Attacks can be Cloned

All posts, RSS Feed

We just finished the first phase of the Attack revamp for the Pathfinder character sheet. The new attacks will get a styling overhaul in the near future, but should work now, which means that your characters attacks will automatically improve as your base attack bonus and ability modifiers increase.

Improving the attacks in this manner seem reasonably straight forward, yet they took us a lot more time then expected, so I wanted to look into what made them so complicated, both from a data-modelling and a user interface perspective.

At first glance, attacks in the Pathfinder system are reasonably straightforward: you have your attack sequence (+10 / +5, for example), damage, critical range, damage type and — for ranged weapons — range increments. And that’s about it. That simple view belies some underlying complexities though.

One major limit is that damage, critical range, etc. can vary per attack in the sequence. For example, if you wield a longsword in one hand and a short sword in the other, the damage on the attacks made with the short sword will use a different dice for damage. This isn’t even limited to attacks made with more than one weapon — for example, the Gnome Hooked Hammer is a “double” weapon with a hammer head at one end and a pointy pick at the other. It deals different damage for each end when wielded, and has a different critical range and even deals a different damage type for those attacks.

Thus, it is not sufficient to simply have an attack sequence and damage and such — to know the correct damage to roll, it is necessary to know what attack in the sequence has what damage, critical range, etc. The same situation happens with the attack sequence itself — we need to know how much bab or strength, for example, affects your attack bonus. But that need not be the same for all attacks. If you receive a bonus to hit with hammers, it will apply on one end of the Gnome Hooked Hammer, but not the other, for example.

So to allow us to automatically calculate attacks, we need to know the details for every attack in the sequence, not just the generic data. This runs at odds with a simple user interface though: you don’t want to have to repeat every detail for every attack as many times, all attacks have the same values for these fields.

To resolve this, we have added a few options to attacks. The first of these is the ability to copy individual attacks in a sequence, allowing you to fill out everything for one attack and then add more in the sequence. The second is that we can automatically calculate extra attacks in the sequence based on your BAB. This is the most common way attack sequences spring into action. It cannot calculate for multiple weapons, but if you enter both weapons, you can use the automatic BAB sequence on both attacks and simply remove any you don’t qualify for based on your Improved / Greater / etc Two-Weapon Fighting feats.

Finally we’ve also added a long requested feature to copy entire attack sequences — this allows you to make a second attack entry, for example, while your character is Raging or when they are using Power Attack, without having to redo everything.

We will be testing the current setup to see how it feels, with the understanding that it will need some tweaking — the character sheet is due for some cleanup soon so we’d love to hear your feedback so we can include it in our updates. Why not let us know in the forum or have a look at what we’ve done so far?