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Sounds like someone got on the JoJo hype train.
What is that?
magus with an expanded spell list
That's a good one; I disregarded magus VMC early due to spell list access, but you're right that actually being a magus and getting the spells on my list would let me do this. I've been meaning to try the esoteric magus, anyway.
lots of good stuff
I do like versatile channel; it kind of inspired this concept, really. Envoy of Balance is cool and I might just settle on it if I can't get my heal/harm fix in other ways.
Thanks, all! Everyone's suggestions were helpful :).
I have a character concept in mind and a case of theorycrafter's block. This character may become an NPC in an upcoming game (or a PC even further in the future), but, for now, I'm just trying to explore a particular mechanic.
The idea is to be able, on a full attack, to smack some allies with heals and some enemies with the opposite of heals. The right hand punishes; the left caresses. Ideally, this character would fight with unarmed strikes; further, this character's healing and harming abilities would be perfectly fungible, i.e. any combination of healing and harming attacks could be deployed throughout the round. If the gods truly smiled, there would be an ability that just let you convert all the damage you would do to healing.
Enumerated below are the ideas I've had so far:
1. Conductive weapon (AoMF) + Lay on Hands. Hit your ally for nonlethal damage (can you switch freely between lethal and non-lethal mid-full attack? Seems legit). This works pretty well, but it's ...
Disadvantages: only once per round.
2. Spell-storing weapons/holding the charge. Similar to the above, but works off of spells like cure X wounds instead of supernatural abilities.
Disadvantages: Only works on the first attack in a round. Egregious action economy.
3. Deviating a bit, it might be satisfactory just to do an unarmed build that also has significant Lay on Hands-style abilities, e.g. an Iroran Paladin or Champion of Irori.
Disadvantages: Punch one turn, heal the next. Meh.
4. Really deviating from the concept, a witch- or bard-based arcane archer could use "imbue arrow" with mass cure spells.
Disadvantages: Doesn't come online until mid-high levels; only a standard action; isn't melee.
5. <complaint>Channel Smite really ought to let you choose to heal or harm, but it doesn't.</complaint>
I've also considered functional equivalents like an unarmed Oradin, using Life Link and shield other for passive damage mitigation while using her actions to attack, but I just really want a character who punches her friends to increase their HP.
Another idea might be Cavalier VMC. It doesn't look that appetizing at first, but some of the Order abilities (Order of the Guard, Order of the Tome) give defensive bonuses during a challenge.
As an Earth/Water/Aether kineticist, you're already getting DR, temporary HP, and an AC boost. The defenses you can still work on are touch AC and saves. So, what do you want to focus on to become more tanky? Lots of sorcerer bloodlines and cleric domains grant resistances and immunities, which can help you against spells. Rogue VMC, while not my cup of tea, will make your reflex saves more effective and help you against sneak attacks. Monk gives you a little touch AC at very high levels (but a one-level dip in sacred fist warpriest is probably a better choice for that kind of thing).
This is absolutely a possibility. Just to play the advocate for new GMs, I'd like to relate that my first few experiences GMing involved a very similar cycle. It's really hard, particularly when you have to extemporize, to balance an encounter. Things tend toward the poles very easily. If your players trounce an encounter, it sometimes seems reasonable, in the spur of the moment, to add big numbers to the next one in order to challenge them. I can absolutely understand how a person, without malicious intent, might pull out a Rift Drake.
I think she (your GM) is more afraid of you than you are of her. It sounds like you're already planning to resolve this issue out of character, which is the right move, but I would add that there is a learning opportunity here. One thing I've found helpful is co-GMing: the novice GM helps the seasoned one plan some adventures. Then he/she gets to see how an experienced GM handles things like on-the-fly modifications to encounters to account for power imbalance. Then the roles can switch--novice GM takes the lead role--until he/she is more comfortable improvising.
In short, I'd hesitate to assume adversarial intent.
Intelligent wakizashi inhabited by the bound spirit of a kineticist. When wielded (assuming the weapon wants/is forced to function for its wielder), treat it as a conductive weapon with a kinetic blast channel through it. This lets you control scaling damage as a function of the weapon's growth over time. Plus, if you want to grant fun abilities, you can do so simply by saying the weapon learned an infusion.
This is turbid at best, rules-wise, but the mechanics won't actually be difficult. Basically, the weapon adds Xd6 fire damage to its normal hit once per round (or more if you want to do something more permissive than the text of conductive allows). Utility and infusions can be gained ad libitum, even used as deus ex machina once or twice.
