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Vencarlo Orinsini

Rendel Bladetwist's page

277 posts. Alias of Tark the Ork.



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Male Orc Expert 5

Alrighty so let's get character creation started.

The first thing we're going to do is select the regiment we want to be a part of. This help determines some things like starting aptitudes, doctrines and what not. Training stuff.

Cadian Shock Troopers: Disciplined fighters from the ever-besieged world of Cadia where over 90% of the population is raised form birth to defend against the forces of chaos. You've held and handled weapons since you were old enough to crawl. Your tactics, uniform, and doctrines set the standard that all Imperial Guard regiments strive to follow.

Catachan Jungle Fighters: Born and raised on a death world with legendarily inhospitable conditions to human life you represent man's ability to adapt and overcome. A true survivor in the most hostile of situations.

Death Corps of Krieg: Conceived in rebellion and born of nuclear fire you come from a background of regimented self sacrifice and penitence for the crimes of your ancestors.

Elysian Droptroopers: From the fringes of space you have served a tour of duty defending your homeworld and hunting pirates, raiders and other terrors that come from the deepest ranges of space. Lightly armed and lightly equipped droptroopers specialize in dropping on enemies from orbit, from dropship, or from other airborne conveyances to surprise and ambush an enemy and conserving resources until the battle is won or at least until reinforcements arrive.

MAccabian Jannissaries: Driven by zeal enflamed by the deepest of faiths the Janissaries see their tour of duties as pilgrimages rather than military service.

Mordian Iron Guard: Supremely disciplined and organized your regiment comes from a planet where the unruly require a tight fist to keep order. You represent that order.

Tallarn Desert Raiders: On the desert world of Tallarn you honed your skills for the ambush and the well placed shot on the deserts and tunnels of your home. Guerilla warfare is your creed whether emerging from the dunes lasguns ablazing or thundering suddenly from the mountains astride a powerful leman russ tank.

Vostroyan First Born: You are the first born of your family and due to an agreement made way way before your time whether you wanted to or not you were sent off to serve the imperium in tithe. Your family considers this a great honor and you may have even met a relative when you were shipped off. Vostroyans take pride in their equipment often getting heirlooms from their family in the guard but nonethless of the utmost quality due to your homeworlds close relationship with the Adeptus Mechanica.

The Swordmasters of Yatagan: Raised on a feudal world where skill with the sword is cherished and respected more than the crude ease of lasgun fusilades your regiment relishes the thrill of close combat even against physically superior foes. Your regiment is known for its grisly trophies and unparalleled skill in close combat.

If you want more info fluff wise on the regiments all but the last one can be looked up via google and be provided an absolute wealth of information.

I made the last group because I figured something from a feudal world (i.e. has tech closer to the 1300's) might be more comfortable to those unfamiliar with the setting.

As far as people from a mix of homeworlds might be concerned we can discuss it but I'd like for most of the squad to come from the same homeworld.


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This is the revised version

Mainly I redid how I uploaded the main page to make it much easier to edit. It also let's me see how many people are actually viewing it.

Both things are fairly important as I wanted to address some issues of formatting (people complained it was hard to read) and make it easier to add things in (when new content is released). Also, I like to see when people are reading thigns as it lets me know just how popular/useful they are.


"DO YOU WANT TO EXPLORE EXOTIC NEW WORLDS AND TRAVERSE ACROSS THE WONDROUS STARS!"

"DO YOU WANT TO INTRODUCE THE ENEMIES OF THE IMPERIUM TO THE FIST OF THE EMPEROR!"

"THEN UNCLE CAIN WANTS YOU!"

"JOIN THE GUARD!"

"FIGHT FOR YOUR EMPEROR!""

*Inquire at your local recruiting office*

So I got my hands on Only War. Perhaps the only dark heresy spin off I'd want to run (I'd much rather play Rogue Trader). I'm reading through it and getting familiar with the rules and working on understanding the game itself.

If this was going to be a game where I'd need to have a firm grasp of the rules on the fly I'd take my time on this. But, the advantage of PbP is people can learn at relatively the same pace as long as the foundations of the game (the actual players and world) are there.

So, I know most people here play Pathfinder or some version thereof so I don't exactly expect many people to understand anymore than I do and that's okay.

I have one person, a possible second, and I need two more to get started.

So with that in mind I'm only keeping recruitment up until Wednesday. Why? Well I don't expect complete characters as most of the actual work has to be done collaboratively (particularly regiment selection).

Scenario wise the game will be relatively short and will take place entirely on a paradise world.

So this recruitment will only ask a few questions to get an idea on what character you are thinking about. Don't go too deeply into it as the character can greatly change during the actual creation process.

I'm willing to work with someone getting through the creation process for their character if I feel it's worth the time.

In the mean time.

What is your characters first experience with death?

How important is family to your character?

Describe your characters childhood.


DICLAIMER: I'm not really interested in a purely min/max optimization debate. In my mind the debate is done in regards to these two classes for now.

With that out of the way I'm left wondering if there is really any point to these classes.

What I mean is is there a concept that can't be better covered through another class?

Fighters are particularly bad here. Most of their archetypes come down to "pick X weapon and specialize in it". That seems fun if you just want to build some stupidly simplistic characters with few tricks in combat and fewer still out of it. But that seems to lack more than a little bit of mechanical depth to form the foundation of a roleplaying one.

Rogues are a touch better. But the rogue suffers from the problem that pretty much any character concept you can think of for a rogue can be done better from the mechanical viewpoint of other classes. Just think of a singular concept character that you can think of and chances are you'll find an archetype from a core, base, or hybrid class that fits your needs and offers more. Often, when this is put up as a suggestion I see people reject ideas not because they feel it doesn't fit the concept but because the other class comes with extra mechanics they feel they don't want to deal with. A shame too, as I think having mechanics you don't use can actually provide a bit of depth in and of themselves.

For example consider one of the pathfinder tales books that has an inquisitor of Pharasma who staunchly refuses to use any divine magic due in part to his Rahadoumi pride and part our of spite for his coercion into a nigh eternal servitude. That makes you consider concepts like the ranger who refuses to get another animal companion after his last one died or the druid who refuses to summon animals due to the pain that it can inflict on the animal in general.

It doesn't help that the main feature of rogues is split between so many classes, many of them capable of doing the job better by dint of having support of other abilities. After all simply having Detect magic available as a spell is a step up in many ways.

So, what that leaves us with is simply having a rogue or a fighter be a class that can cover concepts both mechanically and flavor wise that other such classes can't. Sadly it seems whatever gap, if one even exists now after ACG, is essentially gone.

So that brings us to the question. Is there a character concept right now for either class not better covered in another?


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And here we go.

At the time of this post I don't feel it's entirely complete. I think a few things need to be refined adn that will require more time I think. Also I think it could look better. We'll see. In any case if there are any problems with it you see let me know.


So I'm nearing the end of the alchemist guide just editing, art, and putting it together.

After that I'll do what will undoubtedly be an interesting guide on the Shaman, a class I think is going to be very very powerful once it's figured completely out.

After that though I don't know. I want to do one more guide after updating the others. I like the idea of doing skald which is another class I think needs figuring out. I like brawler too but I think people are slowly chewing that one into an interesting shape. Hunter is one I've felt severely underrated and we know how I like to crush things with the weight of the twelve ton "underdog".

So I put together a poll here.

I'll keep this up until October 11th.

In the meantime we can discuss the options and how each class interacts with itself.


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Defensive type characters have long been considered suboptimal. There's a good reason for this. Often these builds don't deal the necessary damage to be viable and often end up barely mobile bricks who find out there hyper focused defensive strategy isn't enough to keep them alive.

Or, in the case of Crane Wing builds you get nerfed. Sorry. :/

But, I put some thought into this. Is there still a good tactical advantage to playing a good high defensive character?

Well let's see.

1. Survivability - Survivable characters can do more. They can take more hits, eat more spells and good survivable characters can get through more fights. Endurance isn't often a problems as much as simple fight ending capacity.

2. Efficiency - It's weird but as a character that takes little damage you should expend very few resources. The trick, I think, is that people go overboard on one form of defense and fail to consider layering defenses atop one another so the investment is low enough for good offense to be added in.

3. Enemy Resource/Action Sink - An interesting thing about defenses is that when an enemy fails to penetrate them they produce an action advantage in that they completely negate the action in question. So, if you pass a save on a targeted spell, fail to take damage from an attack, or otherwise cause an opponents action to do nothing.

So there is a tactical incentive to go heavy on the defense. I just think actual thought needs to be put into it rather than relying on gimmicks.

With that being said let's get to work.

What good defensive character needs.

~Solid Saves. Two of the three saves need to be high enough to make most saves reasonably. The third can be weaker but still fair enough. Good saves make good survivability and in many cases can negate spells used on you. So the bestiary chart does give a fair number to base it off of so let's get a run down:

CR Minimum Saves
1 +6
2 +7
3 +8
4 +9
5 +9
6 +10
7 +11
8 +12
9 +13
10 +13
11 +14
12 +15
13 +16
14 +16
15 +17
16 +18
17 +19
18 +19
19 +21
20 +22

~ High AC. Ac represents the most common and useful line of defense against physical attacks. It's actually fairly easy to get really high. So not too much effort should be put into getting it high, but we do want to have at least around 50% miss chance on attacks against AC. We shouldn't need much more as we should have other means of covering defense.

CR Minimum AC
1 12
2 14
3 16
4 18
5 20
6 22
7 23
8 25
9 27
10 28
11 29
12 31
13 32
14 33
15 34
16 36
17 37
18 38
19 39
20 40

~Layered Defenses: Having passive defenses are great but we need more. If an enemy can bust our AC, he needs to deal with miss chances, if saves are not a problem for them they need to deal with immunities, if ranged enemies have true seeing to bust through the invisibility they need to get through Deflect Arrows. If we get hit we should be able to knock the damage off with DR or swift healing. That kind of stuff.

~Damage: Look, even if we become literally invulnerable it doesn't mean spit if we can't end the fight. It's unlikely we'll do support and while control is a possibility it might be best left to casters. I also don't expect Falchion Fred levels of consistent, constant damage. But, given the tools available there's no reason we can't get close. Arcane strike is easy to get, power attack works just fine on a one handed weapon, slashing grace allows us to make dex based builds more easily.

The Work

So let's get to it shall we. Based on the minimums above let's try to make defensive characters that can meet these standards.

~20pt buy.
~Paizo stuff.
~lvl is up to you.

~Be practical: The build should avoid too much silliness. i.e. I shouldn't hurt myself picking up all the books this one character takes. It shouldn't require GM approval (like a custom race out of the ARG). And shouldn't make people scratch their heads trying to visualize it.

~Multiclassing is okay but don't get crazy and again be practical. It shouldn't be a stretch for one class to progress into another. A barbarian segueing into fighter is reasonable. A wizard segueing neatly into brawler isn't a particularly natural occurrence.

~Don't rely on a magic item. If I can sunder one piece of equipment and ruin everything than the build was flimsy from the start. A defensive kind of character shouldn't come apart at the seams in terms of defense or damage if you do something as silly as lose your agile weapon.

~Be consistent. It's great that you can get a 25 AC and 50% miss chance at level 2. But if you can't maintain that through out the adventuring day it's all but useless. Active defenses either need to be plentiful or need only be used in situations where the extra defense is needed.

~Layer defenses. Just having high AC isn't enough as I discussed above. So have multiple ways to defend yourself. Miss chances, parries, etc. etc.

~Be useful. I think it shouldn't need to be said but pure defense is not the goal. Practical defense is what we need. A solid front from where we can safely do things like deal damage.

I'll start posting builds of what I've come up with later. Feel free to comment, post, or throw out your own ideas in the meantime.


So I'm considering making a magus/brawler gestalt for a game.

And I'm wondering whether or not it's worth it to go for eldritch scion with the arcane blood line?

I'm kind of in love with the idea of using martial versatility along with the brawlers array of abilities alongside a magus's own versatility to smack people around.

My only question is whether or not eldritch scion is worth it or should I go for a different variety of magus?


So after roughly 3 years of sticking around our inquisitor is finally bowing out. :(

So now we seek a 4th to replace him going further into the 3rd book.

So, ewal quick

Level 5, 20pt. buy
2 traits, one must be campaign
ACG is okay since I'm getting mine thursday.

In the tradition of the game answer the following questions with your submission.

1. Why are you in Westcrown?

2. Given a chance would you hurl down the ruling houses and take their place? Or create a new form of government?

3. What will you be able to contribute to the group?

4. How do you expect the character to develop roleplay wise? Mechanically?

5. I'm a Hellknight about to lay some police brutality down on you. What do you say to stop me from breaking off my spiked greaved boot in your butt?

Group consists of Witch, Cleric, and Fighter. Taking one more. A second at the groups discretion.


The sensei's advice ability states that it is identical to bardic performance. Would this allow it to count as bardic performance for the purpose of qualifying for feats and abilities?


I seem to remember reading somewhere how if an ability an archetype gained was essentially identical to another ability (sensei's advice, various fighter archetypes etc.) then they counted as that ability for the purposes of feats and other affects.

Can someone confirm? Or am I tired and crazy?


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So, I now it's been a while since I've posted one of these.

There are a number of reasons for this. Outside of car crashes and related injuries I've also been spending time working on outlines and popping out more articles for the actual Tactics 101 book I'm writing.

Yes, yes that is a thing I'm going to do.

I'll have more details later on but needless to say I wouldn't make anyone pay for anything I didn't think was worth it. So beyond simply expecting more of what's already there (which is being polished and revised anyway) you can expect to see more stuff for GM's and some alternate rules that make things a bit "grittier" in terms of combat (think injury systems, fatigue and what not).

If it does well we'll go from there. I have ideas but nothing solid yet. I'm not looking to suddenly become a major 3pp publisher. And honestly if I thought I could push this through Rite, FGG, or a similar name I certainly would.

But, on to a more relevant point I've decided to pack up and consolidate the mass majority of things into this blog.

So, while I won't do any major Tactics 101 articles until this book is done (As any work on those would have to go into the book) I'll certainly do some minor bits and pieces here that are easy on the brain meats.

For example the introductory post includes some misconceptions that I've seen floating around regarding combat either in the form of awful advice or the more insidious and less easy to address form called habit.

I absolutely encourage discussion on these points since a lot of it I would not necessarily call conventional wisdom so much as misinterpreted wisdom not given the proper lens of nuance I often don't find when talking about certain subjects.

In any case, look forward to it and I'll give fuller details about the book in the Compatible products forum at a later date.


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Right, so on a whim while bored at work I was thinking about the resurrection about a certain thread I created and decided to just, well, screw it, rewrite the rogue for fun.

I'm having a couple of people I know look over it who know what they're doing but I'm going ahead and putting it out now while I'm still in the mood to work on it.

So here it is.

Developer Notes:

Opportunistic Strike: This is more or less stolen from cheapy's archetype he did for a teamwork book. It adds a bit of an attack bonus, triggers more readily while requirign a bit of thought to actually trigger, isn't turned off by quite as easily and does extra damage with a crit. So the average damage is less, but the overall benefit is better and I think considerably more interesting.

Debilitating blow: Again lifted this off the anti-paladin and scrubbed it to fit my needs. It's a fun ability that I'm torn what ability score it needs to base its DC off of) I think of it as either a nice complement to my opportunistic strike, or an alternate strategy that lets me support my buddies by savagely debuffing enemies. This ability will likely see revision as reading over it I see a couple of exploits I want to address.

Scoundrel's Grace: I already know I'm going to hear crying from this. Hear me out. By the time this comes online most everyone is going to be flat out immune to things. Those who aren't can become flat out immune to things. This does not provide immunity. It does provide survivability at a level where instant death effects are a very real concern.

Talents: HAven't sat down to work on these yet but the gist of it is that I dislike the design of the old ones. They mostly exist to add small tricks to the rogue or to moderately boost one feature or another. However. My thinking is that, more like that alchemist or the barbarian, these should be used to help define the character, to specialize them. Hence many of these talents are going to be in trees and generally stronger.

So for now I guess call this an unofficial playtest for an unofficial rewrite a published freelancer did for funsies.

I would love for this guy to become a staple at a number of tables like my MAchinesmith. A guy can dream.

Comments are enabled on the page. Feel free to put your thoughts here. Bear in mind I fight like a mad dog for my babies.


Right so I've kind of run up against a block in a project I'm working on regarding risk and reward.

What I'm trying to do is describe a method to figure the chance of success on a given roll.

One method I normally use (that is less likely to require a calculator for expediency) is to subtract the bonus from the target number and multiply the result by 5. The number given represents a percentage chance to fail the roll. Then subtract this number from 100 to get the chance to succeed.

Though I'm almost positive thre's an equation or process that is much faster and more efficient.


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I've long supposed that the cavalier is somewhat underrated.

I rather like them honestly and I'm sad I dont see more of them around. And what I do see is them mostly being written off as a one trick pony(heh!).

So, in the spirit of a previous thread I did let's see what we can do to show people what he can do.

Build stuff.

Stick to 20pt. buy. Level doesn't really matter though 11th level and below is likely preferred for the pfs crowd.

Challenges

Mounted Emphasis The class does tend to emphasize mounted combat. This isn't really bad it just requires some thought in regard to tactics. We've already seen plenty of halfling dog and boar riders. I think medium sized riders can work pretty well in cramped environments if they're willing to emphasize other aspects of their character and not try to charge so much.

Limited Mount Choises You practically have to either burn two feats, hope your gm allows leadership, or take an archetype (which turns certain other decent archetypes off).

Poor Mountless Options Well, not exactly poor. But nothing too great. The huntmaster has the potential to be awesome but it makes the same mistake the broodmaster made by splitting everything between multiple things, which just makes everything bad. Really the best reason to take it is for the bird that blinds. The musketeer would be good but, again, it makes the same mistake every gun archetype ever makes.

Teamwork feats are limited They're good if you have the right group. Devastating in a certain kind of group. But tactician is a very limited sort of ability. If it worked like Bard Song it would be infinitely better. Instead you have to blow an action for ability that doesn't last very long and often doesn't get much use.

I think ACG will change this immensely since teamwork feats are making a return with the Hunter class and probably making much better ones since developers and freelancers have had tons of time to see how the current ones work. That being said I love certain ones like Outflank, Paired Opportunist, and Lookout. They're all amazing. The challenge isn't so much mechanics as culture. People honestly just think more individualistically in terms of their build. Not long ago I was playing a swashbuckler when I noticed literally everyone picked up combat reflexes and was begging people to take Outflank with me (I had a 15-20 critrating! I crit at least once every full attack! Come on!). And only one guy seemed to begrudgingly like take to the idea of just getting tons of free attacks and extra bonuses on flanks. Anyway, rant off.

Challenge is one of the weaker combat boosts It gets better over time. But rage and smite it ain't. And there's no means yet to get extra challenges. So builds can't really rely on it too much.

