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(Quickened) True Strike + the Combat Maneuver application of TK can be pretty potent. Good for bull-rushing people into pits/off cliffs/into prismatic walls, etc...
The combat maneuver feats should work for TK but might not be worth the investment since you can usually only attempt one per round anyway.
The pile of arrows + Flame arrow trick is nice, can be made even more potent with Greater Magic Weapon on top of that. DR is still a pain against this trick, though.
The Foresight school is good for certain applications of TK since it helps you know when you are likely to pull off a combat maneuver (or defeat SR). Transmutation is also a decent option, mostly because of the ridiculously awesome Annihilation Spectacles.
I picked Glitterdust for preferred spell with my own Foresight wizard.
It's 2nd level so you can convert to it from most spell slots, it scales meaningfully with Heighten so you can use higher slots efficiently too, it works on most things, it bypasses SR and it cause a debuff that is crippling in most cases (with some extra utility for defeating concealment when that applies).
Drawbacks are a small area and the fact that they get a new save each round. But even with those drawbacks it's still a highly useful spells that can be applied in most combat situations if you are out of other options.
Focusing on debuffing and control is very effective, but you need to have some tools to deal with immunities. Very few enemies are straight up immune to damage spells (a few are immune to certain elements, of course), but with a focus on debuffs you have to keep immunities in mind when picking spells (constructs, undeads and plants are usually the big offenders, though constructs tend to be immune to many damage spells anyway).
Glitterdust and Slow are among the most excellent debuff spells because they have powerful effects and relatively few monsters are directly immune to them. My divination wizard had Preferred Spell: Glitterdust for this reason - whatever kind of enemy he faced, he could convert his 2+ level spells to Glitterdusts, which would usually work well against almost all creature types (barring extraordinary senses and/or natural blindness).
I agree with you that the PF DD could use a serious capstone, though in most other ways I think it's superior to the old DD.
As for your specific suggestion, I really like giving claws/bite at will - I know many GMs houserule that already, and I don't really think it's overpowered. It's just a way to enable the character to fight as a dragon should all the time instead of a few rounds per day.
I don't think the spellcasting nerf is needed. 3.5 DD was needlessly crippling in this area, and even with the buffs you suggested I don't see a need to reduce spellcasting further than DD already does. The idea of returning some of the levels at the very end just seems a bit wonky and odd to me, I'm not sure it would be very fun in practice.
The half-dragon template as capstone is interesting, but while the stat boosts are handy I am worried that the rest of it overlaps way too much with the capstone of the draconic bloodline. A "pure" dragon disciple (sorc+dd only) can get access to the Draconic capstone at level 16 with a robe of arcane heritage (which many sorcerors use), so just 1 level after getting these powers from the prc.
That seems needlessly redundant. I think it would be better to offer something that doesn't overlap with the bloodline capstone itself (or something that becomes further buffed when you also get the bloodline capstone). I don't know what it should be, exactly, but I agree that a meaningful capstone is sorely needed (as it is nobody takes the last two levels of DD).
A good basic principle is to always have the best Cloak of Resistance you can afford. Saves should not be underestimated, especially not for sorcerors, who tend to have weak saves.
Robe of Arcane Heritage is nice, as mentioned. For Draconic it will help your breath weapon and give you earlier access to Wings and better natural armor. Great value - but unfortunately won't stack with armor since it takes the same slot.
Rods of Quicken are extremely useful, and with the kind of cash you've got you should be able to afford a regular one (lvl 1-6 spells) which is guaranteed to be immensely helpful. Even a Lesser is a very good item.
I forget what they're called, but I think there are some boots in the Magic Item Compendium in 3.5 that gives you short-range teleportation with a move action a few times per day. Those could be quite handy for a caster to get out of trouble - and probably useful than many of the PF alternatives to the boot slot (which I always thought were a bit lackluster).
Ring of Freedom of Movement is an amazing, if slightly pricey, defensive item. Grappling is one of the worst things that can happen to a spellcaster, and this negates that completely - in addition to a range of other nasty effects.
