’s fire at you, your armor should provide some protection against that attack because it’s not directly burning your flesh. But in the game, targeting touch AC means your armor provides no protection whatsoever.

In other words, the “touch attacks target your touch attack AC” mechanic devalues the role of armor in the game[2]. And it devalues natural armor, too. And because most non-humanoid monsters rely on natural armor to meet the expected AC values for their CRs, that means most monsters are incredibly vulnerable to touch attacks.

For example, look at the complete dragon stat blocks in the PF Bestiary, and compare the monster’s touch AC to the expected AC for its CR[3]. You’ll see that the monster’s touch AC is very much worse than the expected AC. In order from dragon with the lowest CR to the highest, the difference is:

  • young white (7 worse)
  • young black (8 worse)
  • young green (11 worse)
  • young blue (13 worse)
  • young red (14 worse)
  • adult white (14 worse)
  • adult black (15 worse)
  • adult green (19 worse)
  • adult blue (20 worse)
  • adult red (21 worse)
  • ancient white (22 worse)
  • ancient black (23 worse)
  • ancient green (27 worse)
  • ancient blue (28 worse)
  • ancient red (29 worse)[4]

In other words, as monsters rely more and more on high natural armor bonuses to get their normal AC to the right ballpark for their CR, you create a system where the touch AC falls farther and farther behind that ballpark value. You quickly get to the point where a monster’s touch AC is trivial, or something you miss only with a natural 1. Which means the best way to defeat the monster is either through a touch-attack spell or a splash weapon[5].

With that in mind, I don’t think the 3E/PF touch AC mechanic is good for the game. There has to be a better way of handling this idea–a way that accepts the idea of a touch attack being easier than a regular attack, but still allowing some contribution from your armor to your AC.

Obviously, I don’t like cluttered stat blocks. Having to include touch AC in a monster’s stat block is one extra piece of info cluttering up the page[6]. If you had a new touch AC mechanic that didn’t require you to include that specific touch AC, you’d reduce the page clutter… but it would have to be something simple enough that the GM could easily do it “on the fly.” Or it could be something that the acting player does instead of putting the burden on the GM.

Something like “when making a touch attack, add +5 to your attack roll.” Which is what Five Moons RPG is using.

In using this rule for touch attacks,

1) A touch attack is still easier to perform than a normal attack, so using a touch attack is still an advantage compared to a normal attack, but not necessarily a no-brainer advantage.

2) The target’s armor still provides some protective value against the attack; no longer is a person in full plate merely AC 10 against touch attacks.

3) The burden is on the acting player to remember the attack bonus (the GM doesn’t have to keep track of or look up a separate “touch AC” statistic).

4) The difference between normal AC and touch AC remains consistent at all character levels and monster CRs, and regardless of what type of bonus your armor comes from (so you don’t end up with high-CR monsters whose normal ACs are appropriate but their touch ACs are trivial).

5) It’s simple… “add +5” is an easy rule to remember, and 5 is a common value for special attack modifiers in the game.

Overall, I want to reduce the number of touch attack effects in the game. But for those that remain, this +5 rule should make things simpler and easier to play.

Update: Some readers have expressed concern about wizards being able to hit opponents with their spells if their spells aren’t touch attacks. I’ve already factored that into the game: wizards get +5 on attack rolls with spells, just like how warriors get a +5 on attack rolls with weapons. You can see this “spell attack” square on the prototype wizard character sheet… prototype-Octavius has a +6 spell attack bonus, which is +1 from his Int and +5 from his wizard spell attack bonus.


Thanks again for everyone who backed the Five Moons RPG kickstarter. 🙂


[0] Hi, I’m a fake footnote.

[1] Or added an attack-roll requirement to a classic spell, like disintegrate, which didn’t have an attack roll in 1E or 2E.

[2] In particular, heavy armor–which is almost exclusively used by martial characters such as the cavalier and fighter–is useless against touch attacks. Which is yet another punch in the face to martial characters.

[3] Bestiary, Table 1–1: Monster Statistics by CR, page 291.

[4] Seriously, the ancient red dragon’s touch AC is 29 worse than its normal AC. What’s up with that???

[5] Yet another punch in the face to martial characters.

[6] Keep in mind that the PF stat block doesn’t include a separate AC listing for “flat-footed touch,” so it could actually be more cluttered than it is. Phew!

