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Synthesist summoner can still pretty casually do all this, and that's mainly a melee character.
I would imagine, with the advent of Divine Protection, a lot more melee characters can do this too.
Perhaps a better challenge would be to do slightly easier challenges with level 12 PFS-legal characters, so we'd get something more interesting than a caster jacking their save DCs?
-Cross (Oh wait, we'd probably still get casters jacking their save DCs. XD At least no mass suffocate!)
Unknown Ediology wrote:
Whoa. Exciting melee character, and we haven't talked about the Swashbuckler from the advanced class playtest? Dandy damage, bonuses for telling huge lies, stabbing people to death, and tumbling about?
...Limburger happens to be a full caster too. He has access to many, many castings of true seeing. It should be mentioned that he ain't going to fail a save, and without a quickened true strike, people aren't really going to hit him with touch attacks. =)
The lesson, of course, is that no conversation about silly broken characters is complete without the synthesist summoner.
Limburger, who only fails that save on a roll of 3 or less, and bludgeons all the Beastmass challenges to death with punchification (only being hit by any of them on a natural 20), feels sad about being dismissed.
Also, good job noting that summoning the Glabrezu is a full-rounder. If Limburger smites, the Mohrg doesn't live to get that off, so my silence nonsense may not be required.
(Suggest that Selena get some sort of silence for when she smashes down the door, as "Breaking down the door is highly likely to alert people to something being up.)
Also obscuring mist doesn't move either, even if it spreads out from you.
Serena is a _terrific_ example of the flexibility of a druid. Doesn't do anything super crazy or cheesy (her build would be allowed at 99% of tables - mine would get me kicked in the balls by a DM). Transitioning from tiny bird to GIANT MURDER HIPPO is great. The furious finish thing is adorable - I wish there was some way to get rage without blowing an otherwise wasted level in Barbarian.
Err, maybe I suck at adding. Drop both defensive items to +1. I cast barkskin on myself constantly, giving me +3 natural armor, so my AC is identical.
Total cost: 16+16+2+12+2+2.5+3k+.8 = 54.3
Also, I screwed up on the skill focus thing. Go ahead and make it skill focus: arcane. I still have the diplomacy (and change) to move the dragon's attitude up two. Or keep it at diplomacy and replace improved eldritch heritage (arcane) with...anything. I lose initiative to one or two things, but not the end of the world, as none of the physical fights are close given stoneskin.
Hey, sorry, Cloaks of Charisma don't actually exist in pathfinder. It's circlets of charisma. I played a lot of 3.5.
Re: Avoral Agathons. You're basically only going to reliably beat that with either diplomatic stuff or a hyper-optimized stealth character. It's a little tough to argue that diplomatic stuff ("I REALLY NEED TO GO TO THE BATHROOM") would help over a message board. Basically, if you can do it via anything other than straight stealth, this character can probably do it.
Also, I got like 0 use out of my 11 casts of Summon Monster 4. Because I, Crosswind, am a trashy player of casters and don't know what monsters are useful for what.
(Also, I can't Maker's Jump while silenced. I'd have to have dimension door memorized and use it with the rod of silence for the Morgh encounter)
Edit: I could trade my familiar for Still Spell, drop a stilled, silenced Obscuring Mist, and just leave. People would know there was a mist, but it might take some time to identify me as the person who wasn't there any more. I'll have the thing stolen inside of about 2 minutes because I'm just smashing doors and golems after that.
Seems a bit of a waste to blow a feat for still spell tho' =D
-Cross (I am 100% certain that a wizard could crush these encounters with scry + die at 10th level, by the way. But it's more interesting/tougher to smash your way through 'em)
Heyo. I'm going to break rules slightly by using Synthesist (not PFS legal). Return of Limburger, Half-Elf Paladin of Vengeance/Synthesist.
Trait: Anything that gives diplomacy as a class skill along with +1.
Skills: Stealth, Perception, UMD, Knowledge: Planes
Feats: Improved Initiative, Skill Focus: Diplomacy, Extra Evolution(x2),Power Attack, Improved Arcane Heritage
Eidolon Evolution Pool (11+2+2=15): Head(x2)(4), Bite(x2)(2) + Improved Natural Armor(x2)(2), Pounce(1), Large(4), Improved Dex (2)
Relevant Combat Stats Before Equipment And Abilities(Eidolon ability score to str):
Gear: +1 Amulet of Mighty Fists (1k), +4 Cloak of Charisma (16k), +1 Belt of Giant's Strength (16k), +3 Cloak of Resistance (9k), +2 amulet of natural armor (4k), +2 Ring of Protection (4k), Boots of Speed (12k), rod of silence (lesser) (3k), golembane scaraab (2.5k) = 57.5k, 2 scrolls of level 8 acute senses (400 or 800 each). Spend the rest on wands of cure light wounds
Okay, let's fight stuff.
