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Douglas Muir 406's page

9,703 posts. 5 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 alias.


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The Yeth Hound is a good example of a lowish-level monster that, in groups, can cause serious problems to high level PCs. The save DC for the bay isn't very high, but if you're facing a pack of six hounds, then each PC has to save six times.

If you set things up so that panicked PCs run directly into something nasty, why, you can have all sorts of fun.

Doug M.

Well, they start at CR 2 now. I haven't run the numbers, but yeah -- obviously they're OP for a PC race. Bonuses to every stat, bunch of immunities, SR... I don't recall how Paizo handles playing monsters as races, but that'd be a thing here.

The 2e cambion came late in 2e when things were getting very random. (Remember, the first few years of 2e had no demons at all! Thanks, concerned mothers of America.)

Doug M.

Cambions have been around since first edition -- Iuz and Acererak were cambions, back in the day -- and the Bestiary 5 has given them a nice makeover, as you can see if you click right here. But they don't seem to be getting much love on these forums yet.

A couple of quick thoughts.

-- By eliminating the +8 BAB requirement, Sadistic Strike makes Improved Critical available to lower level characters. So a relatively low-level cambion fighter or rogue could be a deadly critfisher. I suspect you could get some freaky crit builds with a dedicated cambion fighter.

-- Cambions get bonuses to all their stats, so they're an interesting starting point if you want to build really MADdy NPCs to throw at your PCs. The sinfrenzies don't scale directly with class level, and their duration is based on total hit dice, so they actually make dipping, multiclassing and shifting to PrCs easier.

-- The sinfrenzies aren't all that powerful, but they're nicely flavorful -- and they do make a difference at low levels, where another die of SA damage or +2 on favored enemies can make a real difference. Paradoxically, this means cambions are actually more frightening as opponents for low level characters. A bunch of 1st or 2nd level PCs will really have to worry about the 4th level cambion ranger -- +5 attack / +4 damage plus Improved Critical means the cambion can easily one-shot any PC who's a favored enemy. The group of orcs led by the 3rd level cambion bard will also be pretty alarming, as they're all getting +2 / +2 the moment she opens her mouth.

-- SR doesn't scale either. (Tangent: I wish Paizo would come up with a rule for that.) So, at low levels a cambion is dangerously resistant to the PCs' magic. At high levels SR 13 can be pretty much ignored, of course. Otherwise, three nice resistances at 10 and, ooh, telepathy 30'.

What else? Well, it's left unclear how you'd distinguish a cambion from a tiefling. I mean, the cambion is an outsider, and they vary less in appearance, but I suspect you'd need a specialist (i.e., a DC 20+ Knowledge: Planes check) to spot the difference.

Anyway. These guys seem interesting enough; has anyone done much with them?

Doug M.

Verzen wrote:

A dread necromancer like class.

The 3.5 DM was pretty underpowered, and you can get most of this with archetypes now.

An Archiver type class. (Very knowledgeable about monsters. Gets bonuses against certain monsters and can allow the party to gain said bonuses as well.)

There are a number of things that do stuff like this already, from preferred enemies to the feats that let you make knowledge checks for bonuses.

A soul harvester type class. (Soul Harvesters are capable of using the souls of their fallen enemies in new and unique ways, granting the soul harvester bonuses.

Here I agree. The closest thing currently is the Souleater PrC, which is flavorful at first but ultimately pretty boring and pointless. You can create soul gems, and... use them to power your staff? Definitely a missed opportunity on Paizo's part.

Doug M.

One-shot session tomorrow night: three players, one of them new, 3-4 hours. Looking for a fast scenario that will introduce the newbie to the game without boring the other two.

Realistically we're looking at some roleplay, two or three combats or encounters, and a boss fight. So, probably something even shorter than a typical PFS adventure. NPCs are always good; stuff that engages a new player, also good.


Doug M.

There was an adventure in Dungeon magazine back in the early 2000s that involved something like this. [googles] Yah, "Caverns of the Ooze Lord" from Dungeon #132. Maniac discovers way to infect inhabitants of a village with ooze; once infected, they gradually mutate into monstrous ooze-human hybrids, then simply into oozes, all under maniac's control. He plans to unleash an army of etc. etc.

Unfortunately for your purposes, it addressed the infection problem by creating a special new type of ooze (olive slime) and a new magic item (the [i]sickstone[/]). Fun high concept adventure, though.

Doug M.

I picked up Agents of Evil, in part to see if there was anything that might add to the Guide. There are a few.

Otherworldly Influence (story feat) -- +2 on Bluff and Diplomacy vs. evil outsiders, plus a bit of SR (5+level) against them too. Not amazing but not bad.

Overachiever (story feat) -- the base benefit is okay; basically you're getting +3 in one skill in return for being fatigued when you use it. Which is another way of saying, +3 in one skill in return for a casting of Lesser Restoration. Not bad, not great. But the story completion switches this to +3 in /any/ skill, or +6 beyond 10th level. That's very good, and makes this worth a second look. Nicely thematic, too.

Wretched Curator (story feat)-- More skill bonuses, which is okay but nothing special. But the completion bonus could be quite nice, especially if you're in a campaign world full of good-aligned creatures who cast Protection from Evil a lot, and/or if you're throwing spells with the Evil descriptor pretty regularly.

Traits: For The Money -- the +2 trait bonus would apply to negotiating Planar Ally costs.

Spells: Detect Fiendish Presence-- A cantrip that detects not just evil outsiders, but "the lingering effects caused by their gifts, presence, and spells"? and that detects clerics and paladins (?) of evil deities", even if they wouldn't otherwise have an aura? That's pretty excellent for a cantrip. Take it. And if you're playing in Wrath of the Righteous, or in any other campaign that may involve lots of hidden evil, take this whether you're playing a Diabolist or not.

Devil Snare -- This would be excellent except for the silly short duration (rounds/level), which makes it pretty useless outside of combat. Might be useful as a backup spell against outsiders with low Will saves; if they fail one save they're stuck, fail two saves and you get to banish them.

Alternate Racial Trait: Champion of Dark Powers (Drow) -- give up half your SR in return for +1 DC on all spells with the Evil descriptor.

-- I would not call any of these particularly important. Put another way, in the Guide I wouldn't mark any of them higher than green. (Well, I guess the cantrip would be blue. But it's still a cantrip.)

If anyone knows of anything else that's come up since I posted this back in September, feel free to chime in.


Doug M.

4mb4r4b4 wrote:
Well, I'm really curious about this Celiax material, in fact i started this thread because for sure there are some new things that I missed somewhere.

Checking, all I have so far is some stuff from Agents of Evil.