Focus on the PCs

47 thoughts on “The Weirdness of Touch Attack AC

  1. This really does make a lot of sense. Its a simple and elegant way of giving a touch attack an easier time hitting, without completely disregarding an armor’s bonus.


  2. Interesting unpacking of design fallout. The +5 also means that it’s easier to hit a naked person with a scorching ray from a distance than it is to hit them with a sword while right next to them.


  3. I’m wondering though, if it isn’t just a better idea to do away with the idea of “touch attack” altogether. Why not create a stat called SAB or Spell Attack Bonus. This would be based off your caster level and casting stat (like spiritual weapon or black tentacles.) Or perhaps your “concentration” check, assuming that will still exist in fivemoonsrpg, is your casting stat. So if you take the feat combat casting, it actually makes sense that you’d get a +4 (maybe reduce to +2 or 1 for to hit?) to hit with your spell as well as +4 to cast defensively.


      • Assuming something like Firearms come into play in this system, then a different mechanic will need to be devised if touch attack goes away.


      • Yes, firearms will have to be re-examined… if you decide that firearms in a fantasy-physics world have the same armor-piercing advantage that they do in our Earth-physics world. If they don’t operate any differently than a bow or crossbow, then you don’t have to examine the firearm rules at all. 🙂


      • I don’t know if you’ve watched any of the Deadliest Warrior shows from Spike. But whether realistic or not, they were quite informative. They would actually bring in real life weapons experts on various weapons and warriors of history and try them against various armors, gel torsos and pig carcasses. The main thing I remember seeing was a musketball literally bouncing off full plate armor with barely a dent.

        Liked by 1 person

      • “Yes, firearms will have to be re-examined…”

        I’ve actually reflavored weapons as firearms in a 4E campaign once, mostly in place of the weapon + magical item properties. To that end an idea I’ve had for firearms, is that I think they should be made into “Gear” or (non)magical Items! They’re part machine & magic in-lore, as well that it allows you to bring in various types of Firearms into the game, even the more fiction-like weapons (anti-matter rifles, laser guns, etc.).

        I can also totally see them being part of a power set/class features as a certain type of option for a “Gadgeteer” or Gunman? character.


    • Actually, spell attack bonus is something already in the system, as you can see in the prototype iconic wizard character sheet:

      Just like how warriors get +5 on attack rolls with weapon, wizards get a +5 on attack rolls with spells.
      (I’ll update the blog article to mention that.)
      However, there still needs to be something in the game about nonmagical attacks that are touch attacks, like alchemist’s fire and a tanglefoot bag, and the +5 rule covers that.


  4. I have mixed feelings about this. At low levels a +5 will tend to let wizards hit things with a touch attack…that ancient red dragon however…no wizard will ever be able to hit it with anything that requires an attack roll. It just won’t happen. While I agree that touch attacks shouldn’t become trivial…I also don’t think they should become impossible at the higher end.


    • I mentioned in another reply, but wizards already get a +5 to attack rolls with spells (just like how warriors get a +5 on attack rolls with weapon), so wizards will still be able to hit enemies with their spells, even when not using touch attacks. (I’ve updated the blog post to include a link to the proto wizard character sheet showing that he has a “spell attack” bonus of +6, which is his +1 Int and the +5 wizard spell attack bonus.)


    • I know that’s what you’ve chosen to go with, but I really don’t like the flat +5. As has been mentioned here already, that flat +5 actually penalizes the character who gets most of their AC from being elusive vs. weighed down in armor. I know that simplicity is key here.

      I think perhaps you could easily cover how “touch attacks” work with each item rather than have a flat “touch attack” rule. For items that break open upon contact and then do their damage (i.e. Alchemists fire), or really don’t need to do damage (i.e. tanglefoot bag), they give a bonus of +8 minus the Dexterity bonus available of the target. That way a higher Dexterity modifier would give you a better chance to avoid the touch. But as you mentioned in your blog, perhaps alchemist’s fire damage would do -2 damage in light armor, -4 in medium, and -6 in heavy armor. The tanglefoot bag would need none of the damage text,


      • My goal is to make touch attacks a rare thing in the game, so this sort of weirdness will be a rare concern. You wear armor because it provides protection. Touch attacks completely ignore that, devaluing the point of having armor at all. Touch attacks eventually become auto-hits (barring a really low roll), and something that is an auto-hit really shouldn’t engage with armor (or AC) at all, it should become a resist roll effect (whether Fort, Ref, or Will).

