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21 posts. 1 review. No lists. No wishlists.


Flak wrote:
This goes entirely against your example but I agree ;P

Lol I realized that after I posted. It was a fairly rough example. Anyways, on to the next thread.

That's a good point about diminished casting and ki points. It still isn't OP or anything, but I think when you put it in that perspective it actually is in line with the other vanilla wizard bonds. Should be fine as is.

On scorching ray, yeah that spell is broken for any sneak attacking wizard. Even if we went back to 3.5 volley rules, it would still be broken because each ray is resolved as a separate attack. Perhaps we could change Trickery Bond so that it doesn't actually have default Sneak Attack, but a variant like Sudden Strike. Surprise Spells as written only allows sneak attacks on flat footed targets anyways. We could then define this new sneak attack to only work once per target per spell. That way it balances out spells like scorching ray while still allowing shenanigans with fireballs and other rays. And it's not like Stealth Mage needs "real" Sneak Attack, since he'll almost never be in melee anyways.

Studied Trickery would be completely fine with that change, while still remaining extremely useful. A stealth mage isn't going to be pumping dex, so that gives a strong increase in skill power without completely outclassing other skill monkeys.

Hey, I don't have time to do a full response to your comments right now, but I wanted to duck in here and give a few quick comments. First of all, I wasn't trying to replace the Stealth Mage or anything of that sort. It fits it's design purpose pretty much perfectly. I'm trying to go a different direction with the archetype, with something more suited to a rogue with a few spells on the side. I think perhaps this first incarnation kinda fails at that. I'll tinker with it. But enough about that. Back to the stealth mage.

I'm geniunely not sure how to handle Studied Trickery to be honest. I mean it scales REALLY well. With trickery bond and Studied Trickery, you're getting like +13 to those skills by level 16. Using Stealth as an example, a level 16 character would have the following bonuses:
3(class bonus)
7(Dex with gear)
7(Int with gear, studied trickery)
5(Cloak of Elvenkind)
4(Trickery Bond)
6(Skill Focus Stealth)

Total of +48 to stealth checks at level 16.
A CR 20 Balor has a +38 to perception checks.
Like I said, I'm really not sure how to handle this, but I think perhaps making the bonus of Studied Trickery a competence bonus to prevent stacking with items might be enough. It's a difficult topic, though.

About Trickery Bond and Organization Bond:
Our disagreement on this seems to come from a difference of perspective. I'll just explain why I think Organization is bad and Trickery is OP, and you can tear it apart at your leisure. I honestly hope you're right, but here goes.

The reason I think Organization is kind of bad, is because the stealth pool's stealth bonuses and silent spells are essentially limited extensions of what Tricky Spells and Trickery Bond already do. It's doubtful you'll ever be committing more than 5 points to a single stealth check, and in the long term Trickery Bond pays out better in skill bonuses than Organization. Also, I was aware of the ability to use that pool for Ki abilities, but my understanding is that the vast majority of the Ki pool abilities merely give you access to abilities that are already available to you in spell form, or useless due to the spellcasting nature of the class. Things like invisibility, acrobatics bonuses, darkvision, feather fall, extra attacks in melee, disguise self. That's what you get from Ki powers, and all of that is things you generally already have access to. Admittedly, it allows you adjust more on the fly, but once you hit level 8 or 9, and gain access to Tricky Spells, the vast majoriy of the tools in Organization fall by the wayside.

Trickery Bond, on the other hand, wouldn't be so bad if not for one slight issue. That issue is called Scorching Ray. That spell pretty much singlehandedly makes anyone with full caster progression and sneak attack a nightmare to balance. As soon as you hit level 11, you're dealing with a huge surge in damage output. At that level, the 3rd ray becomes available. A quickened second level spell ALSO becomes available. Even considering the very weak sneak attack progression of the stealth mage, you're looking at a class with access to greater invisibility and the ability to scorching ray twice a round, with sneak attack. So yeah. 2 castings of scorching ray. One at 2nd level, and one at 6th level, quickened.

