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I feel obliged to weigh in here. "AC doesn't matter unless it's awesome" is one of the big myths we perpetrate on these forums, in defiance on basic, basic, basic math.
Before we get to this basic math, let's get two things out of the way:
Wizards get SWUNG AT less than fighters. All defensive options are slightly less appealing, just because those defensive options come into play less. Figure out how much you care about defense, and then evaluate your defensive options.
Wizards also have some nonconventional options (greater invis, fly, gaseous form, etc) that effectively make them unable to be hit by certain things.
But, fundamentally, assuming somebody can miss you on a natural 2, +1 AC costs the wizard the same amount it costs the fighter. The wizard can upgrade in all the same slots as the fighter (buckler, bracers, ring, amulet, etc). And every +1 he gets has a FLAT 5% chance, per swing, of saving him from being hit.
Thaaat's how AC works. The investment doesn't suddenly become better or more efficient because you have high AC. 5% chance!
So, obviously, you may have things you want more, on a wizard. You may value defense less because you don't get swung at as much, or because you have ways to avoid getting swung at entirely. But because of the polynomial (squared) cost structure of the price of AC, you're silly if you don't buy up the low-end AC items at some point.
whores. you are totally right.
Stupid question: Isn't this problem easily solved by taking eldritch heritage: arcane and making the longspear your bonded weapon?
It's not, honestly, like buffer bards have an assortment of good feats. It's Improved Initiative, Lingering Song, and Dischordant Voice. Those are actually the only 3 feats that should be blue - everything else is pretty superfluous. Plenty of feats left over to pick up an arcane focus by level 7 or 9, when you can afford a banner.
-Cross (You don't get a familiar, but whatever.)
Emmit Svenson wrote:
How to prevent your BoAK from being sundered. This is actually fairly difficult. Here's what my brainstorming has produced:
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE BANNER TO WORK:
a.) Pole or spear of at least 8 feet
1.) This guy doesn't need to actually attack. ...nothing much preventing him from putting his banner on like, a 30 foot pole. At least make it hard as hell for a non-giant melee guy to attack it. Ok, this is like a C- idea.
2.) ...can't we just cast invis on the banner? It's an object, and we're not going to attack with it. Would make it hard as hell to detect, and therefore attempt to sunder. If the bad guys don't know it's there, seems like they won't sunder it. This _feels_ wrong, though - how does the party get inspired by a banner they can't see. Still, we're going with a B+ idea here.
3.) ...can we somehow make an item immune to sunder? I haven't found a convenient way to do this. Build an adamantium cage? Not terribly expensive (couple of thousand). Still, looks dumb. I'm going with B- here.
4.) Obviously, you can just spam windy escape attempts to save your poor flag, once a round. Vulnerable to multiple sunders a round, spends resources and immediate actions. C- idea.
5.) Flying helps a lot, because you have to be in melee to sunder. Lots of times you can't do this. Similar to (1).
Ultimately, I think invising the item is probably the best RAW way to prevent it from being sundered, or flying.
RAW, easy to get around. Might annoy the piss out of your DM:
Your turn starts.
Very nice guide. Couple things.
1.) Blistering Invective is worth your time. Guaranteed standard action to turn almost all your enemies shaken for a round or two (that intimidate check is facile to make), and do a bit of damage.
2.) I think your 3rd level spell list is a bit questionable. Specifically, you're missing out on:
2a.) Glibness, a spell so good it's almost broken. Auto-success on a bluff check is just ridiculous. Can't emphasize this enough.
2b.) Symphony of the Elysian heart pretty much negates the need for mass featherstep, because you can freedom of movement everybody on the cheap.
2c.) Sculpt Sound is a really excellent utility spell that no bard should be without.
Looks good to me, Crosswind. Although once again, unless you play a Maenid or something I'm overlooking, you'll need at least 8 levels of one or the other until you can access Beyond Morality, so it might have to be 8 Barb/4 Paladin/8 Barb which alters things slightly, but should still play pretty similarly.
Yeah, plays pretty much identically, except it sucks a bit more at earlier levels, because the first 4 levels of paladin are frontloaded as hell.
