New Magic Weapon Special Abilities for Pathfinder 1st ed

So, let’s more-than-triple the number of magic weapon special abilities costing a +1 bonus you can have in your 1st-edition Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

And it all starts with Cleave.

Well, not the feat Cleave (at least not exactly). But instead, the magic weapon special ability mighty cleaving. And, when referring to a combat feat magic special ability by name, this article italicizes the property, but does not capitalize it. In other words, the power attack magic special ability lets you use the Power Attack feat with your weapon. (Alternatively you could place “mighty” in front of everything and use the gerund form of any feat name, so the mighty power attacking special ability lets you use Power Attack with that weapon… but that feels awkward to me, so I’m not doing it. What’s your preference?)

Mighty cleaving requires you to have the Cleave feat, but it then does as much as Cleave does (give you one additional cleaving attack a round)… but not as much as Great Cleave does (the normal next step in the Cleave feat chain). The existence of the mighty cleaving special ability tells us there is a range of combat feats that gaining access to through a weapon is worth a +1 bonus equivalent magic weapon special ability — but that it’s not all combat feats. That means if we can figure out a set of rules for what combat feats are appropriate for use as magic special ability, we potentially add a vast number of new magic options a GM can use to create fun, interesting, useful, balanced magic weapons. It also opens up some martial options for character’s who can’t manage to take those feats in the same way metamagic rods opened up metamagic feats even for spellcasters who don’t take the feats.

(There are also the training special ability, that gives you a feat but you still need to meet its prerequisites to use it, and the sylvan scimitar that give you “use of the Cleave feat” along with some other abilities under specific circumstances, so magic weapons granting some combat feats is clearly within a special ability power range.)

So, let’s look at defining a combat feat magic weapon special ability.

(Art by 2dmolier)

Combat Feat

Price +1 bonus; Aura moderate transmutation; CL 8th; Weight —


This special ability grants the use of one specific combat feat, selected when the weapon is created. What feat can be selected and how it can be used are subject to the Rules, outlined below.


Craft Magic Arms and Armor; Spells tactical adaptationCost +1 bonus

The Rules

The feat selected cannot be one that adds to all attacks or all damage (such as Weapon Focus or Weapon Specialization), or a flat bonus to AC (such as Dodge), and it must be a Combat feat. Its prerequisites can include no more than a single ability score, which cannot require greater than a 13 in the ability, no more than a single feat (which must also be a combat feat), no more than a single rank of a single skill, and nor more than a +1 base attack bonus minimum. It cannot include any other prerequisite (such as not having levels in a class with specific class features, or being of a specific species).

Thus, you could have improved grapple as a +1 bonus melee weapon magic weapon special ability, but not Greater Grapple (which both has two feat prerequisites and requires a +6 base attack bonus).

The feat benefit granted by a combat feat special ability only applies when you are wielding the weapon it is part of. If the feat modifies an attack, it only modifies attacks made with the weapon it is applied to. For example, a short sword with agile maneuvers only gives you Agile Maneuvers when you are actually wielding the short sword. Also, can only be applied to a weapon that can be used in the activity modified or allowed by the feat. For example, you can’t put the power attack combat feat special ability on a longbow.

While you can use the feat in a combat feat special ability without meeting the prerequisites to take the feat, you still have to meet any conditions listed in its benefit. For example, if you have a +1 distracting charge lance, you still only gain the benefit if an ally that also has the feat charges and hits a foe. This obviously suggests that combat feat magic weapon special ability built on teamwork feats are likely to be most popular in sets of multiple weapons to pass out to multiple users.

I did not have time to go through EVERY official combat feat to see which ones fit these rules, but here’ a hyperlinked list up through “F” anyway. 🙂

Agile Maneuvers, Aquadynamic Focus, Aquatic Combatant, Ascetic Style, Beast Hunter, Befuddling Initiative, Blind-Fight, Blinding Flash, Bloody Mess, Bludgeoner, Bodyguard, Call Out, Caster’s Champion, Cavalry Formation, Charging Hurler, Choir of Blades, Combat Expertise, Combat Reflexes, Combat Stamina, Combat Vigor, Coordinated Capture, Coordinated Defense, Coordinated Distraction, Coordinated Maneuvers, Coordinated Shot, Cornugon Stun, Covering Fire, Cracking the Shell, Cudgeler Style, Dazzling Display, Deadly Aim, Death from Above, Deceitful Incompetence, Defensive Combat Training, Demonic Style, Desperate Battler, Destructive Persuasion, Dirty Fighting, Disarm Partner, Distance Thrower, Distracting Charge, Diva Style, Double Slice, Empty Quiver Style, Enforcer, Eroding Strikes, Exotic Weapon Proficiency, Far Shot, Feint Partner, Flanking Foil,  Focused Discipline, Following Step, Footslasher, Fox Insight, Fox Style, Frightening Ambush, Furious Focus, Fury’s Fall, Gang Up, Giant-Killer Stance,

About Owen K.C. Stephens

Owen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is a full-time ttRPG Writer, designer, developer, publisher, and consultant. He's the publisher for Rogue Genius Games, and has served as the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the Editor-in-Chief for Evil Genius Games. Owen has written game material for numerous other companies, including Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games and Upper Deck. He also consults, freelances, and in the off season, sleeps. He has a Pateon which supports his online work. You can find it at

Posted on June 16, 2022, in Game Design, Pathfinder Development and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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