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How does the fighter ability overhand chop from the Pathfinder Advanced Player's Guide work? Please give examples.

The reason I asked is that I have a player in my game that is using overhand chop. He has a 18 str, and he says he gets 12 to his damage instead of 8. I think he's exploiting a loop hole in the way it is written. Is this interpretation correct?

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4 Answers

What exactly is the question about how it works? From the Pathfinder SRD, Overhand Chop is "At 3rd level, when a two-handed fighter makes a single attack (with the attack action or a charge) with a two-handed weapon, he adds double his Strength bonus on damage rolls."

Here's an example - a fighter charges and makes a single attack with his two-handed sword; he adds double his Strength bonus (instead of the 1 1/2 times you normally would for a two handed weapon). If he had a strength of 18, he would add +8 (+4 * 2) instead of the usual +6 (+4 * 1.5).

You are correct in that it is +8, and your player is wrong.

For the others out there unclear on this being "instead," you can see Jason Nelson, the author of the ability, saying "it's instead, of course" on the Paizo boards here.

This should be apparent in context - do you really think there would be a third level fighter ability that basically says "Sure, ladle another +10 damage on top of your single attack?" That doesn't pass any kind of smell test.

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Also note Overhand Chop was a combat feat in Pathfinder Beta, explaining other answers from that perspective. –  mxyzplk Oct 8 '13 at 12:11
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I see no "instead" in the description, it reads very plain. People are reading into it. Not like it is overly powerful, you are giving up multiple attacks- the point when your str is meaningful- for one solid chop

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Actually, the text is very clear. It has a "Benefit" line and a "Normal" line. The Normal effect is there to tell you want normally happens, which the Benefit line is replacing. The Normal line says you normally add 1-1/2 strength bonus. The Benefit line says you add double, so that "double" replaces the normal "1-1/2". Saying "instead" would be redundant, so it doesn't say "instead". –  SevenSidedDie May 8 '13 at 23:15
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Overhand Chop, and the related Backswing ability, both appear on p.108 of the Advanced Player's Guide. They are abilities listed under the Two-Handed Fighter Archetype, and are not feats. Neither has a "Benefit" or "Normal" line.

Perhaps some players are thinking these are some old feats with similar names, but they are not at all the same thing. Here are the complete descriptions of both abilities (I have not edited them in any way, or left out any additional text).

Overhand Chop says:

"At 3rd level, when a two-handed fighter makes a single attack (with the attack action or a charge) with a two-handed weapon, he adds double his Strength bonus on damage rolls. This ability replaces armor training 1."

Backswing says:

At 7th level, when a two-handed f ighter makes a full attack with a two-handed weapon, he adds double his Strength bonus on damage rolls for all attacks after the first. This ability replaces armor training 2.

Under RAW, it is crystal clear that the original player, with an 18 Strength, should gain +14 damage when using Overhand Chop, and +8 damage for all swings past the first when making a full attack. He is actually shorting himself 2 damage by only applying 14 damage (I think he forgot that he normally gains +6 damage from his 18 Strength when using a 2-handed weapon).

The Overhand Chop and Backswing damage bonuses are totally unrelated to the 1.5 Strength bonus for using a 2-handed weapon (indeed, they replace the Fighter's class feature Armor Training 1 and 2, which has nothing whatsoever to do with damage otherwise). The player is giving up Armor Training to gain damage, which is not surprising since he chose the Two-Handed Fighter Archetype.

Overhand Chop 18 Strength +6 for using his 2-handed weapon +8 more for Overhand Chop

Backswing 18 Strength +6 for using his 2-handed weapon on all attacks in a Full Attack +0 from Backswing for the first attack +8 from Backswing for all attacks after the first attack

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I'm afraid that "crystal clarity" you're claiming defies a) common sense and b) the words of the ability's author. –  mxyzplk Oct 8 '13 at 11:42
    
I'm talking about the up to date version, not the old Beta feat version. And it's a simple implicit thing. Yeah, it should probably say "instead of..." for the rules lawyers, but the implication is that you're getting 2x STR and that it doesn't stack with - but their intent was more "instead" - the 1.5x STR. –  mxyzplk Oct 8 '13 at 15:40
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The reason I asked is that I have a player in my game that is using overhand chop. He has a 18 str, and he says he gets 12 to his damage instead of 8.

Overhand chop adds +8 to your damage. I presume the reason your player thinks +12 is added is because they believe they also get the +4 Strength bonus to Damage rolls. A more relevant bonus would be the 1.5× Strength bonus to two-handed attacks, which would be a +6 Strength bonus in this case.

The reason it gives you a final damage modifier of +8 is simple: all of the above are bonuses, and (most) bonuses of the same type don't stack - only the best bonus is taken for that type.

(From Damage rules): Strength Bonus: When you hit with a melee or thrown weapon, including a sling, add your Strength modifier to the damage result.

(From Two-handed weapon rules): Two-Handed: Two hands are required to use a two-handed melee weapon effectively. Apply 1-1/2 times the character's Strength bonus to damage rolls for melee attacks with such a weapon (see FAQ at right for more information.)

(From Overhand Chop): At 3rd level, when a two-handed fighter makes a single attack (with the attack action or a charge) with a two-handed weapon, he adds double his Strength bonus on damage rolls.

So, since a melee attack gets a +4 Strength bonus to its damage, a two-handed attack gets a +6 Strength bonus, and Overhand Chop adds a +8 Strength bonus, you only get the +8 Strength bonus, being the greatest of the relevant Strength bonuses - the same reason why the two-handed damage bonus implicitly overrides the one-handed damage bonus in the first place.

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