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In some games I've seen the Wall placed along the lines on the battle map. In such games you can cause damage by placing the Wall diagonally or by placing it down the middle of creatures which take up more than one square. In other games (perhaps more) I've seen the Wall placed along a row of squares and affect anything which is in those squares. I'm really not sure which one is correct though letting the Wall occupy squares makes it a little more useful.
Moving out of WoF doesn't cause damage. In fact, a creature who starts their turn in WoF can move along its entire length without taking any additional damage, a fact that an old DM of mine used repeatedly in his successful bid to make me regret ever casting this spell.
When I saw players complaining about a Magus it wasn't due to DPR but the number of actions she was able to accomplish in a round along with some combat maneuver antics with True Strike.
Anyhow, I think damage can be overpowering, but this particular damage doesn't sound like more than a very typical Fighter or Barbarian with Haste could hand out around that level. In fact, when I look at 22 Str, Power Attack, and a +2 weapon either one of those classes comes out around 90 damage if we make the flawed assumption that all of the attacks will hit. It sounds like the Magus is making attacks on regular AC without the benefit of True Strike, so there should have a reasonable chance to miss at least against higher AC foes.
AC 29 is pretty good for 9th level though as somebody pointed out the familiar can't cast Shield on the Magus, so it should mostly be AC 25 unless the Magus knows combat is coming and has a chance to pre-buff. Mirror Image is a really strong defensive spell though. I'd expect that it alone might create a perception that the Magus is "invincible", especially since under pressure the Magus could always sacrifice some DPR to get Mirror Image back up with Spell Combat while still making some attacks.
You used a legal standard, move, and swift action all to accomplish something useful. It sounds like you played the PC very nicely. I guess people might have been surprised that you were able to take so many effective actions in one round.
If folks are really concerned that your healer might somehow be "too powerful" then pointing out that quickened channels cost double and you can only use Combat Healer a few times per day might ease their concerns.
I've always felt that channeling is nice for healing AoE damage across multiple PCs, so I'm glad to see another example from real play.
There really are some nutty things which can be done with summons, but posts on the message boards tends toward hyperbole sometimes. If summoned monsters have seemed useful but not overpowering in your games then it sounds like you’re using them well. Honestly I do think that summons can “completely replace martial PCs” if needed though. A party of 3 Summoners and a Cleric would probably have an easy time romping through adventures. If you’re in a party with competent martial PCs you shouldn’t need to “replace” them though - unless maybe there’s some new Internet trend like “Fighter Shaming”.
Back in 3.5 you could summon Dire Weasels. There was also an Alienist class which could add an "Alien" template with a True Strike ability to summoned monsters as well as making them look really funky. My Alienist found a Metamagic Rod of Empower (6th level) and began summoning "Flaming Alien Dire Weasels". Usually around 5 of them would appear, attach, and begin draining 5d4 Con. There were actually more powerful options out there, but it was too much fun saying "Flaming Alien Dire Weasels".
I think maybe you should take a lesson from the kids and let fun and freedom reign. You've got a couple of "half" healers, and since it sounds like Infernal Healing is legal in PFS wands should be a very affordable way to heal between combat.
A lot of folks will say that if you're healing during combat you're doing it wrong. I wouldn't go that far, but in combat healing in a game where CR is close to APL and the DM isn't a tactics freak should generally be an "emergency" situation. The Paladin and Druid can probably handle such emergencies.
I'm a big fan of using improved familiars as wand jockeys for buffing, and they can team up with the PCs in emergency healing situations. If you're really set on having somebody use Channel Energy for healing during combat I guess Quicken Channel can let the player have a better chance of experiencing some fun on his or her turn.
@Pendagast - Personally the phrase "mad bomber" makes me think of the old Atari game Kaboom! I like the idea of an explosion crazed gnome flinging bombs everywhere. In practice the damage output was even higher than I expected and Force Bombs seemed like a "one size fits all" solution to kill literally any powerful monster we met. Sometimes I wouldn't even bother to use my bombs, but they were like a get out of jail free card.
