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I guess Dasrak (or somebody) might say that the fact you can make a Bloody Burning Skeletal Champion with Create Undead doesn't necessarily mean that you can make a Bloody Burning Skeleton with Animate Dead. Since none of the rules attribute the ability to combine multiple variants with one spell or deny it to another I feel fairly safe assuming that Animate Dead can be used to combine multiple variants.
As far as the Charisma of the resulting creatures goes I guess maybe I'll just have to assume that the highest value counts. I'm pretty sure that the DMs I'm dealing with won't have a problem with that though I always kind of wonder what the official ruling on things would be.
Web searches have turned up several discussions about stacking the bloody and burning skeleton templates. Most folks seem to think that stacking them is legal. Most folks also seem to think that the Hit Dice cost to animate such a creature should be tripled though FrankTheDM feels it should be quadrupled (and maybe he’s right for all I know)
I’d be interested to know if there’s a general consensus on the HD cost, but there’s also another question which I haven’t seen addressed. What Charisma score would a skeleton which was both bloody and burning have? Since skeletons usually have 10 Charisma but adding these variants can increase that to 12 or 14 I’d guess that the highest value is the one which counts. Maybe that’s just the viewpoint of a self-serving necromancer though. What do folks think?
Given the season I'm kind of imagining explosive undead turkeys and "flaming turkey wings".
I remember a good story about an intelligent weapon, and there's even a song about it...
Back in a 3.5 Shackled City game the DM gave every PC free ranks in a "background skill". My Int 8 Barbarian put his in Craft (Club) and started out with a masterwork club. In an early but reasonably successful attempt at modding I sculpted the head of the mini's greatclub to look like it had the face of a bearded man carved into it. Much later on when the PCs were flush with gold the greatclub got enchanted as an item more intelligent than the wielder and sometimes referred to him as Dummy.
The fact that the club could detect invisible creatures and cast Glitterdust was kind of a big deal sometimes. It didn't add much to the complexity of the game though since the DM more or less let me run the club like an NPC cohort or familiar. Back to the subject of black blades for a moment, Shiroi previously mentioned a Magus archetype called Bladebound. It basically gives the character a familiar in the form of a magic weapon. The mechanics differ, but it could easily be handled in a similar fashion with little more work for the DM than if the PC had a familiar.
If a rational enemy is clearly outclassed and has a viable escape option I'll usually use it unless it seems against the enemy's nature or personality. For instance, demons can teleport, but they might fail to retreat due to their murderous rage.
Another option perhaps less used is villains who die but then come back anyhow whether by getting raised or becoming undead. The players get the satisfaction of defeating the foe and perhaps a bit of a surprise when he or she returns, perhaps as part of a deadly ambush.
Escaped enemies can also act against the party in subtler ways by telling other villains the party's strengths, weaknesses, whereabouts, etc. Stuff like this can make running down that last goblin a little more interesting.
If what you're saying is that strawman argument regarding Pathfinder should be called a Straw Golem Argument since Pathfinder has golems and Paizo uses one as their logo then I guess that's not a completely unreasonable suggestion. I can see how you might find that wordplay amusing. Something I find amusing and perhaps more relevant to the discussion of Wizards vs Rogues is Angel Summoner and BMX Bandit.
*What's the worst gaming thing you've ever done?
*The most munchkin-ed PC you've run?
Most ridiculous - Taa Mchunzi was a 3.5 Stalwart Sorcerer with Searing Spell, a +1 metamagic which bypassed fire resistance and allowed you to do half damage even against stuff which was normally immune to fire. He also had a lot of free metamagic from Arcane Thesis, and Fireball was his answer to practically every problem, even efreeti or fire elementals. Since Fireball didn’t work against golems he also had an adamantine construct bane guisarme.
*Worst rule misinterpretation you went with for years?
*OOC behavior at the table that makes you cringe now?
*Shameless plagiarism you passed off as original? (I'm looking at you, Driz'zt clones!)
*Character concept you're most ashamed of?
Whether or not in combat healing is useful is a pretty common debate. While avoiding damage is generally better than healing it I think that having emergency healing available can be very helpful for when the dice take a bad bounce or the monsters get the drop on you.
