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Devilkiller's page

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I suspect that the Flank trick got put in Animal Archive to help settle arguments like these.

I do wonder how Spring Attack with an animal companion is supposed to work though. Some years ago before the AA book my Druid had a hyena companion with Spring Attack. He'd often move up and bite an enemy before moving around behind that same enemy, getting into a good potential flanking position while avoiding any AoOs from the target. My PC had plenty of Handle Animal, and we assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that he could tell the hyena which square to go to when moving.

That tactic seems incompatible with the Flank trick since that says the animal always takes AoOs whereas Spring Attack would avoid those (at least from the target of the attack). Why an animal with ranks in Acrobatics couldn't use that skill while attempting to flank is a mystery to me. Maybe it is a game balance concern? Maybe it is just poor word choice or a failure to consider that some animals might have ways to avoid the AoO? I wonder if animals with an Int of 3 or higher change the situation any since you could at least try to explain to them how you'd like them to behave in combat.

Spring Attack is actually on the list of feats available even to animal companions with Int below 3. I guess it is possible that the intent is just that the animal springs to the target, attacks, and then springs back towards where it came from, but that's never spelled out in the rules.

When a caster has been hit by multiple Acid Arrows and subsequently attempts to cast a spell I wonder if folks generally call for a separate Concentration check for the continuous damage from each Acid Arrow or add all of the continuous damage for the round into one total and use a single Concentration check with a DC based on that total.

Be sure to include a free action intimidate and, if your DM will let you have one, a Cruel weapon.

#1 - Dirty Trick
There was a line in the 1e PHB about the Monk class which said something like, "and at high levels possibly the most deadly". That's kind of how I feel about Dirty Trick. I'm currently playing a 12th level PC with 10 levels of the Dirty Fighter archetype for Orc Fighters. I think I've used about 3 Dirty Tricks so far in the campaign whereas I use Trip almost every round against foes who are susceptible to it. That's not because I don't think Dirty Trick is useful. It is because it requires a big investment and possibly some special abilities to get it working well, and it took my particular PC until around 11th level to get all of his Dirty Trick stuff together. You need some feats to make the effect last longer and require a standard action to remove, and it helps to have a way to perform a Dirty Trick in place of an attack. Certain builds could get this stuff together much faster, but one of the most powerful Dirty Trick enhancers, Dirty Trick Master, requires BAB +11 anyhow. Dirty Trick works on just about everything, and with Dirty Trick Master it pretty much shuts the enemy down. In a previous conversation with the author of the feat he agreed that you should probably be able to remove the nauseated condition generated by Dirty Trick Master with a standard action as a caveat to the normal rules. I'd run it this way and plan to play my Dirty Trick PC that way, but RAW lovers probably don't have to fear a FAQ for something from a rather obscure book like Bastards of Golarion.

#2 - Grapple
Grapple is pretty powerful. Sure, some monsters are touch to Grapple because they have enormous CMD, but no combat maneuver will probably be very effective against the. Feint might work, but it isn't really a combat maneuver. Incorporeal foes could be a pain, but they're a pain for most martial characters. Freedom of Movement can ruin your day, but that shouldn't be a frequent problem in APs, and a homebrew DM can rain on pretty much any parade he or she wants ("Of course the monsters all have Freedom of Movement cast on them. There's an evil cult of Freedom of Movement casters devoted to your destruction, and they Teleport from area to area buffing the monsters just before you arrive. I raise the CR of each encounter by +1 to reflect their assistance, so it isn't like you're being cheated out of anything here.") On the downside, Grapple is also perhaps the most confusing of the maneuvers, and you might find that it works slightly different in different groups or areas. Even if your group can master the various steps of grappling and manage to forget some of the 3.5 grappling rules you might be left with lingering questions. Can you "maintain" the grapple with Greater Grapple during the same turn when you establish it? Ask the DM. Do you need to maintain the Pin with the Pin action each round? Ask the DM. Can you grapple opponents of any size? Sure, by RAW you can since there's no restriction listed, but at least at home games you might want to ask the DM. Mark Seifter says there's a big FAQ blog coming for Grapple, and I hope to see it soon.

#3 - Trip
Trip is difficult to use against a lot of monsters and impossible to use against others. When it works it is an absolutely great buff/debuff though, and there are lots of options to add effects onto it such as AoOs from Greater Trip and or Vicious Stomp. In an AP or with a DM who won't consistently alter encounters to thwart you the Trip maneuver is very effective. In a world where everything flies it is close to useless. Using Vicious Stomp to trigger Enforcer is AoO ecstasy, especially if you're also getting an AoO from Greater Trip and a swift action attack from Hurtful. It is like a mini-Pounce (which could potentially be combined with Pounce)

Honorable Mention - Awesome Blow
Awesome Blow doesn't get used by PCs as much as some other maneuvers, but it is great for monsters. When there are PCs with ACs in the 40s and above Awesome Blow is a consistent way to inflict damage. It also provides a good amount of tactical control against PCs who can't fly.

