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Im in the process of building a new character using magus, so Ive been looking at combat feats with a magic character. I happened to take a look at Cleave and noticed that it doesnt state it can only be used with melee weapons (which I must have always assumed or remembered from a past edition).

As a standard action, you can make a single attack at your full base attack bonus against a foe within reach. If you hit, you deal damage normally and can make an additional attack (using your full base attack bonus) against a foe that is adjacent to the first and also within reach. You can only make one additional attack per round with this feat. When you use this feat, you take a –2 penalty to your Armor Class until your next turn.

So the first thing to take from this is that it requires a standard action, so you must do it with a held touch spell or one thats been cast as a swift/move action. At first it looked limiting but with held spells and quicken its not bad.

Now the second thing is that you deal damage normally and can make an additional attack against someone else. Since most spells are single hit discharge, this either means the spell is gone so something else must be used (provided it can reach) or the spell is allowed to be discharged again (not likely).

Someone else also pointed out to me about the word reach. The glossary doesnt contain it. There is a definition for the weapon property, but that doesnt apply in this case. Many spell effects talk about reaching the target but that could be more favorable than anything.

Situation A1. Magus is holding a shocking grasp and a rapier and is adjacent to two also adjacent enemies. The Magus makes his standard attack (using shocking grasp, no spell strike) and hits and deals damage, and is allowed to cleave? From here he swings at the second. Can he swing with the shocking grasp, or is he forced to swing with his rapier?

Situation A2. Same as A1 except the attack is made using spell strike.

Situation B. The Magus is holding a metamagic rod of quickening lesser and casts Ray of Frost(because its a single ray) at two adjacent enemies 20 feet away. They are within range/reach of the spell. Are you somehow able to get the ray of frost to hit a second time due to cleave? I was going to use this one but then I remembered the restriction, the swift action includes the attack. I dont know of anyway to hold onto a non-touch spell for this.

Situation C. Basically B except this time using Scorching Ray so there are multiple rays, all hit the first target. Do one or more get to make an attack at the second? Striked for the same reason as B.

Situation D. Using an actual ranged weapon like a bow. The Magus pulls out his bow and fires on the same pair from B. The attack hits! Can he make another attack, and if so does it require a new arrow or does the original one somehow hit both?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ In situation A, the initial attack is made with the rapier? You don’t actually say, but that’s the sense I get from the question you ask about the cleave-attack. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 8 '20 at 15:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan I have corrected my mistake \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Feb 8 '20 at 16:58
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Someone else also pointed out to me about the word reach. The glossary doesnt contain it. There is a definition for the weapon property, but that doesnt apply in this case. Many spell effects talk about reaching the target but that could be more favorable than anything.

In this context, “within reach” is what is also known as your “threatened squares,”1 which is defined by

You threaten all squares into which you can make a melee attack,

Given this, your situation D is moot—ranged weapons do not have any reach, do not threaten any squares, so the magus cannot make the second attack.


Situation A1. Magus is holding a shocking grasp and a rapier and is adjacent to two also adjacent enemies. The Magus makes his standard attack (using shocking grasp, no spell strike) and hits and deals damage, and is allowed to cleave? From here he swings at the second. Can he swing with the shocking grasp, or is he forced to swing with his rapier?

Situation A2. Same as A1 except the attack is made using spell strike.

In both cases, no, the magus may not use shocking grasp again, because the shocking grasp is gone. The magus may use their rapier (again, in the case of having used spellstrike), at least under the rules, though the fluff on the Cleave feat implies it is one swing of one weapon that hits two targets, which a GM might enforce—but personally I think that’s pretty silly as it won’t make sense with tons of weapons, and no weapon restriction is mentioned on the feat.

Cleave in no way allows shocking grasp to hit more often than otherwise. If you used, say, chill touch instead, then its charge could be used for both attacks. Also, you could attack with the rapier first, and then use the shocking grasp attack on the extra Cleave attack, if you wanted. But still, one charge of shocking grasp, only one hit with it. Unless something addresses touch-attack charges lasting longer explicitly, that won’t change.


Situation D. Using an actual ranged weapon like a bow. The Magus pulls out his bow and fires on the same pair from B. The attack hits! Can he make another attack, and if so does it require a new arrow or does the original one somehow hit both?

Returning here, if we change the scenario slightly and have the two targets be such that they are adjacent, and one of them is adjacent the magus and the other 10 feet away from the magus, then attacking the one 10 feet away should then allow the magus to make an unarmed strike against the other. Same caveat about possible fluff restrictions as with situation A. If the initial attack were performed with just one hand (thrown weapon, perhaps), the second attack in this case could even be shocking grasp, rather than an unarmed strike.


