Most official spell descriptions start with a blurb of fluff that explains the effects of the spell as experienced by the characters and then they are followed by some crunch where the spell is explained in game rules text.

The authors of the third party, well-received book Path of War appear to have done the same with their maneuvers.

Here is the full text of Circle of Razor Feathers

When surrounded, a disciple of the Black Seraph may lay low many foes by the force of his hellish wrath.

The first sentence of the description is fluff.

By crying out in horrible rage and raising his weapon straight up to the sky, the disciple’s foes are showered with dozens of needles of dark energy which inflict 8d6 points of profane damage.

The second sentence starts as fluff (or is it not?) and then starts spewing out some numbers (clearly crunch).

When this part says "the disciple's foes", is it just picturing the character surrounded by foes, or is it really telling us that this maneuver does not deal damage to allies?

I know this looks clear enough (it says foes, only foes it is!) but a fourth level maneuver that only deals damage to enemies, with a huge area and that can be cast again and again without ever depleting (and a Mystic can use it once ever three turns) looks really strong compared to spells the same level. I know that PoW aims at raising up the power of martials but this looks like surpassing spellcasters in the damage compartment and I'm a bit worried (especially because it's going to damage all enemies in a room).

I just can't drive myself to believe that it really works that way, can someone confirm it for me?


1 Answer 1


Foes means foes.

Spellcasters are generally not so powerful due to damage. If we only cared about damage, martials wouldn’t be so underpowered. They often can do more.

Furthermore, Path of War tends to eschew things that are inconvenient or taxy, and includes a lot of quality of life benefits. Avoiding friendly fire is entirely in line with that overall design.

Your concern about the mystic also seems a little silly to me. Three rounds is already a long Pathfinder combat. If things are still standing after three rounds, you may have to mop up, but the fight has been decided. Exceptions might include a boss, but an area maneuver would be less relevant then.

Finally, Path of War is overtuned. This is generally acknowledged by the team itself. The goals were to make martial combat more effective, more flexible, more reliable, with fewer hoops to jump through, that is, with a higher optimization floor, but they went too far the other way on it. Part of the problem is the terribly anemic support Pathfinder itself has for martials—dramatically weaker than 3.5e had at the time of Tome of Battle’s publication—but part of the problem was that when you make everything easy to use and work regardless of feat choices, that allows tactics written off as ineffective to suddenly be much more notable than expected. And during playtest, it was very difficult to recognize reports that “initiators are more powerful” as a problem—that was the goal, after all. It wasn’t clear that this was actually above and beyond what was intended.

For example, 8d6 averages 28 damage. A whirlwind attack leveraging Power Attack and a big two hander can easily deal similar damage and also only attacks foes—it just requires a ton of feats and has a much smaller area. But then Whirlwind Attack is a complete trap, so the maneuver should be better. Is this too much better? Maybe, but maybe not. And that’s kind of how it goes with Path of War.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Feb 9, 2019 at 15:06

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