Otherworldly Influence (story feat)
Overachiever (story feat)
Wretched Curator (story feat)

Traits: For The Money

Spells: Detect Fiendish Presence, Devil Snare

Alternate Racial Trait: Champion of Dark Powers (Drow)

-- I would not call any of these particularly important. Put another way, in the Guide I wouldn't mark any of them higher than green. Right now I'm waiting for Arcane Anthology (out in two weeks); I'll probably buy that and flip through it to see if it has anything worth adding to the Guide. But for now, I'd say the current version (that's the one I posted here back in October) is still good.

Doug M.

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Additional plot seeds:

-- A couple of cultists of Sifkesh, demon of suicide, have seen Garzuul in a vision. They've come to make contact with him and recruit him into their cult. Garzuul has zero interest in this, and is frankly alarmed that the cultists have found him. He may seek to recruit the PCs to deal with the "demonic infestation" that is threatening their fair city. Of course, he'll want to tag along quietly to make sure the cultists don't say anything incriminating before the PCs cut them down...

-- Garzuul has a special relationship with Jitters, a halfling. Jitters is a charming little creature with adorably curly hair, big brown eyes, and a sweet, gentle smile. He's also a murderer, a thief, a drug addict, a habitual liar, and an utterly self-centered Chaotic Evil little sociopath. Garzuul is reversing his usual tactics here: he's keeping Jitters relatively sane and preventing him from destroying himself. That's partly because the halfling is a good source of information, but it's mostly because Jitters is more fun alive than dead. He's leaving a trail of robberies, murders, broken hearts, betrayed trusts, drug deals gone bad, and generally horrific chaos behind him. The bell tower is the only place Jitters feels safe, and the gargoyle is almost the only friend he hasn't betrayed yet.

Garzuul knows that one day he'll have to nudge the halfling over the drop. He's actually a little sad about that! He'll miss Jitters. Meanwhile, he's taking notes...

PCs may encounter Jitters as anything from a con artist to an assassin. A chase scene may end up in the bell tower, leaving Garzuul with a painful decision. (Painful, but not difficult. He'll sacrifice the halfling in an instant if he thinks his own position might be threatened.)

Doug M.

It's a perfectly fine idea; may be tricky in the implementation.

If you're looking for some melee + survivability + crowd control, are you sure you want a sorceror? A magus, an eldritch knight, or even a properly built mesmerist could do just as well.

For level... well, if the PCs are 5th, and you want to be sure of shutting them down, I'd say 12th level. That's APL+6. Normally a boss is APL+3 or APL+4; +5 should do the job, but you never know when PCs are going to roll crazy and get lucky. If you have more PCs, or the players are very experienced, add another level.

As others have pointed out, you need a reason for him not to kill the PCs. Note that it doesn't have to be a *great* reason. Just, some reason.

Doug M.

4mb4r4b4 wrote:


Well, I'm really curious about this Celiax material, in fact i started this thread because for sure there are some new things that I missed somewhere.

I'll post it on the Guide to the Diabolist thread sometime in the next few days.


I just have a concern about the sentence "And then have each imp take Skill Focus (Intimidate)".

How do you will have your familiar take this feat?

Under RAW familiars don't get feats as they advance. However, a DM could allow you to retrain an existing feat.

Doug M.

4mb4r4b4 wrote:
Why do you think is overkill?

Kingmaker is a great AP -- one of the best. And it's a lot of fun to play. HOWEVER... it's notorious for being the most "15 minute adventuring day" of all the APs. (I don't think that's a spoiler; this has been discussed for years.) There are relatively few protracted dungeon crawls, and lots of done-in-one encounters where you have plenty of time to rest up before the next thing. So it's not normally an AP where you have to crank up the firepower. This annoys some people; others like it because they can try different sorts of PCs.

HOWEVER(2)... your DM may adjust the settings -- many DMs do, especially ones who have run Kingmaker before. Also, even if your DM plays it straight as written, there are still lots of things for a Diabolist (or other planar binder character) to do. Calling devils isn't only about increasing your party's combat power! There are many other things you can use them for, especially at higher levels. Also, role-playing a Lawful Evil character in Kingmaker could be all kinds of fun: we will conquer this wilderness, bring law and order, and raise a mighty cathedral to Asmodeus on the bones of our defeated foes!

I already read Douglas Muir 406's threads, also the ones about Diabolist PrC that I really like as flavour, and for the Imp companion.

Well, thanks for the kinds words. I'm planning an update soon with the new Cheliax material. (Nothing huge or game changing, just a couple of new feats and traits and such.)

My first idea was to couple the Infernal Binder Wizard School with the Diabolist PrC, so to have 2 Imps.

Google "Two-imp debuff" on this forum. If you're feeling whimsical...


Doug M.

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lemeres wrote:
Hmmm... great character, and massively satisfying degree of backstory and plot seeds.

Thank you!

I might make suggestions for what to do if you need more than one creature in the encounters (cause 1 big bad encounters are usually 'meh' if its CR isn't WAY too high for the party)

I thought about that. I considered giving him Summon Monster II or Summon Swarm. I liked the visual on that last one -- a gargoyle surrounded by a swarm of bats -- and he could Inspire Courage to make both of them tougher. Also considered giving him a Robe of Bones or something similar. But ultimately I didn't, because he's not really a combat monster. Oh, he could get in an interesting tussle with a low-level party. But fighting isn't really his thing. (This is the same reason I didn't give him a missile weapon even though, as a bard, he could totally have one.)

No, if seriously threatened, he's going to run straight to the wizards. And the wizards won't like to see a bunch of scruffy adventurers beating up their mascot...

-- So Garzuul isn't really an opponent you have a boss fight with. Either you find some way to expose him, or you just deal with him as a continuing nuisance until you're finally high enough level to simply blast him out of the sky. That said, if you do want to set him up as a combat opponent, your idea below is an excellent one:


He needs to get intimately familiar with victims, and he often forms a close relationship with them so he can use diplomacy, bluff, and spells to push them along. Since these are people that will (eventually) be at the brink of suicide, they will be emotionally unstable. Perhaps emotionally dependent on their 'one true friend'. And Garzuul shouldn't shy away from taking advantage of such resources when he needs to.

So don't be scared to have a few unhinged NPCs as backup during a direct fight. Garzuul can easily just say "Oh, things haven't been going so well for me recently either- this strange group of drifters have been following me all week. I think they have bad intentions".

Could be interesting in a fight- maybe allow the party to make diplomacy checks (or heck, bluff checks) to make them question Garzuul's 'advice', potentially turning Othello against 'dear faithful Iago'.