That's 6 rays at 4d6 damage each, with an additional 3d6 sneak attack damage tacked on to each of them. That's 7d6 damage per ray, or a total of 42d6 points of damage in one round. Because one of those spells is only 2nd level, that actually gives the caster some leeway to attach effects like Dazing spell or some additional maximize or empower effects to it. A stealth mage could pretty easily instakill many CR 11 encounters. Thank god for spell resistances. Anyways, I know from personal experience having pissed off 2 different DMs that sneak attack and ray attacks have the potential to be extremely powerful. It's not even the damage that makes it so bad though, it's the fact that the rays are aimed at touch AC and so are extremely reliable.

The problem I foresee with Trickery bond is that it increases the damage potential of a blaster wizard to be on par or superior to most of the "real" damage classes like Paladin, Fighter, or Ranger, while at the same time boosting the skill monkey capabilities of the wizard to outclass the rogue and bard in their respective roles. This comes with no real loss of spellcasting progression. Even if it isn't OP, from a group dynamics perspective I feel like it would give the Stealth Mage too much of the spotlight, and really pull a lot of the fun from other party members.

I actually had some more to say, but I've already rambled on too long. One thing we do agree on though: The current Arcane Bond options outclass the "vanilla" wizard options by a good bit.

So I've been thinking about the Stealth Mage class pretty much nonstop since I discovered it, and I realized something about it irks me. As is, the class has no BAB progression, and full caster progression. The class is well designed, but I kind of feel it's too heavily skewed towards the Wizard, with not enough focus on the Rogue.

I think it needs the Magus treatment. Lowered spellcasting progression, raised BAB, better sneak attack options, etc. To that end, I've thrown together a completely different base class, which is basically a Stealth Mage that doesn't heavily favor rogue or wizard, but tries to be equally split between the two.

The Daggermage

Alignment: Any
Hit Die: D8
Skill ranks: 4 + Int
Skills: Acrobatics, Appraise, Bluff, Climb, Craft, Diplomacy, Disable Device, Disguise, Escape Artist, Fly, Intimidate, Knowledge(all), Linguistics, Perception, Perform, Profession, Sense Motive, Sleight of Hand, Spellcraft, Stealth, Swim, Use Magic Device

BAB: 3/4
Good Saves: Ref, Will

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Daggermages are proficient with all simple weapons, plus the hand crossbow, sap, and shortbow. They are not proficient with armor or shields.

Arcane Bond: This functions exactly as the Wizard ability, except that it must be to a bonded object, and the bonded object must be a Masterwork Dagger.

Arcane School: This ability functions exactly as the Wizard class feature of the same name, with the following exceptions. A Daggermage who chooses to specialize in a school does not gain any of the bonus features of specialization. She still gains access to a bonus slot of each spell level for spells of that school. However, if a Daggermage chooses not to specialize, she still gains access to the Universalist school abilities.

Sneak Attack: The Daggermage gains Sneak Attack as a Rogue except as noted here. The daggermage does an extra 1d6 sneak attack damage at level 2, which increases by 1d6 for every 3 levels thereafter. Advances are at levels 2, 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, to a max of 7d6 at level 20.

Spells: A Daggermage casts arcane spells as a wizard, except as noted here. The Daggermage spells per day advancement is different than a wizard. Table is at bottom.

Spellbook: Exactly as Wizard

Cantrips: As Wizard

Trapfinding: As Rogue

Spell Combat: At 2nd level, the Daggermage learns to cast spells and wield weapons at the same time. This functions as the Magus ability of the same name.

Surprise Spells: At 3rd level, the Daggermage gains the Surprise Spells class feature of the Arcane Trickster. Additionally, whenever a spell qualifies for sneak attack damage(including touch spells when flanking), the DC of that spell increases by 1 for each sneak attack die the Daggermage has.

Rogue Talents: At 3rd level, and every 3 levels thereafter, the Daggermage gains access to a Rogue Talent, as the Rogue class feature.

Advanced Talents: At 12th level, a Daggermage can choose any of the Advanced rogue talents in place of a rogue talent, as the Rogue class feature.

Evasion: At 4th level, a Daggermage gains access to Evasion, as the Rogue class feature of the same name.

Spellstrike: At level 5, the Daggermage gains access to the Spellstrike ability of the Magus.

Ranged Legerdemain: Same as Arcane Trickster Ability. Gained at level 7.

Tricky Spells: As the Arcane Trickster Ability. Gained at level 10. Additional uses are gained every 2 levels thereafter, up to a maximum of 8 times per day at level 20.