If somebody wants the Cleric to act like a backpack full of extra hit points that seems more like a cohort. The funny thing would be that if the Fighter took a Cleric cohort the NPC might be more effective overall than the PC even if he or she is 2-3 levels behind.
When it comes to backup bows I often see folks pick them up from treasure, which kind of makes them half price. Since many parties don't reduce a PC's share of treasure for taking relatively minor magic items this can also be a way for the martials to pull a little more than their fair share of treasure.
From a caster's perspective, if you let the Fighter take a magic bow maybe he'll stop bugging the Witch or Wizard to cast Fly instead of casting Win Encounter. You can even conserve a few spells by letting the martials deal with any truly trivial flying encounters while you cuddle your familiar, create a demiplane, order pizza, etc.
Fighter: I find that I can't participate in certain encounters.
Yeah, I actually figured out the -2 for TWF vs Power Attack but then forgot to delete the first sentence - sorry about that. Anyhow, at least by my calculations the TWF damage should go up slightly with Power Attack vs AC 19.
In theory you can make TWF attacks with either weapon first, so you could stab a couple of times with your shortsword before using Shield Slam to push them away. It is also great fun for pushing enemies off cliffs or bouncing them into walls, trees, etc so they fall prone. Eventually you can also pick up Shield Master, which I guess might make a big difference in a lower powered game.
A Lawful PC I have with a couple of Monk levels actually just took a level in Bloodrager despite having a Charisma too low to cast spells. Next level he and my girlfriend's PC in that game will start enjoying some Amplified Rage (for a very limited number of rounds per day)
Bloodrager won't work for my other 2 levels of Monk PC since he's primarily a Feral Gnasher and that is a Barbarian archetype. The Feral Gnasher has an ability which leaves his hands free while he grapples with his Bite, and that allows the use of Crane Wing while grappling. He can maintain the grapple as a Move action and use Total Defense as a standard action, getting a big AC bonus, auto-deflecting one attack, and potentially making an AoO with an unarmed strike. Along with Body Shield and Stunning Fist this creates some pretty amusing 3 Stooges style situations when fighting mooks.
I think better comparisons could be made at levels like 6/11 or 7/12 when characters gain iterative attacks and meaningful new feats.
Potions of Fly can help out in situations besides airborne combat and might be well worth buying if you don't have allied spellcasters who are willing to get you airborne (or in case they run low on spells). Honestly I've often seen (and sometimes had) problems in fights where the opponents weren't actually flying but were merely standing on top of a ledge, cliff, ship, etc.
Carrying admantine, cold iron, and silver arrows to beat DR seems like a good idea. Looking for ways to boost your ranged damage might help a bit too. A bow with an enchantment like flaming or shocking isn't really that expensive, and they tend to show up in treasures anyhow. I think a Deliquescent Glove would also add +1d6 acid damage to your arrows, and it would help your melee damage too.
Sometimes I'm playing a PC who just doesn't feel like using a bow though. Does anybody know if the Steadfast Grapple can be used to haul in creatures? If so that might be a fun way to get flying stuff into melee. In one game we recently used a Fly spell on a Dire Crocodile Fast Zombie and had it snag a dragon for us.
It seems like Ninjas take a lot of damage. I suspect it is because they're often obsessed with getting full attacks to score lots of damage and rarely bother using any sort of debuffs on the enemy (demoralize, trip, dirty trick, etc)
@666bender - An animal companion seems like another good way besides summoning to have fun while spending a lot of actions on support. Ironically, Evil Clerics might be more willing to spend actions healing other PCs since they can have an army of undead to make attacks with.
@Imabticus - Wow, I never knew that. I guess everybody I played with figured that the Power Attack bonus was tied to the Str bonus. It certainly makes the OP's plan to use a katana (or other two-handed weapon) sound pretty good. I'd probably go with the sansetsukon myself. I've always liked the 3 part staff, especially since seeing "The Avenging Eagle" on the late late movie once when I was a teenager. I guess the fact that a bludgeoning weapon doesn't qualify for the Keen enchantment could be seen as a drawback if you're tight on feats though.
