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The Chort's page

Pathfinder Society Member. 851 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 Pathfinder Society character.


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Good grief, the more I think about it, my character isn't Angel Summoner; I'm Gymkhana Girl. I should carry sugar lumps.

Garbage-Tier Waifu wrote:
Alter Summoned Monster

Haha, I'm aware of the spell and the beautiful/horrendous abuses with Mount. I just assumed my GM wouldn't stand for it. Even if my GM were short-sighted enough to allow the spell to function as written, I don't wish to relegate my good friends to life as a cadre of BMX Bandits.

I'd say killing people with Ponies is far from overwhelmingly powerful, it's more getting more utility out of SMI than people perhaps thought possible. SMII is still stronger, just not by very much when you factor in Evolved Summon Monster. I thought it was pretty cool, since Conjurer's Focus is very limited by your arcane reservoir.

And... shugarlumpsh.

edduardco wrote:

I found Consume Magic Item really useful for this archetype, I mean you can carry lots of scrolls for situational occasions, scrolls are the most efficient GP cost item, so you can use your scroll if one of this situations shows or replenish your arcane reservoir if required. Actually I think most Arcanist should take Scribe Scroll although is quite difficult with this built.

You can also get a staff that will give you extra spells and can be used to replenish arcane reservoir.

That is what I plan to take at level 13. It's probably a little late to be taking the ability, although I don't really want to delay picking up any of my other exploits. It does has the nice timing of being the same time my Wizard cohort can start crafting staves. (Level 11) And of course my cohort will have scribe scroll, so I will eventually get some nice cheap scrolls. (Again, a little late.) A lot of awkward timing in this build, but hard to complain with such cool abilities.

Thought I'd point out one of my absolute favorite guides:

Ashiel's Guide to Adventure: Preparation, Tricks, and Strategy

Every time I revisit the guide, I remember something I need to try. I'm currently level 2 in my campaign and this stuff is great! I'm adding nets to the list of items my Arcanist carries, since I have a great dex and ranged touch attacks aren't that hard to hit. The guide is chock full of ways you can save spells/arcane points in favor of other relevant actions.

LuniasM wrote:

I thought that Ponyfinder spoiler was leading to a much different place than it did. Go ahead and search Ponyfinder on Google.

I bet 25% of you know what I'm talking about.

Haha, sorry for misleading; I was thinking back to that April Fools 2011 post. ...but I guess people have taken what was a joke and made an actual campaign setting! Ambitious and even more pony-tastic than my Occultist, I'm sure.

I was inspired to make this guide after being a little frustrated with how many times you can activate your Conjurer's Focus ability, casting the highest Summon Monster available, before using consume spells. Here's the breakdown:

Level 1 - 3/day
Level 2 - 4/day
Level 3 - 2/day
Level 4 - 2/day
Level 5 - 1/day
Level 6 - 2/day
Level 7 - 1/day

...and 1/day every level thereafter. If you aren't taking extra reservoir or high charisma for Consume Spells, the ability becomes increasingly constrained. But I think shrewd use of Evolved Summon Monster (see Ponyfinder) will let you get more mileage of this powerful ability. All while still being a full caster with amazingly flexible abilities, like Quick Study. I hope this mini-guide will be of some use to people looking into playing the class.

Ever run out of powerful spells by the time you reach the big bad evil guy? All casters run into this balancing act. Arcanists even more so, with fewer spells than Wizards or Sorcerers and class features that encourage you to sacrifice even more spells. Occultist have it perhaps toughest of all, with an amazingly strong ability that, if used recklessly, can be depleted after only a few combats.

This mini-guide to the Occultist Arcanist is about how to conserve resources while still contributing to every fight.

Occultist Build:
My level 1 stats:
Str 6
Dex 16
Con 14
Int 21
Wis 8
Cha 18

This character has crazy generous stats, but it's not necessary to make the class function. If anything, this guide is more pertinent to someone with a regular point buy since you can’t consume as many spells each day.

Human (or Elf): Spell Focus (Conj)
1 Augment Summoning
3 Evolved Summon Monster
5 Evolved Summon Monster
7 Leadership
9 Superior Summoning
11 Evolved Summon Monster

1 Conjurer’s Focus
3 Familiar
5 School Understanding (Void)
7 Planar Contact
9 Quick Study
11 Dimensional Slide

Occultist's Progression Of Abilities:
Other than level 2, every level for an Occultist adds exciting new options, which I think speaks well to the design of the class.