The chakra/kundalini stuff is, sadly, not worth the investment :(. I really wish it were, because the concept is amazing, but it only becomes barely viable if you invest your entire character into it, taking a specific monk archetype and selling your shoes for half a point of ki.
Maybe the bigger question is how many levels to invest in esoteric magus. I agree that the archetype is really cool, but its power comes from gaining more spells. I think you're looking for more static power with a little magic and an occasional spike in power.
So why not just go five levels in magus and then the rest in the unarmed fighting class of your choice? Brawler's flurry should work with spell strike, so just prep a bunch of Shocking Grasps and occasionally get an extra shocking punch. Level 5 also gets you a sweet tattoo.
What Will Probably Happen after Bathos Goes:
The halfling shouts for aid before casting his spell. The archers turn from Matthias toward the massive hound threatening their leader.
Arrow (concealed): 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (9) + 10 = 19
One archer moves to a better position, but the commotion and the intervening branches spoil his aim. The other aims well, plunging a brace of arrows into Bathos's proud flank. 24 damage.
Kukri Attack: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (19) + 5 = 24
The cruel blade rakes expertly across a gap in the archer's armor, scoring a nasty hit.
Near Archer: 35 HP
One thing I'm realizing is that there are times I need to say something happens to reduce round trips, even if those things might need to change. For example, that guard just ran into the forest, but it might turn out that Matthias, seeing him about to do that, might tell him to hold. I'm absolutely willing to let that kind of thing change (with an n-post threshold on time rewinding). What do you think?
Damn, dude. Nice blast!
Despite the interference of foliage, Matthias strikes true. The air cracks as masses of stone and loam screech toward the blithering madman. He is immediately battered into submission and lies unconscious.
The halfling narrows his eyes, cruelly smirking, and imbibes a potion. He disappears from view.
Bathos should roll a retroactive perception (using scent and everything) to determine his new position; if he is able to find the man, I'll use those rolls for his to-hit and such this turn.
Stealth: 1d20 + 22 ⇒ (12) + 22 = 34
Halfling's new position: G10
The man whom Matthias buried in stone seems to be in no danger of dying.
The archers concentrate their shots on Matthias, who has now proven himself a fearsome threat.
Arrow: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (6) + 10 = 16
Damage: 1d8 + 5 ⇒ (7) + 5 = 12
Arrow: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (8) + 10 = 18
Damage: 1d8 + 5 ⇒ (5) + 5 = 10
Arrow: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (19) + 10 = 29
Damage: 1d8 + 5 ⇒ (4) + 5 = 9
Arrow: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (14) + 10 = 24
Damage: 1d8 + 5 ⇒ (3) + 5 = 8
One archer's arrows fall wide, but the other manages to catch Matthias's torso. However, they practically glance off his powerful hide, leaving mere scratches where they might have sunk into the tender flesh of a lesser warrior.
Feel free to look--I believe it's 5 damage total after your DR!
The caravan guard draws a hefty kukri and, shouting, starts to run into the forest toward the nearest archer. The foliage prevents him from achieving a proper charge, but he makes it to within striking distance.
So, let's resolve Bathos's last turn and then get to the top of the lineup with Matthias.
Matthias attempts to make his signal with subtlety, but the sharp-eyed men in the forest have discerned his intent. They arise from their ambush. Two begin to produce bows; a third howls, the sound more bestial than human, and runs, screaming and nude, toward the caravan. The fourth, a robed halfling, mutters to himself.
Bathos: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (10) + 2 = 12
Matthias: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (15) + 10 = 25
One Guard: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (4) + 5 = 9
Archers: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (10) + 4 = 14
NAKED: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (10) + 6 = 16
Halfling: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (19) + 4 = 23
Matthias and the halfling are quickest to action. Though slight of stature, the halfling's dark eyes and maundering lips bespeak depravity. He is swift, but Matthias's senses are insuperably keen. Matthias's turn.
Here is the encounter map. Place Bathos as you will; I essentially put you in an arbitrary place, representing when you first noticed the men in the forest. You discern four of them.