@BadBird - The repeated rules changes for my Crane PC have become a minor source of comedy, so I'm actually kind of looking forward to the next change. I'm surprised the PC is still legal at all. If Unchained Monk were compulsory he wouldn't be since he relies on the Martial Artist archetype to resolve an alignment conflict (Monk + Barbarian)
I guess whenever a DM makes a ruling on something which isn't covered in the books there's a risk that Paizo will come along and make a different rule for it later on. If Power Attack hadn't existed before and came out in a new book I'm sure many DMs would say it annoyed them since they were already allowing players to take attack penalties in exchange for damage bonuses. This sort of thing seems bound to happen.
If you'd prefer to see some benefit to all this imagine players who want to play stealthy mages who secretly cast spells but were trapped in games with DMs who said something like, "Nope, there's no DC under Bluff for secretly casting a spell, so there's no rule for it. Even if you use Still and Silent Spell people will see your nose twitch or something. Show me an official rule and then maybe I'll let you try it."
@Snorb - If you've optimized your Bluff check the penalties might not make it difficult to succeed.
It seems like there's something wrong with your math since the shortsword and the greataxe both have the same chance to hit. Let's analyze the situation where the enemy AC is 19. As you said, we won't get into crit threats.
Mw. Greataxe: Average damage per hit is 16.5. The +8 attack is 50% likely to hit (11 or up) and +3 attack is 25% likely to hit (16 or up). That's 75% altogether, so that's 12.375 average damage.
Mw. shortsword and mw. heavy shield: Average damage for both weapons is 6.5 since you've got Double Slice and presumably a spiked shield. The chance to hit is the same, but there are twice as many attacks, so multiply by 1.5 to get 9.75.
+2 battleaxe (maybe): If this is really a +2 axe then at +9 to hit with Power Attack it would do 1d8+9 damage for an average of 13.5 per hit. Your percentage would go up to 85% for 11.475 damage.
If that's really a +2 axe then using it with a shield for defense it might be your best bet for the moment. I'd probably go with the TWF since that seems to be what your PC is built for though. Incidentally, I think your average DPR when using Power Attack with TWF would end up being around 10.45. You'd also have the chance of adding a lot of extra damage against favored enemies and set yourself up to take the Shield Slam feat soon. I highly advise Shield Slam.
Remember, you can always attack with just one weapon when you need greater accuracy, and you could even drop your shortsword and use the shield two-handed if you needed a little extra damage and accuracy. Don't give up that AC bonus and the chance to push foes around.
Does using a two-handed weapon for a flurry still give you improved damage from Power Attack? If so was this something which changed in Unchained?
Shuriken have such a short range that I'd probably focus more on melee and mobility and leave shuriken as a backup to extend your reach a little. As for melee feats, Cornugon Smash or Enforcer could be nice for debuffing foes. You can add Hurtful if you think you'll have swift actions available. I've found the demoralize plus Hurtful combo with a Cruel weapon extremely effective in play. You get an extra attack, and the enemy gets -4 to attacks, -4 to saves, and -2 to damage.
@BadBird - I too was a little disappointed by the decreased likelihood of earning an AoO via Crane Riposte with the latest Crane errata as well as the fact that I can no longer choose which attacker to use my PC bonus against. I had started tracking the number of times the I would have gotten an AoO, been missed, or been hit with the old vs the new rules, but I quickly lost interest.
@DM_Blake - I think 6 PCs of 13th level would normally be APL 14 but being behind on WBL might drop them back towards APL 13. A cloak of resistance +1 sounds pretty feeble for a 13th level PC in a class which badly needs saving throw boosts. Anyhow, I'm sure there are entire threads about APL/CR/XP and how to best account for it while running an AP. In this case it sounds like the party in question is having plenty of trouble even with the 2 extra PCs though.
@Xexyz - How was the party planning to get away from the dragon? I ask since with their very fast fly speed dragons can be rather difficult to get away from. Did the rest of the party almost get killed because they went back to rescue the Fighter? If so did you eventually defeat the dragon? Have you asked the Fighter why he spent all his gold on offense when he seems to have a gap on defense? What is the Fighter's AC now?
