People act as if using bracers of armor is a terrible thing. If your dex bonus to AC is so high that you can't use armor effectively anymore, enjoy the high touch AC. Welcome to the anti-caster club, we have a potluck on Sundays.
I think your GM needs to reexamine the game system. Save or suck/die effects aren't something new. On the subject of infinite uses I would examine just how often you actually use it. Maybe then compare that to the number of times you could have used the utility of a wizards spell list. A witch basically traded spell casting for hexes.
There are also good ways to reign in an ability with simple social pressures in game. I'm sure that if superstitious peasants got word that you could make them just fall asleep and then slit their throats they'd be none too welcoming.
Lastly, just because you can spam something doesn't mean you should (although try explaining that to an archer who full attacks every round). The game can become rather stagnant if everyone finds the one thing that they spam and that's all anyone does.
To address the original post I can say I've been on both sides of the fence in multiple game systems. I've been the guy who has rolled up multiple front line characters only to have my teeth kicked in while our wimpy wizard was cheating the rules to up his defense. I then had to deal with that same wizard once he became uber powerful being a jackass about running away.
Pathfinder, like D&D before it, has a sliding scale of power throughout the levels. Wizards are usually better end game, fighters are better early, etc. No matter where you are in the game though, you need to prevail in encounters. Tactics change based on importance of certain PC's. Self buffing or casting defensive spells on the only person who can end an encounter in which you must win at all costs would be a smart move. Even if everyone else dies, the goal was to set up that one person.
Your typical encounter isn't a win at all costs encounter. Everyone making it out in one piece is typically more important then winning because it would take more resources then would be gained to mitigate the cost of said player death. Since damage is typically much stronger then healing or mitigation you will often find that the way to best overcome an encounter is to do copious amounts of damage to the enemy. As a caster you may do this by buffing, debuffing, or nuking. Every round not spent causing more damage to go on monsters is a round everyone else is taking damage.
Do some math and find out what needs to happen for a spell to be effective. If anyone b*++$es then maybe it's time whip out the math and show them what you are doing in black and white. And if even after that they still want fireball only, then you can tell them to play their characters and you'll play yours.
As a player I refuse to look stupid in order to speak OOC. I was in a game where everyone had a system of holding their hands to their heads and all I have to say on the matter is, HELL NO! We are not in kindergarden and this hobby doesn't need more stigma from the general populace who might observe such crazy behavior.
Where does it say that it will be a minor inconvenience in the rules? If you live in the frozen wastes and everywhere you go outside a city has difficult terrain then you might want to rethink using heavy armor that would slow you down further, for example.
You could also take the smart option and have spare armor that isn't fullplate for when you have to do things that you would be penalized for. If you can afford the fullplate and its penalty then chances are you have the gold to buy some lighter armor so that you don't drown.
Is the game system balanced to let players make use of all their abilities most of the time? God no. Look at any mounted character. How often can he ride in a tight dungeon, or inside a building? What about an archer? How often do they even shoot a full 1 range increment?
If you really want to be an awesome adventurer you might think about little things like the fact that you can't even don a set of full plate properly without help. Maybe the armor boy that nearly no one bothers to mention or pay for will throw you a rope so that you can climb out of the water instead of swimming. Or maybe you'll choose to play something that isn't a big dumb full plate wearing invalid with str score jacked up past roids level without a single point in swim because who can afford to spend that point when they dumped int to retard status?
Well, you aren't being punished for having heavy armor. You are simply incurring the penalties that were associated with it all along. There are no special rules in those games beyond the standard core rules. They didn't add a sinking clause, the penalty to swim was there all along. Don't be angry that you are encountering penalties that you knew about yet thought wouldn't come up.
As for doing an armor-less system... why? Bracers of armor are in the game along with folding plate, glamoured armor, etc etc. You want to walk around the gala in armor without looking like it? That's not free. Want to not sink while wearing full plate, there is a cost for that too.
Also notice that there is a limitation of changing somethings attitude by only two steps that has a similar wording on it. So while it may be possible to work your diplomancer magic on the BBEG, he'll realistically only go from wanting to kill you, to not hating you (indifferent). Say you even manage to get him to like you (silver tonged human trait for example), that doesn't mean he is going to not kill you. Ever heard the phrase, "I like you, but I still have to kill you"? He may lament having to kill you, he may want to turn you into his evil apprentice, but no where does it say that liking someone ensures safety. He might even grant a request that he not kill you... for right now. Maybe he'll let you write a will or go say goodbye to your loved ones before he kills you.
Long story short, unless your game has the plot of an anime where love will save everyone and enemies will becomes friends when defeated, good luck with using diplomacy to talk an angry evil guy out of hack you to bits.
Being that you aren't having to learn or research your spells you don't have to go through the same kind of stuff as a wizard. Clerics meditate or pray for they spells daily. Your deity provides them, not some kind of new training.
