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I think the main problem here is Dedicated Support Syndrome. The witch, better than most other spellcasters, excels in a support role, but more often than not it's easy to feel worthless when you aren't specifically putting out damage.
I was playing in a game once where I was playing a support character, and actually took the time to keep track of my contributions in terms of hits & damage in an encounter. At the end of the day, thanks to my buffing, I ended up contributing roughly 50% of the party's overall damage, through buffs alone, not including the other support I did on my turn.
Just a few weeks ago, I was running a campaign for my best friend, and he encountered a Bulette. He had a Court Bard in his group and the -2 penalty bestowed by the Bard imparted more proactive healing than the cleric has done the entire game up to this point.
Support matters, and it matters A LOT. You just need to remember when it does.
1) Truth is not subjective.
2) The observations made on the forums are made using the following assumptions:
-A) You are playing the game using the RAW. Once house rules come into play (removing access to certain items, restricting healing over time, etc.), conventional wisdom regarding the baseline rules of the game no longer works.
-B) The group that is playing is optimized to a reasonable level. A reasonable level usually implies individual character viability (the ability to perform my role in the group reasonably well). If players are inexperienced, or otherwise unable to optimize viably, they will be unable to handle encounters safely the majority of the time. I've observed a trend: generally, the less optimized a group is, the more healing becomes a requirement. I've found that this trend holds true often enough to stand by it.
Basically, the conventional wisdom regarding healing (healing outside of combat is best done with wand, and healing in combat should generally be avoided unless certain dire conditions are met) work with the base game as written, assuming party viability. If those demands are not met, then conventional wisdom does not apply. This doesn't make this ideology wrong: it means that any arguments AGAINST this conventional wisdom need to be made on equal ground. They very rarely are.
I'll chime in here.
In my experience, the group's need for a dedicated healer is inversely proportional to the group's experience and level of optimization.
If they don't want to play a healer, then they don't get one. As a DM, you can't be afraid to let your players lose every now and then, and they may just surprise you.
I would say a doubling factor in regards to point-buy. So, the difference between a 10 point buy and a 20 point buy is HUGE; same for a 15-25. Most CRs are determined with a 15 or 20 point buy in mind, so being within a 1 factor of those (10-25) shouldn't alter things too much. 5 and 30 would be the starting points of imbalance.
I really like bardic performance because the flavor is so open ended.
I also really like the Archaeologist and Dervish of Dawn.
And I like Thundercaller and Sound Striker because they replace bardic performance with cool spell-like abilities.
So yes, there should be more bard archetypes without bardic performance, or that you give you cool abilities.
I'd personally like one that wild-shaped the bard by sacrificing one performance round per round in wild-shape. Or maybe something cool like causing enemy misses/hits against you to deal damage equal to 1/2 your bard level to other nearby enemies (maybe as a witch-themed archetype?).
Bard deserves more cool stuff.
Siegebreaker is awesome with shields because it deals damage to your target equal to your Strength modifier whenever you successfully bull rush or overrun an opponent, and gives you a free overrun attempt whenever you make a successful bull rush. (Also, gives you +2 damage per appropriate combat maneuver feat, and allows you to add your shield enhancement bonus to the damage as well). That's why the overrun stuff works well. At higher levels, a single bull rush is adding 10-ish extra damage, with another chunk if you overrun, not including the obvious bonus of your target being prone now.
Oh, and Shield-Trained (Trait) lets you treat Heavy Shields as light weapons.
He's got decent strength. What's wrong with using a sling? 1d4+3 is fine, it's got decent range, and he could potentially do the switch-hitter ranger thing and get his ranged feats from the Slayer Talents if he wants to go that far.
That's not to bash the eastern weapons thing. I'm just saying that, as a DM, it's a little silly when I feel like I NEED to place a +2 Katana in with a bunch of standard treasure in the middle of Cheliax or something. It's more a quality of life decision on my part than a damage optimization strategy, otherwise I'd be all for it.
Why go for all those fancy tricks when you get Nodachi proficiency automatically as a Tengu? 1d10, 18-20/x2 is fantastic for a base weapon, and your proficiency with all bladed weapons opens you up to using a wide variety of weapon choices as the game progresses.
Basically, I'd avoid weapon focus, enjoy the variety you'll gain as you level, and be really flexible. Pick up a wooden shield for when you need one, and get feats that have more practical, general use (Improved Initiative/Warrior Priest, Heavy Armor Proficiency, skill bonus/extra language feats) and let your Talents fill in the few combat feats you'll need. Similar to what Ellioti posted.
