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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber. 272 posts. 1 review. No lists. No wishlists.


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TaliaKirana wrote:
Is there any advice on how to pick equipment? I'm a newbie, and that seems to be the thing that trips me up the most. (I'm considering picking this up once the PDF is available.)

I don't know what this book will do for you, Talia, but if you need help picking equipment, I would go with the PATHFINDER ROLEPLAYING GAME: ULTIMATE EQUIPMENT book instead. I LOVE that book and one of the neatest things I've found is under the general equipment list there is a starting equipment set for each specific Class; Fighter's kit, Cleric's kit, Magus's kit, etc. Give it a shot, it's by far the best book available for players right behind the Core Rulebook and the Advanced Players Guide.

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I've gotta know before I throw down $40 for a book I don't need... is there anything in here for experienced players, or is it just a guide for newbies to build their characters? With a title like "Strategy Guide" I was expecting a book with interesting strategies using equipment, spells and combat maneuvers in interesting combinations to pull off various effects and tactics. Y'know, about Strategy. But from what I can read on this book in this thread, it looks more like it should have been called "Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Character Creation Guide (OGL)"... am I wrong?

So what's in it to appeal to us tired ol' grognards?

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Age of Worms... the Diamond Lake setting at the beginning is just a great extremely well-developed background that really lent credibility to the whole starting scenario.

Also as far as the Paizo products go, my personal favorites have always been Legacy of Fire and Curse of the Crimson Throne. And I regret that they have not been converted to Pathfinder material. In my opinion, they are by FAR the best two Adventure Paths to date, but they fall short because they are still written in D&D 3.5 format.

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Sc8rpi8n_mjd wrote:

Pg. 241, 242 - The scribbler

- He has a +4 deflection bonus to AC, but nothing in his statblock grants it (no ring of protection or shield of faith spell). His AC should be 23 touch 14 flat-footed 19 .

Actually, it lists quickened Shield of Faith under his 4th-level spells (pg.241). That easily accounts for his +4 deflection bonus (due to his 12th level caster level) and would last for 12 minutes, or 120 rounds. And he has Protection from Good for +2 deflection, as back up if the Shield is dispelled or expires. And Greater Magical Vestment makes his breastplate +3 for the day, so there's the +9 armor.

The more immediate problem that I see, (and surprised that no else here mentioned it, so maybe I'm missing something) is that his attack and damage block don't take into consideration the spells he is capable of and which the adventure describes him as casting before combat. I'm assuming that per the stat block, he has bear's endurance and bull's strength on him, to account for his 18 Str and 19 Con, respectively. This means that without those spells, his Str is only 14 and his Con only 15.

His basic melee attack is Fanged Falchion +19/+14/+9 (2d4+9 dmg/15-20). Without any further spells cast, this is close to accurate: +11 BAB, +4 Str, +3 enhancement (extended Greater Magic Weapon), +1 weapon focus = +19 attack. But the damage is missing +2d6 damage for the Fanged Falchion's unholy property, which adds an additional +2d6 non-typed damage to attacks against good-aligned targets. I would argue that most PC's would be good, and even if not, this should have been noted in the stat block somewhere.

Also, being a Cleric, he has tons of buff spells and abilities that are not accounted for in the stat block, requiring the DM to do a lot of extra calculations. +2 more Str from Strength Surge can be discounted as it only lasts 1 round, overlaps with Bull's Strength and requires a round to cast (relatively useless power in combat), but he also has Righteous Might (+4 size bonus to Str & Con, grants reach) for 12 rounds, and quickened Divine Favor (+4 luck bonus to attack and weapon damage) for 1 minute. And when the 10 rounds of Divine Favor run out, he has Divine Power (+4 luck bonus to attack & weapon damage, +12 temp Hit Points and an extra attack at highest bonus) for 12 rounds. This would give him, based on the tactics listed, 22 Str and 23 Con for most of the combat, as well as reach and an extra attack.

So his melee attack would be fanged falchion +25/+25/+20/+15 (2d4+16 dmg. plus 2d6 vs. Good-aligned/15-20). And if he Power Attacks (and he probably will), it becomes +22/+22/+17/+12 (2d4+25 dmg. plus 2d6 against Good-aligned targets/15-20 crit). Ouch!!!

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Here's something I learned, the hard way... I was running another adventure path and I accidentally TPK'd the party. The group was notably upset, and when we went to make new characters and pick up where we left off, the players had lost their enthusiasm. Their fire was gone, their interest waned and the game died out. I had inadvertently killed my campaign.

So after this debacle, and several months of free time, I was still kicking myself for killing my campaign and I came to the conclusion that I should have played it differently. Like most of us, I exercise my love for fantasy and action-genre with both RPG's and movies. And in most of the movies about our beloved genre, the villains don't kill the heroes... if they do, it's either a minor character, or if a main character dies it's almost never arbitrary. And that's the mistake I made. You see, in our particular campaign, the party had gotten both front-line fighters paralyzed with some bad rolls and the rest of the party was too occupied and too far away to prevent their coup-de-grace the following round while helpless. After the main muscle had succumbed, the support characters lacked the power to stand up to the remaining foes and soon fell as well. At the time, it seemed a logical choice by the villain to finish the heroes off once and for all while they lay helpless but really... in the movies, in the stories, that would never have happened. I should have gloated.

Gloating is a cinematic staple and employed correctly can prolong fights long enough for the hero to make a quick recovery and a desperate comeback. Think about it... Zod doesn't melt Superman's eyes and give him a heat-vision lobotomy while Supes is busy holding up a crumbling building... instead, Zod gloats and brags how Superman is so inferior to his own evil genius. Joker can't just slice Batman's throat while he's tied up... instead the Clown Prince of Crime has to brag about his latest zany scheme, giving Batman time to escape his bonds and turn the tables. James Bond isn't shot in the head after he's knocked unconscious... no, that isn't Evil Genius etiquette. Instead Mr. Bond has to be strapped to the mastermind's rocket/bomb/atomic-laser, watching the timer countdown while the villain gloats at having defeated his noble foe, then goes to get himself a Cappuccino while Bond disarms the bomb and gets away.

So... instead of having Xanesha blow up the heroes of Sandpoint at the top of the clocktower, have her use her spells to shock/stun/incapacitate them, and then while they lay helpless, have her brag about it... let her tantalizingly wrap one of her prey in her coils while tracing her claws lightly across his face while she teases him with disclosure of her leadership of the Brothers of Seven and how foolish the heroes were for stopping her evil plans... this may give the heroes time to stabilize, chug a potion or two, maybe even get off a healing burst or quick Cure Wounds spell and then make a heroic last stand. Or if the Skinsaw Man has his prey paralyzed and bleeding out and all seems lost... have His Lordship brag about his ascension to undead status and then exclaim how the party could never understand his pure unholy motives. A few rounds of his boasting could give the party time to recover or un-paralyze and give them a second chance to fight back.