I think most people fail to read, and that is their failing. Diplomacy is listed as ineffective against people who intend to harm you or your allies in the near future, as well as in combat. So you want to convert the BBEG to the side of good and light? He's too busy planning how to kill you or in the process of trying.
A bluff is simply a lie. It doesn't change a creatures attitude towards you. If you are a known liar to said person you are likely to take a circumstance penalty on your roll depending on how much experience the person has with you, etc.
The most broken skill is intimidate, and no one has even mentioned it yet. It also has a one minute of conversation clause... so you'll have to find a way to get the BBEG to talk to you for it to work. Still, the DC only goes up with HD or Wis mod, so it is the hardest to counter without simply becoming immune to fear.
My personal feeling on the matter is that if your PC's would always rather fight then talk, that the encounters have been too easy. Start to push those same PC's up against the wall and they'll gladly try and talk their way out of problems rather than fight.
Social action ending an encounter is not more powerful then certain builds wiping out encounters all alone. And like almost everything in the game the can be countered by certain abilities or creatures. Mindless undead don't care how sauve you are, likewise the lawful neutral head of the town guard can't be smited by the paladin for upholding the law, as corrupt as the system may be.
Would you make a player reduce the effectiveness of his combat build because he was so good that the other players didn't get much action in a fight. Everyone loves threads like the DPR Olympics, but when its the diplomancer's turn to shine everyone gets angry that they can't pound on things.
Know your game, know your players. If 4/5 people want combat and are angry at this silly little thing called social interaction then maybe you should be playing a wargame like 40k and not a RPG.
Of note, I only want answers backed up by something in RAW, your opinion is not what I am looking for.
Does disguise cover altering the voice of a user or does it only cover the visual aspects of a disguise?
If the vocal aspects of disguise fall under other skills, which ones? I've noticed that magic items exist that give a bonus to bluff to imitate a voice. I've also noticed that vocal alteration (the spell) gives a bonus to disguise when it changes a users voice.
If using magic to create a disguise (via disguise self or other spells) that only cover visual aspects, does that bonus only apply as long as you don't talk or let a person touch you (since it doesn't cover sound or tactile senses)? I know it likely doesn't make a difference unless you know something specific about the user or the person they are impersonating (such as a perfume smell, rough skin, specific voice). If a user uses magic like disguise self and vocal alteration, would that count as a combined bonus of +20 to disguise, or is it just a +10 that is harder to disbelieve?
If I make a mundane disguise that I enhance with magic and the magic gets dispelled or disbelieved, does my disguise automatically fail or does their check go against my now lower disguise check? I know I would likely still have to explain the magic with some kind of awesome bluff check for the lie of the century, but that is beside the point.
If you give a sentry one stealth check per round of stealthing you basically ensure that the PC will eventually lose. Given enough rolls the player will roll bad and the NPC will roll good.
If the PC needs to be in an area requiring stealth checks for an extended time I would have him roll once and have the NPC take 10 on perception. Should the PC do anything that would change his circumstances you can either have him roll again or just alter his result compared to the NPC's.
There is a 3rd party prestige called the pikeman that can use spear type weapons either with the point, slashing with the blade, or striking with the haft or butt. They can also use spear type weapons as double weapons. If you are looking for the versatility or realistic polearms I recommend you look at that class.
Game wise you must remember that it all boils down to mechanics. Everyone would use a reach weapon if they could be simply used in melee as well as at reach. If you really want that capability then you should look into a weapon like the whip with the appropriate feats.
As a GM I would allow you to use the shaft of a polearm to deal bludgeoning damage at the reach of the weapon for either a -2 or -4 penalty (Since the weapon wasn't designed to be used in that way and would be ackward). If you used a spear, I would allow you to treat it as a quarterstaff at no penalty since a spear is a staff with a pointed head on one end.
I would also allow certain combat maneuvers to take the place of improved unarmed strike, allowing you to take AoO's with any combat maneuver you could make instead of an attack. You would require a way to perform the action without provoking yourself (probably using the improved "X" feats). Hence you could trip someone trying to run past you, etc.
I don't like the idea of using armor spikes because they give some mechanical advantage any more then I like every dex based fighter under the sun wielding a scimitar. In organised play you do what you have to, but at my table we try to keep the game from becoming one giant fest of people in spiked armor with scimitars and falchions running around all over the place. If it would look stupid on film but there is a mechanical advantage then I say take away the part the looks stupid while keeping the benefit. That may mean I count gauntlets as armed for AoO's, or I open up the weapons a feat specifies, or even alter weapons so that people have reason to wield them.
I think the intent of a reach weapon is to use it like a pike. You poke people from way over there. Could you use the haft to make an improvised weapon attack? Not really. The pole is too long to be wielded like a quarterstaff. A quarterstaff might be six feet tall. A pike is between 10 and 25 feet as listed on wikipedia. Its fair to say that a small pike could easily be twice the length of a quarterstaff.