@Biztak - Throwing in a couple of grapplers to pin down the PC pretty much works against anybody without Freedom of Movement. The fact that Alchemists can cast Freedom of Movement with Delayed Consumption makes it a little less compelling here. To me the rest of what you're suggesting sounds kind of similar to "Wizards aren't too powerful because their spellbooks might get ruined or stolen and the DM can make sure that they don't have enough material components to cast more than a few spells per adventure". Obviously if you and your group find all that fun it is great. On an objective level TWF+Fast Bombs is really strong though, especially if you add in Force Bombs so that resistances and immunities aren't a problem. I also found that Sticky Bombs helped me conserve my bombs per day a little.
As for the Alchemist's real weaknesses I'd say that the low Will save is a big problem. At one point my Alchemist PC failed a Will save and went crazy for a brief time. Most of the party was wise enough to run away and hide, but the Oracle insisted on fighting and got killed. In fact, the player kept insisting on redoing the combat and got killed over and over. The funniest was when he tried putting up a Wall of Ice so he could buff. It took one or two bombs to blow a hole in the Wall. Then I blew up the Oracle with the remaining bombs.
@Virellius - You'd kind of left out the fact that you caved in the entrance and thereby trapped the rest of the PCs, dooming them to almost certain death. That seems like a pretty lame move really.
@Adahn_Cielo - While the PC's action seems cowardly I'm not sure if it would shift his alignment to Chaotic Evil if the intent was to save his own life and protect the community from rampaging monsters. Of course the Paladin probably wouldn't know about intent.
Now that the stigma of "overpowered" is somewhat diminished I was actually thinking of taking the new Crane Wing with two of my 3 current PCs. I'll grant that the Crane Wing feat itself is only OK for most PCs, but a lot of feats are only OK. Crane Style seems nice though, much more efficient than Combat Expertise. Crane Riposte improves that efficiency and adds an AoO, so it seems nice too. I'm sure there will be Crane Riposte detractors too, but if you plan to fight defensively most of the time the +1 to hit is pretty similar to Weapon Focus, so the AoO is really just a bonus.
An OK feat sandwiched between two pretty good ones doesn't seem so bad to me. I know I won't change the opinions of the dedicated errata haters, but maybe people with less strongly held opinions read these boards sometimes. If so perhaps they'll give Crane Wing a chance.
I don't find that Combat Expertise has been a very exciting feat for my Dirty Fighter. Improved and Greater Trip and Dirty Trick were essential to the character I wanted to play though, so prereqs were the price I had to pay. The 13 Int prereq for Combat Expertise is a real killer for an Orc. I'd rather complain about that than Crane Wing. Defensive minded PCs with Monk levels are likely to be taking Dodge anyhow.
@Lormyr - I'm not the one who nerfed Crane Wing, so I can't explain why other powerful feats and abilities were left untouched. Maybe the squeakiest wheel got the oil. Anyhow, out of the feats you mentioned the one which really stands to me out is Dazing Spell. I'm a little ashamed to say that I've used it in the past. The DM was very sad, and for all future games I've suggested a house rule that targets get a new save each round to break the dazed effect. Even with that nobody has gone back and used the feat again yet.
Yeah, more options on the poll would be nice. I'd fall into something like "Didn't use it before but will now". I'd imagine that's a very small group.
Anyhow, people clearly still use Crane Style and even Crane Wing. In fact, the numbers so far show more people using it than not. I also think there's a lot of space between using a feat in builds "as a matter of course" and only using it in "super specialized" builds. I mean, the typical Wizard probably wouldn't invest in Crane Wing, but he probably wouldn't invest in Power Attack either, and most folks think that's a decent feat.
If you are willing to play a Paladin you could put that 4 in Wisdom. Your Will save could still end up OK due to your Charisma modifier. There are enough ways to boost Perception that you'd eventually get past that penalty. For roleplaying purposes I'd think a Paladin with a 4 Wisdom would tend to charge in where angels fear to tread. Especially at low levels he might be lost in thoughts of holy mysteries and the righteous wrath he'll visit on the undead.
If Paladin isn't your thing maybe you could dump Cha but tie a social skill or two to Int using a trait. I have a Cha 5 orc who intimidates people with his Int of 14 (pretty much a genius in orc terms). You could do something similar with Diplomacy if desired.