Invisible Thief: As the arcane trickster ability. Gained at level 12. Can remain invisible for a number of rounds per day equal to her Daggermage level.

Severing Strike: At level 15, whenever a Daggermage deals sneak attack damage with her bonded weapon, she may forego dealing sneak attack damage to instead lower the enemy's spell Resistance by 1 for each sneak attack die she possesses. This ability does not stack with itself, and lasts for 1 round per Daggermage level. Additional applications may reset the duration to maximum, but will not stack.

Mage blade: At 20th level, all of the Daggermage's attacks with her bonded weapon are treated as touch attacks, and any spells delivered through her bonded weapon bypass spell resistance. Whenever the Daggermage confirms a critical with her bonded weapon which is not already delivering a spell, she may immediately cast a spell through her dagger as a free action, which automatically hits and crits.

Daggermage Spell Progression:


lvl 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
1: 2 0
2: 3 1
3: 4 2
4: 4 2 0
5: 4 3 1
6: 4 3 2
7: 4 3 2 0
8: 4 4 3 1
9: 4 4 3 2
10: 4 4 3 2 0
11: 4 4 4 3 1
12: 4 4 4 3 2
13: 4 4 4 3 2 0
14: 4 4 4 4 3 1
15: 4 4 4 4 3 2
16: 4 4 4 4 3 2 0
17: 4 4 4 4 4 3 1
18: 4 4 4 4 4 3 2
19: 4 4 4 4 4 3 2 0
20: 4 4 4 4 4 3 2 1

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Arcane Trickster. I would frankly love to see that class get the Magus treatment, and turn into a 3/4 BAB caster with (decreased)sneak attack progression that caps out at level 6 spells, and gets rogue talents maybe every 3rd or 4th level.

It worked with Eldritch Knight to Magus. How about Arcane Trickster to Daggermage?


Anyways, I had a player in my group who systematically stole like 40-50% of the loot from the rest of the party. Then he "generously" meted their share back out to them in favors, item gifts, or just straight up loans of gold so that they could get equipped. He did it so well, it took a while before they as players caught on. All in all, the entire scenario turned out to be hilarious, and all the players got a kick out of it once they were all in on it. Their characters never found out, and the rogue went on to become a wealthy money lender and black market type at the end of the campaign.

In sum: Stealing from other players is completely okay, encouraged from a roleplaying perspective, and quite frankly long as they make sure they're not actually weakening the party by doing it. Find RP reasons to see to it that the wealth finds its way back into their pockets in some way, shape or form. It'll make for a better story and keep the party power level nicely balanced.

I prestige fairly often, but I almost never dip. The only dipping I did was in 3.5 where I went rogue/wizard/spellwarp sniper/arcane trickster, and after I hit level 10 in AT, I was going to go back and max spellwarp sniper. To be fair though, the only reason I did that was because sneaky caster archetypes have not been well represented in 3.5(or pathfinder for that matter), so you gotta get tricky to make it work.

Honestly, it's just a game. Relax man. Players will always make ridiculous characters or have punny names. It won't stop the roleplaying. He can just rationalize it to that he had crazy parents.

In a game I'm currently DMing, our best roleplayer is using a rogue named Barhopolis. He pretty much started out trying to sleep with every female NPC he met. He roleplayed a total sleezy scoundrel. Currently, he's given up his wanton ways and fallen in love with the princess, who is currently traveling with the party for protection following the king's descent into madness, and intent to sacrifice her in an extremely powerful blood ritual. He started out being all stabby stabby, but no joke the last big encounter I threw at them, he stepped up and roleplayed his way out of it. He's also, on two seperate occassions, given up large quantities of gold due or power because of his investment in the story. I gave the players a limited wish, and before anyone could argue about it, he stepped up and used it to revive an NPC that had accidentally died as a result of the player's actions.

So yeah, don't put too much in a name. Player Characters will always be immersion breaking on some level. It just comes with the territory. They are uber heroes who routinely get into danger just for gold, in an otherwise serious world. Just accept it, gloss over it, and pretty soon your entire play group will be roleplaying and getting involved, regardless of their ridiculous characters.

Glad I can help. I'm really looking forward to the final version. Even as is, it's one of the best homebrew things I've ever seen. As a lover of stealthy casters, I'm going to be playtesting one of these in a campaign whenever the campaign I'm currently DMing wraps up. Could be a while though. Anyways, archetypes look good. Keep up the good work.