I'm not saying that bad dice rolls don't happen, 'cuz obviously they do. But don't miss the opportunity to give the party a good fighting chance to recover from being helpless, should it happen. And don't miss the chance to let the villains gloat... it makes a much better story than "You failed your save, so I guess you're dead."

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Make that two... I'd also love to get into a PbP or PBEM Carrion Crown adventure. If someone's running one, and needs another player, please let me know!

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I would be interested in joining but I'd like to know more about it so I can make a character that would fit your game. What does the current party look like?

I guess the first question would be do you still need any more players?

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I think I had a cleric cast Animate Dead once on some fallen minions and they rose up as zombies and attacked the party. This was back in 3rd Edition D&D, and the players have never forgotten it. Yet they still take this precaution, even with completely different characters who have never faced that situation.

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Another question: would you consider repeated mutilation of the fallen an Evil act? Or just a morally questionable one?

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this is a weird one, so bear with me. My players have the tendency to mutilate the fallen bodies of all the humanoids they defeat. They smash the faces and remove the jaws to prevent their foes from using Speak With Dead on their fallen, and they chop off the feet to prevent them from being raised as effective zombies or ghouls. I can understand the practicality behind this behavior but seriously... it's creeping me out! Have any other DM's observed similar behavior in their players, and what do you do about it?... allow it? Overlook it? Divert them so how?

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I hated it... I truly did. there is not much information for the actual players to use. There is almost half a page with some vague suggestions on what skills might be useful and another page with some truly awesome traits, and I liked the map of Sandpoint. Now as for the other 15 pages, in a 17 page product... I'm wondering if I got the wrong Player's Guide. There is nothing about the town that they will be spending time in, but there are 12 pages of blurbs on various parts of Varisia that they may or may not be seeing at some later point in the campaign. There is nothing to address the various roles that specific classes, races and alignments might fit into this campaign, which is something that has been available in every other AP Player's Guide till now, at least since the last one I read.

The product blurb reads as follows:
"The Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Edition Player’s Guide gives players all the spoiler-free information, inspiration, and new rules they’ll need to create characters prepared for the daring and adventure of the Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path.

Within, players of this campaign will find everything they need to create character backgrounds tied to personalities and events vital to Pathfinder Adventure Path’s initial expedition into the exciting frontier of Varisia, along with new campaign-specific traits to give bold adventurers the edge they’ll need to take on the unpredictable dangers of that untamed land."

Load of bull-puckey... it has almost nothing the players can really use past the first few pages, and at that point reads like an encyclopedia or travel guide more than an actual tool to help integrate new characters into a flavorful and richly developed campaign.

I honestly feel this had to have slipped through the cracks. I was really disappointed.

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Any chance that there is a post or website somewhere that has the stat blocks for the new iconics that appeared in the APG? or any of the other iconics which might have been created from the new Ultimate guides? I'd really love to have the stats on Faenya or Allaine or the others....

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I think the other dwarves are probably more confused at your choice of vocation and religious bent than they are by your weapon... dwarves as a whole are a hardy enduring and diligent race who praise their Lord and Maker Torag as they toil endlessly at the forge and smithy, singing His praises in low rumbling tones as they accompany songs of worship to the clang of hammer and anvil and the roar of the forge. Sarenrae the Dawn Flower is an odd choice for a dwarf to follow given the norms of the race, and your fellows probably consider you as downright strange for many many reasons, most of which have nothing to do with that flimsy curved blade at your waist.

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Simple 10-ft wide pit trap, preferably deep... possibly sharp edged razors set into the walls part way down to complicate lowering a rope. When the PC falls into the pit, unless he can fly he is trapped... if he can fly you can add a sliding cover part way down that prevents easy exit, and if the cover is 30 ft down it won't be easy for his friends to quickly pry it open. He might be lonely down there while the party tries to get him out, so keep him company with a few wraiths or shadows... they are incorporeal so they flit in and out of the walls and floors, striking from whatever angle he's not facing, reaching up through the floors (I usually rule that if they're part in a wall they have a cover bonus to their AC but that's not canon law)... most rogues or warrior types will be hard pressed to hurt an incorporeal foe when fighting alone and will find it even harder when the touch of their foe drains their lifeforce into it. When I used this trap on my players we lost a barbarian and a rogue, one after the other, and the players cried FOUL on me.

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Sorcerers were created/invented for those players who like to choose the same spells over and over and over and have little variance in their spell choices. Some players never bother to fully read their spellbooks, they know they will just memorize the same spells every single day, and just want to cast it repeatedly... like the guy whose solution to any problem is to hit it with magic missiles. Again. And again. Till it falls over. Select new target, lather, rinse, repeat.

Other players like variety, they like being able to come up with a solution to almost any problem with a little research and planning. So sorcerers were created to be the reliable blasters and wizards to utilize their vast intellect to become cunning planners and manipulators. The superior number of spells per day was thrown in there to make it more attractive to play a sorcerer since they have so few spells known, especially at first. With time to prepare, a wizard can cast circles around sorcerers, and their devotion to study means that they get access to higher level spells sooner. However, if caught with their pants down, the sorcerer is the horse to bet on, as he's just as effective when woken from a dead sleep as he would have been after eating a hearty breakfast and doing his yoga exercises at the start of a new day... Sorcerer is always ready with the same reliable tools, wizards carefully have to pick n' choose which tools to use each day, as the situation warrants.

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Frankly, I'd settle for a Pathfinder RPG conversion, since the first 4 APs were written for D&D 3.5 edition and not PFRPG. I can understand why they wouldn't do the hardcover compilation, but I'd really love to see an authorized PFRPG version or update on those early APs.

I'm just sayin'....

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I'm just gonna talk about Arcane casters (Wizards and Sorcerers) because those are what I know best... also gonna stick to Core Rulebook, and not leach anything from extra Pathfinder materials...

First level - Shield, Color Spray, Grease, Obscuring Mist. Shield is short-term boost to AC that even works on touch attacks (deflection bonus, right? Don't have my rulebook here at work) and gives immunity to magic missiles. Color Spray almost always takes your opponent(s) out for at least one round, more if they fail their save, and can hit multiple targets if they're getting too grabby. Grease sets up a spot in front of you that forces a DEX check to anyone moving through it or fall on yer bum! Can also be used to disarm targets or to escape from grapples or entangle effects. Obscuring Mist is a low-level Arrow Deterrent and lasts a reasonably long time... folks cant shoot what they can't see.

