Rules Index | GM Screen | Player's Guide

Chapter 6: Equipment


Source Core Rulebook pg. 278 4.0
Most characters in Pathfinder carry weapons, ranging from mighty warhammers to graceful bows to even simple clubs. Full details on how you calculate the bonuses, modifiers, and penalties for attack rolls and damage rolls are given in Chapter 9 on page 446, but they’re summarized here, followed by the rules for weapons and dozens of weapon choices.

Attack Rolls

Source Core Rulebook pg. 278 4.0
When making an attack roll, determine the result by rolling 1d20 and adding your attack modifier for the weapon or unarmed attack you’re using. Modifiers for melee and ranged attacks are calculated differently.

Melee attack modifier = Strength modifier (or optionally Dexterity for a finesse weapon) + proficiency bonus + other bonuses + penalties

Ranged attack modifier = Dexterity modifier + proficiency bonus + other bonuses + penalties

Bonuses, and penalties apply to these rolls just like with other types of checks. Weapons with potency runes add an item bonus to your attack rolls.

Multiple Attack Penalty

Source Core Rulebook pg. 278 4.0
If you use an action with the attack trait more than once on the same turn, your attacks after the first take a penalty called a multiple attack penalty. Your second attack takes a –5 penalty, and any subsequent attacks take a –10 penalty.

The multiple attack penalty doesn’t apply to attacks you make when it isn’t your turn (such as attacks made as part of a reaction). You can use a weapon with the agile trait to reduce your multiple attack penalty.

Damage Rolls

Source Core Rulebook pg. 278 4.0
When the result of your attack roll with a weapon or unarmed attack equals or exceeds your target’s AC, you hit your target! Roll the weapon or unarmed attack’s damage die and add the relevant modifiers, bonuses, and penalties to determine the amount of damage you deal. Calculate a damage roll as follows.

Melee damage roll = damage die of weapon or unarmed attack + Strength modifier + bonuses + penalties

Ranged damage roll = damage die of weapon + Strength modifier for thrown weapons + bonuses + penalties

Ranged weapons don’t normally add an ability modifier to the damage roll, though weapons with the propulsive trait add half your Strength modifier (or your full modifier if it is a negative number), and thrown weapons add your full Strength modifier.

Magic weapons with striking, greater striking, or major striking runes add one or more weapon damage dice to your damage roll. These extra dice are the same die size as the weapon’s damage die. At higher levels, most characters also gain extra damage from weapon specialization.

Critical Hits

Source Core Rulebook pg. 278 4.0
When you make an attack and succeed with a natural 20 (the number on the die is 20), or if the result of your attack exceeds the target's AC by 10, you achieve a critical success (also known as a critical hit).

If you critically succeed at a Strike, your attack deals double damage. Other attacks, such as spell attack rolls and some uses of the Athletics skill, describe the specific effects that occur when their outcomes are critical successes.

Unarmed Attacks

Source Core Rulebook pg. 278 4.0
Almost all characters start out trained in unarmed attacks. You can Strike with your fist or another body part, calculating your attack and damage rolls in the same way you would with a weapon. Unarmed attacks can belong to a weapon group (page 280), and they might have weapon traits (page 282). However, unarmed attacks aren’t weapons, and effects and abilities that work with weapons never work with unarmed attacks unless they specifically say so.

Table 6–6: Unarmed Attacks lists the statistics for an unarmed attack with a fist, though you’ll usually use the same statistics for attacks made with any other parts of your body. Certain ancestry feats, class features, and spells give access to special, more powerful unarmed attacks. Details for those unarmed attacks are provided in the abilities that grant them.

Improvised Weapons

Source Core Rulebook pg. 278 4.0
If you attack with something that wasn’t built to be a weapon, such as a chair or a vase, you’re making an attack with an improvised weapon. You take a –2 item penalty to attack rolls with an improvised weapon. The GM determines the amount and type of damage the attack deals, if any, as well as any weapon traits the improvised weapon should have. Improvised weapons are simple weapons.