So I just discovered this lovely thread earlier tonight, and I just wanted to chime in with my perspective on the Stealth Mage class.

As is, it looks to be slightly stronger than it should be, but only due to a few things. First of all, the combination of Studied Trickery and the Trickery Bond can get some quite frankly absurd bonuses to skill checks. We're talking like +13 to stealth at level 1 bonuses if you went all out and grabbed the Skill Focus(stealth) feat. Anyways I think Studied Trickery needs to be removed, or be reworked. The Arcane Bond bonus is already very strong, and having another bonus available to be stacked just gives you "auto win" on whichever skills you select.

On that note, Arcane Bond seems a little wonky. Trickery Aspect is very strong, while Organization aspect feels weak. Here are my issues and suggested changes.

The Organization Bond ability to use stealth points to cast spells without verbal or somatic components is problematic:

Additionally, when casting a spell, the stealth mage can expend a number of stealth points equal to her level in order to remove either the verbal or somatic components from the spell.

This doesn't scale very well, as that means you can, at level 1 with Skill Focus(bluff), use the skip somatic or verbal components ability 4 times per day, 8 levels before you should have access to that. Then at level 2 it goes down to 2 uses per day, and drops to 1 use per day at level 4. Also, it overlaps a bit too much with tricky spells that it feels inelegant.

I would suggest merging tricky spells into the Arcane Bond Organization feature, and changing tricky spells to cost a number of stealth points equal to the spell level of the spell being cast. Also change it so that you can remove both verbal and somatic at level 8, instead of 12.

On that note, Outflank kinda doesn't make sense as a bonus feat. If you took that option, you do not gain sneak attack, so you shouldn't even BE in melee. Not to mention wizard BAB so you wouldn't be in melee even if you did have sneak attack. In place of outflank, how about at level 12(the point you would normally have gotten the Tricky Spells ability, which is now at level 8), you now grant the Stealth Point bonuses to every ally within 30 feet when spent, giving you a nice tool enhance the stealth of nearby allies.

To sum up: Currently, Arcane Bond feels heavily skewed towards sneak attack and +5 to your vital skills. Merge Tricky Spells into Organization bonuses, and give them the ability to spend stealth points to help allies sneak. This would make potential Stealth Mages have to really consider whether they want to support their allies with stealth and stay in the background, or become more of a deadly operative with sneak attack and bonuses on all of their skills.

Wow. Thanks for the reply, that answers pretty much everything. I've decided to just take Silent Spell at level 1, and use Silenced Ghost Sounds(Ironic eh?) at point blank range for my low level illusion trickery. It's not much, but I'd say it's probably playable for what I'm trying to go for. I'll need to position carefully using cover and whatnot, but it'll work from level 1, which is all I really care about.

I'm probably setting myself up for being suboptimal as all hell, but I'm going heavy into the controller/support/utility focus with my spells to dodge the craptastic entry area that Arcane Tricksters suffer from(mainly levels 5-9).

Hey all, I'm joining a new campaign pretty soon, and we're starting at level 1. My goal is to go pretty much straight into Arcane Trickster at level 7, with my first level in Wizard.

The thing is, I'm specializing in Illusion from level 1, and I'm wondering if it's possible to use illusions from level 1 without completely telegraphing my presence. Basically, to cast most spells requires speaking in a strong voice, which is counterproductive for a sneaky illusionist.

So, the questions:
Can I attempt to roll a stealth check on a spellcasting action?

If not, how far away would I have to be to reliably get off some illusion spells on an enemy without them being aware of my presence?

How does using an illusion spell to enhance another illusion spell work? Ghost Sounds says it can be used to enhance a Silent Image spell. Can I modify a Ghost Sound after I cast it, or does the exact sound pattern have to be specified on casting?

A lot of illusions have short ranges. Am I going to have to wait til I get silent spell and still spell to apply those shorter range spells?

Will Illusions work for a sneaky character trying to avoid detection while creating diversions at level 1, or do I need to wait and get a bunch of feats to do that?

