I have a question. I have built a half-elven dragon rider based off of dexterity to make up for her lack of armor. She has elven weapon familiarity as an alternate trait so her weapon used is an elven curved blade. She also uses a lance while mounted. I want to know if adding the Versatile Design to her lance would allow the bonuses of weapon finesse.

  1. Weapon Finesse allows the use of dex modifiers instead of strength modifiers.
  2. Versatile design allows the weapon to be a part of a new fighter weapon group, in this case, it would be light blades to be counted as light.

Is this a valid modification to achieve better synergy with how I've created my character?

No, Versatile Design does not let you finesse a lance

So the word “light” is being reused here to mean two different things, and it’s kind of a chicken-and-the-egg problem.

  • Light as a “handedness,” so “light weapons” as opposed to “one-handed weapons” and “two-handed weapons.” Light weapons can be used with Weapon Finesse, take smaller penalties when using two-weapon fighting, cannot benefit from Power Attack, and so on.

  • Light as an English-language adjective in the term “light blades,” the name of a fighter weapon group. In this context, a “light blades” refers to any of the weapons found in the light blades group.1 Not all weapons in the fighter's Light Blades group are finesse-able (scizore, chakram, manople), and simply being in the group doesn’t make them light weapons.

In other words, the light blades were chosen to be in that group because they are light—but they were already light before the fighter got involved. Adding them to the fighter weapon group “light blades” didn’t make them light, they already were.

Likewise, if you add the lance to this group using Versatile Design, that doesn’t make it a light weapon. A light blade, yes, and things that care about what fighter weapon group you are using will recognize that, but it doesn’t otherwise change how the lance works. It will not allow you to use Weapon Finesse with the lance.

  1. Namely, a bayonet, butterfly knife, butterfly sword, chakram, dagger, deer horn knife, Drow razor, dueling dagger, gladius, hunga munga, kama, katar, kerambit, kukri, machete, madu, manople, pata, quadrens, rapier, sanpkhang, sawtooth sabre, scizore, shortsword, sica, sickle, spiral rapier, starknife, swordbreaker dagger, sword cane, wakizashi, or war razor.

However, effortless lace may let you finesse a lance

Effortless lace is a very useful magic item that can allow you to finesse weapons you ordinarily couldn’t, along with other useful properties. Specifically,

When wrapped around the grip of a one-handed piercing or slashing melee weapon for 24 hours, the ribbon’s magic permanently merges with the weapon, [so that] the weapon is treated as a light melee weapon when determining whether it can be used with Weapon Finesse, as well as with any feat, spell, or special weapon ability that can be used in conjunction with light weapons.

(Effortless lace item description)

Notice that this can only be used on a one-handed piercing or slashing weapon—a lance is clearly piercing, so that’s no trouble, but it’s a two-handed weapon. However, note also that

While mounted, you can wield a lance with one hand.

(Lance weapon description)

This does not, strictly speaking, make the lance a one-handed weapon. The rules as written would not allow you to use effortless lace on a lance.

Your GM, however, might. I would. I would allow you to use the effortless lace on the lance, but it only benefits from the lace while you are mounted.

  • 2
    It would be better to note that the Fighter's Light Blades group includes weapons not in the Light Blades weapon category (i.e the Rapier, despite being a finesse weapon, isn't a Light Blade Weapon) than focusing on the usage of the word 'light'. There are also weapons that can be 'finessed' that aren't in the Fighter's Light Blade group, such as the Elven Curved Blade, Whip and Spiked Chain. Where as Chakram (just to pick one) isn't a 'finesse-able' weapon (since it's a ranged weapon) – Cyberspark Oct 16 at 15:34
  • awesome! That's just the answer i was looking for. However, the lance is only really going to be used while mounted. It'll be in it's one-handed variant. She has the blade for otherwise melee. – Rashka Oct 16 at 15:47
  • @Rashka Well, that’s an argument to make with your GM about why allowing the effortless lace to be used this way makes sense. – KRyan Oct 16 at 16:07

No

As others have noted versatile design adds it to a weapon group, not a weapon category.

However, a Fighter's Advanced Weapon Training can allow you to treat is as a finessable weapon.

Fighter’s Finesse (Ex): The fighter gains the benefits of the Weapon Finesse feat with all melee weapons that belong to the associated fighter weapon group (even if they cannot normally be used with Weapon Finesse). The fighter must have the Weapon Finesse feat before choosing this option.

This would require you to have at least 5 levels of fighter in order to use however.

Do you want exactly a lance or another weapon from the spear group is fine?

In the latter case this weapon is finessable: Elven Branched.

Behind this long pole weapon’s spearhead, several short branches project from the shaft at irregular intervals, each angled forward and tipped with a smaller leaf-like blade. When you make attacks of opportunity provoked by movement, you gain a +2 bonus on attack rolls. You can use the Weapon Finesse feat to apply your Dexterity modifier instead of your Strength modifier on attack rolls with an elven branched spear sized for you, even though it isn’t a light weapon. Elves treat elven branched spears as martial weapons.

You have weapon familiarity trait so in my opinion this weapon fits very well with your character.

Link: Spear, Elven Branched

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