Bingo. Now, since most people aren't adventurers, a typical victim is going to be a relatively low level commoner or expert. That said, (1) a wealthy merchant or lawyer or other respected citizen can make all sorts of trouble for the PCs even if they don't have class levels; and (2) Garzuul likes a challenging game, so there'll be occasional dangerous adventurer-types. Especially from classes with low Will saves. Also, Garzuul's uncanny ability to know what's going on in the city may have earned him some allies that he doesn't need to charm; the local Thieves Guild, or simply a gang of drug runners or smugglers, may have some sort of arrangement with him.

Doug M.

SmiloDan wrote:

I think I might steal this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's so awesome, I'm not even going to ask your permission. :-P

I'm just going to take it.

Take it away. I only ask that if you use it, let me know how things play out!

The Iron Dragon's Daughter is amazing urban fantasy, and more epic than modern day, but not totally epic and not totally not modern day.

It's a bit neglected IMO. True, it was written over 20 years ago. But it still is amazing, and hasn't aged a bit.

Doug M.

(This was inspired in part by an episode in Michael Swanwick's fine book _The Iron Dragon's Daughter_. If you like gritty urban fantasy, go check it out.)

Doug M.

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Garzuul is a gargoyle who lives in a large city. He's been there a long time. He lairs high up a tower at the Wizards' Academy, but he spends a lot of time hanging around the tops of tall buildings -- especially the bell-tower of the Cathedral of Pharasma. He's a well known character in the city; almost everyone has heard the famous Singing Gargoyle, and most people consider him a harmless oddity. He only sings on special occasions, town festivals, and the like, but when he does, his deep, booming song is like the voice of stone itself. The wizards are very pleased to have him, and think of him as part of the school's endowment.

Most gargoyles are malicious, cruel, very patient, and rather stupid. Garzuul breaks the pattern in one respect: he's not stupid. He's brilliant for a gargoyle, and his malice takes a much more sophisticated turn. Garzuul likes talking people into killing themselves.

The bell tower of the Cathedral has a spectacular view of the city, and is visited by dozens of people per day. It's also a popular site for suicides -- there are two or three every year. The clergy mildly regret this, but they're not going to stop anyone who is obviously determined to throw themselves into the Goddess' arms. What they don't realize is that the tradition of using the tower for self-destruction was created by the gargoyle, decades ago, and that he's still encouraging it today.

Garzuul moves stealthily around the city by night, landing on roofs and ledges, patiently watching and listening and occasionally using Detect Thoughts. When he finds someone who seems emotionally vulnerable -- a merchant with money problems, an unhappy lover, an angry teenager, whatever -- he'll stalk them until he gets a chance to use Suggestion on them. (His save DCs are low, but he's willing to try multiple times. And while a failed save means the victim knows something's going on, most people don't think to look up.) The simple, reasonable suggestion he implants is to take a trip up the bell tower, to take in the view and clear one's head...

Once a potential victim is up the tower, Garzuul moves to introduce himself. He'll use Aspect of a Nightingale to make himself more attractive, then Diplomacy to make the target friendly. If needed, he'll use Charm Person to start him or her talking. (Note that his Cunning Caster feat means that the average victim will never realize that Garzuul is casting. Even so, he'll often cast from out of sight -- on a ledge, up a roof -- just to be safe.)

Garzuul is nothing if not patient. He considers each victim as a game, and he's willing to take weeks or months to play to victory. He'll draw them out slowly, over time, gaining their trust, learning their history, and using a combination of diplomacy and Suggestion spells to gradually implant the idea of suicide. If the victim has problems with drink or drugs, Garzuul may offer a sample, possibly using Beguiling Gift to make it irresistable. If the victim has problems with relationships, careful use of Suggestion will help make sure that this just gets worse and worse. Simply driving the victim to suicide is good, but a truly great game involves driving them to complete and utter despair first.

Garzuul feels no need to rob or devour his victims: he's perfectly happy living off stray cats and pigeons. The satisfaction of concluding a successful game is usually more than enough. If the game or the victim were particularly memorable, he may occasionally take a small item back to his lair as a souvenir.

Garzuul's Hat of Disguise is used to occasionally look like a different gargoyle, to give the idea that there's more than one around. In fact Garzuul is a violently territorial creature who brooks no rivals.

Garzuul, the Singing Gargoyle:

CE Medium monstrous humanoid (earth)
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +13


AC 17, touch 13, flat-footed 14 (+3 Dex, +4 natural)
hp 100 (5d10+5d8+50)
Fort +6, Ref +11, Will +10 (+4 vs. bardic performance, language-dependent, and sonic)
DR 10/magic


Speed 40 ft., fly 60 ft. (average)
Melee 2 claws +12 (1d6+3), bite +11 (1d4+2), gore +11 (1d4+2)

Special Attacks bardic performance 16 rounds/day (countersong, distraction, fascinate, inspire competence +2, inspire courage +2)

Bard Spells Known (CL 5th; concentration +6)

2nd (2/day)— detect thoughts (DC 13), invisibility, suggestion
1st (5/day)— aspect of a nightingale, beguiling gift, charm person (DC 12), grease, innocence
0th (at will)— dancing lights, ghost sound (DC 11), lullaby, mage hand, message, resistance


Str 15, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 12
Base Atk +9; CMB +11; CMD 24

Feats: Breadth of Knowledge, Cunning Caster, Deceitful, Hover, Improved Initiative, Skill Focus (Perform: [song])

Skills Acrobatics +10, Bluff +14, Disguise +7 (+17 with Hat of Disguise), Diplomacy +11, Fly +10, Knowledge (history) +8, Knowledge (local) +12, Knowledge (all others) +4, Perception +13, Perform (song) +12, Sense Motive +12, Stealth +14 (+20 in stony areas); Racial Modifiers +2 Stealth (+6 in stony environs)

Languages Common, Terran

SQ freeze, bardic knowledge +2, lore master 1/day, versatile performance (sing)

Combat Gear: potions of cure light wounds (2), body wrap of mighty strikes +1; Other Gear: Hat of Disguise (usually looks like a stone crown), masterwork dagger (trophy, in lair), gold chain worth 200 gp and 320 gp in mixed coins (in lair), miscellaneous small items such as a diary, a locket, etc., of little cash value (trophies, in lair).

Freeze (Ex)

A gargoyle can hold itself so still it appears to be a statue. A gargoyle that uses freeze can take 20 on its Stealth check to hide in plain sight as a stone statue.

Garzuul can be used as a bit of local color long before the PCs ever have to interact with him. He'll be aware of any adventurers pretty quickly, and may pass a friendly nod, or drop out of the sky to exchange the time of day. But you can mention him occasionally flapping by, or perched on a ledge. Ordinary gargoyles hide by blending in as part of the scenery. Garzuul has taken this to the next level by hiding in plain sight. "Sure, that's the Singing Gargoyle. Everybody knows about him."