Hypothetical example: PC's come across a few orcs milling about a farmhouse deep in the woods. Crouched in the underbrush say, 50 feet away. Could this sneaky wizard reliably cast a spell from that distance and get away with it? Could he back up to like 200 feet and use Silent Image to fake a dragon attack? What about going up to like 25 feet and creating a buzzing sound via ghost sounds, then having a silent image of a bees nest falling and bursting, releasing a swarm of angry bees?

My apologies for the massive post. It's just kind of a complex topic.

No. Even if you can be unbiased, it's generally just a burden on the GM, and will limit you in some way, shape, or form. Often, in ways you don't expect.

That said, in a game I'm running right now, our players have iffy schedules and people often can't show up regularly, so I have like 2 or 3 extra NPCs who I've added to the party at 1-2 levels below. They're pretty badass, but still not as good as the players. Despite my attachment to these NPCs, the players have probably taken to liking them even more than I do, and as a result no less than half the party have agreed to ALL grab leadership at level 7 and assume control of the NPCs.

So avoid GMPC's, and focus on loveable NPCs that the players will attach themselves to. You still get to roleplay them, and you can optimize the f@+* out of them to make them really strong for their level, as long as they're still allies to the PC's, and not taking center stage.

Wow. Arminas, you're really outdoing yourself. Those changes to Leraje and Ronove completely blow my ideas for a fix out of the water. I was going to make Leraje's ricochet scale with level to eventually hit 7 targets with a max range for each "jump" of 5 feet per 2 binder levels. But to be fair, that idea is only good for getting rid of minions.

So yeah, screw that, your Leraje and Ronove win. But I do have a few ideas that might make them better:

Make the bow have the ability to get Seeking and Keen, instead of Distance. I think that fits the background on Leraje better, and might prove more useful. Also, maybe we should change the way the stealth bonus works to scale at a much higher rate, but only work on rounds where you don't move more than 5 feet? Basically, change her stealth to work for sniping, but not for sneaking around.

For Ronove, I think melee attacks should strike as Lawful around level 13-14. Just seems apt given they can get Chaotic weapons for DR purposes.

And Dark Knowledge is supposed to allow ANY feats, not just the ones the binder had access to in the original book. The reason for that is that the binder is a class based on versatility, but many of the optimal builds for a binder required specializing heavily. The goal is to allow a binder to get a bit more flexibility each day in terms of switching roles, without having to put every single feat into a particular vestige combo, or be utterly gimped when forced out of your preferred focus. I do wonder if that's a bit too strong though.

Anyways, I've got a pretty good looking conversion now. The only thing I'm trying to figure out now is a way to make skills scale without stacking issues. There are a few vestiges who overlap with skill bonuses that are somewhat problematic, like Leraje and Marchosias.

That's not the only problem though. The way skills are handled in pathfinder means that cross class skills are only moderately weaker than class skills, which binders to achieve some rather absurd bonuses for specific skills. Using unmodified 3.5 vestiges as an example: A level 13 binder with 14 dex could have 13 ranks in Stealth, +2 bonus from dex, and then +16 bonus from Marchosias, giving him a whopping +31 to stealth at level 13 before any items or magic are added in. It's even more vexing when you consider some vestige skill bonuses are typed as Competence, but some have no type at all(so they stack with everything).

So here's a dumb question. Anyone know why I can't edit my original post now? lol

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Before I begin, I should state this is a work in progress. I'm posting what I've done so far in the hopes I can get some critique, and potentially point out any problems I am setting myself up for. I'm also using this as an opportunity to clean up some of the vestiges, buffing crappy ones and clarifying some rule issues for a more stable Pathfinder-ized version.

One more thing: This version assumes only core content from the book is allowed. No 3rd party or online vestiges. The reason for this is that some of those singlehandedly moved the Binder up by somewhere around a tier to a tier and a half, due to exploitable mechanics and generally poor design. So, core books only.

You will need to have access to the original Tome of Magic to compare some of these changes as well, until I get around to the finished version. Levels at which vestiges are gained are unchanged.