@gustavo iglesias - Many years ago (back in 3.5) I instituted a "Wand Tax", and many parties I play in still use it with varying rates (around 10% seems good). I think having a "party fund" of some sort to cover healing and condition removal items is a good idea, especially since you never know which PC might need Neutralize Poison, Restoration, etc. In some parties we each maintain our own items such as in the game where the CG Ninja was using up all the Cure wands super fast since he fights recklessly and won't let us use Infernal Healing on him. More recently he's usually invisible and therefore gets hit less often.
My girlfriend's character generation system for the current campaign was to give us the option of 15 point buy or rolling 3d6 for each stat in order with 12 point buy "on top". You couldn't lower scores to gain more points, but when increasing them you only had to pay the cost difference between your rolled and purchased stat. For instance, if you rolled 14 on the 3d6 you could buy it up to 15 for 2 points, 16 for 5 points, etc. Everybody tried rolling, and there were some pretty funny results including an Alchemist who rolled 3 Con with the option to buy more for 2 points per increase up to 8. I guess how "funny" that is depends on the group, but I rolled alright, so at least the joke wasn't on me.
The same group's previous campaign with a different DM had "in order" stat rolling with a method more similar to what the OP described and no sort of point buy to normalize things. As it turned out most of us rolled ridiculously high, but the "in order" nature of the rolls really did affect some of the class choices. For instance, one guy got 18 Int and Wis and decided it must be the right time to play a Mystic Theurge. In the current campaign I'd been planning on a Cleric who creates undead, but a 12 Wisdom and 6 Charisma compared to a 16 Str and 14 Con helped convince me to try out the Feral Gnasher Barbarian, and that has been a lot of fun.
I think the OP should go for it. I complain sometimes when I have to roll instead of use point buy, but it is fun for a lot of folks and really does lead to some unexpected PCs.
Do you have a way to perform a Dirty Trick as an attack? The Quick Dirty Trick feat lets you do it once per round while the Dirty Fighter archetype allows you to do it whenever you'd like (unfortunately the archetype is for orcs and the ability isn't until 9th level)
Dirty Trick Master can be a very effective feat, especially if you do find a way to attempt more than one Dirty Trick per round. I've had the idea before that an Eldritch Guardian with a familiar who can perform Dirty Tricks and other combat maneuvers might be fun, but I'm not sure if having a buddy who helps you abuse people would fit your character concept (Han Solo had Chewbacca though)
@BadBird - If you read the Ultimate Combat errata from 8/20 I think you'll find that Crane Wing and Riposte might work a little differently from the way you've described. In particular, you don't choose the foe who you get +4 AC against. You just get it the first time each round when somebody would have hit you by 4 or less. I also wouldn't be surprised if some DMs question whether you should be able to make a full attack with a two-handed weapon and still have your hand free for Crane Wing.
If you try to defeat the player in a debate about whether allowing the Stamina system is likely to cause game balance problems I doubt you'll have much fun or success. Digging for evidence here isn't likely to get you a lot of winning arguments beyond the already frequently mentioned, "I'm the DM, so..."
I think Grapple is a confusing and divisive enough subject that Paizo might do well to go into detail when clarifying it, covering even stuff which seems obvious to many folks like the extra damage from Grab, maintaining a pin while using other actions, attacking with two hands separately (instead of while using a two-handed weapon), whether Claws are “hands”, etc.
@Lemmy - Based on recent experiences I'd say that if you're willing to invest in it Dirty Trick is probably the best maneuver long term. It took my Dirty Fighter literally 12-13 levels to really get it going full speed though he had a lot of fun at lower levels with Trip combos (still useful when somebody silly enough to not be flying, serpentine, etc shows up). Grapple can be devastating too, but a fair amount of stuff is difficult or dangerous to grapple, and Freedom of Movement is only a 4th level spell. I guess if there were a feat to beat FoM I might change my opinion (the Tetori class ability is all I know of). Body Shield is great fun though and would be absolutely brutal if you ruled that Grab+Constrict damage activated from the grapple check.
Click here to see our scary jack-o-lanterns, one of which was based on my goblin PC, Chief Sharky. I doubt that many of our trick or treaters were familiar with Paizo style goblins, but they seemed to really like how it looked.
Here's another photo which is less artistic (because I'm a terrible photographer) but shows a little more detail. As might be obvious, I made the "ears" with the pieces of pumpkin I cut out to form the mouth. Hopefully folks might find the idea amusing, and maybe there will be more "goblins" next Halloween. I figure that Paizo goblins would appreciate the fact that jack-o-lanterns are scary and on fire.