Levels 1 and 2
Actually, these levels are pretty sweet for you. Between Grease, Sleep and SM1, you have powerful options and effectively more spells per day than most.

Subsequent Odd Levels
These levels are both awesome and awkward. You get access new feats, exploits and a new level of Summon Monster. However your conjurer’s focus ability is tougher to use at these levels. Even sacrificing your highest level spell won’t fully give you the arcane points needed to cast your highest SM spell.

Subsequent Even Levels
These levels will feel like you’re coming into your own with your abilities. You get a new level of spells and sacrificing these will allow you to cast the highest SM spell you can. You also get another point in your arcane reservoir.

Evolved Summon Monster: An Occultist’s Best Friend
Some of you may wonder why I didn’t pick up Superior Summoning at level 3. That’s because of the centerpiece of this guide; Evolved Summon Monster. This feat does a fantastic job of allowing an Occultist conserve resources. How? The option to still cast a lower level Summon Monster spell for fewer points. Unlike the Summoner who always uses the highest level SM spell available to him, you have many reasons to consider looking down the list, and Evolved Summon Monster can beef up a lower level summon. Superior Summoning just isn’t something an Occultist can use nearly as often. I contemplated skipping Superior Summoning altogether, but I know how powerful it can be, and someday I will be summoning 1d4+2 lantern archons to bail us out of an impossible fight.

So what makes Evolved Summon Monster so incredibly strong? The ability to add additional natural attacks. There was a great thread on this a while back. Theorycrafting to maximally exploit Evolved Summon Monster Adding natural attacks to monsters with high strength/hit die but a terrible attack routine is how you get the most out of this feat.

For an Occultist, at level 3 and beyond, you really don’t want to be using your Conjurer’s Focus to cast the highest level SM spell you have access to in EVERY combat. But how can you still contribute to combat while conserving resources? Enter Ponyfinder.

The pony is the strongest monster on SM1. Didn’t seem that way last time you looked? That’s because it starts with secondary attacks. But with 2 Hit Die and (post augment summoning) 17 Str and 18 Con, it has stats you’d expect to see on SM2. Let’s see how it looks with some evolutions.

At Level 3:
With claws and smite evil, a Pony’s attack routine looks like this:

At Level 5:
There’s actually 2 different evolutions worth looking at. Both have merits.

Add Bite:

Or Add Mount:

Now is the pony actually stronger than the SM2 options? No, a Giant Worker Ant or a Hyena with evolutions would be stronger. But the power difference is so minor it generally makes no sense to spend double the arcane points to achieve such a minor boost.

Don’t forget this important line of text, which reinforces the pony as the best option for abuse at low levels. ” Evolutions that grant additional attacks or enhance existing attacks can be applied only to Medium or larger summoned creatures.” So eagles and earth elementals don’t have access to the most powerful part of this feat; extra attacks. (You could still give them +2 natural armor or something.)

After Ponyfinder:
The pony is a low level trick to conserve resources, and I’d say the sweet spot is levels 3 through 6, although I wouldn’t forget about it entirely. Sometimes a flank buddy with 5+ natural attacks that only hit on a nat 20 is good enough for easier fights.

However the same concept can be applied well beyond these levels. Try summoning a Bison (SM4) instead of a Dire Tiger. (SM6) And the beauty of it all is that this trick doesn’t take any investment at all. You want Evolved Summon Monster anyway! Who doesn’t want to summon a T-Rex with 6 natural attacks?

Other Ways To Conserve Resources:
School Understanding: Void
I love Reveal Weakness. 3+Cha times per day, you give a penalty on AC and saving throws equal to half your caster level. No saving throw, just massive penalties. It’s often a great follow up to summoning a creature, allowing a flurry of attacks (and spells) to get through much easier. And it’s contributing to combat without casting a spell or spending arcane points.

I’m not going to dwell on this much, as many guides have this well covered. Get some scrolls. Maybe a wand. Craft alchemical items and give some to your familiar too. There are some very cost-efficient options to turn GP into relevant combat options, so make use of them.

Are you ready to inflict death by ponies? Suggestions, questions, and critiques are much appreciated!

wraithstrike wrote:

I don't think anyone is saying make your build to get as many actions as possible. The message is that more actions are better than less actions. Most people also understand that taking more time than twice the other players to complete your turn can be annoying at many table.

PS: "Roll" playing does not exist. It is a myth.

