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That class cannot be correct. Trivial entry, full BaB, full casting, good saves, a channel pool you can convert into a pile of useful spells, adding those spells to your list so your Wizard casts heal with a 5th level slot, and buckets of other abilities...
If that entry on d20pfsrd isn't in error, I think this thing is desperately in need to errata.
One other thing that deserves to be said about AC is how it relates to natural weapons vs iteratives. It tends to stay more relevant when fighting other PC-type opponents. Sure, they might have a 85% chance of hitting with their first attack, but that means the next one is only 60%, 35%, maybe a 10% at the end. Against this, AC has a good chance of mitigating a hit or two. Which, given how much damage grows relative to hitpoints, can determine the winner of this round of rocket tag.
Against "monsters," on the other hand, it can be much closer to "useless." If their first weapon has an 85% of hitting so does their second, third, and so on. If you are lucky some are secondary, but in that case Multiattack is almost assumed and they are only at -10%. Plus, "brute" monsters tend to combine massive strength with piles of HD (and thus BaB), which can mean even a moderately pushed AC is only contributing a few percent to the miss chance (if that).
So basically, it is "useless" in the same way that Combat Maneuvers are "useless." Against other player-type characters things actually scale fairly reasonably. However, when you crack open the bestiary, things can change dramatically.
People have brought these up before, it is just that I don't believe there is a consensus they are overpowered. As the FAQ says "prestige classes are usually a sub-optimal character choice (especially for spellcasters)." While this isn't universally true (Magambyan Arcanist, Hellknight Signifier, etc), so far the early access hasn't brought us any crazy options.
Arcane Trickster is a very tough class to play. Sneak Attack and Spells with generally fall behind +3 CL, and far behind a Crossblooded Sorcerer dip. You get some fun abilities on the side, but without favored class, 1/2 BaB, and only 4 skill points, it isn't a powerup on straight caster. If anything, even with early entry you are substantially weaker. I haven't seen many people making use of this, nor any crazy builds.
Eldritch Knights, though not mentioned, are also generally not recommended. Martial 1/Caster 6 is a tough character to play, and especially unattractive when one considers the option of Magus. I'd really only recommend it for a longer campaign, and you still won't be an overpowering character. Getting in earlier does not alter overall power that much, but it does make the ramp up. I've seen a ton of these popping up, and all so far have been "cool" but by no means "overpowered."
Mystic Theurge is the only one I'm iffy about. Versatility is a big chunk of caster power. However, spells also exponentially increase in power with level, which might balance it out. I'd like to hear from people on this one.
On the FAQ itself, I don't think it is a good one. It encourages and rewards dumpster diving for very specific options that don't particularly relate to the classes except in weird game math, and I can't imagine anyone picking up the book and arriving at this conclusion themself. It is also something designers themselves are likely to be unaware of (see the Inner Sea Gods thread) and as such it is possible we may see a crazy overpowered option spring from it in the future. As of right now, though, it isn't the end of the world either way, and leaving it open has created tons of interesting, balanced gishy options that I'm really enjoying.
It is directly below the linked FAQ:
Personally, I've actually found it to be pretty great. Dumpster diving for the correct spell levels is annoying, and I agree it is a VERY weird interpretation, but it has made Eldritch Knight a much more viable option (as well as Mystic Theurge, though that might be a bit TOO attractive). I'm made some neat, balanced characters with it that otherwise just wouldn't have worked.
Haven't seen the new class yet, but from what I'm hearing it won't be a game breaker there either, even if it was an unintended option.
I would say it does. "Combat actions" is an undefined term, and treating it as anything which takes an action to activate would also exclude Inspire Courage. The only reason weapon focus and other feats don't work is because feats are directly called out as not working. I would argue, from the faq, that anything else is fair game.
In the Core Rulebook FAQ, under a question about rays, it calls out spiritual weapon as a weapon-like spell that is affected by anything that affects weapons. The example is inspire courage, which gives a bonus to the wielder rather than a weapon itself. Therefore, if a spiritual weapon gets the bonus from that, it should get other bonuses that apply to the caster, including judgment.
So I would say yes.
Look, what are you really looking for here? The downtime rules are nonsense. The closer you look at them the less sense they make. Even if they actually worked out you are doing a bunch of work for a system where nothing costs more than a few thousand gold, and thus doesn't matter after the lowest levels anyway.
Complaining about it is like complaining that, during a chase, casting fly helps you use Diplomacy on an Ogre. Yes, it doesn't make any sense. But that is how the subsystem works, and it is one's own fault for thinking they it provide anything more sane than that.
I actually think the main comparisons should be the Inquisitor (Animal Domain) on whose mechanical skeleton it was built, as well as the Ranger and Druid it is supposed to be a hybrid of. In comparison to these, pretty much whatever you want to do it falls behind as levels go up, in many ways just being strictly worse.
