Simplifying Sunder

Deus Ex  

Alternative Rules for Sunder

Although an iconic ability, the rules for Sunder have never sat well with me. Who doesn’t remember Sauron smashing Narsil? Attempting to emulate that in Pathfinder is cumbersome. How many Hp does Narsil have? What’s the Hardness Value? Did Sauron exceed Elendil’s CMD? Sauron rolled all 1’s for damage. Those rules slow the game and add to the bookkeeping.

The rules presented below, utilize mechanics already in the game, detail improved conditions for items, can be calculated in seconds, and scale with a character as they improve.

Simplified Sunder:

You can attempt to Sunder an item wielded or worn by your opponent as a standard action. If you do not have the Improved Sunder Feat, or similar ability, attempting to sunder an item provokes an attack of opportunity from the target.
To Sunder, roll your modified CMB versus the item’s modified CMD. If you are successful, then that item gains the Weakened condition. If the check’s total is 5 greater than the item’s CMD it gains the Cracked condition. If the check’s total is 10 greater than the item’s CMD it gains the Useless condition. Natural weapons can be Sundered but not Natural Armor. Sundered scrolls and potions are destroyed, but items with charges require double the number of charges to activate.

Weakened: This item is weakened. A Weakened weapon is at -1 to hit and damage, weakened armor and shields have their AC bonus reduced by 1. Weakened items also give a -1 penalty to CMD against further Sunder attempts. Armors and shields that receive a penalty equal to or greater than their total Armor or Shield bonus (weakened padded armor) gain the Useless condition.

Cracked: This item is cracked. A Cracked weapon is at -2 to hit and damage, cracked armor and shields have their AC bonus reduced by 2. Cracked items also give a -2 to CMD against further Sunder attempts.

Useless: This item has taken considerable damage and is severely hampered in combat. A useless weapon has a -10 penalty to hit and damage. Useless armor and shields lose all benefit to AC but maintain their Armor Check Penalty. Useless items cannot be targeted by further sunder attempts. Useless items are not destroyed.


Adamantine: Adamantine items gain a +2 to their CMD and CMB during Sunder attempts.

Armor and shields: These items add their Armor or Shield bonus to its CMD versus Sunder, this does not include any magical bonuses.

Greater Sunder: Gain a +2 bonus to Sunder as normal, but if you reduce an item to Useless, you do damage to your foe as if it were struck by a normal attack.

Magical: A magic weapon, armor, or shield provides its magical equivalence bonus to the CMB and CMD of the item.

Natural Weapons: Creatures with DR apply their weapon magic equivalencies to their CMB and CMD during Sunder attempts.

Two Handed: Two handed weapons gain a +2 to their CMB and CMD during Sunder attempts.

Weapon Training: This ability adds to the CMB and CMD for that weapon during Sunder attempts.

Other Changes:
The Mending spell gains the ability to repair Weakened items to normal, removing all penalties.
The Make Whole spell gains the ability to repair Cracked items to normal, removing all penalties. It can also be used to repair a Useless item if your caster level is at least twice that of the item.
For Natural weapons the Cure Light Wounds spell acts as Mending and Cure Moderate Wounds acts as Make Whole.

New Feats:

Make Due:
Your familiarity with crafting allows you to make a damaged item workable.
Prerequisite: Craft (Armor) or Craft(Weapon) 2 ranks.
As a move action, you can use this feat to repair one item that has been Sundered to the next best condition for the remainder of the combat. As soon as combat ends, the item regains its former damaged condition.

Power Sunder:
Your sunder attempts reverberate through your opponent’s items, dealing damage.
Prerequisite: Power Attack, Greater Sunder, Base Attack Bonus +12
When you succeed at a sunder attempt, you damage your target equal to your Strength modifier.

New Spells:

School abjuration [force]; Level sorcerer/wizard 4, cleric 4
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Components: V, S
Range: Personal
Target: You
Duration: 1 round/level (D)
When you cast this spell, you surround yourself with a globe of invisible force, much like the Shield spell. The first successful melee attack against you each round is subject to an immediate Sunder attempt before damage is rolled. Roll a CMB check using your caster level as your base attack bonus, add your primary casting modifier and a +2 enhancement bonus per every 6 caster levels (maximum +6). Compare this roll to the CMD for the item and determine the result using the Simplified Sunder rules.

This article originally published in Kobold Quarterly, but the rights have reverted to me.

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