There are quite a few action economy evangels; to quote from another thread:

"Always, always take a familiar. Always. An exploit and a feat is a pittance for gaining an extra standard action every round. Particularly if you invest in UMD as you should and grab good wands."

It's solid advice, but not necessarily the character everyone wants to build. Whatever people choose, I hope most are respectful enough of their fellow players to keep their turns short.

Heretek wrote:
HyperMissingno wrote:
I dunno, if the only person specialized for melee is a bard while the crafting and healing situations are fine I think a melee cohort or two might be helpful. The skinwalker barbarian and the griffon riding cavalier have been huge helps in combat.
If the only melee DPS in the party is a bard then I simply must question your playgroups decision making abilities. Requiring leadership to fill in a critical missing party element is hardly advisable, nor optimized.

Eh, I wouldn't go around accusing people of "doing it wrong." 1. Fun is king. 2. You don't know enough about their party to criticize their choices even from a crunch standpoint.

Our party isn't quite ideal either; our frontliners are a Life Oracle and a Ninja. (So actually a two-handed raging power attacking barbarian cohort would be quite nice.) But I think we can manage; my summons help with that.

Saethori wrote:

As a player, I prioritize fun and flavor. All my characters are often intentionally undertuned, and I'm generally fine with this.

As a GM, I try to keep an eye on my players, but often reward flavor and roleplaying, rather than efficiency and "roll" playing. This has often been enough to keep most players focused on having fun.

During character construction, I pick a class and from there my optimization brain turns on and do the best I can to make my mechanics rock solid.

...but when I go to the table I prioritize fun. I try to monitor what the other players are doing and interacting with whoever seems disengaged. I perhaps overdo my character quirks. 8 wisdom isn't abysmally low, but I like to play my character as someone who speaks before thinking of the ramifications.

Oh, and I'll be taking Leadership, but only to get a crafting Wizard for the pure money saving goodness for the party and also more spells for my spellbook. He won't be adventuring with us.

I don't want to deal with managing all these actions each turn. I don't want the other players waiting for me to finish my turn. I don't want to discourage our Ninja who's playing Pathfinder for the first time after 8 years of saying "No thanks" to our invitations.

Action economy is discussed on the boards all the time; you should be summoning monsters, quickening spells, and have a familiar using a wand to overwhelm your foes with the sheer quantity of standard actions you can take each turn. But when is it too much?

From a pure optimization standpoint, the answer is never. Always take more actions when possible. I'm playing an Occultist Arcanist (currently level 2) and have every opportunity to shatter the action economy. ...but I'm thinking I'd rather not. I'll take a regular familiar, for the nice initiative boost and other minor utility, but would rather keep it away from the battlefield. I'd like to summon an Auroch with Claws and a Bite attack from Evolved Summon Monster, but would rather stay away from Superior Summoning. I guess I have preference in potent actions over a lot of them, even though more actions is stronger.

I'm playing through the Crimson Throne with an unchained Ninja, Oracle and a Cleric. We have a GENEROUS point buy and optimized builds, so I feel I have plenty of margin to skip out on action economy; our party is strong enough for the challenge. But not everyone has such a generous hedge of power. How do you go about it in your games?

The Steel Refrain wrote:

I sort of feel like the ability as a whole is probably a case of trying to "fix" a class/archetype that isn't really broken.

Yeah, the Consume Spells feature was nerfed, but it makes having a reasonably high Charisma a valid consideration for more Arcanists now. Pre-nerf, many Arcanist builds could reasonably ignore Charisma (and some still do). Regardless of the nerf, Arcanists (incl Occulist archetype ones) remain a powerful class. of course, before the nerf the Occultist archetype was crazy good, given they could basically swap any spell for an equivalent levelled Summon Monster spell.

So from my perspective, I think the ability operates as an unnecessary power boost overall (being, as you appear to recognize, markedly more 'powerful' than the 7th level Planar Contact ability it would replace).

Changing it so that you can basically freely use SMI an infinite number of times a day only worsens that problem, in my view. Though I don't believe it would be game breaking by any means (especially by 7th level), I can see how a creative player could abuse access to infinite low level summons. As 'trap detectors', for example.

But I guess realistically, if the GM allows the initially proposed change to boost the archetype, this modification probably isn't crazy, especially if you commit to using it responsibly :P

You're correct in spades, of course. The class was seamlessly powerful before, now it's merely awkwardly powerful. (You have to truly weigh the cost of using Potent Magic, Dimensional Slide, and Quick Study.) But hey, I like nice things and maybe my GM won't mind. I'll walk him through all the ways I can think of abusing the ability (like trap finding) and see if he's still okay with it.