Here's my take on a similar thing to what VM did:
Human Oath of Vengeance Paladin (4) Barbarian Invulnerable Rager (16):
Level 1 (P): Power Attack, Combat Reflexes (Smite)
Negatives for my build:
Same basic idea, I think the feat/class progression is a little more optimized in my case.
Not sure if this is what you're asking, but I think the most useful book you could give a person who wants to play in your DND campaign is a fantasy book which fits the overall theme of your campaign.
Get people in the right mood, brain spinning, etc.
Not really. I'm pretty sure my synthesist here (http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2pbrv?Beastmass-A-challenge-to-Master-MinMaxer s) is the only character that doesn't rely on winning initiative or a big save-or-die spell to kill every big monster in the game without resting. Hell, he doesn't even need to buff.
While synthesists never acquire the unparalleled late-game utility of pure casters (due to summoners' somewhat limited spell list), they still are leaps and bounds better than any melee class, while being way more survivable than any spellcaster.
They basically have no weaknesses, early or late game.
Synthesists can get nearly unhittable AC with large damage and good saves very easily, while only being dependent on one stat(charisma) and being full casters. They have very few weaknesses.
The problem is that there are about 3 ways to actually deal with a synthesist, and GMs get bored doing those 3 things to them every fight, so they just (correctly) ban the class.
Brad McDowell wrote:
...WELL, you could look at it this way instead. Belt of Dwarvenkind isn't EXACTLY the same.
It costs 1 item slot + 25k to get to evasion.
To get to the skill bonus, darkvision, and +1 to all saves costs 10k (ioun stone) + 12k (goggles of night) + pittance for the skill bonus
which isn't as imbalanced as buying the dwarf item. So we have either proven that Belt of Dwarvenkind is overpowered (it sorta is), or goggles of night are ridiculously overpriced (it sort of is), or some combo. =)
-Cross (Note that I'm trying to keep the "number of slots used" the same, which is why I buy an ioun stone instead of something else)
Robert A Matthews wrote:
As the Pathfinder Advice Board's Greatest Defender of Cleave and Great Cleave, I am a big fan of the Captain America SLAM-CLEAVE wherein our hero knocks all enemies near him back a bunch and on their asses.
I mean, it's got to be the freaking heavy crossbow, right?
Takes 2 hands.
There's just nothing worse.
Any melee weapon that you can finesse, you can TWF and murder things with.
Hell, even the Crossbowman archetype sucks.
You can't do reasonable DPR with a heavy crossbow. It just sucks. I humbly submit that it is the worst weapon in the game to specialize in. I'll make a trade: Somebody else make an optimized heavy crossbow user, and demand that I prove that ANY WEAPON OF THEIR CHOICE is worse, and I will make a weapon user of their weapon that does higher DPR.
By itself, it's not awesome.
With Foehammer (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/races/core-races/dwarf/foehammer-fighter-dwarf), it's sort of amazing. You can basically prevent enemies from ever getting a single attack off of on you, by knocking them 10 feet back and prone any time they get close. =)
I think I wrote a post on how to do this a while ago. You're basically going to run into two problems:
1.) Monsters and NPCs are going to outscale the party, without the party having magic items
2.) How the heck to let PCs play spellcasters?!
My proposed solution to (1), at the time, were pretty simple:
At level 3 and every 4 levels thereafter, everybody gets +1 to attack and damage.
This is pretty rough, but it basically emulates the power of AC-boosting items, resist cloaks, magic weapons, and stat-boosting items, which are generally the most important things PCs buy.
(2) is more of a roleplay-y thing, which you've got some good examples on already. Think you have a reasonable handle on this already, but some more suggestions.
a.) Powerful NPCs should seek to control magic-users. Weak NPCs should be terrified of them - lynch mobs with pitchforks and torches
b.) Make magic creepy - describe it well, and even your player will think twice about using it.
The "Don't attack him!" guys are promoting a sort of dickish strategy. It's tactically optimal, but flawed: it's not letting your player shine - the whole @#$%ing poing of his build is to be hard to hit. Have people try to hit him. And fail.
Two big ideas, which probably have been mentioned, though:
1.) Pre-written APs are frequently crushed by even slightly-optimized parties. They work best if you modify a little bit. Add in a few more slightly lower-level monsters, some guaranteed-damage spellthrowers (magic missile), etc.