Second Level - Invisibility, Spider Climb, Glitterdust, Flaming Sphere. Invisible, obvious plethora of usefulness. Spider Climb is a poor man's Fly spell, and underground or in the city you'll never know the difference. Keeps you out of reach while casting at your foes with impunity... if your foes have ranged attacks, drop an Obscuring Mist (or Prot from Arrows, or similar defense) to go with it. Glitterdust hits a small area with effective Dispel Invisible Sneaky People, and blinds everyone if they fail a save. Flaming Sphere lasts one level per caster, and can target a different target every round... can also be used to set fires at range.

Third level - Haste, Fly, Slow, Stinking Cloud. Haste gives everyone in your party double move speed (effectively) and an extra action on a full attack, for however many rounds as you have caster levels... Nice! Slow is its counterpart, reducing all the bad guys in its radius to just one single action every round... true, they get a save, but odds are you will get half the targets or more every time. Fly allows you to get to a safe distance quickly, avoid traps, and cast spells from relative safety. For all you dwarves, gnomes n' hobbit casters, it also allows you to keep up with the party for a little while! And Stinking Cloud not only blocks LOS like Obscuring Mist does but it makes all the foes you hit with it nauseated, severely hampering their fighting spirit.

More later if I have time....

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The rules do not specify whether certain spells have visible or noticeable effects, or not, so it's really up to the DM to make a judgement call a lot of the time. If the spell description doesn"t mention a visible effect, then the DM may decide to add one or not. My advice in the matter would be to be consistent about it... no fair for a PC's mage armor to be a shimmering energy field but then have the bad guys get invisible ones...

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Azten wrote:
THIS is pretty much required as a visual aid.

OMIGOD, BWAH-HAHA-HA-HAHAHAHAHA-HA-HAHA!! This picture made me laugh till I cried... SOOOO funny!!

For the OP, I applaud your decision to play something different than the rest of your clan-mates (i.e. fellow PCs) and as a DM I especially give you props for not min-maxing or optimizing your character!! I think the character is perfectly viable as is, and can just picture the fun you'll have as your halfling growls at all the Big Folk up there laughing at him dressed in his badger-fur-skin cap right before he unlimbers a Small-sized great axe and starts kneecapping them! A 16 Str is more than ample for a warrior type, especially a halfling, and with Rage going on you will truly have a grand ol' time!! (What is that, +6 to hit and +7 damage in melee, regardless of level or feat selection? Pretty damn awesome!!) And since you're asking our opinions, I say go for the Indestructible Rager archetype... shrugging off stuff that the bigger folks get owies from is part of the fun. ...Said to your elven companion: "Meh, it's just a scratch, ya oversized pansy-picker! Suck it up!"

Good luck in your campaign! I wish I had 4 more players just like you!

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Spall wrote:
Thanks for the replies so far, I didn't know this placed moved so fast. I'm going to spend a few days lurking around here when I finish with this thread so I can avoid bringing up issues that may have been beaten to death already.

Your feral alchemist is a problem but he's also very manageable and VERY one-dimensional. If you are using point buy system, then his STR is maxed out which means everything else is either average or fairly low. Which means if he blows into melee combat all enlarged and feelin' mighty, he is sporting light armor (shall we assume chain shirt?) and little or no Dex bonus, so maybe an AC of 15 or so... oh, and enlarge makes him easier to hit too. His CON is also average, so he's only got about 16 to 18 hit points too, give or take. Also he only gets one attack... you move into combat, you don't get a full attack. So he only gets to go full out hack n' slash with something that came to him or that was standing next to him last round.

So... your alchemist is feeling beefy, he runs into battle, and slashes at an orc barbarian opponent. He's gonna hit maybe half the time (+8 or so to hit?) so he'll do 1d4+10 damage. The barbarian is wounded but he retaliates with a big heavy weapon of his own, raging and power attacked, he knocks the alchemist clean out with a substantial average attack for 16 to 17 damage of his own. Now the mutagen fed alchemist can do a full attack and take out the orc, if he's still conscious. But orcs travel in groups so it's likely that Mr. Hyde there is going to be sporting several new arrow-created piercings in uncomfortable body parts very shortly.

Just one scenario, but always remember that if your players can do it, the monsters can too. Use terrain to your advantage, if you need to level the playing field, and for every strength, there is a weakness... to max out Strength, he neglected his other stats... use that! Bad Reflex and Fort saves, no Willpower to speak of, and lousy hit points and armor... if he wants to get all physical at low level, show him the error of his ways and then help him roll up a more balanced replacement character.

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With Xanesha, please be sure to double check the figures on the Medusa Mask... I seem to remember the DC for that item being a bit low for the spell it used and the caster level required to cast it/create it.

Just sayin'....

On the whole, LOVIN' the idea of the new Hardcover Runelords adventure path... I loved the Shackled City back in good ol' 3.5, and I was thrilled when they compiled all those Dungeon magazine adventures into one solid adventure book (especially with all the yummy filler that made the campaign so much more cohesive). I'm REALLY looking forward to the Runelords campaign hardcover.

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James Jacobs wrote:

Whether or not you ignore the Wealth By Level tables... it's VERY important for the GM to be familiar with why they're there anyway. Because one of the things Pathfinder assumes is that the PCs WILL have treasure of a certain amount by certain levels. If you're playing in a game where character wealth is super low, the GM should take pains to adjust encounters as appropriate.

And when a new PC joins the group, he REALLY should give that new PC wealth equal to the average possessed by the party—a situation where the average PC wealth is 500 and a newly created character would have 10,500 is blatantly unfair and disrespectful of the players who HAVE played their characters.

Agreed... I don't play often, as I've got Perpetual-DM Syndrome, but one of the last campaigns I played in we had really been struggling in an epic end-of-the-world-if-you-don't-save-the-day scenario; the PCs were the world's last hope. By 7th level we were still struggling for magic items as the ones we found were very minor stuff (never over +1) and we were on a clock so there was no downtime to craft our own. So when the DM brought in his girlfriend to play and she started her elven ranger with a +2 Brilliant Holy Composite Longbow and a couple +2 Undead Bane shortswords, there was a very real Player mutiny. Although we initially fought our way past the tears and recriminations phase, the hurt feelings were very real, and as the DM had lost the player's trust, the campaign fizzled out and died very shortly thereafter.

Moral of this story: If DM's use their power to play favorites or carry out grudge matches against specific players, they lose trust and respect from their players. I don't believe any game can survive without both of those traits.