        In other words, if I target you with an effect, there should be some reasonable chance for you me to fail, whether that’s an attack roll or a saving throw. If it’s through an attack roll, and that roll is rendered meaningless by a pathetic touch AC, then there is no chance of failure, which is lame for your target, and instead of a touch attack roll it should be a saving throw effect.


      • I agree 100% on the principle. I’m not sure I agree on the solution. I’ll wait and see the finished product. though.


  5. This does mean that if a character’s AC is entirely from their sheer nimbleness – all dodge, no armor, a large Spider Man or your standard monk – it is somehow much easier for a wizard to tag them than it is for equally experienced assassin to slice with a poisoned blade. That seems odd to me.


    • No.
      Let’s say your target is AC 10.
      A warrior attacking that target with a sword is rolling against AC 10, and the warrior has the “+5 on all attack rolls with weapons” standard warrior ability, so they only need to roll a 5.
      [Edit] If the wizard is using a non-touch targeted attack spell, the wizard is rolling against AC 10, and gets the “+5 because it’s a touch attack bonus,” so they only need to roll a 5. Because wizards get their +5 bonus, there will be very few touch spells in the game (the “I can’t hit a damn thing” problem is resolved by the +5, not through a touch attack mechanic).
      If the wizard is using a spell that also happens to be a touch spell, that spell should have a really, really, really weak effect because the +5 to spells and the +5 to touch attacks would make it really easy to hit. “Really, really, really” weak would probably be something like “I mark you with a splash of bright orange paint that doesn’t hurt you but really makes you stand out in a crowd.” So it doesn’t matter that the two bonuses add to +10.
      I’d expect an experienced assassin either to be a warrior and have that “+5 with weapons” ability, or be a rogue and have some sort of equivalent to that warrior ability, so he only needs to roll a 5 to get a 10 and therefore hit the target.


  6. Based on the prototype wizard and warrior sheets, there is only a difference of one between the attack bonus of the warrior’s preferred weapon (longsword) and the wizard’s (frost bolt). So what is the difference at higher levels? Hopefully not the +10 that separates BAB at 20th level of Pathfinder.

    Still, this seems like sort of a backwards way of thinking about the problem. You are going from a mechanic that doesn’t work to yet a different (but simpler) mechanic. Wouldn’t it be better to think about the problem and what potential solutions there should be, then creating mechanics that support those solutions?

    To take an example from a different system, Hero allows you to have certain types of attacks that trade off potential damage for greater accuracy. It is called spreading the attack. Rather than having a narrowly focused flame bolt, you disperse it over a slightly wider area making it harder to completely dodge. Then they also have area of effects that just can’t be dodged if you are where they land, along with a mechanic to get out of the area before they land.

    As for your example, doesn’t it do more to prove that they should have been less dependent on armor and more dependent on defenses utilizing deflection or dodges for many of those higher power monsters? When designing a Pathfinder character, you need to do that sort of tradeoff.

    Decide what your game is going to model, then decide what are effective ways for different types of attacks to work against that type of defense.


    • “So what is the difference at higher levels?” Attack bonus scales pretty much the same for all classes. The +5 puts the warrior ahead with weapon attacks, the +5 puts the wizard ahead with spell attacks.
      Remember that I’m making casters and martials much more equal in Five Moons RPG, mainly by making spell attacks at-will and squishing them down so they’re about as effective as a standard weapon, instead of the better-than-a-weapon-because-Vancian-casting way they work in PF.
      If you look at the attack spells in the wizard preview blog, you’ll see that the Frost Bolt spell is just a 1d6/20/+3 ranged attack (which is 1d20/20/x2 in PF terms), which is actually worse than a shortbow (1d6/20/x3 in PF terms), so it’s okay for the wizard to have about the same attack bonus as the warrior: even if he hits just as often as the warrior (or the archer), the wizard isn’t dealing as much damage, *and* the wizard had “pay” to learn that spell (in the form of “I get one automatic new spell at each level, and I choose Frost Bolt,” as compared to a martial character knowing how to use most types of weapons).
      As for monsters and armor and having to rely on something other than natural armor to keep up with their CR expectations, if you check the sample stone giant stat block, you’ll see that its Armor value is just “20”… it doesn’t differentiate whether that’s from natural armor, worn armor, dodging, and so on. Monsters get the Armor value they need that’s appropriate for their CR, and don’t have to work the same way that PCs do. So if a CR 19 ancient red dragon is supposed to have about AC 34, its AC is about 34, and there isn’t a go-to game mechanic for ignoring the monster’s +33 natural armor bonus (because it doesn’t specifically have a natural armor bonus of +33, it just as the AC it needs).
      I want a game where armor is worth wearing, and that’s what I’m trying to model with this mechanic. Yes, it’s easier to touch someone wearing full plate than it is to penetrate their armor with a hammer, spear, or sword, but the armor still provides *some* protection if the “touch” is actually “hostile effect that really ought to have to penetrate all of that armor and padding to do any good.”


