A lot of people are talking about ways to fix the monk, and I've had an idea of how to do it for a while, so I figured now was as good a time as any to share.
Step One: Tear pages 57-60 out of the Core Rulebook. There is no such class as a "monk". Sounds like a cleric archetype to me. Also we've always been at war with Eastasia.
Step Two: Errata the following feats:
Improved Unarmed Strike now changes the damage die of your unarmed attacks to 1d6 (if Medium) and lets you add your full Strength bonus to your off-hand unarmed attacks as though you had Double Slice. You can use IUAS as the prereq for Two-Weapon Rend, but if you do so you can only Rend with unarmed attacks.
Stunning Fist and other feats like it are now usable a number of times per day equal to 3+ your Wisdom modifier.
Step Three: Add the following feats:
Greater Unarmed Strike
I know it's not perfect-- there's more work to be dome. But I feel like this could save unarmed combat as PF knows it, by opening it up to other martial classes. That's why I'm opening it up to the forums.
I'd love to come up with some rogue talents or rage powers that would compliment this idea, to allow different classes to go bare-knuckled in their own ways.
Have you seen the Battle Poi? They're basically a pair of sponges on short chains soaked in oil and lit on fire, and you swing them around to deal fire damage. They're actually pretty bad because they don't add your Strength bonus, but they're the closest weapon I can think of that mimics pom-poms and they're great for Dazzling Display. The only other one I can think of would be Fighting Fans.
Cavalier would be nice, and Braggart would alleviate your need for Dazzling Display. Don't know much about Battle Herald, but PFS only goes up to level 12, so pretty much any prestige class is going to struggle there.
As for spells, Beguiling Gift would be a good choice. Grease is one of the better 1st-level Bard spells, but isn't on-theme for this character (unless you think she'd be willing to use it on the other team as a means of cheating).
I tried homebrewing some rogue talents a while back- I gotta say, I'm jealous you're getting so much more feedback than me. ;)
JOAT looks like it's just begging to create rules confusion, with its "virtual ranks". I would've just said he can use any skill untrained. Maybe a +1 insight bonus?
Between WSMH and JOAT, it looks like you're trying to push Int as a rogue's most important mental stat. Personally I like the idea that a rogue can focus on Int for bucketloads of skill points or Cha for a strong bonus to the "face" skills. It creates variety among rogue builds.
Spending a standard and a swift for one good sneak attack seems okay, but it pretty much kills the idea of rogues as TWF masters. The talents I made up basically allowed rogues to deal sneak attack under more conditions, which would support a full-attack full of sneak attacks.
Here's a question: how valuable should a rogue talent be in comparison to a trait? Would it be fair to allow a rogue to choose any trait he qualifies for in place of a rogue talent? Most traits seems to involve skills, so having more traits would (in theory) benefit a skill rogue.
Fighter/Barbarian makes total sense. Fighter for the heavy armor and noble demeanor (he was born a noble and learned swordplay from the knights) and barbarian for his love of the wild places (he grew sour on the politics of the court and left home to ply his violent trade).
I can definitely picture him as the type to go on safaris and bring back trophies, even if he'd rather earn the satisfaction of taking the beast's head with his own sword. Perhaps the coat of arms of his family pictured lions, so he decided to hunt actual lions?
The easiest solution is to just go fighter and pick up Weapon Specialization: Greatsword. A bit dull though.
For armor proficencies, Cavalier is your next best bet. Sadly, you don't seem to want a mount, and the only Cav archetypes that trade it away are the Musketeer (who trades it for a gun) and Sword Saint Samurai (who is decidedly eastern).
Ranger might be a good bet too. I'd buy that as medium hide armor.
Carry a wand of CLW. Evil or good, it's on your spell list so you can use it without a UMD check, and it'll keep the rest of the party from thinking too hard about you.
Do you plan to do much channeling of negative energy? If not, you could just dump CHA and then they wouldn't ask why you aren't channeling. And then you get more points to spend on Wisdom and Strength and stuff!
If you do want to channel negative energy, it's not a deal-breaker. Abadar's clerics do that too quite frequently. I'd also recommend carrying a crossbow as your ranged weapon, since that's Abadar's favored weapon. Just be careful to call it ABADAR'S favored weapon, not YOUR DEITY'S favored weapon ;)
My last group was able to convince the Paladin that since we'd already slain the creature anyway, drinking its blood was a non-evil (if disgusting) means of "honoring the magic in a fallen enemy's bloodline" or something like that.
To this day, that Paladin believes that Blood Transcription is like an arcane version of Speak with Dead or something, and he has no reason to believe that it has the [evil] descriptor.