The one thing I will say for it is that, at low levels, it works out. Low levels are when Animal Companions are at their strongest, and Animal Focus and Hunter Tactics are big boons. However, as you gain levels enhancement and competence bonuses are more available, the Animal Companion falls behind, and you notice the problems with turning a 9 level spell list into 6 without any unique or early access spells.
If by "spectrum tropes" you mean "tier system," I'd give them a high tier 4. The are "capable of doing many things to a reasonable degree of competence without truly shining" from their casting, 4 skills, and other odds and ends like circumstantial Animal Aspect buffs and Hunter Tactics tricks. I can't say they "shine" compared to another class trying to accomplish the same goal and theme, but being worse than other options doesn't mean they are unable to meaningfully contribute.
This isn't precisely true. The currently available version is nerfed hard, but based on the response from the people making it in the discussion thread it sounds like the final version of Studied Combat is actually gonna wind up a pretty cool ability and, frankly, quite possibly better than Sneak Attack in many ways.
This is true. However, from posts like this or this, weakening the Investigator because it was too good compared to the Rogue was always the intent of the changes. So it is still a good point in relation to motivation and perception.
It also appears to have remained the intent. As far as I can tell the reason Studied Combat might end up with the final version (which I agree is better than the original Sneak Attack) is because they don't think that it would be. If they do/did, it will likely be re-weakened because of the Rogue, which would again be the problem of the Rogue being a millstone dragging down other classes.
EDIT: I should add something on topic. Rogues have access to Scout, which opens up many shenanigans.
Strong characters still have advantages in weapon choice (Falcata FTW), 1.5 x STR to damage for a two-handed weapon, lower feat requirements (no need for Weapon Finesse and Unnamed-Dex-to-Damage-Feat), and polymorph-based buffing (becoming smaller than small to get DEX kills your reach, and the only other option is elementals, which aren't ideal forms). So additional Dex-to-damage options won't totally destroy it (especially when you consider we already have Dervish Dance and Agile weapons).
Ideally, the sacred cow of Constitution should be slain and Strength or "Body" encompass hitpoints and Fortitude as well, but that is probably a step too far for even a new edition.
These scenarios are actually explained by the spells in their descriptions, because the ability to use tactics like this is just too nasty.
1) Invisibility states "For purposes of this spell, an attack includes any spell targeting a foe or whose area or effect includes a foe." The charm spells target the foes of the Lamia, and thus would break invisibility.
2) Also no. "Asking the creature to do some obviously harmful act automatically negates the effect of the spell." Taking an average of 70 points of damage would, in my opinion, count as "obviously harmful."
3) Invisibility explicitly deactivates Mirror Image. "If you are invisible or the attacker is blind, the spell has no effect." Mirror Image is strong on its own, though, to the point people will close their eyes (rendering themselves blind, and thus immune) to avoid it. I hope your melee characters have Blind Fight or good to-hit, or a friendly caster with dispel magic ready.
Additional castings stack. By my calculations the Wizard would just need to cast it 96,686,489,000 times to create the Earth, which he could do in a mere 66,223,623 years or so. Or instantly, if he could fine some way to cheese Augmented Mythic Time Stop and cast it and Permanency from items.
Did I mention this would require immortality?
So it is 100% clear what the RAI is for these feats.
While that certainly is good evidence, text/table disagreement is not unheard of, and flavor text often disagrees with mechanics. Toppling Spell requires the force (not sonic) descriptor, Judgment Surge doesn't require you to be able to use Judgement twice, and so on. It is entirely possible that whoever wrote the table was mistaken about how the feat and just worked off the name, or that it was decided to expand the use of the feats later and the table/flavor was not updated.
So RAI is not 100% clear. Like, 90%-95%, tops. I'm still going to hold my 5%-10% hope that whoever wrote or edited them decided intentionally to drop both the unarmed and "deal damage" requirements of Stunning Fist. At the very least this might get them a second look so they can work with Ki Focus or something.
I really wish the buttons for "Answered in FAQ" and "No Response Necessary" linked to posts explaining what they meant by that. As far as I can tell there isn't a FAQ or Errata on this. Maybe a developer clicked the wrong button, maybe they mistook this for talking about Perfect Strike, maybe it is filed under something other than APG (or UC, UM, UCamp, or ACG, which I also checked), or maybe I just didn't find it for some reason.
If there isn't a FAQ or a response and you still want something more definitive than the RAW (which is that you can) a new thread will have to be started. My understanding is that after something is answered it is out of the queue, so this topic isn't going to get another look without that.
First, this all assumes the Wizard has used his favored tricks for infinite money and immortality, as this will be expensive and time consuming.
1) Greate Create Demiplane and Permanency for the plane. Polymorph Any Object can turn sacks of hair and whatnot into life. For the full Adam, one must cast Fabricate on some dust to turn it into a statue, then cast Stone to Flesh on the statue "a life force or magical energy" available. I don't know what that is, but as part of the spell mechanics it should be allowable. Follow it up by knocking Adam out with Forgetful Slumber, coup de grace, take a rib and "Polymorph Any Object" it into Eve, then bring Adam back with a Wish.