      • Interesting. So all classes progress the same, but have a flat bonus (or lack of one) granted by a class feature/talent. This way, the deviation between the classes remains mostly the same as the characters level up, rather than steadily increase and lead to the problem that 3.5e touch attacks tried to solve? I really like it.

        I’m guessing conditions like flat-footed/denied Dexterity bonus to AC will be streamlined as well, possibly with a flat -5 AC penalty (which would essentially turn a normal attack into a 5MRPG touch attack)?


    • “So what is the difference at higher levels?”

      For what’s it worth Bret, I did some projections of various numbers for the 3 main classes:



      However, given its indicated that Wizards will likely have Full BaB equivalent for Spell Attack, you can probably just use the Warriors numbers in their Weapon attack as the spell equivalent instead. Although it could just be half level for “BaB” equivalent for everyone, which case the Wizard’s numbers for Spell attack would actually be more accurate projection. Either way, I apologize if it’s not that helpful.


  7. Touch attacks initially struck me as an interesting prospect that ultimately doesn’t work well with the math of the game. At first, I thought having different ACs for different situations seemed like a great idea, because I had numerous times in 4th Edition where someone was able to defend against an army of baddies despite being unconscious. Reaching out and grabbing someone with a melee touch spell is a really cool visual. However, my opinion of them changed.

    I’m glad to see that Five Moons will have a simple way to use them. Fixing them opens up additional design space for spell attack-related abilities and items (like your wand ideas perhaps?). However, it begs the question how attack bonuses progress in the game, so I don’t have much context for this.

    It’s a shame PF firearms used touch attacks, which make even less sense than spell touch attacks. I removed them from firearms because Ultimate Combat tried to balance the broken mechanic by introducing the really unfun misfire mechanic, which drove one of my players up the wall. I really loved the idea of a short-range/high-damage ranged weapon, but the touch/misfire mechanics just punch the GM or the martial in the face depending on the luck of the dice.


  8. Ooookay … this is not an easy thing to do. Let’s see:

    How do touch attacks look / work?
    – Touch attacks are not hindered by armor.
    – In fact: cumbersome armor makes the target easier to be hit.
    – In fact: it is even hard to avoid a touch at all. Escpecially the target is really big.
    – Being nimble helps to avoid the attack.

    – You could ignore all that for the sake of having simple and streamlined rules and argue, that magic has to penetrate the armor and flesh to actually work. I would be okay with that.
    – You could make touch attacks an automatic hit, if you are in reach. If reflex is a roll made by the target, you could simply make it being resisted by Reflex. There you are. You don’t need any new stats and everything is considered. I would like that. If Reflex just replaces the armor class when you attack, that would be okay, too.

    I’d prefer these solutions. They are simple and work without any extra rules. What do you think?


    • “- In fact: cumbersome armor makes the target easier to be hit.”

      Actually, even in PF/D&D, it doesn’t unless you’re talking about a high-Dex character wearing armor with a “max Dex bonus” less than the character’s actual Dex bonus.
      A person with Dex 10 and no armor has a touch AC of 10, as compared to that same person in splint mail (max Dex +0, touch AC 10).
      Yes, a person with Dex 12 and no armor has a touch AC of 11, as compared to that same person in splint mail (touch AC 10).
      But technically, “cumbersome” armor doesn’t actually make you *easier* to hit, it just puts a limit on how much harder it is to hit you based on how dextrous you are.
      So whether it’s a best-case (high Dex, no armor) or worst-case scenario (high Dex, cumbersome armor), it’s not easier to hit a target in armor.

      “You could ignore all that for the sake of having simple and streamlined rules and argue, that magic has to penetrate the armor and flesh to actually work. I would be okay with that.”