If your Paladin is the kind who pretty much leaves his Detect Evil on constantly, you may have a harder time of it.
Go 20 levels in any one class you want on one side, and on the other side, take one level of twenty other classes.
For the "consistent" class, I recommend Fighter. Bonus feats aplenty pretty much let you do whatever you want.
Alternatively, make the consistent side a Cleric or Oracle so that you can get full spellcasting in one class and 1st-level spells in every other class. If you take full-BAB classes on the other side at the right intervals, you can still have a full BAB. Don't go arcane on the consistent side though-- arcane spell failure after all.
Wizards and sorcerers really only want it if their go-to round one spell is something like Fireball or Black Tentacles, and you want to be able to drop it before your fighter ally runs into the fray. If you open with a buff spell or a single-target SoS, however, you don't need it. If the fighter knows you're going to cast haste, he'll delay if he wants haste that bad.
A bomb-focused Alchemist might want it for similar reasons, so he has a clear shot without worrying about friendly splash damage, but he doesn't have the feats to spend on it if he's bomb-focused because he needs Point-Blank Shot and the like.
Of course, anyone taking archery feats should have enough Dex that they don't need it.
Divine casters pretty much never need it. Even if they're battle clerics, or melee inquisitors. Heck, inquisitors never need it because they get Cunning Initiative.
You can deal damage to a creature you are grappling with a grapple check. So, a decent Strength score and Improved Grapple and you're golden.
I'd say make him a Ninja. He hides in the alleyway, waiting for his target, then strikes! Ninjas get Improved Unarmed Strike as a ninja trick, and unarmed strike + sneak attack = strangling I suppose.
They both need Dex and Wisdom, they both have an ability that gives an AC bonus, and one focuses on melee while the other carries a ranged weapon.
You end up with a switch-hitter that doesn't need Quick Draw, and handles like an Old Western two-fisted hero. And of course monks can get Dodge and Mobility as bonus feats, which Gunslingers need to qualify for Deft Shootist.
Musketeer does indeed trade away its mount for a musket or pistol. He gets Rapid Reload for it at level 4, Improved Critical at level 8, and a few other benefits for it as well.
The Emissary archetype still gets the mount, but their whole shtick is "just as good on or off horseback", so you could play an Emissary and leave the horse back at the stables.
There's Deadly Aim, there's Point-Blank Shot, and I believe there's Arcane Strike for those that qualify. That's... pretty much it.
If you wanted to dual-wield pistols you could combine TWF and Rapid Shot for more damage through more attacks, and also add Two-Weapon Rend (does that even work?) but the sheer number of feats you'd need to pull that off makes it comically impractical even for fighters.
Heck, if you're using guns and you're not a Gunslinger, your best bet is probably a Fighter (for Weapon Specialization and Weapon Training) Paladin (for Smite Evil) Luring Cavalier (for far challenge) or Rogue (for sneak attack). Of those four, the fighter is the only one who can get those bonuses on every shot he fires-- everybody else only gets them in certain circumstances.
I agree that the rules for guns are needlessly complex.
Do gargoyles make particularly good Oracles, or is it just the fact that one of your players is a gargoyle in the first place?
Gargoyles are CR4, so according to the "monsters as PCs" section of the Bestiary, he should be starting four levels lower than any character playing a core race. Is he?
Also gargoyles are nocturnal by nature. Do all the PCs sleep during the day along with him?
When I play Clerics, I get good mileage out of Command. Nerfed as it is from the 3.5 days, you can still make an opponent waste his turn provoking AoO's. A battle cleric with a polearm would LOVE to use it on an enemy archer.
For Druids, Shillelagh makes me want to roll up a monk who dips druid. Cast it on your quarterstaff, and flurry with what is effectively a +1 greatsword.
For Inquisitors, I enjoyed Confess quite a bit. My GM rules that you can tell if the creature is taking reduced or full damage, so it makes a great prisoner interrogation spell. The best part is that the target takes the full force of the spell EVEN if they can't answer you. Would make a pretty twisted combo with Lipstitch!
I've also had alchemists and wizards take Blood Transcription. It's just so much fun to Mega-Man-style steal spells known from your dead enemies. Just make sure the Paladin hasn't put any ranks in Spellcraft.
Like Blood Transcription, I've been eyeing Create Treasure Map and Blood Biography, but those really come down to GM fiat. Biography usually just tells you something you already knew (that you just killed this thing), and Create Treasure Map is either a great way to help your GM give you plot hooks or a great way to waste time looking for piles of rotting meat and photos of other people's loved ones.