2) When creating the sky with Greater Create Demiplane include sealed but permanent gates to the elemental plane of water. When ready, remove the covers on the gates to "open the windows of heaven." Control Weather can be added for ambiance.
3.1) Polymorph Any Object or Mirage Arcana cast repeatedly for the river of blood, if using an illusion use a bunch of AoEs to kill all the fish.
3.2) Kidnap and dominate a bunch of 5th level casters, make them invisible, then have them all cast Rain of Frogs and concentrate on it all day. For the traditional traditional Midrashic version where it is "Plague of Frog," bring a Froghemoth along (or be a Conjurer 20 and use Summon Froghemoth) and cast all the swarms into its mouth.
3.3-9) Summon Swarm, Summon Swarm, Plague Storm, Plague Storm, Control Weather, Summon Swarm, Darkness (or a preset trick with the demiplane's lighting choice).
3.10) A bunch of summoned or charmed invisible creatures, walking around shanking first born sons. Detect Relations will help in finding them.
4) Constructs, dominated people with a pile of magic items, or actual Angels and Planar Binding.
So a bit more work than Jesus the 9th Level Cleric, but theoretically doable. Although alternatively:
1-4) Modify Memory, Dominate Person to make someone write it all down.
I know it is unlikely to actually result in one, but I'd just like to add my voice to those that would love a Slow XP path. The lower levels are the ones in which investigation and mystery adventures thrive, and I feel AP are excellent at those (when they have the opportunity). I'd love for a path to fit an extra one or two of those in before advancing spells cancels it all out.
Stephen Radney-MacFarland wrote:
None of the designers think that. I think this is sarcasm.
I think the more important question is whether you think it is "Perhaps the best 1st-level spell in the game," as Ultimate Magic suggests. If so, I think you are playing in an entirely different paradigm than those that use Sleep or Color Spray.
And, likewise, a different paradigm than some or many of those that oppose the change to Crane Style.
Not entirely as you asked, but I just want to say I think this is much better. It doesn't really matter if it is a re-roll or an automatic miss or even +4 AC or whatever, what really matters is that it works on something that would otherwise hit you.
Paizo seems obsessed with options that you need to declare before a roll, or before the result is revealed, which I think is universally garbage. They limit them by round and even by day, then make you randomly or semi-randomly guess if it is good enough to burn your ability. These abilities aren't powerful to start with, and I don't think adding the chance to accidentally waste them is the slightest bit useful.
So, I think you option is good enough. Not as good as the original (which I considered less imbalanced than a huge pile of spells), but neither was unbalanced. Lots of such options have been provided in the other threads for what to do, though I think I'll just stick with the original. Whether Paizo backpedals like on "Monks must use two weapons" or "Maguses can't use haste," or sticks with the Crane tree being as bad as most other martial options, the advantage is we can go to our preferred house rules when the official ones are ridiculous.
Wing/Riposte and Parry/Riposte don't work together anymore. The Duelist abilities require a full attack, while Wing/Riposte require total defense. Using the Fighting Defensively aspects is passable, but you would be paying far too many feats for too little bonus in my opinion.
If you want to use a Style feat, I would recommend Snake. Parry causes the attacks to miss, which would trigger Snake Fang. Plus the Style allows you to count unarmed strikes as piercing, which means they work with the Duelist's Precise Strike. You might want to use a MoMS dip to get free IUS and skip Sidewind, though.
If you really want to use Crane, I would recommend going Swordlord instead of Free-Hand and taking the style only (no Wing/Riposte). Swordlords have a 7th level ability that reduces penalties for Fighting Defensively by 2 and increases AC by the same, meaning you can get a total of +6 Dodge at no attack cost. No penalty means no benefit from Riposte except the riposte, and with the new errata I just can't see bothering with that or even Wing.
Honestly, I wouldn't even consider it an issue if you went all the way and let them just have multiple totems.
Thematically, anything can be made to fit. Someone takes Celestial and Beast? Sounds like their totem is Agathions. Fiend and Chaos? That is just a Demon Totem. A flavor can be made to fit, and in fact opening up totems likewise opens up ways to express specific flavors.
Mechanically there are a couple of nice combinations (Lesser Fiend + Beast for a Natural Attack build, for example), but none that really break the game. The totems tend to do wildly different things, so stacking them is no more advantageous than stacking other, unrelated powers. There may have been some intention at some point of making Totems stronger than other powers and using exclusivity as a balancing mechanism, but if so I frankly can't discern it from the strength of the available totems.
So basically my vote is to go nuts. There is no reason to keep restrictions if they only reason for them is their very existence, and if one is breaking through that by allowing totem switching one might as well go all the one and just toss the rule out the window.