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TOZ wrote:
Doesn't matter. Each character gets X gold from adventuring. The wizard spends X/2 on crafting scrolls, the rogue spends X on buying scrolls. The wizard can create twice as much as the rogue can buy.

I'm not sure why the Rogue would be spending any money to buy scrolls... the Wizard in the example above was buying scrolls so he could attempt to do what the Rogue can do naturally, all day, every day. Also if the 5th-level Wizard is spending all his money or available spell slots on spells like Spider Climb, Invisibility, Detect Secret Doors, etc. then he is not using his resources to do things that NOBODY can do, like Fly, Fireball, Glitterdust, Stinking Cloud, Magic Missile, etc.

I'm not saying the Wizard could not find ways to emulate some rogue abilities because he clearly could. But it would take all his resources to do so, and then he wouldn't really be fulfilling the full potential of being a Wizard... just trying to keep up by compensating magic for skills doesn't make him a better rogue.

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TheFace wrote:
I'm getting told that it is, and I don't have enough experience with Rogues to agree or disagree. I've always leaned towards Ranger, Fighter, and Sorcerer. How does the Rogue stack up in combat to other classes as far as RAW is concerned?

The title of your thread is "Is the Rogue a WEAK class," weak being the operative word here. Define weak? If you define weak as being unable to charge into combat, screaming your warcry to alert foes to your presence, swing a big heavy weapon hoping to smite #and crit# an iron golem wielding a +5 Heavy Shield, and topple them to the hard unforgiving ground, then yes... a Rogue would be ill-suited for that style of play. However, if you prefer a character who deals with strategy and cunning, using stealth and skill to out-maneuver his opponents, then no, a Rogue is not a poor choice.

In straight up face-to-face combat, a Rogue is (usually) going to fare poorly against an equal level warrior class... a Fighter will out-damage him, a Ranger will out-shoot him, and let's not even get into what a raging Barbarian will do if he manages to hit our foolhardy scoundrel. But a Rogue who goes face-to-face in combat is either suicidal or holds his opponent in low esteem.

In my not-so-humble opinion, Rogues aren't meant to go toe-to-toe with equal level opponents. They are there to use their massive array of skills (with class skills unequaled by any other core class), to maneuver into strategic positions and then strike hard and sure (I like Bluff and Improved Feint for this, personally... you don't have to flank that way), and in short to be a trap-finding, wall-climbing, lock-picking, shadow-lurking, gold-swiping, lightning-dodging, horse-trading, smooth-talking, dungeon-exploring machine!!

So, are Rogues top-notch Fighters? ... No. That's what Fighters are for. Can you play a perfectly viable Rogue in most well-rounded campaigns? ...Yes, absolutely. Remember, although there are archetypes for both Rangers and Bards to duplicate some of the things Rogues can do, they sacrifice some of their own distinct abilities to do so, and do so to be more like Rogues than like their own class. All are viable play options but it's a matter of style, not raw power.

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It's all about the Wizard, for sheer power n' versatility: "I am capable of rearranging the fundamental building blocks of the Universe in under six seconds with ample time left over to move 30 feet. I am capable of manipulating matter and energy on a subatomic level by speaking aloud. A mere flick of my finger is sufficient to alter the gravitational pull of the plant. I shelve physics texts under "Fiction" in my personal library, and I consider the Laws of Thermodynamics loose guidelines at best! In short, I am grasping the reins of the Universe's carriage, and every morning I wake up, look to the heavens and shout, "Giddy Up, Boy!" You may never grasp the complexities of what I do, but at least have the courtesy to feign something other than slack-jawed oblivion in my presence. I, sir, am a WIZARD, and I break more natural laws before breakfast than of which you are even aware!"

Fighters are also fun because nothing says good-times like more feats.

And Paladins are also fun because their moral code and perpetual LG status makes then natural born heroes and an easy plot-hook for any adventure just waiting to happen.

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I hate the gunslinger... fantasy and firearms don't mix. I guess it's kinda neato to have the option for those that want to mix Three Musketeers n' Magic, but it's definitely not for me.

Same goes for the Samurai and the Ninja... I keep them confined in the Mysterious East, and my campaign doesn't swing in that direction. They have no place in traditional Sword n' Sorcery fantasy genre.

As far as the traditional Core Classes go, my least favorite is the Barbarian... they have extra hit points (barely) but are restricted to lower protection armors... Hide is the heaviest that they can use, right? So despite the fact that they get an average of +1 hit point more per level than a Fighter, they have an average of 3 or more points of lower Armor Class... so for a vaguely +5% hit points (if you're lucky) you are hit 15% to 20% more often. Oh but you can rage a couple times a day... meh. Just doesn't do it for me.

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I created a knife-wielding Rogue for the Night Below campaign, a few years back... long before Ultimate Combat came out. It wasn't optimized by any means, but I had a concept and wanted to run with it. Basically to keep my damage competitive with the group, I used Improved Feint to make every attack a sneak attack. Who cares if your weapon only does d4 dmg if you are adding several d6 to each blow? I had 16's in both Dex and Cha, and with weapon finesse as my first Rogue trick, it allowed me to make attacks at +4 attack bonus by 2nd level (+6 when I had flank bonus, +7 with mwk daggers) and if I didn't have either surprise or a flanked opponent, I had a +9 Bluff check to Feint my opponent as a move action (+1 bonus to Bluff from a trait, I believe). Do you realize how very few AP opponent's have any ranks in Sense Motive at all?

Now that Ultimate Combat has added an option for Knife Fighters, it seems even easier to do a good build.

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Max out your Use Magic Device skill... if you are the groups only arcane caster then all scrolls, wands, and similar doohickeys are yours by default, plus you can carry an extra Cure Wounds wand for emergencies when one becomes available. Have you noticed that all the Adventure Paths have a good selection of utility spell wands in them as random treasure drops? That's where you'll find the useful spells that you don't want to burn a coveted Known Spell slot on... Unseen Servant, Knock, Floating Disc, Mage Armor, etc.

As for spells, here's some basic advice I lived by when playing my last sorcerer in the Curse of the Crimson Throne AP:

1. Choose spells that have multiple applications or effects to maximize your versatility. Forget See Invisible because Glitterdust will reveal invisible objects AND potential blind the enemy. Pyrotechnics is great because it makes choking smoke or blinding flashes AND it puts out fires!

2. When selecting spells known, go with stuff that you will cast over and over every day ... save the once-per-day stuff for scrolls n' wands.

3. Make sure your favorite spells that have saving throws are in your spells known list... save the ones that don't allow saves or don't target the enemy for the wands you'll be finding/buying/trading.