For a high-crit weapon, the Impact property can be very impressive, provided that it increases the weapon's NUMBER of base damage dice. Increasing 1d10 to 2d8, for example, or 1d12 to 3d6, but not 1d6 to 1d8 or 2d4 to 2d6.
Obviously this is better if you plan to do some bull-rushing in your career. You are an Oracle of Battle, so you could get Improved and Greater Bull Rush for free if you wanted them...
Lumiere Dawnbringer wrote:
I said "most legendary", not "most difficult".
If you want to TPK your party, there's definitely more lethal choices in the Bestiaries. I believe the Tarrasque holds the record for making PCs void their bowels, but the literature nerd in me prefers the Jabberwocky.
Dragons, however, hold the undisputed record for making PCs squeal in glee at the thought of actually getting to say they've slain one. Heck, the game that Pathfinder is adapted from, and that most of us grew up playing, was NAMED AFTER them. Players and GMs alike have built up dragons in their imagination as being the Ultimate Accomplishment for adventurers. The fact that TheSideKick is using "powerbombed a dragon" as the best example of his monk's combat prowess proves that they're the greatest feather in any player's cap. Once you've fought a dragon and lived to tell the tale, You Win Pathfinder. The rest is just New Game Plus.
True, but humanoids don't normally have a way of counterattacking something that's 400 feet in the air besides shoot arrows at it, and that's a -4 to hit for range increments.
If I were that dragon, I might not recognize that this specific group of humanoids were the ones that had done something of note. All puny humanoids look alike, after all. If they were in my territory, I probably would fly over and strafe them with my fire breath a few times just to put the Fear of Dragon into their heart, and let them run back to their pathetic thatched-roof cottages and tell the others so they can all quake with fear at my splendor.
It all depends on how much street cred the PCs actually have at this point, how much of it a dragon would be likely to care about, and whether or not this dragon is the "plot the humans' downfall from atop my hoard" type or the "rule by fear and demand tribute" type.
Besides, a lot of GMs don't play dragons as tactically as they probably should, mainly because they WANT the PCs to have an epic battle with the most legendary thing in the game, and actually have a chance of winning.
Frankly, I'm amazed a monk can even cover 400 feet in one abundant step.
As for the dragon's stealth abilties, that assumes the dragon was hiding. It's entirely possible that the dragon wasn't bothering to, especially since dragons are arrogant and like to strike fear in their targets. Why would a red dragon bother sneaking up on something that it doesn't consider an actual threat?
If you just want a different weapon, might I suggest the Aklys?
It's a light weapon that deals 1d8 (?!) and is suitable for throwing. You need a move action to retrieve it, but you can do so at any time because it's on a cord (and can use it to trip at range, like a whip)
Returning Weapon is on the Magus's spell list, so you could in theory Spell Combat to cast that and throw the aklys in one round, then keep making ranged attacks as you cast spells outside of AoO range.
You'd still need a feat for proficiency, but that's really all you'd need. Unlike a whip, you threaten with it just fine. Possibly Point-Blank Shot if throwing it appeals to you.
Imperious, you think yours is long? You sure shamed me into adding spoiler tags! My backstory was for Aberrant too.
Goldmeadow Village's days were numbered as soon as Goody Willamette pulled up that first bucket of sludge out of the well.
The stuff sure wasn't water, no doubt. It was clear as water, sure, but as thick and gloppy as butter, with a smell like cloves and mildew. Getting in on your fingers made then sting, and nobody dared to drink it.
Doc Otis had a good long look at the stuff through his wizard's glass, and checked one of his books, and checked again, and after about three days he'd figured out what had happened-- a gelatinous cube had got into the well water. It must have squeezed its way in from an underground cave. Nobody was really surprised-- back when they first settled the village they'd tried four times to dig a well and had hit a dungeon the first three.
Of course by this point every house in the village had drawn a pail, and nobody had gotten anything out of it but that oozy glop. The sheriff's son tried rounding up some of his friends to adventure down there and kill the cube, but it didn't matter. The water supply was tainted and the town was going to die if it didn't get fresh water soon.
Some folks tried to buy water from the travelers. Most of them were adventurer-types, barely brought enough water for themselves if they even remembered to bring any. Pastor Tobias tried conjuring water, but after an hour of the same incantation six hundred times even the patience of a saint ran out. Still, he had made enough water to last the village a few more days.
An emergency meeting was gathered together to decide what to do to save the village. Iella the Hermit said she'd pray for rain, but it'd all flow into the ground and into the well anyway. Doc Otis found tale of a cave beast that eats gelatinous cubes-- if they could catch one and send it down into the well it might eat all the poison, but it'd just as surely poison the water itself with its sweat and dung. Finally Boris the innkeeper suggested that maybe ooze water ain't so bad, and if you could boil it down it might be safe to drink.