So let's get started Ima post some builds I've cooked up in a bit. Unlike the rogue thread which has no good place to parse and store the info I've got a place that can just add a builds portion to for the better things.


Do these two abilities stack in the sense that I could in fact deal triple damage with a scimitar or battle axe on a charge?


So, hydrocodone is a fun drug. It had me thinking about critical hit builds and how they really don't get much attention lately.

So I decided to take a look and update the idea.

What I found was that the idea is still very strong and with the playtest swashbuckler at least very powerful.

So Kukri Kevin (YEs I know his gear isn't done. I made a few assumptions such as headband and belt.)

Kukri kevin is a pretty solid guy throughout all his career and can switch modes from TWF to precise striking depending on whether or not he can full attack.

In fact PRecise Strike makes TWF viable since it gives us a great option to use when we can't full attack. We can use our buckler's AC and still deal a solid hit with our kukri. When we full attack we can add the bucklers enhancement bonus to our saves instead for a different boost.

Now, in terms of critical hitting we have several rider effects over the course of kevins career.

At levels 1-3 he's a pretty cut and dry two weapon fighter.

At 3-5 he has some points over other two weapon fighters in that he can maintain a fairly decent damage output with precise strike.

5-10 his damage output while full attacking gets better and he should be getting items to ensure he gets lots of ripostes off. You'll not that power attack is not in this build purely so I can maximize the opportunities to riposte. Crits happen a lot and so I can use my panache much more freely on precise strikes and ripostes.

11-18 Here's where the build starts to become an actual crit build. Crit focus and crit versatility lets us grab a level appropriate rider affect. I grabbed staggering critical since it kills full attacks but you can replace it with others.

19-20 And here's the pinnacle. Full attacks don't have to kill with damage, but they can, at this point literally every crit is a save or die.

This functions as a solid base. You can customize it a bit wiht things like butterfly's sting (good in the early levels) or powerattack if you think you really really need it (I think it doesn't really).

So that's one kind of critical build. LEt me see what else I can come up with while you pick over this one.


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Allow me to introduce you to Al.

Al is a multiclassed barbarian druid I built for fun to see what shenanigans I can pull with overrun. I left most of Al's gear unfinished since I only cared about how much run I can over.

I like overrun. It's kind of an unsung hero and one of those things often missed from my repertoire of cinematic things I like to do in games. BEcause nothing makes the dread necromancers face paler than seeing the party warrior literally stomp through a horde of minions to full stop with his spiked boots of the mastodon on his scrotum.

First the important bits.

The Moving parts.

Overbearing Onslaught: This allows us to overrun multiple creatures while raging each additional creature after the first reduces the CMB by 2. But, given the absolutely ridiculous CMB we will have this is a non-issue.

Spiked Destroyer: Gives us a free armor spike attack on the first overrun target. Extra attacks are good.

Wild Shape: Get into Allosaurus form so I can pounce and get some nifty natural attacks to go along with my body slams. Ultimately allows me to get Huge and when combined with my armor lets me act like I'm bigger. SAurian shaman and Shaping focus lets me wild shape using my full character level.

Imp OVerrun/Greater Overrun: Lets me overrun things and get AoO's off.

Titanic dragon hide armor: This armor is put on after I wild shape by servants/slaves of Al.

My stealth check is -13: You hear the truck coming.

How the truck runs things over.

One target between me and pounce target.: Charge through lets me push over the other guy and deal an AoO + An Armor Spike Attack + Strength Damage.

Multiple things between me and my best friend.: OVerrun the lot of the including my target. I only wish I could armor spike them all. I do deal strength damage at least, plus I can AoO most of them, though I'll save the last one for my actual target ater I've knocked him prone.

Numbers.

So, with Titanic dragon hide and huge size I can overrun like a gargantuan creature or use its ability to overrun like a collossal one.

My CMB after wild shape and rage looks like

12 BAB + 12 Strength + 1 trait +4 Feats +2 Enhancement +2 Boots +2 Reckless Abandon +2 Charge = 37 CMB

So without any spells or power attack so far the truck can run over just about everything of his CR. Strength Surge can push this to 43. True Strike can push this further to 63. If I add the armor in on this as well I can push to 79. At that range the Truck can run over the Tarrasque.

His armor spikes will deal damage as a huge critter for about 2d6+18.

Not a lot in terms of damage but I can still power attack if I choose and most targets will take multiple spike attacks and extra damage from overbearing advance and the point isn't to deal damage. Damage is what happens to the guy on the other end who will typically eat full attacks in the form of natural attacks + spike attacks.

So, right now we have a heavily armored allosaurus that starts out being treated as gargantuan and can potentially be treated as collossal. I've spent all but about 40,000gp (no cloak or rings bought yet) but for the moment I'm wondering if we can't make the truck more efficient. Are there better options then spiked destroyer and armor spikes to punish targets getting overrun?

Can we get similar results with a synthesist? Some alchemist levels? Can we get an oracle level in here so we can rage cycle? What of blood ragers?

And what other things can we do with overrun? Let's see some ideas. I'm going to bed.


Male Orc Expert 5

The following happens to each of you individually. Please post your reactions and everything in spoilers.

Men rarely get to choose their place and time of death. Most wake up and go through their entire day unknowing of the lady of graves stalking their back sides. Some may choose to accept death deluding themselves into believe they have chosen that place.

But then there are notices, like the one on the notice board in the town square.

Required: Capable warriors for defense of village upon outskirts of the Empire from marauding bandits expected at end of this years harvest. Pay will be little. Success will be slim. True reward will be in the saving of innocents and the elimination of wickedness.

~Masamune Kokoyomo

The note itself would appear to be written by a trickster, a fool, or a drunk. But the name strikes your curiosity. In his hay day Masamune was a well renowned samurai with few equals in the sword and fewer still that could match his mercy.

Though years of unjust rule wore down heavily upon the faithful warrior of Shizuru he was a beacon of light in an age of opression. In this age of the new empress he stands as a beacon to some and a reminder of bad times to others. That such a figure would leave a note like this is curious.

Following the notes leads to a small hut on the outside wall of the town you are passing through. The door is open and sitting crosslegged in the middle of the room is a wizened old man in weathered and beaten O-Yoroi armor. His sheathed katana is set neatly next to him and before him is a full tea set with a steaming pot set invitingly as if for you.

When he sees you on the street turning towards him he smiles serenely and beckons you within.

Sense Motive 15:
It's an ambush.

PErception 15:
You see a shadow just inside the doorway holding a naked sword.


This is going to be a relatively short campaign in the manner of an old samurai/western flick. 7 warriors are hired to defend a small village from countless bandits and their diabolical leader. It will take cleverness, skill, and courage to survive.

The campaign takes place in an undisclosed location in Tian.

Sources: Paizo stuff.

Ability: 20pt. buy.

Level: Level is done differently this time around. Roll 1d6 and add 1. That is your starting level. You are warriors converging on a call to arms from a fellow adventurer, there's no real basis for you having adventured together, or even at all. Roll the die here before making your character.

Wealth and HP: Max at first and average per level. Wealth is whatever is appropriate for your level based on WBL guidelines.

Classes: NO gunslingers. Samurai's and ninjas are perfectly acceptable.

Alignments: Evil is okay but understand your purpose is to protect the village. No whining if the other 6 guys turn around and execute you for being a douche. An evil person has any number of reasons to stand up to the bandits from personal code to a desire for carnage.

Other stuff:

The game: I don't expect the game to take a very long time. Individual characters will be hired to protect the village and the campaign ends when the players are defeated or the bandits destroyed. The main challenge of the characters is trying to organize a defense with few resources against a well trained and bloodthirsty threat where even the characters themselves are not necessarily evenly skilled or experienced and have to take that into account when planning their strategy. Their are opportunities and ways to build a stronger defense (training villagers, appealing to outsiders for aid, etc.)

The bandits are smart and have done what they do for a very long time. They should be taken seriously.

Ultimately the goal is to tell a great story of overcoming the odds.

I'll be looking for 5 players (the other two are npc's a paladin and his cohort repsectively). REcruitment will close this time next week. Please submit a full sheet with a backstory.


A few months back I started writing notes flirting wiht the possibility of a pvp league for pathfinder in the way there is essentially a pve league in pathfinder society or other such "living" games.

I've played around in various pvp leagues that involved individuals (usually gestalt 1v1 heavy houserule fests) but nothing quite like I was looking for.

It's an intriguing idea to me as a person who likes to explore the games tactical and strategic depth to see how two opposing teams of adventurers would handle a variety of scenarios.

Obviously this required a bit of finangling with the rules to make thigns work out to a satisfactory.

For example I only allowed one animal companion to be with the group or one cohort(chosen from a list of premade npcs), summoned/created creature etc. Familiars were allowed but improved familiars fell under the animal companion rule.

Or that one team could not have more than one class in the group (which were groups of 4 with three divisions of 4th, 8th, and 12th level characters) even in the case of multiclassing (i.e. if one person dips, no one can take that class) to help prevent homogenization.

Little things like that to help things run smoothly.

Then of course there were the scenarios I wrote such as "dungeon race", "war chest", and various other scenarios that were more about teamwork and accomplishing adventurous tasks in a competitive environment than straight forward combat.

I've seen bits and pieces of the conflict pvp system and while bits and pieces of it look good I'm not sure it would have worked in an organized environment where less can be more.

Ultimately I kind of like the idea and might have went through with it were it not one of those things that would take a great deal of time and effort to get off the ground. It seems like a good way to put to rest a lot of arguments by treating it as a team game rather than a lot of 1v1 theorycrafting circular debates.

But, really, I was just more interested to see what players would come up with.


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Combat maneuvers get a bad rap. There seems to be an underlying belief in the community that combat maneuvers are only worth using if you invest heavily into them. Even in this case the maneuver you invest in will fail more often than not against massive CR creatures with ludicrous CMD scores.

However what’s not often pointed out is that there are plenty of creatures, even with high cr and particularly humanoid opponents, who have CMD’s in the laughable range. By CR 13 most monsters will easily hit the CMD 40+ range making it difficult for all but the most dedicated maneuver builds to ever land a combat maneuver in a meaningful way. But is that all there is to it?

I don’t think so.

Understanding the Numbers
First let’s look at the offensive number used to determine the success of combat maneuvers, the CMB.

The CMB adds your base attack bonus + STR modifier + any relevant bonuses to attack rolls from feats, spells and effects. In short this includes any general buff that boosts attack rolls.

If the combat maneuver uses a weapon (most often Sunder, Disarm and Trip) you apply those bonuses to the attack as well.

The only penalty for making a combat maneuver without the feat is an AoO. Meaning any opponent unable to make AoO’s can be combat maneuvered by anyone with impunity. Remember this, it’s important for later.
Combat Maneuver Defense is your Base Attack bonus + STR + DEX +10. The addition of a free +10 and the dex bonus means that this number can get quite high out of the gate. It gains bonuses from effects that boost strength or dex along with bonuses to AC from dodge, luck, circumstance, deflection, morale sacred and profane bonuses. However any penalty to AC will affect this number.

So, what this says exactly is that the static number you see on stat blocks is not static at all but quite dynamic. Moreover there are plenty of situations where you can make use of combat maneuvers without suffering any penalties meaning that practically any combat maneuver can be performed regardless of your intelligence or strength score.
Overall it’s much easier to boost CMB than CMD and very easy to reduce CMD. An opponent who loses initiative has a lowered CMD in the first round due to a lack of dex. Include that they cannot make AoO’s and you have fresh meat to be bull rushed, repositioned, disarmed, or tripped with impunity. A humanoid boss monster that loses initiative to a group of savvy full Bab characters will get tripped, disarmed, and his armor sundered before he can make the first attack. This can be easily done without any feats.

Just as an example let’s say the group is fighting a Crucidaemon. At 42 CMD it would seem that any attempt for our, let’s say level 12, group to shove her around would end badly. Or would it?
A +9 initiative isn’t bad. But by now, a forge model group can easily beat that. Our level 12, let’s say Fighter(Cad) really likes the dirty trick maneuver and is wielding a Guisarme he took the dirty trick line up to Quick Dirty trick allowing him to do it as an attack action. His group’s wizard and bard go first. The bard electing to cast Mass Heroism and activating inspire courage while his wizard opts to give the cad a Quickened Enlarge person and casually chucks a waves of fatigue spell at the crucidaemon (we’ll say he rolls the SR which by now he can get a check of around +18 anyway).

So, some quick number crunching here gives the CAD a base CMB after buffs a base CMB check of +24. The Crucidaemon is sitting at a much less mighty 35. This allows the Cad to perform any maneuver he likes on the Crucidaemon on a roll of 11. This is with normal buffs for the level and a debuff which only makes a 1 point difference.

So we have three attacks for the fighter to perform. Obviously we want to use our most invested in maneuver first so we’ll use Dirty trick to start off. With the investment of feats with our class we hit a +31 on our CMD allowing us to blind the crucidaemon for several rounds on our first attack. Our Crucidaemon is now blind taking an additional -2 penalty to armor class knocking her CMD down to 33.

Our next attack is at a -5 penalty knocking our base CMB down to +19 versus 33. With this second attack our CAD gets cheeky and decides to trip her with his guisarme. Because he’s a fighter who actually invests in such things like weapon focus his weapon focus and greater weapon focus feats apply along with his weapon bonus (+2 for now) to get a CMB to trip of 23. A 50/50 shot.

In this case if he hits the trip attempt she’ll be knocked prone granting him a +4 bonus to attack rolls on her. If not it’s unlikely she’ll be able to trip back. For arguments sake let’s say she’s now, prone, blinded, fatigued, and flatfooted. Her CMD drops further down to 29 for this round. With an additional -5 on our last attack making our CMB a +14.

He now opts to attack her now 17 AC with his +17 attack roll. Smashing her in the back and taking an immediate action to Dirty trick her once more through a class ability. At this point it makes no real difference whether or not it affects her since she’s already significantly debuffed by the time the Cad does it.

So by the time the Crucidaemon gets around to acting, she’ll be prone, blinded, fatigued, and possibly entangled. Three of these conditions would cost a standard action to remove to allow her to fight effectively (if at all) and that would just allow the group to pound her with impunity.

Now he could have just straight up full attacked her. And indeed this would have been a fine thing to do. But, keep in mind that at 212hp and 20/good and silver DR the crucidaemon would have most likely survived at full potential to harm the group rather badly.

Now, there are opponents with much higher numbers for CMD but we can get on that later.

Understanding what the maneuvers are
Maneuvers ultimately have three purposes in a group’s arsenal.

~Debuffer
~Position changer
~AoO Generator

The advantage to using maneuvers as a debuffer is that they can bypass saves and high magical defenses. This is handy particularly against creatures with high armor due to armor or natural armor but relatively low dex. You can utilize debuffs as a method to lower AC’s or to compromise the opponents offense enough so that the high defenses do nothing but stall the inevitable.

As an AoO generator maneuvers honestly can’t be beat. Transforming a standard action or attack action into multiple attack actions is a brilliant way to build action advantage. It costs no group resources to pull off and can let you capitalize on group buffs and positioning.
Speaking of positioning I don’t think it’s any accident that the maneuvers most able to deal with positioning are standard actions rather than attack actions. Positioning maneuvers such as drag, bullrush, and reposition have a variety of uses from setting up flanked full attacks to denying an opponent a chance to hassle a groups mages, to shoving or pulling opponents into disadvantageous terrain.

Ultimately what combat maneuvers provide is a method for physical characters to affect the battlefield in a way that helps control the fight. They cost no real resources to use and work well to devastate an opponent already in a compromised position.

However they can be tricky to use well. Like any ability in the game if you want to do it well you have to invest into it. Also like any ability you have to avoid getting yourself into a pit of character creation where you invest a great deal for no gain. This is nothing new but its’ worth repeating in the context.

Discussing individual maneuvers

Bull Rush
Uses: Pushing people around has a myriad of uses from braking flanks to shoving people into bad terrain to possibly damaging people if you smash them against a wall. Bull Rush is great in indoor environments where hazards can be many and mobility limited. It can be used to open up a pathway or to close a line of attack from enemies. If you use a reach weapon and can get a high enough CMB you can shove an opponent hard enough without following to put them just outside your reach and have them provoke an AoO from the shove (for leaving your space) and have them re-enter it to provoke another AoO. This is a good maneuver to use to bully and punish low cmd critters attempting to slow down your offense. Particularly weak creatures can get shoved out of the way while dying to AoO’s.

Issues: Size limitations and no benefit gained from bonuses based on weapon. Also fairly situational as there are plenty of times where a full attack would more than suffice to simply stop that outlet of actions from the enemy. Failure on the maneuver means adjacency to the enemy and being open to a full attack.

Investment Value: Fair. Further investment will get you a higher bonus on the maneuver (invaluable) and will let you generate AoO’s with it (also invaluable) however the maneuver itself is quite situational and depends much on how varied and interesting your gm likes to make his battle fields. However some classes and archetypes grant you free bulrushes based on certain conditions therefore it can be worth a two feat investment simply for the extra attacks it can provide you and the defensive buffer it can cause with a good hard shove.

Dirty Trick

Uses: The king of debuffing maneuvers this one covers all the stuff from kicks to the groin, gouges to the eye, throwing dirt or poo into the face of the enemy, whatever. It starts off bleh but becomes much more desirable once you get into Quick Dirty Trick and Greater Dirty trick. This makes it a great opener for martially minded anvils and can allow you to cripple opponent’s offense and defense. With some creativity and a lenient GM you can get away with a lot with this maneuver.

Issues: No weapon bonuses and requires a three feat investment to be good. Some classes and archetypes can work surprisingly well with this with the bonuses they get to it.

Investment Value: Great. This is one of the few maneuvers that become amazing after investment. Being able to land the debuffs you do regardless of a creatures saves makes you a god send to a groups damage dealers since you can often drastically drop an opponent’s AC and action economy. Witches and Hex crafters are great but a dirty trick dedicated Cad with Quick Dirty Trick is a terror to the enemy. However outside of classes that can’t get bonuses to maneuvers like this it may not be worth more than getting the greater version if that.

Disarm

Uses: Limited uses unfortunately. It can remove anything deemed a weapon and chuck it on the ground, or if you have a free hand snatch it for yourself. This can be deemed more desirable than sundering a weapon as you don’t have to pay to get it fixed. However given that many monsters have natural attacks or secondary weapons to fall back on this leaves you in a problematic position of having wasted attack actions to little or no effect. It does benefit from weapon bonuses making it a good option to go to if you’re in a situation where it works.
Issues: I’ve already covered some of the issues above but to add to this as an AoO generator or debuff it’s generally lack luster against all but a scant few opponents (i.e. those who either don’t have natural attacks or secondary weapons).

Investment Value: Poor. There are lots and lots of feats to make it more efficient but none that really make it better. Perhaps if it is used incidentally (such as with power attack or as part of another maneuver) it can work well.