Why do you need to threaten adjacent if you have reach? Do you have mages provoking to get in point blank to cast a spell? As a player who doesn't want to wear armor spikes because of role playing reasons I would think you would just drop the polearm and pull out a sword.
As a note, a suit of fullplate comes with gauntlets which count as armed for weapons. If someone rushes into melee past your reach and provokes in melee, drop the weapon and punch him in the face (or trip or disarm). If your GM gives you crap about having been holding a weapon then provide him a demonstration of how easy it is to drop a stick and punch him in the face (for being a douche).
Overall this seams like a corner case that will hardly ever come up. Most things will be afraid of the poking end of a polearm and not try to rush past it where you would need some alternate weapon to threaten in melee.
Its all about the setting and group. Is this a story about the dark and gritty old world and the skaven turning people into horrendous abominations? Is your game about the paragons of good coming into their destiny and saving Golarion from the return of rovagug?
A DM once set me loose in a setting akin to the spanish inquisition as a member of the inquisition. I was a rogue, and not the good kind. I threw people out windows, threatened and actually tortured people, stabbed people in the face, etc. The point is that in that setting I was a corrupt cop who could get away with what he did. No one was a paragon of good. The closest thing we had to a good character was a cavalier who would give everyone one chance to surrender before he road you down like dog and skewered you on the end of his lance. The game was meant to be morally gray and the GM expected us to do bad things. They were socially acceptable. No one would speak up if I grabbed the bartender and shoved him face first into a fire, because it was a scary time and no one wanted the ire of our organisation.
The above mentioned game is a corner case. Most games will not find such behavior acceptable. PC's will not be above the law and can expect their actions to have repercussions. As a player its important to know your game just like the GM must know his players.
When a player goes astray you need to talk to him about your setting and explain what might happen if he does action X which you think is unacceptable. Let him make the decision, but make sure he is informed of what is likely to happen in this setting.
If the character is a thief and wants to steal from everything and anyone then maybe its time to tell him what they do to thieves in these parts. If he continues to be a larcenous thorn in your side then catch him sooner or later. He as a player knew what would happen, his character as a member of the world he lives in should have had some idea as well. Actions have consequences, don't be afraid to use them.
It sounds to me like the problem isn't the witch. Different classes are powerful at various times in the game. Full casters with enormous spell lists typically come into their full potential in the later levels (this isn't to say they are bad at any point though). The witch trades the better spell list of the wizard for hexes. This changes when they will be strongest compared to other classes.
I've seen the same problem you are having with slumber against the first level spell sleep. It will be useful for you longer then sleep and more worth specializing in, but I don't see this as being a big deal. And if magic that causes encounters to be easy is a problem or theme then your GM should reconsider a party of 3 that is all casters.
Above and beyond all else is the fact that the real issue is not you. Both your witch and your warrior kicked butt, it seems to me that the other players are lagging. Perhaps the GM should spend more time figuring out how they can be better or get their time in the sun then how to best nerf you. Dragging down one player to the level of the others is just lame. Everyone chose how to build their own characters, no one should feel slighted. There are a ton of places to look for info on building or to ask for advise. If they chose ignore those options then they shouldn't be crying about your build.
If you have martial proficiency and want to get funky you can use a starknife, which is like a four pointed star of daggers around a handle. The upside to the starknife is that it has a x3 critical and can be thrown 20 ft like the dart.
When choosing which weapon you have to consider what you are doing with it. Is it for use in melee or at range or both? Do you have quickdraw (which will determine if it is easy to switch weapons or if you need to get maximum mileage out of your weapon so that you don't lose full attacks), will you be taking weapon focus (in which case you want to get the maximum benefit from that as you can), what is the cost (ammunition can be cheaper to keep on hand to overcome DR then having one or multiple full price weapons for each), and is it ammunition or a regular weapon (which will determine if you need quick draw to throw more then the number you are holding)?
The regular old dagger is awesome as a versatile weapon. Its easy to hide (granting a +2 to sleight of hand to conceal it), can deal slashing or piercing damage, can be used in melee or thrown at short range, and has a decent critical range (19-20/x2).
The dart (which I use as a throwing dagger) loses some of the perks of the dagger. Its crit range drops to 20/x2. It takes a penalty for use in melee since it is designed for range. What it gains is a higher throwing range increment and its weight is halved (which can matter if you have low str). This is a great choice if you have quickdraw and want to throw daggers at a range greater then 10 ft. Every range increment past the first applies a -2 penalty to hit. Even with weapon focus (+1), after one range increment you have a better chance with the dart. You are losing the crit range, but I'll assume your damage is coming from sneak attack more than other sources meaning crit range isn't a huge loss.
Shuriken are a good option for a rogue without quickdraw as it does not require an action to draw. Damage goes down to 1d2 and range is only 10ft. Its other plus is that it is cheaper to get weapon special materials. At low levels this could be the difference in being able to afford methods of overcoming DR or not.