Initiative: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (3) + 4 = 7
Initiative: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (13) + 4 = 17
Perception: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (3) + 6 = 9
Perception: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (12) + 6 = 18
Initiative: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (3) + 6 = 9
Perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (9) + 8 = 17
One Druid (leader)
Initiative: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (3) + 4 = 7
Perception: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (12) + 9 = 21
Stealth DC 21:
Matthias looks entirely natural as he approaches the nearest guard, who nods and makes his way slowly, yet purposefully, over to another group. The original guard nods to you, two others standing discreetly at attention.
The men in the forest shout and begin to charge. ROLL INITIATIVE.
Metallic items: in fact, there are a few traders, among the richer in the caravan and traveling near the front, who work with metal. One appears to be a metallurgist and alchemist, another a smith and armorer, and a third the mercantile arm of the group. Among them, they have worked items of various metals. There's a perfectly round shield of bronze, a suit of steel lamellar, stone plate, and a couple of massive-headed axes, all of which are completely unadorned. If Matthias took interest in any of these, I think the traders would be happy offer them to Matthias for adornment.
You can decide whether you just buy the item and decorate it for yourself, do this decoration as a favor to the traders, sell it back as a luxury item, etc. I will note that, if that had been a Perform check, it would have been in the "notice [...] of extraplanar beings" range, so ... maybe hold on to that. What do you do with the item? Which item is it? DO you show it around?
About Bathos's behavior: that sounds entirely reasonable. I imagine that lots of people would throw him little viands of meat and such, as well as petting and playing with him when he seems amenable. No one would trammel him in the execution of his duties.
On the third day, Matthias and Bathos are patrolling near the middle of the caravan. There are two or three guards within earshot.
Stealth: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (12) + 10 = 22
Perception (DC 22):
There are well-concealed men in the forest to the left of the wagon train. Their faces are smeared with mud, their clothing of deep browns and greens. Bathos's powerful nose detects nothing; indeed, Matthias seems to feel the mud on their faces and clothing rather than to see them in their hiding places.
The next two days proceed well. Neither brigands nor beasts molest the caravan (and all have come to treat the river with a kind of reverent fear). Matthias and Bathos patrol between the front and the middle of the long caravan, seeing to the safety of all. On occasion, Bathos's magical percipience may note a strange anomaly off the road, but nothing hostile seems to approach the caravan.
For her part, Moltenen is fascinated by Matthias's ability to consume stone and manipulate it as though it were mere dreamstuff. Once or twice each day, she greets Matthias from the window of her spacious carriage. In the evenings, she makes generous offers of wine and pipe, and also admits Matthias to her own dining arrangement, where she, the man who was sleeping in her tent the first night, and a few trusted confidants enjoy somewhat finer fare than the rest of the caravan.
When these pleasant dinners disperse, Matthias is invited to partake of conversation and a game involving the tactical positioning of carved figures on a square board. When Moltenen has desserts or intoxicants, she finds interesting stones, gems, crystals, and ores from among her traders' wares to try to suit Matthias's tastes.
How does Matthias respond to all this? What does he accept and decline? What does he take to, what does he avoid? What does he do with his own initiative on these days?
(10% chance of encounters, so <= 10 on a d100)
Day 1 Encounters: 1d100 ⇒ 7
Day 2 Encounters: 1d100 ⇒ 29
Day 3 Encounters: 1d100 ⇒ 71
How do Matthias and Bathos do their guarding? Moltenen and her higher-ranking guards will tell you that there's a hefty rear guard and a powerful van, but muscle is stretched a bit thin in the middle.
Indeed, the Premier insists, softly but intransigently, that her guest should enjoy this gift, a mixture of meal and trophy. Moltenen raises the glass standing by her at Matthias's toast and watches with fascination as he savors the gems.
The rubies lack the acerbity of metals or the cool, earthy bread-satisfaction of stone. Instead, they enter the palate with an awakening of spices: something like cinnamon and pepper, perhaps a little allspice. The rubies are small, sweet viands, not nourishing but eminently pleasurable, each carven bird leaving you with a desire for just one more.
Does Matthias like sweet/spicy flavors? Does he find this cloying? Decadent? Refreshing?
I'm trying to figure out how Matthias feels about sex after his experience with Ahlysaaria. I feel like he might have blamed his lust for the event. I'm wavering on he's cool with sex in general, but any women he finds substantially desirable unnerves him and he avoids. Or he simply has avoided that part of his life for now. Your thoughts?
That makes a lot of sense. With mercy, the tenderness of sensuality has been eroded from Matthias's spirit, like soft loam from windswept bedrock. 'S okay. Where the soil has once been rubbed away, strong roots may yet enter and soften stone. How do you perceive him?