Drag

Uses: Fewer uses than bullrush but also less situational. Offensively you can use it to pull casters and other low comb enemies into your group’s hammers or open up a line of fire or movement for your hammers to pass through and penetrate an enemy’s defenses. Defensively you can use this maneuver to break a flank or pull enemies out of good lines of fire or attack. It receives bonuses from weapons with the trip descriptor meaning you can get good high bonuses with this maneuver.
Issues: It moves in a straight line and doesn’t push people into hazards. It’s also limited by your available movement. These are minor quibbles given the high bonuses you can get and a few feet are really all you need.

Investment Value. Excellent. It goes off Power Attack and its high end
investments synergize very well with other maneuvers particularly trip. Riptide Attack in particular seems like a fun feat to build around. I’d combine it with Quick Drag to perform a full attack, a trip, and a short move all in one go.

Grapple

Uses: Generally as a debuffer that works well as a single opponent eliminator. Terrifyingly useful against solo monsters it can destroy certain strategies and seriously hamper others. Creatures with reach can use this as an impromptu reposition maneuver since you choose which square the creature ends up in when you grapple. This is particularly useful against creatures with high armor but low CMD since it gives you automatic damage options. Later investment options allow you to do other things with your grapple from suffocation to bleed damage to using the grappled target as cover that can potentially damage them.

Issues: A bad idea to use when surrounded by multiple opponents by dint of the grapple condition nerfing your AC as well as your targets. A good deal of investment is required to make this a good maneuver to use regularly. Heavy investment can also damn you into a one trick pony problem. This can be mitigated by simply spending a feat or two into an alternate tactic.

Investment Value: Good. There are no stat requirements oddly enough making it suitable for a variety of builds. Investment is easy to get into and many classes support grappling. Once you have greater grapple there are no more required feats to make it better allowing you some space to invest in other tactics or otherwise make grappling more versatile. Body Shield is a favorite of mine since it partially mitigates a disadvantage of the maneuver.

Overrun

Uses: Partly a debuff and partly a positioning maneuver overrun allows you to literally stomp through opponents. Since it’s not technically a trip maneuver this can get around creatures bonuses to trip maneuvers in exchange for worse action economy. A minor investment at least is required since giving creatures the option to attack or move out of the way is inadvisable. There’s not much else to this maneuver other than its utility as a means to punch through frontlines to get to a softer back area perhaps to charge or full attack a caster. It can prove to be a solid aoo generator as well since with Greater Overrun the act of knocking them prone can generate an AoO as well as the AoO caused by standing up.

Issues: It gains no bonuses from weapons and has a size limitation. Beyond this the only real con is that failure stops you in front of the target you attempted to overrun.

Investment: Good. There’s not much you can add to this really. Improved Overrun and Charge through will greatly add on to the versatility of a charging character so consider that a potential investment option if you have a feat or two free. It’s not versatile or strong enough to be a mainline tactic but as a means to increase your overall mobility while simultaneously controlling/damaging the enemy it’s hard to argue with.

Reposition:

Uses: More versatile than any of the other positional maneuvers. This can break flanks, move people into flanks, break formations, move people into formations of death. Being unable to move or push the target out of your threatened space can actually prove to be a benefit rather than a problem since you may not want an enemy out of your threatened reach but within a certain area of control. As an AoO generator it’s the best of the positional options since it’s easier to move an opponent through multiple allies threatened areas. That you can serve as a flanking partner during many of these aoo’s is bonus. On top of this you can add weapon bonuses from trip descriptor weapons to this maneuver allowing you to get really high bonuses.

Limits: Size limitations and standard action usage. However these are the only real limits and thus there’s no reason not to get this maneuvers feats if you can.

Investment: Great. Outside of combat expertise there’s almost no feat associated with this maneuver you don’t want. Quick Reposition allows you to combo this with trip attacks or other attack action maneuvers or allows you to set up flanking full attacks with your allies. Tactical reposition lets you move people into traps and hazards and forces them to take a penalty to AC and saves while doing so (making it actually superior to bullrush to this effect)

Steal

Uses: None. There are no good uses for this that a simple sleight of hand check, disarm, or sunder check won’t defeat.

Issues: Must have hand free can’t steal things that are hidden or in a bag and the bad guy notices immediately unless you invest in it. Stealing things like cloaks give a high bonus to the opponents cmd etc. etc.

Investment: Don’t even bother. Just pretend this maneuver doesn’t exist.

Sunder

Uses: A versatile maneuver that’s less debuff and more a simple redirection of your damage away from enemies and more towards objects. In many ways it’s superior to disarm in that it destroys the actual object and can target more than just weapons. This last distinction is important as a surprising number of items happen to be very important but also very fragile. A wand for example only has 5 hit points and 5 hardness no matter what spell or caster level is on it.

So this could feasibly use to interrupt actions normally uninterruptable such as drinking potions (which go off no matter how much damage you do with the AoO unless you drop them) destroying material components and divine focuses and in some cases quickly removing weapons from the hands of dangerous enemies.

Issues: You have to have the appropriate tool for some objects. Therefore someone dedicated to sundering has to be particularly on top of their gear.

On another note groups don’t like this because it destroys potential loot. While I understand the foundation of this idea I wondered about it.

Let’s say an enemy is holding a +1 sword and the group is around level 5. The +1 sword will sell for about 1150 gold more or less and gives us a 4 way split of 287 gold and 5 silver.

So the individual cost to a party member for breaking that sword is 288 gold if we just go ahead and round up. Now it takes half the materials to repair it as it does to make it so it will cost about the same to fix it as the individual share from it. Once all this is taken into account and we re-divide the sword it comes out to roughly 230gp for an individual split.

So it cost each individual character 58 gold for you to destroy that sword and potentially remove a very dangerous weapon from the bad guy’s hands or about 5% of the an individual’s wealth or the group’s overall wealth.

To look at the numbers another way let’s say the enemy gets a few hits off with said sword dealing roughly 50 damage to the group as a whole. It would take us around ten hits off of a cure light wounds wand (give or take based on rolls) with each hit costing about 15gp making the damage cost about 150gp or 38gp individualized and rounded up. So it’s about a 20 gold difference in favor of healing over sundering.

But this is of course assuming we’re smacking an expensive sword. Most of the time the weapons you’ll be breaking are non-masterwork and probably not getting picked up as loot anyway.

Ultimately it requires a bit of judgment to determine whether or not it’s a good idea to sunder said object. Much of the time though it’s better to sunder now and regret the gold later than to die now and regret the resurrection costs later.

Investment: Depending on your class this will require little to no real investment. Improved sunder will be all that’s required if you’re just going to use it every once in a while but greater sunder is necessary if you use it a lot (Since you still want to put that damage into bad guys).

Trip

Uses: Trip is ultimately a debuff maneuver that chucks people on the ground severely reducing their movement speed and granting penalties to their attack while simultaneously granting you a bonus to attack. This is a pretty significant debuff that generates an AoO whenever the opponent eventually gets up. Being an attack action allows the maneuver to be used to interrupt movement and potentially spell casting. It can also knock creatures off walls or sometimes out of the sky. This also benefits from bonuses granted by trip weapons allowing you to get some surprisingly high bonuses.

Issues: Size limitations, huge bonuses to creatures with multiple sets of legs, and many creatures are just outright immune. Ultimately this makes it a shadow to its 3.5 predecessor. It also has the weird caveat that you have to beat the opponents cmd not just match it.

Investment: Fair. Plenty of support for it and plenty of good weapons to use with it. Don’t expect this maneuver to carry you all by itself however consider other maneuvers like Reposition or Drag in order to capitalize on positional bonuses and using AoO’s on further trip attempts. With both of the above mentioned maneuvers you can add the same weapon bonuses from your trip weapon to that maneuver allowing you to get equally high bonuses. Ultimately the best way to look at trip is not as a standalone maneuver but as a solid supplement to go along with your main gimmick whether it’s dirty trick, overrun, drag, reposition, or bull rush.

Some General Tips on Using Maneuvers

1. A flat footed opponent is maneuver bait for whatever maneuver you desire. They cannot give attacks of opportunity and have a lower CMD as a result. You may not kill them with a full attack in this period but you can render them blinded or worse with an improvised maneuver.

2. Dirty Tick has a dark secret. There is no limitation placed on the shaken condition as intimidate does. Thus if you dirty trick an opponent three times applying the shaken condition you can knock them into panicked territory.

3. Disarm, Sunder, Trip, and are all attack actions allowing you to use them as part of an attack of opportunity. Keep this in mind if you have invested in any of them as any of the three can effectively ruin an opponent’s action.

4. Use positioning maneuvers like a chess master. When you succeed at a positional maneuver work two to three rounds ahead to ensure that the changes you make to the enemies position favor you and your group not just immediately but in the future rounds as well.

5. Reach, as always, is your best friend. An opponent who cannot reach you cannot counter maneuvers with attacks of opportunity thus even a character dedicated to tripping with a guisarme can still perform drag and reposition maneuvers with terrifying deftness.

6. Work with your groups spell casters to maximize the effectiveness of your maneuvers. If you focus on the dirty trick maneuver let your casters know that your conditions often reduce enemy saves. If your group’s casters love to blast and use area of effect spells on entire groups of enemies use your maneuvers to cluster them together to ensure maximum damage.

7. Never underestimate the value of an AoO generating maneuver. Spending a standard action to produce two or three attacks of opportunity from the group is a massive action advantage that can lead into even more action advantage.

8. Maneuvers cost nothing in terms of daily resources but do require feat and item investment to work at their best. Plan from the start one or two man

9. Melee hammers who invest in maneuvers should play like anvils in the first round or two in combat. Afterwards it’s most advisable to only use maneuvers to stop serious threats and go for raw damage otherwise as by now you should have received enough buffs and ruined your opponents momentum enough they shouldn’t present too much of a serious threat.

10. Remember: Penalties to AC also drop CMD. Bonuses to attack also boost CMB. You can use both to ensure that a combat maneuver works at its best or that it lands at all.

Next up I’ll be trying to talk about maneuvers and how they pertain to individual classes and group interactions.

For those interested in a possible culmination of these articles and more:
I’m seriously considering taking the plunge and polishing up the various tactical writings I’ve done, adding a great deal more content, giving gm’s a big chapter and tossing in a few alternate house rules that make combat more difficult/faster for groups that are better than average. If this idea appeals to you let me know what you think.

EDIT: I forgot to mention such a product would be a thing that I sell through RPGnow or some such site not a free work as these have been. Obviously I would not propose such a ludicrous idea unless I was confident I could make it worth buying and not just regurgitate what I already write without expectation nor desire for monetary compensation.


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Buffing is one of those tasks that not a lot of players really like doing. I mean after all it doesn’t make you the star of the show, no spotlight has ever been shone on the guy holding the strings that makes the actor float across the stage.

Yet, it’s a rather important job. Once you start comparing the stats of some higher CR encounters to those of players, you start to understand the importance of buffs. Even said monsters I mentioned usually have buffs themselves to increase their own power.

Buffs are, ultimately, important in pathfinder tactics. They allow characters to power up beyond the limitations of their class and overcome disadvantages in action economy, numbers, and mobility against numerically superior and qualitatively superior forces. They’re a big part of the puzzle that allows 4 guys to take on twenty or manage to handle a creature capable of wiping out entire armies.

What is a buff exactly?

A buff is about an exchange of actions in order to increase an aspect of a character (usually numbers and mobility, but sometimes actions as well). Buffs usually fall into four categories.

Incidental: These buffs are riders that come off a specific action. They are usually very good to have purely because they don’t require an action to activate. Their powers vary but are often very weak and situational. Add that they also tend to be exceptionally rare and too often tied to abilities that overall aren’t that great from the start and you rarely see much talk or even use out of them
Examples: Alternate Channeling, Cavalier’s Banner ability, Paladin’s Aura of Courage.

Personal: These buffs are often very powerful but are usually highly limited either in duration (Righteous Might or Divine Power) or have very limited uses (Rage, Smite Evil). They only affect the character that uses them effectively translating an action into future more powerful actions.

Targeted: Sometimes lasting longer than personal buffs depending upon the actual bonuses given these tend to be weaker than personal buffs. They’re more advantageous to a group since they allow one character to translate an action on another character that can use the buff most efficiently.
Examples: Bull’s Strength, Expeditious Retreat, Bestow Grace of the Champion

Mass: Mass buffs are highly valuable to a group as they usually provide multiple forms of small benefits that add up to high numbers when spread out over a number of cahracters. These buffs are almost always short lived but their power and coverage make them the most valuable combat buffs.

Examples: Inspire Courage, Haste, Blessing of Fervor, Bless
Now it’s worth noting that nearly every class has the capacity to buff themselves or others allowing for even hammer or anvil minded characters to act in the capacity of the groups arm. Magic items can also be used in such a matter and it’s worth noting that some of these items provide benefits that are not otherwise available to player characters.

Too much, and Too Little
Buffing is about the exchange of actions and resources for the benefit of boosting future numbers and actions. However it’s because this boost is an exchange of resources that care has to be taken in the use of buff’s lest you find yourself in a stuation where they are sorely needed but unavailable.

Therefore it becomes the arm’s task to ensure the conservation of their resources by closely observing the builds and tactics of their group and select appropriate buffs based on the situation even and up to simply not using buffs if the group is well enough off without burning valuable resources. Sometimes this means hard decisions have to be made. A warrior calling for haste may simply not get it due to a stronger need for defensive measures such as a communal resist energy. An enlarge person on a polearm warrior may end up being more necessary against a group of foes than a bless spell inspire courage may have to take a backseat to a countersong.

The key here is understanding how buffs add up and stack and determine where necessary limitations are. It varies by group but there are some general rules of thumb you can use to get an idea of where buffs are needed or not.

1. An enemy whose supernatural abilities can remove multiple combatants from the field requires boosts to saves and defenses before any offensive considerations are present. Enemies like this can render offensive buffs a waste.

2. A good base to figure out an initial attack score a character needs to reach is to understand their BAB plus whether or not they possess the powerattack or deadly aim feats. If they do you need to figure out the penalty they take from using it (-1 with an additional -1 for each time their BAB reaches a multiple of 4 (4,8,12,16)) and buff at least high enough to make up for this penalty. After this amount (which will have them equal to their base attack without using this feat) you should only buff attack enough that they have about a 70% chance to hit (or 6 on the die) anything more is essentially a waste.

3. Use your buffs to match already in place debuffs. A -2 to a creatures armor class is an effective +2 to hit for creatures swinging at it. Therefore if you give a +2 attack bonus to a character they have an effective +4 against that particular opponent. Keep these in mind to avoid wasteful buffs.

4. Knowledge is ever so valuable and you should avoid buffing specifics (other than basic attack/defense numbers) until you or another character uses their knowledge and gives out the necessary information to the group.

5. Understand the type of bonus your buffs give. Enhancement bonuses are common but do not stack with stat boosting items. Look at what buffs you have available versus what the rest of the group has and provides. If you have a bard using good hope, heroism, and inspire courage in their buff line up then you can avoid granting morale and competence bonuses. If your druid or magus uses wildshape or shapeshifting spells all the time then size bonuses granted by enlarge person will be all but wasted. In a group full of speed weapons then haste is of limited use. The point being is don’t stack bonuses that already exist. Instead look for different ones to stack with what you already have.

6. Low AC classes aren’t going to benefit as much from an AC boost anymore than a High ac character. Instead focus on buffs that grant miss chances, concealment, or means of avoiding attacks entirely. Middle ac classes those just on the verge of a high ac will usually benefit more from a high ac buff since it will put them in a high ac range.

7. In terms of damage do not worry too much about piling it on characters that do lots of damage. Instead pile it on the characters that do damage consistently that means characters like gunslingers who tend to hit a lot but not deal all that much damage can benefit greatly from enhanced damage. The same goes for fighters and barbarians as well since they hit very often and often for lots of damage as well. Characters that don’t hit very often, or otherwise don’t take as many attack actions won’t benefit as much from a raw damage buff as the others.

8. Knowing your group is as important as knowing your enemy. Understanding your debuffers, your damage dealers, your battlefield controllers, and your other group buffers can go a long way to understanding how valuable your own buffs are and how often and for whom you should be using them for.

Timing is everything

Buff early. That’s the best advice anyone can give a spellcaster heavy group. Simply be mindful of when you are headed into dangerous situations. If you are stepping into a dungeon or heading into a dangerous situation throw down all your hour long buffs, as many as necessary, and work from there.

Minute long buffs depend more or less on what level your group is but usually can be cast just before entering an encounter and with care can last into the next one at least. Extend rods or the extend spell feat can be greatly beneficial on these sorts of buffs.
Round length buffs or buffs with a set limit of one minute are best cast either just before initiative is rolled, during the surprise round or at the very first round of combat before any of the characters outside of anvils can act. In this way you retain the maximum amount of effectiveness with your buffs.

Getting surprised however makes buffs much more difficult. In such cases it’s best not to sweat the small numbers or the little defensive measures and head straight into large offensive numbers. Being surprised is no laughing matter and can easily put you in an inescapable defensive position. In such cases it’s best to push back, and push back hard with as much control and offense as your group can muster before you can look into boosting defensive capabilities.

Force multiplication and concentration, a look at common buffing tactics

Multiplication is about translating a single action into a boost of multiple actions. Often this is mistaken as a boost to multiple characters but really all that translates to is boosting the actions these characters have. For example if you boost a groups two handed ranger and greatsword wielding paladin using inspire courage you’re only boosting their single attack thus your bard song translates to an overall boost to the group of +2 attack and Damage. However if you replace these two with a wildshaping melee druid cat and his cat pet alongside an archer fighter with rapid shot that’s roughly a +16 benefit from your bard song. This is also a pretty good strategy with summoners or generally any larger than normal group.

The downside to such a strategy is that while the overall numbers produced by such a strategy can be quite large particularly when spread over numerous actions each action may not be as effective as you want. Remember having lots of actions isn’t a real substitute for having several effective actions. Our one barbarian may only be doing about 4 extra damage with the bard song active. However if none of the druids summons hit their three attacks (a strong possibility given they’re low attack compared to the barbarian) than the effective bonus granted may as well be 0.

Concentration The polar opposite of this tactic is one highly favored by groups with lesser tactical aptitude but is no less effective than multiplication. It is essentially taking a character that is already an effective fighting character (usually a fighter or barnarian but just as often a paladin or monk) and piling on as many buffs as can stack on to that character as possible. This is essentially the pathfinder equivalent of forming the megazord.
The tactic is quite strong as the buffed character will produce a great number of effective actions while generally being tough enough to withstand the punishment of being in such a harsh combat environment. However it comes with the caveat that all the eggs have been placed in a single basket and often a single failed roll, or good dispel check, is all it takes to deal with the groups avatar. It’s a strong tactic to be sure but best applied intelligently.