If you really want to go nuts with animal companions you could take 4 levels of Cavalier with the Horse Master feat to get a full power mount and then take some levels as a Sylvan Sorcerer but select a different sort of animal. If you don't want the mount to be a horse then take a level of Mammoth Rider and turn it into a Huge animal from their list of companions.

I don't see what's wrong with Grapple other than some vague rules. The tiger will be a natural grappler anyhow. If I were going to have Improved Unarmed Strike anyhow I'd probably think about Enforcer though.

If you do go Grapple you might want to consider the Raging Grappler rage power. It allows you to do damage when you initiate the grapple and also allows you to make the enemy prone when you maintain the grapple. Withe Greater Grapple that would let you knock an enemy down for the tiger to finish off and then use your standard action to catch a new victim.

My current grappler took Body Shield instead of Rapid Grappler, and though the damage of making one enemy hit the other is often less than what I could have inflicted with another grapple the bonus to AC is nice and the effect is hilarious.

Some people have mentioned the idea of allowing the rules to contain options for different power levels. I don't think that's an inherently bad idea, but I'd rather see the different power levels separated into different books or optional subsystems. Mythic Adventures seems like a good example of this. The original Divine Protection might not have drawn so much heat if it were Mythic Divine Protection. Maybe there could be a second Mythic book with new and updated options some day or a book with some other type of higher tier powers like "Pathfinder Superheroes" or "Martial Madness" (aka Wuxia Wackiness)

Using PFS as sort of a playtesting tool sounds like a pretty decent idea to me since you've presumably got large numbers of DMs and players trying out the material in a somewhat controlled setting. It is a shame that much of the testing would end up happening after the printed product is released, but I guess that's kind of how it goes. Video games might have a bit of an advantage in this department since the product can be updated more easily whereas having a printed book with outdated rules and a sheaf of errata and FAQ can probably be a little clumsy. I personally use electronic versions of the rules when possible anyhow though, and they generally seem to get updated pretty quickly.

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A:"Calistria, because she's a whore and I paid her to be there!"

Q:"Can you name a tribe of goblins which lived in the Brinestump Marsh?"

Assuming somebody in the party has low light vision it should probably come up about as often as the DM enforces the lighting rules. That's fairly rare in a lot of games though at least until a magical darkness effect comes into play. It will never stop surprising me to see how few parties have a counter to Deeper Darkness on hand.

@Urath DM - I'm not sure if there are any rules about the distance limitations for vision in general, but barring obstacles I'd think that creatures in the dark should be able to see a light from quite far off.

@My Self - I think that house ruling low light vision into a short range darkvision is not a good idea since a lot of creatures like animals get low light vision but shouldn't reasonably be able to see in pitch black darkness. They should also be able to see further than a human in dim light. Even just giving short range darkvision to the various races which currently have low light vision would kind of isolate those without it like humans.

I didn't mean to imply that the change to Mutation Warrior is a drastic nerf that will ruin a lot of PCs. It is just personally kind of inconvenient for me.

On the other hand, it isn't like I delved into a grey area of the rules here and tried to cajole the DM into making a ruling in my favor though. The rules just said you got the Mutagen at 1st level. That seemed unexpectedly good but not completely outrageous since that is when an Alchemist would normally get it. Mark says they made a typo though. I'm not real happy with the editing there, but if he's basically admitting they messed up what is there to do but accept it was a mistake and move on? Maybe they'll kind of make up for it by finally releasing some additional clarifications on grappling, which is the affected PC's primary melee tactic.

@Rynjin - Please don't encourage them to make all the archetypical Vikings out there wait for Rage until 5th level. Vikings already grow sad when there are Skalds around since to benefit from the Skald's rage powers the Vikings would need to forgo using their own. It seems odd that the Viking archetype makes a Fighter work worse with Skalds instead of better, but maybe this explains why so many Skalds are moving to Cheliax to work with the Hellknights instead.

I guess if I combine those 3 items I'll have pretty much what I was aiming for. I need to get running to a game at the moment, but perhaps I'll calculate the price later.

Thanks for your help in turning up the various functions of my possibly imaginary magic item.

The Rasputin mini looks pretty interesting too. In the last cycle of campaigns my girlfriend's PC was a fortune teller represented by a rebased and repainted Horrorclix Gypsy Seer.

There are numerous other Horroclix minis which seem like they'd be a good fit for Occult adventurers. The fact that used ones are available very cheap online makes them great candidates for modding. I'll definitely be looking around online to see what "incorporeal" and "ghostly" looking minis are available since I've yet to figure out a good material for making transparent/translucent minis.

I guess I'm getting kind of off topic there, but it is certainly some cool artwork which gets me fired up to want to try stuff from the new book.

I think the new version of Divine Protection would actually be pretty decent if you could choose to apply the bonus as an immediate action after you fail a save. I guess I'd rather see it as a choice of when to use a 1/day mechanical bonus to get out of a bad situation than a wild gambler's guess of when that bonus might come in handy.

