I feel you guys' pain. I do not have much experience on the boards and may not be the most talktative person, but I make a point of checking the threads multiple times per day. And of the 3 pbp I participate, 2 have had players (and even a GM) retreating or not answering for weeks (I'll have to say at this point our Kingmaker game with Aron Marczylo is pretty much over).
Honestly, I think the Investigator should lift out the Slayer's Favored Target ability and run. 1st level, move action to initiate (providing that beard-stroking "hmn" moment), small bonus on attack and/or damage and skills.
It's interesting; both classes have very similar themed abilities (I take a moment and study the way you act); but the Investigator one is extremely convoluted and severely limited.
I really believe that iconic combat abilities should come at 1st level or near enough.
For instance, let's say you get Studied Combat at 1st. Move action, small bonus to attack and damage.
Then on 4th level you get Studied Strike. You've spent 3 levels familiarizing yourself with the mechanics of Studied Combat, and at this point you have a pretty good idea how to work it into most combats. Then you have this other option.
I actually sent it here more to discover any weak spots or unintended consequences before sending it to my players. riryc's response, for instance, brought a combination I'd hadn't thought about and made me investigate it. At this point there is much to be said about the power of a collective think tank like these forums.
I expect this to the first round of some back-and-forth (actually the second, I've sent this to my resident rules-lawyer and he suggested some changes already - the focusing on Nimble Strike and maybe allowing it for the Elven Curve Blade).
Getting there from a fighter means you can't really dump Strength - you'll need at least 13 to get Power Attack, so that's not an issue. I was more worried about guys dumping Strength to 7 (5 for a gnome/halfling) and using all those points elsewhere. That's my worst-case scenario.
Huh, if my worst-case scenario is a halfling/gnome meleer getting a boost I'm actually fine with it. I much rather prefer to provide a good finesse route for them than have a lot of high-Strength midget Stallones running around.
Big support for "focused" Nimble Strike. Even my rules-lawyer player recommended it. Consider it fixed.
But what about someone using the Elven Curve Blade with (a slightly reworded) Nimble Strike? That comes from a direct player request. Of course, it wouldn't apply 1.5 the Dex bonus to damage.
I feel it could be exploited by taking 2 levels of ranger and picking the Power Attack combat style feat regardless of requisites (so Strength could be properly dumped). At that point you'd have a level 3 character (he would need another level to pick Nimble Strike) dealing 1d10+7 damage (while a similar STR character would deal 2d6+9 damage). I feel the trade-off may be enough; on one hand the finesse two-hander gets to dump STR, has better AC and Reflexes but on the other he has to spend 2 feats (Weapon Finesse and Nimble Strike), has worse overall damage and takes a while to get online (at the very minimum level 2).
I'll try running it through my players. I meant to give them levels really quickly (one per session or maybe more) to do just that, but I think I'll have to wait until round 2 of the playtest document. As of now they find the classes pretty underwhelming and are not motivated enough to continue.
The thing is it's not necessarily the ability score part that's overwhelming (the Slayer has only a +3 where she could easily have a +4); it's the combination of a higher damage die (if she picked a greatsword, the average roll would get even higher), extra damage from Power Attack and two-handing. The bloodrager deals 1d8+4 (granted he's focused towards survival, not damage-dealing, but he has 18 Strength) damage while the Slayer deals 1d12+8.
Really, the point I'm trying to make is almost the same as yours: the choice of combat style (two-handed vs one-hand) influences way more than class abilities at these low-levels. A regular 1st level warrior with Str 15 will deal more damage (2d6+6) two-handed than a Str 18 Slayer attacking a Favored Target with an one-handed weapon (1d8+7). This feels really wrong for me, but it's more of a pet peeve with the Pathfinder focus on two-handed Strength combat as king of the hill with such a large disparity with the second place.
I will buy Chronicle of the Righteous, Champions of Purity, Distant Worlds, or Cerulean Seas: Beasts of the Boundless Blue for the first twelve posters that want them
Good questions Morgen, made myself look at all of my proposed changes with new eyes. I'll sleep on that and look at it from another angle tomorrow, but for now I can tell you some changes are direct answers to demands (the rogue would like to try maneuvers once in his life, another player would like to build an Aldori magus, etc.), some are responses to in-game noticed problems (such as the Craft construction times) and some (all of the monk ones, for example) are selfishly-motivated by personal preference and world-building purposes (I have in-game a monk order devoted to developing the perfect mixed martial art for the Aldori dueling sword).
I'll try to give you a more detailed answer tomorrow, after I can reevaluate their worth. I have yet to reveal them to my players; I was hoping the collective wisdom of the forums could show me the breaking points on these before I unleash them on my group.
Do you guys feel that the Nimble Strike feat as-is is too powerful? Right now it applies to each and every finesse-able weapon. That gives these characters a little bit of versatility (a finesse fighter could easily grab a light mace to destroy those pesky skeletons), comparable to Strength ones.
What if it applied to only one chosen weapon? Also, how broken would be a Elven Curve Blade wielder benefiting from this feat?
"Doomed Hero wrote:
I approve of all your house rules. I have similar ones in my games. I particularly like your take on cleave and two-weapon fighting. Elegant fixes.
I actually meant to do that for all maneuver feats. The idea is that you get the benefits of the "Greater" ones on the level where you would fill its requisites. What's your opinion on this?
The Dervish Dance feat is actually a boring thing that creates a universal build for almost every moderately optimized magus and most dexterity based character. Allowing more weapon option won't break the game if we keep the one-handed limitation of Dervish dance and it will allow more diversity. I definitively take the idea.
