|A Man In Black RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32|
Well, it's getting to be that time again. So where do you go to get your news on the elections? I used to follow the NYT, but lately I've been greatly enjoying the Christian Science Monitor's coverage. It helps that they do have a bit of a sense of humor about it.
So, what are you reading to find out about the election?
Well, I don't, actually. I love 'em.
Nevertheless, I'm sure someone hates them. The simple solution is to not play with them. The game functions just fine when you remove certain martial classes from it, so please, stop making inane threads about how you feel the gunslinger/monk/samurai/ninja are out of place or stupid or whatever. All you are going to do is get about a half-dozen people to agree with you, followed by two dozen pages of completely useless white noise.
All of these comments are predicated on the idea that players will only play Standard races.
Are these player-facing rules or not? Right now, it's trivial to make races that completely outperform core races, and too often the least-interesting abilities (skill bonuses languages) are too expensive. Degenerate builds that focus on stacking one particular attribute are also too easy. With so few points and "flavor" abilities priced so dear, players have no incentive whatsoever to diversify. A lot of these problems are lessened slightly if these are GM-focused rules, but then so does any appeal that this ruleset might have, since GMs can already eyeball their own homebrew and do about as well as these rules can.
The stat modifiers favor casting classes heavily. For almost every martial class, maximizing a mental stat is rarely a concern, and in many cases an afterthought. Likewise, most martial classes need all of str/con/dex, and cannot easily bear a penalty to one of them. This would make for interesting tension, except for the fact that spellcasting classes can easily manage either Greater Paragon Modifiers or Weakness Modifiers by putting the penalties in dumped stats. Clerics, druids, bards, and similar classes don't mind splitting their bonuses between mental and physical, and non-martial casters like wizards, sorcerers, witches, and summoners have three or four dump stats to take advantage of whatever they can get. I'm not sure how to fix this system, but it magnifies existing MAD/SAD problems.
Stats are too stackable. If you're a pure spellcaster, stacking Advanced Abilities is just too degenerate. Starting the game with 25+ int/wis/cha is unreasonable. Heck, starting the game north of 22 str is going to cause early-game issues, especially when that's affordable on a large frame. Absolutely nothing can make DC 18 saves at level 1, and whomping things for 3d6+9 at level 1 is also going to cause issues.
Stats are overly complicated. I understand that you want to keep people from just making races with all pluses to physical stats to cheese out martial characters, but the current method of doing so is a mess. Flexible Modifiers is overpriced (compared to Standard and Weakness), and Mixed Weakness is incredibly awkwardly written. It's not possible to make a race with no bonuses or penalties or a race with two -2 physical or two -2 mental weaknesses without dipping into the (very expensive) Advanced Ability traits, as seen in this example.
Point costs are arbitrary. AC costs seem to have been chosen at random, so it's very difficult to try to tell where the benchmarks are. Contrast Ancient Foe, Greater Defensive Training, and Natural Armor. Contrast Cat's Luck, Dual-Minded, Halfling Luck, Plagueborn, and Hardy. Contrast Fey Damage Resistance and Damage Reduction (and Skeletal Damage Reduction, for that matter). Contrast Gnome Magic and Svirfneblin Magic with Spell-Like Ability. Contrast Sneaky Rider, Sneaky, Underground Sneak, and the other omnibus skill traits, which I can't be bothered to list. Contrast Spell Resistance with anything. This not only means that the point costs are meaningless, but also makes this useless to a GM as a guide for making their own races. For example, it tells me sparkle elves (with their +8 int, SR, and bonus to beat spell resist) are balanced with standard goblins.
I have some other problems, but these are the core ones.
It would be handy to have a tool for identifying when and where someone has made a comment in an official capacity, similar to (for example) Blizzard's blue posts on their official forums. These sorts of tools include marking threads where someone's made a comment in an official (or semi-official) capacity in the forum listings, having a button to jump to the first developer post, etc. Failing that, a listing or RSS feed of Paizo developer posts would be useful, as would an "official post" filter for the search.
I was reminded of how useful devstalkers are in tracking how MMOs are developed by this thread.
I went to ponder whether I wanted to set an avatar image for my account, under "Paizo / My Account / Account Settings / Messageboard Settings". However, when I click "Change" next to "Avatar Image: None", I get the error: "That avatar name is already in use by another account." What's causing this? How do I bypass it?
Would it be possible to add bullets (or some other symbol) for a thread with a post you've favorited, a thread you've listed, and/or a thread with a post you've listed? I know the empty-post-you-immediately-delete trick, but that doesn't last forever and it seems like a clumsy kludge.
I know what a tank does in an MMO, but Pathfinder doesn't (IMO effectively) allow that, so I was curious what other people meant by it.
What does "tank" mean to you, in Pathfinder? What does a tank's goal in a fight? How does it accomplish that goal? Do you feel that your definition of "tank" is something that can be effectively accomplished in PF? Why or why not? Do any of the answers to these questions change at low or high levels, and why (not)? Do you feel that Pathfinder effectively allows you to play a tank? Is your definition of "tank" defined by Pathfinder's rules, or is it a role you want to play and then seek ways to make it effective in Pathfinder?