So without furthur ado:

Class Skills: 4 + Int
Hit Die: D8
BAB: 3/4
Good Saves: Fort, Will


Class Features

1.Soul Binding 1
2.Pact Aug 1, suppress sign
4.Dark Knowledge 1
5.Pact Aug 2
6.Soul Binding 2, Soul Guardian(Fear)
8.Dark Knowledge 2
9.Soul Guardian(slippery mind), Pact Aug 3
11.Soul Binding 3
13.Soul Guardian(Energy drain, negative levels), Pact Aug 4
14.Dark Knowledge 3
16. Soul Binding 4
18. Pact Aug 5
19. Soul Guardian(Mind Blank)
20. Soul Binding 5

New Ability: Dark Knowledge

Replaces and upgrades the bonus feats of the original binder. A binder may, upon binding to a vestige, take a bonus feat of any feat that they are able to learn. This feat lasts for as long as the vestige is bound to the binder, and only 1 feat may be taken for any particular vestige. Bonus feats gained this way may be used to qualify for additional bonus feats gained by Dark Knowledge. For example, a level 10 binder chooses to bind Amon, and takes Dodge as a bonus feat. He then binds Paimon, and chooses to take Mobility as a bonus feat.

Updated Vestiges:
Agares: Fear Immunity replaced by immunity to critical hits. Earth and Air Mastary Scales by +1/-1 for every 4 levels above 7.

Binders get Fear Immunity by default before they even get access to this vestige, and Agares is relatively lackluster, so hopefully these changes make him viable.

Andras: Change Smite Good/Evil to new Pathfinder Paladin Smite.

This is more of a consistency change, but I'm uncertain on it, as that increases Binder power levels by a huge margin.

Aym: Halo of Fire applies to weapon attacks. deals 1d6 bonus damage per 5 binder levels, minimum 1d6.

Aym is a very weak vestige. Adding some bonus fire damage should hopefully increase viability.

Buer: Healing Gift changed to 1d8+1/level as standard action. Increases by 1d8 per 3 binder levels above 7. 2d8+10 at level 10. 3d8+13 at level 13. 4d8+16 at level 16. 5d8+19 at level 19

Buer is very strong, but the original designers wanted to keep the in combat healing low because of the massive amount of out of combat healing. This seems like poor design, since you can get massive amounts of out of combat healing cheaply anyways.

Eligor:Chromatic Strike applies to all attacks now, passively. Element type may be changed as a free action.

Just a consistency change. An extra 1d6 of damage each round is not particularly noticeable by the time you can access Eligor.

Eurynome: DR increases by 1 per 3 binder levels above 7. 3 at 10. 4 at 13. 5 at 16. etc.
Poison Blood changed: Essentially 1d6 damage per 3 levels of binder to any enemy that bites you, and again 1 minute later. Fort negates. The poison is also applied on any natural attacks you possess, but cannot damage more than once per round. i.e. if you hit with any natural attacks, they must make a fort save or take damage, but they don't take damage more than once per round, and do not need to make multiple saves if hit by multiple attacks.

By far one of the weakest vestiges, these changes make Eurynome a good "support" vestige to one of the ones that gives natural attacks, without causing her damage to spiral out of control.

Focalor: Lightning Strike scaling changed to extra 1d6 for every 2 levels above 6. i.e. 5d6 at level 10.
Focalor's Breath duration increases to 1 round per 4 binder levels, minimum 1.

Focalor is strong at low levels, but falls off sharply at mid and high levels. An attempt to rectify this.

Leraje: Definitely needs to be reworked. Uncertain how to approach.

Ronove: Godawful, needs overhaul. Uncertain how to fix.

Tenebrous: When you unbind or do not renew your pact with Tenebrous, Undead commanded with Rebuke stay loyal for a number of extra hours equal to twice your binder level, then turn hostile.

This is to prevent binders from using Tenebrous once to acquire undead followers, then never binding Tenebrous again. If a binder wants undead minions, they need to bind him every day. Seems fair.

Updated Feats:
Rapid Pact Making: Does not require you to draw a seal. Instead the binder merely visualizes the seal of the vestige to be bound, preventing the need for the normal 10 rounds of preparation.

I realize the formatting is a bit clunky, but as I said, this is a work in progress. I will be cleaning this up and attempting reworks of Ronove and Leraje in the next few days.

2 of the 3 are melee oriented. Might I suggest that instead of trying different encounters, try increasing the difficulty through adverse terrain or unorthodox attack methods. Add traps to encounter areas or put the players into choke points and ambush spots. Or turn them against one another. A few examples:

Casters or Archers firing at the players from arrow slits while some bruisers engage and distract. IIRC, arrow slits give bonuses on reflex saves and give all creatures using them evasion, in addition to blocking line of effect if they crouch/cover after firing. Not to mention the Arcane Archer only has so many ways to deal with those things. I think like 2 seeking arrows and a phase arrow?