Bear in mind that these are all just stats. Dress them up however you want. A dart could be a dart used for a game of darts, or a throwing knife. Shuriken already come in many different varieties and are essentially small throwing blades or spikes (dealing piercing damage).
Don't forget that you can also throw clubs or wield them as a melee weapon, making them the perfect complement to the dagger for overcoming all kinds of weapon based damage reduction (piercing, slashing, and bludgeoning).
Throwing only daggers are listed as darts. Bear in mind that a normal dagger can be thrown or used in melee. If you want the thrown only version though, it is indeed called a dart and is out of the core rule book. It does the same damage as a dagger with a lower crit rating and double the range of a standard dagger. Damage for it is piercing only.
Hope this helps,
Use more terrain. Make sure the creatures they fight are more often then not from that terrain. Plains aren't as open as many think them to be. Tall grass can be in abundance. If the Pc's start flying then maybe the creatures fall prone and use the grass to gain concealment and begin stealthing away or waiting for the PC's to come investigating. The dire lion can wait till you land or get in reach to pounce on you from his nice concealed place in the tall grass, he's a lion.
You can use rocks/boulders for cover, have enemies use water to ruin ranged attacks (shooting into water from land or air grants total cover, meaning they have no shot), grapple the PC's whenever you can, etc. If you insist on random encounters then make it a bit more random and have the encounter include multiple types of enemies from your tables.
If you choose to have to encounter flee, perhaps a bigger predator has noticed wounded pray running away... oh and tasty adventurers with them! And the hunter becomes the hunted by a pack of wyverns or drakes, oh my!
Try looking at other systems that have fantasy adventures set in cities. My recommendation would be to try 1st or 2nd ed warhammer fantasy roleplay. You'll have to doctor it a little or a lot depending on your setting and the level of the PC's (since warhammer is generally more of a low magic setting).
My other piece of advise is to change the dynamic of power in cities. In the dungeon or wilderness the PC's are probably the closest thing to an authority you will find, but this is the city. The city guard as well as nobles, guilds, and the underworld control the city. Toss in a good dose of politics and the PC's will be begging to get back to their dungeons and wilderness.
The city is full of people, use that to your advantage. Find someone that endears themselves to the party to use as a hook. Find someone they despise. All sorts of interesting sorts live in the city, bring their personalities to life. Make the PC's have to talk to people and research. Problems that can be beaten with swords and truncheons should be far less common (or have repercussions if caught).
Lastly, describe the smell. Ye old city was a dirty, vile place where people dumped chamber pots out windows. Filth abounds, remind your players of it.
My advice is let them see how ridiculous they are by feeding them a bit of their own medicine. Pick up a Goblin order of the cockatrice cavalier and swoop in with your worg and steal every kill you can while skewering enemies on your lance. Make sure you come up with a really awesome shrill battlecry.
On a more serious note, never dumb yourself down to the lowest common denominator or allow idiots to hijack the game. Pick a character that will make fools of them. Roll up a rogue who is busy getting rich while they are killing. Be bad at combat, but make your skills unbeatable. Then walk away with your pockets full of treasure that the party is unaware of. Stash it somewhere because one want to have a hoard rivaling a dragon.
In short, if they are forcing you to play something you don't want to or altering your build, alter the content of the loot they will receive. Even the playing field. Throw AoE's into the middle of the party to kill the monsters and proclaim victory when you kill one monster while nuking them all. Then when they want to know why you are being a dick you can explain to them that you are only doing what they are, intentionally reducing fun for other players.
Their method of playing is no more valid then yours. Why should you have to go find another group because of the destructive habits of your fellow players. Having fun at the expense of the others at the table is not a valid way to play the game. I suggest you show them that by having fun at their expense. It's really easy not to realize that you are being a douche when you are in the majority.
My group is starting up an aquatic game based on an undersea Atlantis housed in giant magic bubbles. So in short our game is going to be something like 50/50 in and out of the water. The world is low tech, but high magic. I was considering an elven wizard as a foreigner from lands above the sea. What I need help with is my spell selection.
What spells will I need to operate underwater and why? Right now I know of Water Breathing and Touch of the Sea from APG. Magic Item selection would also be appreciated.
Have any of you considered circumstance bonuses or penalties? Sure this feat may cause problems if used in a vacuum, but who plays in that type of game? You would have to say something pretty terrible to get a paladin to "fly into a rage" and attack you. A "yo moma" joke shouldn't cut it. If you really wanted a good chance of making it work I would try to gather information to find out something personal to said paladin. Maybe remind them of the time that they were too weak to save that village. Oh, and by the way, I was the one who ordered it burnt. That would get a paladin to fly at you in a rage, likely with a very low check.
For everyone else I must say, get over it. Antagonists are a thing. If you roll played your character well you would likely never see a GM take this feat. Its more of a sign that you're a poor role player then much else.
