Parties in a simulationist game can frequently get away with the nearly-all ranged approach up to 8th level or so. The key is you get to choose your targets most of the time and where you're going to fight. You're not typically locked into an adventure path or anything, you're setting your objectives and deciding what to do based on what information you can gather and what your values are.
Frequently ALL of the members of parties I run carry spell component pouches, sometimes more than one, often holy symbols too. It's all part of obscuring the 'where is the wizard or priest' game. Sometimes low level illusions are part of it too---when the wizard appears to be wearing full plate and the big strong fighter looks like a skinny clerk.
Reach plus enlarge plus whirlwind attack or great cleave and sometimes lunge is the go to trick for a fair number of fighters. Add this to combat reflexes and lots of attacks of opportunity and you can be an AE attacker primarily. This has a strong synergy with blasters or other 'street sweeper' builds like you own.
As a GM, I don't particularly mind a PC having followers. What I'm utterly unwilling to tolerate is gaining them through a feat or any other sort of metagame resource. Instead, you're free to hire henchmen, cultivate groupies (let's face it, you become almost by default the equivalent of a 'rock star' as a fighter or bard or the like by 4th level or so, even if you're not trying to do so, and by 8th level in almost any case), build organizations, etc if you're looking for minions. But you don't get to build them or directly control them (unless you've had them as top tier minions for years and built their loyalty to you to pretty much fanatical). Think the Conan books for a good example of this sort of thing.
Hugo, there's no reason you need to have criticals for spells, other than ray spells. Fumbles for spells are pretty easy, how about this:
It's not really a whole lot of work relative to a weapon fumble system to make one up for casters.
Somehow I suspect that most who favor fumbles would scream bloody murder if it was suggested that:
Here's the fundamental problem with fumbles. Every single system I've seen published is a horrific sin against verisimilitude, even if your game is incredibly low powered and ordinary conscripts---what 1st edition called zero-levels---are your heroes. Any system that DIDN'T sin thusly would just be a useless pain in the neck, because it would require additional rolls to actually get up to the probability of any fumble that wasn't just---that particular attack misses, especially if you're talking about even medium level fighters.
News flash, a 5th or 6th level fighter is about as competent as any fighter in the real world WHO HAS EVER LIVED. Did guys like the author of the Book of Five Rings fumble? Yeah, but probably less than 1 in 10,000 attacks or so. And guess what? That 'sweet spot' level 8 fighter in your game is BETTER THAN THAT. Do you see the problem?
There is a pretty large segment of the player base and GM base (I'm mostly a GM and always have been) that needs a reasonable degree of verisimilitude to suspend disbelief. Getting the small things reasonable, at least at the aesthetic level, really helps the big things (like, oh, fire breathing dragons, mages that cast spells that actually work, etc) a lot easier to swallow. If even one of your players fits this description, best to stick by RAW on 'fumbles'.
Ok, imagine this---you'll have to seriously suspend some disbelief.
Now imagine that in your game world, that same guy is incredibly perceptive and happens to be right, at least insofar as his lower-case g god happens to be concerned. For extra fun, make that lower-case g an upper case, some sort of overgod that is known only to an extreme few and theorized by a few out-there extreme researchers.
A lot of GMs have a real issue with PCs being able to do anything without a roll or being able to 'count on' being able to do something. Predictably, they hate take-10, take-20, and similar mechanics and really like critical failures and so forth.
Simulacrum gets a body of house rules surrounding it normally the first time someone starts using it frequently.
Send a simulacrum of the villian to do such monologue or negotiation. Holy ground is another popular trope, at low levels, simply a neutral city that has the resources to seriously frown on mayhem inside its walls works too. It helps if a reasonably fraction of your villians are evil rather than EVIL, with some even neutral but with objectives that are opposed to those of the party. You can also have him visit them in dreams a la 'The Golden Child'.
Oh, just one note. A Strength of 14 corresponds to a military press of 175 pounds where rules for form and such are pretty loose (you just have to be able to lift it over your head). It's not ridiculously uncommon---probably the top 5% or so of men in their 20s can do that, especially guys in the >6' and around 200 pound set who go to the gym regularly. A lot of NFL players are past 20 via the same chart.
Step 1, talk to your GM about your predicament. Step 2, become familiar with this question to your GM:
I'll point this out for the benefit of a lot of GMs and players.
In most of the dungeons I run---those controlled by one or more active factions, this is how things usually go down.
