For what it's worth, I'd be gladly willing to settle for an archetype that moves to Cha casting instead of Wis casting. If the general urge is the base class should keep Wis, I'm alright with that but would love some kind of alternative to exist.
This class is very, very close to being the "All Alignments Paladin" I deeply want, and that one change would be enough to get it there for me.
While I do not like this revision, it is a step in the right direction. There are a few remaining problems I'd like to bring up.
Skills: The Warpriest is asked to be both Fighter (Climb, Survival, etc.) and Cleric (Know Religion, Spellcraft, etc.) but does not have enough skill points to cover this. Add in the class being 'MAD' and you have the same sort of problem the Paladin runs in to. However, I'm not sure how dire a problem this is since the issue hasn't caused Paladins to become unplayable either. I would call this low to moderate priority, if it's fixable at all.
Attributes: As others have noted, class is kind of MAD-oriented. It already competes with a few other Wis-based casters in its field (Cleric, Inquisitor if I recall right, Ranger and Druid in a sense if you accept them as competitors to the Warpriest)... would it be possible to move this class to being Cha-based instead of Wis-based?
Other than that, you have a class I would now realistically consider building characters with. This is very much an improvement over version 1!
Moving to Cha casting is something I pitched a few pages ago, but it might have gotten lost in other noise. Still like the idea; I want Cha to be used in more characters, even if it means a slight decrease in overall power level as a result. Personally, I'd be glad to allow Will Saves to be tied to Cha or Wis, but this is wandering off topic. At any rate, Cha-based heroes and villains are something I really dig.
We could even build some mechanics around this. I'm not saying my 'evangelist' idea is the definite way to go, but just to float up some examples... the Warpriest could be rewarded for attracting kindred spirits. Maybe a Warpriest of Milani gets some benefits when they bring an Azata onto the field, and a Warpriest of Asmodeus gets benefits for bringing Devils in. This specific idea probably has tons of holes, please don't bother destroying it at length as I am not seriously proposing it to begin with. It's solely an example of something mechanically distinct that could serve as further fuel for thought on what to do to make a Warpriest unusual compared to its peers.
ciretose: A 'penalty' I've been glad to live with on the builds that use it, because getting to pick another domain of your choice usually makes up for it quite well.
The point I'm getting at is that I don't agree with the 'absolutism' in a lot of your posts on this topic. There is room to disagree with even a deity (remember, they are explicitly not all-powerful or all-knowing) on topics of their faith... and even weapon choice.
I can easily see a Warpriest of Desna looking at a starknife and saying, "You know... I get what you're going for from a symbolism and philosophy aspect, but this thing is not a good primary weapon for my combat style*. If I'm going to be going out there I need to fight the way I'm comfortable with. I'm going to focus on glaives/greataxes/whatever."
*: Yes, this is even with the weapon group adjustments you discussed.
Edit, replying to Scavion: I would love this! It adds some flavor, does something a little unusual compared to its direct peer (the Cleric), and adds a story hook; the warpriest could have an evangelical aspect to them where they go out and try to win new followers to their faith.
Either the favored weapons are favored, or they aren't. It is like saying "I like Cayden's philosophy, except the drinking part..."
Separatist Cleric does this. Let me offer you a character concept with this... imagine someone saying: "I believe Cayden's tenets of self-reliance, 'work hard, play hard', doing what's right regardless of rules, helping others, and reducing reliance on centralized authorities are all right. I believe his goals would be accomplished even better with a clear head. Therefore I will not drink, and I hope my example will guide others of my faith to follow suit... and while this may be arrogant of me to think, perhaps one day even Cayden himself will do so!"
That's an example of a flavorful, well-storied character with a built in conflict hook (albeit a mild one, "I wish my allies would quit drinking, COMPLETELY" is not the sort of thing that comes to serious blows) going against a core part of the deity. The game even supports it with that archetype listed above.
It is entirely possible to be part of a faith, political faction, philosophy, or so on and not agree 100% with that entity's platform. Such people are usually described as 'moderate (affiliation)'.
What I don't want to see is what happened to the Magus, where everyone has the same optimal weapon and there really is no flavor or diversity.
A certain selection of people will play top tier no matter what. It's what they do. Some do it to expose flaws in the game. Others do it because their play group is weak enough tactically and/or build-wise that they have to play stronger to prevent TPKs. Others do it for less admirable reasons.
I would rather not be punished because of what some other people do.
Arbitrated by rules. 'Clear link' could, for example, consist of having levels in either or both component classes, or levels in a similar class.
An example of classes allowed such a rebuild might be...
Warpriest: Existing PCs may convert to this if they have levels in Fighter, Cleric, Paladin, or Inquisitor. Attributes may be modified if necessary. Items that directly impact attributes (for example, let us say you bought a +Str item but now want a +Wis one for spellcasting) may be swapped out for another item of equal or lesser cost.
Those classes would be ones where the character had already displayed some or all of the Warpriest's noteworthy abilities, so it would not be storyline-jarring for them to now be doing Warpriest things.
I agree that "Paladin to Arcanist" as was cited earlier in the thread is not something the campaign wants. That's going from 'armored melee (or longbow) warrior' to 'scholarly robes and spells' and rightly hurts immersion. Going only to component classes/similar classes would make it far less an issue, I believe.
I'd like to propose/ask about something related to the new classes, if it's okay.
Would you consider allowing rebuilds (not Prestige-spending retrains, but outright rebuilds) of existing characters to bring them into one of these classes, provided the character can demonstrate a clear link to the new 'hybrid' class?
For example, let's say someone is playing a Fighter-Cleric or their build was clearly setting up such a multi-class by their next level-up. Could they instead convert the relevant Fighter and/or Cleric levels, and only those levels (not any other class) to Warpriest? Or Fighter-Gunslinger going over to Swashbuckler? The rebuild would have to involve classes listed as the ACG class' components, so there would be no "Paladin suddenly becomes an Arcanist" behavior as was discussed above.
This would be for the benefit of people who were unambiguously working toward a specific character concept, and now new game mechanics exist (albeit in playtest format currently) that make the concept much easier to bring into play. That's not strictly an optimization concern; anyone who was seriously pursuing concepts now covered by ACG classes was probably not going out of their way to break the game. This just lets them do it without a lot of multiclassing.
I'll live if you say "No", but I think it'd be really neat to let people swap over if their character has a demonstrable link to the class they want to rebuild to. It would even be pretty easy to write rules for it. Something like "You may only retrain levels that are listed as part of the ACG class you intend to use, and may only exchange them on a 1 for 1 basis". That is, a Cleric 6/Fighter 3/Bard 2 could become a Warpriest 9/Bard 2. This probably needs a tad of wording clean-up, but it seems like it would work.
Re: Feat to swap out or add to the weapon benefits - I could go for this. I do not like it, but as an absolute worst case I could accept it, grudgingly.