Would it be possible to add a report option for spamming nonsense, whining that a thread exists, and the like? It generally doesn't contribute to a conversation to spam nonsense, announce that you're bored with a thread, post +1 (now that the favorite system exists), and suchlike. I assume that it's not allowed, but right now there's no good way to flag it.
Oo Cey, Arcane Gun wrote:
Does this consume ammunition? Do you need to load the gun first?
Mage Bullets wrote:
With that weapon bonus the spellslinger can apply any of the following to his arcane bond: [etc.]
I assume this is supposed refer to the arcane gun? A Spellslinger doesn't have an arcane bond.
Yew Sea wrote:
Magical firearms are wrecked, which means they can’t fire until they are fully restored (which requires either the make whole spell or the Gunsmithing feat).
So what's involved in fixing a wrecked firearm?
Gunsmithing doesn't mention wrecked firearms at all:
Restoring a Broken Firearm: Each day, with an hour’s worth of work, you can use this feat to repair a single firearm with the broken condition. You can take time during a rest period to restore a broken firearm with this feat.
Does it take an hour to fix a wrecked firearm? Does it cost any money?
Make Whole wrote:
Make whole can fix destroyed magic items (at 0 hit points or less), and restores the magic properties of the item if your caster level is at least twice that of the item. Items with charges (such as wands) and single-use items (such as potions and scrolls) cannot be repaired in this way. When make whole is used on a construct creature, the spell bypasses any immunity to magic as if the spell did not allow spell resistance.
Do you need to cast Make Whole at CLx2 the item's level? (If so, Make Whole is completely useless.) If not, is a simple casting of Make Whole at any caster level sufficient?
I've got some time and I've got the bug, so let's do this again.
It's easy to say "Such-and-such class does a lot of damage," or "so-and-so class can't do damage." Usually, people are speaking from personal experience, which is heavily influenced by books available, player skill, random chance, GM whimsy, dice rolls, and the winds of fate. It's a bit more involved to actually sit down and measure those claims in a fair way. In the previous thread, a simple, conservative baseline was established to see how much damage optimized characters could do with a full attack in one round.
Understand that this is simply a scratch baseline for damage dealt. This is emphatically not a tier list, a how-to-play guide, a value judgement on the utility of each of these classes (as most of them do other things than damage), or a contest of any kind. It's just to get a good baseline on how much damage a character of this level will typically do, so "a lot of damage" can be something other than a gut call. If you want a magic list of all classes listed by overall power level, it's obviously the class's names reversed, arranged by alphabetical order.
The original thread wrote:
Once the character is made, we need to figure out how much damage it does with a full attack. This standard is meant to best approximate typical combat circumstances, when damage is most on the line.
The original thread wrote:
The damage formula is h(d+s)+tchd.
h = Chance to hit, expressed as a percentage. Remember, this will never exceed .95 or go below .05.
If there's no precision damage involved, this can be simplified to hd(1+tc).
There is a more-involved formula which covers corner cases like elemental burst weapons, Critical Focus, etc. If you need it:
Expanded damage formula:
h = Chance to hit, expressed as a percentage. This doesn't exceed .95 (unless you autohit for whatever reason) and never goes below .05.
Finally, there is the last rule, and the most important: rule zero. Feel free to break any of these rules, as long as you make it absolutely clear that you are doing so. If you want to stat a selfish cleric or a 3.5 splat build or a character that abuses consumables or a character that demonstrates a house rule, that's fine. Just don't make people dig into your build to find out that you've done so.
This isn't an advice thread; it's math in service of a discussion of class design. It's not a how-to guide or instructions on how to build a character.
Words of Power is a system that makes spellcasters less versatile, while requiring more bookkeeping for fewer possible effects. The main selling point of the system is allowing players to cobble together their own spells on the fly, but that takes more time than choosing spells from a pre-existing menu or library while allowing fewer possible effects. There's also the possibility of game-breaking combinations of effects, a non-issue with the selection of words available here.
The main, crippling issue is the fact that cobbling together spells on the fly is just unworkable. The Word Costs increase irregularly, costs don't correspond to spell level and thus need to be looked up every time, costs can vary situationally... it's all a huge mess. The sorcerer casting-on-the-fly advantage is similar to the supposed advantage of the beta summoner to lay down all his Pokeballs and flood the field: theoretically useful, but impractical in a real game. Even relatively simple and traditional effects like a Fireball require cross-referencing two different listings, rather than one. The practical upshot of this will be that players will use the same premade combos almost all of the time, which offers little advantage over a list of premade spells.