If anything this is a better feat for PC's using the diplomacy side of things. A high cha Paladin could make great use of Antagonize combined with smite evil to offset the enemies likelihood of switching targets because of your higher AC (suppose you got +3 more AC from smite but the enemy has a -2 to hit everyone but you. Your AC is only one higher then before compared to everyone else, and now they want to hit you more then ever because you are hitting like a truck.)
The problem of having nothing to do but full attack is a dream for optimizers. Full attacks are usually the best option for a non-spell caster. If I want to be as effective as possible I want to eliminate rounds where I lose damage because I am not putting out as many attacks as possible. It may seem boring, but raining attacks on an enemy with consistency is damage 101. Options are nice, but obliterating your enemies is better.
If you don't want to be bored by turning on the turbo button and talking away while everything dies then you need to pick another class or game system. Welcome to the reality of combat for non-spell casters. We make attacks either in melee or ranged, and that's about it. Sure we can try to "tank" by pissing off the monster and being a bigger threat then everyone else, but taking a beating well isn't a role that works well without giving the monsters some reason to attack you. In the case where you don't do much damage you have to find other ways to lock enemies in combat with you and make yourself the only viable target they have. Sadly you can't do this all the time. Circumstances make it all but impossible to hold threat against a determined enemy without outside help (typically in the form of spells).
There is nothing wrong with a fighter. Damage is the one trick that almost nothing can universally overcome. Sure, other classes can do damage too, and if they get the chance to buff for an hour of table time then they will be awesome. Personally though, I'd brutally murder you in your sleep or find ways to stop you from sleeping till you have no spells if that kind of crap went down in my game. This isn't WoW, the boss won't sit in the room while you all stand outside and buff for god knows how long. Maybe you all might be lucky enough to get the time if your fighter can keep him off you.
In short its weak, pathetic GM's who give the fighter a bad name. If your game were brutal enough you'd appreciate the virtue of being able to pound out damage. Just hope you all never have to fight in an anti-magic field because you'll get your teeth kicked in.
The problem with this is intimidate only lasts a short while. Therefore if you want to use the friendly status provided by it you would have to ask for something that could be done within the intimidated time frame. If you asked him to help you go fight the other bandits and halfway there your intimidate wears off then he is unfriendly and you can't ask for favors from unfriendly people.
As for Bad Cop, Good Cop... Intimidate doesn't help in this instance as anything other then a circumstance modifier. The person who uses Intimidate has no need for diplomacy, and the person doing diplomacy doesn't treat the enemy as friendly like the guy who rolled the intimidate.
Basicly, an NPC's attitude may vary per person. Using intimidate or Diplomacy doesn't necessarily apply to the entire group. This can be a good thing as the NPC may not like Bob the Barbarian who intimidated him earlier, but he's warmed up to the bard who has been using diplomacy since.
When is a one trick pony overdoing it? Depends on how good the trick is. Of course this also applies to every class. Take a wizard and fill your spell book with s@~#ty spells and then proceed to watch your fighter take down the monster while you fumble around casting spells that make little difference. You just took your one trick (spell casting) and made sure it wasn't worth it. Take the same wizard and now learn and prep good spells while keeping scrolls, staves, and rod on hand and you are awesome.
The fighter is no different then anyone else. Most people invest heavily in what they perceive they are good at while making some concessions for livability or secondary roles. Mechanically there is no reason why a fighter can't both do damage and fill a secondary role in the group.
Role play wise you are only as dumb as you choose to be (either IC or as a forced limitation of dumping INT). Let's say I am a general of an army. I have knowledge of tactics but I don't know anything about the enemy I am planning on fighting. I consult my advisers, make a trip to my local library, and once I have all the facts I can gather I put together the plan with my knowledge of tactics.
In short you don't have to do it all. It would actually detract from the game if every fighter knew everything about magic or exotic races from other planes. Why would I need a wizard if I could do it on my own? The wizard certainly needs me (see how well he does if he gets ambushed in the middle of the night. Even if he lives, there goes tomorrows spells).
As far as game balance goes I wouldn't be angry that the wizard is good at high levels when he optimized for using his magic. Remember when you optimized for damage and could have killed him with one swipe of your sword at first level? We all have a roll to play that is dynamic throughout the course of the game. Expecting to do the same thing all game long and be awesome is ridiculous.
Think about it like a MOBA. Certain characters will be strong in the beginning, others at the end. Our job is too win together using our combined strengths to overcome our weaknesses. No one got to the end game alone. What roles you fill at what point in the game will depend on the game itself and your team composition. Maybe a fighter isn't the way to go for certain teams, but don't rag on it because it may not be for you.
Well, what if I were to use a combination of blunt implements, electricity, and irritants to torture you without leaving a mark or lasting effect. You wouldn't even need to pass out. Is that okay? Technically I didn't hurt you at all, but boy was it painful.