Do people feel that the damage from Grab on subsequent grapple checks is supposed to be in addition to any damage that check would normally impose? In other words, would you expect that a lion which grabs you with a Bite would do Bite damage if it pins you? If it selects the Damage action do you think it would do Bite damage twice or perhaps that it could inflict Claw and Bite damage (using the Claw for the Damage action since the Bite is busy maintaining the grapple)
I'd be surprised if you're really supposed to get "double" damage when grappling with Grab, but I can see how people would read the RAW that way. It would certainly make my Feral Gnasher happy, but I think it is too much of a grey area.
That's interesting since it seems like the rules for animal companions are different from those for familiars. Here's the text from the Druid rules.
"Share Spells (Ex): The druid may cast a spell with a target of “You” on her animal companion (as a spell with a range of touch) instead of on herself. A druid may cast spells on her animal companion even if the spells normally do not affect creatures of the companion's type (animal). Spells cast in this way must come from a class that grants an animal companion. This ability does not allow the animal to share abilities that are not spells, even if they function like spells."
I'm not sure whether the secondary class from VMC should count as its own class or as part of whatever the primary class is. The latter would make the VMC Druid a bit more attractive for other casters. You're basically getting extra class features instead of feats, but I'm not sure what class if any those class features belong to.
I don't think that the +5 DC on subsequent attempts even after a successful attempt is a big problem. All 3 of my current PCs use Intimidate a lot. The only one who ever has any trouble hitting the DC has no feats to increase his Intimidate modifier and usually takes a -4 penalty for being Small.
Honestly even with the +5 per attempt I feel kind of lucky if a DM doesn't given me a hassle over trying to demoralize the same foe multiple times. I feel that demoralizing a shaken foe again makes sense since it is something you might do to extend the duration, but some folks think it seems a little odd since the foe is already shaken.
I really like the Enforcer feat. It or Cornugon Smash can allow you to move and still make multiple attacks without having Pounce. One of my PCs often combines Enforcer and Vicious Stomp with Greater Trip to pull off 3 hit combos even when he moves. Even against stuff which can't be tripped he's able to score 2 hits, and the enemy ends up sickened as well as shaken due to his Cruel weapon.
If you gain a familiar or animal companion from variant multiclassing what spells can you share with it? You don't gain spells from the secondary class, so I'm afraid that the answer might be "None". I guess the answer also might be that you can share any spells you gain from other classes which are also on the spell list of your secondary class.
For instance, could a Cleric with the Luck domain could cast True Strike on a familiar gained from a Wizard VMC, or would only actual Wizard spells work? (which seems like kind of a shame since the PC will probably never have any of those besides a single level 0)
You might want to ask the DM where the treasure is and whether you'll be allowed to go shopping at some point. This might be an easier request if somebody knows or learns Teleport. If you're actually allowed to coem up to WBL some of you could stress to the Fighter that he has a problem with defense and he should invest heavily to address that problem rather than just going nuts with offensive boosts so he can have the fun of dealing more damage with his 6-7 attacks while you're stuck saving him all the time.
You could also consider whether the DM is amping the encounters up a little. You mentioned that a lot of the stuff you fight needs a 20 to hit you, and that's the sort of thing that often drives DMs to go a little crazy with raising the CR. I wonder if that 2 Glabrezu encounter was really supposed to be a 1 Glabrezu encounter. If so that sort of stuff can make a big difference in how PCs perform.
If you want to give people lots of potions you could see if you're able to buy the Blackwick Cauldron, which will let you brew potions much faster. If a frontliner with weapons in both hands stops to drink a potion that's a big action economy loss.
If the sorcerer and especially the conjurer care about helping BMX Bandit (the Fighter in this case) they could summon some angels, or even better some azatas. Bralani Azata are reasonably useful combat helpers, and they can do Cure Serious Wounds twice a day. The Lillend Azata can do a little additional healing, and she's a flying Bard. If there are improved familiars in the party you could also give them some wands of Cure Moderate Wounds.
VMC can be a nice way to pick up a familiar. You won't end up "behind" on feats until level 11 or 15, and you might get some other useful abilities too.