I'm personally a little sad over the change to the Mutation Warrior's Mutagen ability. I guess I might have a tough time arguing against the change from a game balance perspective, but now one of my PCs who took a couple levels of Fighter mostly for the bonus feats will need to decide between taking a 3rd level of Fighter (which would delay some other abilities he wants) or suddenly and permanently losing the Mutagen ability he's been using pretty conspicuously for the past several levels ("Yeah, I suddenly just forgot how to brew that stuff...")

The Spell Warrior errata makes me wonder whether or not a Barbarian (or other character with Rage) would have to choose between accepting Enhance Weapons for the round or using his or her own rage for the round. If not maybe it would be possible to use your own Rage Powers plus those of the Skald. That would actually make the Skald cohort my Viking has a lot more helpful though the DM might feel funny about me changing archetypes after 3-4 levels.

I like the ghost-like servitors several of the characters have. It makes me think once more about modding one of the "Tattooed Man" Horrorclix minis I have and basing a PC on it. I might have to check this book out.

I could have the numeric bonus for Intimidate wrong, but the item definitely had additional functions which the Maiden's Helm doesn't, in particular the +1 to the DC of fear effects generated the user and the ability to downgrade fear effects 3 times per day. I'm sure the Intimidate bonus was more than +2 at least since I recall comparing the item to the Great Barghest Hero Cloak (one DM was kind enough to let me upgrade the skill bonus on that from +2 to +5, and I thought that with this other item I wouldn't need that special boon)

I've found the fear reducing function or something a lot like it on the Headband of Unshakeable Resolve. If I combined that with a Maiden's Helm I guess I'd get almost the effect of the mysterious item I can no longer find. I haven't recently ingested any substances which were likely to cause hallucinations, but I guess it might not be impossible that one night while I was very tired I could have combined the functions of several items into one custom item and later forgotten that I'd created that item myself. If so I still can't figure out where I got the +1 DC for fear effects though.

I have a Viking with a rather low Will save who is about to get lots of gold and the Terrifying Howl rage power, so an item like the one I'm describing would be pretty nice to at least have a price on.

I saw a magic item recently which grants a +5 bonus on Intimidate checks, boosts the DC of any fear effects you create by +1, and allows you to reduce the severity of a fear effect affecting you up to 3 times per day. The only problem is now that my PC is about to get some treasure I can't seem to find any record of such an item either in a book or on the web. I think it was for the headband or possibly head slot, but I can't remember the name.

Does such an item exist? If so can somebody tell me what it is called and where it comes from?

Yeah, Honor Guard gets Bodyguard for free. Make sure your DM doesn't have a problem with the idea that you and your mount are adjacent though. Obviously a rider and mount are kind of adjacent by definition, but some DMs might feel particularly hardheaded and insist that adjacent means "in two squares which are next to each other" instead of just "next to each other".

Enforcer + Hurtful is a nice combo though Cornugon Smash + Hurtful might be more practical if you don't have a good way to inflict nonlethal damage. Either way a Cruel weapon would make the combo much better.

It is true that halflings get a -4 on Intimidate against most foes, but it usually isn't tough to make the DC to intimidate a foe. If you use Enforcer in particular you also just need to match it rather than blow it away. I'd check out Order of the Cockatrice since you'd get a standard action version of Dazzling Display along with a +2 bonus to hit intimidated foes.

Benevolent Armor works really well with Bodyguard, and there are a several halfling feats and traits which make Aid Another or Fight Defensively work better. If you want to be extra weird you could consider fighting with a lance in one hand (which will still count as a two-handed weapon while mounted) and nothing in the other so you can do Crane Wing. You'd be really, really low on feats to the point where you might have to take Fighter levels, but if you take the Horse Master feat you'll only need 4 Cavalier levels to keep your mount at full power.

The idea here would be to get big AC bonuses and give big AC bonuses to your allies while applying some debuffs to the enemy to make you even harder to hit.

I probably won't be at GenCon, but I'd be interested in seeing sample units from different Armies of Golarion presented in a troop or troop-like format. Beyond just getting some game stats it might be fun seeing the names and history of various units. Some information on the military history and great battles of Golarion might be fun too.

If troops can't be just a template I hope that Paizo not only provides some easy to use rules for building your own troops but includes lots of different pre-built troops in some future products. Often you can file off the serial numbers, slap on a template, and re-skin stuff to what you need it to be (take the Centipede Swarm and Rain of Frogs, for instance)

As for the mass combat rules from UC, I think the worst aspect of them is how swingy they are based on dice rolls and how much they reward aggressive offense. The damage bonuses seem too high, as does the potential damage per round. When a mass battle comes up in a game I run later this year I might try house ruling the UC system to get something more like what I want, or I might try playing out small to mid size battles with something like troops to see how that goes.

I think the inside vs outside arguments seem pretty sensible and might provide a good rule of thumb. Sometimes it is tough to figure out "where" a bonus applies though.

For instance, I think a sensible argument could be made that the magical enhancement bonus on a weapon helps it penetrate armor and such and therefore gets applied when the weapon actually strikes and therefore would be lost when the weapon enters the AMF. As Hzardus pointed out, you'd still get the +1 from masterwork.