Defensive This form of buffing isn’t about empowering the groups strongest elements but about patching holes in the groups greatest weaknesses. It’s rarely discussed as a buffing strategy but is pretty important to a group’s survival and while it does not often end a fight it can help conserve resources. Just as an example compare the spell Resist Energy with Cure Serious Wounds. 3d8+7 healing averages out to be around 21 points of healing. However Resist Energy at this same level will resist twenty points of the chosen energy per attack. If you get attacked each round from the same amount of energy each round for the entire duration that’s around 14,000 points of damage prevented or about 700 level 3 spells saved because of one casting of resist energy.

Granted such numbers will never come up but it helps illustrate the resource conservation point about discrepancy buffing. It can also help keep action economy from being dropped or affected by using spells like freedom of movement, fly, or touch of the sea. Such spells are often valued for their mobility potential but are equally useful in preventing your groups offensive elements from being unduly hampered by environmental or adversarial concerns.

And in the end…
Buffing matters. But it’s not as simple as one would think of it. It can be every bit as tactically complex as melee tactics, as battlefield control, or in defensive/aggressive maneuvering. They have to know what the group is as a whole, and no when to enhance it’s strongest pieces or bolster it’s weakest, they rely on the groups hammers to do their job and the groups anvils to make their job easier to perform. So, give your group’s support elements a break, they do a hard thankless job.


Male Orc Expert 5

Okie dokie here we go.
Encounter 1: Gratuitous Sewer Level

Background: A large city located on the coastline has been beset wiht heavy rainfall causing the sewers ro overflow into the streets. On top of the rampant disease this is spreading tribes of Grindylows normally kept in check by regular sweeps of the sewers ahve grown bolder and begun raiding the city above them taking captives and loot into the depths below. Your group has been tasked with finding and eliminating as many of the tentacled bastards as you can. This encounter represents your first meeting with a group of the creatures and their pets in the sewers.

Going in

Go ahead and make any necessary adjustments your character would have made before beginning the sewer search in earnest up to and including buffs. For time keeping's sake you have explored the sewer for up to an hour now before this encounter. Keep in mind with your prepped spells that there will be two other consecutive encounters after this of harder difficulty both having completely different scenarios so keep this in mind. You can make appropriate knowledge checks in your first post to learn what you need to about the monsters you are after.

The environment:

The sewers here are pitchblack (need a lightsource if human or have low light) and the water, normally only being about ankle height at best is now roughly waist height on a medium character. This means small characters have to swim or else have an alternate means of getting around. Medium characters treat the water as difficult terrain.

So characters can go ahead and make their first posts to make any necessary preparations then we'll get things started.


Right so to answer a demand for people to do this I'm opening up a brief game for four players to playtest the ACG classes.

I plan on doing this in a series of steps for the characters starting at level 3 then 7 then 11 and finally ending at 16.

Each level will have three consecutive encounters of ramping up difficulty before moving on.

It'll be quick and dirty and not much roleplaying is expected if any. Simply a brief description of the scenario and away you go.

Character building

20pt. buy, 2 traits.

I need to see your character at level 3 first for application but you'll need to also be able to bump it up to the levels above.

I'll close this in three days from now running with whoever actually submits a character.

And we'll go once I have a fairly balanced group.

I'll toss in a 5th "npc" character to balance things if we end up with an oddly balanced group.


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So I was going to do a video on this. But Fraps does not get along with Maptool so after some brief looking around I decided to stream it over Twitch.tv instead. This is both bad, because I can't edit things to make myself seem like some terrible tactical god (which I ain't). And good, because I can include any potential participation I get and maybe spread a bit more information than I would have otherwise.

I'll be streaming here.

I'll get on around 9pm EST. on Tuesday the 26th but begin an actual stream at around 9:30-45 probably going until about midnight.

So what will I be doing?

Well I'll be running an encounter designed for 7th level characters with 6th level versions of the 4th level characters I presented in the forge article. I have no other players so it'll mainly be a one man show to help depict and explain a lot of the concepts pulled in the past four Tactics 101 writeups. Chat participation is great here as they can point out things I miss. New players are encouraged to watch and ask questions.

For the record here are the sheets for the characters I'll be using.

Ranger

Wizard

Evangelist Cleric

Archaeologist Bard

The encounter will be a variant of the Gobbo/Orc fort described here. It will also be the last time I mention it ever as Ashiel has a big enough ego and my hand is sticky.

I may do a brief Q&A regarding tactics/strategy depending on how many show up. Ultimately I will save the video as a highlight and tos it in my profile for later viewing as well.

I'll bump this an hour or so before the stream officially begins to remind people.

Hope to see you there. :)


So if you have say Weapon Specialization in both Unarmed strikes and your natural weapon of choice would this natural weapon get the boost from both getting a +4 bonus to damage?


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So I think most people that respond or discuss optimization here on the advice boards more or less agree that if it comes down to a question of things a rogue can do there's usually a class or ability that straight up blows the class out of the water. When compared to it's relative spellcasting equivalents; the alchemist, the bard, or the inquisitor one finds it extraordinarily difficult to justify playing a rogue concept when any of the other three or a ranger would do just better and without the vast limitations put on the class by sneak attack and a host of issues regarding finding hit bonuses.

Today, we will setting out to make the class work.

I think a lot of the problems for the class do not stem from the class itself as much as it stems from preconceptions of the player. Finnesse fighting just isn't that good. Neither is two weapon fighting. A class that's lightly armored has little to no business rushing forward into an enemy to get full attacks. Frankly, even without the rogue attached none of this feels like a good idea. But anyway let's stop rambling and get on to the business.

First the goal

I'm going to make our goal here as clear as possible. We wish to make a rogue (PURE rogue) that can perform roguish functions while dealing enough damage in combat to be on par with his spellcasting peers (bards, aclehmists, etc.). We do not want to surpass them as that may prove more difficult than it's worth.

Dipping is allowed but only like one or two levels the overall strength of the build should be founded on the rogue not a level of fighter or gunslinger.

Our tools

Just so we have a common ground to work with here keep things paizo published, and 20pt. buy.

Builds posted if any must be functional at all levels and try to come to fruition at or before 10th level (because we want to talk to the pfs crowd as well)

Our challenges

Let's look at our troubles.

Saves: We have one good save. And it's reflex. This is bad for us. PArticularly since we don't have an in-class method of reliably increasing them

To overcome this we must either make our other saves work or else make it so the other saves don't matter.

Sneak Attack: It does not increase on a crit and requires us to be flanking a target or catching them flat footed. This wouldn't be so bad except it's also our main source of damage.

To overcome this we must either produce a constant situation where the enemy is flat footed or make it to where sneak attack is a secondary source of damage.

Low attack: Unlike our brothers in the 3/4 bab range we ahve no means to increase our attack rolls. Even the monk can spend a ki point and get an okay boost to attacks. Rogues are forced to rely on positioning which is not a province of the rogue.

To overcome this we'll have to figure out how to get the most out of our attack to ensure that our sneak attacks even hit. Otherwise we will not be doing damage.

Skills and abilities It's extremely difficult to find something the rogue can do that a single casting of a spell can't do better.

To overcome this we need to make a rogue that's unique in the sense they can't be replaced with a spell or an eidolon. Being replaced with another class doesn't count since we can mix and match classes like this anyway (barbarians for paladins, sorcerers for wizards etc.).

Our agreement.

Please no snark, and no negativity. Saying things like "the best rogue is a ninja/bard/alchemist/eidolon" is unproductive to the discussion. We're not here to talk about how the rogue sucks. We're here about how to make the rogue awesome.

On the flipside don't talk about the awesomeness of rogues without throwing up some mechanics. And if you do throw up some mechanics don't do things like take two levels of rogue and call that a good show of the class.

And please, no anecdotes like "a good player can make the rogue work" that's unhelpful too. Because such a statement lacks context.

Our Purpose

Ultimately what we want to do is make the class function so it's an absolutely welcome addition to a group rather than a regretful one on part of the player.

Anyway let the brainstorming and debate commence. I'll be posting my thoughts in a second post so as to not clutter up this one. What we want is a collection of ideas and builds that can be referenced as means to make the class work and work well.


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So with the first book more or less released who wants to run it?


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Last article I discussed the faults of aggression in melee tactics and how uncoordinated attacks by a small portion of the group can cause more troubles with little in the way of actual gain. In that article I explained how defensive melee tactics can control the offense of an aggressive enemy to effectively destroy them without compromising positioning or expending too many resources.

Through zone denial a group can draw encounters into a veritable death field of attacks of opportunity, flanking assaults, and full attacks. It can be scary effective.

However as posters pointed out it has its flaws.

Enemies with bows and spells firing from cover. Mounted archers that swoop in to unleash a few nasty shots and run off before they ever get in your reach. Caster’s striking from behind a safe veil of invisibility or spending a few rounds to ensure their minions are buffed to the gills before they charge. These are things that can mess with defensive strategies.

Pathfinder combat typically favors two styles of fighting. It favors careful positioning and control, as noted by GOD wizards, debuffing witches, and summoning clerics. And it also favors raw, powerful, aggression.

Most characters, but especially melee characters can pump massive damage numbers out on enemies with incredible efficiency. A cavalier charging a challenged target is pretty much guaranteed to destroy an enemy. Nova magus’s can ruin boss encounters instantly as they unleash a full attack and not one but possibly several powerful damage spells into an opponent.

The game favors offense. It can never be said enough.
But, in terms of tactics, reckless offense is stupid.

Let’s take the charge action.

The charge action allows you to double move and make a single attack with a +2 bonus. On top of other disadvantages involving entirely movement it also reduces your ac by 2.

On paper being able to eliminate an enemy rapidly by getting in the first attack seems viable. But as I demonstrated last article this can lead you into more trouble than it’s worth when you find yourself amongst a group of enemies cut off from your party and with a lowered AC. Not only are you likely to take quite a bit of damage in return this damage will be difficult to deal with as you have separated yourself from your groups primary support elements (clerics, bards, wizards etc.).

This is often compounded by the fact that many players fail to grasp the concept of allowing the suppressive elements of their group to compromise an enemy’s numbers or actions before first committing to a powerful offense.

It’s all in the prep work.

Aggression assumes that you’re already prepared for a fight. If you are not prepared and you are going on the offense you are acting out of desperation or stupidity. These are things to avoid.
Aggression for us means getting a lot of the dithering work of knowledge gathering and scouting out of the way immediately. It’s about knowing not only positions of enemies but states as well. This helps you prioritize targets early on giving your group an idea of what needs to be suppressed and focused before the fight even starts. This also allows you to get a good idea on how to arm yourselves, how you should position before the assault, and what spells to put in any open slots you might want to use.

Not every fight can be prepped like this, granted, but in my opinion ambushes and unexpected events are best handled using passive aggressive type tactics or a mix of the two.

The real purpose of all this prep work is about time saving. The first round in an aggressive push is the most critical one. You want to push deep into enemy territory while they’re still flatfooted and unbalanced. Therefore you want to make all the setup time typically required by a group to be as little as possible, or if not possible to be done while simultaneously making a hard push into the enemy.

This is a pretty simple idea but it’s worth explaining all the parts of how this first round should look like and gives us an idea on how the subsequent rounds should go.

Part 1: Prioritize and Suppress

Remember that in forge style groups it’s the anvils that are always expected to go first. Anvils, if you recall, have the job of immediately debuffing or otherwise controlling the enemy in an effective way to make the job of the hammers easier.

However this comes with some caveats when being aggressive. You absolutely have to use a suppressive ability that will not in turn hinder your mobility or offense. In short that means no spells that hinder mobility, or if such an option is necessary at least placed in a position where the enemy is far more hindered than your offense. The ability or spell also has to be one that greatly hinders an enemy’s defense or at the very least makes the counter attack extremely difficult.

Prioritization is simply allocating which enemies need to be suppressed, which need to be immediately destroyed, and which ones can be saved for later. Prioritization should be held off until after the Anvil’s action as it does no good to prioritize an inactive enemy with plenty of enemies with actions still roaming about. Who you should prioritize for what order is entirely group and situational dependent. Some groups will typically try to prioritize casters for destruction first, but, given how they love to hug the back behind everyone else this can be impractical. So, rather than give you any hard fast rules for prioritization I’m going to suggest getting with your group and carefully noting each other’s abilities and come up with some enemies that can potentially wreck your group. Learn to identify them quickly and to suppress their advantage so that you can bring your own to bear.
So in the tradition of the last article let’s illustrate our ideas.
Let’s go back to the gnoll scenario. Let’s add a shaman and some wolf pets along with adding bows and a couple of terrain features to the gnolls.

How it looks

For the original strategy this would be problematic since the gnolls aren’t particularly interested in meeting us head on. Therefore we should get aggressive. Let’s assume that we have hourly buffs going already and that we know what our enemy is but not necessarily what they’re capable of and going on assumptions.

First, we’re going to suppress our enemies. Knowing that we’re an entirely melee group we’re going to work on suppressing the enemies ability to effectively fire at us.

So let’s toss down a fog cloud among them to disrupt their cover shooting. Next we’ll prioritize targets based on our current knowledge.

The shaman has to die first, the wolves and gnolls should be further suppressed and killed later.

We want to kill the shaman since we know his spells can do a lot to help his allies and greatly hinder us. We also know that he may have ranged abilities that allow him to sit back and hammer us from behind the archers. By using a fog cloud we create a situation where the gnoll archers will find it even harder to hit us from their current position. Moreover it means that if we get within the fog cloud the gnolls absolutely have to maneuver through it in order to kill us once we get within to engage the opponent.

Glitter dust in this case may have been even more effective but its effects only last the second its dropped and any gnoll who made their save really wouldn’t be hindered. So we chose to save it for later.
This is what the map looks like after the wizard has cast his spell.

Part2:”Move and build.”

Moving is all important in this kind of offensive strategy. You need to be in the right position to affect enemies and since you’re not relying on them to do it for us we have to do it ourselves. That means having as little restricted mobility as possible. No 20ft. movement speeds here.

Barring that, you need to at least be able to do your job at long range. That means archery or spellcasting.

Of course you still need to do things like buff, and build advantages. Therefore your spell and actions have to be limited to standard and swift actions so you can use your move action to, well, move. Unless you are actively engaging an enemy with a full attack there’s no point and no need to spend a full round action on an effect that can expose you to attack, this is particularly true of spells like enlarge person or summon spells. As great as they are it’s better to unleash buffs and effects that will have an effect now rather than next round. Our goal is to eliminate the enemy quickly, not to invest into later power.
Bear in mind safety is a thing as well. Unless you’re confident in your own defenses you shouldn’t rush in behind your melee. If even your melee isn’t confident about the first destroy target than things need to be prioritized differently. Defense shouldn’t be ignored but offense is our goal.

Therefore try to predict enemy movement. Some enemies are going to go after the threats to your destruction target and attempt to save their friend. Others will try and take out support elements. Try to work this out in your mind and move accordingly.

Lastly, the reason the first round is all important is because due to the fact that all enemies are flatfooted before they act it gives you a chance to run freely through them and reach your target without facing reprisal through attacks of opportunity. More over our offensive ability is boosted by the lowered AC’s due to being flatfooted. In short, winning initiative grants us an unprecedented ability to fly into enemy lines and wreak havoc before they can even draw their weapons.
In this we’ve advanced the movement of our party without picking our attack rolls yet. As you can see our cleric has dropped a spiritual weapon on the target while moving forward to provide support. Likewise our wizard too has moved up knowing that he would be cut off from the rest of the party had he chosen to run back as most wizards are want to do. In this way they know what there fighter and rogue are planning as shown by their movement above them.

Part 3: Focus and Destroy

Focus fire the enemy and destroy them one or two at a time. Not enough groups do this, or at least does it wrong, assuming an enemy that is heavily damaged is as good as taken care of they seek another opponent to engage. This is foolhardy. Remember an enemy at one hit point is just as capable as the same enemy at a hundred hit points. By not defeating them you are giving your opponent another action to use against you and cede potential action advantage in order to do damage to another enemy.

In this case everyone who can focus fire an enemy should. Every point of damage matters in these early rounds and in cases where damage is unfeasible positioning or abilities should be used to at least grant offensive advantage to others. For example, while double moving to a target won’t deal damage it can be used to flank a target with another granting them a bonus to attack. Likewise if you simply can’t reach a target in a double move but can do something to those with a single move and a fired shot or cast spell then that should be your primary objective. Damage is what you should always be going for when buffing and controlling aren’t available options to you.

Going back to our example we’ve successfully dropped our friend the shaman long before he could cast a spell. However as you may have noted this ended the turn and now the gnolls have moved into position to pick out the wizard who has effectively been cut off from the rest of the group.

Here’s where things get tricky and why dropping something like the shaman was important.

Part 4: Rinse and Repeat as necessary.

Let’s say the rogue has been knocked prone by the wolves but took little damage. Likewise the fighter was missed thanks to a good AC and the fog cloud . We’ll say the longbow wielding gnolls managed to get a good hit on the wizard.

This kind of thing is to be expected. Aggression often compromises defense to the point where some damage is inevitable. This is okay so long as we understand our group’s limitations and work through them. It’s also good to understand that by eliminating the threat of the shaman early we’ve effectively removed enemy spellcasting resources from the equation while maintaining ours. Action advantage still belongs to the gnolls but without their spellcaster they have few ways to exploit this and beat our group.

So, again, our target is the wolves that are currently doing bad things to our rogue friend. The rogue will delay his turn until after the fighter assuming that he will get a flank in.

The wizard has a tough decision. It’s not in his character to stand there and be shot full of arrows. However fleeing into the fog cloud has its own problems. So he decides a little trickery is in order.
Casting a minor image in the form of the cleric very close to the cleric in the fog cloud the illusion will rush across the two gnolls provoking attacks of opportunity from them. Whether or not they believe or disbelieve is irrelevant (it depends on whether or not the gm allows the saving throw before or after they make the attack) as long as the attacks are made. It then tries to engage the other gnoll. This allows the wizard to slip past the two gnolls undamaged and lets him slip out of pointy death sight.

Next our cleric will redirect his spiritual weapon to start smacking a wolf while he moves deeper into the cloud himself. He prepares to engage the gnolls (or is he?) and protects the wizard’s softer form with his own harder to hit and kill body.

With the gnolls attacks of opportunity blown on an illusory cleric and the rogue facing problems the fighter decides the best course of action is to step up and kill the wolf. With the rogue prone there is no flanking bonus to be gained so she simply steps over the still cooling corpse of the shaman and lays out one of the wolves.

What this looks like at the end of it.

The rogue can be a bit frustrated at this point not having a flank partner. But given how the fighters target dropped immediately it makes little difference in any case. The rogue is likely to take damage regardless of what course they choose. So standing up, getting bitten, and stabbing the wolf is ultimately what they choose risking another bite and drop on the gnolls turn.

This leaves the gnolls in an ugly dilemma. Going after the casters may be the smart deal at this point but therir unwillingness to engage them directly only allows the fighter and rogue with support from the cleric more time to wreck their biggest advantages. Now the effect of the barrier is all but eliminated, the shaman is dead, and with only one wolf remaining. The thing to do here would be to regroup. Let’s get the gnolls out of the way and see what our group looks like going into the next round.

