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If I am using a weapon that takes a full round to fire (such as slow-firing weapons), does it count as an attack action so I can use something like Vital Strike with it?

Slow-Firing: A slow-firing weapon requires a full-round action to use, and thus cannot be used to make iterative attacks.

Vital Strike: When you use the attack action, you can make one attack at your highest base attack bonus that deals additional damage.

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From the rules themselves, there is absolutely no way to tell. They are ambiguous.

James Jacobs, who is Paizo’s creative direction (i.e. not necessarily directly responsible for the rules) has commented on this question, however:

How does Vital Strike and the like work with slow-firing weapons, if at all? Does the full round action requirement mean you are technically not using the attack action so Vital Strike cannot apply?

It doesn't Vital Strike requires its own action, and with a slow-firing weapon, the attack uses up your available actions so you can't Vital Strike with it.

So there’s the most official answer available, though it is fairly lacking. It’s written as if this is what the rules themselves already say, when in reality they’re ambiguous. Ideally, Paizo would publish an errata clarifying the situation, but that’s unlikely to happen.

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    \$\begingroup\$ With all my respect, this James Jacobs' comment doesn't make any sense. Vital Strike doesn't require "its own action", it requires you to perform an "attack action" and apply to this attack action. With the same argument Vital Strike couldn't apply either when you move and attack, because a move+a standard "uses up your available actions". \$\endgroup\$ – Anne Aunyme Feb 8 '17 at 9:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AnneAunyme I completely agree with you, excepting only that James Jacobs does not deserve all your respect. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 8 '17 at 13:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh he is probably a respectable man, I just don't agree with what he wrote. It's normal to sometimes screw up. \$\endgroup\$ – Anne Aunyme Feb 10 '17 at 8:20
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Rules as written, the Attack Action states it is a standard action. Because this is a full-round action, it cannot be the Attack Action, and cannot be used with Vital Strike.

That said, as a GM I would allow it as a house-rule. It's more powerful than something like Improved Natural Attack for a natural weapon, but a Slow-Firing weapon is already pretty limiting at higher levels. It still couldn't be used with a Cleave or anything else that doesn't use the Attack Action (I realize Cleave probably doesn't work with a slow-firing weapon either, it's just an example).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Something could trivially create for itself an exception to the usual rule that attack actions require a standard action, and if they did, they would still function with Vital Strike. And, in fact, it’s entirely plausible that slow-firing weapons did this, seeing as they claimed to require a full-round action to “use,” whatever that means. James Jacobs did cover the issue, and agreed with your conclusion, but without his statement I would have been inclined to rule the other way. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 8 '17 at 0:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan I know that specific trumps general, and you're right that it could be easily modified to say that it's an Attack Action that happens to take a full round (and as I said, I would house-rule it to be that). However, with the current rules, that is not the case. \$\endgroup\$ – WeirdFrog Feb 8 '17 at 3:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ How do you “use” a weapon, except by attacking? The rules as written might mean what you—and JJ—claim, but they equally-well might mean the opposite. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 8 '17 at 3:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan there are plenty of ways to attack that aren't the attack action. Spring Attack and Cleave are the common examples, but an Attack of Opportunity doesn't use the attack action either. I agree that it doesn't make sense that this wouldn't be the attack action, but that's the way it's currently written. Specific only trumps general if there is actually that 'specific.' There is not in this case, so the general ruling is used. \$\endgroup\$ – WeirdFrog Feb 8 '17 at 3:52

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