Or a more practical, what if you were an a#~**~~ so I walked up and beat you savagely. Maybe you deserved it, maybe not... but I couldn't see Gandhi or Mother Teresa doing it. Good people do not solve mundane problems with violence or by causing pain to others.
Evil people beat up people they don't like and take their stuff with or without rationalization. The fact that you had a good reason is like putting a gorilla in a dress, its still a gorilla.
The encounter you listed it seems too fast. The PC's may not understand what to do the first round, or it may take multiple rounds. Also consider that with the ways to succeed that you listed that not everyone will be able to meaningfully contribute. Your 7 str wizard who happens to be the guy to run up to the helm will be next to useless trying to make a str check and probably has no ranks in disable device.
Try to come up with more ways that the PC's can succeed or at the very least establish a way for them to figure out what is going on and how to fix it via knowledge, professions, etc.
If you have a PC who just won't be able to help (the wizard who has been sea sick on calm water the entire way), consider giving him the first mate or other prominent crew member to play.
Another thing to consider is changing the outcome based on how events go. A snapped mast may leave the vessel stranded at sea and unable to get in to port, for example. Maybe you make it into Port, but now everyone must attend the service for poor Billy whose life was cut tragically short. The rigging busted so the captain needs someone to go purchase new line and tackle, he can trust you fine adventurers who saved his ship, right?
A fighter is a valid archer just like and ranger or bard. Just because a class might be considered the best dps (which may not be true in all situations) does not make it a bad choice. Fighter's plethora of feats means that it can choose to sink feats into things other builds would be too feat starved to do.
If you were in a game with only the CRB allowed you might decide to grab something like the cleave feat tree to allow you to get right side by side with the barbarian when you get rushed in a tunnel.
In addition its easy enough to get and int of 12 and w/either the human skilled trait or favored class get anywhere from 4-5 skill points on a fighter. That's nothing to scoff at considering you could use armor training to allow yourself to break limitations most other classes have. And with the right traits there is no reason you can't fill in a few gaps in your class skill list.
Consider spells like instant enemy and features like smite evil when you arbitrarily decide fighter is somehow the best. Fighter gets the ability to acquire feats faster (which may mean earlier) then other classes. For this they trade away nearly any other class features. Other then capstones they get armor training, bravery, and weapon training. Now compare that to the paladin that is immune to various things, has spells, lay on hands, divine bond, smite evil...
A fighter is what you make it. You are only a mindless stupid damage machine if you choose to play one that way.
I would recommend a build that is rules light. Give her something with a few pre-stated options such as a normal attack w/ two hands and a power attack w/two hands. Maybe give her the cleave feat tree. Other then that stick to things with static bonuses such as great fortitude, improved initiative, weapon focus. New players need less math or remembering "what does power attack do again?"
Build a cheat sheet. Add more options as she begins to understand the game. Ranged is more complex than melee due to cover and line of sight. Stick to melee. Fighter would be my recommendation. Barbarian rage may be hard to understand to a newcomer. Rage powers are also a lot to remember in some cases. You want to make your new player feel good, not like they are forgetting everything and screwing up.
Basically, in a turn you would say I want to shoot creature X (a standard action). You see the results. Damn, you missed. So you decide to go full attack on him, giving up your move action. Since the first attack you made since deciding to full attack is your first itterative you are at -5. This is the shot that shoots two arrows.
You could also decide that creature X is a menace, and you will not be running away or switching to your sword this turn (deciding to give up your move action) and full attack right from the start, making your first attack of the full attack at full BAB.
If you want to shoot for big damage and run away (ala skirmish tactics) you would use vital strike (which is its own standard action) and then get your move (having no option to full attack).
I think the wording in "Deciding between an attack or a full attack" has tricked everyone. It really comes down to what action you make to start a full attack.
B) Make a full attack and then abort it for a move action after the first attack?
If A) The first attack of my full attack would be my attack at -5. Manyshot doesn't list my attack at full BAB in a full attack, it says the first one. This is of course under the assumption that you don't do things retroactively (which is a whole other can of worms). If you wanted the two arrow shot on the full BAB attack you would have to decide to full attack and thus lose the versatility of choosing to move or attack.
If B) I shoot off my first attack containing two arrows and then make my decision to move or keep shooting.
In conclusion: A good compromise is option A. You get to shoot, make a legitimate decision (not predetermined based on shooting twice and then getting to move) about continuing the attack or switching tactics. Anyone who wants to optimize their damage can decide to make their decision before seeing the results of the first shot, but then the option to use a move action is gone.
I know this isn't going to please anyone who wants a hard and fast rules call, but I believe this sticks to the spirit of the rules and should placate any reasonable archer. If you wanted a single hard hitting shot as a standard action then may I point you to Vital Strike, which was created to do just that. And as a bonus any switch hitter can use vital strike in melee or at ranged, making it more effective then it may have looked at first.