If your PC is human you could also consider taking the Focused Study alternate racial ability to help you qualify for Eldritch Heritage. Focused Study replaces the standard human bonus feat at 1st level with free Skill Focus feats at levels 1, 8, and 16. Assuming you can find 2-3 skills worth having a high modifier in this can really help ease the pain of Eldritch Heritage.
If you're worried about the RP aspect of not having the familiar at 1st level there are a bunch of ways to cover that. For instance the PC could:
I wonder how most people would rule on a PC with Eldritch Heritage and an arcane caster level qualifying for an Improved Familiar. Do you need to meet the level requirement with your effective Wizard level, your actual caster level in an arcane class, or possibly both? I'd probably allow either or.
I wouldn't mind being able to emulate an MMA "ground and pound" approach in Pathfinder, but Pathfinder isn't really a combat sports simulation. Giving the creature controlling the grapple some bonuses to attack the grappled creature sounds sensible, and luckily this already happens since you get a +5 to maintain the grapple in subsequent rounds.
@Atarlost - My grappling PC would like to play in a game where humanoid foes are as common as you're describing. We fight incorporeal creatures, trees, Gargantuan fish, the Froghemoth, a Colossal mantis, etc at least as much as humanoids.
Folks can't seem to agree about the touch attacks, and I doubt anything short of developer input will budge either side much at this point. From a game balance perspective I suppose that iterative touch attacks could be very strong for a sneak attacker. On the other hand, I guess that a wand of Flame Blade would accomplish something pretty similar though at a higher action economy cost.
I still wonder whether you really gain the Corrosive property on weapons held in both hands or whether you only get it for 1 weapon held in "that hand" (which some would say implies just one hand as opposed to those hands, your hands, etc). I'd guess you should get the benefit with both hands, but if so that could lead to even more touch attack questions.
I’ve seen a lot of doubt about the “one limb restricted” stuff lately. It would be nice to know if you officially lose the use of a “hand” while being grappled or just can’t use two-handed weapons.
Anyhow, I think that whether grapple is a good option for bears, or more importantly owlbears, probably depends on whether the DM rules that you need to take the “Pin” action round after round while maintaining the grapple to maintain a pin. If so then keeping a foe pinned completely robs most creatures without Constrict of their offensive potential. If not then getting grappled by an owlbear goes from a situation where it does damage to you once per round and you slaughter it with full attacks to one where you’re pinned doing nothing but struggling to get out while an owlbear tears you apart. I've seen many situations in play where this would have made a huge difference in how fights played out.
Based on observations over time I’d say that it seems like most folks on the boards feel that the latter situation is RAW+RAI. I think RAW is vague and wonder what RAI might be. Every table I’ve played at required the pin to be maintained each round, but since I’m the resident “grappling expert” I could be having undue influence over that (which is kind of counterproductive since some of my PCs specialize in grappling). Anyhow, if monsters can maintain a pin while using the action to inflict damage it could be very dangerous for PCs who can’t afford a Ring of Freedom of Movement (an item which makes casters much closer to invincible)
@DuksisDarker - I’ve never heard before that attempting to break a grapple would provoke an AoO. That doesn’t sound correct to me. Could you provide any rules to support this?
@gustavo iglesias - I hate autocorrect when I’m trying to write in Spanish on an English phone too. I wonder if there’s an option to switch languages…
Instead of assuming that crafting is off the table you could ask the DM and the other players what they think about it. Some groups might think it would be fun to have an item crafter. Others might think it is really going too far. Either way the DM might want to make some adjustments to treasure, WBL, etc.
Bards are great cohorts since they buff the entire party (and maybe your army too). They can't provide certain stuff like resistance to energy damage or protection from mind control as well as Wizards though. They also can't make you fly except maybe on a summoned monster (or perhaps a man-sized parrot familiar if you're willing to spend another feat). Lingering Performance plus Saving Finale can really help out with saving throws.
The Evangelist archetype Cleric provides the same Inspire Courage buff as the Bard with a nice selection of defensive and condition removal spells. It can also help you get airborne in various ways, and there are a lot of domain powers which are potentially more interesting for an NPC focused on buffing than a PC who might want to take other actions. For instance, the Law domain can let you touch somebody and make all their d20 rolls result in 11 for a round. That could be great for clutch situations.