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I'm truly deeply saddened by the loss of the iconic write ups in Carrion Crown. I'm an AP subscriber and this has always been my favorite part of the books... the first part I go to every time I receive my new book in the mail. Missing it really takes away for me... especially with the new APG iconics finally making an appearance, and now we don't get write ups for them. This just really, really makes me sad.

Oh but look, we have more big splashy ads in the back of the book... woo-hoo. Again, sad bard misses what he loved.

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James Jacobs wrote:
So... what do folks use those stats for, anyway?

My players don't use them, mainly because 1.) They like to create their own characters, and 2.) if I catch them sifting through any part of the Adventure Path books I'll remove their dice-rolling hand at the wrist. That having been said though, I use the stat blocks and would be deeply saddened if they were ever removed.

I use them as a quick stat block for level-appropriate NPCs for random encounters, complete with spells, feats, skills and level-appropriate equipment. I also look forward to checking the stat blocks as each new book comes out to see how they have grown as they advanced in level; what new spells, feats, hit points, magic items, etc. they have acquired. And lastly, I use them as a gage to measure against the PCs. I take a look at the Iconic stat blocks and measure that against the PCs to see if I've been too stingy or lenient with magic items and such. If the iconics are sporting average AC's of 24 and my players are still down around 20 when they start that new chapter, that tells me something. If the iconics are carrying around +2 and +3 weapons, but my players are still mostly using masterwork or +1 items, that tells me something too.

I love the Iconic stat blocks, and find them incredibly useful as a generic tool. That having been said, if you needed to cut a little space, we probably don't need to have the exact same backgrounds printed for them every single book... they don't seem to change or evolve or grow with the character, so what's the point of reprinting it in all 6 books of an AP series, and then reprinting it verbatim again when the Iconic makes a reappearance in another Adventure Path down the line?

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You mentioned your games are often deadly, so you're doing this: starting them at level 0. Yeah, that would make it pretty deadly all right... unless you're sending them against anemic kobold shopkeepers it seems like it's even harder. Or did you mean you were giving them a bonus of 1 level of a commoner or expert NPC class or something in addition to their first level of a PC Character Class? That would be different, I suppose, although there are easier ways to give your players a bump to increase their chances of survival... adding another level of commoner to your 1st-level Fighter just seems unnecessarily complicated.

Instead try: a Hit Point Kicker (+8, +10, whatever) or double HD at 1st level. Bonus Feat or Trait at 1st level. More skill points to start out with. Better equipment or starting gold. Etc.... just a couple ideas.

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Thazar wrote:

Many of the options from the APG are not "more powerful" then the core rule book. And that is as it should be. If every book that comes out has "more powerful" options that are better then the original books you get power creep too fast and no one will ever play a normal version of the class. And normal SHOULD be the best option overall.

The advantage of the alternate classes is not "more power" but more flavor and options based upon your character concept. They can do things that normal fighter or other characters cannot.

+3. Funny this should come up, one of my players wanted to build a fighter who used a ranseur and another player suggested she check out the APG for the Polearm Fighter archetype. She did so and seemed disappointed. "It's not really very powerful," she said. "I could build a better one using the rules in the core book and just taking weapon specialization."

And I think that's as it should be... the archetypes pigeon-hole characters into a very tiny box, and that kind of restriction promotes min-maxing. I'm so glad that the APG archetypes take something away for everything they add. In previous editions, the various archetypes or "kits" added bonuses for choosing a specific theme or concept but didn't offer an equalizing penalty for the bonuses. This eventually led to power-creep, and usually the newer the book, the more potent the bonuses awarded. The APG archetypes should only be used for PCs with a very specific theme, and usually limit the character to that concept in order to reap any benefit as well. This ensures that the archetypes will never outshine the Core Class as written in the core rulebook. Which is as it should be.

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Hassan Ahmed wrote:

There was a treatment of Paladins in Dragon Magazine years ago, for each alignment.

Dragon Magazine, issue #106... cover by Larry Elmore. The article had various Paladins for 1st AD&D, basic NPC classes for CG, NG, LN, TN, CN, LE, and NE paladins. Basically a paladin for every alignment... had various names like Paramander or something like that. Been a very, very long time, so my memory is a bit fuzzy on the details... Um, it seems like I'm suffering from Grognard's Syndrome.

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It looks pretty called out in the description to me: "Roll the damage dice twice and add the results together", "Do not multiply damage bonuses" ... to me that reads very simply: Double the dice, not any bonuses. It really can't get much more clear than that.

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Kaiyanwang wrote:
- You are not even forced to play rogues as TWF meat grinder. A friend of mine dipped in shadow dancer and focused on dirty tricks and hit and run tactics, and was quite fun.

+1. Personally, Just my opinion, I think that the TWF Rogue is a really bad idea that gets killed waaaaaaayyy too easily. To do a full attack you need to start your round close enough to the enemy to attack many times... this means that the enemy is close enough to either a.) hit you back, or b.) hit you first. A rogue has neither the AC nor the HD to stand toe-to-toe and duke it out with CR equivalent critters. In my experience, a TWF Rogue is a dead rogue... or at the very least a drain on the party's healing resources.

The most effective Rogue I have played personally in PFRPG is a "Face"... high Dex and Charisma, good Int and better than average Str n' Con. He's maxed out in most Cha-based skills, including Bluff, Disguise and Use Magic Device, and his role in the party is the gatherer of information, the diplomat, the negotiator, the scout, the undercover agent, and while carrying a quiver of spare wands, he even helps with healing and battlefield-control somewhat. In combat, he moves to help others, makes assist rolls when can't flank someone, and using Improved Feint he bluffs his way into effective Sneak Attacks. He rarely gets more than one attack per round, but as a mobile combatant, he wouldn't get multiple attacks anyway. He doesn't get as many attacks as the party Fighter but his dagger strikes just as hard when he gets a feint attack. And every round I can use my wits to find something new to do and adapt to the situation at hand. Definitely not a fun concept for a newer player, perhaps, but makes for a fun character for a strategist.

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One of the problems with this comparison is because you are comparing the rogue to the fighter, the ranger, the wizard, etc. The rogue is not a fighter, or a ranger, or a wizard or any of the other classes: they are rogues, and as such they are the best there is at what they do. They have more skills than any other class, no exceptions, and unlike the bard or ranger the rogue is not extremely-MAD dependent so is more likely to have a higher Int score than either of those two classes (assuming point buy). Which means that should the rogue desire, they become the skill-monkey supreme with Int bonuses meaning even more skills... most rogues I've played start with at least a 14 Int, so they get 10 skill points per level, 11 if human. This allows them a versatility that no other one class can equal. If going nuts with skills is your thing, Rogue gives you lots of options. You can max out the Dex-based skills and be an acrobat-scout-skirmisher supreme. You can max out the Charisma suite and be the group "Face", a charming, bluffing, diplomatic con-man. More than 75% of the skills available are Rogue class skills, which gives them tons of options.