"Dumbest combat ever" is a bit of a stretch, given that "single caster against party" encounters in small rooms aren't exactly rare in published adventures (Paizo, Wizards, and otherwise). I wouldn't even call this a particularly egregious example, as it at least attempted to give him an advantage through the centrifuge. It isn't strong enough, and the room too small, but it was at least an effort.
Even his tactics as written are passable given the situation. At least it is better than the solo opponents whose default tactics are to cast buffs for the first five rounds of combat or drink multiple potions while stuck in a 10x10 room.
So, dumbest combat ever? Not even close. I mean, there are solo melee Wizards out there. An example of a type of encounter I wish was avoided? Absolutely.
Something I noticed was, because all discussion about each class was limited to a its single thread, it was at times difficult for less popular topics to rise above the noise. Without sub threads or anything it was at times hard to keep track of discussions or see if someone responded to a comment without going through pages and pages of text about the "hot" topics of each class. There were many times I'd see an interesting comment that hadn't been brought up before, but see it get little traction. I would think having more than one thread would have made it easier for these other topics to get more examination.
Obviously this case was a bit unique with ten classes to deal with, and I can understand wanting to keep discussion from exploding into a thousand threads mixed around the playtest forum. It is just that after spending a lot of time on forums with subthreads/comment chains/whatever you call it all the voices contained in single threads felt like a cacophony to me, and made it a bit more difficult to participate in that aspect of things.
Under "Ability Score Penalties," it says:
Some spells and abilities cause you to take an ability penalty for a limited amount of time. While in effect, these penalties function just like ability damageAnd "Ability Damage" says:
This damage does not actually reduce an ability, but it does apply a penalty to the skills and statistics that are based on that ability.
So since a penalty is treated like damage, and damage does not "actually reduce an ability," I would say you still meet the prerequisite. This post by SKR would support this, I think. If only permanent bonuses apply for feat prerequisites, in the absence of a specific rule to contrary I would say that likewise only permanent penalties should make you lose a prerequisite.
Obviously people could differ on whether or not this is logical, independent of the rules.
EDIT: In relation to the FAQ, I agree it muddies the waters, but do not think it changes the prerequisites thing. Applying to "all the same stats and rolls" is not the same as actually reducing the score in relation to prerequisites, as meeting them is neither a stat nor a roll. It might also get weird in relation to meeting prerequisites through temporary bonuses, which seems to be something they have wanted to avoid.
We are going to take a good hard look at... some of the bloodline spells
I really hope this means expelling the totally save dependent spells from the bloodline lists. I agree that the Bloodrager doesn't need better offensive spellcasting, and the extra CL at least lets the damage spells that populate their list work a bit better. There are a couple of very save dependent spells on the list, but they can be safely ignored.
However, getting the spells on the bloodlines hurts much more, as you can't avoid them. Most lists have at least one totally save dependent spell, like fear or suggestion, where the low level and (likely) low Charisma lead to a DC that is unlikely to work on even significantly lower level targets. Even worse are the HD dependent ones like Abyssal's cause fear (6HD limit, gained at 7th) or Fey's deep slumber (10HD limit, gained at 13th), which combine the save problem with already being HD limited out when they are gained.
Fey is probably the worst with 3/4 spells, but most classes have at least one. While having an option or two on the base spell list for someone who wants to take them wouldn't hurt, I think it would be preferable for the bloodline spell lists to stick to the buffs, utility, and damage spells the class is most suited for.
Really? I felt it was the opposite of front loaded when playing one. Sure they get a lot of abilities, but they don't do much early on. Compared to an Alchemist they don't have Bombs/Sneak Attack or Mutagen to boost combat ability early on, and compared to the Rogue no Sneak Attack. With the Inspiration Pool being fairly small, having few free uses before talents come online, attack/save costing double, and few extracts combat ability for the first 2-3 levels was close to minimum for a 3/4 class.
A +1 attack/damage from Studied Combat at 2 wouldn't totally change that, but then it also wouldn't increase power too much either. I'd rather see Trapfinding and Poison Lore (which I still think is problematic, though that has gotten buried in the deluge of Studied Combat posts) moved up and get the minor combat boost and iconic ability early on. Those are more of an issue for dipping anyway, as they give new capabilities alongside/instead of a scaling bonus.
I've been thinking a lot about Poison Lore, and am starting to think it is a system limiting ability.
What I mean by this is... how did one identify poisons before? I can't find any particular rules, except for those associated with detect poison. Looking at old APs I noticed a few skills used to identify the after effects (Craft(Alchemy), Heal, and Knowledge (Nature)), but no events of identifying current poisons. If it had come up though, Knowledge (Arcana) and Knowledge (Nature) would likely have been skills I called for (alongside Craft (Alchemy) and Heal).
However, now that identifying poison is an explicit Investigator ability, it would seem to block any other class from using the skills to do it. Similarly, in the rare circumstance that a poison needed to be neutralized and "pouring it out" wasn't an option, Craft (Alchemy) would have been what I called for before Poison Lore existed.