With your high charisma, you could even consider eventually picking up Eldritch Heritage for some cool bloodline stuff. And, of course, there's always Nature Soul/Animal Ally if you wanted to gain an animal companion in addition to your familiar. It'd require 3 feats (Nature Soul, which isn't that great, but skill bonuses aren't bad for you), Animal Ally, and Boon Companion, but for getting a full-level animal companion, a familiar (by the way, check out the familiar archetypes. Your Monkey could be really, REALLY handy with some of those, especially the Figment/Protector/Mascot archetypes), you'll have lots of variety and battlefield control, not to mention that you ALSO qualify for feats like Evolved Companion/Evolved Familiar to give them more utility once you've gotten the few, base feats you'll need to be effective.
Well, Power Attack is a no-brainer. That plus Furious Focus would help solidify your usefulness in combat basically forever. As a Nature Fang, you wouldn't even need to use your spells for buffs, focusing instead on defensive spells and utility, like helping out with group healing, providing movement bonuses with Longstrider and other spells, and eventually things like Air Walk.
And yes, you're correct, your Sneak Attack never increases. It stacks with the Crocodile domain, though, which works really well, and also qualifies you for that feat that increases your Sneak Attack dice by 1 (I think).
I've run a lot of Gestalt games, but I've never played in one. If I did, I would want to focus on combining utilitarian aspects of classes. I think, if I were to do it, I think I'd like to play an Oracle/Hunter, with the Solar mystery/Primal Companion/Divine Hunter archetypes. I think it'd be fun to play, and I could do just about anything so long as I spent my feats wisely, and those flexible evolution points would go a long way towards my versatility and combat prowess, which is, of course, secondary to being able to do lots of cool stuff.
Another option to consider is the Siegebreaker fighter archetype. You only even need 1/2 levels of it, but you can get a lot of abuse out of Shield Slam. Basically, you Shield Slam, and every time you attack with a shield, you get a Bull Rush attempt, which gives you an Overrun attempt, both of which not only move/debuff your target (prone is GREAT), but also deal damage equal to your Strength modifier (+more because you'll likely pick up improved/greater bull rush/overrun). By backing your enemy into a corner (or having an ally throw up a wall/barrier of some kind) you can do some pretty ridiculous stuff if you can get the feats to combine it with two-weapon fighting.
But you don't even need the AC bonus from defending to pull that off. Even then, it's WAY too much. A +2 Defending longsword costs 18,000 gold for a +2 bonus to AC... If you attack with it and take a -2 hit to your attack/damage, and if you really want to "tank", you need to present yourself as a threat, which that penalty doesn't help. You could easily spend the same funds on a +2 sword, a ring of protection, amulet of natural armor, cloak of resistance, AND a magic shield, all of which do more for you than getting defending.
Yeah, but he'd probably be better off just specializing in Shocking Grasp and taking Elemental Spell. Then he'd at least be doing 5d6 instead of 4. No stagger, but the save won't be that high anyways, and he can use up 2nd level spell slots (same as frigid touch) to prep Intensified, Elemental Shocking Grasps which would scale up. If Elemental Touch or Chill Touch don't work, I see little reason to not just enhance shocking grasps a bit differently, which is SO dull. XD
Okay, this really is a silly ruling, in the same vein as the Volley-spell/ranged Sneak Attack ruling. Why? Because it makes no sense.
I understand a little of the idea behind it. It's a weapon, so you get the benefits of the enchantment when you attack. But, specifically in the case of a defending weapon, it makes little sense.
The main reason I see for using a defending weapon is two-weapon fighting, and sword/board fighting. But in those instances, getting an enchanted, defending weapon at a reasonable level is unfeasible, and typically a waste of money. Sure, I can see how a +5 defending weapon might actually be a decent boon to a two-weapon fighter, but c'mon: You're going to want that bonus to hit/damage the VAST majority of the time, because your fighting style demands it, and if you're going sword/board, it's entirely likely that your AC is ALREADY so high that you stand to gain little benefit from the defending property.
As it stands, the defending property is too expensive, and is typically worthless outside of those situations where it, by this ruling, doesn't even work properly.
How I would do it: Make the Defending enchantment work off of Combat Expertise. You want to make people like that feat? "While wielding a weapon with the Defending property, reduce the penalty to attack rolls for Combat Expertise by an amount equal to the weapon's Enhancement bonus. While not using Combat Expertise, the weapon grants the wielder a bonus to AC equal to 1/2 the weapon's enhancement bonus (minimum +1)."
I will say, I don't know when it happened, or if I've just been doing it wrong, but Chill Touch actually deals Negative Energy damage, not cold, which is a real shame.