Uh oh. The wizard and cleric are in trouble.

Problem solving and mop up.

Remember this is not a clean way to do things. In this case our prioritization may have been a touch off in ignoring the gnolls completely. Unfortunately we’ll never know because second chances on the same fight are rare for one group.

In the case of passive aggressive combat we simply shift ourselves around our chosen bulwarks so their own capabilities do the cleanup for us. However in terms of aggression we need to reprioritize our targets.

In this case the wolf is no longer the true threat. He only threatens our rogue who can take him out relatively fast. Meanwhile all four of the original gnolls have managed to corner our spellcasting core. With some evasive action and clever footwork the group can redirect its energies and ultimately beat even this.

Deciding to delay his action the wizard calls for the cleric to get out of the way. The cleric takes his turn taking the opportunity to redirect his spell to the wolf and taking it out to free up the rogue to give them a hand. He decides to take an attack on the gnoll in front of him and deals a bit of damage not really knowing what the wizard is planning.

Seeing the opportunity for a do or die moment the wizard shifts to the side and unleashes the color spray he’s been holding this whole time knocking out the remaining gnolls. It’s question of risk assessment. With a +8 bonus making the 17 check is plenty doable and just about guaranteed if he took combat casting. Two of the gnolls get knocked right out. The fighter simply walks up and eliminates the gnoll threatening the wizard and the remaining gnoll is killed by the frustrated rogue who is finally able to get his sneak attack in.

And just like that the fight is over.

The lesson to take away from this example is not how to do things but how to think about doing things. In aggressive tactics risks like intentionally taking attacks of opportunities can pay off in eliminated enemies and future survival. Clever spell use can single handedly push the swing of the fight towards you and even an innocuous and often ignored spell like minor image can be surprisingly valuable. Even deciding to make a concentration check where simply getting away would be less risky can instantly end a fight. Risk calculation is important in a successful group (and just important in gaming in general). Each action taken by this group had its associated risks and rewards and the group chose their risks based upon the low likelihood of risk and the high possibility of a big payoff. Obviously against some opponents the risks taken by this group would be insane, even suicidal. So take risks responsibly and know your opponents well.

And ultimately the group has to be just plain good at its job. None of the tools used here come out of any special book all the spells are core, all the classes are core and the choices these classes made are pretty typical and what you’d expect for a group of this level. It’s easy to expand on the ideas present to include your own group.
Next one of these I might do in video with a demonstration of the beta version of Dreamscarred Press’s upcoming Warlord class.


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It’s easy to see why people seem to have it in their heads that tanking is somehow a thing in pathfinder.

After all if you play other fantasy rpg’s they usually have this concept where a fighter or knight or just some dude wearing lots of armor runs up and just starts wailing on a dude while archers and spellcasters unleash the equivalent of a small apocalypse upon them from about thirty feet away. Yet, for some reason the guy hitting them with a stick is somehow more important than the guy turning said stick guy into wolverine by healing him constantly or the wizard summoning flaming hellhounds to chew off their balls.

This unfortunate habit is enforced by lazy, or perhaps just inexperienced gm’s, who seem to believe that they should play upon this illusion and pile everything on the melee fighters and ignore the casters.

But the thing about this is; it’s an illusion.

Consider a recent scenario I criticized. Primarily a lion ambushing a
large heavily armed fighter. (No offense to the author of that scenario there have been tons that are worse. This one is just recent and fresh in my memory.)

Think about the rest of the party and what it might consist of and think about basic biology lessons. Predators don’t go after the strongest in any group, that’s stupid and ends in dead lions. Typically they go after the slowest, the smallest, or the oldest and sickest whichever is convenient. The point is they go after the weak because the weak are easiest to kill. In this case tanking is an illusion since the goal of the predator is not to defeat the group but to eat the Halfling rogue, or gandorlf the bluish gray with the long white beard and hobbled walk.
Likewise I think of one of Ashiel’s recent designed encounters meant to be dynamic. In their scenario there's never discussion about taking the melee fighters first but rather strategy and tactics based upon the sort of assaults they’ll face. You’ll often see this sort of thinking in AP’s and module’s where discussion is not “engage melee fighters then casters” but often discussion about their counters to certain tactics or vague talks about what they’ll do.

So, let’s assume for a moment that your gm is less like a simple computer AI built to account for a specific set of strategies by design and assume that your GM is more like Ashiel.

How do you tank against that?

Answer? You don’t.

So what can you do to keep rampaging orcs and goblins from rushing up and chewing on your friends faces?

Zone denial.

Zone denial is a simple term that has complex meaning. To put it shortly it’s an area you control that allows you to hinder or harm anyone that goes through it. Casters perform area denial all the time with spells as a form of battlefield control (which is not the same as zone denial but rather a subcategory of it). Zone denial for casters is fairly simple to understand so we won’t be covering them in this article. Instead we’ll focus on melee fighters.

What casters have over melee fighters is that they can instantly control more area and at longer distances. This advantage is part of the caster/martial disparity argument. However what melee characters have is greater control over their threatened space. If an enemy gets into a casters threatened area theirs often little a full caster can do about it. Often times they can expend resources to remove themselves from the threat or vice versa but a melee fighter does not have to. Once an enemy is within the threaten space of a melee fighter they have all the advantages they can full attack, perform combat maneuvers, unleash class specific abilities, or any number of deadly and dangerous things that they can do.

So how does this pertain to zone denial? It means that melee characters are well suited to making zones that enemies don’t want to walk into or through. The meaty bit in the middle is what has to be removed if they have any hope of surviving to eat the face off Mr. Wizard and his priestly friend. So let’s talk about what makes a melee fighter a good zone denier.

Threatened Space
Simply put, the bigger your threatened area, the more you control. The more area you control the fewer tactical options you give to your enemy. Therefore having as much as possible is definitely what you need.

This is what makes reach weapons plus close weapons like spiked gauntlets or armor spikes so valuable. Consider the sword. With a sword you have roughly 8 squares of threatened space. With a pole arm/spikes combo you have 20 squares of threatened space. That’s more than double the area of influence a non-reach combatant would have.

Now, cast an enlarge person on said reach fighter. That’s a lot of squares we just covered.

Here you see just how much space each iteration of both types of fighter can take up. Any enemy that runs through that space draws AoO’s. Any enemy that stops can eat a full attack. Given the options at your disposal as a melee fighter you can do all sorts of nasty things to enemies going through that space. The best part is the enemy likely knows this and will likely endeavor to go around, or, if that’s not an option seek to remove you as a problem. This leaves the enemy only with options that you desire. Thus you have control.

Mobility
Pathfinder is not a game of two dimensions. Characters can fly, can teleport, can often swim or climb as well. So that massive threatened area you’ve gathered can be made larger, more dangerous by this mobility.

Therefore it’s not in our best interest to truly restrict mobility if it can be helped. Or if we do restrict it, ensure that the enemies can be restricted in turn to ensure that our restriction does not become an unnecessary hindrance to our desire to control territory. By being able to rapidly and terrifyingly move our space where we need it we can punish presumptions by our enemy and engulf them in an inescapably large space. We also give our group greater space to roam and get good firing positions since they can rely on our mobility to punish enemies that try to get around us.

Damage
It’s been said that solid damage is the surest means of getting the enemies attention. This is both true and false. It’s true in any instance where your damage will be enough to drop an enemy so quickly that they have no choice but to pay attention to you. False in the sense that if you do enough damage to drop an enemy before they can attempt to feasibly harm you they may decide to flee from you instead or at least seek positioning that hinders your offense. Both scenarios can work to your advantage if used well. A fleeing enemy can draw AoO’s, open them up to ranged fire, can get corralled into an inescapably bad position etc. An enemy that attacks you however is either confident or stupid in that they can kill you before you can kill them. While this keeps them in your threatened area and allows you the ability to remove that enemy as something to bother with entirely it does come with the disadvantage that you will have to blow party resources to heal yourself if and when you are inevitably damaged.

Damage does end fights, this is true as I’ve said endless amount of time. And because you as a melee class will find it easy, damage should be a thing you put yourself towards having.

Control
Perhaps as important if not more important is damage is the ability to affect an enemy’s ability to act. Damage does nothing to hinder an enemy’s abilities. An enemy with 1hit point will do as much damage as the same enemy at 100 hit points. Therefore one thing to be able to do is to look for ways to hinder an enemy without sacrificing other aspects of your character. Certain abilities like Spellstrike and Stunning Fist incorporate additional abilities into your attack and shouldn’t be ignored when looking at your character from a zone denial perspective.
For other characters you have combat maneuver feats and feats like Cornugon Smash which allow you to apply effective debuffs to a character often while attacking. Using such abilities can do three things for you.

First they can increase your survivability. An intimidated enemy is one who has a harder time hitting you. Likewise an enemy hit by an ill omen applied through spellstrike is one who will find you impossible to hit and likely fail any saves as well that you apply.

Second they increase your offensive ability. The aforementioned intimidated enemy is exposed by lowered saving throws to other affects you can apply such as Dazing Assault or Stunning Assault. Or an enemy blinded by a dirty trick is suddenly flat footed by your full attack.
Lastly this makes you an even greater threat to go through. Suddenly it’s not damage that the enemy has to worry about but your sudden ability to move across the battlefield and do immense damage to them while simultaneously applying status effects or hindrances to them that can prove ultimately fatal and win you the day.

Passive Aggression
Aggression is a favored form of combat on the paizo boards and I’ve seen firsthand how pouncing barbarians and beastmorph alchemists charging beside quadruped eidolons and lancing cavaliers can absolutely devastate lone enemies and small groups. However I’ve seen the disadvantages as well.

Aggression has the issue where you often find yourself in awkward positioning, you either fall deeper into an enemy’s trap, find yourself cut off from necessary support, or otherwise put yourself in a position where you can’t help your group and vice versa.
It’s an effective tactic but risky in the extreme you trade in the safety of a solid controlled front for early round firepower.

However this only really works for shock trooper like groups where multiple characters can coordinate and stay fairly close together to support one another and prevent the bigger risks of such a strategy from becoming difficult. We’ll cover this in another article.
For now we’ll talk about the alternate strategy which is equally effective and more suitable to less aggressive classes like fighters, monks and paladins who focus more on solid capability than raw aggression. That means not immediately charging enemies, which merely exposes you with a lowered AC and often times bad positioning.

So in passive aggressive strategy the idea is not to rush into an enemy and hurt them as hard as possible but force them into bad decision making. This sort of strategy is already employed by one of my favorite builds the Reach cleric. It intentionally puts itself 15 feet from an enemy and casts spells at it to force it or lure it into eating an AoO from the cleric. In this case rushing the cleric was poor decision making. Likewise taking a long route around the fighter is also a bad decision since it limits the enemy to one attack on their target and puts them in a bad position of being caught between the target and said fighter.

This tactic also calls for a bit of cooperation from the rest of the party. Rather than treating you as a mobile ballistic missile they should treat you as a defensive bulwark taking advantage of your threatened space to attack enemies from a position of safety or as a place to retreat to when it looks as if the enemy is encroaching on them. You can still deal quite a significant amount of damage, but, it’s with much more control over the enemy and how they fight you rather than relying on raw numbers to win the day. If you remember my big post fueling the Forge you remember how I pointed out that raw numbers generally don’t win out by themselves versus superior actions and positioning. What a passive aggressive melee strategy does is allow you the convenience of being able to work on better defensive positioning and reducing enemy actions while simultaneously dealing a significant amount of damage.

To give an idea what this looks like let’s build a quick and dirty scenario involving a handful of basic melee combatants and a typical four person party. No specifics. No need. We’ll just say our melee combatant is built for aggression and leave it at that.

Scenario 1

In this first part you can see our great sword combatant immediately charged one of the gnolls and quickly killed it. This is good for the group and ultimately means a win.

Scenario 1 Part 2

However as you can see in this second part our rogue here is left with few good options for a flank. Two gnolls have engaged the melee combatant without taking any damage themselves and the third gnoll went to cause the casters some grief. The gnolls options weren’t great but they are able to pin down the combatant enough while neutralizing the rogue to make an attack on the arcane caster possible. So, either the cleric will be forced to defend the caster (preventing him from doing other things) or the fighter will have to disengage to save the caster and end up compromising their position further.

However if we employ passive aggressive tactics we can control the aggression of the gnolls much more easily. Let's replace our greatsword with a pole arm and rather than attack aggressively let's stand right up at the gnolls and cut off their angles of attack with ym threatened space.

Scenario 2

Notice that even though we don’t kill off any of the gnolls right away we instead put them in an ugly position of choosing subpar tactics. They could choose to charge the big spear wielding fighter before them but that changes a fairly static threat into a very active threat as they risk taking multiple AoO’s. More, should they stay they’re a 5ft. shift away from simply eating a full attack on the next turn. Also note the positioning of the other party members. The casters are through the threatened area but still maintain a good line of sight against the gnolls. Likewise the rogue is in a pretty decent position to get a flank on any gnoll who attempts to engage him or the spear wielder. If the group has a number of ranged combatants (say the cleric, and rogue with bows, the spear wielder with a thrown weapon) than the group can easily drop one or two of the gnolls purely by focusing fire their ranged attacks. This is without sacrificing any positioning.

Let’s push things up by a round and try to make some intelligent decisions on the gnolls part.

Scenarior 2 Part 2

Now here the gnolls ate two aoo’s. But, they’re in a pretty good position considering they’ve engaged the casters and managed to flank the fighter without too much issue.

Awesome right?

Well yes and no. Let’s keep going here.

Scenario 2 Part 3

Note the size difference. Here the wizards finished a key spell enlarge person . Suddenly the threatened area has grown. The fighter hasn’t moved yet but the gnolls find themselves in the unenviable position of getting flanked and eating full attacks from all around. The result is something like this.

Scenario 2 Part Last

In this last scenario the gnolls are all but dead. A little 5ft. shift from the fighter and she can smack the gnoll accosting the cleric and likely kill them freeing the cleric a chance to run up and flank/kill the one damaged earlier by an AoO. Alternatively if the fighter didn’t immediately drop that gnoll then the cleric could have finished that one off and finished his move with a flank on that gnoll. Meanwhile, the rogue now in a flank/full attack position simply minces his gnoll before it gets a fair shot at attacking her.

In this sort of scenario the group hardly needed to move. They manipulated threatened area and enemy movements to draw an enemy into disadvantageous positions and punished their enemy’s bad decisions (even when they seemed smart at the time). An aggressive group can do this, certainly, but a passive aggressive strategy will often be able to pull it off with little to no effort and no compromise on defense.

From the view of the forge
From the viewpoint of the forge you can see very quickly how a passive aggressive melee strategy can be born out of anvils or even arms working at being secondary hammers or vice versa. After all setting yourself into a position to punish enemies in the following round doesn’t take more than a move action leaving you with standard actions to cast spells or use other class abilities. Even if you lack these abilities nothing stops you from dealing ranged damage (even a full attack) and spending the remainder of your turn getting into an okay position and pulling your melee weapon of choice to receive the reprisal.

Bear in mind that despite my emphasis on reach weapons such a strategy can still be employed by other weapon choices as well. The key to remember is that you have to make up for a lack of threat in other ways, typically mobility, in order to provide the same kinds of zone denial benefit. Animal companions and summons can also be employed to provide buffers and support to melee combatants working as zone denial. In the above scenario involving passive aggression the spell the arcane caster cast could have been an easily effective summon monster spell that could have dealt damage, flanked one or two gnolls and provided even larger threatened areas the gnolls would have to slog through to get to their targets of choice.

Consequently sword and board characters utilizing two weapon fighting can perform just fine in this sort of scenario. In this case drawing opponents in doesn’t necessarily help the character control the fight as allow him more opportunities to do full attacks. Zone denial would work to push and corral the enemy into the reach of the fighter rather than the fighter acting as cover for the rest of the party.

In conclusion tanking as many think of it; a heavily armored character making things swing at him is a waste of time and resources. It’s better to control enemy actions through smart positioning and good use of a large threatened area to make yourself a huge inconvenience. When combined with large damage numbers you become a phenomenal threat that absolutely cannot be ignored and thus while we do not have the trappings of what you might consider a tank you accomplish its end goal: control.


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Male Orc Expert 5

The massive chamber was barely lit as you stood shoulder to shoulder in a mostly disorganized mob of guns and swords for hire. A brief look around the dim light indicated that maybe half the maniacs, crazies, and stupid people of noble intent were down here with guns cocked and adrenaline running high ready to face down the mutant menace with more fury and fire than maybe accuracy and good sense. Maybe you're one of those. Maybe not.

The chamber itself was the base camp for miners who abndoned their work a scant two days ago as the first of them fell before blood sucking mutants that attacked them as they were trying to carve out the room that would act as a local shrine to Torag. Ironic really since once the shrine was completed it would have been a fortress in miniature all by itself.

With the shield marshal's spread thin as it is a call was put out to any available fighter willing to earn some gold and ensure the mining continues smoothly. Once you arrived you gave your names up to a mousy dwarven girl clerk who carefully wrote down each name (a truly monumental task since many did not even now how to spell there own name). After a brief hour of waiting and getting a chance at a large keg of some rather watered down beer you were beckoned to draw from a jug was passed around for you to draw a simple wooden coin from the jug. Yours is colored Red. The understanding is whoever is in charge of this little bit of mayhem wants to increase safety by dividing everyone into teams. Of course the system is imperfect as friends are already gathering to trade away wooden coins to ensure they stick together. Fair enough really.

As groups start to divide, greetings exchanged, and conversations are made a broad shouldered dwarf stands up on a crate his breastplate gleaming in the dim torch light. His weaponry and badge of office mark him as a High Shieldmarshal among the best of the best of the shield marshals ranking only beneath the Ironmaster in terms of influence held.

His red beard is tied in a single braid and descends to just below his waistline where upon his belt is holstered a pair of Orc Choppers big monstrous revolvers said to be able to decapitate an orc. Just the right kind of weapon to blow big holes in bloodthirsty mutants. Granted if that didn't do the job than the big axe on his back would finish the job nicely.

"Alright listen up! My name is Kragger Flinthammer! That's Highmarshal Flinthammer to you! And ahm the organizer of this little mutant hunt! It seems over in our little housing project we got ourselves a bit of trouble. Something got into the tunnels an we don know how nor why since it was sposed ta be solid rock between here and the surface. That being said yer job is easy. Every mutant head ya bring back ya get five gold pieces t'yer group! If you find out where they're comin in from that's two thousand gold pieces t'yer group! One last thing! I lost a man down there a while ago. Ya find 'im, dead 'r alive and bring back proof you can expect a bonus on top of what ya already earned! Now get to it! Happy huntin!"

The crowd cheers and in the back of your mind you can't help but get the feeling of a pack of wild dogs being set loose.


Alkenstar was once a place of wonders. Technology here advanced far beyond anywhere else in the world unhindered by the dangerous and and destructive practice of magic. With guns and ingenuity taking the place of sword and sorcery Alkenstar was a neutral and arrogant rock in the madness of the Mana Wastes.