Let's establish one thing: The succubus, cave trolls, and hell hounds cannot actually do damage. We only fail their saves on natural 1s, they only hit on natural 20s. This combat isn't going to last long enough for them to do much that's relevant. The only question is how much damage I take before exploding the hill giant and then mopping up everybody else.
On a full attack vs. AC 24, my expected damage (ignoring crits for laziness) is 4*(.65*29.5) = 76.25. Kills the hill giant in 2 rounds. I almost certainly go first (+10 initiative), so hill giant gets in 1 round of attacks. Ow!
Against AC 30, it does: 22.05ish points of damage (full attack is better against me than its 2 slams). I am suitably sad, kill it, and butcher everything else casually without haste.
If the succubus gets salty, I can dimensional anchor her before butchering things. So she can't teleport away.
Can heal back the damage with lay on hands or some good old fashioned cure light wounds wands.
We don't really care about zombies, because we can kill pretty infinite numbers of them just as soon as we've dealt with the mohrg. We pretty much need to prevent him from summoning the Glabrezu, because that sucker is going to power word: stun us and that's going to be unpleasant.
There are probably a number of ways around this, but the easiest one is this: Somehow figure out where in the damn dungeon the thing is. Wait 'til it's in a not-huge-room (one I can affect with silence). I have 10k, and 11 castings of Summon Monster 4. I can probably do this.
So we cast invisibility and silence on ourselves. Use Maker's Jump (supernatural, not affected by silence) to dimension door to the morg. Beat it on initiative while blocking the door, and slug it out. I do 65 damage to it a round, killing it in 3 rounds. Odds are okay that it gets 2 rounds off of full attacking or futilely trying to cast spells. Let's have it full attack. Not failing that fort save except on a natural 1, so it does about 28 points of damage per round (...about 8 through stoneskin) for 2 rounds.
No worries. Kill him, run around cheerily murdering zombies, declare victory. Heal up with a wand or with lay on hands, we probably didn't take too much damage.
Note that we could also smite this dude, killing him in 2 rounds. Nothing later on requires our smite-age.
Erinyes + Devil can't hit, and cant make Limburger fail saves. The Hill giants, as a group, are going to about 5-9 points of damage a round through stoneskin. The cleric is dead in 2 rounds, taking 50 damage a round. He can't make Limburger fail saves, and he can't get away.
It takes Limburger some time to clean up everything, but there's no real threat here.
Being a master of subtlety, I cast silence on myself after making sure I am not invisible. I batter the door down silently (30 strength) and succeed at my saving throw against the polymorph. The golem and I cheerily bludgeon eachother for 2 rounds (hint: I win casually).
Use the scroll of acute senses (drop silence). My perception check is now 10 (levels) + 2 (wisdom) + 20 = 32. I find it, leave the party. Maybe I smash my way through a wall or something.
We don't power attack, so we do 32 points of damage a round (....stuuupid high AC.) Sadly, we can't smite this thing. Nonetheless, it's going to die in ...6 rounds? 7? Let's see how much damage it does to us.
We have about 105 hit points, plus 80 from Stoneskin that sure as hell are going to be used. Nonetheless, it currently does like 55 points of damage to us a round, so it's going to kill us in 4 rounds. What? we're losing? Nooo, we're going to have to use spells. Or worse, DIPLOMACY. Gross.
We're not suuuper far off from brawling this down, but I'm not sure what money or spells I'd spend to make it easy to do. The fact that it's not evil sorta hurts us.
To beat this, we're just going to rely on our stupid, stupid charisma. Our diplomacy is 10(ranks) + 1(trait) + 6(Skill Focus) + 8(charisma) + 3 (class skill) = +28.
Damnit. Stupid diplomacy. WHEN WAR FAILS...
Our average roll is a 38, which makes the DC of 23 and turns him from Unfriendly to Friendly. We agree that the locals will give him sheep and in return, he'll protect them from raiders, wolves, and Demonic Morghs.
It should be noted that if this jackass had the common decency to be evil, we could probably smite him and win.
-Cross (Caveat: OBVIOUSLY I HANDWAVE AWAY A BUNCH OF THINGS, among them crit chance because I'm lazy. But I think this is pretty reasonable.
Even with extremely stinky cheese, it's pretty hard to beat Wizard 20, even if they just have core.