That's exactly my point. The dex-to-damage proverbial cat is already out of the bag, and it's a jealous one. This way we get a swashbuckling rogue/fighter (or even the new ACG Swashbuckler) with no scimitars attached.
That is indeed a good combo, nicely caught. How does this compare with, let's say, a monk using a nine-section whip or temple sword (both one-handed 1d8, 19-20/x2 weapons)? He would spend one less feat/trait, since both are already monk weapons.
Do monks get to use their flurry BAB to qualify for feats? If not that combo would take a LOT of time to get online (on 13th he gets Critical Focus, on 15th Sickening Critical and on 17th Staggering?).
I can live with that. A Maneuver Master probably would wreck more mayhem with his maneuvers, a regular monk would deal more damage; maybe this guy can thread the middle path. I'm still considering turning it into a feat, but I think it would never get picked (it would be easier to gain proficiency on a temple sword that is already a monk weapon).
Thank you very much for your feedback, Dabbler. I'll definitely be taking a look at your monk changes.
What do you mean by other class features? Both the paladin, sorcerer and cleric are always stuck with that score.
Honestly, I'd rather like that, but as you pointed out, I too like to change as little as possible (that's why you see topical changes to feats and abilities instead of the underlying mechanics). Interestingly, if it simply applied to Will saves, it wouldn't apply against Intimidate.
Maybe it does. But as I said before, my players generally take the Craft skill to be able to use stuff built by them, and to build stuff to other characters. We also incorporate a lot of downtime.
On the Eberron setting there were a couple feats just like that - it allowed you to use one specific weapon (such as a spear or longsword) as a monk weapon. There is a hidden cost here - the trait does not provide proficiency with said weapon, so it would cost at least one other trait to add that. That being said, I think providing a big bonus to a class that desperately needs it may not be that bad after all (specially as this bonus tends to get weaker on higher levels as the monk's unarmed damage gets better and better).I'd really like to have a monk player character to test this, though. I'll try running a few simulations; what's the best, most gamebreaking weapon that could fit in this trait?
The problem is; Dervish Dance already is out there. It is an obligatory feat for any Dex build that can use it somehow (such as the magus), and it is setting material just like the Agile enhancement (and so, each of them may not be available in a determinate campaign). All I meant to do with Nimble Strike was widen the options available (so a Dex magus can pick another weapon, like an Aldori dueling sword or a rapier). I can see it throws too much on the Dexterity bandwagon - do you feel the limitation of "one free hand" doesn't cover that? What's your opinion on the original Dervish Dance feat?
Also, consider having an Improved Double Slice that grants the advantage of not halving Power Attack damage instead. Or leave it as is, you've already levelled the playing field between two weapons and a two-handed weapon.
I think that as a feat, it would not stand alone. Do you mean that, abandoning the Double Slice change, the TWFer is already good enough by the changes on the other feats?
That's an interesting idea and a common enough trope to merit consideration.
I'll take a good look at it. Do you have a thread where I could provide feedback?
As the title indicates, I'm writing down some house rules to be used on my current (Kingmaker) campaign and others down the line. They focus most on the player character end (feats, traits, and class mechanics).
The goal: With these house rules I mean to enable certain ineffective builds a little less painful, and provide more options for others that are somewhat pigeonholed into using a specific weapon/mechanic (I'm looking at you, Dervish Dance!). I also aim to make martial characters a little more well-rounded, adding a couple skill points and reducing some of their feat taxes to allow for some non-specialized feats (my players generally like to have options, like a two-weapon fighter having one or two archery feats. Yeah, I know.).
That said, here we go (I'll try to italicize small changes in otherwise unchanged text):
I simply hate 2 + Int per level. I feel Wizards and Witches need to stay there or else they'll put the skill monkeys out of their jobs.
If a class ability states that the character may use her bonus on a skill in place of her bonus in other skills (such as the Bard's Versatile Performance or the Vivisectionist Alchemist's Cruel Anatomist), she may immediately reassign the skill points previously assigned on the associated skills being substituted.
That's just common sense. The retrain rules already allow this somewhat, but are disrupting and expensive on a situation like that.
This bonus also apply to the DC of any Intimidate check performed against the fighter.
It always made very little sense to me that the fighter was as easily demoralized in combat as the wizard. It's also a very small bonus to a very specialized mechanic.
Change the following line on the skill's description:
Special: You may voluntarily add +10 to the indicated DC to craft an item. This allows you to create the item more quickly (since you'll be multiplying this higher DC by your Craft check result to determine progress). You must decide whether to increase the DC before you make each weekly or daily check. You may add +10 to the DC any number of times. Emphasis mine.
Add the following line to the Special section of the skill's description:
When you begin the crafting proccess, you may decide to craft hastily, spending more raw material but finishing the project sooner. You pay 1/2 of the item's price for the raw material cost, but your weekly or daily progress is measured in gold pieces instead of silver pieces.
Craft as-is is unusable in game. I find that my players take the craft skill in order to have something their characters made themselves, not for squeezing out a few coins. This way we reach a reasonable compromise.
Add the following traits:
Exotic Weapon Training: You trained for years in a martial tradition based around a particular, difficult to master weapon. Choose one type of Exotic Weapon. You are proficient with that weapon and make attack rolls with the weapon normally.
The majority of exotic weapons are not worth the feat. The ones that do are generally banned in our games anyway (like the falcata).