Then something awakened within the heart of the wastes. And Alkenstar was punished for its arrogance.

Spell storms ravaged across the land once more, ripping apart reality, raping the laws of nature, and murdering thousands the first spell storms brought magic back to Alkenstar and fear back into its citizenry.

Yet there are still souls willing to fight for it. Whether for money, power, or as part of a good calling there are many who have come to Alkenstar to fight and many who have died already. Though the guns of Alkenstar are blazing brighter than ever it may be the flicker of a candle before the horrors of the wastes.

Welcome to the Wastes is a pathfinder game starting at level one.

FIRST READ THE INFORMATION PACKET BEFORE APPLYING

Second here are some additional requirements for consideration to eb selected.

1. You must have a character history. I'll take an incomplete sheet with a good story over a well done and finished sheet with no story any day.

2.I want at least one post a day. I want this to move along fairly quickly and will push things, forcefully if needed, to get the game along. It will not be a nice push.

3. Despite being a desert full of guns and mutants this is not Borderlands 2 or Fallout:New Vegas. This is more S.T.A.L.K.E.R. So please keep that in mind before putting in your application.

4. I am selecting a mere 4 characters to walk into the wastes. I want to keep a fair character balance as a result of this so be warned.

5. I'm using the guns are everywhere rule. So guns are cheap, fairly easy to use (simple weapons for early firearms, martial for advanced) and quite ubiquitous.

6. Recruitment ends a week from when this post is made. Make the most of the time.

7. Forget everything you know in meta terms about monsters. Practically nothing you'll encounter will be found in a books as I describe it.

8. Lastly I'm allowing the machinesmith to be used in this game plus all its ogl material.


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Hello, if you don't already know I was one of the developers who helped bring the Machinesmith to life. I'm posting tonight after a brief discussion with Louis earlier today about how I'v recently (and welcomingly) been awash with ideas on expanding the abilities of the class. Not archetypes mind you, but more machinesmith tricks, more prototypes, and another way to look at prototypes to give a more "mechanical" feel to their overall use.

I've begun working on the actual write up that will incorporate those ideas. However the iron is hot, as they say, and here's a chance for you to take a swing with the hammer. Part of the reasoning for this was that from the classes original inception this board provided good and necessary feedback to make it into the shape it's in today. As a base it can expand infinitely (like all the good Pathfinder classes do) and opens up a great deal of creative play. So share your thoughts, ask your questions, gripe about how having a 25hp mind/poison/disease immune companion at lvl 1 is overpowered (or underpowered), what have you.

As to what I've been thinking? Here's a brief look into my thought process.

Prototypes

Primarily I wanted to add more in terms of buffs, constructs, and simply things for the machinesmith to do. The prototype list, while interesting, needs to have more unique stuff to have it stand out as something more than a lesser wizard. Item buffs are one idea but another potent idea I've been considering is expanding the number of little temporary constructs they can make to perform certain tasks.

Gadgets

This particular aspect of the machinesmith tricks section felt a little dry to me going back to it. So I decided it could use some fat. A lot of the gadgets I'm considering are going to be good for combat as well as utility. In addition to this I'm going to make some of them usable to be converted into mobius weapons by machinesmiths with that greatwork. So that sci-fi weapon you've undoubtedly been craving is not far from your grasp (even if you already could make lightsabers).

Techniques

Here I wanted to take a look at two abilities that the feedback showed most people weren't really happy with, namely repair and axiom. Repair is just fine and dandy for someone with a mechanus greatwork but rarely do you find use beyond that, and there's plenty of levels where it feels like the only thing you get. So the techniques section is an opportunity to expand on it, make it more usable, and indeed more desirable.

Beyond that I have in mind a few high level techniques that will help the machinesmith going into levels beyond 10.

Analyzer: From the get go I determined that this was going to be the greatwork of choice for "spellcasting" and utility machinesmiths. It provided a lot of free spells (mostly divination). In keeping with this theme one trick I'm planning is the ability for the analyzer to devour a scroll in order to make the scroll (caster level and all) usable through the analyzer. It "casts" the spell for you.

Beyond that the other ideas I have will help address complaints about its weakness in combat. But, in my mind at least, if you want a very strong combat option you have a big ole robot and a steampunk laser sword to choose from, but I digress.

Mechanus: I believe the main complaint about this guy is that he just lacks offense. So that's mostly what I'm focusing on here. If you have any other thoughts about how to make our robot-o-doom more doomy feel free to say.

Mobius Weapon: Probably the biggest receiver of augmentations. Since I consider this the combat option all the augmentations are undoubtedly going to be about making this more combat worthy. One thing I'm considering right away is addressing the complain about having more "to hit" nailed onto it in the same way other 3/4 casting classes have similar temporary boosts. The foundation is already here, it just needs to give it to you as an option.

Machinesmith Feats Extra Machinesmith trick is going to be made finally. In addition I'm tossing around ideas about using feats to change the nature of prototypes so that you can play in some interesting ways (think true technomancy or divinely powered constructs).

New Greatwork? I'm trawling for some inspired ideas here. In a sense each greatwork represents a role the machinesmith expects themselves to play, with gadgets filling in specific needs, and prototypes answering specific situations. Greatworks are meant to fill a theme but are overall meant to be very versatile within the context of that theme. Mechanus's operate under the context of "bodyguard" while analyzers work under the concept of "magic computer" and mobius weapons work under the concept of "high tech weapon."

Vehicles are the first thing to come to mind and I might end up throwing one before Louis and JP (lord of Legacies and most likely to bear the brunt of the classes wrath in his organized games). But vehicles are complex, and the rules for using them in pathfinder exist in but one book. So I may avoid them altogether in favor of letting the home brewers take their chances.

I'm currently sitting on the possibility of a mechanism that provides some form of combat support in a way akin to but much different from bardic music. Gonna put more thought into that.

In any case I'm here and keeping an eye on this thread to answer any questions, respond on any feedback, and generally try to answer every post I can.


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So a long time ago I made a summoner that I wanted to be an archer. It didn't work out as well as I wanted. So not really caring for the "vanilla" summoner I sought to see what the class can do. I noticed that it had a number of abilities that can be used and abused towards a fairly decent melee build. The more I looked into it and the more I scrolled through the various feats and abilities I could get and discovered that, well, it could be quite viable. Sure, probably not the best use of the class but certainly a fun use of the class.

Link to the guide.

It's still in progress but the base of it is made and I'm working on the greater aspect section now.

Also, I dislike the severe quality drop in the PDF's when uploading to googledrive. So if you want them on your computer with better pictures I'm just leaving a
dropbox link here.

I am doing another open builds page for this guide as the cleric guide. However due to issues I've run into with that guide I'm doing this one differently. If you are interested in submitting characters please click the spoiler below.

Submitting Character Builds:

First download this Word template.

Link 1 If you download this please go at the request of the creator and favorite this post.
Link 2

As you may have noticed this is Ravingdork's favored template for his characters. It looks nice so yes I'm shamelessly stealing it. Be sure to thank him for it.

Next when building your character to submit follow these guidelines:

2 traits
20pt. Buy.
All paizo material allowed.
Appropriate character wealth.
All HP is max first and average rest.
I'll accept builds from 1-20 and everywhere between.

When submitting your character/build you must include the following.

1. What basic Strategy does he use?

2. What makes it work?

3/ What's the minimum level we can get it to work?


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I understand this is strangely topical given soem of the subjects floating around but I actually started typing this around a week ago.

It's a discussion worthy of debate. Is healing in combat worth it in pathfinder?

By the math, no.

Here's some harsh truth.

At 1st level is about the only time where healing is really viable from a math sense. Consider this; at 1st level a cure light wounds spell will heal around 5 points of damage. Our closest partner in crime in terms of offensive spells, shocking grasp will deal around 3.

Not bad. But, this spell loses it's luster rapidly. At level 3 the first point where characters are coming into their own the same spell will be healing around 7 points of damage while shocking grasp is hitting for 9. Uh oh.

Go on to level 5, the first major changing level for pc's, and where the spells peak and you see a difference of 9 points of damage versus 15.

But at level five you have better spells right?

Cure serious wounds will heal around 17 points of damage verus Fireball's 15. But then that's not really a fair comparison. Afterall fireball does require a save for half and the spell does go over a wide area so it can potentially do far less or MUCH more damage than you might suspect. So what's a better comparison?

How about an empowered shocking grasp? Now your average damage on that 1st level spell is around 21. Ouch.

But most opponents aren't trying to match you spell for spell. So let's look at my barbarian. With his +10 attack (with power attack) and his +1 BArdiche he'll be doing upwards of about 21 points of damage assuming one round of rage and no crit.

But hey, you're not fighting pc's right? Right. So let's crack open one of my many monster books and check the average damage charts for monsters around CR5.

High 20. Low 15. Ouch. So you can kind of sort of outheal a low damage dealing creature of the same CR at that level.

But wait! You say. I'm a cleric with the healing domain!

Indeed that cure serious wounds will look mighty fine at 6th level healing 26 damage. And a CR6 beastie even built around damage is going to have a hard time beating that. But you still spent a 3rd level spell and a domain for the capability of negating the round of a single creature only once. Let's not forget that higher CR critters can hit for much more.

So no, math wise offense is likely going to win out. You spend too many resources to negate the turn of one creature at a time.

But let's get back to an earlier remark about the Healing domain. A big part of building your character is building an overall strategy you want to employ in combat. By choosing things like Shield Other as a common spell and the Healing domain or Life mystery you imply with your character that you will be doing a lot of support through healing.

But let's think about that for a minute. You basically built a reactive defense character in a game that favors proactive actions and offense. Sure, you can do other things, buff, hit things with a mace or possibly summon a thing or two. But, let's face it you took the healing options so you could use them. So when the opportunity presents itself you step into those shoes and fill that role.

But strategically speaking you spent a lot of resources for little actual gain. How you ask? Well consider this. If I cast haste instead of cure serious wounds I gain the following.

~+1 to Attack, AC, and Reflex saves
~ +30ft. Additional movement speed.
~ An extra attack during full attack actions.

Vs.

26 healed damage.

If we break this down into strategic terms it looks something like this.

~5% extra chance to hit, be missed, or make save (Numbers)
~One less extra move action taken to get into good positioning (Actions+positioning)
~Potential for loads of extra damage based upon the number of actual damage dealers the group has; a force multiplier. (Actions+numbers)

Vs.

~The possibility to negate a single round of damage from one creature. (numbers and maybe actions)

You see the main reason that healing just isn't a good idea from a strategic standpoint is that healing spells rarely, if ever, do anything to end the fight. Often what they do is negate the action of an enemy, spending one standard action for another standard action (or full attack action).

The trouble is such a strategy only really works if you are using it before your group is taking damage. To that end casters employ summon spells and battlefield control spells in order to negate actions through good use of offensive spells. Often these spells will negate more than one action making their worth last beyond the round they were cast in.

This fact is important to remember since we'll be exploring it later. But for now it's best to understand that healing strategies are not worth investing greatly in through character building.

So we got all the out of combat/game stuff out of the way. How does this philosophy of bazookas over bandages work in the meatgrinder?

Well it depends on the situation. General optimization strategies assume averages. They do not often take into account bad rolling streaks, great rolling streaks, unforeseeable scenarios, or just poor play by players in general;. More than that most optimization at that level deals with individual strategies and thought. Rarely will you find information based around dealing with situations that crop up as a result of being on a team. Afterall if everyone is optimized and doing the right thing you shouldn't need to heal right?

Well, actually, sometimes you have to. For better or worse healing is a question of risk assessment. Will healing be detrimental to the group or significantly beneficial? This is where tactics comes in.

At its core tactics is about asking questions and determining the best course of action. This kind of on the fly decision making can be tough on a character capable of healing. After all the enemy isn't going to be getting passive aggressive at you because you didn't kill him fast enough, but Bob the Strong and Fair may get a little annoyed that you started casting summon spells instead of keeping him conscious. So there's that kind of pressure on top of everything else.

Ultimately what you have to do is some quick and dirty math.

First: Determine who among your group has the highest hp's and lowest hp's respectively.

Second: Determine who your glass cannons (high damage, low hp) characters are.

Third: Determine who you're meatiest meatmen are. Easy enough.

Once you have that information you can consider how best to handle situations where a heal spell might be called for.

Remember the goal of the fight is always to defeat it as quickly as possible. So your healing should reflect an offensive strategy ensuring those that are doing the most damage continue to do that damage. It's sort of a passive aggressive means of getting people to do their jobs. Mean spirited one might say, but when lives are at stake you're not their to stroke egos and be a bandaid, you're there to kill stuff. But what does that really mean?

It means paying careful attention not just to hp totals and and potential danger but also potential risks and benefits of using a heal. After all it does no good for you to heal a target only to have them get critically hit and killed the next round leaving you usually within five feet from said bad guy.

So since tactics are all about questions let's talk about what questions should be asked when determining about heals.

1. Do I have a big enough heal to affect the outcome? Simply put if you want to heal you want to heal big. You want to negate not only the current damage the target has taken but any future damage the target might take next round. If you don't have a big enough heal to mitigate that kind of damage than seek other options.

2. Will healing put me or my party at an unnecessary risk? It's important to keep in mind that as a character who can heal you can also do things like buff, summon, or in some cases do raw damage. All of these things work towards ending the fight. By healing, you willingly give up one of those actions to give a small boost of survivability to a party member. So by not doing one of those other three things will your group suddenly be surrounded because you didn't summon? Will the barbarian fail to kill the caster on his round because you didn't boost his attack or saves?

And keep in mind that most healing spells require you to be in touch range for them to work. So if your target is far away you'll have to get out of positioning in order to effectively use the spell sometimes even taking attacks yourself. Simply put, if your healing would result in more damage to others or yourself than what you can possibly heal than it might be worth seeking another option.

3. Will healing this particular target ensure a quicker end to the fight?

This all depends on the target. If they are buffed to the gills, doing enormous amounts of damage every round than the answer is obvious. However if they're a wizard just popping crossbow bolts because they blew their entire wad last fight than you should seriously consider doing something better. This is a question that requires you to understand your group.

Ultimately, the thing to understand is that healing is usually an ineffective action. Yet, in situations as described above it might just be what's required.


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Well I wrote a follow up to the forge of combat.

It's much MUCH bigger than the forge of combat so be prepared for a bit of a read as I tend to get a bit rambly. Still it forms a good solid foundation with which to shape tactical discussion.

On that note, feel free to discuss. Or be disgusted as you so choose.


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In optimization discussion there is generally a discussion about numbers. How big your attack is, how big your damage is, how you can best use those numbers to their fulest advantage.

Today that's what I want to discuss using numbers.

Now in pathfinder that is done through actions. Actions being things that you can do from free actions, swift/immediate actions, standard, move, full round actions. Basically this is a finite yet renewable resource you get every round which allows you to put those numbers on your sheet to use. Without them you can do nothing. And the more you have the more you can do. Action advantage is the point where your group can accomplish more than the other group by dint of having more actions. By understanding action advantage we can better understand how certain spells, abilities, and feats are good while others are not. Further it lets us think about how our own actions affect the group as a whole and determine victors in any given encounter.

If we take our average party of four 1st level people we can determine how many actions our party will get every round.

In this case it's easy; 4 actions.

However this is not a solid number. If, say, one of these characters has an animal companion you need to add one to that number.

So 5 actions.

But then combat begins and the party seems to be fighting 8 zombies. 8 actions right? Not really. Remember zombies fight staggered meaning they only get a move or a standard action. So let's count that as more like half an action.

4 actions.

In this example even though the group is outnumbered action advantage belongs to the pc's since they have 5 people with full actions to use. IT's not much of an advantage but that can change.

So in the first round of combat our party fighter drops a zombie while the druid summons in a birdy to help. Nice huh?

So zombies have effectively three actions. Pc's have 6.

So action advantage, like the numbers, is dynamic. It's a constantly changing force based upon what you do with your actions.

BUT bear in mind that simply having action advantage is not enough to win a combat.

Let's switch out our 8 zombies with 10 goblins.

Pc's still have 5 actions to start.

But goblins have 10. That's a lot of actions. To make it worse it will only take about two or three successful attacks from them to drop one of the players so should one manage to surround and cut off one they will be eliminated in short order. So how to counter this?

Mainly by reducing their action advantage.

Let's throw in a terrain feature, let's say their a doorway that the pc's can fall back through to only let one goblin at a time effectively move through and do anything.

PCs: 5 actions.
Goblins: Effectively 1.

BEcause the goblins cannot effectively use their action advantage each turn they do get is wonderfully negated by the 5 actions of the players. IT gets even better if they have methods of crowd control which allow them the ability to make the encounter go faster.

But let's take the concept further. We know higher numbers of bodies effectively gives us more actions, thus action advantage. However as our goblin example demosntrated action advantage can be gained in other ways.

The first way is simple. Killing the other guy. Each guy you kill reduces the effective amount of actions they have. Therefore as a fight progresses you can gain action advantage naturally.

The second way is less straightforward and that is denying them any sort of effective actions. That is actions that singificantly affect the way the fight is going (damaging you, laying down spells, moving into superior positions etc.). You can generally do this with battlefiel control spells, summoning things to control portions of the battlefield, good positioning, or generally any way you can prevent the enemy from doing anything to harm you.

Third way is even less straight forward and involves a bit of planning. That is increasing ones personal actions or making actions more efficient. The game is rather good at giving us few if any real means to truly have more actions. But there are ways that we can give ourselves more thigns to do with our actions.

This is why optimizers tend to find feats like combat reflexes rather good and continue to drool over spells like haste and blessing of fervor . These sorts of things give extra opportunities to make use of the numbers that they've worked to get.

There are other ways to go about it. Order of the Dragon cavaliers for example can trade a standard action to grant a move action to all of their allies while time stop is a powerful spell that gives arcane casters a number of extra actions for their turn.

Ultimately a lot of combat comes down to building or destroying action advantage through the use of any number of methods which are beyond the scope of this post to discuss.

So how does this help a new or experienced player understand the game better? IT helps them understand what advantages and disadvantages their group actually has. Yes, the dragon has higher numbers than all of your party and enough melee attacks to slaughter your fighter twice over in just a couple of rounds. But, the dragon is still limited by the simple rules of actions you do so while the dragon can have some very very effective actions indeed when we look at the numbers of actions you have versus the ones he has the math is very simple.

You: 4+
Him: 1

Knowing this, and knowing how to make it where his actions equal 0 is knowing how to kill the dragon, steal his loot, and bang the prince. This is how you win even the toughest encounters. And you know what even if an encounter looks more like:

200 of them
4 of you

It can still be one if you understand how to deny them their action advantage and work towards reducing their advantage into nothing.

That being said action advantage still isn't everything. None of this really detracts from the importance of having good numbers or from getting good positioning. Actions merely allow you to take advantage of what you have and give you more opportunities to use them effectively.