Possible plot seeds:

-- The PCs need information, and Garzuul has it. The gargoyle's knowledge of local gossip is encyclopedic, thanks to his constant eavesdropping, and he's tolerably well versed in local history too. He'll be happy to help them, and his prices will be very reasonable. However, this means that they will attract the monster's attention. While PCs are not likely to be good targets, Garzuul may go after colleagues, cohorts, or friendly NPCs. Or he may simply spy on them and then sell the information to another party. Or his payment may simply consist of asking the PCs to bring a particular NPC to the bell tower for a conversation. A particular NPC who, some time later, will turn up very dead...

-- A paladin knows perfectly well that Garzuul is evil, and is morally certain that it's a deceitful menace. She doesn't know how, though, and she can't take the monster down without some evidence. She wants to recruit the PCs to capture the gargoyle for interrogation. (Note that Garzuul's Innocence spell could make it quite difficult to prove anything. And if the gargoyle is harmed, the wizards will be quite annoyed.)

-- One of Garzuul's recent victims was mentally disturbed. This made him easy prey... but meant that he rose from the dead as an allip. Garzuul would just set the priests of Pharasma on the creature, but to his alarm, its ravings include odd phrases and half-lucid sentences that implicate the gargoyle. Better to use some stranger who won't have any context for the spirit's mad babblings...

Phew. Thoughts?

Doug M.

Emmit Svenson wrote:
If your illusionist is Illusion School, she can cast Greater Invisibility up to 12 times a day as a swift action thanks to the 8th level school power Invisibility Field.

The Invisibility Field is bloody amazing, and may well be the solution to your problems. It counts as Greater Invisibility, so you can cast to your heart's content while using it.

It's a strong alternative to Veiled Illusionist. You could do both -- but then both are weaker. A Wiz 8 / Veil 4 gets 3 fewer Veil points than a Wiz 5 / Veil 7, meaning the DC to ID your spells drops by 3. And on the other side, you'd get only 8 rounds of free invisibility instead of 12.

Doug M.

Crai wrote:

I'm also working on my 12th level illusionist to have useful, low-cost vision-impairment spells to start off battles where illusions will likely be the *2nd* spell cast versus spellcraft-capable casters.

Quicken Spell is a natural for high level wizards, and Quickened Obscuring Mist will let you instantly shut down visibility all around you. And then, hey -- you can cast your illusion on the same round. For a mere 8,000 gp you can invest in a pair of Fogcutter lenses, meaning you'll be able to see out while nobody else can see in.

Drawbacks: Fogcutters give a -4 on Perception; slip them off between combats, you're probably not the party Perception monkey anyway. Also, the rest of the party may not always want to be caught in your fog.

Bonus: the visual of something huge and terrifying rearing out of the fog.

Doug M.

For the record, I agree with the poster who noted that WotW dropped off after Book 2. However, IMO the dropoff was from "excellent" to "still pretty good". The AP as a whole works very well, even if parts of it need some spackling. It's as good or better than the average Paizo AP, which is pretty astonishing considering the difference in resources.

That said, yeah, the continued radio silence is pretty dismaying.

Doug M.

Finlanderboy wrote:


Doing the math, at 12th level you'll probably have (PrC level 7 + casting modifier) about 14 points in your veil pool, so your save DC will start at a respectable 28. The PrC encourages you to use your veil pool for other stuff, though, so that number is a maximum -- it will often be lower. Anyway, an equivalent-level enemy caster will probably have a Will save around +10 or so, so you have about a 90% chance of pulling this off when your pool is full...

Doug M.

I disagree. This DC is like at level 10 of the PRC. That is when you are a crazy high level as well.

? The OP said 12th level. At 12th level you'd be a Wiz 5 / Veiled 7, so that's 7 points right there. With buffs and items your casting modifier should be around +7. That's 14 points in your pool, but you always have to spend one point to obfuscate, so your DC would be (15 + points left in your pool) = max 28.

I think you are better off applying perception penalties. Keep in mind distance an objects will that much harder for them. This stacks with Rakshasa bloodline. So add those pennies to make it impossible or difficult.

1) He's already said he's not going rakshasa.

2) Sure, every bit helps. But against an equal-level arcane caster with max ranks in Spellcraft, a few pennies aren't going to do it. He'll need to pile on negative modifiers up to +12 or more before he has a better than even chance of pulling this off.

Doug M.

Dansome wrote:

The Veiled Illusionist is a great prestige class for this!

The veiled illusionist is probably your least bad option, yes.

At 2nd level, a veiled illusionist can spend 1 point from her veil pool as a free action while casting an illusion spell to disguise her spellcasting. Creatures attempting to identify the spell as it's being cast must succeed at a Will save (DC 15 + the number of points remaining in the illusionist's veil pool) or misidentify the spell as a spell of the illusionist's choice. The illusory spell must be the same level as the true spell, and must be one the illusionist can cast.

Doing the math, at 12th level you'll probably have (PrC level 7 + casting modifier) about 14 points in your veil pool, so your save DC will start at a respectable 28. The PrC encourages you to use your veil pool for other stuff, though, so that number is a maximum -- it will often be lower. Anyway, an equivalent-level enemy caster will probably have a Will save around +10 or so, so you have about a 90% chance of pulling this off when your pool is full.

I think Dansome has it -- Veiled Illusionist is the way to go.

Doug M.

BretI wrote:

Cover or concealment can help.

A lot of people don't realize it, but it is in the rules that you can apply penalties to Spellcraft based on Perception modifiers.

CRB, Spellcraft skill, pg. 106 wrote:
Identifying a spell as it is being cast requires no action, but you must be able to clearly see the spell as it is being cast, and this incurs the same penalties as a Perception skill check due to distance, poor conditions, and other factors.

Good point and good catch!

As mentioned above, the Rakshasa bloodline also allows you to sometimes fool people. More likely to work against Clerics, Oracles and Sorcerers than Wizards though. Less skill points and lower Int makes it harder for them to identify spells.

Also, if you're Rakshasa bloodline you get +5 on Bluff checks to lie. Would being deceptive about your spells count as a lie, allowing this to be used with Cunning Caster? I'd say yes, but check with your DM first. If so, then you might be able to make this feat work for you.

Doug M.

Crai wrote:
Is it possible to get that Rakshasa Bloodline bonus without dipping into Sorcerer?

Not as far as I know. There's Eldritch Heritage, but it gives you the bloodline power, not the bloodline arcana. (And the arcana is based on sorceror level, so just dipping one level won't help much.)

Doug M.