As far as the rest goes?
Re: Shelyn/Zon Kuthon example... actually, it's entirely possible. You could see a Separatist Cleric who argues precisely this. "How could someone so wonderful have a brother who is so utterly her opposite?! I do not believe it!" This is mechanically supported by the game, if you use that archetype. Whether any particular player or GM feels this is a good thing or not is a separate matter, but the possibility is there and the game outright enables it.
Re: Erastil and sexism... it has been a while and I do not have the quote right in front of me, but I seem to recall some kind of plan to retcon or otherwise change this being discussed some time ago.
Re: Favored weapon... there was an example above of how this might go too far, for the case of Erastil in particular. The example takes it to an extreme, but shows how this could fall apart in a hurry and why a deity should probably be quite tolerant of, and even supporting of, some of their clergy using different weapons.
Yet any option that isn't optimal sucks...
Let me give you a personal example of why this matters: I have some character concepts whose dogma and leanings point them toward martial deities like Milani, Iomedae, or (this is stretching her definition ever-so-slightly, I admit) Sarenrae. Maybe even Desna (EDIT: Who is not very martial, I admit). As part of this concept, I would like to see those characters use polearms. No, I'm not talking a fauchard. I'm talking things like a glaive, horsechopper, or lucerne hammer.
"Play a Shelynite, they favor glaives" one might say. Shelyn's belief system does not match the concepts I wish to play. Iomedae, Milani, Sarenrae, and so on do. This would actually be 'playing to mechanics' rather than playing wholly to flavor. I want a certain belief system for that character, but a different weapon. It's not even some super-cheese polearm out to win the DPR Olympics.
I'd like this class to be open to that kind of compromise, where I pick the story flavor I want but go with another weapon if I don't like the existing one the deity favors. Right now the class isn't delivering on this. Maybe it won't no matter what. I don't know that one way or the other. Nonetheless, if I don't speak up then I won't be heard and the developers won't even consider my wishes when designing this product they hope I (and many others, who may have different needs and opinions) will purchase.
I don't need optimal. I want options. Right now, "go play a martial-evangelist of Shelyn if you want your polearm" seems almost like the opposite extreme of what you were arguing against... it'd be picking a deity for their weapon rather than their belief system. I want something a little more directly martial than Cleric, while still having some weapon options. If I have to give up some spellcasting for it, that's fine and dandy by me.
Also, I should say that if favored weapon remains as-is, I don't think that would be terrible; perhaps only the more martial deities produce any number of warpriests.
While your fluff/story logic seems reasonable to me, I'd point out warriors of various martial deities who might, for solid martial reasons, decide their deity's favored weapon is not the best fit for them. Milani is a good example: Morningstars are excellent backup weapons but I would not build a character around using them as a main choice. Not saying you can't, not saying it wouldn't be viable, but I wouldn't do it.
I would reasonably expect Milani followers to pick up some other weapons, ones they might even use more often than the morningstar, because they know how to fight well. Same deal with Iomedae followers.
Favoring your deity's favored weapon would be great if the weapon list was balanced. If the worst simple weapon, or at least the worst simple weapon used as a favored weapon, were one feat away from competing with martial weapons it'd be fine.
Most of your concerns are good points, but I wanted to add one more to the pile: What if your character legitimately disagrees with their deity on weapon choice? I'd like to see a Warpriest of Sarenrae who runs around with a greataxe because that weapon best fits what they want, and I want them to not be mechanically penalized for it. Same deal with an Iomedae follower who specializes in polearms.
This is something a Paladin can do at no mechanical penalty. Their class features work equally well with all weapons (whether the weapon itself benefits from that feature is a separate matter entirely), and the result is Paladins get a nice bit of weapon variety so they're not all alike even if they share a deity. By this same token I don't want to see every single Warpriest of Desna running around with Starknives.
Since some of us have been talking about MAD, I wanted to offer an opinion/thought and see how others feel about it.
Let us presume the class gets significantly reworked. If they discover that keeping it as a Wisdom caster makes it a bit too good after various changes we've asked for (or other things they come up with), would you be willing to see the Warpriest redone as a Charisma caster, so that their primary stats are Str or Dex (depending on whether they are a Melee/Ranged take on the War/martial part of the character), and Cha (for all the Priest/divine parts of the character).
I would. It would be a subtle reduction of the class' power (slightly worse Will saves, Perception, etc.) should that prove to be needed after revisions are made, and simultaneously give them a difference compared to the Cleric; they could be better evangelists for their deity. This may not sound like the very first thing a Warpriest should care about, but hear me out: It could lead to a lot of flavorful character ideas where an outspoken, opinionated adherent of their deity shares their faith with others and hopes they too will become siblings in arms united by a set of beliefs.
It would also give them some mechanical differentiation from Clerics and (I believe) Inquisitors, even if it does admittedly infringe a bit on the Oracle's gig.
This is just a random thought, but one I wanted to offer since the response to Arcanist issues has shown Paizo is willing to take some pretty radical changes if need be.
Just wanted to drop in and "+1" the general reactions; I am very glad to see Paizo is willing to make huge changes to the product if necessary, and the new idea behind the Arcanist sounds interesting.
Seeing that you're truly listening to us, and are willing to take bold steps accordingly, is very encouraging. I've gone from "disinterested overall" to "will be setting some money aside for this product" accordingly. Thank you!
DM Beckett wrote:
Ill second that the paladin of any alignment is not the way to go. In all honesty if thats what you want, scratch off the Lawful and/or Good,
That's simply not an option in sanctioned (PFS) play. You can't do that, and it restricts a very fun set of class mechanics to only one of nine alignments... then saddles it with that fight-at-table-causing Code of Conduct. This may not be a problem for everyone, but it has been in my experience and is one of my major ongoing complaints with Pathfinder. I will be a little sad if a chance to fix it is missed.
This may not be "The goal of the Warpriest", but the Warpriest as currently envisioned seems really redundant. Significant revision will be needed, and the BAB behavior will be part of it. As it is, I just look at the class and go "...Nah. Pass."
Jason, thank you for dropping by with your thoughts. I'd like to offer a few more opinions, if it's okay:
- Don't be afraid to seriously rework the whole of this class. This is one case where very bold steps will be justified and likely to be well received! The class in its current state just struggles to be relevant when Fighter/Cleric multiclassing exists, plus several other d8, 3/4 BAB divine caster types are available.
- In brief, what I want to see the Warpriest be is an all alignments replacement to the Paladin. I want the Paladin's general play mechanics (d10 HD, 4 levels of spellcasting, full BAB, similar Smite/Lay on Hands/etc. behavior) minus the Code of Conduct; many GMs and fellow players are so hard on Paladins that they have to be played as better than actual Celestial Outsiders. It's deeply frustrating; I love the class' play mechanics, but their fluff causes so many problems at the table that I just can't bring myself to run a Paladin. The Warpriest seems like a fine chance to not only rectify this, but also expand the Paladin's style of play mechanics to all the alignments rather than just LG.