It could also be useful for teaching various characteristics of the fantasy genre in a more interactive way (assuming genre studies is something they do when studying literature), in addition to all the useful stuff already posted.
I am also a high school teacher and I've often thought about using PF to help teach English as a second language - but that's probably not applicable in your case.
I don't think Magician is *that* horrible. It does have some nice stuff going for it, though I would agree that many of its powers are very badly designed.
The biggest attraction is the ability to pull spells from other lists. This is particularly potent with the Summoner list, since it can grant you early access to some relatively powerful spells. Unfortunately the truly powerful stuff is outside the range of PFS levels, but you can still get some nice things.
Ill Omen from the Witch list is probably a nice choice for an off-list 1st level - it's a very good spell that stays relevant, and it fits perfectly with your idea of making other spellcasters better at what they do.
The other nice feature is that you can rock a Dispel check higher than most other casters thanks to Dweomercraft. You might play on this strength further and get traits and feats to crank up the CL of Dispel Magic even more, which will make you pretty good at dispelling and counterspelling stuff.
Remember that while you lose Inspire Courage you DO get Inspire Greatness, so you still have some music to buff martial types when your anti-caster performances(ie: Dweomercraft. Spell Suppression is indeed useless!) aren't needed.
Mythic Arcane Strike is really, really good. That could help a bit with your damage in melee (hint: Bane is your go-to enchantment of choice in almost all cases - unless perhaps DR/alignment is involved or you're fighting a mix of enemies, then Holy (or equivalent) could be better).
+2 to hit and +2d6+2 damage on every attack is nothing to sneeze at.
You might also want to look at mythic versions of many of the traditional bard buff spells, so you can at least act as a force multiplier even though you lack individual optimization. For example, Mythic Heroism is pretty cool (+4 to almost everything!) and lasts a long time.
Yeah, Blessing of Fervor is almost Haste+.
Sure, you have to choose the benefits each round, but since you very rarely move and full-attack in the same round it doesn't matter that you can't get both speed and the extra attack at the same time. So all you really miss out on is +1 to attack and AC - and the benefits are well worth it (especially the option to stand up from prone with a swift action without provoking! Godsend against trip-happy monsters).
I would make an archaeologist. Since you want to be full-attacking a lot, being able to activate your luck with a swift action from level 1 is a big deal. On yourself it's even better than inspire courage because it also buffs saves and skills.
Sure, your party will be missing out on your music, but you still get all the juicy buff spells from the bard list to make them happy. You even get to use those buffs that have anti-synergy with Inspire Courage and don't work as well for a normal bard, such as the excellent Gallant Inspiration.
You also get Evasion, which is a very big deal. You have a good base Reflex save, Dex will be your highest stat, you'll have Luck active most of the time and you'll likely have Heroism/Good Hope as well. Your Reflex will be through the roof (and your other saves will be pretty good too), so you'll be spending all game laughing gleefully at fireballs and dragons' breath.
Finally, the rogue talents you get will help you counter the feat-starved nature of the archer bard.
Wizard/Cleric/Mystic Theurge. Not optimal in-game, but it gives me the best access to reality-twisting powers of all varieties, as well as a lot of buffs to keep myself alive.
Wizards of course get the coolest spell lists, but the ability to cure any disease, heal any wounds and even bring back the dead would be insanely valuable in real life, for obvious reasons. Though I'd try to keep my powers a secret, otherwise I imagine everyone on earth would constantly seek me out to make use of my powers.
Mythic would be dual Hierophant/Archmage. Immortality and the one where you don't need to eat, drink, breathe or sleep would be primary picks for powers. Otherwise mostly defensive stuff to help ensure my survival.
I play a Dragon Disciple in WotR right now, it's a lot of fun.
I'm going for a "pure" dragon disciple (sorceror 12/DD 8 - because no one takes the last two levels of DD) who is a hybrid between casting and melee, but I'm still going to max out my strength as much as possible.
My BAB won't really be a problem, especially since I intend to go for Shapeshifting Mastery (archmage path ability) to buff my BAB greatly when in Dragon Form.