2.) In situations that can be problematically static (tight hallways, doorways, etc), make sure you give the party some incentive to be mobile. Players _like_ moving around, positioning, etcetera. A dungeon crawl that takes place with everybody phalanxing in a doorway every combat is lame. Some low-level spellcasters, some boiling oil, all can make an encounter a lot more interesting without actually making it much harder.
Brad McDowell wrote:
...err, what? Why wouldn't you get Evasion as a half-orc also?
If cthulhu can be defeated even withouth mythic ranks (and by a single character!), what could be a possible real challenge for a optimised party of level 20 with 10 mythic ranks? A god? We would need stats for those.
We should probably clarify that there is plenty of room in between optimized and the builds which are presented, which are really, really, really optimized.
A careful reading of the Flagbearer feat shows that you cannot attach it to a longspear and get the bonus. You must carry the flag in a free hand.
Yeah. Which is what I thought until I read Banner of the Ancient Kings: http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic-items/wondrous-items/wondrous-items/a-b/banne r-of-the-ancient-kings
I ended up concluding that flagbearer is s$!#tily written. =)
A few quotes: "As long as the longspear or pole to which the banner is attached is firmly wielded in two hands..."
"If the banner’s carrier possesses the Flagbearer feat, the banner of the ancient kings doubles the morale bonuses granted by that feat"
So, by your reading, if I had a banner of the ancient kings attached to the longspear: I would get no bonus from the flagbearer feat, and thus doubling it would do nothing. Very sad for me.
I conclude, thus, that Flagbearer is pretty okay with you attaching a flag to a spear, getting its bonuses, and moving on with life.
That said, if you want to go hardcore Rules-As-Written on a pretty poorly-worded feat: Attach a flag to your longspear. Stab people with it on your turn. Wave it around in one hand on other people's turns.
Yeah, no big deal. Pick literally any race you want, it works fine with the build. You'll have 1 less +1 at level 8 (big freaking deal), and the stat bonus isn't as perfect.
If you want to be super party face, just go:
As base stats. Pick literally any race with a charisma bonus, and follow the build above.
While versatile performance is nice, you'll have 7 skill points per level (8 if you go favored class, 9 if you go human), which is enough to rank up everything you need to maximum. You'll be plenty effective in melee, amazing out of combat, and generally great support.
Hey - I am dumb, not super-sure what you mean by core. If Aasimar doesn't work for you, human or really any other race works fine. Aasimar's a touch better.
Hey OP. Bards experience a big power spike at level 7, so level 6 is a bit lackluster, but here's a (very, very, very) good support build. Your rogue will probably have most of the skills taken care of.
Aasimar (Angel-Blooded), Arcane Duelist
Str 16 (+2)
1.) Lingering Song, (Arcane Strike)
Take Aasimar favored class bonus for Inspire Courage. It doesn't pay off yet, but it will soon.
Meanwhile, you are pretty good at melee - 18 strength and arcane strike means you won't be able to be ignored. You can take power attack at 7 if you like.
Regarding Song Management:
Regarding Spell Management:
For level 2 spells, well, they're all good. Blistering Invective is a great second-round action if you can tag a lot of enemies with it, silence is situationally incredible, and the merits of glitterdust have been discussed.
I generally use Gallant Inspiration if it will get somebody to confirm a crit with a x3 or greater multiplier (thaaat's a lot of damage), or for a particularly important out of combat skill roll (critical trap-disable, diplomacy, and the like).
Bards are incredibly good in pathfinder. Enjoy, and feel free to ask any questions about the build. I'm currently playing a half-orc version of this!
Swift is fine, immediate is bad. Alternatively, make it a resistance bonus (so it's not useful at high levels), cap it at +5, and it's a fine level 1 spell too.
Immediate + Resistance Bonus + 5 cap = sort of useful at low levels, won't see much play later.
Swift + Sacred + Swift Action = Won't see much play at all, until high levels, when it will be up all the time.
I'd prefer the first.