It's folly to compare a Rogue with a Fighter's sheer potential damage output because a Fighter has access to more feats, weapon and armor training, heavier weapons, and a better BAB and HD as well. Obviously in toe-to-toe combat, most rogues cannot stand against a Fighter of similar level and point buy. That's not what they're designed for... but the rogue's sheer amount of skill points gives them a versatility range of subtlety that a Fighter can never match, at least not on paper.

Likewise, a Wizard may be able to duplicate many of a Rogue's abilities using his spells. But a Wizard still will not be able to consistently do what a Rogue can do because they must know the right spells, prepare the right spells and then cast the right spells. And when the spell runs out, it's gone... the Wizard can cast Invisibility that lasts one minute per level. But a Rogue can conceivably Stealth every minute of the day that he is awake. Invisibility is superior in some ways, but Stealth can be used pretty much at will... the Rogue doesn't expend his daily resources to do it. Likewise, you might conjure a monster or cast a divination to find or disarm a trap, but again that uses up some of the Wizard's daily resources. A Rogue can conceivably search, poke, prod, leap, tumble, dodge, detect, listen, climb, sneak, and otherwise use his skills effectively all day, every day, every round if he wants to. He is infinitely more versatile in those areas because it costs him no amount of limited daily resources to do so.

The OP calls the Rogue the worst class in Pathfinder, or at least infers it. "Worst" is a highly subjective term. Rogues may not be able to keep up with a Fighter's damage, a Ranger's accuracy, or a Wizard's magical prowess, but they are the very best class for what they do well... skill monkey. I have three players in my group of seven active players who prefer the Rogue above all other classes, so there must be some appeal to that.

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The first thing that jumps out at me is the fact that this fellow is completely dependent on his magic items. If for some reason he loses his Headband of Intellect +6, he's down to an Int score of 13 which means he's restricted to only 3rd level spells or lower. That's some potentially dangerous min-maxing... plus, it implies that he had some sort of Int boosting item back when he first gained access to level 4 spells and has been leaning on the use of such items since level 9 or 10, depending how you multi-classed him. Focusing on buff spells, the DC of those spells are not terribly important, but if someone removes his access to that one magic item, he becomes a gimped Fighter. Harsh...

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Your archer is capable of some truly epic damage, this is true. But only in an optimal situation, really. Against trolls or other Big-Dumb-Critters (BDCs) across an open prairie, yeah you're right, he's a fearsome foe who will cut through them like a scythe through wheat. But against a truly matched CR-appropriate foe, not so much. You mentioned a dragon before... a CR 13 Dragon should have an armor class of roughly 28 or better, not including bonuses from spells like mage armor and shield. Your OP archer wouldn't be able to hit reliably, let alone crit. And after the archer's salvo, on an open plain the dragon's retaliatory strafing breath weapon will ruin said archer's day. True, if the dragon stood there and allowed your archer to pepper him with arrows from a goodly distance across an open field, he'd likely be killed or disabled in short order. But as a DM, your best resource is your mind... remember that all creatures have an Int and Wis score, and should respond to attacks accordingly based on their wit and resources. A high Int creature like a dragon would likely be flying high when crossing open territory, and his superior senses allow him a good chance to detect foes before they get the drop on him. He'd also likely go full defensive for an additional +4 AC until he is within range to strike back. Use his wits, spells and other resources accordingly, especially the terrain, and you'll find you have all the tools you need to make a challenging encounter for your players.

It's pretty unusual in the adventures I've played or run that characters spend a lot of time in wide open places where they get a lot of space between them and their foes, or room for unrestricted long range full attacks. It's far more common to have cover (trees, walls, ruins, etc.) or concealment, which negate or hinder long range attacks. Underground, your elf archer is pretty screwed most of the time... his Low-light vision allows him to get double the radius out of torches n' sunrods, but remember a foe in shadowy illumination has concealment and one in darkness is pretty much immune to ranged attacks, for all practical purposes. A simple thing like a corner, or smaller rooms, put an archer at a distinct disadvantage. In larger spaces, there are mundane obstacles like tree branches and bushes to offer cover or concealment, wind conditions, or even smoke or fog. Magically, there are even more possibilities: Shield, Protection from Arrows, Invisibility, Mirror Image, Tiny Hut, Fog Cloud, Stinking Cloud (pretty much any of the Cloud spells here), various Walls spells, various Illusions, and others far too numerous to count.

Another point: I notice that your OP Archer has Jungle as his favored terrain, which probably means this is a campaign in a jungle setting. How often does someone in a jungle get a big open field to shoot across? By its definition, a jungle is going to be thick with concealing terrain and cover. I would start applying cover and concealment mods to 90% of your encounters, just on general principle.

A skilled archer can be a fearsome opponent, but they are highly circumstantial. If nothing else, they are relying on ammunition... that Efficient Quiver may hold a 120 arrows, but at a rate of fire of 5 to 7 arrows per round, he's gonna run out of arrows much sooner than you think. He'll likely need to carry another few hundred arrows in a Bag of Holding or something.

Anyway, my point is that your OP Archer as you put it is tough in an optimal situation; wide open area against low AC foes that can't strike back. But at his level he's not going to be in many of those optimal situations all that often. He may be able to dish it out at a distance but if you are challenging your players appropriately, he's not really overpowered... even if his equipment is equal to a 15th level characters expected amount.

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Sadly, I meet all the prerequisites for the Pathfinder Developer prestige class save one: I lack the required ranks in Knowledge (Local) or Knowledge (Geography)-Washington. I don't suppose Paizo would be willing to assist with relocation costs?

I do have the BA in English, and some practical experience in proofreading done through the career center at my local state university. Just in case you were wondering...

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I hate it when my players try to tell me "No, that monster can't do that." Who's running this game anyway? I actually only have one player who does that, and he's a DM for other games during the week, so what it is is two Alpha-Males trying to assert dominance.

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Abraham spalding wrote:

As a matter of trust I try to let the players know that the more they pick up the more of it I'll count against their WBL. So if they want to have a bunch of +1 crap then they can loot everything they come across (which seems a bit -- vulgar for heroes to me) and they won't find a lot of high end stuff. But if they generally leave the mook gear alone they'll find the nicer high end bits late on.