The words available are also very limited, offering players little incentive to use this list. It's comparable to a 4e spellcaster's ability set, focused entirely on effects which harm a dude or inflict a short-duration effect on a dude. While you can fiddle with elemental damage in more-versatile ways, there are zero options for dealing with problems which are not "That guy is stopping you from doing something you want to do." There are no options for overcoming a locked door, flying to something in the sky, getting to another plane, obstructing lines of sight, protecting camp, finding invisible foes, speaking to the dead, healing damage of any sort, etc. There are dozens of things a vanilla spellcaster of any given class can do that a wordcaster can't, and the wordcaster format is generally more space-consuming than the traditional format. Unless Ultimate Magic is going to be huge and half-filled with content which is only useful to wordcasters, wordcasters are going to be incapable of doing basic magical schticks that spellcasters are expected to handle in published adventures.
Even when an effect isn't entirely absent, the effects that are present are terribly weak. None of the buffs last longer than round/level, a simple old-school Fireball is a 4th-level spell, save-or-lose effects aren't available until level 3 (and even that is save-every-turn single-target nausea), high-end save-or-dies use the Power Word style (and are thus nearly useless), etc. Even in the narrow set of abilities that wordcasters and proper spellcasters do share, the wordcaster is almost always starting out a spell level or two behind a proper spellcaster, in return for the "privilege" of wordcasting.
On top of the complexity and low power level issue is the fact that wordcasting is completely incompatible with existing spellcasting. Presumably, Ultimate Magic will have spells for traditional spellcasters, but these will be useless to wordcasters (and vice versa!) Not only can you not use anyone else's existing material with this system, but previous Paizo Pathfinder material is almost entirely useless with wordcasting. Will future books be filled with wordcaster options, useless to everyone else, or are wordcasters going to see this book and no others? How does a wordcaster learn words in a game dominated by traditional spellcasting, or vice versa? How does this interact with the item creation rules? None of these questions are answered.
The Words of Power system is a trainwreck. It would need more than a game-session-length worth of time to try and adapt it to an existing game, and the reward for this work would be to make spellcasters less versatile, to make playing a spellcaster more cumbersome, and to make huge swathes of material in books I already own completely useless. My group will not be playtesting this mess of a system, and the only suggestion I can make to improve it is to not include it at all in the final version of Ultimate Magic.
Yes, this is playtest impressions.
The magus is a new monk, in a bad way. He's not durable enough to hang out in melee, has no melee abilities that work unless he's standing still making full attacks, he's hopelessly MAD, and he has no particular role only he can do. Above all else, it's like the monk in that your main schtick involves rolling lots of dice, and failing a lot. That's just not fun.
There's lot of analysis of the math on Spell Combat; I won't duplicate that. The outrageous best-case scenario for success before mid-levels is 75%; more practical numbers are in the 35%-55% range. Practically, low-level magi who tried to use Spell Combat would have days where they didn't cast anything, and mid-level magi would routinely flub a cast every single turn. This is in addition to standard failure rates for spells; they still miss, are saved against, etc. Trying to use Spell Combat was an exercise in frustration.
Melee was equally frustrating. One-hand/open-hand combat is the weakest possible form of melee combat in 3e, and none of the magi could manage a high-str build due to MAD issues. The attack bonus wasn't high enough to attempt to Power Attack, and Spell Combat was incompatible with Vital Strike and suchlike. (One of my players had a brainstorm and tried to combine maneuvers and Spell Combat; this didn't even make it off the character sheet due to 3/4 BAB with a penalty being an obvious non-starter.) Even when attacking without the Spell Combat penalty, two-handed damage with a longsword, rapier, or shortsword is low.
So, they started standing back to cast spells, but even that didn't go well. It was difficult to fit the con and dex needed to survive in melee with the int to have decent spell DCs, so low-level spellcasting was an exercise in frustration, as base spell damage is low and enemies tended to save against other effects. It wasn't any better at higher levels, where damaging spells were laughably ineffective and reduced spell levels meant that save-based effects were still behind the curve. Buffing and entering combat was no better, due to the small, weak, and mostly selfish selection of buffs. There were a few exceptions, like Mirror Image and Haste, but the polymorph tree was a baffling (and near-useless) choice.
The end result? The magus is bad at melee and bad at spellcasting. Its unique schtick is to combine these two weak abilities into a flurry of failure. This combination is ineffective, and worst of all, it's ineffective in a way that leads to constant disappointment on the part of the player. It's not balanced and it's not fun.
Ah Peh Gay, Inquisitor section wrote:
Slayer (Ex): At 17th level, an inquisitor learns to act quickly in combat. Whenever an inquisitor uses her judgment ability, she can select one of her judgments— that judgment grants the maximum bonus from the first round of combat onward. If that judgment is changed during combat, it resets as normal.
This doesn't do anything at all, now that Judgement bonuses don't change on a round-to-round basis. Should this just be ignored, or was this going to be replaced?
ANGRY RANT WITH LOTS OF INFLAMMATORY LANGUAGE GOES HERE
Even novice players will find things in here to customize their characters or spark ideas for a brand new hero, whether it’s feats to help them play a deadly longbow sniper or variant class archetypes to effectively model a monk from a favorite martial arts film.
I wonder if we'll get those deadly longbow sniper abilities. But as for the rest, I obviously already have the book so I don't need it sold to me.