If that doesn't work, put them in a dungeon just loaded with traps. I had a reverse gravity spike pit trap in a game I ran, which was remarkably hard to detect and would probably catch the players off guard. "You see a a large vertical shaft in the roof." "I move forward and look up" Suddenly, gravity. Follow that up with an enemy ambush?

Use some form of command spell or monster with compulsion to get the warrior to grapple the arcane archer, potentially removing them both from the fight.

You know, the death knell idea could actually work out to create some interesting roleplaying and character flavor. Imagine an eldritch knight or multiclasses cleric who carried around living sacrifices which he either drained for power or "offered" to his dark gods for a boon. I think I might suggest that to another player in our group...

Anyways, I think if you're looking for that kinda option you'll want to ask the DM for some house rules or pull the feat over from 3.5.

Honestly, another vote for Tome of Magic. Binders were awesome and actually really well balanced as is, but I'd like to see the Shadowcasters and Truenamers fixed up nicely.

So I'm starting up a new campaign in a few days, and I've decided to roll up a paladin, for 2 reasons. First, as a long time DM(I taught myself at age 14 with no prior experience and have been pretty much forced to assume DM responsibilities in 9/10 games since then), I have NEVER seen a paladin played well. This bothers me, and I feel like challenging myself with roleplaying it. Secondly, I want to play a supporting healer type character.

Now I realize paladin is not the best class for this, as that is more along the lines of the cleric's role, but I'm pretty set on this idea from a roleplaying perspective. Simply put, I'm trying to make a relatively humble paladin whose background is more in line with that of a rogue than a holy man, and who draws his strength from empathy and the knowledge that even the most despicable of creatures can redeem themselves if put into the right situation.

Anyways, enough intro, here's my questions. I'm trying to find feats and character options which emphasize a more supportive healing helpful paladin, but I am kind of struggling. The options I have seen have seemed, quite honestly, incredibly weak at first glance. Are any of the paladin variations actually worth taking, or are they too gimp to use properly? I'm interested in the Sacred Shield and Oath of Loyalty variants, but my understanding is that Paladins in their current form NEED smite, and to trade that off for anything would be extremely unwise. Any truth to that? If so, how is Oath of Charity? I really like the idea of that variant.

The other question is more RP oriented. Are there any "common" situations I should be worried about causing problems with the paladins code of honor? We don't have any evil players on our group, but the rest of the party seems like they'll be okay with rampant theft and a complete disregard of law. I figure it will play out with them doing this behind my character's back, but does anyone have any advice on how to deal with it when my character inevitably discovers their shenanigans, without splitting the group or trainwrecking the campaign?

Edit: Derp, one more question. With Oath of Charity, it allows you to "respec" your mercies every day. Does that mean I can just ignore the crappy level 3 mercies in favor of all high end mercies once I start moving them around, or am I required to at least put 1 mercy at each "tier"?

I actually feel like tricky characters like rangers, monks, and ESPECIALLY rogues should be much closer to the top. Pure casters like wizards and summoners basically just go down the list of spells they have and pick whichever one solves the encounter. Skill-based classes and trickster characters often are forced to think creatively when it comes to solving encounters, using limited skillsets and tools in conjunction with the environment to solve problems. Obviously this mindset isn't just linked to those classes, but they're the best suited to capitalize on it.

Example: In a campaign I was in, we were facing a very powerful lich. We attacked him in his study, a room with various magical components littered around his tables and workspaces, with walls covered in very tall bookshelves. First round he cast Dominate Person on our barbarian, and made him grapple the wizard. The other party members were myself(rogue/duelist) and a straight rogue.

In desperation, he BULLRUSHED the lich back a square or two while I ran past and used the skill trick that lets you run up a wall for a short stretch, to get on top of the 15 foot tall bookshelf(which just barely fit into one move action), then used my standard action to wedge myself between the bookshelf and the wall and push it down on top of him.

Rogues may not have a lot of options in straight combat due to sneak attack reliance, but if you've got the right mindset a skill based trickster character can be surprisingly complicated.

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