However, Elemental Touch, while being a second level spell, works well, especially if you're starting at 8th level, and if you want to focus on the cold thing, you can specialize in the spell just as much as you would Shocking Grasp, but instead of Intensifying it, you can Rime the spell, which means that every time you hit an enemy, you Entangle them for 2 rounds in addition to the save vs. Fatigue, which is pretty fantastic, and of course, that leaves more of your spell power available for more utilitarian & buffing spells.
Why not just stick with Chill Touch? It lasts for multiple rounds/multiple attacks, doesn't need to be intensified, and comes with a debuff. Plus, it fits the cold theme, and stacks with something like making your weapon Icy or Icy Burst. Seems like a win/win to me. Opens you up to more feats, which is nice, and spell-strike doesn't require you to have a hand free save when you cast the spell, so you can do lots of interesting things, like two-weapon fighting, etc., if you get the stats to qualify for it, or even picking up a quick-draw shield.
Honestly, I have to say Sneak Attack, and I'm going to echo what other posters have said. While there are a PLETHORA of powerful, super cool class features (The entire Thundercaller bard archetype gets a standing ovation from me), Sneak Attack is the perfect, simple class feature. It tells you what to do without giving you any finicky math, and encourages teamwork and cooperation to get the most out of your character.
I'm going to echo what others above have said: simplicity. They're differentiating between "Hold in your hands and blow" and "Hold in your hands and bow" and "hold in your hands and strike" and "hold in your hands and it's a keyboard, so really string or percussion could work depending on the instrument, or maybe wind because accordions have a keyboard..."
It's all for simplicity's sake. Don't look at it too hard.
Hunter and the Sacred Huntmaster Inquisitor archetype share all their teamwork feats with their animal companions. You can do some pretty neat things with them.
Also worth noting is the Monster Tactician Inquisitor Archetype. It shares its teamwork feats with the creatures it summons, and remember that when you summon lots of creatures you can get tons of Aid Another attempts.
Another is the Holy Tactician Paladin archetype. It shares 1 teamwork feat with all allies, with an unlimited duration (and the ability to change it as a swift action).
Just a note: The archery route needs very little strength to shine, if any at all, BECAUSE you get so many flat damage bonuses. Inspire Courage + Arcane Strike puts you at basically what any other archer would have anyways. Add in Discordant Voice at 11th level, and you've got some major passive damage bonuses.
nicholas storm wrote:
If you read his last post, the GM forced him to remake this character, so he backed the OP.
I'm sorry, but that does not matter. The job of the GM is to ensure that everyone is having fun, not to deal with characters. If the rest of the group is whining about how ineffective their characters are, then they ought to be ELEVATED by the GM.
You don't tell the best student in class to stop getting such good grades because his classmates don't understand the material.
Or the rest of the group could stop being a bunch of babies and be glad they get to bop around and have fun safely exploring deep tombs with a bunch of undead, or the roleplaying opportunity it creates.
I'm sorry, all I hear in this thread is "Dirty Powergaming! Ruining the Group's Fun! How dare you optimize!" Give me a break. This guy built a character, and he built it well, and all the group does is cry and whine because they don't get to be special snowflakes, which is preposterous, because anybody can learn to play well.
I don't like saying it, but man, QQ more, scrubs.
Adrian Parker 563 wrote:
Sure. And how do you know he's a Paladin? There's nothing stopping anyone from dressing in shiny armor and lying to you about being a Paladin. Again, I'm not saying you CAN'T trust a Paladin. I'm saying that there's nothing about him indicates immediate trustworthiness.
No, you can't always trust a Paladin. Why? Because Paladins are not infallible.
Someone attaining Paladin status is a big deal. This is obvious. Being a Paladin, however, is not something that's bestowed upon the recipient like Sorcerous blood or Oracular gifts; it's something that takes devotion and work.
What this means, however, is that Paladins can totally lie, steal, and commit all sorts of atrocities. Being a Paladin does not make you trustworthy; being trustworthy makes you a Paladin. You don't trust a Paladin any more than a good fighter with a reputation. A Paladin EARNS it, and proves it time and again.
If you're really into bull-rushing, then you should check out the Siegebreaker fighter archetype. Does damage whenever you bull-rush an enemy, and eventually gives you free overruns along with it (that also deal damage). I mean, the combo works best with a shield, obviously (thanks to the Shield Slam feat), but with a reach weapon you can do some pretty amazing crowd control stuff, especially with huge dexterity and something like Agile Maneuvers with an Elven Branched Spear. (Though you then lose out on the Strength to damage, so... YMMV. :P)
Forever Slayer wrote:
Um... I think you kinda misunderstood my entire post. Allow me to elaborate.