Does anyone actually read the little anecdotes on the splash pages? I know I don't.
Ai Pee Jee, page 333 wrote:
Calistrian Prostitute (Calistria): You worked in one of Calistria’s temples as a sacred prostitute, and you know how to flatter, please, and (most of all) listen. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Sense Motive checks and Diplomacy checks to gather information, and one of these skills (your choice) is always a class skill for you.
Hey, if you guys aren't announcing how many people entered the RPG Superstar contest this year, how do you know (and how can anyone else know) it's the "largest open-call tabletop roleplaying design contest in history"?
Is there a reason that inquisitors have four different conditional bonuses to attack and damage, two of which vary depending on the situation?
They have judgements, which change over time. They have their weapon bane ability, which only works on one enemy type at a time. They have Divine Favor et al. in their spells. They have teamwork feats.
At level 6, I have somewhere between +1 and +3 to hit from Judgement in two fights a day, I have four casts of Divine Favor which grants +2 to hit and damage for a minute, I have five rounds of +2d6 damage against a called enemy type, and I may have a +2 to hit or +d6 damage when flanking with an ally depending on that ally's feats.
That's a swing of up to +7 to hit and up to +3d6+7 damage, depending on conditional and limited-use and limited-duration effects, but it could be any value less than that at any given time. That's way too much fiddling around with tiny BS modifiers. Could we please see some consolidation and streamlining?
I, uh, can't seem to submit my monster. I've been trying on and off for about the last hour, using Safari 4.0.4, and every time I try to submit I just get kicked back to the main page. I've tried restarting the submission process from the beginning, restarting, restarting the browser, etc. I can preview the post, but not submit it. I'd rather not wait until Thursday evening to try and post again, since that'd be the last minute.
Is this a known issue? Should I make a back-up submission or something via e-mail? I'm a bit worried.
Description: A tremagguan is a humanoid creature with leech-like flesh, with rubbery, translucent skin covered in a thin, oily film. Instead of hands, it has a mass of writhing larval flukes that serve it for fingers, and instead of a face, it has a toothless sucker. Few see this horrifying true form, as the tremagguan is generally shrouded in the illusory appearance of a medium-sized humanoid.
Tremagguans are the adult form of a parasite of humanoids and carnivorous predators alike. They lurk in humanoid populations, turning their considerable intellects to the task of finding ideal carriers to propagate their species. To reproduce, they befoul water or food with their egg-laden slime, and occasionally forcefully infect victims. No mere beasts, they are long-lived, intelligent, and inhumanly patient.
Powers and Abilities: Tremagguans reproduce by infecting humanoids with tainted food or water, causing "Wanderlust Fever". This disease compels the victims to seek the largest available predator, which is then infected when it eats the victims. Tremagguans choose unassuming victims to ensure the secondary infection of the predator, then engineer that secondary host's death by infecting (or recruiting) adventurers. Upon predator's death, its corpse incubates and feeds the pupal flukeworms, and after a maturation period several adult tremagguans emerge.
A tremagguan can cloak itself in a humanoid appearance of its choice, although its skin remains oily to the touch. Disguised tremagguans wear gloves and take other precautions to prevent skin-to-skin contact.
They are not potent physical combatants, but can overwhelm foes with powerful hypnotic pheromones. These pheromones can be used to stun attackers, to charm foes into obedience, or to erase the memory of an attack from a victim's mind. They can also infect helpless victims by forcing their finger-flukes down the victim's throat.
I've been reading through the round 1 qualifiers and the Please Give Me Feedback thread and I am consistently impressed by the various ideas submitted. While I understand that this is meant to be an elimination contest and all, that's no reason to limit the number of good ideas shared to 32. Thus, I propose a thread for monster ideas from non-qualifiers and possibly even reject ideas from qualifiers.
Now, I'm pretty sure the organizers don't want a thread like this before submissions are closed for round two. Someone's idea in this thread might be "dire bonobo" while one of the qualifiers also comes up with a dire bonobo, and suddenly the judges are wondering if the qualifier came up with the idea himself or if it was just ripped off of this thread and how original is that idea anyway if two people came up with it and that's just bad mojo.
So. Don't post any ideas yet, I just wanted to toss this out there.
Round 2 rules wrote:
Note that if you hit the Preview button, the message board software will tell you what the word count is for your item, which gives you a chance to edit it down if it's over the word count.
Where does it do this? I'm looking at a preview page right now and it doesn't show any wordcount that I can see.
So...what's up with that? I've seen my real name and my screen name alternating, with no particular pattern, and similar results from other qualifiers. Is it something toggleable in preferences or something?
-edit- Or is it something specific to the Superstar forums?
Required reading (or at least required skimming):
So here we are. What do you do about tiers? If you don't think that high-tier classes dominate your game, what is it that you're doing that's keeping that from happening? If you have had problems, what did you do to try to fix them?