Yeah. The problem with wizards is that they function extremely well in the best case scenario (when prepared), and extremely poorly in a worst-case scenario (when unprepared).
The above build functions extremely well in all scenarios, which is neat.
This is the b*!!tiest build, from 1-20, that I am aware of. It is the only straight ass-kicker (no save or die, gives no f+~*s about what dice are rolled) to thoroughly whoop on Beastmass. It is virtually unkillable, won't really fail saves, and pretty my teleport-gibs anything in about 1 turn.
Build: Half elf Synthesist (16), Oath of Vengeance Paladin (4)
YOUR EIDOLON'S BUILD: (Final Points: 21 base, 4 feats, 4 HE favored class bonus)
Here's the basic thing. At level 1, you take Mage Armor and some healing. Your AC is 10 (base) + 2 (Dex) + 2(Improved Natural Armor) + 4(Mage Armor). You can pounce and you do reasonable damage with your two heads. Most importantly, if you're not in that form, you can cast Summon Monster 1 like...oh...6 times in a day.
This is your weakest level. Your attack, AC, and saves go crazy over the next few levels, as you gain the ability to heal yourself a ton (lay on hands), get +5 to all saves.
In the end, with equipment, you end up looking like this:
Obviously, you should never actually play this character, as it's complete b%&+%@#!. Not sure that you can't make a stronger level 1 character, but, I think, on average across all levels, this is altogether the most b++~+#%~ build in Pathfinder.
Re: Feat > Ability Score.
It ain't, sadly. Not for a fighter.
You're up to your neck in feats. Consider: At a minimum, +2 dex gives you +1 to all attacks (obviously much better than a feat). At a minimum, +2 Strength gives you +1 to all damage (...not necessarily better than a feat, but very close.)
You will find a lot of wand advocates on these boards. The usefulness of wands is 100% dictated by whether or not you frequently have enough time to buff before combat in your session. If you do, wands are amazing. If you do not, wands are crap.
I'm not a PFS player, but I'm guessing (because a lot of guys are), that you can frequently buff before combat.
...boy, do I not remember the crit range changing on aspect of the falcon. erk.
I'm 99.99% I have read errata that gloves of dueling were supposed to apply to all weapon trainingesque features, so I think Expert Archer would apply.
I am not a PFS player myself (I thiiink falcon's aim are outlawed because they are ooobviously a bit overpowered).
I think the primary insights of the above are:
And a general idea of what DPR you can expect to do.
Weird! It totally works for me. Hrm. Here it is, copied and pasted. the full thread is here: http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2q0bx?Average-DPR. It basically asks "Is there an average DPR for a reasonably optimized character", so I built an archer, because their DPR is super predictable.
CAVEAT: I am going to be lazy about some stuff, like what I can retrain/alternate build paths. This is an approximation. I'm also not buying boots of haste. Haste makes all damage crazy. =)
I'd compare to a fighter-archer's full attack. There are some tricks you can probably use. Let's try this:
Dual-Talented Human Archer, 20 point buy
1: Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot
For stuff to buy:
We're always going to rapid shot + full deadly aim, so our AB is going to be something like:
6 5 6 8 11 13 14 18 21 23 26 27
and our damage is going to be something like:
8.5000 8.5000 11.5000 13.5000 16.5000 17.5000 17.5000 21.5000 23.5000 24.5000 25.5000 31.5000
and monster AC is something like
15 15 16 16 18 20 19 21 22 23 26 26
So, our dpr comes out to:
SOME MORE CAVEATS:
1.) That was a pain in the @#$%!
That said, these numbers are probably not hugely far off.
Hey, OP, don't know if you care, but a while ago I statted out what I _believe_ was a DPS per Level Optimal Human Fighter Archer to get a standardized DPS. I included equipment buys and in what order to do everything.
He's glass cannony as @#$% tho'.
Here's a couple of suggestions for making your own boss fights:
1.) Break the rules. A lot. Make up your own damn abilities. Make some of them immediate actions - make some of them free. The less players can figure out "OH THATS A FIREBALL.", the more mystery/novelty/interest there will be.
2.) Stage your fights - avoid slugfests. Generally, as soon as players solve one step, you want the next step to appear quickly. Example: Your players are fighting some sort of vampire boss. Give him a few tricks to make initial combat interesting, but get it over in a few rounds. He turns into gaseous form - now, skill-challenge style, the PCs have to get to/stop his gaseous form as he tries to escape through the sort of labyrinth a vampire would design to let his gaseous form get out. They might catch him and have to fight some stuff at the end of this. This provides a nice non-combat break between an initial combat and a final combat, and makes the boss-fight a bit more epic.
Hope this helps!
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.