And then some miscellany:

Since most spells are single hit discharge,

Note that there are a few which are not, for the record.

with held spells and quicken its not bad.

Yes, it is. It is very, very bad. You have to waste an effective standard action to use it—either your actual one or the one you bought for yourself, at considerable cost, using Quicken. You could just as easily use quickened shocking grasp, attacking with it, and then attack with your rapier as a standard action without spending a feat and without any of Cleave’s restrictions. And, for that matter, as a magus, you don’t even need Quicken—you can just do this properly with spell combat, attacking with the rapier and also casting and attacking with shocking grasp. Avoiding the kind of nonsense you have here is precisely why spell combat—which is to say, the entire magus class—exists.

Cleave is a terrible feat; I can imagine no situation in which you should ever take it.

  1. Barring exceptions that change how your threatened squares are defined, such as whips or improvised weapons which do not threaten at all. You can still use Cleave with these, because their exceptions for threatening do not change your reach, they change threatening itself.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ In all examples you gave here you basically gave the player two weapon fighting as a standard action without any attack penalties. Attacking with a different weapon in each hand is a full round action, not doable in a cleave. \$\endgroup\$ – Kronos106 Feb 8 '20 at 16:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kronos106 Not remotely true—no extra attack was gained (excepting those from Cleave or spell combat), so two-weapon fighting was not involved, nor were the benefits of any feat given out for free. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 8 '20 at 17:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kryan You claim that cleave cant be used with a whip or improvised weapons? Both do not have a threatened area. Threatened is about making AOO's. Yes, I know there are some like Chill Touch. Mostly I was seeing if it was possible to use cleave to double up on a single casting of a spell. \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Feb 8 '20 at 17:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Fering Fair, you are correct: “threatened squares” and “within reach” are the same thing, except when there are exceptions like with whips and improvised weapons which change what a threatened area is. But that’s an exception and doesn’t change my answer. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 8 '20 at 17:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kronos106 When you have a bab of over 5 and make a full attack holding two weapons, you are allowed to make an attack with each weapon. This is still not two weapon fighting despite actually having used two weapon fighting. TWF is a special kind of attack, it has its own rules. \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Feb 8 '20 at 17:20
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No making an attack is a specific kind of standard action, casting a spell is a different kind, even if you hold it, so cleave cannot apply to it.

Also attacks with bows don't have reach they have range increments. The only time the term reach is used is in conjunction with a melee attack.

Melee Attacks: With a normal melee weapon you can strike at any opponent within 5 feet. Some weapons have reach, as indicated in their descriptions. With a typical reach weapon you can strike opponents 10 feet away but you can't strike adjacent foes.(those within 5 feet.

Ranged Attacks With a ranged weapon you can shoot or throw at anything that is within the weapons maximum range and line of sight. The maximum range for a thrown weapon is five range increments. Some ranged weapons have shorter maximum ranges, as specified in their descriptions.

Those descriptions are from page 182 of the core rulebook. The reason this feat mentions within range at all is if the first enemy is 5 feet from you and the second is adjacent to him you can't cleave with a greatsword because the second enemy is outside your reach,

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is all true, but doesn’t answer the question. The OP fully understands the first part—they are talking about casting the spell as a standard action, but then holding the charge instead of attacking—so that they can then later use a separate standard action to use Cleave with the held charge. It’s a poor choice, but it’s a rules-valid one. The second part is a portion of the question, but kind of an aside really, and doesn’t address OP’s situation A. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 8 '20 at 15:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes it does answer the question. The text in cleave clearly says you make an attack which is a specific type of action. Casting a spell, even if you hold the charge, still qualifies as casting a spell a different type of standard action. The table on page 183 of the core rulebook lists all of them. \$\endgroup\$ – Kronos106 Feb 8 '20 at 16:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Attacking with a held charge is an attack. No spell is cast. The standard action to cast it was in the past at that point and no longer relevant. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 8 '20 at 16:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you put it that way then no he couldn't do it that way anyhow, because then he would be attacking with a weapon in each hand which is two weapon fighting, a full round action. Just like you couldn't start a cleave with a longsword in one hand and then hit the second target with the shortsword in your off hand. \$\endgroup\$ – Kronos106 Feb 8 '20 at 16:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ From the metamagic reach spell A seeking spell’s range can bend around obstacles to reach the intended target. So there IS terminology about reach and range being similar. \$\endgroup\$ – Fering Feb 8 '20 at 17:01

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