Martial Weapon Training: You served at a town's militia or trained with warrior-priests in a church. Choose two types of Martial Weapons. You are proficient with those weapons and make attack rolls with the weapons normally.
Please let me know if you think this one is too strong.
Monastic Martial Artist: You learned a martial art form focusing on mastery over a specific weapon as a path to perfection. You may have learned it during many years living on a monastery or by a single monastic mentor from far away. Choose a light or one-handed melee weapon you are proficient with. You treat that weapon as a monk special weapon.
This tries to add a little variety to the monk and provides a way to represent some character such as Li Mu Bai from Crouching Tiger. I want to be able to have a specific order of monks that uses a spear, longsword or even a spiked chain. Please let me know if there is a way to exploit this.
Skill Training: You pursued interests out of your field to better complement your talents. Choose one skill. You gain a +1 bonus on that skill's checks, and that skill is always a class skill for you.
Most of my changes here mean to consolidate some feat trees to reduce feat tax, mostly involving maneuvers and TWF.
The feat "Dervish Dance" is removed from the game. Any class ability that would provide it as a bonus feat provides the Nimble Strike feat below.
Combat Expertise (Combat)
Double Slice (Combat)
This here is one of my biggest worries. I don't mean for the TWFer to deal better damage than the Two-hander, but I mean to mitigate some of the penalties inherent to the style. Is this too much?
Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Combat)
Martial Weapon Proficiency (Combat)
Spending a feat to get 1 martial weapon is silly. If you know how to use more weapons you get more versatility, but not raw power.
Nimble Strike (Combat)
Yep, this is Dervish Dance for any kind of finesse-able weapon. I'm torn between letting it apply to any qualifying weapon or only one chosen by you. I also want to make this work for the elven curve blade somehow.
Two-Weapon Fighting (Combat)
This reduces a LOT the feat taxes on Two-Weapon Fighting. At the moment, it also removes the need for a higher Dex. Maybe I should still require the Dex score?
Vital Strike (Combat)
I know there's some unforeseen consequences to consolidating this tree, but it's almost 5 AM and I need to sleep.
Add the following line to the scimitar description:
Scimitar finesse is a common enough trope. This way you can start using it with Dex at first level and apply it to damage on second or third (instead of sucking one or two levels before getting Dervish Dance).
The Story so far...:
Interestingly enough, Khashnar the Slayer managed to find both trails in the battlesite (even though the hobgoblin one had a DC of 24!). The group still decided to follow the way west entering the woods instead of the one south skirting the river.
They fought the goblins, making some real loud noises near Green Haven. A skinwalker patrol was sent to the place, where they found the group of heavily-armed bloodsoaked PCs. Fearing the humans had finally sent a deathsquad, they kept their distance, working on a surprise attack, but the party managed to see them (both the archerpriest of Erastil and the Slayer have mad Perception bonuses!). The priest of Erastil dropped his weapons and approached the group, managing to gain their trust (with some good RP and a reasonable Diplomacy check). The skinwalkers still demanded that the group came with them to Green Haven (they are still skittish that the PCs now know the vicinities of their place and could point the way to others).
In Green Haven, the PCs drink soup and meet Granny Lafaette, apparently the only non-skinwalker in the group. They manage to identify her holy symbol (a butterfly with moon phases as the markings on her wings) as similar to Desna, and she has no compunctions about admitting to worship "Mother Moon", who has "shown us the middle way". She clears PCs misconceptions about the skinwalkers, but fears she doesn't know about the missing workers. What she does know is that people go missing in the woods, certainly taken by the Jakrart ogrekin family down south. If the party wants to investigate, the least she could do is provide them with a guide to their manor.
The guide is called Zavran, a skulk that found a place among the community of shapechangers and the only one that ever survived being captured by the Jakrart family. What she doesn't know is that he did so by promising to help Papa Jakrart in taking down Green Haven. Initially he just said it to survive, but recently he's been daydreaming about becoming "king of Green Haven" and having the area all to himself. So as he accompanies the PCs to the Jakrart manor, he's nervous and skittish (the PCs notice that but attribute it to him returning to his place of captivity). When the group approaches the house, Zavran takes out a dog whistle given to him by Papa Jakrart. Three short blows signal the guard dogs on the area that the newcomer is friendly, one long one means "invaders!". Guess which one he used.
Jumping down a ravine and camouflaging himself in the surroundings, Zavran just had to wait for the dogs to arrive to defeat the humans and present them to Papa as a gift (he has come to view the brutish ogre as a somewhat father figure as the result of some unresolved Stockholm's syndrome). He almost managed to kill that bothersome archer, but the group just scythed through the small horde of dogs and the slinking skulk.
The group approached the house and found one of Jakrart's daughters enjoying the company of a lone hobgoblin tied into a fence (one of Temur's envoys that stayed in the house to instruct the sisters into using the weapons). They somewhat easily killed the three sisters, and discovered some weapon of good quality displayed on the table. The hobgoblin provided almost no information whatsoever, trying to escape and almost getting killed.
Khashnar the Slayer found some large footprints leading out of the house, accompanied by booted feet. The party followed the trail of Papa Jakrart, finally finding him returning from his deal with the hobgoblins (carrying a big sack full of interesting stuff he saw around the hobgoblin encampment and demanded for his cooperation). In the vicious fight that followed, the Bloodrager fell over almost dead. Technically he died in a critical hit, but I let him remain at death's door until cured one round later.