Hrmm. How busted would it be to change the ability like so:

Your Conjurer's Focus ability costs 1 less point from her arcane reservoir. (Minimum 0 points)

It'd allow you to cast SM1 an unlimited number of times per day, although you could only ever have one active, and if you ever wanted to cast higher level summon with Conjurer's Focus, it would disappear. SM1 has no spells that can be abused... I don't know. Kicking in at level 7, I'm unsure if this ability would be broken or useless.

Just a Mort wrote:

Mount is pretty good, but wait till you get earth elementals. You'll summon em, never look back.

+7 to hit, 1d6+8 dmg, assuming earth mastery. Most creatures come with a bite attack already. Or you don't want the bite because it prevents them from 1.5 str dmg on their slam.

Actually, there's this clause: "Evolutions that grant additional attacks or enhance existing attacks can be applied only to Medium or larger summoned creatures." So you can't. And as you say, you wouldn't want to anyway. The earth elemental can also do +6 to hit, 1d6+11 dmg, if power attacking.

ZZTRaider wrote:

As far as the Moonlight/Starlight/Sunlight Summons, I'd probably word that to allow you to ignore the "able to cast summon nature's ally" requirement for those feats, but limit you to applying the effects to Conjurer's Focus unless you met the normal prerequisites. I don't think the reservoir cost is necessary in this case, if you're spending the feat on it.

If you're looking for homebrew to improve the longevity of Conjurer's Focus, though, I'd probably go for an exploit like the following:

Greater Exploit: Greater Consumption (Ex)
The arcanist can use the consume spells class feature or the consume magic items exploit a number of times per day equal to twice her Charisma modifier (minimum 2).

That was the idea behind the ability; even if I met the prereq for those feats, they're simply not worth taking. Not only are there a lot of better feats, but you can even take Evolved Summon Monster as many times as you want, and I think it's always better than any of the "light" feats. So I thought this would be a cool way to make use of the subpar feats. Having access to all 3 allows when necessary allows you to flexibly deal with niche things that come up, like DR/Silver (Moonlight Summons) or an invisible enemies (Starlight Summons) Summoning can already work around these issues (Dire Bats for invisible enemies, spellcasting summons for DR) but it's nice to add options to your other creatures.

Greater Consumption would be nice, but doesn't kick in until level 11, which I find too late. Also seems weird to spend an Exploit to still not be as good as a pre-nerf arcanist.

I'd say Pounce and Reach are almost trap evolutions anyway. You tend to just summon the monster next to its target anyway. Evolved summon monster can do some cool things, look at a horse with augment summoning:

2 attacks: +0/+0 to hit, d4+2* damage

Now let's add in Evolved Summon Monster. Either:

Bite: Add a 3rd attack. +5 to hit, d8+5* damage


Mount: Hooves improve. +5/+5 to hit, d4+5* damage

*Didn't include smite damage

Just a Mort wrote:
Superior summons as evolved summons has been nerfed. No reach or pounce evos can now be added. Furthermore, evolved summons only adds 1 evo point, ability score improvement costs 2 evo points. So no 20 str horses.

Right, it was officially changed to exclude pounce or reach. How about mount or claws? Actually, given they had to specifically spell out that you are forbidden to take pounce lends credence to the idea that you're allowed to take mount even though it's "only available to eidolons of the quadruped or serpentine base forms" You could make the same case for claws.

A horse naturally has 16 Str, so augment summoning will bring it up to 20 Str. Although I wonder if Earth Elemental is simply the better summon?

Let's say you're a 2nd level Summoner with Augment Summoning. You're about to hit level 3 and you're looking to take one of two feats: Superior Summoning or Evolved Summon Monster. Which do you take?

If I had to guess, Superior Summoning is more powerful. d3+1 14 Str Eagles vs a 20 Str Horse with either a bite attack or the mount evolution to make his hooves primary attacks. But more than raw power, I imagine sticking with 1 summon is less of a headache for the rest of the table. On the other hand, I do have a rogue in the party who appreciates all the flanking he can get.

So which would you choose, and why?

Rules Question:
Has Paizo made an official ruling on which evolutions you can take with Evolved Summon Monster? I've seen people mention you can't take mount because the monster isn't a quadruped eidolon or you can't take claws since it doesn't have the limbs evolution. Honestly, I find that that dubious. I think my GM would readily allow me to apply claws to a wolf or whatever seems anatomically reasonable.