The most common combat manuevers I see my players do are bull-rushes attached to shield slams. If you've got greater bullrush you can grant your fellow melees attacks of opportunity when you force them to move. You can also make them prone if there's a wall handy, contributing to yet more attacks of opportunity when they try to get up.
This is in fact where a large fraction of the DPR of a good weapon/shield TWF fighter comes from. He sets up his buddies the two-handed or reach weapon fighters for lots of attacks at their highest bonus. Needless to say, they'd better be paying for combat reflexes.
A character like this could make a decent general, but not a DPR-focused front line combatant or even a satisfactory defensive tank. If you're super lucky, your GM does what I do and gives +1 point towards raising stats per level instead of +1 to a stat per 4 levels---for instance in my game you could raise strength from 10 to 11 at 1st, to 12 at 2nd, 13 at 3rd (so you could get power attack) and to 14 by 5th level. You could also raise your charisma to 19 at 4th level by spending 4 such points if you saved them. This makes the level advancement attribute bonus a bit more equitable for MAD classes and suboptimal characters like this one.
Sometimes a tactical retreat is a good move even when a fight is fairly winnable as is. You might want to:
Remember, just as a GM can train PCs, so too can PCs train a GM. If he always recklessly pursues you when you run, you can run a few times when doing so isn't objectively necessary and give his minions a seriously bloody nose with a preplanned ambush.
If that's your concern, I suggest giving arrays rather than a point buy budget. You can give even fairly high value arrays and have less of a min-maxed feel than even a typical 15 point buy. For instance, consider this array
I don't know any GMs who use diplomacy/bluff/intimidate as written. It's even more universally loathed than leadership as written.
Pretty much the strongest social power level most of us are willing to grant ANYONE is the equivalent of a real life Reagan, Bill Clinton, or Hitler or Napoleon. That's it, even if you've got +30 or more. Diplomancy gets old really really fast---the first player who really maxes everything out and tries to get you to play RAW on it usually leaves a seriously bad taste in the mouth.
There's only one good reason at these levels NOT to go just with the high plus weapon.
Around my neck of the woods, we use this protocol for social skills.
We take the net bonuses and break them down into various pigeonholes, with each spot represented by an actual person or historical figure that we're all familiar with (e.g., Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan are up the the very high ranges). Your net bonus determines which figure we use for determination.
Then you say what you want to say, but the GM runs it through a filter akin to the one used by Ransom in translating Weston at the end of CS Lewis' novel 'Out of the Silent Planet'. Then we ask, could your figure walk that line past his audience? If the answer is yes, it just works, if it's a no, then it doesn't. Only when the answer is---maybe...if he was having a REALLY great speaking day, AND the weather cooperated with the Sun bursting forth right down on him when he reached his crescendo...(shades of 'Morning in America') do we roll. The native social system in pathfinder just isn't one that we're willing to allow anything meaningful to hinge on.
Ok, these guys are built on 15 points. Were football war, and major colleges had 'war' teams of about the same size as their football teams, this is about the level of talent that they probably have on their 1st team. NFL starter equivalents would probably be 4th level and 20 pointers. The charisma is oddly low, although I know why you dumped it---it's just the natural optimized place to stuff that array. These guys should probably be mounted, simply for travel if nothing else, as they are elite. Here's a suggestion if you want their stats to be a bit more organic---elite companies like this tend to be drawn out of a larger military like the musketeers were.
I generally use the approximation 2 points of attribute equals one standard deviation. Back in the old days of 1st-2nd edition, I used the compressed bell curve created by 3d6 (which had pictures in the 1st edition DMG). An 18 back in the old days was only 1 in 216, which is only about 2 and a half sigmas or so. Now I treat it as 4 sigmas, which is a lot rarer (in 10,000 people you'll see 2 or 3 at 4 sigma if it is a random population in the attribute you're looking for).
So a 7 now is about negative 2 sigmas. That's about 1 in 50. If you have a social circle of 150 people, AND that circle is a random one (frankly in modern western countries, your social circles are extremely nonrandom these days, unless you live in a tiny town or something where everyone is included due to sheer geography), someone with a 7 is probably one of the 5 least intelligent people in that group. How stupid is that? Pretty stupid but frequently more or less functional, especially if the culture they're in has lots of bright line rules to keep them out of trouble and strong taboos against sharp dealing with the dim.
Many years have taught me that you should never allow things like flaws to offset additional combat advantages. If you want to let them take flaws and receive something in compensation, make the compensation in a similar domain that the flaw resides in. This is, unless you decide---everyone gets a bonus feat, whatever you want, at 1st level and everyone must take at least 2 minor flaws or one major one, with no implied connection or fungibility between the two.