It might be nice to avoid 4 Int if you can since it makes your skill points painfully low and you'll likely be subjected to claims that your PC "couldn't think of that". There's another thread on this right now in fact.
I think that forcing the player to stop participating in the planning part of the game just because he rolled a low Int score sounds like less fun. I guess one could argue that any plan his PC comes up with on his own should be limited to something the PC could reasonably think of, but I don't think that, "If I steal the key I can let my friends out of the jail cell" is something beyond the mental capabilities of a small child or an adult smart enough to mow lawns and maybe do domestic work and simple carpentry.
Is it Wise to Prohibit / Restrict Consumable Magic Items (wands, scrolls, potions, etc.)? In a Dungeon Delve?
@Rudy2 - The complaint about healing being suboptimal is generally focused on in combat healing. If you have access to wands or similar expendables for out of combat healing then the PCs can choose whether or not to bother with in combat healing. If you don't then it seems like it could become almost mandatory for somebody to play a "healer".
Is it Wise to Prohibit / Restrict Consumable Magic Items (wands, scrolls, potions, etc.)? In a Dungeon Delve?
@Rudy2 - I think that forcing somebody to play a Cleric or other "healer" when they don't want to could be a bad idea. That's doubly true if you're going to force the PC to use a lot of his or her daily powers just keeping the party's hit points up. There are probably a thousand threads on how suboptimal healing is. Making it worse and rubbing some player's nose in it doesn't sound like much fun to me.
Wands help set players free. I wish there were more reasonably affordable healing methods available right from 1st level. Scrolls of Infernal Healing aren't bad if they're available, but they often aren't, and some PCs won't want to use them due to the Evil aura.
Haste is definitely nice, but people can get that effect from an affordable pair of magic boots. A familiar with a wand of Haste is nice though I’d buy a wand of Good Hope first. Fireball is one of the classic spells of D&D though. D&D wouldn’t be D&D without Fireball. Of course Pathfinder technically isn’t D&D, but Fireball is still a big spell low level mages have aspired to for 40 years now. Also, while what’s “best” might seem subjective to some the Fireball spell offers a nice mix of long range, low enough level to be used with metamagic, and a decent dice cap.
Dazing Spell seems a little nuts, especially as a metamagic rod. I used Dazing Spell a few times with one PC in a previous campaign. Folks found it pretty excessive though, so it has been house ruled to allow a new saving throw each round.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional power gamer. The viewpoints expressed here might result in suboptimal power levels, PC death, or even having fun.
If you want folks to use more SR items and spells you might consider house ruling that spells with the "(harmless)" tag in their SR entry can pass through SR freely unless the creature with the SR intentionally resists them - kind of like how you can willingly fail the save against a beneficial spell
I've seen this rule used before, and it didn't seem to have any profound effects on the game. Nobody bought SR items anyhow since they cost a lot and are often too weak to be effective against enemy casters. Maybe it would also help adoption to use lots of "mook" casters who plink the PCs with low level nuisance spells.
I mean, I'm not sure why you want folks to buy SR items. I'm just trying to think of ways to make it happen.
I'd always heard that the DM was "supposed to" build the cohort. Maybe that was a rule in 3.5, but I can't seem to find it in Pathfinder, and based on the links it looks like two members of the design team have said the player should get to design the cohort.
This sounds nice so that players don't get stuck with a cohort htey hate. Unfortunately it brings the fact that Leadership is really powerful even more to the forefront though. Granted, some PCs already have useful pets like animal companions, familiars, and even the dreaded eidolon, but a cohort is potentially an even bigger boost for just a single feat.
Most campaigns I've played in ban or at least highly discourage Leadership due to the power of the cohort and the extra time it takes during play.
Many folks are strictly against tactics. They like low AC, high DPR, rushing in headlong, and trusting in the dice. Exhortations to control choke points or fight in an organized manner are seen as attempts to control their PC and ruin their fun.
@Ascalaphus - Regarding the animal companion which couldn't get up front, I've become a big fan of mounted combat partially because it helps concentrate the party's offense into a smaller number of squares. The Narrow Frame and Cavalry Formation feats could improve this even more.