      That’s basically where I’m going–touch attack magic effects (or touch attacks with splash weapon, and so on) aren’t “this bypasses your armor” attacks, they’re “your armor isn’t quite as effective as it is against swords but is still somewhat effective” attacks


      • Sorry, I should have been more specific: in real life and with common sense, a being in combersome armor _should_ be easier to hit. It is easier to touch someone in armor than someone nimble jumping around. So going for Reflex as a defense against touch attacks would be a good decision in my oppinion.. If you are going for: bah – let’s handle touch attacks normally and won’t do anything, this is okay, too. I just don’t like the +5 idea which is not really working with me, but I could live with that, too.


      • {in real life and with common sense, a being in combersome armor _should_ be easier to hit}

        For many years now people have accepted the idea that heavy armor doesn’t actually reduce your ability to dodge out of the way of attacks. The “common sense” idea that a person in heavy armor is basically a sluggish tank has faded away because of YouTube videos of people in actual plate mail fighting, jumping, evading, and even doing cartwheels. A trained user compensates for the armor’s weight and bulk, or develops strength in appropriate muscles to do so.

        I want to see how this goes in the playtest. Remember that Five Moons has fewer touch attacks than Pathfinder, and something that is a touch attack in Five Moons is mainly in the “I’m just trying to touch you, not actually hurt you, and this isn’t going to hurt you” category. If, in the rare times you’re actually making a touch attack, that the playtesters think it feels weird that it’s easier to touch the light-armored rogue (AC 15) than it is to hit the heavy-armored warrior (AC 17), we’ll revisit it.


      • “For many years now people have accepted the idea that heavy armor doesn’t actually reduce your ability to dodge out of the way of attacks. The “common sense” idea that a person in heavy armor is basically a sluggish tank has faded away because of YouTube videos of people in actual plate mail fighting, jumping, evading, and even doing cartwheels. A trained user compensates for the armor’s weight and bulk, or develops strength in appropriate muscles to do so.”

        That a guy in armor can do summersaults or wall jumps is something completely different in my book.

        I am no pro, so this is just my personal and very amateurish oppinion. I did kendo for a year. wearing a helmet, even a light one, was a huuuuge hinderance in terms of perception. I couldn’t see anything left or right. That light armor … I didn’t feel hindering me much, but that was mostly cloth and a piece of chest armor. So hardly helpful to protect me either. The main protection from being hit – from my experience – was that long pointy thing called “sword”, that was neatly replaced by a split piece of bamboo called shinai for reasons of not killing each other in training. If somebody would have liked to touch me with his hands while I had a sword ready, he would propably lose his hand. Armor or not.

        All that amateurish experience from someone without any tournament-experience aside: I don’t care at all about reality in a game. I just don’t. I don’t want rules to be realistic. I want them to be somewhat plausible and most of all: _fun_. There are many ways to handle touch attacks. Please choose the one that is the easiest and most fun. Chose one, that keeps the action flowing and the game somewhat balanced.

        Realism? Bah! I get that when I get to work. There I can touch attack my desk anytime. Hitting my customers with a hurled hole puncher would work just fine as they don’t wear armor. Touching them instead … I’d rather not try that. They might misinterpret my intentions.


  9. I like that you’re getting rid of the “Touch AC” or aka the “auto-hit Defense”. Though a +5 bonus replaces it, I do have concern that it would just repeat its history as the “always-hit” mechanism. I know you intend for powers with the [Touch] Tag to be weaker, or do less damage to compensate. Currently it’s sorta hard for me to tell, as its a matter of Math that we haven’t seen too much of yet, though I’ve gotten the impression To-hit rates are going to be rather small (looking like 6+ or lower for wizard/Warrior focused guys).

    Speaking of Damage, since you’ve mention it often, will there be other ways of achieving Victory in Physical Combat, or will it only be through damage? I could certainly see the lower levels depending more on Damage as the go-to, with 12th+ expanding into other means.


      • I do wanna clarify by “Physical Combat” I’m referring to not melee, but basically non-social combat essentially.