I'm somewhat more interested in attack bonuses than damage bonuses here, but do folks agree that the +4 Str bonus from a magic belt would still apply to a hammer thrown from outside AMF into it since the Str is part of the PC doing the throwing and once he imparts the force the weapon has it? As for the damage bonus from Inspire Courage, does it let the PC swing/throw/shoot a little harder, or is the effect on the weapon?

I think that so far folks mostly (perhaps all) seem to agree that the attack bonuses from Inspire Courage and Diviner's Fortune would work for attacks made from outside the AMF at targets in it. If so that would be great news for my PC the next time we come up against an AMF since that could easily boost his attack roll by as much as +10 (inspire courage +3, diviner's fortune +4, good hope +2, haste +1)

Last night our party had the misfortune of meeting what I've concluded were probably Advanced Movanic Deva Nightmare Lords. It was a misfortune not so much because of the difficulty of the encounter, which almost killed at least 2 of the PCs, but because of the difficulty of figuring out how stuff interacted with the antimagic fields which 2 of the 3 tainted angels created.

Stuff like magic weapons and my Viking's +4 Str belt not working in the AMF was easy enough to figure out and agree on if not so easy to remember. As my PC moved in and out of AMF he also had Haste, Inspire Courage, and Bless flickering off and back on. Everybody agreed that if the Inquisitor shot her +1 bane arrows into the AMF they wouldn't be +1 or bane by the time they hit the enemy, but I thought that maybe certain other bonuses on ranged attacks should still help. For example...

- Inspire Courage: You can't get the bonuses from Inspire Courage when you're in an AMF, but would the bonus to attack rolls and damage (or at least attack rolls) still apply when you're outside the AMF but making ranged attacks into it?
- Diviner's Fortune: Basically the same question as Inspire Courage except this is an insight bonus to attacks rolls instead of competence (which probably doesn't matter except that they stack)

I'm assuming that a magic belt of +4 Dex would still add to your ranged attack bonuses from outside the AMF since the Dex bonus is part of your PC, not part of the weapon you're attacking with. Similarly, I'm guessing I'd still get +2 damage from a belt of +4 Str when I'm throwing a weapon from outside the AMF since the bonus damage comes from the PC rather than being a magical effect on the weapon. Does that all make sense, or am I missing something?

I feel less sure about the bonus damage from Inspire Courage. I mean, is it a bonus to the weapon's damage, or would it be a bonus to the attacker's damage like having a higher Str? Is it magical damage of some sort, or does it just magically allow you to do more damage? As far as the bonus to the attack roll goes, I can understand people deciding that wouldn't count anymore once the thrown weapon flies into the AMF, but to me it seems like you aren't aiming the weapon anymore after you throw it, so the chance to hit shouldn't change after the weapon enters the AMF unless there's some magical bonus to hit on the weapon itself.

It is nice to get an official update on this since it comes up fairly often during games.

Something weird like this came up last night. Two ratfolk PCs with very high Stealth cut a slit in the back of an enemy's tent, snuck in while he was sleeping, and decided to coup de grace him with their saps to knock him out. It struck me that CdG is a full round action though, so some confusion ensued.

In the end they decided to just use standard actions to sneak attack him in the surprise round. They also won initiative, and the enemy was KO'd before he ever got a turn. I guess maybe they could have just refocused to win initiative in the next round though then they would have given up the chance to get two actions each before the enemy got one.

Rise of the Runelords:
I remember a spell casting lamia of some sort who wasn't too hard after we cast Silence, but I think that was a different fight from the one with the bell, tower, and flying foe. Some years have gone by, and it is tougher than I would have expected to remember it clearly. Where our party suffered most was around the haunted mine. I think only one player made it through without losing a PC, and that's probably because he was absent for a session or two. There were some deadly Will saves in that place along with some fairly nasty monsters (and that darned chain). By the end of the campaign I was playing a rather overpowered PC though, and Karzoug went down like a chump in just a few rounds.

The environmental rules are an essential part of punishing the PCs! I mean challenging the PCs!

Generating maps of the computer and either projecting them or printing them out with Poster Razor can work well depending on how much money, effort, etc you'd like to exert. If you use printed maps consider gluing them to cardboard and spraying it with matte clear coat. In addition to making your homemade "flip mat" more durable it provides a great excuse for why you never got around to throwing out that old pizza box!

I'm currently running an AP very casually and have decided not to bother with custom maps and minis for the most part. I suppose that if I wanted a quick way to define terrain with markers I might go with color coding. With a few colors and a few symbols it could be like the Lucky Charms of combat mapping. Most of our encounters will be urban though, so I doubt it will come up a lot.

Sometimes it is tough to know how much DMs have customized APs, but here's the death count I recall for various APs:
- Savage Tide ~ 4 (it feels like there were more, but it was so long ago it is tough to remember...)
- Rise of the Runelords ~ 10 (2 in a DM built side encounter)
- Second Darkness ~ 8 (the gleefully murderous DM seemed to have amped up the encounters quite a bit as well)
- Kingmaker = 2 (PCs were also bailed out with Hero Points 3-4 times, and Last Breath was used at least once)

The Kingmaker campaign in particular was run mostly run without amped up encounters. There were some tough fights in there, but RotRL seemed far more brutal overall.