If you can't make it harder to ID your spells, try making it impossible. Use Invisibility a lot -- casting illusions doesn't count as an attack, so doesn't make you visible. Cast illusions in advance; note that many of them have durations of "Concentration + X rounds". And being a specialist illusionist adds more rounds to that. So you can have your illusionary pit fiend or whatever just following you around until its needed -- you just have to not cast any other spells meanwhile.

Or, just use your move action to go around a corner before you cast.

Not what you were looking for, I know. Like I said, it's a bit of a bald spot in the current ruleset.

Doug M.

Claxon wrote:

About the only thing I know of that is going to help you with what you would like to accomplish is the feat Cunning Caster. Which will allow you to hide your spell casting. If hidden, they can't identify it.

Cunning Caster is a much-needed feat. Unfortunately, it's also a very badly designed feat. First, it applies a feat tax with Deceitful -- not a feat most full casters will ever want to invest in. (To be fair, Deceitful is not a bad feat. It's just that there are so many better ways to fill your feat slots.) Second, it uses Bluff against Perception. Unfortunately, the feat does not specify *whose* Perception -- if you're in a fight with six ghouls, do they all get checks? I have to say, the language of the feat suggests that, yes, they all do. But never mind that. Bluff vs. Perception isn't so bad, but then the feat applies a crapload of negative modifiers: -4 each for verbal, somatic and material components, and another -4 "if the spell produces an obvious effect". So, illusionist, want to cast Major Image? -16 penalty. Deceitful will give you +4, but that still leaves you -12 in the hole. If you're a sorceror or have Eschew Materials, congratulations -- now you're up to -8. Still not looking too good, unless you're facing a singularly unobservant bunch of opponents.

About the only positive here: if you win the check, the opponent has no idea that you're casting at all -- as far as he can tell, you're just standing there twiddling your thumbs. So not only is there no Spellcraft check, but you may not even be identified as a threat.

It's still a pretty badly designed feat. You could build a character around it -- invest in metamagic rods of Still and Silent Spell -- but it's annoying that they didn't set this up better.

Doug M.

QuidEst wrote:

The Rakshasa bloodline arcana (so for Sorcs and Arcanists) is +1/2 level to DC and failure by five or more is misidentification as a spell of your choice- what illusionists really want.

The problem is, this is unlikely ever to happen. At first level the Spellcraft DC to identify the spell is 16; an enemy wizard with Int 16 and a rank in Spellcraft will correctly ID your spell on a 9 or higher, 60% of the time. He'll only misidentify on a 4 or less, 20% of the time.

The OP mentioned a 12th level illusionist. If he's throwing a 6th level spell, the Spellcraft DC is 21. An equal-level enemy wizard with max Spellcraft ranks and an 18 Int will roll at +19, meaning he will correctly ID it on anything but a natural 1. If you have the rakshasa bloodline, congratulations -- the DC jumps to 27, meaning he'll ID it on an 8 or higher, and misidentify on a 3 or less. Not great odds.

Again: the problem is that 15+spell level isn't high to begin with, and then scales much more slowly than increasing skill bonuses.

Doug M.

This is an area of the rules that Paizo has consistently neglected. The Spellcraft check to ID a spell is easy at first level, and becomes pretty much auto-success by middle levels, because the skill bonus will increase a lot faster than the DC of the Spellcraft check. This is a nuisance for spellcasters who want to get creative, and absolutely devastating for illusionists -- anyone who can see you will know you're casting an illusion, which makes your illusions almost worthless.

There aren't a lot of things that help with this. The only one that comes to mind offhand is the Rakshasa bloodline, which adds a whopping 1/2 your level to the DC of the Spellcraft check. No, that's not much help. I know there are a couple of other feats and items that help, but none of them solve the problem.

Personally, I'd consider a house rule: you can try to obscure your spell by making a Bluff check. (If you want to be a hardcase, make the Bluff check a move action.) Bam, the Spellcraft DC is your Bluff check. Now you have an opposed check that scales. Still not perfect, but simple and makes sense.

Doug M.

It's workable in theory, but if you have a disease that's inevitably lethal... well, what stops it from eventually killing everyone? Is it just not very contagious?

Doug M.

-- Lord Zoth is a graveknight, and frankly he hates using this spell. But his nameless, faceless master wants Zoth's true nature kept a secret until the moment is right. So he's given Zoth a pendant that can cast the spell up to three times per day. The graveknight doesn't like it, but he acknowledges the tactical importance of surprise, so he submits. And, hey -- he's still the terrifying lord of a horde of monsters, clad all in spiky black armor, and radiating an aura of death and fear. It's just that everyone thinks he's an antipaladin or something.

-- Von Zandt's unlife was changed forever when, flipping idly through some scrolls owned by one of his victims, he found this spell. Up to then, the nosferatu had lived through endless miserable centuries as a shriveled and hideous and hateful thing, skulking and hiding in the shadows. Now... well, he's still in the shadows, of course. But he's no longer an obvious monster. The sheer shock of this transformation has temporarily shaken von Zandt out of century-long habits. He's wandering the night streets of the city now in wonder, almost innocent, like a thing new-born. He still has to prey on the living, of course, but his malice and loathing have been suppressed... at least for the moment.

PCs who encounter him will see an ordinary-looking old man, dressed in somewhat formal and old-fashioned clothes. Von Zandt will be a bit shy at first, but if given any encouragement will be eager to interact with living creatures who are not terrified of him. He'll be friendly, and will ask oddly naive questions about the simplest aspects of life and society. He'll be happy to follow along with the PCs for a while, especially if they're going someplace where there are many people. Of course, underneath he's still the same withered, loathsome monster as ever, and he still needs to feed. This temporary period of near-human behavior will surely end soon, and the backlash afterwards is likely to be terrible...


Doug M.

-- One of the Ruby Pharaoh's more discreet servants is the priest Toth-Set. He travels across the northern world, collecting items and information -- rather like a Pathfinder, except that he's reporting directly to the Exalted One. That's because (1) Toth-Set is a very powerful cleric, and (2) he's been dead for over a thousand years, so he forms a direct link to earlier dynasties. Toth-Set is a mummy lord.

When he uses the spell, he appears as a tall, healthy Osirian male in middle age. (An appropriate Knowledge check will show that his outfit is some centuries out of date.) Toth-Set is Lawful Evil: on one hand, he's a cruel, arrogant xenophobe who is convinced of the inferiority of all non-Osirians, but on the other he's utterly loyal to the restored kingdom and the current Pharaoh. (Okay, privately he considers the Ruby Pharaoh naive and a bit of a parvenu. But he's the lawful Pharaoh, and not a heretic or a weakling, so the path of duty is clear.) He especially enjoys showing upstart foreigners the folly of their pretensions. So if a group of adventurers get between Toth-Set and something he wants to acquire... well, duty before pleasure, but isn't it nice when both come together?