        Basically, such metrics similar to what we’ve had in 3rd, where SoD’s could defeat opposition without relying on their HP, Web/Entanglement/Soften-Earth that slowed down or stuck em so PC’s could leave or shoot em down. Fear effects & other similar Debuffs that take foes out of the action enough like Web, ye could just leave. Also Social abilities that turn a combat into a social encounter/combat like Charm, would be cool encouraging Social Interaction as you want for Five Moons. There’s other spells with effects like that, but just for examples, and I would imagine SoD’s would be more gradual effects, opposed to all at once. So the Medusa’s gaze slowly turns you to stone (like in FF4 or Lost Odyssey), opposed to a single save and you’re out.

        4th in what very few it had, as through Stunlocking Sleep (repetitive coup de graces), and Intimidate. Intimidate where a Half-HP target could be forced to surrender if your Intimidate skill beat their Will. Which while half-HP done via damage, also effects to consider a target “Half-HP” for effects, and thus could actually do that technique turn 1 that way.

        Despite I’m using Spell examples, I’d totally expect other Characters to have access to effects as this (especially the rogue, they’re status effect centric type characters, to perform the ninja stuff they do). Though I’m otherwise interested in hearing what metrics you had in mind.


  10. Hi there !
    Just to clarify, first, I’m a near new french GM/player from Pathfinder RPG and I found out about this blog, and all this project on kickstarter. In my GM experiences, my players, who were more casual than hardcore, didn’t like the complexity of creating a character in PF, and of all the rules that make the game interesting, but pretty slow.
    I really, really, really like the articles on this blog, the different propositions that are made to simplify and for the fun, and I’m following the development of this new RPG game. (I’ll test, probably, a session with some of the rules provided in the basic examples)

    Now, on the subject, I know it goes against the principle of simplicity, but the +5 (that is simple) for touch attack can be transform into a -5 CA from armor, shield and stuff against touch attack. I like the idea as it is now, because of the simplicity, I have just some idea of improvement, or change, depending on the project direction.

    To be clear ( andbecause I don’t trust my level in english), the actual proposition is : +5 for touch attack.
    The downfall is : If the ennemy have no armor, it’s too much easy to hit with touch attack, leading to the idea that touch attack will nearly not exist, or have really really weak effect, and it erase the AC difference between AgileAC / ArmoredAC

    A solution (there is 2 way to describ it) :
    1) +Min (EnnemyArmor, 5) for touch attack, meaning, the bonus is the minimum between the EnnemyACFromArmor and 5.
    2) Malus of 5 on the EnnemyArmor, for touch Attack (implicitly, there is no malus on CA for Armor, you can’t go subzero 🙂 ).

    This way, a guy with no armor and 10CA is affected in the same way by the sword and the ray, but a guy with 30 AC and +15 AC from armor, is affected differently by a sword and a touch attack (+5 on it).
    I think this presentation, as a malus, match with how the characterSheat is created (separation of different AC from different source, without calculating flat, and stuff).

    Downfall of my proposition : It create a special rule more complex than the actual proposition, but with this, you can create more touch attack, or touch attack with some effect, because it keeps an advantage of Agile AC VS Armor AC.

    The questions are :
    – Do we need a difference between Agile AC VS Armor AC (the difference between Agile / Armor character can affect only skills and spell for example)?
    – Do we need not so weak effect touch attack spells?

    Sorry for my bad english 😀

    And good luck on the project dev, Mr. SeanKReynolds.


    • {The downfall is : If the ennemy have no armor, it’s too much easy to hit with touch attack, leading to the idea that touch attack will nearly not exist, or have really really weak effect, and it erase the AC difference between AgileAC / ArmoredAC}

      There are several things to keep in mind:
      1) Pathfinder uses the 3E idea an unarmored person is AC 10 and an untrained person (+0 BAB) therefore has a 55% chance to hit that unarmored person (10 or higher on a d20). I actually think that chance is higher than 50%, which is why in Five Moons RPG your AC base is 5 instead of 10 (so 80% chance instead of 55%).
      2) It should be easier to just *touch* someone, rather than hitting them hard enough to hurt.
      3) Heavy cloth still provides an armor bonus (if you look at the wizard preview, he has 4 points of armor just from his robes), so even an “unarmored” character has some protection from touch attacks.
      4) So an untrained person (+0 BAB) attacking a person wearing heavy clothes (AC 9) with a touch attack (+5 to the attack roll) has an 85% chance of hitting (4 or higher on a d20). Which is almost exactly the same as using a regular attack (+0 BAB, no touch attack bonus) on someone not wearing any clothes (AC 5).