If you lean towards the martial side Champion might seem tempting, but don't underestimate the power of Archmage even for a martial build. Look at Enduring Armor, for example, or the aforementioned Shapeshifting Mastery. Mage's Strike might also be useful, though I chose to pass it up because of the sheer awesomeness of Wild Arcana.
Also, Mythic Bloodline + Wild Arcana + Coupled arcana will give you a buffed breath weapon, extra uses of said breath weapon and the ability to cast a spell with the same action when you breathe fire at people. A neat little trick.
Mythic spellcasting might also be useful. Mythic Heroism will help cover your big weaknesses (low saves, few skill points - and low BAB early on) and at high levels the mythic versions of Form of the Dragon will make you even more potent. Mythic Fly (augmented) can also boost your AC and saves quite significantly at higher tiers.
Also, DO take Mythic Arcane Strike. It's ridiculously good - even at tier 1 it lets you apply Bane to all your natural weapons spontaneously.
With my current Dragon Disciple I've chosen to prioritize strength over charisma, even though I intend to play him as a hybrid caster/melee. The logic is that if I buff Cha and skip Strength I won't be able to melee succesfully against bigger enemies at all(especially given relatively poor BAB), but if I buff strength and "skip" Cha (of course making sure I can meet minimum spell requirements) I can still be a fine spellcaster when I use spells that do not allow saving throws.
But if your plan is to be the magic dragon it's probably sensible enough to focus on Cha. My only worry is that it feels like many of the class features (like str boost and bite) are wasted if you don't play the melee aspect a little. Thus I wanted to be able to do both.
Mythic opens up some interesting new ways for arcane casters to stack armor bonuses - something that isn't normally viable for them.
Enduring Armor is the easy choice - mage armor that eventually scales up to 13.
Augmented Mythic Fly on top of that is another potential +10 Dodge bonus to AC (and +10 to reflex saves).
Add in the Mythic Paragon feat and both bonuses increase by 2.
That's +27 AC just using Dodge and Armor bonuses. Of course you can't have Fly active all day, but extended it can still last a good amount of time. Extend Spell actually becomes quite a bit better as a feat in Mythic because Mythic Power uses are much more precious than spell slots in most cases, so the tradeoff when extending Mythic buffs is very nice.
Arcane shapeshifters also love mythic.
Shapeshifting Mastery + Mythic Arcane Strike together negate some of the main drawbacks of polymorphing.
Your bad BAB is boosted to full, and you won't be in critical need of Amulet of Mighty Fists since you can buff all of your natural weapons with an enchantment of your choice with a swift action. This includes Bane, which is hilariously powerful when you have the power to apply it spontaneously as needed.
Your AC can also benefit fully from the aforementioned spells and powers while you are shapeshifted - in addition to the natural armor you get from polymorphing in the first place.
If you need to cast spells while polymorphed you can take component freedom a few times - or just be a dragon :-)
Archer Paladin is also incredibly solid if you like martial characters. You'll have nice AC and great saving throws, but also incredible offensive power. Especially when figting evil targets, of course.
Feats are easy, since most archers need some very specific. Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Shot, Manyshot. Probably deadly aim for extra damage. You'll miss out on Clustered Shots, but since you are a paladin you can usually just smite to bypass DR of key targets anyway.
The only real drawback to Paladin is the RP restrictions.
Otherwise any full caster will be powerful, even in Core only. Battlefield control wizard ala Treatmonk is always a potent build, for example. Druid is also a nice choice - tons of powerful class features and can work as both a caster and a melee hybrid.
Try to google The Celestial Aeon Project.
It's a great collection of purely instrumental music specifically designed for fantasy settings. It has calm and soothing tracks for quiter momemts, and upbeat stuff for combat and exploration. Perfect for background music, I've used it a lot for my campaigns.
Best of all, most of it is available legally and for free.
EDIT: Here's a link for it.
Your own ideas sound nice and balanced, I think.
You could perhaps also make a lower level version of Winds of Vengeance. It's an awesome spell fluffwise, but it's a bit weak for a 9th level spell so I think one could justify a lower level version (perhaps even without changing that much).