-- Bleekins never wanted to be a necromancer in the first place: he wanted to be a librarian. So the magical accident that transformed him into a juju zombie was arguably the best thing that ever happened to him: Bleekins is now the librarian at the Magical Academy. He doesn't need to eat, sleep, drink or breathe, and he's immune to many -- not all, but many -- of the nasty magical effects that some of the more dangerous books can throw around. He's not even evil: he's as Lawful Neutral as they come. Bleekins prefers to spend most of his time in the stacks, but when he encounters a visitor or researcher -- or on the rare occasions he must venture outside the library -- he quickly casts the spell.

Unfortunately for the librarian, he has somehow attracted the attention of a Marut Inevitable. The Magical Academy isn't prepared to fight such a powerful outsider, and they've reluctantly given Bleekins his walking papers. Now, with the Inevitable closing in, the desperate zombie turns to the PCs: if they can help him, he knows the location of an incredibly valuable volume of forgotten lore. Of course, "help him" means somehow defeating a CR 15 outsider...

Doug M.

avr wrote:

Only an idiot in a story opens the door to a half-rotted wight. It makes a lot more sense to use a human-looking infiltrator. I suspect that's the intended use.

Well, one intended use... I'm hoping clever people will come up with others.

The short duration is a constraint. But you could have creatures that are seen by the public regularly, but only for short periods of time -- messengers, say, or porters. They're actually something horrible, but the spell hides their nature. Then when the time is right...

Doug M.

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Fleshy Facade is a second-level spell found in the Ghoul section of last year's Monster Codex.

Fleshy Facade:
School transmutation (polymorph); Level alchemist 2, bard 2,
inquisitor 2, sorcerer/wizard 2, witch 2
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S
Range touch
Target corporeal undead creature
Duration 10 minutes/level (D)
Saving Throw yes (harmless); Spell
Resistance yes (harmless)

The target’s flesh fills out and gains a healthy, natural color. This gives the target the appearance of a living creature of the type it was when it was still alive (if applicable). Creatures casting spells such as detect undead must succeed at a saving throw (with a DC equal to the spell’s save DC) to detect the target’s presence, and if the target is intelligent, it gains a +10 bonus on Disguise checks to appear alive or recently deceased. If the undead has any features different from those of the type of living creature it most resembles (such as a ghoul’s elongated teeth and claws), those features shrink and become less prominent, and the subject deals damage as though it were one size smaller. This spell has no effect on creatures that are skeletal or otherwise lack flesh.

TLDR: it makes a corporeal undead creature appear like a healthy living creature.

This has so much potential! The Monster Codex gives one pleasantly creepy example: a ghoul with bard levels, pretending to be human, wandering from town to town, and basically acting as a mobile freelance serial killer. But I can think of at least a couple of others offhand:

-- the wizard's loyal retainer died of old age. One Animate Dead spell later, the wizard has her faithful servant back! When he goes out shopping and does the errands, a quick Flesh Facade keeps the local townsfolk from getting too upset. Unfortunately, the wizard isn't really a necromancy specialist, and doesn't realize that her zombie is becoming free-willed... and hungry.

-- some liches are perfectly okay with spending their unlife in a cave or a crypt. Lord Willis doesn't play that way. As a living man, he was a wealthy who enjoyed art, literature, and the company of his fellow aristocrats. Why should a little thing like becoming an undead horror interfere with that? As a 12th level sorceror, Lord Willis can cast Extended Fleshy Facade for a four-hour duration, and re-up it whenever time runs short. And when troublemaking adventurers show up to investigate Lord Willis' dealings with the underworld, they're likely to get a surprise...

There must be many more. Thoughts?

Doug M.

Avoron wrote:

Then how about a Slayer 4/Knife Master 1?

With Accomplished Sneak Attacker you have 3d8 sneak attack damage on each knife. You also get studied target, you can take a ranger combat style feat to bypass Dex prerequisites for Two-Weapon Fighting, and with the Bounty Hunter archetype you can choose to forgo sneak attack damage for free dirty trick attempts with a +3 bonus. If you feel like it, you could even take Deific Obedience (Pharasma) to shore up the two-weapon fighting penalties and help land more dirty tricks.

Nice, but... keep in mind that this is an NPC, facing a group of 3rd-4th level PCs. I want him to be have a shot at surviving the encounter; I want him to be memorable if possible. But I'm not optimizing for maximum damage output. An SA for d4+3d8+4 is average 20 damage; if he takes TWF and hits twice, he can drop any PC in the party in one round. I have no objection to putting PCs in danger of death, but I'd prefer to wait until a boss encounter before I make death outright likely. (I learned a painful lesson about this with a redcap NPC a while back. He had fighter levels, so I built him as a critfisher. He critted *twice* with x4 damage and killed two sixth-level PCs, bam bam. Getting them raised derailed the campaign for an entire session.)

So I'd rather have him doing something cool and/or dramatic that will endanger, inconvenience or annoy the PCs, as opposed to simply maximizing damage output. Dirty tricks are good; maybe making him a dirty trick fighter is the way to go here.

Doug M.

Imbicatus wrote:
Seriously, just go Slayer. It's a better fighter/rogue than a fighter/rogue.

Yes, very likely so. But it can't do Knife Master, and I really like the Knife Master for this.

Doug M.

bigrig107 wrote:
Well, first you want to use Unchained Rogue. That gives him Weapon Finesse and Dex to damage with his chosen weapon.

Yeah, good point. Unchained changes everything, doesn't it...

Seeing as how you want to take two levels in fighter, the Unbreakable fighter gives him two flavorful feats from his time in prison (Endurance and Die Hard), as well as a +1 Will save on mind-affecting effects.

I like it! Thank you.

Doug M.

Character concept: an NPC fighter-rogue who's an enforcer for the local Thieves Guild. "Shank" is a neutral evil half-orc whose job is to cut people who have crossed the Guild. I have five levels to play with; right now I'm thinking Ftr 2 / Rog 3 with the Knife Master archetype.

I see a couple of possibilities here. One is a two-weapon fighter with a knife in each hand. The -2/-2 penalty is painful, but at the end of the day he still comes out ahead, and there's the pleasant chance of hitting twice for 2d4+4d8 of damage. Another would be a Cad fighter / dirty trick specialist; he strikes first to blind an opponent, then goes to town with the SAs. Tempting, but requires the (hawk, spit) Combat Maneuvers feat tax. Either way, probably Quick Draw for flavor... he got started as an enforcer in prison, where he showed a knack for concealing weapons, pulling them out suddenly, and sliding them into someone else's vital organs. In a perfect world, he'd also have some way to subdue enemies instead of only killing them -- so that he could conceivably capture a PC if things ever reach that point -- but that may be a bit much to ask for a 5th level character.