- Designing the class around the deity's favored weapon is, in its current form, a mistake. Some deities just have really unappealing weapons (Dagger, staff, morningstar to a much lesser extent, starknife, etc.). Either there needs to be some way to get around this, or the mechanics need to be revised to not focus on one weapon so much. I don't mind if a Warpriest looks at their deity's tenets and says: "You know what? You prefer a weapon that simply doesn't suit my needs. I'm using THIS thing instead" and is all the more effective for it.
- This is too front-loaded. You've acknowledged that, so I'm only briefly repeating it; Warpriest 1 is an amazing dip that, as written, a lot of my builds would consider taking. Even just moving some of this stuff to Warpriest 2 would do a lot to curtail the dipping temptation.
I haven't had much chance to play the class, but I did look through it and admit I'm disappointed. We already have several classes, and intuitive multiclass paths, that do what this class mostly accomplishes. It's basically a Cleric with a bit of Fighter dipping. If I want to do that, I can easily just build a Cleric that picks up 1-3 levels of Fighter. It doesn't involve much rules gymnastics, and I suspect it would be the mechanically superior character anyway.
Was hoping the Warpriest would be more the 'Paladin equivalent for the other alignments.' Full BAB, d10 HD, focusing on war primarily, with 'priest' being their secondary thing. This is more like a Priestwar, to use an odd term. I already have plenty of d8, 3/4 BAB divine classes to work with for the various alignments.
As it is, while I'm open to being talked out of this... my first glance at the class does not leave me feeling it addresses any serious mechanical or thematic gaps that I couldn't already handle with some easy builds.
What I want out of hybrid classes is easily facilitating concepts that are hard to do with traditional multiclassing. Failing that, I want them to add some interesting new ideas.
Given this is the class I was most looking forward to, I am a little disappointed. At least some of the others are neat, and I appreciate that the devs are clearly watching these threads.
I'm pretty sure this is a basic question, but it's also one I want to be absolutely sure I'm right on since it does affect how dangerous certain monsters are. As you know, some monsters list their attacks as multiple uses of the same thing... for example you might see "Melee: 2 Claws (stats here), Bite (stats here)". Obviously you can only get 2 Claws and the Bite on a Full Attack. That part is clear enough.
Here's my question: Can such a creature use the 2 Claws as a standard attack action after doing some other move action (such as moving adjacent to the target they wish to hit)? Or would they be limited to just 1 Claw because a standard attack action generally only grants one attack?
If you need a creature example: Brown Bear on D20PFSRD
Most of the Summon Monster IV list has comparable creatures if more examples are needed; Giant Scorpion for example.
Sadly I don't, but this is mostly because this is the second one I've ever done; Pseudodragons were the subject of the first.
Between the overwhelmingly positive support for the first and a fairly good reception for this one however I do plan to continue the series. Some of them will be Summoning-only though... for example, you can't get a Lantern Archon familiar. Probably because it would be overpowered compared to the other choices. It's nonetheless a creature I'm very fond of, and can point out some really nice uses for (they're not just 'Touch Attack no-DR beams' platforms, they can do far more than that).
May also do some Summon-level-in-general things, like pointing out the useful aspects of some Summons and Summon Monster spells that others have written off as not very good.
And thank you for your thoughts!
As far as the Silvanshee's practical applications go...
I'm a little puzzled that Lay on Paws got nerfed/errataed to begin with. If this gets re-errataed to be a scaling ability once again (or even get 2 uses per day), that would make an already fun Familiar choice just a bit more useful. Hopefully that happens. Unless there's some serious implications on play balance I'm missing?
In any case, while Silvanshee admittedly lack the raw power of other Summon or Familiar options... they are very useful in teaching players and/or their characters to consider creative solutions to a problem. I can admit this only goes so far, though. Sometimes you do indeed need an Aurochs or Leopard summon. It's also probably true that Faerie Dragons and Lyrakien Azata are better Familiars in terms of direct "I can use this for obvious, powerful effects" behavior (primarily through Use Magic Device). Nonetheless, Silvanshee are really good choices. They just do so many things at basic competence or better that you can almost always find something useful for them to contribute with.
(Edited shortly after posting to remove a duplicate 'Skills' section. Whoops.)
Foreword: This article (and others like it) assumes your character is a Wizard or Sorcerer willing to research and meet the prerequisites. I assume Summoners can do most of the same tricks and likely do them better, but I'm writing this from the perspective of the older classes instead. Other classes may benefit as well.
The Silvanshee Agathion is a seemingly odd choice regardless of whether you're using it as a Summon or a Familiar, since it's not very useful in a fight. This holy cat's real value emerges in other situations, where its unassuming appearance and mix of special abilities allow it to influence events in ways many of its peers simply can't match (or if they can, they can only cover some of the same uses). Useful as a scout, emergency healer, universal translator, and more, the Silvanshee rewards creative play.
Before we begin, you may want to review the following stats. Note that Summoning them requires the Summon Good Monster feat, and using them as a Familiar requires the Improved Familiar feat.
Normally this is where I would offer a quick overview of its combat stats, but let me blunt: Silvanshee Agathions are just short of worthless in a fight. Their AC and speed are fine, but even at full power their damage output is pathetic compared to Summon Monster I's Eagle (nevermind its Summon III peers). They're Tiny, have no Reach, and even a full Pounce attack doesn't do much. If a Silvanshee Agathion is engaging in direct combat, the situation has either gone very wrong or you're trolling by having it pick fights with Level 1 Commoners. They are good at many things, but not combat.
So what do they excel at? Several things, such as these examples that should get your creative thoughts flowing.
Animal Translator: While having a Druid or Ranger handy for Wild Empathy is fantastic, not every party includes one. Silvanshees have a constant Speak With Animals effect, letting them fill roughly the same role. Has your party accidentally wandered next to a bear den and you don't want to fight? Have the Silvanshee tell them that. “We'll leave some food for you if you let us go” can resolve the encounter far less dangerously (and with far less healing resources used) than beating up wildlife will.
There's another benefit for summoning-oriented characters; you can use the Silvanshee as an 'order relay' for summoned animals. Unlike D&D 3.5, Pathfinder summoned Celestial/Fiendish animals don't have Intelligence 3 and don't have a language. They're Intelligence 2, with their normal animal behavior modified by their Good (or Evil) alignment. Most GMs will thus forbid them from following complex plans. A Silvanshee Agathion lets you get around this, giving summoned animals specific instructions. The instructions will still be limited by their Intelligence score, but now you can do things like tell an Aurochs to “Bash that door open” or a Dire Bat to “Let him ride you, go wherever he points”, or even tell a Leopard to “Attack ONLY that foe, no matter what!” In other words, they let you make summoned animals do things said critter normally doesn't understand.