This way they get to help decide what they want to do -- if they like the bigger prizes I'm handing out and feel that it's keeping with what matches the character then they hold of the "loot everything in the room" part -- if they feel what I'm giving them isn't up to par and want more ability to "magic shop" as it were then they start up with the looting.

As a GM aid this is great since it allows me to know how my players feel about the game.

I like this. This sounds like a really neat way of circumventing the placed-treasure in written modules and adventure paths. After all, how many times has your crew staggered around with a treasure that looks like this: "15 suits of masterwork full plate, 12 masterwork shields, 6 +1 longswords, 6 +1 greatswords, 4 +2 flails, 7 suits of +1 scale mail, 8 bracers of armor +1, 5 cloaks of resistance +1, and one +2 spiked chain that no one in the party is interested in spending a feat to learn." Yaaaawwwwwnn!

Is the party meant to look like a quartet of junk peddlers, clanking their way back to town laden with nearly 2 tons of metal stuffing their backpacks and various bags o' holding? As written, published adventures demand that players do this without fail or risk falling behind the curve, and back in town they trade in all their scraps for cash or better items, swapping them with merchants and blacksmiths like baseball cards: I'll give you 4 sets of masterwork plate and 2 magic rings for a Mickey Mantle rookie card! It just doesn't seem plausible to me...

I like the idea that I can encourage them to ignore this kind of battlefield scrounging by encouraging them that if they do pass up the small potatoes, I'll reward them later with better equipment that they can actually use to upgrade themselves. Thanks, Spalding, I'll probably give this a try in one method or another.

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Switch hitter seems viable, great Str and Dex, mediocre Con. I'd be very careful about pushing into melee too often. You can only wear medium armor, so you are looking at an AC of 18 or so for a while with your Dex bonus, maybe 19 (scale mail +6 armor, 16 Dex +3) and by 3rd level you'll have an average of 21 hit points (24 if you put FC into more HP's). Without healing you will last 2 or 3 rounds against a CR equivalent foe, maybe less if they crit you. Low or average AC + low or average hit points equals squashed melee'er. But you have a healing spec'd cleric so that can't hurt!

I'd stay back and shoot a lot, don't get into melee until the druid and/or half-orc are already engaged. Of course, their armor class is likely going to be as bad or worse than yours, so if you don't take the hits then they will. I know I tend to think very defensively as a player but... the party seems squishy. It can still work, but they will take a lot of damage.

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How about those who want to take offense at labeling the witches do so here, and those who would rather rage against the idea of roles or labels for other classes start a new thread for it? The last 20 posts only mentioned witches 2 or 3 times, that's a pretty large deviation from the OP.

I was actually curious to see what others have managed to do with their witch characters, and this bigger fly-in-the-ointment seems to be pulling folks away from that topic. Just sayin'...

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My favorites are those who are so blatantly missing from our rogues' gallery: mind flayers, beholders/gauth, umber hulks, carrion crawlers, etc. I know they are property of WotC but I still miss them.

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I have a similar problem at my table. We use a Yahoo! group website, nothing fancy, but I give game notes, behind-the-scenes information, and will also be awarding XP and treasure via post between game sessions. Players are also required to give a copy of their character sheets and keep an updated version in the group's file section for reference and bookkeeping. I also encourage character background and player discussion and dialog via post.

We only play once every two weeks so they have two weeks between sessions to check in and update their stuff n' get what they need. Plus because of the more limited play schedule than some groups, I don't want to bog down our precious game time with the trivial stuff like XP, character advancement, and out-of-character tasks like mundane shopping. So there's a valid reason to do this. The problem is that one of the players just refuses to comply. She's not incompetent or ignorant, just always has an excuse. "My son was a handful, my classes took too much time, my computer's been acting up, etc." I accept an incident or two -- Hey, life happens -- but this constant deluge of excuses just grates on my last nerve. So last session before starting I walked around the table and handed out some cards I'd made out. Each one was good for one d20 do-over or reroll, usable sometime in game over the next six sessions. They were handed out as appreciation for the group participation to make my job easier... the person who didn't contribute didn't get one.

I don't view this as a punishment, as I am not a vindictive person. Rather this is a reward for those who DID participate. I plan on doing other little boosts like that from time to time... +2 permanent hit points, a free potion found at the bottom of your pack, +5% XP earned in a session, an extra spell in your spellbook/repertoire, etc. This encourages participation rather than punishing those who choose not to go the extra mile.

As for help with clean up, that's easy... I usually wrap up each session with similar dialog: "Okay, while I calculate the XP, can you wipe off the battlemaps for me, C.J.? Rob, the vacuum's in the closet, and Gale would you mind putting those coke cans n' plates in the sink for me? Thanks guys, I'll have your XP totals worked out in a few minutes..." It really has never been a problem and everyone seems completely fine with helping out. When I put it that way, they see that I am doing something for them and they seem to have no resistance to helping me out a little in return.

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Our campaign is new so the witch is still low level. He took feat Extra Hex so started with two hexes, Evil Eye and Slumber, plans on adding another one next level too. Based on his game plan, it looks like he's going to be a debuffer and back-up healer. The player has expressed to me that his main concern is the lack of defensive spells. I checked the spell list and was really surprised... unless you have one of the more defensive patrons, the only defensive spell they get till level 7 is Mage Armor. No armor proficiency, only d6 hit points and the only defense he has is not being targeted. Hope he makes it...

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I may be mistaken, but I believe that Jason meant that the person reading the scroll may benefit from Augment Summoning or Spell Focus feats if he has them. I don't believe that the creator of the scroll could incorporate the feat into the written work if he had such a feat, as that would change the value of the spell and therefore might have to boost the cost of creating it.

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Oh yeah, I know exactly why the published adventures are set up that way, and I pretty much agree too. It would be way too space consuming to give separate stat blocks. I just tend to make my own notes and mix it up a bit for my own peace of mind and players enjoyment. My question was more to find out if anyone else made such convoluted changes.

For instance, block of 4 8th-lvl guards listed as all having 15 Str and 59 hit points and using the equipment I listed above: +2 flails, mwk full plate, +1 heavy shields. I would probably in my notes mix it up a bit, give out weapons n' armor that gets close to the same dmg range (two use flails, one uses sword, another a halberd or axe), probably get rid of the mwk quality armor and just give them standard plate, but add some other low-end treasure that would more interesting (random wondrous items, a wand with less than dozen charges, some gems or other personal treasures) and then make some other minor changes; one is a half-orc with an 18 Str, another specialized in longsword and has Spring Attack instead of Power Attack, and another one has a 17 Dex is the best shot with a crossbow on the guard! Add or subtract a random amount of hit points from each one, and presto! they are no longer carbon copies of each other! In some cases, especially Lawful organizations, it makes sense they would have "standard equipment" but in others, I mix it up to give it a more random feel to it.