So, by creating this ability, one limits something that would likely have just been a skill check. If one still allows the skills to identify poisons then the ability has no value. If one doesn't no party without an Investigator can identify or neutralize poisons without spells, limiting what they would otherwise would make sense to do with their skills.
My recommendation would be making the ability a bonus, rather than a new capability. For example by giving a +1/2 level bonus on the checks and allowing them to identify and neutralize poisons extra quickly. It still fits the idea of Poison Lore, but would not in any way limit every other class in the process.
I don't think them being better archers than Fighters or Rangers is even on the horizon at this point. Compared to Fighters or Rangers they don't have any bonus feats (archery is feat intensive), no bonuses on attack/damage, their 3/4 BaB slows meeting feat prerequisites, and their major feature is having a companion which apparently does still provide cover (and will until you get IPS at 15, 1/4 of the entire game progression after a Ranger).
It doesn't terribly matter to me if the Hunter makes a good archer or not, but becoming too powerful in that regard just doesn't seem like something we need to be worried about at this point.
I also noted the presence of inappropriate spells, especially save-or-die types, at high level. Fey is probably the worst, with deep slumber at level 13 (it only works on 10HD of creatures along with a couple other save-or-suffer kind of spells. The Bloodrager is unlikely to have extremely high Charisma, so combined with the extremely low spell level I can't see the DCs being high enough to make these spells generally useful.
A couple of the bloodlines also still compare poorly to each other. For example, Celestial and Infernal are very close. However, Celestial's bonus damage is always active from level 1, whereas the Infernal damage (which hits slightly more targets, but is the most common resistance type) has to be activated as a swift (interfering with Arcane Strike) and likely wouldn't stack with flaming (unlike the Celestial's, whose damage explicitly stacks with holy). At level 8, Celestials gets wings, while the Infernal just gets flaming on a charge (still doesn't stack, still often resisted, the Celestial still gets it free on all attacks). He has to wait all the way until 16 for the exact same wings, where the Celestial gets a nice reroll ability. Spells and feats do not make up the difference, though I would argue Celestial has the better set here too. While obviously not everything needs to be the same, I think there is a distinct power gab between the two archetypes.
I have similar sentiments towards Arcane and Fey, though they are less closely related.
I think Stonelord is actually a really good example of the minefield that is racial archetypes. Yes, it makes it easier to have Dwarven Paladins, which is awesome. However, the class also perfectly fits Oreads (both mechanically and thematically), but they are arbitrarily barred from it. Svirneblin would like the stat changes and idea of it too, and any Paladin of an Earth diety would appreciate the theme.
Restricting it to dwarves adds nothing, it just took away the option from other races. After the game has specifically been altered to allow other races to be "Dwarven" Defenders and non-elves to take up Arcane Archery, I see absolutely no reason to regress by making racial archetypes (at least those that do not rely on specific racial mechanics) a thing.
Honestly, I hope not. The vast majority of the ARG racial archetypes fit perfectly well with any race. Making them "racial" just restricted the choice for characters from other races, even if those races are as (if not more) thematic than the associated race.
There are 10 classes in the ACG, all of which need support in terms of feats/spells/etc. There have also been references to material for the existing classes, to allow them to interact with the new ACG mechanics. Given this, there will be a limited amount of space for archetypes. Given that limited space, I would hope they would spend it dealing with concepts that can be applied to as large a group as possible rather than arbitrarily restricting them to a single race.
-One thing to change: Warpriest BaB. I want my not-a-paladin, darn it!
-One thing not to change: Personalizing the Bloodrager spell list, if it isn't being done for other classes. My thinking at the time was that it already worked passably, giving a few minor buffs and utility spells to a class that was pretty good even without it. Compared to the Hunter or Warpriest, I felt it needed a unique list the least.
-Favorite Class: Investigator. With the Archaeologist and Inquisitor, I now have a not-Rogue for each mental stat!
-Least Favorite Class: I went with Hunter. It was tough deciding between it and the Warpriest though, as both have little to distinguish them mechanically or thematically. The Hunter only won because I was more excited for it, and I wanted to hurt it like it hurt me *sob*.
I think RAuer2 expressed my own thoughts pretty much perfectly.
The current PDT version is not very strong, and the strength vs. resource intensiveness does not scale well. Compared to just Inspire Courage it does not seem particularly good for a normal party, especially (but before even) considering all the things a Bard can do with a standard action.
As I've said before, my thematic guideline is The Harpists scene from Kung Fu Hustle. They were great against single opponents, passable against groups, and were utterly destroyed once someone got up to them. One would assume they were higher level than their opponents, so I am fine with the eventual version being flat worse than an equivalent character who went archery (I can post my calculations if anyone cares, but according to my tests even a max-CHA Caster Bard with moderate Dex would be better served with a Shortbow against individual foes).