Next time I think I want to go into the the importance of non-combat stuff to combat related stuff. That might make for an interesting write up.


So I've gotten a bee in my bonnet to make use of this rather good computer and do something special for people and good for the community as a whole.

Essentially what I wish to do is much what is done here. Take people's submitted characters from their actual games and help make them mechanically more viable either to fit their particular vision better, do more damage, or simply have a more solid concept of what they're trying to do. The difference being it's more of a one on one session over skype which I record and put on youtube for the benefit of others.

I'm mostly looking to do interesting concepts, complicated characters, odd houserules, or help people solve group issues and weaknesses through their characters.

For those interested click on the spoiler below.

Submission Guidelines:

I will take any pathfinder character. However the character in question must be either from a real game or intended to be used in a real game in the near future. Send any submissions to my email at tarkxt@gmail.com under the tag "Basement Character Submission".

In the submission include your Skype id, The answers to the questions below and the character sheet provided either in Word or PDF. I will not accept files outside of these formats. I will look at sheets posted on websites like Obsidian Portal or dndsheets.net.

The questions are as follows regarding your sheet.

What is your character supposed to do?
What Classes are the rest of your group? (The more I know about this the better)
What were the rules for making this character including what books were allowed?
Are there any specific houserules I should know about?
What is the general theme of the campaign?

Here are some guidelines that will help your character get selected:

Interesting concepts, characters under strange houserules, twists on classic cliche's, complex characters, characters who have lived for a long while and need a good fresh restart, or well written characters in need of good polish.

IF you wish to have your character outright rejected here are those guidelines:

Characters that are grossly incomplete (having not selected a few things is fine), characters that are simply wrong/against the rules, characters you want to use to break the game/make the gm cry, cookie cutter characters, boring characters, joke characters, or characters that already start with a ridiculously weak premise. I will also not accpet characters with one tiny problem like "I can't decide on one feat" you have a perfectly good forum here to do that on.

IF selected I'll go through the character to make some notes before the session. It shouldn't take longer than 45 minutes all told with about 15 to 30 minutes of recording. A mic is of course required (this is a talky session afterall) so if you don't have one of those don't expect much.

In any case thank you for your submission and hope to be speaking with you soon.

Ultimately I want to post the results here for others to view an add their input for better or worse. I think a lot of good info can be condensed and conveyed in such a manner. If enough viable entries come flowing in I would like to make these a weekly event. Only time will tell.


So I was doing some freelance work and reading up on some monsters as homework I discovered this tidbit.

Ooze, Plasma wrote:

Massive and devastating, plasma oozes are mysterious, extraterrestrial beings made of superheated electromagnetic sludge. While their origin is not fully known, it is widely accepted that plasma oozes are not from this world. Some scholars believe they dwell in the sun, while others maintain they hail from the Plane of Fire. That plasma oozes have been encountered in both of these locations does little to help solve the debate.

My question is....who had the balls to go find out that these things live in the sun?

Fire Giant astronauts?
Wizards who are now currently blind from looking at the sun too much?
Eldritch entities of unbelievable power who stopped in to let a sage know that, indeed, plasma oozes live in the sun?

Where are my rules for adventuring in an environment of unbelivable gravity, no solid ground, and temperatures capable of making steel sublimate?

I mean what GM would suggest that his group needs to teleport to the sun in complete and total seriousness?


Male Orc Expert 5

As you stand now at the precipice of a great gray waste staring out into alien stars you find yourself sighing. A bizarre gesture in this place with no atmosphere but one that comes naturally to you despite your newfound power.

Ah yes, the power. It flows through you now. It is you. What was at once a parasite and a boon is now consumed you wholly. You are the power and the power has become you. No longer content to lap at the edges of your consciousness the power itself has become your consciousness, an extension of your unsurpassed will that comes to you as loyally as a dog and is wielded with all the ease of breathing.

You extend it now spreading it through all the cosmos. You know that others can feel it. You want others to feel it. And as your will extends to the cage you sense thousands of priests scream in abject terror as they realize the birth of a newborn god. Beings more ancient than the past four universes before this one stir in their troubled sleep dreaming a thousand new nightmares that rip from their own flesh to feast on mortal souls. You sense enemies, potential allies, new worshipers, old ones withering and dying in terribly painful ecstasy as they feel again your magnificence.

As you reach out to pull yourself along this will to carve out a new domain something small tugs at your attention. Annoyed you barely hold back your wrath to observe the tiny silver shell of the construct before you. A survivor, much like yourself, of a time before humanity was even a concept of the gods. A tiny chronicler of the ruins in which you reached your ascension. It asks a simple question; to recount the events leading up to your ascension for the benefit of its archives.

Smiling you retract your will, shelve your power for but a moment. Why not cater to posterity for but a few hours?

But where to begin? At what point could it be said you had begun your ascension?

Perhaps the best place to begin a tale about the birth of a new god was to start with the end of a very old god.

Asmodeus, warden of the Rough Beast, Prince of Darkness, and oft disputed but never overthrown lord of the Nine Hells, was slain not by a grand deific conflict nor by some lucky assassins blade but through the courage, willpower, and skill of a group of adventurers. Indeed there names will no doubt go down in mortal history as great heroes of epic deeds and impeccable purity. It's unfortunate you know the truth.

Though your mortal self was originally ignorant of the full scale of this event you were aware that the world was changing. Empires were marching to war, great heroes were emerging, and for better or worse you found yourself in the midst of it all attempting to profit, preserve, or simply survive what you can.

Then it happened.

You canot truly recall what you were doing and given your newfound status you find such details unimportant. All that matters now is what you felt. You felt...darkness. Overwhelming, all consuming darkness the blinded not only your vision, but suppressed your ability to move, to think, to live. It felt as if you were dying, no worse than dying. Here you had not the sweet release of Pharasma's embrace but the ever encroaching darkness gripping you, filling you, tearing away at you until nothing was left but the fear and the pain. Opening your mouth to scream there is nothing but a pathetic whine that begins to increase in pitch and volume as suddenly the blackness simply dissipates and is replaced with a blinding white light that tears your retinas asunder with a burning agony that is a sweet release from the ever tightening darkness.

Falling to the floor it is perhaps the first time since your childhood that you have felt so helpless. Gathering yourself you look up to find that you are standing on a flat surface made of a black and crimson marble. The surface is smooth and cold but only seems to extend around you about five feet on each side giving you some room to maneuver but little in the way of movement. Beyond this flat surface is nothing but whiteness, pure whiteness. There are no features out in the infinite whiteness and until now you hear nothing but your own heartbeat and breathing at the moment. You are uninjured and all your gear is with you. You see no one else.

Yes this means other party members. You are alone on a tiny island on a vast infinite nothingness.


It took four heroes the better part of a decade, a number of powerful artifacts, and the favors of numerous entities nearly as powerful or as powerful as the gods themselves. But four mortal heroes accomplished the almost impossible task of killing Asmodeus himself.

While the ramifications and inevitable conflict of this event has already begun to cause strife and warfare across the Cage these petty mortal events pale in comparison to the upheaval across the planes. Thousand year old plots are beginning to unfold as demigods clash and armies align in heaven, hell and elsewhere for the conflict to end all conflicts.

But something like Asmodeus does not die simply. His will, his power, were too great to be laid low by simple mortal artifice.

You are the Chosen. Given a portion of the dark lord's divine power you are given the task of carrying out Asmodeus's last will and testament. Failure would mean more then your simple demise. For failure to complete the terms of this immense pact would release the dread god Rovagug from the Cage destroying everyone you've ever known or loved in a deific cataclysm that none can defend against.

Failure is to embrace oblivion. Success is ascension to godhood.

Shadows of the Prince of Darkness is a homebrew playtest for the new mythic playtest rules. I need ONE player. The other three slots have been filled already. Recruitment will be equally quick and brutal as I'll only be keeping this open until Thursday with plans to start this weekend at the latest.

Character Guidelines:
8th level
2nd Mythic Tier
Do not bother picking a flaw. I am making one for you.
Amazing initiative is bein changed.
20pt. buy.
Standard wealth for level.
All pathfinder stuff allowed.

Current group is a Cleric, Druid, and Sorceror. So obviously we have our full casters covered.


So I am currently in the process of converting bits of the Skinsaw murders to a Mythic level.

I was going to take a full party I had written up for different purposes, run them solo-wise through the encounters and possibly record the results as I have neither the time nor the patience to write out a full report. Video would be more entertaining.

But then I thought, hey why not stream it while rambling on about about strategy and positioning and group make up while b%~+@ing/exalting the virtues of the mythic system? Get people involved, entertain/boretodeath with the discussion and all that noise.

I'll post link up on the forums here once I go. Going to try and shoot for the first stream around 1:00 pm est saturday. Even if no one shows up I still get the desired effect of the recording.


So so far we've seen the mythic feats that are just upgraded feats. And some feats that enhance some core aspect of the paths. These are good. I like them. But let's think about another level here. Let's think about the truly awesome feats with nigh impossible prerequisites that reward a player for just pushing their characters into certain extreme limits.

Something like.

Legendary Prowess

Prerequisites: Bab +18, Champion or Guardian path, 9th mythic tier.

Benefit: You are proficient with all improvised, martial and exotic weapons. In addition you may apply any feat that applies to a specific weapon (such as Wepaon Focus, Weapon Specialization, Greater Weapon Focus) with all weapons that you wield.

Or perhaps more accurately

Demigod's Strength

Prerequisites: 30 Strength, Mythic Strength path power

Benefits: Something awesome. How about 10x carrying capacity? MAybe add in that you automatically succeed on all strength checks to break objects or lift things?


1 person marked this as FAQ candidate. 87 people marked this as a favorite.

For a while now there has been a debate on traditional roles and tasks that makes up a typical adventuring group. This has produced a lot of interesting talk and debate on the subject but nothing I’ve felt was a particularly satisfactory way of producing a well optimized party.

Often these roles or at least these philosophies lead to common optimization traps through misleading language.

However I have found that nearly all of these talks attempt to encompass too narrow focuses without truly considering in what it is the group s really trying to do. Consider for a moment what your ultimate goal in combat is;

”TO OVER COME THE ENCOUNTER AS EFFICIENTLY AS POSSIBLE”

Taking this into this consideration we have to take a look at certain golden truths about Pathfinder combat before we can begin to parse out roles in order to consider what a practically optimized group would look like. To begin:

Spamming is usually the least consistent form of defeating encounters

When we speak of this truth we are referring to characters that are essentially one trick ponies such as dedicated two handed fighters, mounted combat characters, dedicated archers, generally characters that are built only to operate in a specific set of circumstances (i.e. adjacent to an opponent and full attacking) must have a means of setting up that circumstance consistently (like pounce for barbarians) or find a different method of accomplishing that goal (switch hitting rangers, gunslingers who carry melee weapons).

The same can be said for support roles as well. A dedicated healer does nothing to quickly end an encounter but may do more to prolong it and even drain further resources as others will be forced to use their own resources to accomplish aforementioned goal. Likewise other spellcaster’s who rely on using a single highly specialized spell will find themselves completely negated in a number of circumstances where that spell will ultimately prove useless or simply not as optimal as a different spell choice.

What this teaches us is that an effective party member must be able and willing to accomplish their assigned task in many different ways or else be able to take on a different task altogether when a situation presents itself to make that method unfeasible.

Initiative is (almost) everything

It is no secret for anyone to discover that having a high initiative is absolutely imperative. Going first allows a group to take advantage of an opponents flatfooted status to get into position as well as set the pace for the battle and immediately be on the offensive or in some cases have defensive abilities up for the inevitable reprisal. Of course having extremely high initiative is not as important as positioning nor is it as important as the appropriate use of it. A dedicated damage dealer who charges before the party wizard lays down battlefield control is actually only acting to make things more difficult for himself as he will be attacking an opponent who is not affected by that battlefield control.

Therefore high initiative is important when speaking as a group. The entire group wants high initiative to deal with the enemy but not when dealing with each other. What a group wants when dealing with one another is an established order of tasks in order to ensure that everyone is doing their job at the utmost best.

Positioning is everything

This is more or less a silent truth but the fact of the matter is nothing you do matters unless you are in an appropriate position to do your assigned task. A pole arm wielding trip specialist can’t do his work forty feet from the enemy, a two weapon paladin cannot swing at a flying opponent, and archers cannot operate effectively in a dense forest. Ultimately more than initiative being in the right place at the right time is more important to the overall success of the group.

Part of individual optimization is about eliminating circumstances or creating new circumstances where your position matters very little or where you can reach the appropriate position faster. As an example the fly spell is not so important purely for numbers but for the positioning opportunities it provides. Wizards can more easily evade ground bound opponents while simultaneously making use of it to provide their group with an expanded range of positions to take from which they can accomplish their assigned tasks. It is no wonder then that knowing this truth that we can understand the importance of spells such as Grease, Create Pit, and Entangle that not only provide serious debuffs to an enemy but also compromise the enemies positioning (i.e. controlling the battlefield) and allow the group to take on superior positions of their own (like flanking, attacking from the high ground, etc.)

Pathfinder is a lot about resource management

Nearly every class has a resource that can be expended to fight at its best. Even rogues and fighters, the most resource efficient classes, can gain one or two abilities that are limited use and even when they do not they still count their total HP as a resource that can be expended. Simply put the harder fights tend to be the more resources a group will expend to overcome those encounters. Pathfinder is written under the expectation that a group will expend about 20% of its resources for an at CR encounter.

The goal of the balanced and optimal group then is to meet or increase the efficiency of its resource use to this standard. Never expending more than what is required and making the best use of its abundant resources or making use of resource efficient actions in order to defeat an encounter.

To this end proactive abilities that reduce the difficulty of an encounter are typically the most resource efficient. As just two examples consider the difference between Slow and Cure Serious Wounds. Cure serious wounds is a reactive spell that ultimately negates at most two attacks for its level. Slow on the other hand can negate many many attacks over a number of rounds as staggered opponents will be foiled from getting into position and making full attacks time and time again.

Pathfinder combat favors offense over defense

Older players are well aware that combat in pathfinder can be quick and brutal depending on the difficulty of the encounter and the dice of the characters involved. Consider for a moment that every opponent everywhere has at least a 5% chance to hit you if they make an attack (barring miss chances). Consider further that as levels progress a character will take more and more of these chances as full attacks start to include iterative attacks and often mix in with natural attacks. Then consider that damage can easily outclass all but the strongest healing methods while still punching through damage reduction and you start to get a picture of why setting the pace of a battle suddenly becomes more important than having high passive defenses. Optimized parties want to be on the offensive as soon as possible and as hard as possible in order to ensure that battles end quickly before the tide can be turned upon them. An opponent on the defensive is at a terrible disadvantage until which time they can stem an opponents offense and be able to respond with an offense of their own.

Thus it becomes imperative to a group to be able to simultaneously place an opponent on the defensive, stifle any counter offensive, and then be able to launch its own offensive in order to ensure the accomplishment of the above goal. While sounding like a tall order it’s really something groups do all the time. A group that wins initiative and has great position immediately puts an opponent on the defensive. A group that lays down battlefield control or debuffs is usually stifling counter offensives as well. Lastly a groups damage dealers are launching the offensive. So in a sense most groups are understanding this truth already. Groups that rely heavily on reactive strategies and defensive tactics often find themselves in long drawn out wars of attrition that are highly inefficient and do little more than weaken a group’s chances of survival in a game where there is no point or period where a group might be called 100% safe.

Bearing these truths in mind we can now take a look at what a group specifically needs in order to be consistently successful at combat in pathfinder. A group needs to be able to consistently set an enemy up and dictate the pace of a battle while laying out enough relevant damage to end the fight quickly without draining too much of a group’s available resources. With this in mind some groups naturally gravitate towards a small number of tasks or, if you like, “roles” in which they work to turn an encounter into victory.

Typically these groups individual members specialize in one or two of these tasks selecting one of several different methods to accomplish what they want with their chosen race/class combination.

To illustrate how this works we have ourselves a useful metaphor in the Hammer, Anvil and Arm.

The hammer represents characters built to defeat the encounter by dealing damage or otherwise permanently removing an enemy as a threat. Hammers pound the encounter into something resembling victory.

The anvil represents characters built and specialized in holding the enemy down. That is reducing their capacity to fight against the hammers or otherwise defeat you. This is typically done through combat maneuvers, battlefield control spells, debuffs, or other similar methods to reduce an enemies capacity to do the same to the group.
The Arm represents the support center of the group. He allows the hammer to hit harder, the anvil to hold the enemy better and keeps them working before the enemy can break either. Through buffs, heals, or other forms of support an arm allows the rest of the group to perform better than normal and overcome encounters very quickly without an extra drain on resources.

Together this group acts to beat and pound the encounter into something resembling victory or otherwise overcoming the encounter.
Now what I would like to do is break down this metaphor further and explain what each role, the anvil, the arm, and the hammer, would look like in a well balanced party and talk about what is important for them to have in order to perform their proposed function.

Anvil

Anvils work to aggressively control the enemy and drop the overall difficulty of a fight in order to make the hammer and arm’s job easier.
An effective dedicated anvil needs to be able to do the following consistently:

1. The anvil needs to be able to effectively reduce or limit one or more aspects of an enemy encounter such as:

Mobility: The ability for an enemy to effectively move in an encounter and position themselves to deal damage.

Action Economy: The ability for an enemy to take actions such as a full attack, a move, etc. etc.

Numbers: Raw numbers such as attack bonuses, damage, saves, skills, etc.

2. An anvil needs to go first in the initiative in order to set the pace of an encounter allowing the arms and hammers of the group to make wiser decisions about the expenditure of resources in the act of beating the encounter.

3. An anvil needs to be able to effectively perform his task without interfering with the arm’s and hammer’s jobs.

To elaborate anvil’s need to be able to debuff their foes quickly, before the hammers wade in and before the arm’s work to support and especially before the enemy has had a chance to react. This ensures that your hammers have an easier time dealing damage and signals to your arms what form of support they will need to provide.

Spellcasting classes tend to be the best anvils purely because of the variety of the control they have at their disposal and the instantaneous effects they have on the battlefield. Pole arm wielding battlefield controllers, or other combat maneuver based classes can have similar roles and can more easily fall back onto a hammer role once the encounter is sufficiently handled to the point where the hammers can mop up.

Hammer

The hammer’s job is perhaps the most intuitive and easy for most players to pull off. Their job is to essentially finish the encounter. After the anvil has set the encounter and the arm has boosted the hammer (or occasionally the anvil) it’s the hammer’s job to render the encounter into XP and treasure to be shared by all.

A hammer needs to be able to do the following consistently:

1. Deal at least 1/3 to 2/3 of an encounter’s hp without the need of special circumstances such as critical hits in one round.

2. Deal at least 2/3 to 4/5 of an encounter with the expenditure of personal resources or through special circumstances (flanking, critical hits etc.) in one round.

3. Can deal at least two kinds of damage in order to bypass defenses (Damage reduction, resistances, certain AC modifiers).