Doug M.

Mysterious Stranger wrote:

This would be a great spell for a distraction. Summon up a creature to attack random people to cause a distraction so that he can get in and do what he needs to. He can also use it to delay the party while he escapes. It can also be used as an intimidating tactic. If a local shop keeper is not paying protection money simply hide across the street and summon up some monster in his shop.

Summoning a fire elemental is consistent with the character, and also the Summon Monster spells are great general-purpose utility spells. This gets overlooked a lot, because people just summon things to fight for them. But a creative player can get all sorts of uses out of this spell... flying creatures as scouts, a climbing creature to get a rope over a wall, a swimmer as an emergency flotation device, a dretch to clear a room, you name it. So, a totally reasonable choice for a second level spell.

Doug M.

a moderately respectable AC20 after he casts Shield. Combined with Mirror Image he is pretty tanky in physical combat. His saves are fairly weak but he hasn't yet spent any of his cash. Give him some mooks to pop Bulls Strength and Touch of Rage on. He could also Bulls Str himself and take some opportunity attacks with his spear.

I think he'll be part of a team, so he may get some mileage out of Bulls Strength. Touch of Rage is, as you note, pretty worthless -- gosh, two whole rounds! But the rest of the orc bloodline stuff is quite respectable, so that's all right.

Offensively he is casting intensified burning hands for 8d4+8, DC16 for half. Give him some scrolls of eagle's splendour for +2DC. At range he has a staggering snowball dealing 5d6+5 or burning arc for 6d6+6/3d6+3/1d6+1. While he cannot change energy types you might want to give him a fire version of snowball or leave it in as a surprise if the group start dropping energy resist fire.

Harder for 3rd level PCs to pull that off (though if they're paying attention, they should). 8d8+8 will reduce a third level martial to a hp or 2 and drop anyone else unless they save, so I have to be thoughtful about that... I see you're getting +2 dice for Spell Specialization and another +1 for the Varisian Tattoo. I might ditch the tattoo and get something else instead, then.

Vanish is decent if he needs to escape. Make sure to use him at night to take advantage of his darkvision.

Meh, PF gives out darkvision to almost everyone. And if that's not available, arcane casters can spam Light or Dancing Lights. Honestly, it's enough to make you want to play Torchbearer sometimes.

You could get more damage by going crossblooded but you would lose far more than the extra few points of damage you gain going that route.

Also, I personally happen to think crossblooded is cheese with extra cheese on top. (And it's not like anyone ever uses it for anything interesting. Nope, it's always "dip a level of crossdragonorc for blasting!" Bleah.)

You could also give him the tattooed Sorcerer archetype. He would lose Eschew Materials and the useless Touch of Rage and gain a familiar and Alertness. I would probably take the dinosaur for +4 initiative and just leave it as a tattoo.

Worth considering. Maybe rebuild his feats? Honestly, 5d4+5 with Burning Hands is still enough to make the PCs pretty sorry if they don't make the save. Thinking about this.

Again, great suggestions -- thank you for this.

Doug M.

Andreww, this is amazing stuff, and pretty much exactly what I wanted. Thank you. On the run with Christmas stuff right now, but will try to respond in more detail in a bit.

Doug M.

Azten wrote:

Lv1 Gome, 15 point buy, can have a 14 in Dex, Con, and Cha(14, 16, 16 respectively), Toughness, +1 hp from favored class and a Toad familiar if they're Arcane Bloodline. That's 14 hit points. :)

Er... I did say human and level five.

Doug M.

Character concept: an NPC sorceror who's a chaotic evil fire monkey. He's an enforcer for the local Thieves Guild -- if merchants don't pay their protection money, their good go up in flames, then their shops and homes. Despite his alignment, "Blister" is actually a pretty loyal soldier of the Guild -- he's got a steady job with good money where he gets to threaten people and occasionally burn something to the ground. He's content enough.

Human, level five. I'm looking for someone who can be a nasty surprise for the PCs, who may be expecting low-level thugs and not an arcane caster. I'm looking for (1) lots of burn damage, and (2) survivability -- I'd like him to have at least the possibility of escaping to fight another day. The PCs are 3rd level; I can give Blister some mooks if need be.


Doug M.

Riddles in the Dark sounds like a wonderful idea, except that PF has given everybody darkvision and spammable light cantrips, because torches and lanterns were just too hard to keep track of.

That said... magical darkness that negates darkvision and light sources? Why not? Keep it in just one area, but have that area be complex -- turns and doors and strange terrain -- so that it's not easy to escape. Then you can start the conversation in the dark.

Note that the tricky bit here is preventing the PCs from either running away or immediately attacking the drider. (PCs being PCs, they'll really want to do one or the other.) Darkness is actually a pretty elegant way to solve this.

Doug M.

David knott 242 wrote:
Axial wrote:
I'm a little bit confused as to why anyone would want to be a Demibaron, since it just seems to place you one step above a peasant. I guess that's...something?

In a place like Cheliax, I assume that you would take whatever status you can get. Being one step above a peasant is a heck of a lot better than being a peasant.

This sounds like the rough equivalent of a Baronet (appointed, may or may not be landed, usually not hereditary). And historically, becoming a Baronet was a pretty big deal. You were probably already wealthy, or very accomplished in some professional field.

Nobility were pretty much all, by modern standards, in the 1%. Sure, there was a huge difference between a Baronet and a Duke -- but in modern terms, it was like the difference between a millionaire and a billionaire.

Knights were appointed, and not nobility, but they were already two or three steps up from the peasantry. Being a knight was a pretty big deal. You were usually landed and almost always 95th percentile or higher in terms of income and wealth. That could break down a bit in times of protracted war, when you might get a lot of relatively poor men getting knighthoods on the battlefield, and/or some comfortable members of the upper class -- or at least the lower edges of the upper class -- getting ruined by the war. But as a general rule, knights were pretty rich and at least locally powerful. I mean, just owning a warhorse and a basic suit of armor? That was wealth equivalent to many years of income for an average peasant.

A Baronet was one step up from a knight. That meant that while you were below the lowest Baron, you were almost certainly in the 1%. By way of analogy, a Chelaxian Demibaron would still be a member of the upper classes, with access to significant wealth and power.

(Trivia: Baronets were not formally nobility, meaning they couldn't -- still can't -- sit in the House of Lords.)

Doug M.

This all sounds terrific. We're about halfway through Smuggler's Shiv; at the current rate of 1-2 short sessions / month, we're looking at finishing it in March or April. So a lot of this is directly relevant.

I particularly love your Ghost and the Darkness add-on. Could you give a little detail? What was the druid's motivation, and what did his build look like?