Class concept overlap and iconic appearance - or, My poor uncle thought his name was Mar-pa-jack until age 5
The APG classes have serious issues with class concept overlap. Between core and the APG, we now have five lightly-armored classes whose main combat role is casting spells: the druid, sorcerer, wizard, oracle, and witch. There's just too little difference between these five classes.
I look at the witch iconic, and I see a character that could trivially be a sorcerer, wizard, or even druid; if it weren't for the fox in the image she could easily even be an oracle. I look at the oracle iconic, and she could certainly be a sorcerer, wizard, or druid. This isn't to nitpick Wayne Reynolds's work. I believe he's working well with what he's being given, but merely to show that these illustrations clearly illustrate the lack of a clear difference between these classes.
The worst one is the witch and the wizard. What is the conceptual difference between a witch and a wizard? They get different spells, but they are both unarmored, frail prepared spellcasters who get a handful of minor themed abilities and are extremely impaired if you remove a key item to their spellcasting (Arcane Bond or witch familiar). They both cast a spell to do a thing as their main combat action, and they both get no abilities other than spells or spell-like abilities. Witch and wizard are even synonyms in a fair bit of fiction.
Of the five of these classes, the only one that clearly breaks out of the pack is the druid. It gets two signature class abilities above and beyond spellcasting: an animal companion and Wild Shape. Even so, a spellcaster who casts a Flaming Sphere and then turns into a wolf might well be a wizard or sorcerer. The other classes all get signature abilities which tend to be even less flashy and even more indistinguishable from spells. The worst offender is the witch: touching someone to bestow a curse on them is given to four of the five classes mentioned here as a spell.
To illustrate this problem, here are some character concepts. What class are they?
Incidentally, I don't mention the cleric because it has two clear things that set it apart: armor and Religion with a capital R. A cleric has a holy symbol, a shield with a holy symbol, and shouts "For Pelor!" when he charges. (Of course, the cleric has conceptual overlap issues with the paladin but that's another thread!)
Aura: moderate enchantment; CL: 7th
This beautiful lyre appears to be a mundane, if well-crafted, instrument, and is often decorated with the symbol of a god or goddess of song or beauty. However, when held by a character with seven or more ranks in Perform (string instruments), that character understands and is able to employ the item's magical properties.
A character with at least 7 ranks in Perform (string instruments) or the bardic performance ability may strum the lyre of truth-telling to produce a a 20-ft.-radius emanation of magical truth. Any character in this area who attempts to speak a deliberate, knowing falsehood must make a Bluff check opposed by the performer's Perform (string instruments) roll, or that falsehood is immediately obvious to all who can hear it. In addition, any character in this area who is under any compulsion or charm effect and attempts to speak must make a similar Bluff check opposed by the performer's Perform (string instruments) roll, or anyone who can hear that character speak understands that the speaker is under the effects of an enchantment. Affected creatures are aware of this effect and may choose not to speak. The lyre can be used in this way once per day, with the emanation lasting for as long as the performer maintains concentration on the performance, up to 30 minutes.
In addition to its magical properties, a lyre of truth-telling is an exquisitely wrought instrument, and grants its user a +2 circumstance bonus to Perform (string instruments) checks.
Construction requirements: Craft Wondrous Item, zone of truth or glibness, creator must have 7 ranks in the Perform (string instruments) skill; Cost: 2,600 gp
Before I do any math, I want to make clear up front that this is not intended as a tier list, a how-to-play guide, or a value judgement on the utility of each of these classes (as most of them do other things than damage). It's just to get a good baseline on how much damage a character of this level will typically do, so "a lot of damage" can be something other than a gut call.
Why doesn't the alchemist have trapfinding? He's an explosives expert, there's no other class in the game with trapfinding besides the rogue, and he can't possibly sit in any of the other three class seats. It would give us a rogue alternative for games with traps, as well.
This "alchemists are like spellcasters only not" stuff leads to lots of rules issues.
Do you hear the grasshopper that is at your feet? - or Dear Paizo, please give us a monk base class!
So. Let's pretend that we're Skip Williams, Monte Cook, and Jonathan Tweet. (My wife: "Wow, those are terrible names." Me: "Yes dear.")
What's important to you about the monk class? What do you want a monk's role to be in a party? In the classic fighter - rogue - cleric - wizard four-man party, which role does the monk play?
In particular, when playing a monk, what do you want to be able to do?
"Well, Prince, so Genoa and Lucca are now just family estates of the
It was in July, 1805, and the speaker was the well-known Anna Pavlovna
All her invitations without exception, written in French, and delivered
"If you have nothing better to do, Count (or Prince), and if the
"Heavens! what a virulent attack!" replied the prince, not in the
The second in a series.
So, I was fooling around with a low-level adventure for a new-ish group, and I figured I'd drop them into a tomb with swarms of crawly things to set the mood. It works for Indiana Jones, right?
Holy cow spider swarms are nuts at first level. What is a first-level party supposed to do against this? It moves faster than they do, it takes away your action at least a quarter of the time, and if you don't have at least two flasks of acid (expensive for a first-level character) or an evil cleric, they just swarm over you and eat you to death. You can't run away from them because they move 80' a turn (and laugh at your AoOs), and you can't fight them because they're immune to everything. Even if you beat the swarm with a torch AND rule that a torch's fire damage can hurt them, they eat anyone who tries that in short order.