If Matthias accepts the tent and retires:
Moltenen summons a serving girl, who leads Matthias to a tent, appointed with sparse, yet comfortable, furnishings. She will make light conversation if Matthias appears comfortable doing so.
Once she has straightened the room, she will bring any refreshments Matthias requests. Finally, she will smile evenly, and say, "Am I to be dismissed for the night, then, sir?"
DO NOT PEEK NO ONE IS LYING HERE:
Bluff: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (13) + 8 = 21
Sense Motive Result:
Moltenen appears to be speaking the truth: she is genuinely grateful for your aid. She does appear to value honesty. You detect that she is guarded, but no more guarded than her last two questions would imply. She remains at ease when you enter and speaks to you plainly, her intense gaze fixed very squarely, though not without friendliness, on your own eyes. She seems entirely ready to be grateful and generous; as you speak, she relaxes further, and you discern that she harbors no further suspicion.
Moltenen is middle-aged, fit, with bronze, unlined skin and thick, dark hair. Her eyes are a glistering orange color. She comports herself with dignity and grace--she is, in a way, the picture of command and opulence. She makes no special effort to conceal the dagger she wears: it is merely there, unobtrusive and ready. The empty wine bottle and still-glowing pipe before her belie her steady gaze and impeccable mannerisms, as though she were able to put on and doff lucidity at will, like a coat of civility.
The groups are intransigent about their hospitality. Most end up respecting Matthias's apparent haste, but there are several camps that seem like a home in their intimacy and the warm, affable manner of even the armed guards. In general, the traders offer their food, their drink, their pipes, and even small gifts of clothing and jewelry without reservation. They speak with equal frequency of the importance of fair trades and the sense that the entire caravan is in Matthias's debt.
Whatever intoxicants Matthias refuses continue to be passed around, and none ask him further questions. His taste for metals and gems proves a puzzle and delight to many in the camps, who continue to be impressed by what appears to them as an utterly novel type of powerful, natural sorcery.
On queries about Ignan, the traders will note that they are "Children of the Fire." Indeed, though most are clearly humans with complexions ranging from porcelain to bronze and hair of flamboyant red or gleaming white or scorching black, not a few ifrits can be found among them. They all claim descent from creatures of elemental fire, and most excitedly enumerate the Ignan intricacies of their names.
It is somewhat past midnight that Matthias reaches Moltenen's tent, but a light remains on within. Physical descriptions of Matthias have traveled faster than the man himself. The several guards outside her tent, distinguished from their peers by the ornate gilding on their sword hilts and the fine embroidery on the hems of their robes, do not even halt him as he approaches, gesturing with extended palms that he may enter freely.
Within, Moltenen is luxuriating on a sofa. Before her is a gleaming coffee service inlaid with small, stately rubies. She clutches a long pipe in her left hand. To her right is a game board populated by carven figures, some of ebony, some cast in iron, others cut from ivory, and still others set with precious stones. She appears absorbed in a ream of thick papyrus documents. She is middle-aged, lovely in the way experience brings, and maintains a stately poise and grace even at this late hour, clad more for comfort than for the reception of visitors.
A young man, visibly nude where the blankets have shifted from his form, slumbers peacefully on a bed at one side of the well-appointed space. Aside from the guards outside, there are no other persons in sight.
Perception DC 14:
Though Moltenen appears to be at ease in clothing fit for sleep, inspection reveals that her attire is cunningly shaped so as not to trammel her were it necessary to run or engage in combat. Among the jewels festooning her throat and waist, the decorated hilt of a heavy, curving knive protrudes from her belt, the sheath apparently ensconced in her clothing.
She will look up, smiling, with an expression of amusement and interest, upon Matthias's entrance.
If Matthias makes relatively swift progress to the head of the caravan:
Physical descriptions of Matthias have traveled faster than the man himself. The several guards outside her tent, distinguished from their peers by the ornate gilding on their sword hilts and the fine embroidery on the hems of their robes, do not even halt him as he approaches, gesturing with extended palms that he may enter freely.
Within, Moltenen is luxuriating on a sofa. Before her is a gleaming coffee service inlaid with small, stately rubies. She clutches a long pipe in her left hand; with her right, she rubs an intricately-carved ebony figurine, which she places deliberately on a game board populated by similar figures, some cast in iron, others cut from ivory, and still others set with precious stones. A young man, nude from the waist up, reclines on a sofa set at an angle to hers so that they face adjacent edges of the game board. They both have full view of the tent's opening.