@The Rot Grub - Could you do a spoiler regarding which battle was at the end of Book 2 or RotRL and what you found so tough about it? I've played the AP. I'm just not sure what was in which book.

I think a 1 gun Pistolero could actually be pretty nasty. I’ve got a Viking doing reasonably well with TWF right now, but since he’s Mythic maybe that doesn’t quite count. The fact he uses two 1d4 weapons is a source of comedy and badge of honor.

I also convinced a friend in a previous (pre-Unchained) campaign to have his Rogue with the Scout and Swashbuckler archetypes use his free martial weapon proficiency to fight with a lucerne hammer. The idea of an agile Elf hopping around dealing deadly precision blows with a big hammer amused us, and the fact he could use Gang Up with my Summoner and Eidolon made getting sneak attack easy. He'd also often use his reach to hide behind us since we had better AC.

If you ever decide to try out the MT you might find that it can benefit a lot from metamagic rods. With Magical Knack you'll only be one level behind for caster level. Lesser rods can help you amp up your low level spells when you need a little extra pop.

Another option could be to use the MT as a support unit for some sort of pet, say an animal companion picked up via feats (or maybe there's a VMC which grants one). Being able use True Strike via share spells can be a nice trick, especially if your pet focuses on combat maneuvers, and you should have a wide variety of buff spells. If you're running this sort of menagerie you might want to consider having a familiar too so you can help make up in action economy what you've lost in pure casting power. If you like small details those extra actions can accomplish a lot.

I thought the general consensus was that Shield Master negated the TWF penalties only for the shield itself, not whatever other weapon you might be using (except maybe another shield). The +2 bonus to hit with the shield is still nice though, and getting your shield's shield enhancement as a bonus to attacks and damage could be great if you're generally able to buy or craft whatever you want (my 10th level hammer and shield Viking is stuck with a +2 shield maximum for now and therefore finds Shield Master slightly less interesting for his 11th level feat)

@Gregory Connolly - I am using Shield Slam and Vicious Stomp on separate PCs but think they would work well together. If I wanted them both on one PC I might consider multiclassing as a Monk or Brawler to get the prereq feats.

The Unchained combat trick for Shield Slam would help a lot with knocking foes prone. Topping everything off with Enforcer and Hurtful would debuff the enemy and potentially get you another free attack as a swift action. The Vicious Stomp + Enforcer + Hurtful combo has worked great for me though I've been triggering it with normal trip attacks rather than Shield Slam.

There's not a minimum percentage of combat required, but in a typical Pathfinder game such as one based on an Adventure Path there will probably be a lot of combat, and most of the XP the PCs earn will probably come from combat encounters.

I think it could be tough to make a good set of rules for adjudicating every aspect of roleplaying. Different groups like to play social encounters out in more or less detail. Some rarely bother with d20 rolls to determine the outcomes of conversations while others rarely bother conversing and just say stuff like "I use Diplomacy. I got a 32." Most of the ones I play with give the player a chance to make his or her speech and perhaps have an exchange with the NPC before calling for a d20 roll which the DM judges in a mostly arbitrary manner (often with special consideration for nat 1s and nat 20s even though the actual rules don't call for any)

I think a lot of groups get a little bored if roleplaying conversations go on for too long. This is probably at least partially due to the fact that most DMs can only effectively converse with 1 person at a time. In one of the best campaigns I ever played the party would usually split up into smaller groups in town and the players of the PCs in each group would talk to each other in character while the DM went around the table giving each group a turn to interact with NPCs. In the right group I think it could be interesting to have players take on the roles of certain NPCs during social interactions, perhaps giving the player a cheat sheet with enough info to play the NPC. At worst it could be something to do with talkative players who happen to be playing anti-social PCs.

Did the Forsaken Shell originally have the ability to make grappled foes take half of the damage inflicted on the monster? I thought I'd added that to the monster on my own. It would be fun to know if other folks think that's a good addition (or perhaps my memory got muddled)

I have a long running tanner/necromancer NPC who used to create a bunch of Forsaken Shells and Skin Kites. It is pretty easy to make creepy minis for these. Seeing the monsters on the boards makes me want to use my minis again...maybe the AP I'm running will have a sidequest in a few levels...

3 levels of Phalanx Fighter can let you carry a reach weapon in one hand. That can be useful for making AoOs on foes when they get pushed away and then try to move back in. If you're into mounted combat you could go for something similar without the Phalanx Fighter levels by using a lance in one hand. Oddly enough I think you'd still get the 1.5 Str mod to damage and increased Power Attack ratio with the lance even if you're also wielding a shield.

Paladins, Barbarians, and of course Cavaliers can all get pretty decent mounts. Even the watered down FAQ version of RAGELANCEPOUNCE could still do a lot of damage. Using Lunge you could potentially make a few lance attacks and then a shield attack to push the foe back and set up an AoO or another pounce. If you're riding a Wolf with Lunge I guess you could try to Trip the foe too.