4. Is mobile enough with sufficient action economy in order to accomplish the above in one round or less.

Full base attack bonus classes do very well going towards being hammers. They tend towards efficient action economies and can easily trade hit bonuses and in some cases defense in order to do the maximum amount of damage with the slightest expenditure of resources.

Arm

The arm works to bring the anvil and the hammer together. It helps make both characters more efficient in whatever way possible.
Therefore an arm needs to be able to consistently do the following:

1. Boost one of the following:
a. Action Economy: Granting characters extra actions typically by expending one of your own.
b. Mobility: Granting characters the ability to achieve superior positioning.
c. Numbers: Boosting a characters raw numbers such as Attack, Damage, AC, saving throws etc.

2. Be able to react quickly to changing combat situations and provide the best possible boosts to the right people at appropriate times.

¾ Bab spellcasters and full spellcasters often fall into the role of Arm. Arm’s have to be able to react to a variety of situations laying down buffs and support whenever called for in order to keep the pace up for the encounter. This can often be a difficult job as situations can change very drastically from turn to turn but given the games nature to favor proactivity over reactivity it is usually best for arms to go somewhere between the anvil and the hammer.

What this means for initiative

Essentially it means that in terms of group tasks and roles your group’s hammers need to have the highest initiatives they can muster going above and beyond normal means to ensure that not only are they above the enemies in initiative but also above all of the group as well. This prevents the group from having to delay actions to ensure the anvil gets his control off quickly and does not endanger the group into accidentally allowing the encounter to go first.

After the anvil’s should come the arms. Arms read the situation presented by the anvil and the encounter and decide on the appropriate action to best support the group whether that is giving a buff to the groups numbers or increasing their action economy to give them a greater advantage over the enemies reduced abilities. In a sense the arms choice of buff encourages the hammers to adopt the chosen strategy and operate from their.

Hammers ideally want to go when the arms and anvils have laid out the encounter and showed them how it is to be fought. If the anvil and arm are competent they should have laid out the encounter in a way that not only makes the fight easier but also takes advantage of the hammer’s capabilities. For example a druid laying out an entangle in such a way as it prevents charging is not doing the mounted cavalier any favors. Likewise a sorcerer casting haste with a bunch of hammers primarily using natural attacks is not really benefiting the group.

What this means for positioning

Positioning is dependent on the group more than anything but there are some basic guidelines that should be followed under this group model.
First Hammer’s need to start combat in a position where they can deal damage right away. Full attacks are preferable but a little damage is preferable to none.

Second arms need to be in a position to support as much of the group as they can with their abilities. For some classes this means they need to be standing around 30 to 60 feet away from the farthest party member though some abilities may require even closer quarters than that.

Finally anvils need to be in a position where they can immediately begin controlling the enemy without wasted action economy. If this means sacrificing defense in initial marches than this can often be worth it since the arm or sometimes the actions of the hammer can prevent an encounter from retaliating against a failed attempt or bad defense.

What this means for the 4 man group

This group make up may lead people to believe that a group only needs to be 3 people to cover all the necessary tasks a group needs to complete for an efficiently defeated encounter. In truth all this means is that 3 optimized people is the minimum amount of people needed to make such a group work. 4 or even 5 people allows much better breathing space in terms of optimization and roles and allows individual characters to split the responsibilities among themselves. Essentially this menas classes can very easily switch roles depending on changing situations in order to take advantage of differing combat environments. Later I’ll show this in action when I put up an example group.

What this means for classes who can’t meet all the requirements.

What this means for classes who cannot meet all the requirements for the specific role a player wants to take is that they must learn to diversify their character to take on secondary or simply another primary role depending on the changing situation. Such an example might be the cleric whose primary role is the arm. Such a cleric can find themselves in a situation where resource preservation and ending the encounter quickly will be preferable to using another spell (i.e. another resource). This cleric would then take on the role of a secondary hammer doling out damage as the situation warrants utilizing the buffs he has already cast in order to increase his efficiency in that role. He may never match the group’s primary hammer’s damage but in providing extra damage rather than a wasteful buff he helpd end the encounter more efficiently ina way his class is capable of.

Likewise a character such as a wizard may find themselves in a situation where their control will do more to hinder or will do nothing relevant to the encounter to make much difference. In this situation the wizard can easily switch into an arm role and provide buffs in place of control in order to help compensate for the inefficient control eh is providing.
Otherwise a character who cannot meet the requirements nor be able to segue easily into a secondary task must compensate for this lack of capability in one or more areas by being exceptional in another. For example Magus’s are often expected to take on the hammer role. However on paper magus’s do not perform this role very well having to expend more than a couple of finite resources each combat in order to bring them on par with full bab classes like barbarian’s or fighters.

Therefore a magus will often make up for this lack of resource efficiency by “novaing” or bringing to bear as much damage as possible in a round in order to go above and beyond expectations effectively sparing resources from other characters by ending an encounter as quickly as possible allowing more resources efficient characters to stretch even farther into the adventuring day at the cost of later capability.

Another way some classes can compensate for lacking abilities in their chosen area of expertise is by sacrificing one or more aspects of their class to efficiently fulfill that role. Usually this is a secondary class aspect such as Channel Energy or skill points. This also applies when grabbing archetypes since they are usually chosen to exemplify one or more aspects of a class at the expense of another.

What this means for defense.

It means that defenses are not the responsibility of the individual but rather the responsibility as the group as a whole. Positioning and efficient control count as the first and best line of defense against most encounters. Personal defenses like resistances, saves, armor class and so forth are certainly considerations but do not function well considering the games lean towards offense. However personal defenses should not be ignore when building a character to do any of the listed tasks. By having a good personal defense you help the group conserve resources that would otherwise spent on your protection.

All this really means is, in the end it is best to work for superior positioning as a form of defense rather than dedicating the majority of a character to passive defenses such as AC or active situational defenses such as Crane Style. While these builds can stand on their own merit when it comes to resource conservation defenses still do not work towards the overall goal of defeating the encounter.

How this model identifies unbalanced groups

Groups without Hammers: Groups without hammers are exceedingly rare due to the ease of which many classes naturally fulfill that task. However this is usually noted by extended battles with supposedly easy encounters where more than a normal amount of resources are expended to control the enemy and buff the group sufficiently to quickly end an encounter without taking too much damage.

Groups without Anvils: Groups without anvils typically end up having an overabundance of hammers with one or two members playing the part of arms. These groups typically have fast, furious fights where the group takes a lot of damage. In these situations the arms often take on a reactive role providing healing and buffs as able while the hammers frantically try to end the encounter quickly. Depending on the nature of the hammers this often drains the arms very quickly of resources or forces the hammers into more and more defensive roles draining overall resources more as the group is not ending encounters efficiently enough.

Groups without Arms Perhaps the most forgiving of the three major imbalances. These groups usually spend more resources than necessary to finish an encounter. When they don’t they exist on a razor’s edge where an enemies passed save or a characters failed save can mean the difference between failure and victory. This is much worse in groups that lack the means to magically heal themselves and are thus forced into shorter adventuring days or burning wealth on tons of cure light wound wands.

Groups with an insufficiency in one of the three tasks.
Groups with an insufficiency usually show one of more symptoms of one of the above sorts of groups. In those cases the characters are assumed to be built competently and played well. However some cases are more difficult to diagnose than others. In some groups it has been poor optimization choice (the ranged rogue being a sole source of damage as an example). In other’s it’s been poor tactical decisions (hammers beating the anvils in initiative constantly and rushing in before proper control/buffs can be applied). For some groups it’s simply a blatant lack of cohesion.

These sorts of problems can only be talked through both in and out of characters. It makes sense for an adventuring group accustomed to dealing with constant danger to work out how to handle those dangers and make sure every party member is clear on what their main goals in combat should be in any given situation.

What an ideally balanced group looks like

So right now I want to provide an example of the group model I’ve described making use of the metaphor I’ve provided. Keep in mind this is merely an example and individual group needs may call for different sorts of characters to maintain the necessary balance. This group is meant to handle a variety of situations for a given level and helps illustrate how group balance is achievable. These are not super optimized characters and certain options I picked merely because they were interesting or fun sounding.

First up is the Wizard

Buffs McGreasy:
Buffs Mcgreasy
Female Elf Wizard 4, Level 4, Init +16, HP 20/20, Speed
AC 13, Touch 13, Flat-footed 10, Fort +3, Ref +5, Will +5, Base Attack Bonus 2
(+3 Dex)
Abilities Str 10, Dex 16, Con 11, Int 21, Wis 10, Cha 7
Condition None
Spellbook:
0: All

1: Grease, Enlarge Person, Summon Monster 1, Shield, Mage Armor, Magic Missile, Snapdragon Fireworks, Unseen Servant, Dancing Lantern, Expeditious Excavation

2: Pyrotechnics, Glitterdust, Mirror Image, Web, Summon Monster 2, Fog Cloud

Primary Role: Anvil

Secondary Role: Arm

As the groups main anvil Buffs McGreasy here wants to go first thus much of her resources are dedicating to ensure that nothing short than a great roll by his opponents and a poor roll by herself will allow them to get the initiative on her.

Like most GOD wizards her primary goal is to control the enemy through a series of good battlefield control spells. Glitterdust will be her spell of choice in most situations that aren’t too close ranged since it effectively destroys an enemies effectiveness in ranged combat.
However if, for example, ranged combat is not a viable option than Buffs can make use of grease to knock enemies prone or slow down advances so her groups superior reach can more easily come into play or she can resort to buffs from her class abilities to increase the effectiveness of the group as a whole.

After our wizard we have the groups cleric.

Tusky McDancey:
Tusky McDancey
F NG Half Orc Evangelist 4, Level 4, Init +4, HP 29/29, Speed
AC 16, Touch 11, Flat-footed 15, Fort +7, Ref +3, Will +7, Base Attack Bonus 3
Reach +1 Glaive +8 (1d10+7, x3)
+1 Glaive (P.Attack) +7 (1d10+10, )
(+5 Armor, +1 Dex)
Abilities Str 18, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 7, Wis 15, Cha 13
Condition None

Primary Role: Arm

Secondary Role: Hammer

Tusky here is the groups cleric. Her evangelist archetype gives her bardic performance giving her an excellent buff ability right off the bat. Stacked with bless she gives an easy +2 to attack rolls and +1 to damage rolls that will stack with everything else the party has. If this is not enough she can also use her luck domain power to give rerolls to her groups hammers providing even better buff potential.
Once she has provided all the buffing necessary and combat gets too close for one of her hammers to operate effectively she can easily take the buffs granted and start swinging her big glaive around for very respectable damage and even provides a respectable screen with her reach weapon and combat reflexes that would allow her ranged hammers a bit more breathing room to work. Overall Tusky is very versatile and while being a hammer is a second job she can still perform it quite well in later rounds.

Next we have the groups bard.

Indiana Bardo:
Indianna Bardo
m NG Human Archaeologist Bard 4, Level 4, Init +3, HP 25/25, Speed
AC 18, Touch 13, Flat-footed 15, Fort +3, Ref +8, Will +6, Base Attack Bonus 3
+1 Short Bow +7 (1d6+2, )
Masterwork Whip +7 (1d3+2, )
(+5 Armor, +3 Dex)
Abilities Str 12, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 16
Condition None

Primary Role: Hammer

Secondary Role: Anvil

Indiana Bardo here is a very respectable ranged combatant. Easily pulling solid damage from round one and doing even more with the inclusion of Allegro and Arcane strike Indiana is excellent at dropping big damage down range.

Unfortunately he is not as competent at melee as Tusky and Grumpy so when combat gets too close he falls back to a controlling role using grease, glitterdust and combat maneuvers with his whip to befuddle and control encounters while Tusky and Grumpy work on the encounter with their polearms. It’s notable that even though Indiana is a bard his Archaeologist archetype changes his inspire courage so that his Archaeologists luck ability actually stacks with the clerics inspire courage. This is particularly notable since it allows the bard to get a greater benefit from the buffs being thrown around than what would normally be available.

Last but not least we have Grumpy McShootsfaces the dwarven ranger.

Grumpy McShootsface:
Grumpy McShootsfaces
M N Dwarf Ranger 4, Level 4, Init +3, HP 38/38, Speed
AC 19, Touch 12, Flat-footed 17, Fort +8, Ref +7, Will +3, Base Attack Bonus 4
Mw. Composite Longbow +7 (1d8+4, )
Mw. Comp. Long Bow (RS) +5/+5 (1d8+4, )
+1 Dwarven Longhammer +9 (2d6+7, x3)
+1 Breastplate (+7 Armor, +2 Dex)
Abilities Str 18, Dex 14, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 5
Condition None

Primary Role: Hammer

Grumpy McShootsfaces here is the groups dedicated hammer. His one and only concern in combat is to deal as much damage as possible in as short amount of time as possible. He accomplishes this by being a competent archer and a great melee specialist allowing him to full attack as soon as it comes to his initiative. By waiting for his cleric and wizard to go he effectively boosts his own chances of doing a lot more damage to easily hit opponents. With his animal companion to add even more damage Grumpy easily out DPR’s much of his group most of the time and many encounters at this level will be ended before too many resources are exhausted. I left favored enemy and favored terrains blank as these tend to be campaign dependent choices made by individual players. Since this group is meant to operate in nearly every campaign I can think of things like miscellaneous gear and choices like that I’ve left blank.
Some things that are worth noting about this group is that it does not ignore other aspects of the game. It still has very solid passive defenses with the groups dedicated hammer by far being the toughest cookie to crack ensuring that it will take quite a bit of effort to stop him from ending encounters. Likewise the group is still solid in the face and utility skills department. In terms of healing you have three characters who can cast healing spells and two of them even carry cure wands for out of combat healing.

Overall the group is meant to be solid and work cohesively under the model I have described. It’s easy to see a group of players coming together to make these characters (the prototypical elven wizard, the half orc “cheerleader” fun character, the Indiana jones inspired character, and the somewhat optimized dwarven ranger). Only one of the party members is completely married to his role (and even out of combat still has a number of thins he can do) There is no singular build or ability that ties this group together. It is just a simple straight forward strategy that works.

IN CONCLUSION

Ultimately a lot of the information provided here will not produce any amazing epiphanies or sudden realizations about the nature of group cohesiveness and balance. Primarily because a lot of this knowledge has been gathered over a period of time from reading and rereading various guides, topics, debates, actual play experience and the testimonies of others that illustrate what works and what doesn’t. Simply put this model for group balance only includes what is known to work and nothing more. While a group’s actual needs in order to accomplish these tasks may differ this is fundamentally what is known to work. We know that putting out a lot of damage is important. We know that controlling the enemy and the battlefield is important and we know that providing the necessary support to keep this cycle going is important. Therefore a group needs to be able to do those three things. Many groups naturally gravitate towards this model without even realizing it. Saying something as simple as “we could really use a full caster” or “we could really use a cleric” says volumes about how a group or individual feels about group balance. The only real challenge in these cases is not only ensuring the the individuals are competent but also ensuring that the group is cohesive enough to play off of one another’s strengths and be a benefit to one another rather than a detriment.

A BRIEF FAQ:

Why the metaphor?

Ease of understanding. You can easily call them Controllers, Strikers, Leaders for all I care. The end result is still the same.

What did you use to build your example group?

20pt. buy. Standard wealth for level. Core races only.

Hey I have a 4th role/task/thing you missed adn its called ______

Chances are you are describing an out of combat role or a combat role that is simply unnecessary. The model does not describe how you are doing it as much as what you are doing. And it usually falls under one of those three categories.

If a class cannot fulfill all of the requirements of a character dedicated to the task does that make it a bad class for that role?

No, it simply means a player will have to identify the insufficiencies and either work around them or otherwise be able to take on a secondary role when circumstances prevent them from performing there assigned task well. Some classes that are deemed bad to disappointing by players are usually deemed as such because of the difficulty in making those classes fit well into a single task as well as other classes under a similar theme.

Hey the truths you illustrated are complete bunk because in my games (insert houserule/cornercase/oddgmstyle/headless clown here)

That's nice. If those truths don't apply to you then chances are you are doing something different than what pathfinder widely calls for. Nothing wrong with that but it doesn't make them less true for the overall game as written and typically played.

Hey my two handed fighter took Cornugon Smash. Does that make him an anvi because he debuffs people everytime he swings?

No. It makes him an incidental anvil. That is to say that in the course of doing his task he also happens to be acting in the capacity of another. You notice that some classes (like maguses and alchemists especially) do well in doing simultaneous tasks like this. Generally speaking while doing multiple roles at the same time is great and very action efficient it's still a good idea not to invest too much into this idea.


So it has occured to me that there really isn't as much community swupport as I would like. Or rather, there is support, lot's of support. But it ultimately amounts to individuals voicing an opinion in various different threads and guides and gripe sessions.

Basially what this amounts to are a number of well written guides based upon individual experiences. While this is certainly not a bad thing particularly when the individual takes the time to make a comprehensive and encompassing guide I think these guides fail newer players and readers by presenting what is ultimately a heavily biased viewpoint.

So I have a proposal to make to guide writers.

Open up your documents to the public.

Seems easy enough. You open up your guide to accept the knowledge and advice from other people. Now of course this also opens up to deletion, trolling, and other obnoxious nonsense that can turn a good thing into a bad thing because people are just plain jerks.

Still however I think the carefully guided good can outweigh the bad if simple guidelines are followed.

So sometime this weekend I plan on opening up my cleric guide for all to add their own thoughts or quotes to in order to make it better. So I want to give a couple of guidelines for writers and contributors to follow to keep things clean.

For Writers:

First, before you open it, save a back up. This is basically to prevent trolling or people from simply deleting it for some reason or another. It'll save a lot of heartache if you do that.

Second, respect other's opinion's especially if they're opposite to your own. Some people have different play styles and may point out certain things you might have missed or made arguments for things you might have derided for one reason or another. The point is to respect these arguments and acknowledge that their viewpoint may not match your own.

Third, add a build section if you have a class guide. Let people add their own builds and explain them lots of neat tricks and capabilities are only revealed once you've actually built a character with it,

Lastly, check back frequently, make sure things are going okay. This is your guide and your work after all and the others are merely adding to it; refining it into something that is suitable for as many groups as possible.

For Contributors:

1. If you feel the need to edit the main body please only do it to correct spelling and grammar errors. If there is a rules error try to contact the original writer first and sort it out or make a note of it on the doc.

2. If you add something, another paragraph, another entire section, whatever please format it slightly differently from the main body and be sure to sign it so the contributor is known and your contribution is obvious. This makes editing easier as well since others can tell the difference between one thin and another.

3. Police the document a bit if you see something that is just blatantly wrong, or find someone trolling or deleting portions of the document please be sure to correct it. It makes lives so much easier.

4. If you just want to express an opinion and don't have anything real to contribute please do so in the guides discussion thread. This is why it's there afterall.

Thoughts and opinions on the idea are welcome. I think it's possible to make such guides very good community tools and not just the well informed opinions of a few.

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