Perception DC 14 (if in Moltenen's tent (spoilers don't nest)):
Though both figures appear to be at ease and wear sumptuous apparel, inspection reveals that their clothing is cunningly shaped so as not to trammel them were it necessary to run or engage in combat. Among the jewels festooning their throats and waists, the decorated hilts of heavy, curving knives protrude from their belts, the sheaths apparently ensconced in their clothing.
Among the traders are a few with knowledge of the arcane. In particular, the guard who spoke words of encouragement to his fellows commands a bit of magic; he gladly dries Matthias and Bathos.
Word of the incident spreads quickly among the camps. Encounters with hippopotamuses of such size and ferocity rarely end without fatality or serious injury. The sorcery of Matthias, able to end the attacks of beasts without bloodshed, and the strong jaws of Bathos are quickly known to the whole caravan.
Anyone of whom Matthias makes inquiry will be eager to help; if he asks about Moltenen, he will be apprised that she rides at the head of the caravan and beds each night in an opulent tent, almost a mobile pavilion in size and splendor. However, any camp Matthias approaches will threaten to swallow him, as every camp would be proud to host him, sharing their meat and wine.
Depending on how receptive Matthias is to carousing in the camps, he can come within sight of Moltenen's tent after nightfall, at perhaps the tenth or eleventh hour.
That makes sense :). Since it's a solo campaign and Matthias and Bathos share a strong bond, how about you just roll for both their initiatives and take the higher? The alternative is to average their modifiers and roll once, but I like the idea that one can alert the other. Basically a free teamwork feat.
Despite the increasing turbulence, Bathos plunges excellently into the current and plucks forth the gasping, grateful man. The guards cheer to see him safely ensconced in Bathos's jaws, mighty enough to crush bone, yet gently clutching the battered body.
As the excitement and anxiety of the incident wear away, the other traders arrive from over the hill bearing medical equipment. The conscious hippopotamus has withdrawn to the waters in confusion; the other is still draped on the riverbank, critically wounded. A group of traders approach with skinning and carving knives as though to slay and consume it. Due to Matthias's swift and compassionate intervention, no human lives were lost. The guards approach him respectfully, bowing and paying obeisance. They speak words of awe and gratitude. If Bathos suffers them to approach, they will attempt to pet him.
What further actions, if any, would Matthias and Bathos like to take? How will they spend the evening?
Indeed, those that retreated over the hill have begun to return. Just cresting the evening-orange slope are men and women bearing medicines and arms. The wounded, numbering only one more than when Matthias arrived due to his swift action, will be safe if only the healers' skill is stronger than the Boneyard's call.
As Matthias turns his attentions downriver, he sees that one of the groups of guards has reached a point where they might once more attempt to retrieve the man. However, the waters are growing more rapid and erratic. Nonetheless, emboldened by their comrade's rousing words, they heave to.
DC 12 Swim: 1d20 + 3 - 6 + 2 + 2 + 4 ⇒ (13) + 3 - 6 + 2 + 2 + 4 = 18
And truly, it is only by cooperating and by steeling their hearts with the words of courage that they manage to reach the necessary spot,
DC 18 Reflex: 1d20 + 1 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 1 + 2 = 6
yet their endeavor to snatch the flailing man fails as the flood grows more turbid and torrential.
Bathos splashes down directly next to the unfortunate man.
Because he is swimming to keep pace, rather than reaching out from shore, he need not make a Reflex save. He need only roll Strength to secure the man safely in his teeth.
DC 13 Strength Check (Success):
Bathos successfully plucks the man from the water and is able to stay afloat as he turns back.
Strength Check (Failure):
Bathos positions himself well, but the rushing waters splash deep into his open maw, causing the massive canine's breast to heave as he rejects the sudden deluge. The drowning man slips by and continues downstream.
Downstream, the guards see Bathos running to aid the drowning man--a fabulous, mighty hound glistening in the river shallows. One calls out, "See the powerful wolf, companion to a hero! See, too, how this man's sorcery has stilled the stirrings of a brutal beast! He tends to our wounded; the very earth hears his command! But we, too, are men: let us prove our worth, as well! Heave! Seize the one who thrashes even now!" The guards continue running downstream, shouting, emboldened by their fellow's words and the succor Matthias and Bathos.