Tired and alarmed, the party regrouped and decided to return to the ogre's house and rest. They were puzzled by finding on the ogre's sack a couple of well-made (masterwork) weapons, a crate of healing potions and recently-forged gold bar. They plan to follow the ogre's trail the next day (oddly enough it hasn't occurred to them to return to the first battlesite and try following the other, older trail). Both trails do lead to the same spot - a watchtower manned by a couple hobgoblins, where the prisoners are being temporarily held. If they delay too much, the prisoners will be taken to the mine, and getting them out will be a much tougher charge.
Next session: Storming the watchtower!
Finally, the hook!
The Troublesome Bridge
The project started simultaneously on both sides to hasten the construction process. On the morning hours, a group of works escorted by two guards crosses by boat to the west side and carries on with their work, returning by nightfall, and has been that way for the first twelve days. On the thirteenth, the boatman found the camp empty and signs of a battle but no bodies whatsoever. On the next day, Lord Akiros, his wife and the warpriest Isidor examined the scene and were on the process of picking names for a rescue mission when the PCs arrived and made the process much, much easier.
Temur, fearing that the human expansion to the other side of the river might reveal his plans too soon, sent his best warrior leading a group of goblins to capture the workers. The battle proceeded as expected (the humans weren't killed, and some goblin cannon fodder was lost, but no hobgoblins). The hobgoblins returned (trying their best to hide their trail, carrying the bodies on simple water skiffs) with their prisoners to a watchtower in the southern limits of the woods, from where they will be taken to work in the mine in a couple days. The goblins, though, were provided a second mission: to create a false trail leading to Green Haven, in an effort to make the humans from the keep and the skinwalkers from the woods fight one another.
Being goblins, though, they managed to almost make it. But then it was getting late, the sun was rising, and they just snuggled up to take only a small nap... When they woke, they proceeded to return walking backwards, trying to step into their own footprints. I must say, the PCs were more than a little "wtf?" when they witnessed just this.
On the first post I promised to post the story hooks sometime in the future. First, you'll probably want a map. Here we go:
In a political move, the queen presented the land as a wedding gift to one of her most trusted councilors: the now-lord Akiros Ismort, former Warden of the Kingdom. He moved immediately with his newly-wed wife (Tamary Numesti, herself a good swordswoman) to the new land and a few followers, understanding that the gift is also a major duty being placed on his shoulders. There he started the construction of Vanguard Keep, within the protection of the already established Gorumite watchtowers.
News from the opening of this frontier town ran the River Kingdoms, and former associates, friends and contacts of both Akiros, his wife and the warpriest of Gorum (a man named Isidor Storlich) flocked to the place, seeking to repay or collect debts to those within.
The campaign traits all linked each PC to one of these individuals, giving them a reason to search them and stay to help the city.
The west side of the river, among the Forest of Thorns, is another matter completely. To the north there is Green Haven, a small community of nine skinwalkers under the leadership of Granny Laffaete, a priestess of Desna (and a werepanther herself). Chased from most societies, the skinwalkers found in Green Haven religious guidance, companionship and safety in numbers. They had numerous falling outs with the humans living on the other side of the river, because at least a couple of times people vanish in the woods. The humans blame the skinwalkers, but they know the truth: something far more sinister lurks in the deep woods.
Papa Jakrart and his family of three sister-wives have been traditional enemies of the skinwalkers for a long time. They generally respect each others territories out of caution from both sides (Papa has seen Lafaette kill one of his daughters in her hybrid form when they first clashed), but each side wants to annihilate the other. Papa is severely limited because he doesn't have access to any silver weapons (or any manufactured product at all), while the skinwalkers don't dare trying to storm house Jakrart because they know they would lose too many people.
The southern limits of the woods are a generalized anarchy. Small groups come and go, fight for dominion over space only to have it taken from them months later. At the moment, the king of the hill is Temur, the chief of a small hobgoblin tribe (composed of around 40 of them, including some noncombatants). One month ago, his warband moved on a goblin territory, capturing many as slaves and discovering they've been sitting at a proverbial gold mine! He kept on sitting on it, trying to come up with a way to turn this soft ore into complete domination of the area. The answer almost fell to his lap only a couple weeks ago as a prospecting group from Pitax arrived on the mine, following an old map that supposedly led to gold. The group was quickly overwhelmed, but the quick-witted leader of the expedition managed to parlay his way into an audience with Temur. When he offered strong steel and good weapons from Mivon and Pitax in trade for this "worthless" ore, Temur cautiously complied. Only when the first shipment arrived he truly believed on the bard's words. Now he just needs more slaves to mine the gold and work on the poisonous smelting forge he set up. The first crude gold bars have already arrived at Pitax, and a big shipment of assorted weapons and siege weapon parts is being prepared.
When Evils Unite
Papa Jakrart wouldn't waste new toys to play or delicious meat to sup on. He plans to take all the prisoners and make Temur come to his house to get them. There he plans to murder the hobgoblin and eat him for dinner, then take his stuff, go back to his tribe and proceed with a orgy of violence on the "little people".
Temur is intelligent and suspects Jakrart will try to betray him at some point (although he's underestimating the ogre and believes he only means to keep the prisoners to himself). He means to take a couple dozen warriors to house Jakrart, retrieve the prisoners and enslave the family to work in the mines.
Without discussing rhetoric, if a player did that to me while I'm DMing, I'd call it a dick move, honestly. Not enough to get a person out of the campaign, but enough that I would talk to him later and say "Dude, don't pull that s&%@ again".
After the encounter ends, I'll definitely do mu research, preferably while talking to the DM over beers ("Damn, why didn't I think of that at that time?") but never during the situation.