  11. Question : Does the point 2) means that touch spell will have the “tag, you’re it” effect, like the mark example you use earlier: “I mark you with a splash of bright orange paint that doesn’t hurt you but really makes you stand out in a crowd?
    Or does it means that touch spell/attack still can have other effect like “Roll a save dice/ Take some damages” etc…?

    I see the point in the flat +5 nullified by the touch attack bonus of the attacker, and for the global idea, as I said, I really like the simplification !

    As long as the game goes in the direction of “Easy to learn, hard to master”, and it seems to be this way, I’m perfectly fine with changing axiome and implementing new ideas 🙂


    • It means that most things that are touch effects shouldn’t actually physically hurt the target.
      Touch attacks are in D&D/PF for two reasons:
      * To represent that it’s easier to touch someone than it is to hit them hard enough to hurt them.
      * To make it easier for low-BAB spellcasters to actually hit opponents in combat.
      For the first point, if you stick a hurting effect on a touch attack, you’re basically saying, “your armor doesn’t matter, I get to hurt you with an easy attack roll.” This greatly devalues the point of having physical armor against a physical attack (which unfairly hurts nonmagical characters like fighters and big monsters who have to rely on armor or natural armor for their AC).
      For the second point, the wizard’s +5 bonus on attack rolls with spells compensates for the wizard’s low BAB; he no longer has to rely on a touch attack mechanic with Scorching Ray to hit his opponent’s high armored AC, his spell attack bonus is going to be pretty comparable to the fighter’s weapon attack bonus (with the intentional side effect of having the wizard still be mediocre with manufactured weapons).


      • “This greatly devalues the point of having physical armor against a physical attack (which unfairly hurts nonmagical characters like fighters and big monsters who have to rely on armor or natural armor for their AC).”

        Well, I could certainly see a power for the Warrior/Rogue that’s like a “Sure/Emerald Strike” that strikes as a touch, but still does damage (be it reduced, or no options to increase the offensive power through the power itself). I know Tome of Battle also had an idea where ye do a touch that does no damage, but is used to set-up for doing more in the next round, so that would also be cool for the Rogue I think (so long as the pay-off is the equivalent of 2 rounds damage, else they lost a turn for lesser gain). I think Martial types should still be able to harm enemies with their touch attacks, though I can understand if wishing for a sense of theme/balance for Touch attacks to err on side of that. I’d definitely expect Touch attacks at higher levels to do harm in some way, especially like Major debuffs, stunlocks or otherwise.


  12. Slow to read and respond to this one… sorry!

    I like games that model realism and have a grittier feel. I enjoyed PF alchemists and gunslingers when they first came out… but after seeing them in play at hundreds of PFS games over the years, they’ve certainly broken most adventures/scenarios that were written before their time.

    I’m generally “eh” about “special rules”… like “touch attacks are all made at +5” since that’s something else for the hard-drive-that-is-my-brain to have to store in order to play another game. But I’m in total agreement about a good goal being a simpler stat block with less fiddly bits.

    I’d like a game system where I can create a really slow character (a venerable wizard with a 7 Dex) or really fast character (a quickling sorcerer with a 28 Dex), and they are both wildly different at effectively landing spells that seems to be “like lasers”. It just syncs with my expectation of play. I’d expect the slow/old wizard to just lob around area effect spells to compensate, for example. Or I like the idea that draining someone’s Dex makes it harder for them to aim their lasers.

    One of my concerns is that a +5 extra bonus is pretty good at low level play when I was feeling like a 10 Dex vs a 16 Dex (+0 vs +3) would be the more material part of aiming something like a laser-spell.

    I don’t know if it’s a solution, but maybe you can simply double your Dex modifier (and perhaps penalty, too) when you aim a touch spell? This makes me feel like it would scale for higher level wizards who want to be specialized in aiming laser-type-spells against dragons and the like.


    • I’ll be fiddling with the numbers a bit and asking for feedback about it in the Jan/Feb playtest. Honestly, if the +5 bonus means you’re more likely to hit at low levels, I think that’s okay, because at low levels a common problem is it’s hard to hit, so you often waste a turn on a low attack roll. Many times I played a 1E fighter who went an entire combat without hitting even once. That’s why I’m setting up AC and attacks so you can go for the “easy to successfully hit, but all it does is a basic amount of damage,” or you can go for “higher difficulty, but does extra damage or has a special effect.”


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