As a longtime viewer and one time participant in violent sports (football for me) I think that fumbles aren't really as uncommon as some folks seem to feel. Plenty of boxers have slipped and fallen while throwing a punch or even just trying to move around. I've seen some MMA bloopers as well including multiple guys breaking their leg while kicking. As UFC fans should know, these "fumbles" can happen even to great champions.
If you watch football games closely you'll probably see a lot of guys slip and fall. You'll certainly see guys hurt themselves when they hit other people. Knee injuries while running aren't even that uncommon. I think that adding a "fumble check" for movement in combat would be going too far, but slippery areas which require Acrobatics checks could actually be fun and give characters like Rogues a chance to shine a little (and those rules are already part of the game)
On the other hand, Pathfinder isn't really a game about realism. Groups should obviously do what they feel is fun. All of the people I play with who don't post on the forums seem to agree that the fumble deck is fun though. One DM seemed kind of miffed to hear that there are people who don't like fumbles and basically accused them of being sentimental wimps.
The DM has officially discouraged my PC's janitorial aspirations. It seems like an Orc can't even get a job cleaning the toilets in this town. Those Elves are a prejudiced lot. They'll pay one day...
There's a trait called Tools of the Trade that gives you a +1 bonus when attacking with tools related to your Profession skills. My "garden gnome" found that it can be a nice bonus at 1st level, but all too soon you get overtaken by questions about whether you can buy a masterwork rake. Don't even ask about a flaming rake +1 which burns old leaves as you rake them. People will act like you're being silly or something.
Picking your class before rolling does sound needlessly tough, but I think you should have put your +2 in Charisma "for the long term". Figure, you'd be within easy reach of Cha 14. Divine Grace would be nice. Take Oath of Vengeance and start Smiting everything in sight. The DM would probably say you're overpowered and need to be nerfed.
I played an entire 14 level campaign with something like 5 or 10 point buy back in 3.5. The DM also put lots of time in between adventures so that PCs would age and lose physical stats. Some folks couldn't stand it. I tried to rebel against the DM's complaints that my last PC was overpowered by playing a Bard, only I found out that I actually really enjoy playing Bards...though they're actually a bit more fun when they aren't limited to 8 Str like that one...
A DM for an upcoming game gave the group a choice of 15 point buy or rolling 3d6 in order and "adding" 12 point buy on top of it. As stat rolling addicts everybody went for the 3d6 plus 12 points, and it turned out pretty ugly in most cases. The guy with the 3 Con Alchemist (I think he actually bought it up to 7) rarely shows up anyhow, but the Dex13, Cha15 Bard seems a little bitter since he wanted to play a high Dex Rogue (which seems like it would be easy enough as a goblin). If he had taken the point buy he easily could have had a Dex in the 18-20 range, but the lure of the dice is too strong. It seems like players dream of rolling high and other folks rolling low or sometimes just of rolling a really high or low stat to make their PC sillier.
From recent real games:
DM Says (to 2nd level PCs without magic weapons): You see two shadowy shapes emerge from the cave wall and begin to move towards you.
DM Says: Do you lift the vase?
I actually caught onto the vase thing in a recent adventure and decided to use an elaborate solution involving a spear, twine, fishing hooks, and a fishing net to get objects out of vases full of sand without lifting them or sticking my hand in them. The objects ended up being gems. The DM later confirmed that party members probably would have died if I had tipped a vase.
SoD often ends fights quickly, and that seems "unfun" to a lot of people. As a PC targeted by SoD I dislike getting wiped out by one bad d20 roll. As a DM I dislike not knowing whether a particular monster is more likely to be a threat or go down before it even moves. As a player on a team with a SoD caster I sometimes feel like we're not really working together, especially if I'm trying to kill the monster with HP damage and the SoD guy is just plugging away hoping for the DM to roll low on a saving throw (or boosting the DC really high and just hoping the DM doesn't roll high)
If the Witch focuses on debuffs and lets the other PCs have a share of the killing that's more fun IMO. This was true even when I played the Witch. The fact that PC had Dazing Spell also brings to mind the idea that feat should be nerfed (offering a new saving throw each round would probably work well). That's kind of off topic as far as Witches go but rather emblematic of the SoD/SoL issue.