I'm fine with it being worse than archery, I just don't want it to be too much worse. The idea of musicians throwing music at enemies is incredibly cool. If the music does damage that isn't relevant in comparison to the rest of the party, it is not cool. I don't care if I'm 10%, 20%, even 30% worse than an archer with identical skills, I want my super optimized character to be able to be able to be passable in compraison the Harpists in an AP/PFS scenario because, even if it requires to-the-hilt optimization, it is awesome. The current PDT version is very weak for groups and extraordinarily weak for single targets, without even addressing the level 3 ability. I think, and hope, that something awesome and balanced can be made out of the theoretical idea of the Sound Striker.
There are many ways to make the ability meaningful, integral part of a character. I do not feel that the PDT version is one of these, being a very weak AoE and a meaningless single strike. The Sound Striker already loses enhancement bonus, Inspire Courage, and likely Arcane Strike (depending on errata) on their Weird Words, they aren't inherently an overpowered ability. With the current versions, I don't see much reason to use Weird Words instead of a Bow (even, mathematically, for a Caster Bard). Wordstrike lets me destroy (no attack, no range, no save, increasingly inevitable damage) holy symbols, component pouches, and other non-weapon/armor/shield magic items at my leisure, which is inherently unbalanced until we get to the GM/Player arms race of "everyone has 30 holy symbols!" I have no idea how it could be errated to be meaningful in comparison to Inspire Competence, and strongly feel it would be a good sacrifice for making Weird Words an iconic and meaningful ability.
I don't think looking at individual replacements is useful. Archetypes are balanced on the whole, not 1:1 for abilities.
Unfortunately, despite us concentrating on Weird Words, it seems people don't agree on how Wordstrike works, either (what is the range? Are "sonically charged words" sonic?). Depending on reading (and if blowing up wands/spell component pouches/other gear is the intended use) it compares very differently to the extremely versatile Inspire Competence, which would have to be included in the equation.
Obviously, my personal choice would be to throw away Wordstrike so Weird Words could be a bit better, which would skip the problem of Wordstrike also needing at least some errata as is.
I liked the idea of weird words as a weapon, but it's something that would require a significant rewrite. If the sound striker were in playtest it would be one thing, but for errata it's just too much.
Though I piled a bunch of stuff on top to allay theoretical balance concerns that might pop up, at its core the idea of the change is switching the attack to a normal iterative instead of 1/level up to 10. I would honestly argue the current PDT change is a larger change, substantially increasing Performance round usage and adding damage scaling. As rays both versions would stay weapon-like spells, and both ideas drop the save, so they are equal in those regards. I'd also consider individual vs group targeting a wash in terms of changes, as the PDT post made it seem either is a reasonable reading at this point.
But, I really have no rebuttal if the ability absolutely must be an AoE rather than a weird (and weaker) archery alternative. Obviously, if a full attack on a single foe isn't on the table, it isn't on the table.
I think the problem is that the damage is so easy to get. You aren't investing in a ranged weapon or replacing particularly powerful features, but get a huge pile of attacks that are all normal BaB, touch, your choice of form, easily cranked up through damage bonuses + large number of attacks, and so on.
An idea comes to me, though excuse me if something similar has been brought up before and I missed it...
Why not just make the ability essentially a normal attack? Using Weird Words would just be a ranged attack that used normal rules for iteratives. It could even be a normal ranged attack and no save, rather than touch, making it even more comparable to a weapon attack (more likely to miss, but with Deadly Aim as an option).
The idea is to make an "Archer" Bard that uses sound instead of arrows, offering different benefits but being comparable to one another. You would have an advantage with using Charisma for attack and damage, choosing the weapon damage type, and being unable to be disarmed. However, you would also be losing out on the enhancement bonuses, special abilities, and special materials of a weapon and ammo, have limited range, only a x2 critical, be unable to benefit from your own Inspire Courage while doing it, and be more likely to run out of rounds than an archer would be to run out of arrows (even at 1 round/round, rather than 1 round/target).
In terms of damage, the Bard with a bow would still lead (through Manyshot, enhancement bonus, and Inspire Courage). However, using Weird Words as a primary option would be a viable option, allowing me to play The Harpists without being overpowered or their main shtick being too weak. Ideally Weird Words could be moved to 3 so the concept could get off the ground easily (with level 7 being dropped or replaced with a conal), but I think I should just stop talking now before this post becomes too rambly.
The Bane ability is part of what makes the Inquisitor a viable martial combatant. All classes expected to engage in martial combat have ways of boosting attack and damage (whether a Fighter's Weapon Training or a Ranger's Favored Enemy), this is just theirs.
As for Flame of the Faithful, if it is breaking your game, there have to other factors involved. It is a 2nd level Inquisitor spell and Standard action for flaming or flaming burst for 1 round/level. So, +3.5 damage on a normal hit. Really not game changing compared to the other buffs and spells that are available, even at that level.
Thanks to the Spell-like ability FAQ they count for Prestige Class requirements, and thus you no longer really need so many levels of Wizard for Eldritch Knight. Aasimar is easiest, though there are tons of options out there. Skipping 4 Wizard levels gets you going much easier, and by extension making the EK much less painful for most of the early-mid levels.