Universal Translator: Their Truespeech ability lets them understand nearly all languages, which has obvious uses. The only caveat is they don't understand certain unique languages, such as Master-Familiar (which differs for every master/familiar pair). On the other hand, if you're using one as a Familiar then you can have them use that language to report things they overhear from foes; the enemy won't know exactly what information was being passed on (though they might have a decent guess).
Emergency Medic: While they can only do a single 1d6 Lay on Hands per day, Silvanshee do have unlimited uses of Stabilize and fly very quickly. If a PC or NPC is Dying, the Silvanshee can spend its own actions stabilizing them until proper treatment can arrive. It's not a Touch spell, it has a Close range so it's even easier for them to do this. Heroic Strength can also bring their Strength score up to 11 for a short time, and while this next part will have Table Variance it's worth trying anyway: You could have the Silvanshee use said increased Strength to bite down on someone's shirt collar or belt or whatever, and slowly drag them away. This is especially plausible for most Wizards and Sorcerers who probably don't weigh as much as a fully-armored Fighter would. Remember, most creatures can drag or push way more than they can carry.
Sure, having your unconscious character dragged away from the fight by a cat will probably look weird. Nonetheless, having your magical kitty stabilize and drag someone out of a bad situation can allow the rest of the party to focus on other problems. This is particularly convenient when facing villains who love to confront heroes with the cruel “Chase me, or heal the bystanders I just hurt?” choice; let the Silvanshee take care of the latter.
Courier/Thief: A Silvanshee's light load is 5 pounds, and they're limited in what they can actually carry due to having a cat-like body. However, this is still useful because they can Dimension Door (once per day) with themselves and up to five pounds of objects. They can't bring any creatures with them, but any items within the weight limit that they're touching can be teleported in this way. Imagine an important book in a place that is simply too small for even a halfling or gnome to get to, but a cat could reach. The Silvanshee could fly over to it, touch the book, then Dimension Door over to your character at its earliest opportunity. From there it's easy to just pick it up off the ground.
Their Flight speed might also let them rapidly carry other small objects, provided the item can fit in their mouth, be secured to their back, or wrapped in their tail. For example, you might have it chomp down on a potion vial (they're smaller than most fantasy art suggests!) and fly that over to someone who needs it.
Deity Hotline: One Commune a week with no material requirements seems pretty nice. While you're likely to only get supporting information with this, it's still a fantastic option to have. You may have to provide the Silvanshee a list of questions in advance, or even a flowchart for what to ask next if the deity responds in certain ways, but this isn't a problem. Just remember that the cat asks the questions, as it's the caster.
Compass: Constant Know Direction means even a party with poor Survival checks will have a decent idea where they're going.
Dancing Lights and Prestidigitation: While your character probably already has Prestidigitation, having a cat with it is not a bad thing; their spells have no components and thus the Silvanshee can do all the hilarious things a normal creature can... while being far less obvious about what's causing these effects.
Dancing Lights is likewise a flexible spell. Aside from its normal uses (including trolling, since who the hell is going to think a nearby hidden cat is causing them to appear?), you can use it as an improvised Glitterdust. Odd as it seems, let's assume your party doesn't have Glitterdust. You can simulate it by granting See Invisibility to the Silvanshee, and then have it frame Dancing Lights around the creature you want located. “Why not just use See Invisibility on yourself?”, one might ask. Well, doing it this way instead has the Silvanshee can spend its actions pointing out what square the target is in... and this lets everyone in the party take a whack at it. True, Miss/Concealment chances will still apply. However, having 4 to 6 people swing away on the target even with 50% miss rates is probably better than 1 person doing so even with no concealment chance.
Skills: While not very good at actual cat activities, Silvanshee make up for it by having ranks in things like Knowledge Arcana and Knowledge Planes. Their modifiers are low, but they can still Aid Another on some skills. If used as a Familiar, they can even aid your character in other skills. Imagine a holy kitty backing them up in Diplomacy, for example. +6 Survival and +6 Sense Motive also have some value.
Scout: An exceptional Stealth modifier plus flight movement and a cat mist form make this an incredibly mobile, survivable scout. Note that they have only +10 on Perception however, and they do not have the Scent ability. Other defensive abilities may help them get back alive, but be sure not to send them somewhere too dangerous. If they're a Familiar, this can be a good way to get them killed and you don't want that. Be smart on where you send them!
Cat Appearance: While their behavior might not convincingly pass for a cat if a nature expert (such as a Druid or Ranger) is observing them, everyone else will usually be fooled. This is normally a good thing. Guards won't usually freak out at a 'cat' wandering by to check the place out unless strays have absolutely no business being there. Random citizens are more likely to react well to a kindly cat than they are a fire elemental. Of course, this has a downside as well... Evil creatures might go out of their way to hurt Silvanshee. Also note that their cat body can do pretty much anything you'd expect a cat can. For example, they could just hurl their 20 pound selves atop a switch to operate it, or shove something off a shelf by nudging it with their head, or so on.
Cat's Luck: Giving a nearby ally a +1 to all Saves isn't much on its own... but it's a Luck bonus, so is likely to stack with most other Save boosters they have. Not only that, but all it takes is one effect's Save DC to be met exactly by that +1 for you to see the value it can have. If someone is about to go somewhere dangerous, have the holy cat toss a +1 onto them. Note that ones granted by a summoned Silvanshee are likely to end as soon as the summon itself does, depending on how your GM interprets certain rules. Thus this use is usually better for Familiars.
Camp Watch: While their Perception of +10 is only decent, Silvanshee make great camp guards for one other reason... they don't need to sleep! They are true Outsiders, and thus don't need food, water, or sleep. A Familiar can set up in a hidden spot to watch over the party's rest and make a lot of noise if it sees trouble approaching. You might want a spare watchman anyway, but this still relieves some of the party's logistical needs. Especially since they have Low-Light Vision and Darkvision 60 Feet.
Good Alignment, Intelligent: Silvanshee can be counted on to do things in the summoner's/master's interest provided it fits their Alignment. If your character tells them to do something, they can understand most plans just fine (Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 13)... and are smart enough to adapt or even ditch the plan if complications come up. They might even bring plot hooks right to your character; “I found someone who needs help!” Besides, who do you want bringing problems to the party's attention... a heroic cat, or some smelly guy in shadowy robes at the tavern speaking those two famous words: “Ahh, adventurers!”? Exactly.
For those Summoning these creatures, please remember that Heroic Strength (the Silvanshee's ability) and Augment Summoning (the Feat) provide the same type of bonus to Strength... so they don't stack. Normal Silvanshees are Strength 3, Augmented are Strength 7, and 'Heroic mode' ones are Strength 11 (3 + 8) ignoring the +4 this Feat normally provides.