Combat Reflexes can be nice. If the DM changes tactics to avoid your AoOs you've already gained a measure of control over the fight. Obviously it is a lot better when combined with other abilities.
Reading this thread has inspired me to look at whether I can fit Combat Reflexes, Greater Trip, and Vicious Stomp into my Dirty Fighter build. The PC's Dex won't be super high, but being able to hit a foe twice on the way down and once again on the way up would be cool. If he stays down to avoid the AoO I can take advantage of the +4 to hit with Power Attack.
Of course I'll be a sitting duck for touch attacks, and I'll have horrible saves, but that's probably true for most Fighters.
I'm glad that there are fewer ways in Pathfinder to make SR meaningless than there were in 3.5, but I guess there will only be more as time goes on. Still, Inquisitors can beat SR pretty easily, and Alchemist Bombs are Su. There are also a number of spells which don't allow SR, so I wouldn't say that the Witch is unusual in her ability to bypass SR.
My impression of message boards discussions of problematic abilities is kind of like:
I'm not saying anybody is right or wrong. That just seems kind of like how it goes.
Diego's suggestion for arrow slits seems reasonable, but at least for home games it also seems safe to rule like thejeff that they "just work". I mean, there are some rules in the book describing the benefit of firing from behind an arrow slit, so it isn't unreasonable to assume that there should be some way to actually gain that benefit.
I was a staunch opponent of fumbles which activate on a natural 1, and several groups probably felt I was a spoilsport because of it. The confirmation roll and the rule that you can only fumble once per combat really do make a big difference though. Regarding martial PCs with low iterative attacks, we did have one half-orc Barbarian who would refuse to make his lowest BAB attacks against high AC opponents on the assumption that he'd be more likely to fumble.
Clerics work fine. They're great at removing conditions since they have the right spells on their list. If you're really into the idea of always having just the right solution to the problem at hand you might consider taking Scribe Scroll or Craft Wand so that you can have the various condition removal spells handy. Wands of CLW and CMW are great too.
I think using the Evangelist archetype could be really nice since you get Inspire Courage like a Bard. Your Channel Energy would cure less damage, but you could always increase that with a magic item, and if you summoned monsters they'd get the bonuses from your Inspire Courage. You could kind of call in vengeful angels to set things right. Of course Perform (Oratory) might seem odd for a gruff and generally quiet guy. Maybe when the only time he talks much is when he's preaching but then it is really compelling. Of course there are a bunch of other archetypes.
I'm also a fan of the Animal Domain, which gives you an animal companion. It can be quite powerful if you take the Boon Companion feat. In fact, it could do the fighting for you while you concentrate on healing and other spells. A gruff old guy with a fierce Wolf or some other deadly beast might fit the image you're looking for. Maybe the animal starts following him after he heals it.
In my experience as a player, the Witch's defenses seemed subpar. If the DM can get monsters near the Witch it should cause trouble.
Slumber - I think one of the best ways to "fix" this hex is to house rule Coup de Grace. In most of the games I play we've removed the Fort save vs death and just made it an automatic crit. We've kicked around the idea of increased the crit damage by 1x too. This leaves Slumber as a very strong tactic but not an instant death sentence. We first enacted the rule at my suggestion when my Witch had Slumbered a major monster (behir) and seemed set to ruin the night's fun. A nice side effect is that DMs don't feel as guilty if they have ghouls and mummies go nuts with CdG when somebody gets paralyzed.
Useless against Mindless - My Witch had some trouble with this too but solved it by getting some pet monsters via multiclassing and feats. Summon Monster spells are also on the Witch list and are a great solution to this problem.
I'd think that a lot of groups would be very happy to have somebody willing to play a healer. If you wanted to come pump hit points into my PC that would always be welcome. That said, you'd be better off just playing an enjoying your PC than trying to get folks on the message boards to approve of it.
What sort of character do you want to roleplay? If you're focused on buffing have you considered a Bard? They generally participate a lot in roleplaying, and they're great at buffing the party. Clerics and Oracles can do so too depending on what you're going for.