We're currently at the end of module 5 in CC, with a 4-man party (oracle, druid, sorceror and inquisitor).
At the end of this chapter Luvick will offer the players the reward of vampirism. I know the sorceror will take it, and it is possible the Inquisitor will go for it as well.
This will obviously give them a significant boost in power - especially the sorceror. I can always buff later encounters to compensate, but right now I mostly worry a bit about balance within the party.
I thought it might help if I came up with some other bonuses for the more good-aligned members of the party (druid and oracle). Perhaps some divinely granted reward for those who stay on the path of virtue instead of succumbing to the corruption of undeath. They have all been blessed by Desna at the stairs of the moon, but it could also be related to their individual deities (which I think are Sarenrae and Erastil).
So what I need is suggestions for mechanical benefits to give them that would fit divine fluff and be helpful to a wildshape druid and a healer oracle. Doesn't have to be as good as vampirism, necessarily, but just a little boost so they don't get left out. I thought about perhaps some kind of limited access to mythic power (which I plan to introduce fully at the very end of the adventure anyway), but beyond that I don't have specific ideas yet. Any suggestions are most welcome.
We just started chapter II in WotR, and so far it seems that "beacon of hope on the battlefield" is a VERY good role for the heroes.
There are actually built-in mechanics in the adventure path related to keeping up the morale of the NPCs you will be working together with, even though you face hopeless odds and travel in a bleak and scarred world. So concept number one would certainly be both thematically fitting and mechanically useful.
The second idea could obviously also work. That's part of my own character's motivation in the AP - one of the background traits in the player's guide is basically this.
[Rite Publishing] In the Company of Dragons Playtest Cover Preview (You know you want to play a dragon!)
There's nothing that party decidedly lacks, so feel free to play whatever you like. There might be a slight skill shortage, but with good planning such a big party should be able to cover the bases.
Bladebound Kensai is an optimizer's favourite for a reason. I imagine it would only become more amazing when the various mythic stat boosts and Mythic weapon finesse are thrown in. Dex to damage! Int and Dex to AC! Int and Dex to initiative. More than viable as a build for mythic, I would think.
Bards can also do well in mythic, especially as Marshals. Inspired Defense makes Inspire Courage insanely good (buffs all saves and adds your tier to the buff). Your party will love you, though your individual damage potential and defense will probably be less than with a Kensai.
I also play a gish in Wrath of the Righteous at the moment, though I went with a Dragon Disciple build. Seems to work quite well so far, and the fluff of draconic blood fits really well into a mythic setting.
A physical collapse of the enemy fortress should work well enough, like MrSinn also suggested.
Just make sure you have a carefully drawn map of the entire area on your battlegrid beforehand. Eeach round more hazards and obstacles (which you planned out in advance) are added to the map at various places - collapsed pillars, rubble, fires starting, etc... The PCs have to get out quickly before the area collapses entirely, but the minions of the boss are still fighting to keep them in (or also fighting to reach the way out, competing with the PCs!)
Some of the most memorable encounters of the campaigns I have played had elements of this - one was a burning building with rapidly spreading fire attacked by undead creatures, another a battle arena which was ravaged by earthquakes that left gaping cracks in the ground all over the place.
It's pretty nice, a staple of many gish builds involving bard or sorceror.
I'd even argue it could be useful if you plan on focusing on casting. You trade two levels of spell progression for some extra natural armor, a d12 HD, slightly better saves and some interesting class features. Probably not worth it from a strict power perspective, but still a nice option if you want to make your sorceror a little less squishy.
Check Oterisk's Guide to the Dragon Disciple for some good advice and many examples of possible builds.
Archer Paladin is pretty good at ripping the BBEG apart. Lots of attacks + Smite Evil = plenty of pain against evil opponents.
Also comes with a very resilient chassis thanks to high Dex + Divine Grace, so it's relatively unlikely that you'll be incapacitated before you can unleash your righteous wrath.
In general ranged builds tend to do pretty good damage. I hear Gunslinger performs well too, but I don't have much experience with those. But Fighter, Ranger or even Zen Archer Monk can all pull off some pretty nice ranged damage. Inquisitor too, actually.