The red D&D Basic book included a section on hopeless PCs. I think it mentioned a Dwarf (basically like a Fighter back then) with 5 Str who couldn't cause much damage in combat no matter how hard he tried. I haven't read that book in years, but I think the sentiment was that such characters could be fun once in a while.

I don't really mind having subpar PCs in the party. PCs who routinely get themselves in trouble with bad tactics and need others to take risks to save them can become a nuisance though. I can also be a little peevish about PCs who frequently refuse to act at all. I'm talking about those situations where somebody could flank, attack, use Aid Another, etc but doesn't bother, perhaps reasoning that "it won't help anyhow" or "I'll just roll low again".

There's a difference between roleplaying a character who feels depressed and useless (which can be funny) and actually making your PC act in a mechanically useless manner. Even something like moving into position to flank can make a big difference. A low Str, high Cha melee combatant who flanks and uses Aid Another could actually make a big difference in some fights. A halfling with the right feats could make a career out of stuff like this, and Fighters get lots of feats.

The Order of the Dragon increases your Aid Another bonus to +3 at 2nd level, +4 at 8th level, and +5 at 14th level. You could ask the DM if the increase from the Helpful trait for halflings would stack with this. The Honor Guard archetype for Cavaliers also gives you Bodyguard as a bonus feat. If you wanted even more AC boost the Cavalier's mount could take the Bodyguard archetype for mounts. If the Cavalier has Mounted Combat and uses it to defend the mount the entire team should be pretty tough to hit.

The Benevolent armor enchantment can boost the AC bonuses for Aid Another even higher. There's probably some danger of overdoing all this, so you might want to discuss such plans with the DM to work out any house rules or limitations in advance (or even just get a thumbs up)

@Scott Wilhelm - I'm still curious to see how the FAQ blog for grappling rules on maintaining the grapple in the round when you initiate it.

One person's view of what would cause PvP action could vary wildly from another's, so ultimately you'll still have to talk things out a bit. Some people will shave off your eyebrows while you're passed out. Other people find that very annoying. If you shoot somebody for shaving off your eyebrows most of your peers will likely think you've overreacted though, and the police certainly won't be amused. What is funny, tolerable, or a complete outrage will vary from table to table and player to player.

Flipping out and using poor tactics is the sort of thing which likely should make PCs mad at other PCs. Whether players should get mad at other players too might depend on the frequency and degree of the transgressions. We have one game with a guy who pretty much always charges wildly into battle while my slower melee PC in heavy armor can't even get there and participate, much less buff and wait for the enemy to come to him (as he'd prefer). The player is so enthusiastic about the PC's ability to jump that the DM sometimes puts in cliffs or ledges with monsters on them since the PC will almost certainly leap up onto them before anybody else can get there. We don't get mad as players. We just also don't put our PCs into a lot of extra danger to bail him out. He ended up unconscious almost every session until around 10th level, leaving us with just two PCs to handle the rest of the enemies. At this point he seems like nearly an unstoppable powerhouse, but I figure he'll rush into a bad situation and get squashed again soon enough.

The books in the library attacking and killing the PCs before they could escape sounds more like a bad trap/encounter than a bad move by the PC, but if there were dire warnings in the game maybe it makes sense that the other players got annoyed.

I think the idea that feats by their very existence prevent PCs from doing stuff is a little off base. If the basic rules don't have a mechanic for diverting attacks away from your allies that isn't necessarily because Archon Style stole that option and took it away. Maybe there just wasn't any option specifically like that in the basic rules. I guess you could use Aid Another to boost the ally's AC or jump in front of the ally to grant soft cover though (I forget if there's a rule for an attack accidentally hitting the soft cover)

I guess the DM could just decide what does or doesn't seem "reasonable". Maybe you think anybody with at least Dex 15 or even anybody at all should be able to fight with two weapons and only take a -2 penalty. If so maybe giving out TWF as a universal bonus feat makes sense (with or without the Dex 15 prereq to be able to actually use the feat). You could do the same for Power Attack or maybe even the various Improved maneuver feats.

What sorts of actions do you want to encourage or liberate PCs to perform? Since people are always griping about martial vs caster disparity I'd probably start out giving mostly Combat feats as bonus feats.

I think that having a basic "No PvP" rule can solve most of these problems, especially if it extends to not performing actions which would almost certainly result in PvP action. I don't think that a game of, "You slit my old PC's throat so now my new PC is dominating you and forcing you to eat yourself piece by piece" would make for a fun campaign. I guess if your entire group feels like dealing with that maybe that's great for you, but honestly if even one person is uncomfortable with such situations it might not be worth it.

Getting upset because somebody murdered or mutilated your character in a game might seem "immature" to some people, but it happens. Then you could have sour feelings around the table, and I don't think the freedom to play one's PC without boundaries is worth making people upset and angry.

kestral287 wrote:
I don't think most rational players are going to propose abandoning all characterization in the name of efficiency.