Imagine the party is facing a monster they don't know (a dretch, DR 5/good) and one of the players takes out a smartphone and goes: "allright, I'll summon 1d3 celestial dogs, they'll chew out this thing in no time". He may have gone to a forum post asking "how can I kill a demon?" or straight to the bestiary entry. That is a massive dick move. Specially considering how the player used it (cornering the DM with questions like "how tall the room is" so he wouldn't have any defense when he sprang that surprise onto him).
Those are two VERY good points. I actually have a player that is on his second summoner-type character (first was a 3.5 sorcerer, this one is a wizard) and I have 0 problems with him copying creature sheets out of the SRD and printing for play. But when he gets a new summon monster spell, he generally talks to me first; something along the lines of "hey, I just got access to those creatures, and I'm thinking of summoning such and such, would you take a look at them?". I take a look at them and give him the go-ahead to print out the beasties. It helps that his character has his Knowledges maxed and crazy Intelligence.
If a player asked me if they knew the abilities of a creature they wre facing off against based on what they knew because they can cast polymorph, but had never polymorphed into that creature before, I'd say they don't know - you need a knowledge check for that.
That's what's been proposed here. You have summon monster and you are able to summon that specific monster, even though you never did before. Do we really want to make casters even more powerful by assuming that whenever they pick a summon spell (or just level in the case of druids, clerics, and other prepared divine classes) they instantaneously acquire complete knowledge over any creature that spell is able to summon?
Honestly, for me personally it's the other way around. I think the character should have some kind of knowledge to be able to even summon that creature. How does my desert-faring druid summons a shark if he's never heard of one? How does my wizard with no ranks in Knowledge (the planes) even knows a creature called a dretch even exists? By the Knowledge rules he doesn't even know that that creature exists, much less its detailed statistics.
The player has said repeatedly something along the lines of "we have a big town/library/etc where I could have researched", but he didn't. I have DMed that same adventure, and...
the players stomped it. They had a golembane scarab from a previous encounter on the adventure, which the OP's group probably skipped or avoided. They buffed/healed the fighter and she made short work of it (while the rogue chipped away a few HP each round).
There were a lot of ways they could have won that encounter, specially considering the players had time to rest, regroup and shop in a big city. They knew about the damage reduction, so they could have bought adamantine weapons/adamantine weapon blanch. The wizard knew about spell resistance, so he could have learned/prepared spells with no SR (create pit, even humble grease!) or buffed the meleers.
I get really worried with two idea lines on this thread:
What's the difference between research the spell to win a particular encounter and downloading one of the adventure paths' adventures to know how to beat that boss? What's the difference between researching on the net how to beat a ghost or going to these very forums to look up how to defeat the Splatter man (a boss from Carrion Crown)? Honestly, it all feels like cheating to me.
Because it's part of the spell - spellcasters know how their own spells work back to front.
Do we really want to go there with the summon spells? "I'm a 9th level cleric and I might be able to summon any monster on this list. Therefore, my character knows each and every statistic on their sheet without needing any points in Knowledge (planes)." Where does it stop? A wizard with Polymorph should know each and every humanoid, elemental, or animal ability, since he knows the spell back to front (and he could use the spell to turn himself unto any one of these creatures)?
One of my earliest experiences in Pathfinder was playing a low-level "god wizard" in a three-person party. Our resources were really strained, so at a a point I (the player) was researching every summonable monster and alter-self-able creature. I asked the GM: "Does my character know about the troglodyte's stench ability?", he asked a roll and responded "Your character knows very little about that, and doesn't know how it's triggered". That was the end of that (I ended up turning into a hobgoblin).
There were a total of 6 fights on the first session, though 3 of them were ran back-to-back (the 3 ogrekin fight) in more an endurance stress-test.
Goblin fight (3 goblins at a forest setting)
The party missed a lot (a LOT) of attacks due to bad rolls. They also had to spend many move action first moving in to the goblins, then chasing two of them that were retreating (both took some damage and tried withdrawing from combat). Because of that, the Slayer didn't use Favored Target and the dwarf warpriest spent almost all of the fight running around with his tiny, tiny legs. The archerpriest had to move around to avoid cover and didn't use his Rapid Shot feat for most of the combat.
The Bloodrager managed to win initiative, get into goblin A's face and tank its attacks with AC and big HP pool. When the dwarf finally managed to get adjacent to it, though, the bloodrager critted with his battleaxe. Goblin B was sniped by the archerpriest and Goblin C was cornered by the Slayer and Swashbuckler. The Slayer missed a lot of attacks (due to bad rolls) and even a trip attempt (+5 against CMD 12!), while the Swashbuckler went on to spend 3 panache points trying to dodge attacks that wouldn't have hit him in the first place (he even got one riposte on but didn't hit because of terrible bonus). Honestly, that goblin lasted a couple rounds, then tried running away. In a lucky shot, the Slayer hit him with a shortbow attack and dropped him.
Skulking the Woods fight (6 dogs and one skulk in a forest)
The Swashbuckler got in first (high initiative from high Dex), missed a dog and got swarmed by 3 of them (again spending panache to try and parry a missed attack). The Battlerager moved in with his 30 ft speed, and missed one of the dogs while the Slayer also approached one and missed the attack. Meanwhile the archerpriest is at 1 HP but at a superior position, trying to kill the skulk before it goes. He notices the skulk trying to hide (he has a trait that provides Perception as a class skill) and hits, but does not kill it.