How is this an appropriate challenge for a first-level group?
Okay, here's the other thread. This is a same-game-test thread to pit an archer fighter (submitted by Zurai) against a balor. And possibly other CR 20 foes if he's game, I dunno.
Since I can't easily quote a spoilered out stat block, I won't. Zurai, help me out?
Time for the continuing adventures of Ash the summoner. Ash has used his X/day SLA ability, but he's still a complete coward. I'm skipping level 1 this time because level 1 isn't balanced. At level 1, the eidolon is better than a fighter because of 2 HD.
So on to level 5.
Jack abuses what I feel is the most efficient system for an eidolon who does damage: Multiattack, Pounce, Energy Attacks, lots and lots of claws, and the Improved Natural Attack feat on the claws. This comes online at level 4, when you can afford Pounce, Energy, and extra claws, and will be continuing to get ridiculous as we go up in levels. Later addons will be Improved Damage and Rend.
Ash's strategy with Jack around is to turn invisible every fight. He can do this 3 fights a day, and the fourth fight he summon-novas. So, either the foe needs to be able to deal with Jack on his own, or able to identify and isolate an invisible character who has the money to have a backup wand of invisibility. Ash is a lazy coward, so his entire contribution to combat is casting Mage Armor out of combat, and hiding behind something while invisible.
First up on the SGT docket is the basilisk. Ash calls out the position of the basilisk, and promptly gets turned into a statue. Not bothering to roll this, just for simplicity/narrative's sake. Jack closes his cyclopean eye and bounds on in, eager to tear the basilisk to pieces to avenge his intrepid master. Five secondary attacks with a 70% chance to hit, and a primary with a 80% chance to hit. All of them have a 50% miss chance. Call it two hits from the secondary attacks, for 4d6+4 damage, which is conservative. The basilisk has 38 HP left. Despite his comical flailing, he grabs on and lands a acid-soaked chomp to the spiny lizard, eliciting a sibilant shriek of shock and confusion. The basilisk tries to fend off its odd assailant, biting and hissing. 75% chance to hit should do it, for 9 damage. Jack is at 40 HP.
Jack continues to thrash and bite, trying to pin the lizard down to slice it in half. Five secondary attacks with a 60% chance to hit, and a primary with a 70% chance to hit, again with the 50% miss chance. Let's call it the same result again; he's due for a greatsword hit next round, though. 4d6+4 damage, 20 HP on the basilisk. His efforts are more enthusiastic than efficient, but his flailing claws and caustic spittle earn him a solid bite for his troubles. 65% chance to hit for 8 damage; the basilisk is due to miss next round. Jack is at 32 HP. The basilisk, however, by biting, has overextended itself. Jack finds its head with two claws, digging for the eyes, then slices downward, severing the magical lizard's spine. Two claw hits, as before, plus the greatsword hit he was due. That's 6d6+8, which is well more than the 20 HP the basilisk has remaining. Looks like it's Jack to the rescue for Ash!
Next episode: the mummy's curse!
Summoners have serious nova/15-minute-workday problems, and the Summon Monster I class ability is the cause. I am going to do some same-game-test examples, where the summoner casts all of his summoning spells pre-combat and hides in a Rope Trick with his eidolon and the rest of the party.
I am aware that not every fight allows players to set up min/level spells. However, many do, and completely breaking the game whenever the summoner gets the ability to do so is not good design.
The dogs stay as a tight pack, as dogs do, as the ogre approaches. The ogre, no fool, hefts a javelin and pegs a dog, likely wounding it. He'd need to crit to kill it, and he only hits 45% of the time. The dogs all charge, and the ogre finishes off the wounded dog with a javelin as they approach. Plenty of melee damage to get the job done, and he hits a charging dog ~90% of the time in melee. Two hits can't not drop a dog unless he rolls two 1s on d8s.
Two of the dogs harry the ogre, nipping at his heels, while the other two pounce like hunting cats, trying to pull the ogre down into the pack, moving with the kind of coordination no mortal canines can manage. Two dogs just move up to set up flanks, while the other two actually charge. The ogre had to be 30' away to have a decent chance to hit with a javelin and dogs move 40', so this is pretty fair. The coordination is fluffing up the smite, which they're going to be using this round. The dogs swarm over him, biting his shoulder and thigh, trying to pull him down with coordinated effort and sheer body weight. One of the dogs to his front hits, with two attacks coming with a 55% chance to hit, and one of the dogs behind him hits, with two attacks coming with a 45% chance to hit. That's 2d6+10 damage from the smiting dogs, with a 50% chance trip chance and a 40% chance trip chance coming.
If he falls, he's done for. Either he gets up, taking another 2d6+10 damage and very likely killing him, or he flails with his club from the ground, looking at about even odds to hit a dog and slightly better than even odds to take out a dog if he hits. If he doesn't fall, he's still done for, since he needs to get three killing hits on dogs without falling or taking two hits.