You can absolutely run situations like this. The key is to make sure that there are _lots_ of possible options for PCs to take, not one. And that the PCs understand what they are. I think about 99% of unsatisfying encounters in DND come from the players and the GM having different visions of what's happening.
You have listed one: run away!
Ideally, you should have done the following:
1.) Made it _wildly_ clear to the PCs that they couldn't handle the thing in a straight-up combat. Like, if they think they can handle the allosaurus, have a bigger dinosaur come and just _crush_ it.
2.) Pre-fight, have shown the PCs some theoretical ways they could escape. Example:
2a.) Perception check to notice that the beast can't seem to knock over/fit through certain types of trees.
2b.) Geography check to note that there's probably a gorge around here
2c.) Survival check to know how to distract one/hide from one
3.) Give some environmental factors they could maybe use to win the fight if they wanted to. Nearby unstable tree to land on it, boulders, quicksand...
Another option: Up the ante. Have a herd of stampeding stegosauri interrupt. Now, the PCs have an enemy they can't fight (a herd), and a clear objective (omg, be anywhere but here).
Finally, and I can't stress this enough: It's fine to kill the PC, but make it satisfying. If the samurai wants to sacrifice himself, and the party can't talk him out of it, let him do it, and have it mean the difference between the party getting away and them getting munched.
The player will enjoy it, and the party will remember it fondly. Don't be grouchy about it.
Here's some creepy stuff to do:
1.) Have animals around the party be freaking out. Making a lot of noise, clearing out.
2.) Find a farmer's daughter or somebody kicked to death.
3.) Swaddle a redcap in an infant's wrap (so you can see only his eyes), and use his crying as a lure for the party (into redcap ambush).
Vital Strike is sort of like the cleave line - it makes you better when you're at your worst, with only a standard action.
Except that, unlike Cleave, it doesn't really let you tackle any scenarios you couldn't tackle already. If there's a single foe, and you need single target damage, you're probably going to be able to line up a full attack this round or the next. Where as the cleave line at least makes you a terrifying metal fireball that can potentially do way more AOE damage than you'd put out with a full attack.
May I interject a simple proposal to Mr. Deth (staunch defender of summoning classes) and Mr. Maissen (staunch advocate for the liberation of summoned creatures)?
While it's good of you to argue over rules interpretations, neither of you are actually helping the OP. As BOTH OF YOU AGREE, if the summoner can communicate with the creatures, they will do what he wants. Communication is not a particularly difficult roadblock. So, best case, you're being a little annoying to your PC, and a summoner is equivalently effective in combat. So your argument has little to do with how effective summoners are, power-wise.
Likewise, the argument that the DM should run the NPCs is the rare (and beautiful) suggestion that actually runs counter to what the DM wants to do: speed up combat and prevent the MS from slowing it down. The DM has the _most_ dice to roll already. Having him roll the MS's dice to does not in any way streamline the process except to require very precise instructions to be relayed to the DM, adding delay.
My original point stands: Master summoners are a problematic class, as pretty much everybody agrees, because they are the best in the game at the most flexible/overpowered/difficult-to-run mechanic, which is summoned monsters.
I very much suggest the pre-rolling technique used above, in conjunction with turn time limits, to mitigate the effects of the master summoner. Average damage on all summoned monster hits can help too.
Mitigating power without specifically targeting the player is more difficult. Pretty much all levelheaded PF experts agree that the summoner is problematic (though, as evidenced here, you will always get some "NOTHING IN PF IS IMBALANCED" folks), and the Synthesist and Master Summoner the most so. To be honest, you're going to have to work pretty darn hard to prevent other characters from feeling overshadowed if your summoner knows what he's doing.
But the suggestions in this thread are pretty good.
I think you will find that
1.) Your solution only works when you have a level 11+ caster enemy, which is not abundant against level 7 summoners in Carrion Crown.
2.) If you trade your standard action (cast greater dispel magic) for a 50% chance of countering a player's standard action (summon monsters), and he can do his action WAY more times per day than you can do yours, and he has a bunch of friends who also have standard actions...you're not going to be very effective.