Hope this helps someone adjudicate this rule for their group.
What might be more important than if beating someone with a morning star till they are unconscious is evil, might be that a party of good characters even took part in beating someone to steal from him because he was a cheater of trades. Think about this a second. Does a good person rationalize beating a person based on some crime he may have committed?
At the very least that is very vigilante. At the worst its evil actions rationalized by other bad actions. Did your mother ever tell you that two wrongs don't make a right? You might want to reconsider your own alignment. Right now you are doing evil things, maybe with the best intentions, but that doesn't change your actions.
Stealing from someone like this merchant could have gone down wholley differently, using skill checks to convince him to hand it over (after all, it sounds like you had him at a disadvantage. You all are big scarey adventurers, and he is a lowly merchant). I think this is what intimidate is all about, and why it is based on Charisma. Surely one of your band of merry men is dashing and can make a "this is a robbery" speech while you unload his goods.
Sorry if this has already been suggested, I skimmed.
When you buy a shield you pay separately for its armor enhancing abilities and its weapon abilities. If I wanted to buy a shield that acted as a masterwork shield and masterwork weapon I would have to pay each cost (150 and 300 gp respectively).
So we have precedence for armor as weapons and how each is handled as far as enchantments, materials, etc. To be fair, it is more clear with armor or shield spikes than standard shields or non-spiked gauntlets.
I think it would be fair to rule that the weapon part of a gauntlet (the striking surfaces) might be made of a different material then the defensive plates. Thus you would have to pay to upgrade to adamantine on the striking surfaces.
Personally, I would give my players the gauntlets made of the same materials as the entire suit of armor. But I would also kick you out of my group if you argued being able to sell each gauntlet for 3k gp. Anyone with enough money to buy adamantine items is smart enough to know you are ripping them off.
The real solution to this is GM fiat. Don't let your players treat your game like a video game with an exploit. Giving out an adamantine weapon isn't going to unbalance the game, so be reasonable. Just don't take b+$+%@*& from your players trying to use the rules against you.
The rapier is good for what it is. 18-20 crit range and decent damage. Its probably the best duelist weapon if you don't go for dervish dance (because of its crit range, although you could use a pick instead which would be ridiculous).
Piranha Strike is just Power Attack for TWFr's or rogues who dumped str. It lacks the versatility of Power Attack, but you get it without having to have the str prerequisite.
I preach a lot about versatility. An archer whose only option is his bow and arrow will lose, wizard or no. The thing about well built character is that they have options. Lets say the wizard puts up wind wall. We have thrown weapons, slings, and swords to stick in him. He used obscuring mists? We have seeking bows, magic items that see through obscuring mists, and the ability to ride in there and shoot him point blank or lop his head off as we ride by.
What this really comes down to is prep time and who goes first. If the archer gets the drop on the wizard and wins the initiative roll, the wizard hits the ground dead before its even his turn. If the wizard goes first then he has his spells to try and defend himself or attack us.
The balance of player vs player at high level play usually comes down to prep time and who won initiative. Usually this isn't a problem, its the PC's against the world, and the world doesn't act like a PC. A high level wizard who is an evil mastermind has a lair or stronghold and amasses power and home field advantage. The "we meet 1,000ft apart on an open field" schtick never happens.
I for one can say that as an archer my opportunities for shooting at things at long ranges are limited due to many factors. Maybe there is terrain blocking my LOS, maybe there is adverse weather allowing them to sneak in cover of darkness, or maybe I didn't know we were going to fight until they pulled out weapons and started waving them in my direction (which is generally something not done until they are close). So let me know if you ever get the chance to line up and shoot at block formations of enemy soldiers, or lone wizards in fields, because it has never come up in a game I've played.
Of interest to those of you engaged in the argument about quickdraw allowing you to draw a weapon as part of an AoO or to use in an AoO you may want to consider the kensai magus ability Iaijutsu that I believe does exactly what you are considering. Strangely enough it doesn't specify if you count as threatening without a weapon (which is required to be eligible for AoO).
Quickdraw is useful in any situation in which you would want to draw a weapon and don't have the move action to spare. Alternatively you can draw a hidden weapon as a move action, thus saving your standard action for attack. There is a feat called sly draw that could be useful to anyone with sneak attack which allows you to draw light weapons and make a sleight of hand check instead of a bluff check to feint.
While at first this may seem trivial, the wording of the flavor text may allow you to make your sneak attack without the enemy noticing you as an enemy, meaning that he would still be eligible for death attacks. I could see this as being a wonderful "Et tu Brute?" moment as you pull your knife out of his gut.
What that wizard forgot is that wind wall only stops arrows and bolts. If you have quickdraw the easy solution is to whip out the throwing weapons and pin cushion him anyways. Slings are also an option that may appeal to halflings. This spell alone might be a key reason to optimize for a sling over a bow and arrow (slingstaff in particular as it can be used as a club and thus threatens adjacent right from level 1).