Doug M.

lutzsd wrote:
Not having ever played PFS, I guess i can't say how useful or not the archetype would be.

It'll be useful. There are a certain number of undead and constructs and vermin in PFS, but almost every scenario has one or more opponents who'll be vulnerable to Satire. I'm thinking of a dozen or so PFS scenarios, and I can come up with maybe one that doesn't. And that one was an Egyptian, sorry, Osirian tomb type thing that pretty much screamed "this is all undead, constructs and vermin" right on the label.

You never have to worry about being able to buff your allies, after all. I know a lot of times that bonuses are applied to a roll or a reduction in DC is given, and those can be the same thing, but there is a big distinction between +2 to your allies and -2 to your enemies.

Mathematically, it's a distinction that favors Satire: you're better off giving -1/-1 than +1/+1. That's why Satire is limited by being mind-affecting and so forth; if it wasn't, the Court Bard would be so superior that nobody would ever take the standard bard.

one ability I never got to use is Mockery. Mockery, in an urban campaign, seemed like something I'd get to try all the time. Oh, this guy wants to bluff me? I'll just have mockery going on. Never happened.

I actually think Mockery is a weakish ability, myself -- a fairly minor debuff that is super situational. I'd be interested to hear of anyone using it effectively.

Doug M.

No one knows.

Gary's first adventure Path, Way of the Wicked, is available in full and is excellent. It came out (good grief) almost four years ago but is still in regular rotation on the PBP forums and still generates discussion all the time. Partly this is because it's the only complete AP for evil characters (at least until Paizo releases Hell's Vengeance next year), but partly it's because it's just a really well-crafted AP.

But Throne of Night? Who knows.

Doug M.

Lune wrote:
The build I am putting forth focuses on Unarmed Strikes just with the feat prerequisites. The way I have it figured I might as well stick with it and it does match the concept I have anyway. I plan on the character being a jester. You don't often see jesters carrying around Longspears. Unarmed Strike seems to mesh well with the concept.

Sure sure. There's a lot to be said for thematic consistency. And this build is about maximizing fun, not damage. (Though it should still be perfectly playable.)

So an average roll will put it in the low 20s. That is going to succeed against most attacks and the DC for Antagonize at equal or +1 CR for that level. This isn't considering any magic items or skill increasing items. (There are no mundane items that add to Perform: Oratory that I am aware of.)

None that I know of either, though the two ioun stones are so cheap they might as well be mundane.

Actually, I think I am going to be forgoing Flurry of Blows in favor of a Mithral Chain Shirt. Flurry is the only thing the character loses by wearing armor since I will never put enough levels into Monk to get Fast Movement or Monk bonus to AC. They way I have it figured I won't often have an opportunity to use Flurry of Blows anyway as I will be doing other things with my turn than attacking. I will more likely be doing that during the enemy's turn.

I think this makes a lot of sense. You'll almost never be straight-up attacking -- you'll be throwing Satire, Antagonize, and then spells.

Doug M.

TGMaxMaxer wrote:

You can't take an AoO with a reach weapon from behind an ally.

? No one was suggesting this. I said, "stand behind the fighter so HE can get AoOs" (i.e., when your Antagonize enrages the enemy into charging you).

You can't take an AoO on someone with cover, and reach weapons use the ranged rules for cover.

That's why Polearm Master. Normally a polearm threatens 10' away but not 5' away. But with PM you can "choke up" and threaten an adjacent square as an immediate action. So you do get an AoO when someone closes in on you (albeit at -4), even if you have a buddy standing in the way.

If you're willing to throw away Bodyguard, this build becomes beautifully tactically flexible. You don't have to stay adjacent to allies, so you float around the battlefield Antagonizing enemies. They charge you, eat two AoOs thanks to Combat Reflexes, and then swing at air thanks to Snake Style. Wield a falchion and go critfishing. Enjoy.

Doug M.

It's been canon IMC for a long time that Lamashtu tempts women by granting easy, painless births. The catch is that a certain number of children -- some say one in seven -- will be born monstrous in some way, deformed in either body, mind or spirit.

Anyway. In canon? There are several possible roads: midwifery, fertility, madness, and pride in deformity. Midwifery is probably not a great match for an adventuring character. Fertility... Lamashtu's worship involves potentially reproductive sex (really); there are a number of possible campaign hooks there, but also probably not a good on-ramp for PFS play.

Madness, now. You could have a CN character who sees worship of the demon as a path towards mental and spiritual liberation. Drug-fueled orgies aren't a goal in themselves. Honest! They're a tool towards freeing the mind from its constraints, the shackles imposed by law and habit and convention. It's a bit like Short Path Tantric Buddhism. (Or, okay, a bit like the way some people describe Tantric Buddhism.) Here's a quote:


Tantric Buddhism employs the urgent energies of agony and ecstasy, lust and hatred, paranoia and greed to transform our confusion into enlightenment.

Tantra is radically positive insanity. Tantra is the hot blood of kindness. Tantra conjures with the electricity of being: the shimmering voltage that crackles ecstatically between emptiness and form. Tantra is the alchemy of transformation by which we re-create ourselves limitlessly according to the kaleidoscopic pattern of moments that comprises our experience.

Tantra is the short path of Buddhism – the direct line to the summit. Mountaineers on longer paths circle around the peak weighted down with the safety equipment of codified philosophy and ethics. Tantra scales the vertical face without oxygen. The climbers ascend naked. At the peak they find liberation: freedom from domination by conflictive emotions, customary rôles, and constricted expectations. They climb quickly; but sometimes, they fall.

Debating alignment is a mug's game, but I must say that sounds pretty chaotic neutral to me.

Final option, pride in deformity: Lamashtu accepts and indeed embraces monstrosity. So you could have a non-evil cult that attracts people who are twisted and scarred in mind or body. Good-aligned characters won't knowingly worship a demon, but you could have a lot of nongood but not-evil-either people who are just looking for a place where they're accepted.

HTH! Good luck with it.

Doug M.

A quick note on the math of Antagonize. At low levels you'll usually succeed on your check. However, at higher levels the target DC (10 + monster HD + Wis bonus) will start to outrun you. At 1st level nonboss DCs are around 10-14, but by 10th level you'll be facing opponents with DCs around 25-32.

The feat cleverly balances this by giving you an "insight" Sense Motive check against a flat DC 20. If you make this, you can add your Cha bonus to your Antagonize roll. (Add it a second time, really.) Now, since a 1 is not an autofail on skill checks, this means that once you hit +19 on Sense Motive -- or, for this build, Oratory -- you just automatically get the bonus. This swings the math well back in your favor. Skill Focus and a +4 Cha item mean you would start doing this without buffs at 8th level.

Doug M.

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