The Slayer finally got to use Favored Target during the fight, but it actually made no noticeable difference (she never missed by 1 and the extra damage wouldn't matter). Nevertheless, she proceeded to kill two dogs easily. The Dwarf warpriest finally got to land his first blow - an warhammer crit! That is one dead, bad dog.
The skulk, his stealth plan failed, approached the only one on reach that provided a flanking opportunity (the Bloodrager), but missed his attack (can this guy tank or what?). The Slayer came around to kill it, but the archerpriest finished it first (Rapid Shot for the win!). Finally, the dwarfpriest converts his two 1st-level spells into cure to heal the Bloodrager and the other warpriest.
A little commentary: The dogs were there more for providing the skulk flanking partners and crowd the field. At first there were three, but the party killed them almost immediately, so I decided a second wave wouldn't hurt. It really didn't.
The Ogrekin fights (or the Jakrart family fun house of horrors, as I like to call it)
In the woods, the PCs met some friendly skinwalkers that warned the PCs that a family of degenerate ogrekin dwelt deep in the forest - and there went the PCs searching for their mission: to find a group of kidnapped workers. They were informed that the Jakrart family consisted of Papa Jakrart and his three daughter-wives.
They approached a creepy oversized house in the woods, and heard some muffled cries. I won't get too graphic, but they approached the ogrekin somewhat entertained by a bound hobgoblin. A 5 ft. fence surrounded the house so anyone crossing had to spend an entire move action to pass through it.
The Slayer won initiative and approached the ogrekin quickly, but was held back by the fence. She used Favored Enemy as her second move action, gaining bonuses while waiting for the enemy to get there. The ogrekin approached and missed with its shortspear attack. The archer missed due to the fence providing cover, while the dwarfpriest spent his entire round to even approach the fence. The Bloodrager approached and jumped the fence.
On the next round the Slayer finally gave back with a Power Attack (dealing 14 damage on the hit), enabling the Bloodrager to quickly finish it after that.
One round later, when they were approaching the abused hobgoblin, the second daughter left the house, mistaking her sister's death-throes with something else and wanting a piece of that. What she found were five people armed to the teeth.
Initiative goes down. The archerpriest is still on the other side of the fence and suffers with cover, and the Bloodrager engages her first, taking her counterattack in the face (and still standing after that). The dwarfpriest approaches provoking an AoO (that missed due to his AC becoming 23 against giants), and hits dealing good damage (1d8+1d6+3 for 12 damage). The Swashbuckler approaches, and miraculously hits for 5 damage. The Slayer's turn comes around, she hits (1d12+8 for 11 damage) and finishes the second "ogress".
Then the group carelessly enters the house, the bloodrager having dropped the rage starts the battle fatigued. The Swashbuckler decides to enter first, succeeds at a Perception check but only notices the ogrekin hiding behind the wall at the last moment. He goes first, misses her and tries holding the line, she goes right after him and attacks with shortspear and a bite attack. Already noticing parry is a waste of panache points, he uses recovery on her first attack. She misses, and, unwilling to leave her corner spot to get flanked by all sides, doesn't follow through with the bite attack. The Bloodrager gets in, attacks her and eats an AoO (that she misses due to his AC being 18 even if he's fatigued) so as to let the other members of the party cross safely. They do just that, and the Slayer and the Warpriest kill it easily (this was the only fight where he managed to move and attack on the first round).
They proceed to loot the house and question the hobgoblin. During the interrogation, he struggled free of his bonds and the Swashbuckler hit him, dropping him to negatives and somehow getting back a panache point for killing an unarmed, unarmored NPC with 1 HP left. That's weird.
The Ogre fight
Oh boy, the party decided to track the ogre-sized footsteps without resting. Most of them already had a few points of damage (mostly the barbarian) and the two warpriests were out of spells (each and every one of them was converted to a cure spell). They spend a couple hours tracking him through the woods, and hear him from far away (this was the only fight where they bothered to prebuff, and they had only the priests' Blessings left). They also never bothered trying to hide (both the dwarfpriest and the bloodrager had high armor penalties), but I at least expected them to. They had been basically stomping each previous encounter, so this was the stress test to see if they finally break.
Before the first round of combat, I asked for Knowledge (local) checks. A couple characters succeeded and I was brutally honest saying: "If this guy hits you, you're down".
The fight started with the ogre on one side, 40 ft. away from the party. The party got real lucky on Initiative and almost everyone beat the ogre. The Slayer approached and used her Favored Enemy ability and the Bloodrager charged in (both didn't take AoOs because the ogre was flat-footed since he hadn't acted yet), hitting the ogre and dealing good damage (1d8+1d6+4 for 16 damage). The dwarfpriest only moved towards the ogre, and the archerpriest managed to get one hit (dealing low damage).
Then it was the ogre's turn. The Bloodrager was confident - he had 10 HP and could act normally until -19. Then the ogre proceeded to confirm a crit on the Bloodrager (20 followed by a 19), killing him instantly. The rest of the party panicked for a bit but decided to stick around since the ogre was under half his HP (I also told them that if they could reach the Bloodrager before his next round, they might save him). The warpriest finally got around, didn't get hit by the ogre's AoO (his AC was 24 for that fight), dealt some (8) damage. The archerpriest also hit with another arrow (leaving the ogre at around 3 HP). The group knew that another attack from the ogre would mean another dead character, so when the Slayer hit the ogre dealing 18 damage there were cheers, followed by frantically searching the ogre's giant bag for a cure potion. I, being a softy, decided that the ogre's deal with the hobgoblins netted him a cache of potions along with some weapons for his daughters. The bloodrager was walking on wheat fields under a blue sky, but then was brought back to life.