The Sideromancer wrote:
I would split it into 2 exploits (the template and the reduction), but I know little of balance. Also is this for an Arcanist or an Occultist?

It was meant to work directly with the Occultist's conjurer's focus ability. The true value of this ability is in the point reduction, but thought it would be cool if the ability was more than that. Also, the ability would still do something when you hit level 20. Not that level 20 really matters.

I also like that the ability doesn't come online until level 7; casting Summon Monster II at level 3 for one arcane point would be too strong, I think. But 3 points for SM4 seems fair, and 1 point for SM2 just isn't super relevant by that stage of the game.

Of all archetypes, I think the Occultist was hardest hit by the consume spells nerf. So I was thinking of asking my GM for a replacement ability for the 7th level ability. I have no delusions that my proposed ability is a "fair trade," I mean for it to make the class function more easily.

Conjurer's Versatility:
At 7th level, an occultist can spend 1 point from her arcane reservoir to apply Moonlight/Starlight/Sunlight Summons to his Conjurer's Focus ability.

Your Conjurer's Focus ability costs 1 less point from her arcane reservoir. (Minimum 1 point)

I added the first half of the ability as more of a flavor thing, since I have fey heritage as the source of my sorcerer side and the feats are underwhelming normally. Although the flexibility to add any of the 3 may be stronger than I suspect. I also went through various iterations, like the Moonlight/Starlight/Sunlight being 1/day, but figured spending arcane points was more in line with what the arcanist usually does. I also thought of increasing the point reduction to 2 at level 15, but that's just asking for more gravy late game rather than helping the class function. The ability becomes free at level 20 anyway.

So what do you think? Interesting ability? More help than the class actually needs?

Oh, a report! I have played level 1 with this character, and it was awesome! I've played many 1st level wizards before and I just accept that my awesome levels come later. Not so with my Arcanist. Flexibly preparing sleep and grease was very nice, casting just the right spell. (I normally miss out on Sleep since I usually pick Enchantment as an opposition school) Greasing flights of stairs, knocking people to the bottom and ending fights before they began with sleep.

...and then there's Conjurer's Focus. Standard action casting, 1 minute duration, 3 eagle attacks with Augment Summoning... Haha, maybe my true calling is to play a Master Summoner. But I think the Arcanist's full casting and exploits will make for a powerful, flexible character.

swoosh wrote:
You could just take extra reservoir like five times. Does a good job giving you enough points, especially at mid or higher levels.

Believe me, I'm tempted. But there's so many other tempting choices, like Superior Summoning, Evolved Summon Monster, Improved Initiative, Leadership...

Oh, I might also be able to make use of the Magic Schools system, which is sort of cool. I might be able to make some homebrew adjustments to make the benefits of enrollment more suitable to my Arcanist, but the Summoning Specialization ability is already pretty cool. (Adding new monsters of equivalent CR to your summon monster list, with GM approval)

edduardco wrote:
I will go with Quick Study at level 3 and Consume Magic Items at level 5, and push Familiar to 9 or take Extra Arcanist Exploit if you want it earlier, ditto for Dimensional Slide

I think Quick Study doesn't really hit it's stride until 4th or 5th level spells, when you have slots to spare and the added versatility can really pay off. Like swapping in Teleport when needed.

Dimensional Slide... I guess I haven't been grappled enough times to really fall in love with it, but more than that it just lets you get ideal positioning to cast your spells. Again, burning precious arcane points makes me nervous, but this is strong.

Consume Magic Items. I didn't like this ability before, I like it less now. Pre-nerf, you had to pay 75g per arcane point, if you were lucky enough to have a wizard with scribe scroll in your party. Now, you're strongly encouraged to pay even more per arcane point, so you can get even more arcane points in a day. Ugh. But I'm sure I'll take this exploit eventually. I'm thinking it'll be level 11+ though. I'll have wizard cohort, so may as well make good use of it.

I decided I wanted to play an Occultist before knowing about the Consume Spells nerf, but here I am, still playing it anyway. I think it'll still be strong. But does it affect my Exploit picks? Do I still prioritize Potent Magic, Dimensional Slide, and Quick Study?

My current thoughts:
Stats at level 1:
Str 6
Dex 16
Con 14
Int 21
Wis 8
Cha 18


1 (Replaced)
3 Familiar
5 School Understanding (Void)
7 (Replaced)

Unsure where to go from there.