On the other hand, if I expect that the party will smash through them in 2 rounds or less with little or no resistance, then it doesn't really matter if they had magic weapons or fancy armor at all. I'll probably just remove that stuff altogether and replace it with either some more interesting mundane treasure placed later on in the adventure or some useful magic item(s) that the party will benefit from.

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So far it seems like most reply'ers adhere to the "Pirate's Code" of WBL: "Aarrh, they be more like guidelines than actual rules, Miss Turner." That fits more with what I expected, and I appreciate the feedback.

For myself, I've often found that published adventures tend to be a bit silly in treasure distribution, especially when statting out humanoid opponents: "You mean ALL the 8th-level guards have +2 Flails, mwk Plate mail and +1 heavy Shields? And they all have 3 potions of bull's strength and 2 cure moderate wounds potions? What a coincidence..." Unless the enemy is supplied by an extremely Lawful (and generous) benefactor, it's highly unlikely that they would all have the exact same stuff, especially where enchanted gear is concerned. Plus, it's boring for the party: "So guys, we have another 4 magic flails, 4 suits of armor and 4 more magic shields. Should we stuff 'em in the Bag of Holding and move on?"

This is where I play my grognard card and mix it up a bit. I randomly generate a little loot, spread it out a bit, give 'em different weapons, remove most masterwork items (unless there's a good story-based reason that they would have them), and generally just play it by ear. It does require me to be a bit more on my toes regarding rules and combat stats, but it's more interesting for my players too, and gives me the opportunity to add some items that might not be written in but could actually benefit the players. Thoughts?

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First of all, great thread! I've been pitching to my crew that wands are surprisingly useful to have around, and I've yet to be proven wrong in that aspect. Especially useful in 3.5 when you had access to some Eberron feats like Wand Mastery (+2 DC to wand effects), Dual Wand Wielder, and another feat (can't remember name) that allowed you to burn two charges to add two caster levels to the effect. Even without those feats though, wands are a wizard's best friend. Better than scrolls or potions in most cases, because of lower price-per-cast cost and multiple uses, and not nearly as expensive as staffs. Pearls of Power are nice but can only be used to recall spells you already cast that day, so they only give you multiple castings of memorized spells. For sheer versatility, get a quiver of wands!

Because of the low DC that comes with using a wand instead of casting it yourself, the best wands are those where success or failure doesn't hinge on your target failing a saving throw. For that reason, save-or-fail spells are usually very bad ideas for wands: Hold Person, Sleep, Color Spray, Blindness, etc. The target only needs a save of 11 for 1st-lvl spells, 13 for 2nd level, 14 for 3rd, and 16 for 4th. Ouch... you have to assume that any use of a wand that will negate the effect on a successful save is just a bad use of your action and resources. Even partial effect on saves, like half-dmg, aren't necessarily a good idea because the save-for-half-dmg total will be pretty low on a wand.

The thing about being a wizard is that you only get so many spells per day. Having several wands changes that, so you can reserve your daily spell slots for the spells which rely on a high DC or caster level. Save the wands for the small stuff so you never run out of stuff to do in a given round. In my groups' experience, the most useful wands to have around are the following:

Mage Armor: this is just too useful not to have, and isn't even really for you. You can't wear armor but you're not about to get into melee usually, so who cares? Use this wand on the party Monk or the druid's animal companion... heck, put it on both of 'em, wands are cheap! +4 Armor bonus for an hour to anything that wasn't already wearing better armor. That monk just became your best friend.

Enlarge Person: Do not use this on yourself. Why make yourself a better target? Instead use it on the party Fighter and you just became his best friend; now he has a 10-ft reach and slightly better Strength for 10 rounds! Caution: avoid using in cramped corridors and tiny spaces, as the spell makes the recipient easier to hit and you don't want to prevent him getting back-up when he needs it.

Cure Light Wounds: Again, it's not for you, but since you bought it, your friends can use it on you first. Cheap healing, and any ranger, paladin, cleric, druid, witch, or bard can use it without having to worry about UMD.

Grease: don't worry about the save, you just made a small area in front of you difficult terrain; that barbarian gnoll won't be charging you after all. Wands don't require concentration checks, so if you get grappled or entangled, use it on yourself and Escape Artist out of it! Hit the enemy melee'ers with it and force them to check against dropping their weapons every round. With Grease, saving the first round doesn't negate the need to check again next round.

Pyrotechnics: any spell that can do more than one thing is a good thing to have, but since you may not always have an open flame to play with, you probably won't memorize it. Pyrotechnics can make a big LOS-blocking cloud of choking smoke, put out fires, and make big blinding flashes of light. Great to have when the bad guys start using alchemical fire on your party or are carrying torches.

Silent Image: they don't get a save unless they Interact with it, which for most creatures means touching it. Create a wall, a tangle of thorn bushes, a cloud of sickly green gases, or even an image of a gaping pit to keep the enemy from getting too close to you, or even finding you. Literally dozens of applications, and favors the imaginative player.

Obscuring Mist: cheap concealment, shuts down all ranged attacks and forces the enemy to meet you on your terms... assuming they can find you.

Detect Secret Doors: you won't memorize it because by the time you realize you need it, you've already chosen your spells for the day. Pull this out when you're in that kind of a dungeon where it's needed, and you'll be so glad you did. At 1 minute per charge, it's a bargain.

Comprehend Languages: Again, you probably won't memorize this for the same reason you didn't memorize Detect Secret Doors. When you need it, you'll use it often due to the relatively short duration.

Endure Elements: Don't ever memorize this unless you're on your own; use a wand instead. It lasts 24 hours and if you need this then you need to protect everyone in the party, not just one person.

Magic Missile: Crossbows run out of ammo fast, take time to reload, and you still have to roll to hit. Not with this wand. Yes, you do more damage by casting this with your own mystical fingers, but with the wand you have a meaningful contribution to every combat round... and it doesn't miss. Ever. It even affects those pesky incorporate undead like shadows and wraiths, doing full damage... and if you can find or create a Magic Missile wand at 3rd or 5th caster level, that's just gravy.

There are more, but those are the wands that have been most useful in our games. Note that I only included first level spells here(except Pyrotechnics which I included b/c its so underrated), as 750 gold for a full 50 charges is the best bargain in the game, really. You pay nearly 6 times that for a fully charged 2nd level wand, so creative use of a 1st level wand is the best action economy if you can get away with it.

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