Weapon Statistics

Source Core Rulebook pg. 279 4.0
The tables on pages 280–282 list the statistics for various melee and ranged weapons that you can purchase, as well as the statistics for striking with a fist (or another basic unarmed attack). The tables present the following statistics. All weapons listed in this chapter have an item level of 0.


Source Core Rulebook pg. 279 4.0
This entry lists the weapon’s damage die and the type of damage it deals: B for bludgeoning, P for piercing, or S for slashing.


Source Core Rulebook pg. 279 4.0
Ranged and thrown weapons have a range increment. Attacks with these weapons work normally up to that distance. Attack rolls beyond a weapon’s range increment take a –2 penalty for each additional multiple of that increment between you and the target. Attacks beyond the sixth range increment are impossible.

For example, a shortbow takes no penalty against a target up to 60 feet away, a –2 penalty against a target beyond 60 feet but up to 120 feet away, and a –4 penalty against a target beyond 120 feet but up to 180 feet away, and so on, up to 360 feet.


Source Core Rulebook pg. 279 4.0
While all weapons need some amount of time to get into position, many ranged weapons also need to be loaded and reloaded. This entry indicates how many Interact actions it takes to reload such weapons. This can be 0 if drawing ammunition and firing the weapon are part of the same action. If an item takes 2 or more actions to reload, the GM determines whether they must be performed together as an activity, or you can spend some of those actions during one turn and the rest during your next turn.

An item with an entry of “—” must be drawn to be thrown, which usually takes an Interact action just like drawing any other weapon. Reloading a ranged weapon and drawing a thrown weapon both require a free hand. Switching your grip to free a hand and then to place your hands in the grip necessary to wield the weapon are both included in the actions you spend to reload a weapon.


Source Core Rulebook pg. 279 4.0
This entry gives the weapon’s Bulk. A weapon’s Bulk is increased or decreased if it’s sized for creatures that aren’t Small or Medium size, following the rules on page 295.


Source Core Rulebook pg. 279 4.0
Some weapons require one hand to wield, and others require two. A few items, such as a longbow, list 1+ for its Hands entry. You can hold a weapon with a 1+ entry in one hand, but the process of shooting it requires using a second to retrieve, nock, and loose an arrow. This means you can do things with your free hand while holding the bow without changing your grip, but the other hand must be free when you shoot. To properly wield a 1+ weapon, you must hold it in one hand and also have a hand free.

Weapons requiring two hands typically deal more damage. Some one-handed weapons have the two-hand trait, causing them to deal a different size of weapon damage die when used in two hands. In addition, some abilities require you to wield a weapon in two hands. You meet this requirement while holding the weapon in two hands, even if it doesn’t require two hands or have the two-hand trait.


Source Core Rulebook pg. 280 4.0
A weapon or unarmed attack’s group classifies it with similar weapons. Groups affect some abilities and what the weapon does on a critical hit if you have access to that weapon or unarmed attack’s critical specialization effects; for full details, see page 283.

Weapon Traits

Source Core Rulebook pg. 280 4.0
The traits a weapon or unarmed attack has are listed in this entry. Any trait that refers to a “weapon” can also apply to an unarmed attack that has that trait.


Source Core Rulebook pg. 280 4.0
Some entries in the ranged weapons tables are followed by an entry indicating the type of ammunition that weapon launches. The damage die is determined by the weapon, not the ammunition. Because that and other relevant statistics vary by weapon, ammunition entries list only the name, quantity, Price, and Bulk. Using ammunition destroys it.

Weapon Traits

Source Core Rulebook pg. 282 4.0
Weapons and unarmed attacks with the weapon trait can have a number of traits, found under "Weapon Traits" in the Traits section.

Critical Specialization Effects

Source Core Rulebook pg. 283 4.0
Certain feats, class features, weapon runes, and other effects can grant you additional benefits when you make a Strike with certain weapons and get a critical success. This is called a critical specialization effect. The exact effect depends on which weapon group your weapon belongs to, as listed here. You can always decide not to add the critical specialization effect of your weapon.

Related Rules

Adapting Western Weapons (Source Pathfinder #166: Despair on Danger Island pg. 76)
Classic Firearms (Source Guns & Gears pg. 150)