This isn't PFS, so I have some flexibility. Heck, if I were super whiny, I bet I could play pre-nerf Arcanist. ...but I don't mind a challenge. How would you build it?

Sidenote: Opportunities for Homebrew:
My character is a student of the Acadamae, as in, the school in question for the Acadamae Graduate feat. Although that feat isn't useful to an occultist. Perhaps it could be rewritten to a relevant benefit? But what kind of benefit would I actually care to get? Maybe my GM would allow me to replace an Exploit with this homebrew ability. I also have an open trait slot.

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I feel like quite a few could. Like perception, all Knowledge checks, sense motive... Anytime where failing a check informs the player that there's something their character missed, although the character shouldn't know that. A lot of this came up tonight, actually.

Perception - We were investigating a ship and our GM told us to make a perception check, but we rolled too low. The place was covered in poisonous spider webs, so we're like "Screw that" and made peace with the knowledge that we missed out on something. (We should never have known we missed something.)

Knowledge (Nobility) - None of us had a rank in this skill (We were level 1) so we were aware it was impossible to get higher than a 10. Now we're scheming on taking a rank in Knowledge (Nobility) and check a library or something so we can try the check again. (Very meta-y, although I guess we would have researched this mysterious royal object regardless)

Sense Motive - Very straightforward; when you roll a nat 1 on a sense motive, you think "Okay, guaranteed worthless information" or if you roll a nat 20 you think "Guaranteed relevant information!" Ideally, players wouldn't initiate sense motive checks and the GM would alert us whenever our BS detector started picking up on something.

I think the problem is is that on top of everything a GM has to keep track of, he now has to keep track of every skill modifier for our characters and make all our rolls for us? So... On the one hand this seems like something a well designed app could handle, and that would be a cool tool for a GM to have access to. On the other hand, players are expected to take charge and be responsible for everything their character does, so I'm wondering if this needlessly encroaches on the small part of the world the players have control over?

In the end, Pathfinder isn't a video game so not everything runs as smoothly or automated as you might hope. I've made my peace with meta moments, but if your gaming group can accommodate ways to diminish opportunities for meta knowledge, more power to ya!

BretI wrote:

You need a good charisma (at least 14, 16 is much better) on an Occultist in order to refill your pool via Consume Spell. You will also want to look at the Consume Magic Item exploit for the same reason.

The cost for the higher summon SLAs is very high and you will want to be able to do both of those exploits multiple times.

With the higher Charisma, the Bloodline Development or School Understanding can also be worthwhile. You would want to review all the options there very carefully, some of them are great while others really need a longer duration in order to be useful.

Thanks for pointing out School Understanding; I was planning on taking it, but I didn't read it very carefully and assumed it was still keyed off of intelligence. Important to know!

The Steel Refrain wrote:

For an Occultist, to really take advantage of its features I think you're likely to want to be able to churn spell slots for arcane points via Consume Spells, so I think neglecting CHA would be a bad idea for that archetype (for a base Arcanist it is definitely a viable idea, however).

That Strength of 6 though... that's going to be rough. You'll be able to carry the clothes on your back, and not a heck of a lot else at early levels (before access to things like a handy haversack, muleback cords, etc.). Beyond carrying capacity, you're also at serious risk of trouble if you encounter a poison or disease that attacks STR, or a ray of enfeeblement, or an enemy like a shadow.

I'd probably take a CHA of 14 or 16 and boost that STR a little, if it were me (though STR 8 could be manageable).

I've sort of made my peace with the fact that my defenses are flawed and I could be incapacitated or killed by certain spells or poisons. I lean heavily on optimizing proactively, toward enabling my concept rather than defensively, to increase my chances of survival in all scenarios. If I dies or end up useless in a fight, so be it.

Hey all, I'm starting a new campaign on Saturday and have a very generous stat generation system and can't decide on what would be best for my Occultist. (I'd consider dropping the archetype, but I've written a backstory that quite heavily leans on my taking this archetype) Here are the two extremes I'm looking at:

Str 6
Dex 16
Con 16
Int 21
Wis 16
Cha 8


Str 6
Dex 16
Con 12
Int 21
Wis 10
Cha 18

Or I could split the difference with a Charisma of 14 or so. What would your preference be? My concern is that without Consume Spells being usable many times a day, eventually my Summon Monster ability will be usable twice a day, tops. Are there other notable perks to having 18 charisma? Exploits worth looking at? Consume spells alone seems like a shaky reason to go from 8 to 18.

Originality is overrated, I say. Stand atop the shoulders of greats and take the ideas of others even farther!