So Ash the summoner solos the ogre. While working on a crossword puzzle.
I expect similar results from pretty much any enemy who doesn't fly, have an anti-melee aura, DR, an AOE of an unpredictable or switchable element, or speed combined with a ranged attack. At this level, the dogs kill pretty much any non-AOEing character class up to level 4. They eat all of CR 1 except the spider swarm and air elemental. CR 2 has no chance, except for the bat swarm, dire bat, rat swarm, vargouille, lycanthropes, and lantern archon. CR3 is about 50-50, with lots of things having dog immunity auras, plus the first of the Team Monster AOE abilities.
Ash the summoner isn't any less cowardly, but now he's more charismatic. He's got an 18 charisma, because he can finally afford a snazzy hat. He's also got Augment Summoning at this point, because well duh. He's since traded in the pound puppies for a pride of mountain lions, six in total, with a lantern archon riding herd on them. The lantern archon handler, summoned first, gives each of the cats the blessing of Celestia using Aid, because it can just spam it all day. Team Attack Cats have three members pounce, then the rest all crowd around and stand on the victim, clawing away (since they can rake grappled targets). If you seriously don't think this should work, then Ash summons wolverines and punches them all in the head before sending them into combat, doing d3 subdual damage. Whatever.
This time, Ash is sent to deal with a rampaging hill giant threatening the town. Hal the hill giant is a 10 foot tall redneck who just wrecked an outlying alehouse, emptied a pair of kegs, and is now fighting drunk and, even worse, singing at the top of his lungs. The rest of the party was knocked unconscious when the roof collapsed, but Ash was looking for a bush behind which to pass his share of ale when the roof came down. So Ash calls Team Attack Cats, all the while gritting his teeth through what passes for rhymes in Giant. (It's like a drunk German singing songs in reverse, through a megaphone.)
So, Team Attack Cat stalks towards the ruined inn, with the latern archon hanging back. Now, the latern archon is willing to give its life for the cause of good, especially since it's smart enough to know that getting killed while being summoned isn't really dying. So the lantern archon flies out ahead, and catches the eye of the hill giants. Before the cats get there, it's a standoff. The giant can't overcome its DR with enough damage to also get past Aid's temporary HP without a crit, and the archon can stand there spamming Aid on itself. Should the giant miss, the archon can zap it for a little bit of electrical damage, but it's not going to try to solo the giant because a crit will just knock it out outright. It's worth mentioning that seven archons probably could just solo the giant. As soon as the giant shows any sign of spotting the cats, however, the archon swoops in, making a ray attack from within melee range. The giant is given two opportunities for attacks of opportunity, here. The giant casually swats it, dimming the little light considerably, and gets a shock for his trouble. With DR accounted for, the lantern archon is down if 2d8+4 is greater than d8+15, which is highly unlikely. The lantern archon needs a 5+ to hit, and does a whopping d6 damage.
The cats, however, have taken advantage of this distraction, and half of the pride pounces in, claws extended, ready to extract a measure of vengeance on the hill giant for damaging their shiny toy. (Ever notice how annoyed your cat is when you turn off the laser pointer after playing with it?) Three smiting, pouncing celestial leopards. That's three attacks at +11, doing d6+8 damage each, and 12 attacks at +11, doing d3+8 each. Needing a 10+ to hit, that's six claws/rakes and a bite and a half. Let's favor the giant and call it one bite. That's 6d3+d6+56, plus the d6 from the archon. The other three circle the giant, preparing for a second wave of pounces, this time into flanking positions.
The giant has, on average, 10 HP remaining, and he could have far less. I doubt seriously that he can kill six panthers before taking 10 damage, especially with three panthers still waiting to pounce. That's a CR 7 hill giant down, in about the time it takes Ash to relieve himself.
I could do higher levels, as he works himself up on the path to becoming Pokemon Master. Do I need to?
Let's try this again, since it's a perennial subject and always, always gets derailed.
Would anyone care to share their experience with the Spell Compendium when used with the Pathfinder core rules? And this time, without mentioning the stupid Orb spells? Detailed experience would be nice, especially if you can talk about what the party typically did and what they typically faced.
James Jacobs wrote:
But if you want to play the character that's TWO main characters in one (the super bad-ass fighter and the hard-core explosive wizard), one thing to keep in mind is that the game is built with checks and balances for a purpose. It's hard to do that kind of character for a reason.
So. Without getting into elaborate, specific examples of implementation, how would you go about making a character class that handles swording and casting arcane spells in a way that doesn't step on the toes of classes who specifically sword or specifically cast arcane spells? While considering this point, consider what swording must involve, and what qualities are inherent to arcane magic. What fictional characters would you want to simulate? (Moorcock's Elric and Corwin of Amber have been mentioned.)
What is it that a gish is supposed to do to be a gish and not just a fighter or wizard?