Final tally: The first fight was a pushover. The goblins had a low attack bonus and dealt little damage. On the second they were dropping the CR 1/3 dogs so fast that I had to double their numbers at the last minute. The ogrekin fights were strange - even though the party had action economy waaay on their side, they didn't have any means to control the enemy's actions. The ogrekin managed to survive a first round of spanking and dealt good damage. The third fight was a coin toss - each round the ogre would drop one character before getting killed.
I offered this suggestion on my playtest report thread, but I'd like to bring it here as well:
What if the Riposte ability came at second level (to reduce the front-loading worries) and had something like this:
Battle Master Shaman Hex wrote:
The shaman can make an extra attack of opportunity each round. This ability stacks with the number of attacks of opportunity granted by the Combat Reflexes feat.
I feel it's a simple enough fix that wouldn't require the Swashbuckler to buy a feat to use a class ability (although if he wanted to focus on that, he could by buying the Combat Reflexes feat and using the Parry/Riposte combo against multiple opponents) nor it would preclude him from using his other abilities (such as the immediate actin route). What do you guys think?
Ooof, that was a lot to type. Sorry about the multitude of posts and the big wall of text, but I felt it was necessary to convey both the hard facts of bonuses, hit points and skill ranks, but also the thought process behind them and the general intangible "feeling" we got from these classes. Later tonight I'll post a better, more detailed description of the fights.
edit: Also sorry for any grammar mistakes. I'm Brazillian and English is a distant second language.
Boy, this was rough. The player almost gave up on building a Swashbuckler when he realized the big holes in its mechanic (parry/riposte requiring a feat to work, Weapon Finesse at second level). The 3rd level abilities convinced him to hang in there for a terrible first level and a mediocre second.
Building the Swashbuckler: The player wanted to play a half-elf due to background reasons, but ended up playing a human simply because he felt he had to because of the bonus feat. He also wanted to use any other sort of weapon and it really broke my heart to have to explain to him it simply doesn't work (a scimitar needs 2 feats - including one that's redundant due to a class ability - and waiting 2 levels, a shortsword is worse in almost every way, there's the ridiculous pick and morningstar, etc). Ability Distribution: Str 13 (to get Power Attack down the line), Dex 18, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 14.
"Galius" picked the Extra Grit/Panache feat to have more wiggle room to parry/recovery and Combat Reflexes for the same reason (he really felt that both feats were almost mandatory for the Swashbuckler's mechanics). Combat-wise, he ended up with a good AC, but terrible in every other aspect possible. Out of combat, he could be the party face easily enough (with Acrobatics, Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate and Perception as trained skills) but didn't make enough use of his skills. He managed to buy a chain shirt on the starting equipment budget.
Combat Stats: AC 19, HP 12, rapier +2 (1d6+1), thrown dagger +5 (1d4+1).
Playing the Swashbuckler: Of all the classes tested in this session, this honestly felt the most wonky and unpolished. He tried using Opportune Parry 5 times during the course of the session - 3 times it outright failed due to his abysmal to hit bonus, other two times it "succeeded" but the attack wouldn't hit him anyway. He even tries using Riposte those couple times, but missed by a mile. He did manage to get a few hits in (even two unconfirmed crits), dealing pitiful damage. It got so bad that the two Good blessing warpriests decided not to buff him (since the other guys' chances were so much better).
Suggestions: I know it's been said time and time again, but I feel I need to reiterate:
Battle Master Shaman Hex wrote:
The shaman can make an extra attack of opportunity each round. This ability stacks with the number of attacks of opportunity granted by the Combat Reflexes feat.
- It's a really simple fix. That way, you CAN make a build focusing on parry and ripostes (buying Combat Reflexes) but you DON'T have to. Moving it to an Immediate Action would be terrible, preventing it from working with Recovery and blocking a LOT of the Swashbuckler's later abilities.
The Archer Warpriest of Erastil
First things first: There is little support for a ranged warpriest among the Blessings (even then, the gods that do get it have other favored weapons). Also, this class is WAY too front-loaded. I find it really confusing that there's this whole worry about holding Weapon Finesse until second level so people don't dip Swashbuckler, but you get 2 bonus feats (not counting a possible Exotic Weapon Proficiency) and a LOT of stuff (blessings and spells) for only one level of this. You'll see what I'm saying:
Building the Archer Warpriest: The player wanted simply to make a military archer that has a deep personal faith in Erastil (also a big defender of natural plants such as marijuana). He actually wanted to make a more woodsy scout, but the lack of class personalization precluded him. The player complained that skill-wise all warpriests are basically the exact same when a warpriest of Erastil and a Warpriest of Calistria should have somewhat different skill-sets. Ability Distribution: Str 13, Dex 18, Con 10, Int 12, Wis 14, Cha 10.
Combat Stats: AC 18, HP 8, longbow +5 (1d8) or +4/+4 (1d8+1 each, using Point-Blank Shot and Rapid Short).
Playing the Archerpriest of Erastil: This character played exactly as any archer in the game. Due to terrain and somewhat intelligent enemies, though, most fights he couldn't just sit down and make full attacks (the goblins would take cover in the trees, the skulk sniped and moved to cover, the ogrekin had cover, etc.). It was somewhat rare for him to hit with both attacks. Using his Good blessing to bless the weapons of the other characters proved a noticeable improvement in damage.
