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Firearms resolve hits against a targets touch AC at least within their first range increment. A gunslinger's 7th level deeds Startling Shot and Targeting can be activated on a hit and have no further save, combat maneuver check, or spell resistance. Given that you can easily flat-foot or disable an opponent for a round (via confusion, tripping, or the loss of their item) by only hitting their touch AC.

Granted, uses of Targeting is limited by grit, but this is easily overcome by Extra Grit, which gunslingers can take multiple times and with their bonus feats. Regardless, the ability itself remains tied only to a creature's touch AC.

This seems over powered to me. More objectively, is there precedent for disabling abilities such as these tied only to an opponents touch AC? Are there similar abilities or touch spells, attainable by level 7, which can disable an opponent without allowing saving throws or requiring a combat maneuver? Touch AC is generally a powerful foe's weakest defense, and these deeds seem exploitable all the way through end game.

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The precedent is that a spell requires at least one roll: in this case, it's the to-hit roll that satisfies that custom. This does vary by the severity of the effect... but confusion, tripping, etc. are all pretty low-level effects, even at touch AC. Compare it to Black Tentacles (available to a level-7 wizard), which has no save or spell resistance, grants only a CMB, and can disable multiple (up to 16 medium, I believe) targets for an entire combat. –  SevenSidedDie Nov 13 '13 at 19:53
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@SevenSidedDie A 7th level character tripping a Clockwork Goliath 95% of the time by hitting its mere 13 Touch AC rather than beating its 66 CMD or +16 Reflex save just seems wrong. I don't think there's precedence for that kind of ability. –  dlras2 Nov 13 '13 at 19:59
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Every class has its niche where it can excel in ways other classes can't. For example, the "objectively" more-powerful Black Tentacles is useless for that opponent. –  SevenSidedDie Nov 13 '13 at 20:01
    
Was there any precedent for the arcane Gate or the Druid's Thousand Faces? –  doppelgreener Nov 13 '13 at 22:17

1 Answer 1

It's hard to say exactly what counts as a precedent since every class and ability is different, but one that leaps to mind is the alchemist's bombs. They normally deal a good amount of direct damage merely by hitting a ranged touch attack, but by 8th level alchemists have access to numerous bombs that inflict conditions on the target, often with no save. Examples:

And so on. (Concussive Bomb, which works for a whole minute, is one they must have felt was too powerful relative to the others since it gives the victim a save.)

Binding Darkness, from the Shadow school, is another possible precedent. It entangles its victim in shadow for one or more rounds with only a ranged touch attack.

Since the implicit question here is, "is this overpowered?" I might add a point in defense of these types of attacks. They typically do little-to-no damage, and they are made in place of standard damage-dealing attacks: instead of gunslingers just filling a target with lead for 2d12+10 with touch attacks, or alchemists raining fire for 4d6+4 (+4 per adjacent target!) with a touch attack, they're pinning an enemy down for a round. That is, you're giving up your own round to eliminate that of an enemy's. Compare this to, say, a monk at 7th level, who could trip three enemies in a single round with good CMB rolls.

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