I would probably go for wizard if you want casting to be your focus. Sure you'll miss out on +1 dc from Cha with Gnome, but since wizards gets higher level slots faster it's easy to compensate using heighten spell, persistent spell or the simple fact that you get the higher level illusions faster.
Illusion also gets some pretty nice school powers. The ability to cast Greater Invisibility as a swift action in particular is AMAZING. That's the equivalent of an 8th level spell slot at level 8.
Being a prepared caster can be a little annoying, but with an illusionist you can still achieve a degree of spontaneous casting once you start to get the Shadow COnjuration/Shadow Evocation line of spells. Those essentially give you spontaneous access to entire spell lists. As a hidden perk they also let you summon stuff as a standard action (summons won't have much HP, but summons usually aren't made to survive for long anyway).
It gives all of the above, like all PRCs that progress spellcasting in one or more classes.
The only exception is spells known for wizards and other prepared arcane casters - they don't get their 2 "freebies" on level-up when they take a PRC, but can still add spells to their spellbook with time and money, as usual.
Alchemist is nice. You have both bombs, extracts and mutagen right from the start. Probably a pretty decent supply of bomb doing quite good damage at that level - much more than an actual blaster wizard confined to something crappy like burning hands would manage.
I *think* they would stack in both cases. Bane explicitly says that the enhancement bonus becomes 2 better than normal - and the current enchancement bonus would be whatever GMW/GMF brought it up to.
Rogue is a nice choice. You could also go for one of the other "skillful" characters like Bard, Alchemist or Inquisitor. Some Bard archetypes from the APG can even get trapfinding, though it's not strictly necessary to have that.
But nothing is strictly *needed* in that party, so like the others I think you should just play what you want.
Grace! Always Grace. I just finished playing a support Oracle from 1-15 and I promise that it will save your life SO many times.
Prayer is a decent party buff at low levels. But later on you'll probably be casting Blessing of Fervor instead (but then you can just trade it in for something else).
Dispel Magic is always nice to have, but perhaps it doesn't need to be the first choice.
Shapeshifting Mastery. It's on the PFSRD too.
I'm making a Dragon Disciple with a similar concept (only Sorc 3 currently and not mythic yet), and I plan to rely heavily on this ability at higher levels, when my real BAB starts to lag behind.
Keep in mind that Command is also language-dependent in addition to being mind-affecting. Which makes it even more likely to be resisted, unless you make an effort to have access to Tongues and/or Speak with Animals when necessary.
I play a level 3 sorceror going for DD right now - this is how I did the 15 point buy:
Not too happy with the low Dex, but at least the natural armor bonuses will help compensate for the lack of armor eventually. Int 12 is just because I have a skill point compulsion, it's not strictly necessary.
I intend to focus on strength to keep melee as a powerful option, but you will probably have to decide between pumping strength and charisma, depending on how much you want to focus on spells.
Travel Domain cleric qualifies for Agility at 7 and doesn't need to multiclass to make a decent melee character. You will probably want to use the Theologian archetype or find another way to cast domain spells more than once per day.
I don't think the Mindchemist dip is worth it. For a +2 increase to DCs for 10 minutes (at best a couple of times per day) you trade off spell progression, hex progression and - interestingly - +½ to your hex DCs from witch levels that works *all day*.
Even DC 26 is pretty impressive for level 11, I don't think you have to invest that many resources increasing it further. Also remember that many hexes can be kept up indefinitely even if enemies save, thanks to Cackle.
Monks start with an average of 35 gp, not 10 gp. So most monks would be able to afford a regular shortbow.
I think it's fine that they can't necessarily afford a composite bow at level 1 - the fighter won't be able to afford a full plate either.
But I agree you'd be off to a pretty sad start if you roll 10 or 20 g for starting gold - in that case I would try to borrow a little cash from one of the other players (which of course only works if you either know each other beforehand or start out in a city with shopping options)
Neutral Evil Urban Druid with the Charm domain. Focus on mental manipulation of people and animals.