After that suggestion, everybody just sort of looked at each other, and decided it was time to move out.
Within a week, Boris was the last man left in Goldmeadow Village. He'd set up a still in his basement and gone to work experimenting with the stuff, running it through and feeding it to the rats he caught in his grain stores and hoping that this time it wouldn't kill them. By the end of the month, he'd found a way to purify it that was almost good enough and didn't taste quite so bad. But there was nobody left to thank him for all his work. He was alone in an empty village.
Boris got real depressed for a few months after that, but it wasn't all bad. Eventually the oozewater sickness cleared up, or maybe he just got used to it. Nobody else in the village meant all the farmland was rightfully his, even though he didn't know much about growing food. And he had all the other houses all to himself, and whatever else they had all left behind. He found some books, and a crossbow, and even a bag full of kittens! The kittens didn't like Boris's Ooze Stew though. Most of them got sick from it and died.
Boris kept working on his oozewater still, and soon enough he had come up with a drink that had as much kick as moonshine and tasted almost as good. He found some sweet berries to mix it with, and put a few bottles of it in his inn, so he could pretend people still came by.
After a few years, most people forgot why nobody came to Goldmeadow Village anymore, and adventurers started coming back thinking they'd find a ghoul and slay it. They never expected to find Boris still running the inn, but they were mostly nice enough. Boris would give them each a free bowl of stew, but the moonshine was 5g a bottle. They'd stay a few days, and buy some of Boris's moonshine and pay him for a room, and in the evenings they'd even talk to old Boris to try and find out what killed Goldmeadow Village. He always told them it was ghouls. Sometimes they didn't believe him, but he'd take them to one of the old failed wells that led down into a dungeon, and they'd find some treasure down there and leave town figuring dungeon monsters must've killed everybody. After all, they didn't want to stay around Boris too long. He looked like he'd been sick for a long time.
And then one day, somebody finally came back to Goldmeadow Village. It was Iella the Hermit. She'd been living in the wilderness all this time, traveling from forest to forest. She'd only come back to see if the wilderness had reclaimed the village yet. She'd never expected to find an old familiar face. She took pity on Boris, and cooked up an herbal curative to ease his illness, and partook of his moonshine even knowing what was in it, and one thing led to another...
Their daughter Anamaria was raised on Brois's Ooze Stew and Goodberries. She grew up thin and frail, with a pale complexion that looked sickly in the wrong light and circles around her eyes. But she never had any problems with her health, and was always in the best of spirits.
Except sometimes, she'd go down to the well where the ooze water came from and spend hours looking down into it. And if a traveler asked her what she was looking at, she'd ask them if they could hear the voice in the bottom of the well too, and if the secrets it told her were true.
Also maybe we don't want to blight the countryside with flesh-eating diseases. The whole reason we're fighting the Tarrasque is to SAVE it, isn't it? You just know that even if that idea worked, Big T would last long enough to drag himself to the nearest water supply.
I know you've kind of already settled on your deity, but if you're looking for a way to get your social skills up without sacrificing front line effectiveness (and don't want to be a healbot), I have a suggestion.
Choose Abadar (Lawful Neutral) as your deity, and choose to channel negative energy instead of positive.
As for social situations in PFS, I can't say for sure but I would think you'd at least be able to contribute via Sense Motive. And if you can improvise, you should be able to find solutions that play to your strengths.
In before the thread lock?
I remember somewhere in 3.5, there was a feat called Flying Kick. When you charge and end in an unarmed strike, you deal an additional 1d12 damage. Prereq: Imp. UAS
I feel like that feat alone could give monks the extra traction they need. With that, they can flurry when they full-attack and still have an option for skirmishing-- remember, as little as 10 feet counts as a charge as long as it's a straight line.
The best part is, it's one feat. No rules rewrites, no errata, just "hey, you can take this feat if you want it."
Clerics also got a few buffs that act like nerfs as far as CoDzilla is concerned.
A lot of people were upset that Clerics were always expected to be the healer, and never actually got to cast their spells because they needed them for Cure spells. So they got Channel Energy-- an ability that lets them release a small nova of healing energy that heals everybody in it. This ability is separate from their spells, so the Cleric has some more freedom in what he or she casts.
The nerf part is: because Clerics now has an extra resource for healing, they get fewer spells per day than they did in 3.X. In addition, their Channel Energy is Charisma-based while their spells are Wisdom-based. And when I say that Channel Energy heals everybody in radius, I mean EVERYBODY, even your enemies. Clerics can take a feat to exclude certain targets from the healing, but the feat has a Charisma requirement. So in addition to needing good physical stats, a Cleric needs good Wisdom and Charisma.