It's true that Silvanshee Agathions are terrible in combat, and most of their abilities can be duplicated by other means. However, they offer all these uses in one creature. Sorcerers in particular benefit from this, allowing them to summon a holy cat whenever one would be good to have around. They are also excellent Familiars both in regard to what kind of things they can do, and that they don't take the spotlight away from PCs. Nobody is going to mind if the kitty is on 'heal innocent bystanders' duty, watching camp at night, or serving as a translator; these are all uses that leave the PCs free to do the really heroic stuff.
That, and they're really cute. Who wouldn't want a spirit cat that embodies enlightened kindness?
Here's a fun thought: Are there any factions whose general agendas fit your character's?
For example, a Druid might tag along with Silver Crusade because they're the ones most directly opposed to the demons in the Worldwound area. The Worldwound is aptly named, by the way. The skies look dark red almost all the time (according to art I've seen, anyway), a good chunk of the normal wildlife in the area has mutated into huge, violently evil versions of themselves... and even some plantlife is being modified this way.
The demons are wrecking nature on a regional scale. I can easily see a Druid deciding "While our broader goals have nothing in common, right now we have the same enemy for slightly different reasons. If I do not act, the environment will be ruined... so I will accompany your crusade."
I have an Andoran faction Bard who does the same thing. They actually believe Andoran will, in the long run, be harmful to freedom and this is said Bard's major concern. They nonetheless hang around with the faction because their resources are the ones most suited to advancing said Bard's plan. One of my other characters outright despises the Society, but sticks around with them because the Society often finds things that do concern the character; using their leads, travel, and resources is the best way for them to intervene in problems throughout the world. Sort of a "I'm just using them!" approach to being a member.
You can do similar mental gymnastics to find a suitable faction for most character concepts. There may not be a direct Nature Faction, and I agree that's a bit jarring, but there are groups who will advance such a hypothetical faction's goals just fine if they're willing to do a little "you scratch my back, I scratch yours" behavior in tolerating non-nature-themed adventures from time to time.
Who's the fairest of them all? This requires us to define 'fair.'
Fairness is generally thought to be a measure of how fitting the action is to the situation, for all parties involved. One standard fairness is often measured against is adherence to existing rules and precedent. This is generally the purview of Lawful alignment.
Depending on one's biases and morals, the fairest of all would most likely be a creature that is Lawful Good (allows extenuating circumstances to modify how the rule is applied) or Lawful Neutral (always follows the rule, period). So to answer your question, it is whichever of the two creatures that is LG or LN. If both are, continue to apply various Lawful filters (alignment of deity they worship, Lawful aura, casts the most Law descriptor spells, etc.) until the tie is broken.
...Wait, what's that you say? Not that kind of 'fair'? ...Oh. I see. Well, uh, carry on!
Not only that... but I've heard some axe-style pole weapons could do a sort of 'drag back hooking' attack if the target were too close to attack from the front? That is, you intentionally swing wide, around, and behind the target... then drag the weapon back to pull the innerward 'hook' of the axe blade into the target's back?
This seems plausible to me, if somewhat time-consuming in a fight. I'd allow it as a way to attack a target around their squares, in an odd sense.
This has been quite a big topic, so forgive me for only skimming the middle pages (read the earlier stuff at length) before offering feedback.
I support getting rid of Weapon Cords from PFS play, because you can make a good case for doing so even without considering Gunslingers. These are the key points I see.
An extremely inexpensive item is doing comparable work to a feat. Feats and Traits are some of the rarest things a character gets, but these items essentially let you 'buy a feat' or a 'half feat' in a sense for virtually no meaningful cost. This alone was enough to convince me to resell/discard all the weapon cords on my PFS characters.
They reduce the scope of NPC tactics. I sometimes hear critiques of PFS adventures, that some of them degenerate into melee bash-fests with little to distinguish them from others. Weapon Cords are an inexpensive way to limit this even further because they remove Disarming from the list of things a NPC can reasonably do in the course of a PFS adventure.
Disarms are a relatively benign tactic for NPCs to use. It accomplishes most of what a Sunder does, without actually destroying the item, and even introduces a risk-reward tradeoff: Does the character eat 1 or more AOOs to get the item back? Or do they just switch to their backup item and carry on? That's something you want game interactions to have!
Weapon Cords simply prevent this possibility from coming up, and their drawbacks are clearly not significant enough to discourage their use.
All of this is without getting into the Gunslinger issue, which I will stay out of. Weapon Cords are simply far too good for their cost, limit the options adventure writers and GMs have, and I believe the game would be better with them gone.
Since others have beaten me to the primary joke, I'll introduce efficiency to it:
The Secondary Goal of Scenario 5-513 works best if you simply remove the word "no" from it. No messy rewrite of the whole sentence, just take that one word out and it suddenly works much better. Best of all, it even becomes a thematic bonus for followers of a certain deity that delights in arranging 'accidental' deaths.
The PA itself is only moderately important. I have some fairly specific PA spending plans, but I'll live without the point. The boons are a bit more interesting however and while I would like them, I don't see any way bringing the GM directly here is going to end well.
1 PA and a few boons versus seriously trying a GM's patience, thus either likely getting me personally barred from their games or just getting them to stop GMing for the group in general... is a fairly obvious choice.
...Okay, so... what do I do about it? The GM in question seemed upset about me bringing it up with them in the first place (Edit: No, they clearly were upset. Some of their remarks to me were pretty strong). Bringing it up again is definitely going to anger them. Escalating it to the relevant Venture Captain could cause the VC to come down on them. Said GM is definitely going to figure out I was the cause, and I could see them getting angry for me 'going behind their back.' This isn't some random two-bit GM doing a one-off session either, they're a fairly active and highly rated GM that puts in a lot of work to help PFS.
I don't want the GM punished; they put in a lot of work on short notice to host this and did a great job with some of the more important aspects of the story. I don't think they're being malicious with this, and everyone seemed to have a good time. Nonetheless, when I pointed out the 'automatic failure' aspect of these faction missions to the GM, they encouraged me to post feedback on it.
Now I've done so and I'm caught in a lousy situation because this has revealed some real problems. Anger them by continuing to press a matter they clearly have no patience for? Anger them by getting a VC involved which is going to come across as 'official sanctions'? Either of those would probably poison our future sessions and seriously hurt a regular play-group by harming the motivation of one of their major GMs. Or should I let it go and miss out on something my character could have realistically earned with these corrections brought to light?
It seems like I've stumbled into a situation with no good answers. Any help would be appreciated...
Spoke to my GM about these, and they went over some things with me that would either leave this in the realm of GM interpretation or reintroduce the problem I complained about. Since they're spoilers...