I set out to make some scratch oracles for SGT playtesting, and I noticed a problem. The oracle just doesn't know enough spells to use spellcasting as its primary combat role while still being able to heal and buff the way it will be expected to.
Pardon the incoherence; this is from my notes.
Level 1-3, you barely feel like a spellcaster. Unless you choose Bone or Flame as your focus or blow your first Revelation on an attack revelation that works more than once per day, pretty much every Oracle who isn't aspiring to CODzillahood is taking Cause Fear at first level. This doesn't leave any room to cover a buff and a heal, however; there's no way to be able to heal the group and buff the group and still do something other than buff/heal in combat.
On the other hand, if you're not Battle-focused, you won't want to use your spells for buffs and healing and wade in to bash faces. Your AC is less than super and your HP is only middling. Sure, you can take Divine Power, just like the cleric, but then you either don't buff the group or don't heal the group.
Also, there isn't a single orison you'd actually want to cast in combat.
I expected things to get better by sixth level. They did not. My options for offensive second-level spells were Sound Burst, Hold Person, or Darkness. (Inflict Moderate is so insultingly bad that it did not bear considering.) The third-level options are Searing Light, Bestow Curse, and Blindness/Deafness. Your first-level attack spells have gone completely obsolete; Magic Stone is terrible at any level and Cause Fear rots.
So, your options for spell-based offense are summoning, exceedingly weak blasting, or one-guy save-or-dies. Also, you still don't have enough spells to have a level-appropriate heal, a level-appropriate buff (let alone multiples!), and a level-appropriate attack spell until level 7, where you're still relying on second-level spells to do the job.
I've been trying to find big spells, spells which cover many bases at once. Unlike with arcane spells, cleric spells don't generally work that way. There are situational status removers/counters, buffs, and single-target save-or-lose effects. The only arcane-style big spells are summons: Summon Monster II gets small earth elementals, which are enough to contribute on CR 4-5 foes, and SM III gets...um...well, nothing the job done at level 7 or higher, great. Aid is kind of like a big spell, in that it's a buff and sort-of healing, so we've got that, too.
Hopefully, your focus is making up for this, so let's see how the focuses are doing.
Battle is doing very well, giving you a great buff, a great battlefield control spell, and another great buff in the first three spells. Battle has a very clear niche; you're going to pick up the self-buffs as soon as they become available, then cast them and stomp into melee. You aren't going to come into your own at the same speed as a cleric due to waiting for the various long-duration buffs on top of the short-duration ones, and you'll be stuck for utility spells for even longer, but you'll always have something to do courtesy of your focus spells. The first bummer spell isn't even until level 13.
Bone is not doing so hot, getting their attack spell two levels behind when they'd actually want it, followed by an unexciting self-buff you cast at breakfast, and an evil spell that GMs like to dick around with. If the GM doesn't screw with Animate Dead in one of the many obvious ways to screw with Animate Dead, it's great, but most GMs are not cool with Team Skeleton following a spellcaster around for flavor, RP, or battle-management reasons. After that, you'll get one decent spell at level 9 and then either the nerfed save-or-dies (which are okay but risky for your fragile self) or retarded NPC-only spells (hey guys, let's make some uncontrolled ghouls! Yay!).
Flame already has a combat schtick (Obscuring Mist, then hide in it while using Gaze of Flame), but they still haven't gotten an actual fire spell that requires a saving throw yet. In fact, if it weren't for Produce Flame, they have to burn a Revelation to get Touch of Flame or Fire Breath to do anything even remotely fiery at this level. In fact, they get fire spells at almost exactly the same level as fire-resistant/immune foes becoming common! Isn't that fun?
Stone has one decent utility spell (at 7th level) and some junk. Acid Arrow is barely better than breaking out the crossbow, and Shield is a bummer for a class proficient with shields and not martial weapons. After Wall of Stone (which is seventeen kinds of awesome), the rest of the spells are bummers, including The Weakest Divination Ever, Polymorph Ally Into Useless Statue, and Swarm Of Weak Guys Who Miss A Lot.
I got bored at this point and didn't do Waves or Wind. Or maybe I got annoyed; I have "Water: WTF Quench????????" written here.
Regardless, most of the focuses aren't contributing enough to magical things to do to either free up spells known for offense/buffs/healing, so most of the time you're using a far-behind slot for a spell to cover at least one if not both of the three.
If I had picked level 5 or level 7, this comparison would have been even uglier; the 7th-level cleric is buffing the group with Freedom of Movement and Air Walk at the same time that the oracle is getting his first third-level buff (probably Magic Vestment or Magic Circle Against Evil).
Actually, this is where my notes left off. Someone could probably do higher levels, but I'm noticing how really very ugly things are for the oracle at low-ish levels. Having a buff-based spell list without enough spells known to have a versatile set of buffs as well as things to do which aren't +1 to some other guy is pretty disappointing.
I've noticed a lot of discussion of new names for focuses, since it's a taken term in D&D already. "Mysteries" has been suggested and is fairly popular, but let's see what else we can come up with.
This is some random brainstorming before I try this stuff out at the table.