Sorcerers provide most of the same benefits as Wizards and could if you so choose come with a flying mount such as a Roc (via Sylvan bloodline). Sorcerers also don't require as much day-to-day prep for spell lists. I'm sorry if I seem a little obsessed with flying, flying mounts, etc. Lack of mobility can be a serious problem for many martial PCs though.
You'll want to train your animal companion in the proper tricks for mounted combat. You might want to check out the Lunar mystery as well. It has some interesting revelations and can be used to gain a wider variety of animal companions including a tiger - Ride the tiger! You can see his stripes, but you know he's clean!
There's a Divine Interference feat which allows you protect allies from being hit (though you can't get it until 11th level). Mounted Combat and later Trick Riding are pretty decent feats for protecting your mount. You could also consider Bodyguard for the PC and or the animal companion and In Harm's Way for the animal companion. That way you could redirect one hit per round from your PC or an adjacent ally into your animal companion and then have the Oracle heal the animal if needed.
If you stick with the Wolf companion then the Tandem Trip feat might help the Wolf knock foes prone more consistently. Paired Opportunists could be a nice feat for improving your AoOs when the foe stands up. With a +4 to hit on top of the enemy's -4 AC from being prone that should make the AoO almost a "sure thing".
Items which aren't use activated and don't have a specified activation cost do indeed require a standard action to activate. I'm not aware of any rule which says that such items deactivate unless you keep spending standard actions each round though.
I think that the description makes it sound as if the gloves are activated by command word (which is a standard action). I'm drawing this from the sentence which says, "These heavy leather gloves ripple and flows at the wearer’s command, reshaping to fit any hand, claw, tentacle, or alien limb." I seem to recall that command word activation is how flaming weapons get "turned on" too, but once you activate them they presumably stay activated until you deactivate them.
One thing a DM and I couldn't agree on is whether a character wearing activated Deliquescent Gloves could make an AoO with the touch attack. Another point of contention was that since the text repeatedly refers to "that hand" many folks feel that the Corrosive property should only apply to weapons held in one hand. This generally wasn't an important point for my sword and board PC since he didn't use TWF, but it could be an important distinction for the dual shortsword wielder in the OP's question.
@Merm7th - Regarding punching somebody with a gauntlet while holding a shortsword in the same hand, I'd allow it though I'm not completely sure that's the correct ruling per RAW.
I agree with avr’s suggestion about dreams. The villain could start showing up in nasty dream sequences which get worse as the campaign progresses. At first they might just be spooky and require a Will save to avoid being fatigued the next day. Eventually they could feature mini encounters which give you some XP if you “win” them but penalties of some sort if you “lose” (maybe ability damage and later on ability, drain, negative levels, or brief periods of losing control and performing spooky or Evil acts while sleep walking)
As for the bleeding through time stuff, that’s OK for dreams, but there could also be tortured spirits, ancient oracles, etc who “show” such stuff to the PCs. I suppose there could be a magical book which has info the heroes will need but also really horrible stuff about the villain and his Evil glory.
Depending on how your group feels about such things you could ascribe some widely reviled characteristics to the villain. In addition to his Evil day job perhaps he’s a sex criminal of some sort. I guess you could also have the cultists stress that they’re doing whatever horrible stuff they do for the glory of the villain and or in an attempt to free him.
It is kind of weird when a FAQ's effects would change game history if applied retroactively. That's one reason why I try to play conservatively with stuff I think is likely to get FAQ'd. I'd hate people to go back and say, "You shouldn't have been able to do X and Y" Knowing your PC (or your wife's) would have lived if what seems like a common sense rule had been in place is probably annoying in a somewhat different way.
While there's a special dispensation for establishing a grapple with Grab during an AoO I suspect that wouldn't allow you to use a free action to release a grapple when it isn't your turn.
Whether or not you can use a free action to repeatedly Grab, release, and Grab a foe during a full attack is something I hope to see detailed in the upcoming FAQ. I'm not sure if it really makes much difference except for the chance to get Constrict damage multiple times (without Greater Grapple, Rapid Grappler etc). This is just one of many questions regarding Grab and full attacks though.