They also lost proficiency in heavy armor, so they also need Dex more than they did in 3.X. But since Channel Energy has a 30-foot radius, they can at least still heal the fighter without having to go stand right next to him.
Here's the thing: you seem to imply that in your games, Paladins are getting their powers specifically from a deity. That's not how I play them, and that's why I struggle with the image of a neutral paladin.
I always pictured paladins as being empowered not by an outside divinity, but by their own strength of conviction. If the gods draw power from the faith of their followers, then a paladin is someone who has so much faith in his own idealogy that it manifests as a sort of "self-contained religion". Thus, if you're neutral and therefore not strongly dedicated to an ideal, then you just don't have the "spark" that leads you to paladinship. You end up a Fighter, or a Cleric, or a Cavalier instead.
Paladins who fall at my tables do so not because a deity disapproved of their actions, but because they had a crisis of faith, or compromised their dedication, or saw hypocrisy in their actions. Their "fall" is really just a manifestation of their own self-doubt. (This also handily explains why Lawful Stupidity and making Wisdom your dump-stat go hand in hand.)
So what's wrong with being a Halfling/Gnome?
In theory, you could UMD a wand of Reduce Person to allow yourself to ride your bear before level 4. Sadly, Cavaliers can't even choose a mount in the first place unless it's naturally big enough to ride.
You may have to multiclass druid/cavalier, or simply roleplay as a cavalier whose lifelong dream is to break a bear to the saddle.
I seem to recall 3.5 having alternate classes for LE, CE, and CG that were basically paladins with tweaks. My GM often reminisces about "paladins of freedom" that were apparently a thing back when Elves were canonically a CG culture and had their own CG deity.
If I were re-writing Pathfinder, I'd change the paladin's alignment from LG to "any non-neutral" and adjust Detect Evil, Smite Evil, and the paladin's code to compensate.
I do have a hard time imagining a neutral paladin though, even on one axis. What differentiates a paladin from a cleric or a LG cavalier, IMO, is true devotion in every thought and deed. Paladins get their power not so much from a deity, but from dedication so true it grants the paladin divine power as strong as any religion. I just can't see a character with an N on his alignment line putting himself so entirely into his ideals.
You could always pull a page from the Shadow over Innsmouth...
Merfolk are already statted out as a PC race. If you establish that The City your campaign takes place in has a harbor and that there are merfolk who regularly trade with the townsfolk, that's all the justification you need for the inevitable undersea quest. Heck, tell the players up-front that they have the option of playing as Merfolk (from the ARG) and straight out of the gate they'll know to favor piercing weapons.
Honestly, if your druid is all about deep philosophical thought on the laws of nature, I'd say the Weather domain would fit right in. It's one of the ones core druids can get, and it fits with the idea of a druid who studies the natural world around him to the point where he can practically see the future in the patterns of the clouds, and can smell the omens on the wind.
Here's my plan for beating the Tarrasque:
Step 1. Pass the Test of the Starstone.
As for character builds, I recommend plenty of ranks in Diplomacy.
148. Texts on the Kuthonites
Whenever I look at the rogue list, I read through the rogue talents and can't find anything that I'd ever want to take. The ninja trick list definitely has more meat on it.
Also, I was under the impression that a rogue could only choose one ninja trick total (because he can only get ninja tricks through a rogue talent, and each rogue talent can only be taken once) while a ninja has full access to both classes' trick/talent lists.
You'll definitely want Whip Mastery as soon as you can get it, and possibly Improved Whip Mastery. As well as Arcane Strike, which will be another decent source of damage for you.
Since you won't actually need to stand next to the creature you're attacking, concentration checks shouldn't be an issue for you either. You may consider the Maneuver Mastery magus arcana if using your whip to trip appeals to you.
You should also take advantage of your range by picking up a spell or two that can keep enemies away from you. Hydraulic Push is great for this-- it's a level 1 spell with no save, and you can use it to push an enemy away from you or to push it towards you and into your whip radius.
Most fantasy names are built around the old naming conventions, where a person's name was just something about them. If John Fletcher gave up making bows and arrows and decided to make barrels for a living, he'd change his name to John Cooper. If John Underhill moved to the seaside village and brough his hammer and anvil with him, the folks in his new village would just call him John Smith. Folks back then would have found our current ideas about names to be hilariously picayune and priggish.
Given your example, I doubt anyone called him "the Skullsplitter" before he split his first skull.