A fair number of players I know abandon most characterization for no particular reason at all.

As a few folks have pointed out, Drogon isn't a great fit for a Pathfinder "dragon" . Still, if I had to convert him to Pathfinder as a "dragon" and wanted minimal hassle I guess I'd make him a Young Red Dragon since this would be the youngest age category which makes him large enough for Daenerys to ride. Using some sort of custom monster might work out better from a simulation standpoint.

If Drogon is a Young Red in Pathfinder terms then the Sons of the Harpy have pretty sharp aim in Pathfinder terms. Of course nothing in HBO's show was being done in Pathfinder terms, and if you ratchet up the SotH's levels to let them hit Drogon consistently then you'd have to question why a SotH is so easy to kill with a single stab. Then I guess you'd have to make Drogon wimpier so low level SotH could hit him or explore some other options like the 4e "minion" system or the wounds and vitality system from the older Star Wars d20 game where only PCs and major NPCs had vitality and mooks always got hit directly in their Con.

My feeling is that wounds and vitality with defense bonuses and armor as DR might work a little better from a simulationist standpoint but most tables aren't really that worried about simulation and don't want to fiddle with the rules that much (or would just find a different game if they felt it was that important)

@Doomed Hero - The log carry doesn't involve lifting the log off the ground (like the tire deadlift or regular deadlift) or putting it over your head (like the loglift). I focused on the events which I felt best fit the descriptions given in the rules for Carrying Capacity, which specify how much you can lift off the ground and how much you can lift over your head. I'd rate the squat exercise as somewhere between those since you aren't really lifting the weight off the ground or over your head and you're able to isolate the effort more to your legs and trunk. Anyhow, pegging Mr. Bjornsson's Str at around 20 would play nicely into the idea that 20 is the "maximum" Str for a normal human without a bunch of heroic class levels. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the rules for what a Str 20 character can lift off the ground (which I'd call a dead lift) or overhead seem to be roughly on par with established world records.

I think the fact that we have people rating the Strength of a real world person with measured statistic from 20 all the way up to 26 in Pathfinder terms seems to implies that coming to an agreement about less defined (and completely fictional) stuff like classes and levels would be very difficult. Nobody in the real world or Game of Thrones has any class levels.

Acid Splash is a good choice for your attack cantrip since it doesn't allow SR. Color Spray is a great spell at low levels and still useful in some situations later on (against stuff with low Will saves)

Summoned monsters can also be good for springing traps, opening doors, etc. Bringing them in and directing them to attack enemies also doesn't break Invisibility effects.

The combination of an Improved Familiar and Craft Wands can be pretty nice. I rarely use my familiars to make attacks as I feel that encourages the monsters to kill them, but an invisible buffer/healer will rarely get targeted in most games.

@Scott Wilhelm - My Kingmaker PC had an item which functioned as a Hat of Disguise along with a high enough Charisma that even 1 rank in Disguise made it almost impossible for "normal" NPCs to make the Perception check. He was a Paladin/Bard rather than a Rogue, but he used to do undercover missions as well as just travel around the kingdom observing stuff with various alter egos like a traveling performer or a farmer selling moon radishes.

Based on the rules for Carrying Capacity and data from The World's Strongest Man I'd say that the guy who plays the Mountain probably has a Str in the 20 - 22 range. His overhead "loglift" was 424 lbs. Str 20 allows you to lift 400 lbs over your head. Str 21 allows 460. His "tire deadlift" was 994 lbs. That matches Str 22's maximum "lift off the ground" limit of 1020 lbs better than Str 21's limit of 920 lbs, but the lift was performed with wrist straps, which I'd guess might be a tool which grants a +1 or even +2 in Pathfinder terms.

Of course the actor and the character aren't the same, but Str 20 seems like a pretty good starting point for a Pathfinder version of the Mountain (starting at 1st level and building from there)

I was under the assumption that you can accept the Skald's song even if you're already raging and get to use both your own Rage Powers and those the Skald grants you. Since somebody mentioned a new Rage FAQ I checked and found that's probably not the case though. This makes having a Skald cohort in a party with a Barbarian pretty disappointing and has me thinking that maybe my Viking PC shouldn't bother to take any Rage Powers of his own.

"Skalds, we make Fighters more like Barbarians and help Vikings savor their already painful sacrifice of Weapon Training."

A Dex that low seems likely to get you killed. A Witch is also probably better at the coup de grace trick.

Arcane Trickster is a pretty tough gig. You might want to ask yourself just how much you like the Evasion ability. If the answer is that you really love it then maybe taking 2 extra levels of Rogue to qualify for AT isn't so bad. If the answer is you think it is OK maybe you could consider a single level of Rogue to nab the class skills followed by all Sorcerer levels. You might be a little weaker than a single classed Sorcerer, but you'd be a little better at sneaking around, disarming traps, and some other stuff which might seem fun even if it is not essential in most games (plus wandering off alone to scout and getting killed of course!)