TLDR: I wish it weren't so, but dispel magic is a pretty awful use of an action in Pathfinder. =/
OP - you're not wrong. Master Summoner is a complete disaster of an archetype, tacked on to summoner, which is pretty much a complete disaster of a class. Your experience is shared by many. I'd like to highlight some very good advice from above:
1.) Turn Time Limit. If you trust your player not to cheat, have him spend other people's turns rolling the attacks/damage for his minions. Then, on his turn, he can just ask "Does this hit? Does this hit?", etc, and tally the damage from the attacks that hit.
2.) If you want a fight to be even, there's a few things you can do:
2a.) Protection from <summoner alignment> pretty much shuts down all summoned critters, and is outrageously hard to dispel. Same with circle of protection from <summoner alignment>
2b.) Lots and lots of AOE damage.
2c.) Chokepoints - if there are only a few places a fight can happen, a mass of summons is less useful
2d.) Specific anti-summon weapons, like Runeforged: Liberal (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic-items/magic-weapons/magic-weapons-non-core/r uneforged-weapon?tmpl=%2Fsystem%2Fapp%2Ftemplates%2Fprint%2F).
Hope this helps.
Okay, if we're talking sheer damage, I'm re-thinking my love of crane style over snake style.
Basically, snake style is useless until Snake Fang. But monks can get to pretty silly AC by mid levels without working too hard at it, and being virtually guaranteed to get your full suite of AoOs on a giant-dex character until opponents realize not to attack you is sort of amazing.
I think the following causes less experienced GMs trouble:
By and large, when you have a save-or-#@$%'d caster in the game, you only have one (or, let's say, one caster per save, ref/fort/will).
So the way to deal with him is easy: buff the monster's saves when you want it to not get SoD'd. Nobody else is affected, combat proceeds apace.
However, most groups have at least 2, sometimes 3 or 4 people who attack. So if you have one character who is more optimized, it's tough to give enemies a high AC without screwing the other characters in the party.
The solutions to this puzzle are a bit sparse (debuff that guy with NPCs, give treasure to the other PCs to even it out, etc), so it confuses people, and they come up with incorrect conclusions, like the above.
A less incorrect statement from the OP would read like:
"Magic Items allow non-casters to keep pace with casters in direct ways up through the early stages of casters being overpowered."
Level 1: Power Attack
Pretty much the best anti-mage opener for a barbarian is that.
Spell Sunder is the best anti-mage ability in the game, along with Superstition. You want it as fast as is humanly possible.
I was mostly just talking about relative AC.
Light Armor vs. wis + Monk AC bonus. Wis + Monk AC bonus should win or be close almost every time.
Unless you're just going to dump wis, which is reasonable.
Drunken Strength is actually sort of crap. For 1 swift action you can get another attack, just from straight monk. That is always worth more than d6 (or 2d6) extra damage.
Careful about your swift action economy! =)
All Agile-based builds basically are mediocre until you get the agile item, and incredible thereafter. Your build would be fine without every other item you have.
The basic rule of "Fighter or Monk?" is that every level you put towards fighter will make you a bit less flexible in terms of skills and abilities, and a bit better at doing damage.
I think Wiggz' build goes towards one end: it's as flexible as possible without sacrificing any damage, and mine goes towards the other: it's as damagey as possible without sacrificing any flexibility.
Gotta say, though, Wiggz' build is suuuper tightly put together. All feats appear exactly where they should, for maximum utility. Tip of the optimization cap to him, that's really nicely done.
-Cross (I think it gets out-damaged pretty significantly by a TWF scimitar fighter, just because of crit range, but it depends on how many AoOs he gets from Snake Fang in a given round)
Probably want to talk to your DM about the interpretation of the MoMS skipping-snake-sidewind thing. The Hero-labs guys interpret it the other way, and I can't find an official clarification.
I think you're mis-estimating your swift action economy. First, assume for a moment that you get 3 rounds before combat to drink (or you walk around drunk, so you have 3 drunken ki points at all times). Third round of combat, you have to spend real ki. My build can blow a swift action to stock up for the next two, and is never out of drunken ki even if it's caught out.
If you use your Snake Fang immediate, you can't spend a ki point on your next turn (immediate actions use up next turn's swift action).
And you do, as you noted, about 2d6+20 damage, twice a round. Three times if your opponent hasn't seen the trick before, four times if you want to use next round's swift action and not have your +4 AC.
