Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Simplified Sundering for Pathfinder

Art By Wayne Reynolds
Sundering items has always been one of those options in D&D/Pathfinder where I like the basic idea, but dislike its execution. The idea of attacking your opponent's weapon or armor instead, trying to break it and leave them defenseless, is an interesting tactical decision. However, the process of sundering an item can be rather frustrating.

 For those of you who are not familiar with the sundering rules, I'll do my best to explain them. During combat, you can choose to sunder an item held or worn by your opponent as part of an attack action in place of a melee attack. If your attack is successful, you deal damage to the item normally. Damage that exceeds the object's Hardness is subtracted from its hit points. If an object has equal to or less than half its total hit points remaining, it gains the broken condition. If the damage you deal would reduce the object to less than 0 hit points, you can choose to destroy it. If you do not choose to destroy it, the object is left with only 1 hit point and the broken condition.

As I've mentioned before, I'm not the biggest fan of keeping multiple hit point totals, and I don't feel like keeping track of another pool for each weapon. Also, I've never found these rules all that fun to use at the table. If you don't feel like whacking away at an opponent's items for a few turns, and hope to God you don't roll under the item's Hardness again and again, I don't see why you'd ever try and sunder something.

So, why not abstract the rules somewhat and make the whole process a lot easier to use. When you attempt to sunder an item, you'd still make a CMB check against your opponent's CMD. However, instead of rolling damage if you succeed, you'd place a condition called "Weakened" onto the item. The Weakened condition would cause the user of the item to suffer a -1 penalty to attack rolls, damage rolls, or AC when using the item. If you succeed on a second CMB check, the item gains the Broken condition as presented in the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook. If you succeed on a third attempt, the item is destroyed. If you succeed by 5 or more on the check, you deal the worse condition (5 or more makes the item Broken, and 10 or more destroys the item).

These rules are still kind of rough and I plan on refining them further. I might also add some additional rules, like making items made from certain materials (like adamantine) easier to sunder with and harder to break. However, I wanted to see what others thought of the basic idea and get some feedback.