The character's philosophy would be heavily inspired by Social Darwinism - people are basically animals no matter what they try to pretend, and only the strong will take control and survive.
Can work well as a party face thanks to lots of enchantment spells coupled with Alter Self at will as early as 6th level.
Oh yes, it takes a while for Contagious Flame to come online - I misrembered it as a 5th level spell, but it's 6th. It IS on the Magus list, though - you shouldn't need spell blending?
Until then metamagicked Scorching Rays are probably your best bet.
COntagious Flame is pretty nice - it's like a Schorching Ray that keeps scaling until 19th level. The main drawback is that its "contagious" effect is not as effective as advertised - since usually it's best to fire all rays at one target, but contagious encourages you to spread them out.
But it's still quite serviceable just as a Schorching Ray with extra attacks and possibly some free bonus damage the following round.
I'm making a Dragon Disciple for our Wrath of the Righteous run (starting tonight). Always wanted to try one, and they can be built well for both melee combat, blasting and both.
I will go for the melee option since I've already played several blasters. A lot of mythic abilities interact well with the DD, I think. Especially Shapeshifting Mastery which can help your BAB stay competitive in Dragon Form even if you focus on sorceror levels.
I don't think blasting is necessarily a bad option either, since many Mythic Spells/powers eventually give you options to bypass energy resistance, spell resistance or both. And the Elemental Bond power can seriously buff your CL with fire spells if you go that route.
Mythic Vital Strike is ridiculously powerful, though. Especially since every mythic character gets Amazing Initiative. You get to multiply all static bonuses to Vital Strike making it the actual near-equivalent of a full-attack - and you can do it twice per round if you burn mythic power.
Scrolls can also be used even if you don't know the spell, as long as you can decipher them with Read Magic or Spellcraft. They do have a caster level requirement (but it only requires a fairly easy check to overcome), unlike wands.
But yeah, your GM is wrong.
"Activation: Wands use the spell trigger activation method..."
"Spell Trigger: Spell trigger activation is similar to spell completion, but it's even simpler. No gestures or spell finishing is needed, just a special knowledge of spellcasting that an appropriate character would know, and a single word that must be spoken. Spell trigger items can be used by anyone whose class can cast the corresponding spell. This is the case even for a character who can't actually cast spells, such as a 3rd-level paladin. The user must still determine what spell is stored in the item before she can activate it. Activating a spell trigger item is a standard action and does not provoke attacks of opportunity."
The important bit is "whose class can cast the spell" - so it must be on the class list, but you don't have to know it. The Paladin example really underlines that - he can use wands even before he can cast spells AT ALL :-)
Note that it doesn't say it "works like the spell Teleportation". There's therefore no reason to assume it has similar limitations.
Compare to a Conjuration wizard's Dimensional Slide which specifically says it works like Dimension Door (and is thus subject to the same limitations).
I think it's intended. Otherwise Forbid Action, Greater would be in every way worse than Command, Greater (though admittedly that's already true of regular Forbid Action).
There are a lot of powers that completely lock things down which allow a save each round, but FA is a "soft" lockdown (often leaving enemies room to either flee or use ranged attacks) so I think it makes sense that it offers less saves.
A ranger (of all classes!) with the Guide archetype can potentially cast 3 spell in one turn under his own power, since he has a power that grants him an extra swift action.
And as has been mentioned, anyone can pull off extra actions teamed up with a friendly Pathfinder Chronicler or Bard (Heroic Finale).
As Slim said, it's not possible.
Balance-wise there might not be too many issues with houseruling trading standard for swift, but move for swift would clearly be unbalanced in some cases (like spells or other offensive powers with swift action activation time which you could suddenly throw twice as many times in a round).
Yeah, put me in the "it's great fun!" pool. Much more interesting than just being stunned or paralyzed, you actually get to play your character being evil (or at least being counterproductive in some way - sometimes smart opponents don't directly order you to attack your teammates because they know that will grant a second save.)
Certainly not "bad form" - but of course there's a good reason most players fear dominate spells, as they can turn the tables of combat faster than many other things.