My Sorcerer version (one of my favorite characters ever) went Sohei 1/Empyreal Sorcerer 1/Eldritch Knight 10, with the later levels left undetermined (as it never got that far). Wisdom adds to AC while polymorphed AND is your casting stat, plus you get all the frontloaded Monk feats and saves. Skills were garbage, but the spells gave enough versatility to still be interesting. Obviously, this is an animal/magical beast/dragon polymorphing build, as if one is going to turn into a Monstrous Humanoid or such you might as well just wear some armor and go Magus or Hellknight Signifier.
Ooh... or Warpriest 1/Empyreal Sorcerer 1/Eldritch Knight/Hellknight Signifier in some combination, maybe even some Mystic Theurge. Idea just came to me, haven't really worked it out, but Warpriests in their current form might be a viable alternative for your first level choice and could lead to an interesting combination.
In other notes... I think you forgot Arcane Strike. You will probably want Arcane Strike if you plan on using any natural attacks, and it is nice for pure manufactured weapon builds too. Quicken Spell should probably be in there somewhere too, as action economy with buffs is one of the toughest parts of the concept. Extend might also be useful, though that will depend heavily on the nature of your adventures, forms, and how your group tracks min/level durations.
Yes, it works. Also yes, it is a no brainer. Flipping it on and off can be annoying if you also plan to use Arcane Strike, but it is a small price to pay for triple rounds.
As for complements, the most obvious is the trait "Fate's Favoured" (+1 to all luck bonuses). Also worth recommending is taking a race that can add performance rounds as a Favored Class bonus, so you can keep Luck running even more.
Finally, you might want to look at using the house rule proposed by the author of making it Cha + 1 round/level rather than 4 + Cha rounds, which brings it much more in line with other options.
With regards to Consume Magic Item, it doesn't seem to scale to item value well. 2nd level scrolls give you a point for 150gp, far better than other options. Wands are the worst, spending 450gp/point for a 2nd level wand and a whopping 1050gp/point for a 4th level (even worse than 8th level scrolls). Potions are not terrible at 300/point, but not as good as scrolls either. Higher level or odd level stuff should, of course, only be used in a pinch. If the values being different is an issue, there are a variety of ways in which things can be scaled so they are closer to even.
Siphon Spell also makes things hugely cheaper. A wand of mage armor then becomes the favored source by a factor of 5x-10x (depending on level and Charisma). If it is intended that the Arcane Reservoir be able to be filled for between 15gp and 30gp/point at level 11, then this doesn't matter. However it is intended to continue being meaningfully limited, this could easily throw the game out of whack.
It certainly makes the capstone wild (135gp for a 9th level spell? Yes please!). However, it is a capstone, and thus not really relevant.
While I originally wanted to post a more in-depth playtest report, that is not going to happen for many reasons. Instead, I wanted to just present a few experiences on classes while playing through the first two chapters of Shattered Star (don't worry, no spoilers). We used 15 point buy, built fairly traditional characters, and tried not to dumpster dive for obscure options.
The "Fighter" character was a Half-Orc Arcane Bloodrager. In building, there were few problems. Not being able to dump Charisma took a couple points from Strength, but overall led to a more "balanced" character (that is, one that doesn't need to burn a feat on Intimidating Prowess to be scary). Overall, the class played very much like a Barbarian: extremely strong when raging, still good while not, with an acceptable amount of skills. The ability to cast spells was a nice little benefit, used mostly for vanish and the odd enlarge person. We did notice the lack of cantrips acutely, as read magic was not available so we had to look up what to do without it. Also, the Arcane bloodline is amazing: the first power and spell were basically irrelevant in our game, but being able to choose between four buffs as the second power was very strong. Blur was standard, but spider climb basically made climbing irrelevant (even at low level, with few rounds) and resist energy came into play. We didn't test the other bloodlines, but looking at them, some of them may fall behind the power and versatility offered.
The "Rogue" was an Investigator. Dex-based Elf. The big impressions were that the first few levels hurt, but it became amazing after. Inspiration ended up being spent on attacks and saves because it kept the character alive, even though the 2 point cost meant they didn't get many uses out of it. Requiring training in a skill was slightly annoying, but didn't come up much (Intelligence Inspiration was not even considered, as all skills were trained by level 3 and there were so many other, strong talents to choose). Also, really hope "Extra Inspiration" is a feat in the ACG. Anyway, the dex-based nature meant damage was fairly awful for level 1-3, making the character of minimal combat relevance. Level 4 was an amazing change, the watershed of turning points. Sneak attack kicked in, 2nd level extracts (woo, bull's strength!) came into play, and the Investigator got a talent (Combat Inspiration) all at the same time. It was a slightly rough start, with low damage and few extracts and tricks to help, but post-4 was amazing. It had been a disappointing experience compared to a Rogue, as the save bonuses didn't come up, the 2 extra skill points would have allowed skills to be trained sooner, and the extra Sneak Attack would have been noticed. But after level 4 the player would not switch back to Rogue for the world. As the hybrid classes are intended to make what would have been a multiclass option into something that works from 1, this might be an issue, as taking until 4 to really come into its own is almost Prestige Class levels.