On the first 'possible error' Mistwalker cited,
I've been informed that in the Tier 6-7 version, the creatures in question have a higher caster level and thus affect more targets. There were about 2 or 3 monsters active at any one time, plus about 2 to 4 PCs in their face. This arguably leaves room for the remaining targets-per-level to affect their victims. I can't be 100% sure on that since I can't reconstruct the fight step-for-step, but I find this very plausible.
I'm not happy about that one, but if that's RAW correct then I certainly can't hold it on the GM.
So then there's the other situation...
Apparently the bit about saving spells for PCs is inferred. It reportedly mentions that he uses 'spells and breath weapons until the PCs close the distance' or words to that effect.
I can realistically see that being interpreted as "he breathes on the prisoners right away if there's nobody right in his face by the time his first turn comes around." Given the distances involved, that can easily happen!
I have no reason to distrust the GM or their readings of those sections, so I'm kind of left scratching my head here; what were the PCs supposed to do to complete those sub-missions? It feels like both of them were failed due to rolling poorly on initiative, unless I'm missing something.
Neither of these were even a case of "your characters should have cared about the NPCs more." The party got in there at best possible speed, and refused to deal damage to the victims in encounter 1 even when being attacked by them. In the second encounter, a great deal of effort was expended on immediately blinding the enemies so their prisoners had a chance to escape safely. The party was pretty heroic overall!
I'll live, it's only the loss of two boons (good ones, but not game-make-or-breakers by any means) and a prestige point... but it's kind of disappointing to look at this and see what appeared to be a series of automatic failures.
It was a while back, but I think I recall the general content. At least for the factions I focus on, and knowing what their goals are isn't too hard to begin with. If I've made a mistake on some of those aspects (and it's possible), then I apologize and I'll take a closer look.
As for the other aspects you brought up... I will speak with the GM about it in a few days; perhaps they can reverse the ruling or explain whether I missed something. No name-and-shame here; they're a good sort and may have just made an honest mistake given the tone of the story presented in Wardstone Patrol. It certainly came to mind that the enemies in this story would behave the way I described just to spite Good people and inflict more emotional damage.
Thank you for bringing these to my attention! Nothing would please me more in this case than to discover my 'feedback' is more theoretical than something that actually applies to an actual scenario as written. If that ends up being the case, then I would like to apologize to the author, Alex Greenshields, for what may well amount to be false accusations on how the sub-missions were written.
Edit: Also, to clear up a potential misunderstanding...
The party did not attack the citizens per se. They did do things to make it harder for the citizens to attack, but they were all consciously mindful to not hurt innocents in this battle. The only damage they took was from AOEs when the demons and PCs mixed it up in melee.
Chris Mortika wrote:
I check it in detail. I've made sure my character's inventory on hand is precisely below their Light Load carrying limit, and bought a Handy Haversack primarily to allow them to carry more stuff without being slowed down. It was my understanding that playing with Encumbrance rules in effect is part of RAW core Pathfinder, and thus, barring a specific exception to the contrary, part of PFS by default?
Mind you, the item would have been worth the 2,000 GP just for the "retrieve anything from your pile of random junk as a move action" behavior on its own. Have used this to solve a lot of situations with creative tool use in a hurry.
As far as PP for Item Recovery goes: I don't see how 5 PP is trivial. It's affordable, but it's a meaningful ding. That's about as many PP as your character will earn in 3 to 5 games! I think the most fair approach might be something like...
Proposal, PCs may use the Body Retrieval prestige award as a Gear Recovery award instead, with a caveat: The items must have been lost unwillingly. The Society certainly has the resources to screen for that.
"Okay, Ogbur the Bardbarian... you said that monster stole your magic sword."
If the Society determines the character willingly parted with the item, they can simply say "Sorry Ogbur, we're not deploying a team to retrieve that sword."
GMs could adjudicate this by making notes on Chronicle Sheets, as they do with other outcomes that require some personalization.
I've recently had the chance to play Glass River Rescue and Wardstone Patrol. Overall, they are decent scenarios and I like the general storyline they're telling! The majority of their content is on the right track for making Season 5 a good one. However, I wished to provide some feedback on their sub-missions/faction missions... as I feel Wardstone Patrol handled this very poorly.
This will contain specific spoilers for both adventures.
My broad critique is that faction missions based on random chance aren't much fun. The impression I got based on Glass River Rescue is that PCs are to be rewarded for an attention to detail. Keeping an eye open for important things that their briefing didn't cover, reacting to events that falls within their faction's portfolio, and so on. I like that idea! Wardstone Patrol seemed to stray from this, however.
A quick comparison. First, Glass River Rescue missions that I'm aware of as a player (haven't GMed it).
As I understand this one, PCs are expected to rescue the dwarven delegation, clean up evidence they were there in the first place (especially any evidence that could be used to scry on the dwarves?), ideally convince nearby non-combatants that something else entirely is going on, and prevent a certain Razmiran official from escaping to report on the party's actions.
Those are all fine. One is somewhat luck-based, but even if you fail it (and that's pretty easy to do, especially with lower-level parties)... the others just rely on the GM giving you good environmental descriptions and having a solid plan for dealing with the biggest threat near the end. Even if you lose init, so long as you have a sound plan there is a very good chance you can handle the last objective.
I really liked this! PCs who pay attention to the details will usually succeed and be rewarded.
Then I look at how Wardstone Patrol went and honestly feel cheated. It seemed to involve, based on the end of session overview the GM gave us...
The main objective is as straightforward as it gets. Unless the PCs are being willfully contrary or outright lose, they'll get this every time. That's fine. It's the faction missions and sub-goals that left me going "Wait, what? That's luck-based almost the whole way through!"
Two of the goals involved saving allies or bystanders. Poor initiative rolls combined with Area of Effect attacks made this impossible in both cases. The citizens in the flooded ruins were cut down by multiple Mass Inflict Light Wounds before my character could do anything about the situation. Had they lived, I would have gladly 'wasted' combat rounds getting healing effects going on them... but there was simply no chance to do so. Back to back AOEs took care of that quite well.
Then it happened again in the final battle of this adventure. Rescue 5 of the crusaders? Nearly all were dead before the party even got meaningful turns! A pre-engagement AOE made sure of that. It's not like the PCs sat back and buffed while the demons cut people down... they moved in and were making a clear effort to take the fight to the demons in order to save lives. Getting even some of them, or even one of them, out in light of that seems like an impressive result on its own.
I don't remember what the Scarzni (sp?) sub-mission was, but I do recall the Cheliax one being something the players and their characters receive little to no hint about. I don't even play that faction and when I heard it I was left wondering "How is anyone supposed to complete that? The only NPCs a Cheliax character might plausibly pursue that goal with would have no reason whatsoever to share that info, and using magic to coax it out of them is liable to turn the PC into a pin-cushion for their archer forces." Or if that doesn't happen, I suspect there's a good chance Ilivan would, perhaps violently, take exception to the data-gathering?