I like your choice to go for a one handed weapon, although I don't know if I would burn a feat to have an exotic weapon unless it did something special for me (like opening up another string of feats as with nets).
I would consider dropping from a heavy shield to a buckler for the option of going two handed when you are fighting low AC or CR enemies. You lose 1-2 AC and take a -1 penalty to hit, but you can crank out the bonus damage with power attack and the 1.5x str multiplier while you do. Since AC does not scale as well as to hit, I would consider having the ability to dump it for more dps in a case where the AC doesn't help or raw damage output surpasses the need for AC or to hit.
Since you have a decent dex you may want to optimize more towards ranged combat with non-essential feats. This will let you contribute in combats against fliers or when closing with an enemy isn't ideal. I would say point blank shot into precise shot would be a good place to start if you want to go that route. Arrows are also easy to keep around to overcome many types of DR. Maybe carrying a sword made of each kind of material is excessive, but a couple arrows of each kind is money well spent. Also consider throwing weapons (my favorite being daggers) for the same reason. They cost more to make per dagger, but you spend once and can reuse till you are blue in the face. Also nice to have that light weapon at hand for when you get swallowed by a T-Rex.
Also consider picking up a reach weapon. Some enemies can cause significant hurt if you have to stand adjacent to them. A reach weapon alone lets you overcome some of these issues (and remember that reach weapons can attack around corners, unlike standard melee weapons. Its situational, but you have the money to be prepared for that situation). In this same vein you could grab the lunge feat. Also note that reach typically doubles natural reach, so an enlarge person can make you threaten 20ft with a reach weapon.
Consider ways to become more mobile. I've seen many a rogue die because they try to flank and end up flanked by a creatures allies. If you position into a mob of enemies (which may or may not be a good move depending on if you will need your healer to be able to reach you) then you get to soak those attacks instead of your rogue. Since you have a high AC build it is better for you to take the hits. So what I am saying is pump that acrobatics. Don't let the full plate keep you down.
Plate is the best armor in the game... if you're wearing it. Depending on the situation (social norms, sleeping, etc), you may find yourself not in your fullplate. Your enemies will not wait the five minutes or more it takes to get into your armor, so consider a backup. Typically I select a light set of armor with no armor check penalties. You can sleep in it without becoming fatigued (if you feel you need to), it makes a great backup if you are forced to go into a situation where you need to stealth, climb, etc. High AC is nice... until you get caught sneaking into somewhere you shouldn't be or fall off a cliff.
Depending on how you travel and if you are at or nearing encumbrance limits I suggest you look into more gear. A tower shield may tank your to hit number some, but it may be worth it for the cover or AC. Caltrops can be used to help slow or funnel enemies if you have time to choose the location of your battle and a few rounds to prepare. There are many more good options, but I won't go over all of them. Consider getting a handy haversack for items you want to retrieve in combat since it negates the AoO from retrieving a stored item and cuts the action down to a move. For non-combat items or things that just plain don't fit there is the bag of holding, everyone's favorite magic item. Use it, love it. That encumbrance problem may be able to be mitigated via these two items as well.
Overall remember not to neglect your options. High AC and damage are great, but nearly everyone does damage. It's nice to fall back on pounding on people with full attacks, but be prepared for when that isn't an option. Be prepared for when your chosen weapon that you sunk all those feats into isn't the best choice. Be a multiple threat and be prepared, that is the best advice I can give any build.
Trick shot is amazing with the right setup. Once you have improved snapshot you threaten 15ft. This means that anyone who wants to get within 10 feet from you will provoke an attack of opportunity. You have the option to then use certain trick shots in place of an AoO. If you are below level 11 then your best option is a disarm.
Your AoO goes off before the enemy finishes their triggering action, so you end up with a combatant who either has to end their move to pick up their weapon (and get shot in the face for provoking by doing so) or can get all the way to you with their weapon possibly out of range (depending on the creatures reach).
Options get better once you get level 11. Now you can either open with a trip which will cause their movement to stop (thus delaying their ability to do damage to you in melee as they are spending actions to stand, thus further getting shot up) or you can stick with a disarm opening and hope they try to pick up their weapons (which results in an AoO and being tripped). The bonus to the second method is that you don't take the -4 penalty to hit from the enemy being prone on the second AoO. You'll eventually have to deal with it if you trip them anyhow, but delaying it may be situationally better.
Do notice that against any creature who needs to approach to 10 ft or less who has no way of mitigating AoO's by movement that you can shut down a majority of creatures from ever reaching you. If you are mounted you can take your mounts move to back up more then 5 feet before the next round.
Bear in mind you still have the same problem as any CMB based build, certain things can't be tripped, use natural weapons, etc etc. This isn't an I win button, but it sure will have a major impact. As long as you have AoO's to spend this is the gravy train to suck-it town.