Summoned Monsters can help you steal stuff. They can also potentially help out with your pathetic melee abilities. If you're thinking of making direct attacks on foes I'd consider making them with touch attack spells. All of this will work better with more Sorcerer levels rather than less. Since damage spells tend to gain d6s as you level it could also take a while for your increased sneak attack damage to exceed what you would have gotten from caster levels. There's a trait which increases your caster level by up to +2 when you multiclass. It isn't Core, but it would make an Arcane Trickster a little less of a tough choice.

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I doubt that Sansa or Theon would be well represented as Barbarians. If she were even a 1st level Sorcerer they could have used Feather Fall though. It could be useful for the Wall up at Castle Black too, but despite fighting like a Wizard poor Sam has no spells - at least not yet...

(somewhere in my imagination)
Sam: "I'm a 1st level Magic-User with no spells, thanks, George..."
GRRM: "We gave you a cute wildling!"
Sam: "And a kid to support!"
GRRM: "A guy as fat as us with a girl as cute as that should stop complaining."
Sam: "Ok, I want a Fireball by Season 7 though - Fire-fricking-ball! And don't go killing Gillie!"
GRRM: "Really? You expect that guarantee from ME?"

Does “PFS CORE” mean that you want to make a build for PFS using the Core Rules only? If so I wonder why. It limits your options quite a bit though.

Anyhow, if you plan to avoid spells which allow saving throws then having a very high Charisma isn't necessary. Since Bards don’t wear heavy armor I’d try to improve your Dex to at least 14 though. I’m also very partial to the Shield Slam feat, and Bards are reasonably well suited to two weapon fighting since the damage bonuses from their songs and Arcane Strike apply to both weapons.

If you're interested in such things I could post a build. If not I'll just advise you that Extra Perform is a feat you might regret taking after a few levels.

In my limited Skald experience so far the most useful and differentiating aspect of the class is the ability to share rage powers. Making allies rage sounds exciting, but the bonuses to attack and damage aren’t any better than those a Bard would typically grant, and they don’t help PCs with their own Rage to hit or hurt things. The rage powers can be very nice though. Even simple stuff like giving everybody +2 AC or making another PC’s mammoth companion grow claws can be fun and helpful, and there are certainly Rage Powers better than those. Rage Powers can open up new options in combat, and stuff like making everybody grow horns could have a roleplaying impact too (Like, "Accept Hell's Fury, my friends!")

I’ve spent a lot of time playing PCs and cohorts with Bard as their primary or only class in the past, and I find it interesting that you value jack-of-all-trades when I couldn’t even remember what it does without looking it up. I haven’t used Fascinate or Suggestion much either. They could have been helpful in certain games, unfortunately those just generally weren’t the games I was playing a Bard in. Combat, on the other hand, is important in almost every Pathfinder game, so having combat focused powers seems like a little less of a gamble to me.

The reduced skill points were kind of painful at first, but since the group with the Skald cohort started using Background Skills that relieved the pressure quite a bit. The same group also has a Bard PC, and while it seems like they’d overlap a bit I don’t think you can really have too many folks casting Saving Finale or Gallant Inspiration. Both have saved PC lives multiple times in that campaign.

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I could see a place for low, mid, and high level builds depending on the role the character is meant to play in a particular campaign. Maybe a 15th level version of Bronn who could kill all of Ramsay Bolton's dogs while dressed in his underwear and wielding a ball peen hammer as an improvised weapon really wouldn't be a great fit for the books or the HBO show, but a 6th level version of the Mountain who just barely scares the PCs when they're low level might not be a great fit for "scariest swordsman in the kingdom" in a lot of campaigns either, especially if the DM has some sort of climactic faceoff against the Mountain planned for levels 10+

As an aside, I guess 6th level is probably about the highest level where jumping off a cliff or jumping out of an airplane would be more likely than not to kill a raging Unchained Barbarian. By 10th level most martial PCs would probably survive such a jump and a lot of them literally couldn't be killed by it without DM fiat or the rarely used "massive damage" rule (which would probably create a 5% chance of dying). I'm not sure whether this could be better used as an argument that 6th level represents the upper bounds of reality or that the falling rules are a little silly.

We used to have a great pamphlet with alternate rules for lava. It had a page or two of fluff and then a rules section which said something like, "If you fall into lava you're dead." I'd expect those alternate rules might likely apply in a game system seeking to closely emulate ASOIF, but the base Pathfinder rules aren't such a system.

@Grey_Mage - You can talk as a free action even when it isn't your turn. Whether you can choose to talk at a specific time which interrupts other actions or use that speech to trigger readied actions could be a matter of some debate though.

A Paladin using Lay on Hands on himself is normally a swift action while using it on somebody else is normally a standard action. I'm not sure if it is intended that a Paladin should be able to use LoH on himself twice in one round. I'm also not sure if it isn't. Id' expect a lot of DMs to deny such a tactic though.

I've wondered sometimes about self triggered readied actions like your PC readying an action to cast Fireball when he (or another PC) says, "Burn!" Since talking is a free action you can perform outside of your turn it seems like that could potentially work (like "everybody on 3!")

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