Outside of the Chelish concern... overall, bad Initiative rolls plus terrain/distance considerations plus numerous area of effect attacks resulted in what amounted to automatic failures for most of the sub-missions. There wasn't even much of a chance to save them as they were struck down; the GM was clear on the victims being dead, not just dying, so various healing effects weren't going to matter.
That left me rather annoyed, and I hope that future missions won't use so many luck-based outcomes. It wasn't even the GM's fault; he did a great job with the story materials provided, and as far as I can tell he ran the encounters as-written. It's just that as-written, it's pretty likely you're going to fail a majority of the sub-missions without some lucky rolls. It's a pity, because I loved the overall story told in Wardstone Patrol and only felt cheated upon hearing how the secondary objectives went.
I much prefer 'pay attention to the finer details' goals like were used in Glass River Rescue, and hope this will become the norm. It's a great idea, and one I really liked seeing since it rewards things beyond just combat optimization and tearing every room apart looking for the specific item the faction leader asked for (which was very disruptive to the flow of play).
Yeebin, it's awesome that you're stopping by to get some input on how to be a better player. Most of the advice others have shared is right; show up with a good attitude, be willing to toss in a few dollars for either the adventure itself or snacks for the GM, and that covers most of it. It's not outright required but it is a good idea.
GMs love this sort of thing. Even a $1 to $5-ish gesture like this per player shows you appreciate the time they're putting into the event; it's at least 2 hours (likely to be 3 to 5 hours) table time, plus the half hour to 3 to 5 hours spent doing their 'GM Homework' on reading up on each creature, thinking about what to do if the players send the story well off its expected course, and so on. A simple "thanks for hosting this, I had fun" at the end goes a long way too. So long as the GM feels they were treated as a person rather than a 'RPG session factory', they'll probably feel it was time well spent.
As others have mentioned, you are expected to pay for and bring PC-oriented stuff you're using. You might, maybe, get away with not doing so for the first session or two ("I wanted to see if Burst of Radiance in Champions of Purity was as fun as it looks before I go tossing more money at the game!"), but after that it's expected both on a "You need to bring your own rules materials so the GM doesn't have even more stuff to keep track of" perspective and from a "support Paizo" aspect as well.
While Martin's question has been addressed, I bet this question is on a lot of folks' minds and wanted to weigh in on it.
Regarding Goblin Guild: Most of the content is fine, though some story aspects will need to be modified a bit to be more kid-friendly. That, or the GM I played it under changed story aspects to make it more edgy/hardcore. I'm not sure which, since I've only played it and not GM'ed.
The chase scene might irk them though, especially if they're running pre-gens. Some of the skill challenges in it are rough.
Other than those two caveats, it is a pretty interesting choice for younger players. I can envision six-year-old-me being okay with it, and the story would have be solid enough with minor content-level changes.
On Night March of Kalkamedes: This is a great scenario, one of my favorites, but it does demand a lot of creative problem solving and an eye for detail. I can imagine a child player being surprised by the 'gnome' at the end, and having trouble keeping Kalkamedes from crashing into things all the time because, especially in low tier games, doing so seemingly (and I may be wrong here, maybe the GM played some things differently than expected?) requires bringing a lot of random tools along.
A different suggestion: The Blakros Museum adventures might be more up a kid's alley? Mists of Mwangi and the associated runs, I believe, were pretty straightforward, have a chance for heroics and relatively 'clean' villains that won't need much rewriting to be kid friendly, and so on. At least if memory serves me right, as it has been a while since I played this one. Edit: May need to be careful with the early-on curse though. I can see kids being thrown for a loop by the "wait, your character's not on my team anymore?" aspects of it; saps or other nonlethal damage plus some healing will smooth this over if they're given some encouragement by the GM in this direction, though. It is otherwise a great scenario for younger players.
I think this one would help both GMs and Players.
Phrased for GMs: Before the session begins, explicitly ask if any player uses unusual mechanics that don't often come up. This could include things like their character being Sunder focused, or using a Master of Many Styles in ways that create unusual rules situations, and so on. This way it can be gone over quickly before the first fight. "Okay Steve... you said Urglok the Half-Troll Barbarian is also an Arcane Healer archetype Bard specializing in Bull Rush and using a Racial ability to modify that? Give me a quick reminder of how Bull Rushing works, how this race ability makes it different, and what an Arcane Healer does? Just so I'm not thrown for a loop when we start chucking dice. ...Okay, sounds good. Thanks for clearing it up!"
Phrased for Players: If you know your character does odd things, briefly explain this to the GM beforehand and ask if they want to see the relevant rules ahead of time. Something like "So you know, my character simultaneously threatens out to both 5 feet and 10 feet with different attack methods, due to them using a Reach weapon and a Bite. They'll get Attacks Of Opportunity in situations you wouldn't normally expect," or even "My character uses a lot of Deflection mechanics. Here's a little bullet-point list showing exactly what happens to a Deflected attack, since they're handled a little differently from a Miss."
Put more plainly, GMs understandably tend to get cranky when you spring things on them unannounced that turn out to severely change how the game flows. Even ones who are rules-heavy and focused on tactical detail can feel this way if your character works far outside normal combat behavior. A very quick check by both sides of the table to ensure anything unusual is explained beforehand can avoid a lot of tension and wasted time.
I'm sure David Haller was being silly in the specific dollar value of a PC, but he still presents a valid point once you get past the money; it's certainly an investment of a pretty big chunk of your time.
Anyway, while I am a bit late here I wanted to comment on one other thing...
Michael Azzolino wrote:
The situation has been resolved to my (and hopefully everyone's) satisfaction.
Thank you. It's good to hear things where campaign staff are involved and help out! I have no connection to the incident, am probably not in your play region (I mostly do online play along with very rare in-person sessions), but this is encouraging nonetheless.
Sheldock, the good news is a strong player with even a decent build can get by in most adventures that I've seen. Just be sure they bring the essentials (a melee weapon even if they're not a melee concept, a ranged weapon, even a sling, no matter what, and some basic tools) and you'll do okay. There is a far greater emphasis on smart tactics and choices in the storyline than there is in wringing out every single advantage on your sheet, as far as PFS is concerned.
None of the characters I've played in PFS are fully optimized. I'll start with a strong premise, then water it down a bit when I see shiny thematic toys to toss in (non-lethal options for Sarenrae followers, for example). The end result is usually still viable in PFS, and most of my near-deaths have come from either misunderstanding a situation and making either a tactical-play mistake or story-decision mistake. A few others have come from bad luck or choosing to play up a tier in an adventure. That said, do be ready for some challenges in Season 4 and onward. I've run into several encounters where adventure writers are now throwing some of the more common 'cheese' back at PCs, and this has been the cause of two more near-death encounters.