My favorite idea that I've stolen is from a post in another thread I started where someone explained a great way to run sandbox campaigns. Establish the existence of time and have 3 or 4 plotlines occurring simultaneously. Have each plot advance whether the PCs interact with it or not. An individual plotline could reach a critical point where the PCs have even more compelling reasons to resolve it. Or it could be resolved by other heroes who got there before you. Or whatever. Just seemed like a great way to maintain that openness of a sandbox, where players can go and do what they'd like, but add some urgency and verisimilitude that this is an actual world that moves without you.

What's your favorite idea that you've taken, perhaps reworked a little and added to your game? As a player or game master.

And the final chapter!

@yronimous: I feel I have a GM who can railroad us even more than the GM you described; it's not "You stand at the outside of the dungeon, what do you do?" "Wrong!"'s more like... "My GMPC is leading you into the dungeon as you follow behind." The story can keep going without us making any decisions. Anyway, as you explained, I hope to provide my players with enough information, set the mood of the campaign and let them make informed decisions which have meaningful consequences.

@Cap. Darling: I do plan on using some "All roads lead to Rome" tactics, especially with any number of NPCs able to drop the same plot hooks, and perhaps any number of subplots lead to a bigger plot.

@Devilkiller: There are certainly some skills I'll need to master: improvisation and, failing that, controlling the flow of the game to non-offensively stall the PCs, thereby buying you the time you need to create a dungeon/flesh out a plotline that the PCs will explore next time.

@Bodhizen: Good reminders; I intend to have a weather forecast for the entire campaign. Players can railroad is a concern, I know one player who can get a little dominating. I could use some in-game consequences and punish this player, but I'd sooner take him aside and discuss it with him. He's been in my Pathfinder group for 7 years, so I'm comfortable enough.

@SteveGeddes: I'm unsure how comfortable my players will be without rails, I'll do my best to guide them subtly throw in plot hooks and decide for themselves which they'll bite. I do have a player who, when the story isn't moving at a pace she enjoys, will shout "Find the Plot!" a parody of "Find the Path", hoping similar magical results will be reached. Hopefully when the PCs stumble on one of the multiple plotlines found in my sandbox, it won't feel aimless nor require further castings of "Find the Plot"

@MrCharisma: Hope you don't mind if I straight up steal some of what you posted for my campaign. Great ideas. Really digging the separate yet interconnected and constantly moving plotlines.

...and it's over! Thanks again so much to everyone who posted. ...and feel free to post more. This has really helped inspire me to keep on plugging away at building my sandbox.

...and continuing!

@TGMaxMaxer: That sounds amazing. Especially the "3 plotlines, chose what to focus on, see what consequences unfold because of what you ignored." I've told my group I want to include the concept of time, and that the world is moving before PCs get there and after they leave. The "3 plotlines" strategy sounds like superbly focused way to do this; rather than tracking 10 individual towns/cities, just track the effects of the 3 plotlines.

@kyrt-rider: Good luck in your endeavor to return to the GM seat! It can be daunting, frustrating and rewarding. I look forward to tossing an encounter they simply cannot defeat, but of course give them the chance to escape. Also I do have something of an assistant GM; I'll lean on him more after the game begins.

@ChengarQuordath: Good point; I don't want to completely take my hands off the world, I can still guide them to the plots through my available tools, like NPCs.

@pezlerpolychromatic: I'll keep the concept of "something to strive for" in mind. Aimless PCs in my "unlimited potential awesome Sandbox" is a fear of mine. What good is my sandbox if my players have no sense of purpose?

@squankmuffin: I will encourage my players to have individual goals, but not necessarily count on those to guide the story. There are storylines in the world that the players can interact with that can have regional/global consequences that should add a sense of purpose and stave off feelings of pointlessness.

@Errant Mercenary: That's a great list of information you want to know as a GMing when building locations/plotlines within you sandbox. Rather than writing the plot in advance, write the villians / NPCs in advance and have them react to the world around them.

...even more to come!

Apologies for disappearing after posting; I just wanted to pop back in to thank everyone for the phenomenal responses. And to think I almost didn't post this thread thinking it'd be uninteresting!

@Petty Alchemy: Point taken; I hate too many irrelevant quests.

@chbgraphicarts: Freaking sweet! Thanks for pointing this out. I've noticed that our group is not lethal in the slightest, no PC deaths ever. I never quite put two and two together that it was because it's somewhat of a jerk move to kill PCs in a railroad plot, and of course our group always railroads. I look forward to TPKing every combat. (Totally kidding, but less pulled punches!)