My Viking fumbled twice last session and even managed to stun himself at one point. If casters don't fumble too that would only increase his disdain for them. Fumbles and crits are part of the glory of battle. Come, he might say, join the ranks of the brave who never know what putting a d20 on the table might mean for good or ill. If you wish you can hide behind him with the finger wigglers and the cowards, but you'll never be glorified in the sagas that way.
FYI for those who might not know, Paizo's fumble deck includes rules for “confirming” your fumble in a fashion similar to that used for critical hits. This means that skilled combatants will rarely fumble during simple attacks, and honestly over the course of time we’ve seen far more and worse fumbles by the monsters than by the PCs. It also limits fumbles to once per encounter per creature, so there isn't as much of a 3 Stooges vibe. The fumble deck includes a lot of different results besides the common homebrew stuff like "drop your weapon" or "stab yourself". There are also fumbles for magical attacks so that if the Sorcerer rolls a 1 with Disintegrate there could be a big problem.
@Fromper - I'm pretty sure the intention is that you can fire out of arrow slits without penalty. I guess maybe the "Low Obstacle" rules Joana quoted could be used though honestly I'd say that you can't ignore an arrow slit unless you're adjacent to it. Maybe it is considered a "common sense" ruling though I guess that might not help much for PFS.
The Kensai ability seems a lot cooler if the Kensai can make the AoO with his favored weapon and do so even if he's not threatening with anything else. Having katana kensai wear spiked gauntlets so they're always threatening doesn't help make the game better.
Perhaps JJ's responses earlier in the thread show that we're too often slaves of RAW and precedent and should learn to be more adaptive. Unfortunately it is often difficult to gain consensus within a group about what is or isn't balanced and sensible. Letting the Kensai's AoO ability work in a thematic way lots of players would expect it to work doesn't seem like a big stretch to me though.
If you stay away from touch attacks, don't use Mirror Image, and keep your AC mediocre there's probably a decent chance your PC will be considered fairly reasonable in many groups. I've also noticed that there's generally more good will towards PCs like Barbarians who get hit a lot but have super high HP than towards PCs who are hard to hit but might have half as many HP or less. The former are perceived as fearless guys who stand up front while the latter, even if they're also effective front line combatants, are perceived as cowardly and overpowered.
That said, I'm not sure if there is even a fine line between overpowered and incompetent. Almost any PC who can fill a role competently is at risk of being labeled overpowered at some point.
If a PC with low Cha and no Diplomacy tries to be suave and charming the DM should call for skill checks and see how that goes.
That said, low stats can help define a PC as much as high stats. I generally have more fun roleplaying stupid PCs than smart ones. Weird accents, malapropisms, and mispronunciations are my roleplaying bread and butter. When I play a smart PC he's usually got some other comedic quality such as being absentminded, hot headed, arrogant, etc. I guess some of those might not sound comedic, but it sort of depends on how you play it.
It strikes me as odd that so many groups seem to have rules against having a stat below 10. I can understand that some people might not want to play a PC who is stupid, impulsive, socially awkward, clumsy, or phsyically weak, but I'm not sure why they'd want to make sure nobody else does either. Is the idea that the "dumpers" would gain an unfair advantage and outshine the PCs with more balanced ability scores?
If a scenario without explicit depictions of sex features two women who are married to each other I guess that might aggravate some people, but real life sometimes features two women who are married to each other. They might even show up as players at your PFS table. If they start having sex right there at the table you've probably got a valid complaint (or a fulfilled fantasy...I guess it depends who you are...)
@Odraude - Seriously, a young kid might ask about that...
I'm not saying those are good explanations of what "gay" means. In fact, they're probably kind of clumsy and confusing. I'm not sure if a gaming table with strangers is the ideal scenario for explaining sexual orientation to kids. Parents who care about such things should probably take the initiative to find teachable moments at home. Gay marriage is in the news. President Obama and Vladimir Putin talk about homosexuality. Unless somebody is raising a family of ostriches these issues shouldn't be secret and mysterious anymore.