Playing an effective character is fun. I never said martial characters WEREN'T effective, just that playing the character that can do the things you envision him doing reliably is fun. I even added in the caveat "some people", implying that not EVERYONE feels that way.
You also claimed that I said that martials don't have anything fun to do all the time, which isn't what I said at all. What I DID say was that casters have more options and cooler things to do all the time, and that is fun. Now can a martial character have fun all the time? Sure. But when your Barbarian is scouring ancient texts written in Aklo to find clues about an ancient super weapon capable of destroying the cosmos unless the proper incantation is said, you'll wish you had a scroll of comprehend languages you could use, instead of saying "Hey, duh, Mr. Wizard, how do you pronounce ASPOIGASD;LAKVNAU;LAUN?"
Forever Slayer wrote:
I know your miles may vary but I am seeing a lot of wrong reasons to like a certain type of character. I'm seeing a lot of "choosing mathematically and in a white room" vs "what I just like to play".
Watch out, guys! It's the fun police! :P
Seriously, for some people, playing an effective character is fun. I can enjoy playing a fighter just as much as I enjoy playing a bard, because I have fun playing an RPG at the table. The truth is, though, that if I were given the choice I'd choose the a caster over a martial character every time, because having options and cool things to do all the time IS fun.
Yes, leap attack doubled the Power Attack damage if you leapt during a charge. You combined it with Shock Trooper to reduce your AC instead of your Attack bonus (because you chose the penalty to your Attack Roll, up to your BAB), and did silly things.
I think the popularity of the pathfinder bard has two primary aspects to it: playing against type, and flexibility, as some posters have already stated.
When you play a bard, a well-played/well-made bard SHATTERS the well-known preconception that bards are wimpy, whiny spinsters that pretend to be valuable but really just hold the party back. This idea has been around for a long time, with little basis other than people not knowing how to play a bard.
But bards are FANTASTIC. Bard, especially in Pathfinder, and ESPECIALLY with all of the archetypes at their disposal, can be built to do pretty much anything while maintaining a fair amount of versatility. Want skills? Bard DEFINITELY has you covered. Want to be competent in melee? With the right archetypes or build, bard has you covered. Want to be a solid ranged combatant? The real question is, do you want to use a bow or spell-like abilities? Either way, bard has you covered. Want to be totally focused on support play? Bard DEFINITELY has you covered. And the best part is, save for having to decide between melee/ranged combat, you can pretty much do ALL of those things well.
When you play a bard, you typically choose your focus, but that focus doesn't detract from your ability to participate viably in other aspects of the game. That's what makes bards so special; they always have something to do, and they can almost always be good at that thing. About the ONLY thing the bard can't do is replace a dedicated spellcaster, but various archetypes get you AWFULLY close in that regard, from pulling spells off the druid/ranger list or the sorcerer/wizard list, to getting really great bonuses with UMD, a fully-spellcaster bard relies more on consumable items than most other spellcasters, but has the skills to help walk him through various encounters that spellcasters normally need spells for.
All in all, it's a solid class because it can be great at anything, but never outshines the party, and in fact makes everyone else better. In a recent thread, someone was complaining that the Bard was a subpar melee combatant next to a Barbarian, and for the most part all of us agreed. But, not only did we determine that, under the right conditions (Full-Attacking under Two-Weapon Fighting in that thread), could the bard approach the Barbarians DPR (level 10-ish, both groups relatively unoptimized), but he did this while granting the party an extra +2 to everything they needed, plus throwing out stuff like haste. And that's where the magic lies: just when the bard starts creeping up on the stuff his allies can do, he makes them better at it.
Paladin Code for Torag wrote:
...Against my people’s enemies, I will show no mercy...
Yes. Torag is TOTALLY a personification of Good. /rollseyes
Except that, while Torag may be Lawful Good, that doesn't make Torag's decrees "Good". Because the gods in Golarion are imperfect, not everything for which they stand is Good. Good and Evil, in Golarion, are ideas to which the gods are beholden, not the other way around.
4 bards. Arcane Duelist, Archaeologist, Thundercaller, Arcane Healer. Everyone is good at everything, you've got healing as needed, AoE nukes/stuns, a potent frontline from the Duelist/Archaeologist combo, and great skill utility out of EVERYONE. If you want a full 6 party, grab a Court Bard and an Urban Skald, so you can nerf enemy attacks and pump up ally defenses simultaneously.