The Tanky Warpriest of Torag
Full disclaimer: The player meant to roll a shaman, but couldn't find any build he liked ("nature shaman is too useless, battle is too MAD, etc") so switched to warpriest at the last moment. He tried for a somewhat balanced character (good AC, HP, attack and spells) instead of focusing too much on one aspect (such as the DPR monsters out there).
Building the Warpriest of Torag: The player chose a dwarf for both theme and mechanics (he planned on using a heavier armor and wanted a resiliente melleer). Ability distribution: Str 16, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 8.
Combat Stats: AC 19, HP 12, Warhammer +4 (1d8+3).
Playing the Warpriest of Torag: In combat, the biggest factor was movement. Most combats saw him walking to the enemy and have it run away or be killed by another character (I believe counting the 6 combats he made five attacks). The Bloodrager had fast movement and everyone else used light armor. He started making a bigger difference when he used his Good blessing on the Slayer's and Bloodrager's weapons. Still, he managed to deal a nasty crit (3d8+1d6+9 makes short change of a 25 HP ogrekin). At this level he had to convert all of his spells (BOTH OF THEM!) to cure spells. He was never hit (mostly because he couldn't reach the combat before targets had been picked). Out of combat, he had no use whatsoever since his skills were too poor and all of his spells were either combat buffs or had been converted to healing spells.
The player designed the character as a tank first and foremost (instead of the two-handed damage dealer that appeals to most people), looking to protect his "cousin" (the half-orc Slayer) and generally stay alive to fight another day.
Building the Tank Bloodrager: Focusing on Constitution made the other players go "wtf?" a couple times, but we found during play that even a single one-handed weapon with Strenght 18 is enough for 1st level. Here are his stats (number in parenthesis refers to raging bonuses: Str 14 (18), Dex 14, Con 16 (20), Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 14. He felt he HAD to dump something to get the physical stats, Charisma and not have a +0 Will saving throw.
Combat Stats (raging): AC 17 (he uses a shield), HP 15, Battleaxe +5 (1d8+4).
Playing the Bloodrager: Following a theme here, the 1st-level Bloodrager is almost equal to a Barbarian. The only difference was 2 less HP and Destined Strike (3/day, +1 insight on melee attack), both completely unnoticed by the rest of the group. Enemies failed to hit him repeatedly (generally moving out to find a softer target), and he had really good luck with attacks (managing to land and confirm 2 different crits in the same session). The class looks promising, but at low-levels it is indistinguishable from a barbarian. The errata making third level a dead level was also disappointing for the player (he feels he's enduring 3 levels before he finally gets to be a Bloodrager).
Suggestion: Remove the legacy abilities (such as Uncanny Dodge) and substitute for a more arcane-flavored defensive ability. The bloodrage brings all the barbarian flavor necessary, honestly. Other class abilities should bring out the sorcerer. Bring the Bloodline power back to 3rd level so it's not that dreadful dead level before you finally get to do what you want. Also please rebalance the bloodline abilities against each other (Celestial gets 2 resistances, Draconic gets one and a natural armor, Elemental gets only one at 5; meanwhile Aberrant gets reach!).
First off: Great name. Neither I nor the player (my girlfriend) could stop thinking about the eponymous thrash metal band and when her round came up we would always air guitar a trashy solo that finished in a guitar-smashing power attack.
The player designed the character (Khashnar) as a half-orc bounty hunter in the River Kingdoms, so she had to be versatile enough to deal with different situations (also skills were really important to her character, specially considering the party didn't really have a skill monkey).
Building the Slayer: The constraints of being a melee class in 20 point-buy (and wanting to be good at skills) made her struggle a little on abilities. She ended up with this spread (sacrificing some combat effectiveness for skill points and bonuses): Str 17, Dex 14, Con 13, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 10. We have also commented that the Slayer feels like a lot less MAD ranger, since its class abilities doesn't require Wisdom or Charisma.
This Sunday I sat down with my 5 players to run a playtest homebrew game in our shared setting (incidentally, it's the PC's kingdom from Kingmaker).
The character rules follow:
Generally, I worked with the players to build their character; since I follow most playtest class threads, I could point out perceived flaws in the classes and suggest ways to fix them with feat or trait choices (such as pointing out that the Swashbuckler needs Combat Reflexes to perform his ripostes). They decided to build the following party (I feel the need to point out that they didn't necessarily built for DPR optimization):
-Khashnar, Half-orc Slayer (Power Attack feat)
I will post their impressions on character building and perceived qualities and problems during play in the following posts, but first I'll provide descriptions on the encounters they faced (all encounters used a battlemat, miniatures and some hand-drawn obstacles to make it interesting):
- 3 goblins (CR 1/3 each) in a forest environment (lots of trees, rocks and some difficult terrain)
All that ocurred in a single day (even though they could have retreated and rest at any spot; their mission was time-sensitive and they felt they needed to rush). To any that care enough, I'll the story hooks later (I find that having at least a cursory plot made my players become more invested in the game).
I was helping one of my players to build their character for our playtest and found a glaring lack of ranged options. I think the class should be able to support archer priests of Erastil, for example, just as melee guys. Such a character has no good Blessing options that aid his ranged attacks.
I'm sorry if this has been addressed before, but can a shaman take the Extra Hex feat? Maybe twice or three times?
edit: Another question (one of my players asked me that): How does a natural attack (such as a half-orc bite) interact with the shaman's Spirit abilities touch attacks, such as Stone's Touch of Acid? They don't interact in any way, or he may use the natural attack to deliver the ability (using normal AC)? If the second is correct, if he misses, does he "hold" the charge? What about using the ability on one round and attacking with the natural weapon on the other?