Our "Cleric" was a Hunter, which was probably a poor choice. After much grappling with the abilities, the player chose a Strength-based melee build (as ranged and casting builds benefited little from the companion or Teamwork feats, restricting those options). It felt VERY similar to having a melee Druid, but with slightly worse skills (no Nature Sense) and special abilities. Animal Aspect was nearly irrelevant, as the duration on the skills were generally too low and the stat boosts felt weak. Owing to the fact they conflicted with Belts by the second adventure, and the small number of uses was not worth ignoring one of the "big six" items, the player chose to put the boosts into Dexterity or Constitution. The effect was minor, both because it was small and because gaining bonuses to defensive stats will never "feel" the same as gaining one to an offensive stat. The overall experience was quite negative, with the player complaining about the Teamwork stuff being weaker than an Inquisitor while not getting the Wild Shape or spells of a Druid.
Finally, our "Wizard" was an Arcanist. There is very little to report here. He felt very much like a better Sage Sorcerer, with a skill list more suited to him. The ability to change spells was nice for getting rid of sleep quickly, but didn't have much relevance to the game overall. It likely would be more important at higher level, when metamagic and specific use spells become more common. The bloodline felt so tacked on I had to look it up afterwards, but that is irrelevant since that bit appears to be getting changed.
I hope this helps. I know I skipped much of the hard data, but trying to type it all out gives me grad school flashbacks, and I doubt it would really be that interesting anyway. I have it, if anyone particularly cares, but otherwise I hope the general experiences will be of some value to the playtest.
tony gent wrote:
I get the feeling that paizo is going down the powercreep path with its extra books
Powercreep has such negative connotations. However, in this and other cases, it isn't necessarily bad for a system.
People have complained for a long time about the mechanical abilities of the Rogue class. For numerous valid non-game reasons, such as not invalidating all old Rogue statblocks, heavy changes to the class are not a possibility. In this case, without power creep, a certain character niche will forever remain weaker than others.
Instead, power creep has reopened that conceptual space. Investigators (as well as Archaeologists, Vivisectionists, and other classes) give players that want a "Rogue" class with a potential closer to that of other classes the option, while not completely invalidating older material. Overall, I think this is better to the health of the system than remaining tied to a very low bar for "Rogue" types, simply because the original rendition was not up to snuff.
Remember, both Archaeologists and Investigators have access to Rogue Talents, and by extension Trapspotter, as well as Trapfinding. They can also be used as a multiclass base, though depending on level of dip/archetypes/stats and all that, I guess the Rogue might be best for a specific goal.
That said, I do understand there are those that want (and a conceptual space for) a non-magic Rogue, and I do hope there is an effort to give it strong archetypes or something in the future.
Although honestly, I think we might be one Swashbuckler archetype away from stealing "non-magic rogueish sort" away from the class too.
This idea speaks to me WAY more than the previous Arcanist did. The basic concept has some actual flavor, and Talents + Magic could be very interesting mechanically.
That said, I wonder about the extent of the "deconstruction." On the one hand, if the benefit is insufficient, tearing about lesser magic items will be rarely done and tearing apart active effects will be a fancy dispel magic. On the other, if it pours into a universal pool that can be drawn on for strong effects, it will become a "bag of rats" problem. Although in this case I guess it would be a "bag of scrolls of mage armor" or "whatever the Bloodrager wants to give up to be ripped down" problem.
The other thing, of course, is that the casting is already very good. Unless it is weakened in some way, the design space of what the Magic Talents can do might be very small.
Okay, okay, enough fiddling. Yay, new direction! Yay, cool concept! Yay in general!
I think there just isn't that much to say. The other Rogue replacements were at least somewhat different. The Vivisectionist made better use of Sneak Attack, but didn't feel like as much of a skill character. The Archaeologist was an amazing skill character, but comparing Luck to Sneak Attack is complicated. With the Investigator, you have someone that is so close to 1:1, but better, that it is hard to deny.
I do agree there might be some niche use left. A couple of archetypes, maybe something that requires a Sneak Attack based Advanced Talent, or someone who very actively does not want magic (though even then, I'd probably be an Investigator that ignored extracts). Otherwise, smart Rogues are Investigators or Vivisectionists, wise Rogues are Inquisitors or Rangers, and charismatic Rogues are Archaeologists or Swashbucklers.
Unless someone appears to vehemently disagree with that idea, I don't see much discussion being possible.
EDIT: I should add one more niche. "I don't want something complicated." While Rogues might not be mechanically better than their competitors, they are certainly more straightforward, both mechanically and conceptually. That space at least deserves to be acknowledged.