Meanwhile, my approach does 2d8 + 6(dex)+2(weapon)+6(...should take piranha strike instead of wf:unarmed, knew I forgot something), which is about 4 less damage per attack than you...
...six times a round. And I still have dex and combat reflexes.
You're basically relying on one trick: Get enemies to attack me, then hit them hard.
If that doesn't happen, there's very little your character can do. One-trick ponies don't really end up working well all the time, particularly when the trick is just a Good trick, not a Ridiculously Broken Trick.
Finally, there's going to be a pretty huge AC difference, I think. Light Armor is +4 AC. Wisdom + Monk AC bonus = +8 AC. Your Dex is going to be 12. Mine is going to be at least 22, which is another 5 AC. Crane Stance effectively gives another ~2 AC over what you could do otherwise. So that's an 11 AC difference. You can mitigate it by using +4 AC every time, but you're sacrificing an attack for it.
All of these builds can do the Tekko-Kagi trick. Light armor is exactly as expensive to upgrade as Bracers of armor (bonus^2*1000). Going light armor changes your AC by basically nothing - it might even decrease it.
-Cross (Wiggz has a reasonable example of what happens if you go straight-out damage. But he's basically playing a straight fighter who dips in MoMS to get crane and snake. This just in: Level 17 fighters can do a lot of damage)
Here, I realize that I'm just sorta picking holes in your build. Let me put up a counter-build, what I regard as a rock-solid choice, and we can compare. I'll dodge Quinggong, because you don't have the book.
Bonus feats in parentheses. I'm going to be lazy about
12 Monk of the Four Winds/Drunken Monk
(1) (Dodge), Crane Style
Three essential items here: Agile amulet of mighty fists, Monk's Robe, and Belt of Physical Perfection. The belt lets you get Fast Drinker, which allows you to reasonably drink in combat, which, combined with Deep Drinker, means you can use ki-pool in the middle of combat.
This character has a number of very neat tricks:
1.) He is dependent only on 2 stats: Dex for attack, damage and defense, and Wisdom for defense.
Let's compare, a bit. By going unarmed fighter, you pick up +1 attack and +5 damage over this build, per strike.
But your unarmed strikes are 2d6 vs. 2d8 for mine, so the difference is +1 attack and +3 damage.
In all fairness, I had to buy Agile, so you'll also have +1 to attack and damage on me there. You'll be at +2 attack and +4 damage.
Damage-wise, I think you still lose, though:
Defense-wise, you're definitely behind:
Utility-wise, I think the above build still wins:
(Also, I don't mean this to come off as confrontational - MY BUILD VS YOUR BUILD. I just felt that maybe instead of poking holes, I should be constructive).
Don't like this build as much. Other build had a clear plan: elemental fist damage everywhere, and lots of ways to spend that damage.
A few issues with this build:
1.) I do not believe MoMS lets you skip Snake Sidewind
2.) Snake and Panther don't have a lot of synergy.
3.) You're not getting enough mileage out of MoMS to make it worth sacrificing flurry.
4.) Panther style is pretty mediocre. Eventually, enemies will recognize it and stop taking AoOs, and then you have blown SIX feats (dodge, mobility, combat reflexes, 3 panther feats) just to not get AoO'd.
5.) Snake style is also pretty mediocre. Your sense motive is going to basically be level + 3 + 4 (wisdom) + 2 (Snake Style).
At level 1, that gives you 20.5 AC on average against a single attack, which is good.
At level 10, that gives you 29.5 AC on average against a single attack, which is almost certainly less than your actual AC.
Snake Sidewind is downright awful.
Snake Fang is really good. But you have to consider whether or not it's worth it to take MoMS and spend 3 feats to get to that point.
This build is a lot more vulnerable to just being ignored by enemies - if they don't swing at you, there's very, very little you can do.
Both are great. I'd go druid. You'll need the utility of wild shape a reasonable amount when your rogue/monk isn't there, and druids are awesome. It's tough to screw up a druid.
All druid builds that do any summoning look pretty much like this:
1: SF: Conj
And whatever you darned well please after that.
If you want to go vanilla-ish druid, go Menhir Savant (the trades are great).