I pretty much exclusively run sandbox these days, with the only exceptions being when I run a miniseries or oneshot, in which case I bend more towards the narrativist/gamist. Here's how a session usually goes:
The PCs pick the objective that they're going to pursue based on what they can obtain insofar as the risk and reward and what their other objectives might be. Then, between then and the next session, I fill in the gaps and make preparations. If the objective isn't terribly involved and I'm well prepared in the particular area already, sometimes it can just be run on the spot. But if you're planning an intercontinental or extraplanar trip, some prep is going to be needed.
Ideally you kill your enemies in order of their ratio of offense to defense, and you focus fire them down N at a time where N is determined by your AE or multiattack capability (e.g., if your main hitters all have, say, cleave, you might try to set up to kill 2 foes at a time). Your job is to prevent your enemy from doing the same to you. So yes, that means you kill glass cannons first and shield tanks last, if you can help it.
Divination, enchantment, and illusion are all three massively dependent on your GM for how good of a school they are.
Guys like Wesley are extremely high point build equivalents. But what they're NOT is highly optimized. Wesley honestly reminds me a lot of a former student I had who was fresh out of the Marines force recon---even had quite a bit of physical resemblance.
But notice---would any min-maxer, or even most players, build a character like that if they were given 32 points? Frankly, no. If we assume Wesley is a rogue/fighter, or maybe a ranger, this build is extremely unlikely. He doesn't have a 20 dexterity or strength, or even an 18. This is one of the serious pitfalls of point-based generation in my opinion, you see a serious shortage of characters like this because they cost too much relative to what you get.
Yes, KOS is Kill on Sight. Includes mind flayers, drow in most worlds, kuo toa in nearly all worlds. Generally includes trolls and ogres and probably half of orcish tribes as well as a few human cultures.
Most cultures are going to consider bugbears KOS. KOS Cultures are ones that pretty much everyone who isn't KOS or explicitly allied to wants to exterminate. They tend to do things like heap up huge mounds of skulls into pyramids. They also generally don't abide by norms of prisoner exchange or ransom or even the proper methods ethnic cleansing or conquest.
Yes, Leonidas lives in a low-magic world, possibly even an E6. He's probably 5th or 6th level with a very balanced but high set of stats. Here's my guess
People have embedded what we call stats into the language. For instance, that guy with a 12 INT is called 'smart'.
In cyberpunk settings, skill chips/skillwires are pretty common. Essentially they give you the skill but without the scaffolding that someone who learned the skill organically probably would have gotten. So you can use Skill X, but because it's not totally integrated into your mind, you can't use it as a default for Skill Y, which is somewhat related to skill X. Insofar as the extra memory is concerned, imagine having a google glass on steroids. Look at someone and everything you have recorded about that person is right there on your heads-up display,including all things you owe him or vice versa. Also imagine being able to have nearly perfect recall of anything you'd ever read. That's how extra RAM conceptualizes in a magical society (note, a very very small fraction of society has this already in full blown form, with a larger small fraction having 'really good memories').
My recommendation on +stat items, particularly +mental stat items is to view them a lot like the skill wires/ chipped skills in Shadowrun and similar cyberpunk games.
Well, a careful examination of the strength lift chart will show you that the strongest human ever in the real world is around STR 23-24 or so. The equivalency I use in most of my games is that every 2 points in an attribute maps to a standard deviation. So like 2% of the population has an attribute of 14 or better, and an 18 is between the one in 1000 to one in 10000 level.
Nobody is a pure simulationist, narrativist, or gamist. Even simulationist extremists like myself are probably only 80% S, 10% N, 10%G. And we deliberately pick environments and conflicts likely to produce interesting stories after the fact and where actions by small groups or individuals can have historically decisive impact. In addition, there's generally a covenant between the GM and the PLayers---I'll give you all the rope you want. You can choose how and whether to hang yourselves. But for the love of God, please do something interesting. Nobody wants to roleplay in the Era of Good Feelings.
If you're joining an established group of adventurers, they're going to be pretty picky. Sensible players generally pre-vet their character choices with the other players before making them. What I'm NOT going to do for you as a GM is contrive something to force the other players to accept your character. Think of a group of adventurers as something akin to a mercenary band like Blackwater on steroids. Think they'd hire you on as a full partner if you didn't look like a good fit?
Would the other PCs voluntarily pick the evil PC as a companion entitled to an equal share of the loot were PC not stamped visibly on her forehead?