None of my characters have died, but some have come awful close due to the factors above. I find this acceptable; I'm being reasonably challenged and having fun with this aspect of PFS.
As long as you bring a reasonably developed character to the table, have a sane equipment loadout that understands you need a Plan B and sometimes even a Plan C, and are reasonably intelligent both in story decisions and tactical choices... you should do fine.
Alex McGuire wrote:
Zarcon, consider picking up a lesser metamagic rod of Selective. (snip) Sucky for a spontaneous caster like my sorcerer, though since it's a full round action (which means I have to either spring load it, or have it in hand as I start my turn), (snip)
Does this actually work? Most rods are five pounds, and the examples I've seen for what the spring-loaded wrist sheath can deploy are more around 1 to 3 pounds. Wouldn't a GM be in their rights to tell you it's too heavy to use this way?
David Bowles wrote:
But I really love weapon and armor training!
Problem solved, then! Your character can fight, plus can train not only weapons... but also armor! That's three things your character can do well.
More helpfully, consider picking up a Handy Haversack and stuffing it full of random junk. You'd be surprised how useful this is to the party. "10 foot bridge? I've got a collapsible plank. Let me just rig up a support to it real quick and it'll work as one.", "Oh hey, I've got a skeleton key, it might open this lock.", "Got a crowbar here if you need to pry that open," "I brought some cards and dice if you need to pass yourself off as a gambler to those folks over there," and so on.
This question is PFS specific, as PFS generally runs on RAW and I'm unclear how to handle it in this case; I am currently working on building an Improved Familiar from the 7th level list (likely one of the mini-Dragons or Good Outsiders)
It has been mentioned that Familiars are not to be modified from the stats we see them with. For example, any familiars that 'cast as a' specific class nonetheless keep the spell list shown in their Bestiary entry, Feats generally stay the same unless you're doing the 1:1 'extra slots' swap mentioned in other threads, and so on. The only modifications you do are the ones laid out by Familiar rules. I understand most of this, but Skills confuse me.
My Question: How does an Improved Familiar of a non-Animal type interact with Skills in PFS? Do they keep the exact skill ranks (and class skills) shown in their Bestiary entry? Do you have to redo their skills since their Intelligence scores may be lower (or higher in some cases) than said entry? Bear in mind that Familiars and the original creature's Type (Outsider, Dragon, etc.) have contradictory class skills.
Basically, I want to be sure I generate a legal Skills list for said Improved Familiar.
I checked the FAQ ( http://paizo.com/paizo/faq/v5748nruor1g1 ) for Ultimate Combat, couldn't see any mention of it there, so I want to turn to the community to make sure I have this 100% right.
How do Style Feat pre-reqs interact with A> a Monk in general, and B> a Master of Many Styles archetype Monk?
An example, Crane Style's pre-req list is: Dodge, Improved Unarmed Strike, base attack bonus +2 or monk level 1st.
That's the exact text. Here's what I'm wondering...
Can a regular Monk select this Crane Style feat without taking Dodge beforehand? That is, does "or monk level 1st" override the entire rest of the prereqs? Or does the use of 'or' in this sentence only allow you to override the BAB +2 requirement, making the prereqs effectively "Dodge, Improved Unarmed Strike, Monk Level 1st" insofar as a starting Monk cares (and thus they would need to take Dodge beforehand)?
Moving on, would the same be true of Crane Wing? Prereqs are: Crane Style, Dodge, Improved Unarmed Strike, base attack bonus +5 or monk level 5th.
That is, could a Monk 5 acquire it by only being Monk 5 and having Crane Style (the Style Feats section makes this prereq very clear), or do they have to satisfy Dodge as well?
Finally, how does a Master of Many Styles interact with this? Am I right in believing only Bonus Feats provided to this archetype may ignore the Monk Level prerequisite (edit: and other non-Style Feat prereqs), provided they obey the style feat chain itself? That is, such a MoMs could use Bonus Feats to acquire Crane Style at level 1 without taking Dodge, then Crane Wing at level 2, and so on? Or does being a Master of Many Styles permit the MoMS to also use this style feat behavior when selecting their 'base feats' at levels 1, 3, 5, 7, etc. too? (I'm guessing not, but had to check since it's on-topic)
References to Game Material in Question:
I support the proposal to allow Trait retraining, or some variation on this idea... and would like to answer some common critiques. The wordings below for each segment are 'words to that effect' rather than direct quotes of any one poster here.
"It opens the door to cheese": That door has already been blown open with a battering ram, and I've noticed adventure writers are starting to throw that stuff right back at players as a result. I've seen a few adventures include enemies built exclusively with PC class levels that are designed solely to hit us right back with the stuff some players have been doing to GMs. A sobering reminder that when it comes to an 'arms race' in Pathfinder, the GM can easily decide to win that contest.
I'm not sure what specific harm Trait retraining would do; we already have players running around with overpowered classes. The impact of this decision in regard to 'cheese' seems relatively minor, when weighed against the benefits to character flavor options?
"Traits represent background": That's true. They do, but Trait Retraining allows Traits to fill another role; they can represent character growth. The Additional Traits feat seems to suggest this interpretation isn't wholly out of line. I used it recently on a high-Charisma character to acquire Irrepressible, which I intended to reflect the character's growing obsession with their agenda/plan; sort of a "I grow weary of my mind being toyed with by another's string pulls. I am no puppet, I will see MY goals brought to fruition and not yours!" idea.
Under this interpretation, one could say the Traits instead reflect the most prominent aspects of the character. Maybe they're no longer as devout in their faith to a certain deity... or found another way to express that faith. Perhaps instead of being diplomatic, they're more forceful. Losing a Trait related to Diplomacy to instead reflect this focus on force would thus help convey the character's evolved flavor better.
"It eases how far you have to pre-plan builds:" I agree, and this is one of the biggest reasons I support Retraining. Sure, I plan my builds out pretty far in advance... but not everyone finds that fun or even has the time for it. Retraining eases a burden on the player, making Pathfinder less stressful. "Ok, so I screwed up on that last level-up. Thankfully I've got enough Prestige lying around that I can fix my character instead of writing them off as a loss. Funny what being one feat off in a build can do to invalidate my whole plan...", is something I can see players saying.
I can even see "This trait is even more representative of their past than the previously available options. I want this instead."
Another thought on this, based on the "the enemy has their back to me" premise. That may be true, but here's the thing: What if you miss? The shot still goes somewhere. The -4 in this case can usually reflect the character taking the trouble of firing at such an angle that they know for certain they won't hit any unintended targets if they end up missing or their actual target dodges.
It's an abstraction of the "know what's beyond your target" rule of safety with bows and other projectile weapons, but one I'm willing to live with.