There seem to be a lot slippery slope arguments that if you allow Grab on an AoO then people will be able to use that as precedent so they can change their grip on weapons, draw weapons with Quick Draw, or drop prone to avoid ranged attacks while it isn’t their turn. There’s nothing in the language of the Grab ability which would allow these various actions though. There is something in the language of the Grab ability which allow a free action to grapple. I can’t see any slippery slope here. These are different issues.
The use of “prompted” free actions from special abilities out of turn seems like an unclear spot in the rules to me. I could imagine Paizo ruling either way on it or even ruling different ways for different abilities. In the past they've ruled that Snap Shot can prompt a free action. Obviously this situation is rather different. I've already expressed my opinion on Rock Catching, but I wouldn't presume to guess how Paizo will rule on AoO+Grab. I will point out that Trick Riding seemingly allows you to use two immediate actions (for the same thing) in one round though. I think sometimes things are just supposed to work the way which would make the most sense in play. Unfortunately we can't all agree on what makes sense.
@DEXRAY - I'd guess that IF Paizo ruled allowing the use of Grab during an AoO you'd be entitled to option #2. I'd say that #3 is out since there's nothing in the language of the Grab ability which grants you a free action to drop somebody. If you make a successful grapple check then constrict damage applies.
@Nefreet - I wonder if whoever wrote the rules didn't expect that they'd undergo a rigorous semantic inspection down to such minute points. Perhaps the "free action" language was put into Grab just to help make clear that this grapple attempt doesn't require a standard action like a regular grapple attempt would. If they didn't include some language like "free" or "without using a standard action" then maybe people would be arguing that you can only use Grab if you hit somebody with an AoO during your own turn. I'm just guessing. These questions have been coming up for years for Grab, Trip, and Rock Catching though. I hope Paizo will rule one way or the other.
My impression is that taking an AoO (or speaking) doesn't explicitly give you a free action to change your grip on your weapon (or draw a new one), so you can't do it. A Purple Worm hitting with a Bite does explicitly give it a free action to grapple though, so the worm can do it. In my opinion a Frost Giant who looks just like Lagertha Lothbrok being hit with a rock also gives her a free action to catch it. These are not free actions those creatures could take at other times. They are specific results of other events in combat. For instance, even during its turn a Purple Worm can't just crawl up and grapple you as a free action. That free action is triggered by hitting with an attack which has Grab.
I can understand DEXRAY's strict RAW based opinion that you would need to ready an action to catch a rock, but I think it seems silly since the ability could simply say that you can ready an action to catch a rock. It would also be a fairly worthless ability. That doesn't mean I'm right of course, but I think the "intuitive" feeling that Rock Catching should work as a defensive ability out of turn is strong enough that it isn't completely unreasonable to ask for a FAQ answer. Grab is a much more important ability and certainly FAQ-worthy.
Wizards get bonus feats which can be used for item crafting. There also tends to be a lot of downtime in Kingmaker. Those two things combined could give you the chance to craft lots of magic items. I'm personally fond of having an Improved Familiar which can activate wands. Faerie dragons are very useful in this regards.
There have been a number of threads on this. I recall that the Rock Catching ability giants have is also a free action. If they can't take that free action when it isn't their turn then the ability is nearly useless. Some might say "RAW is RAW" and shrug that off since Rock Catching isn't a very important ability in the average game. Grab, on the other hand, is a major ability and the source of most PC deaths in many games I've played and run.
Anyhow, I think if an ability gives you a free action to perform some sort of check you should be able to take that free action even when it isn't your turn. Once per round when a Frost Giant is hit by a rock she can attempt to catch it as a free action. If a Purple Worm hits with a Bite it gets a grapple check as a free action. It seems consistent to me and allows both abilities to work the way I'd expect.
Back in 3.5 my drunken master and aspiring "god of cookery", Chow Man Tsui, wielded a Monk's Spade called "The Pizzastick" (like a pizza peel) and used it both to get pizza out of the oven and to shovel coals for BBQ.
I'd also like to correct an earlier post by pointing out that Lubomyr Romanovych's "Cruel Sword of Justice" is actually an Aldori dueling sword rather than a longsword (though mechanically there's no difference since he doesn't use Weapon Finesse)
In HBO's Game of Thrones the Hound recently expressed a rather negative opinion of people who name their weapons. Arya didn't seem discouraged though.