@MsPleiades: That's my intention! I want this campaign centered around kingdom building rules. Should help tether them down; they're free to wander but they do need to come back eventually.

@Ithnaar: I'm glad to have mortal danger as one tool in my toolbox. Thanks for pointing out the 3x3x3 system! Took me a moment to put in the proper google search, but found it. I've had my players design NPCs for me, but not nearly 9 each, and not nearly as focused.

@Create Mr. Pitt: I'm doing my best to create a world with its own cultures and social/power structures. I don't intend to have linear narrative, but a bunch of chapters my players can explore in the order they choose.

...more later!

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One GM tactic that can rub players the wrong way is railroading, where the GM is overly controlling of the story. No matter what the players do, the story continues down the path the GM has laid out. All GMs in our group, myself included, are guilty of using this tactic at least once, if not constantly.

So in my next campaign I'd like to intentionally NOT railroad the group. My campaign is sandbox style, but that does not by definition prevent railroading. I think the true agony of being railroaded is that the players' decisions are meaningless and don't affect the outcome of the story. So I'm trying to brainstorm ways to make the players' decisions matter.

1. Recurring NPCs:
Take notes for each NPC you introduce. Did PCs do a favor for this NPC? Did PCs mistreat this NPC? Have karma bless or bite the PCs. Excessively, if appropriate. Make it over the top awesome or horrible.

2. Players Express Interest:
PCs are especially interested in some throwaway line about an ancient ruin? Let them investigate! If you have trouble completely ad libbing this unplanned dungeon from start to finish, make it a 2 parter and flesh out the details by the next session.

3. Reward Roleplay and Creativity:
Player does some great roleplaying or lays out some really clever plan? Reward behavior you like seeing in your players by letting their roleplay or plan achieve its intended results, even if it stretches what they could normally accomplish within the rules. Or give the player a literal poker chip or some other token they can turn in for free rerolls or something.

How else could a GM implement the opposite of railroading?

Since many classes offer ways to pick up Weapon Finesse as a class feature (Swashbuckler, Rogue Talents) you may want to ask your GM if you can get a replacement class feature.

In our home games, we give out Weapon Finesse for free, and allow people to take Slashing Grace/Fencing Grace/Dervish Dance/Deadly Agility if a class feature would give them Weapon Finesse. Other options could be any combat feat, or some simple static feat, like Dodge.

I'm thinking a traditional fighter, actually. Or perhaps a fighter with the two-handed archetype, to represent just how heavy her swings are. She doesn't seem like a Paladin (she has strong convictions, but not like that) or a Barbarian, (she doesn't go crazy, she's collected yet brutal) so I'd go fighter. Maybe a knightly martial prestige class would be fitting, like Golden Legionnaire.

Successfully bringing Brienne of Tarth to Pathfinder involves... Well, roleplaying Brienne of Tarth in Pathfinder.

Haladir wrote:

Here's one suggestion that doesn't require a whole lot of work...

** spoiler omitted **

Nice! That seems a plausible and simple way to rewrite the story so it satisfyingly ends with the defeat of Mokmurian.

So I've been running the runelords campaign for a few years now, and I'd like to conclude it in chapter 4.

1. My players are losing their excitement for this campaign. Probably because I'm losing excitement as GM

2. Problem characters, mechanically. I've got a Fey Kitsune Sorcerer who's hyper specialized in save or die combat ending enchantments. This leads to a no-win situation. Either the sorcerer completely ends the fight and the party is bored, or the sorcerer is completely useless and not having fun, while the rest of the party is having a good time. Also, I have an Oracle of Life that makes the game feel too safe. No one's ever in danger since the Oracle is constantly topping off HP as free actions, swift actions, move actions, and standard actions. Occasionally casting scorching ray instead.

3. Well, more a consequence than a reason, but I have already declared my intentions for a new campaign. People have rolled up characters and are stoked to try my first stab at a homebrew story; a sandbox kingmaker-esque campaign.

Possible options:

1. Leave the game untouched, PCs defeat Mokmurian and are left with a foreboding cliffhanger of Karzoug's return.
2. Instead of Karzoug only mentally appearing before the PCs, he literally appears before the PCs. The PCs defeat him, the world is saved, the entire storyline is essentially resolved and the campaign is complete.
3. End the campaign with a TPK. Karzoug appears and kills them all. Or imprisons them. In a prism? Imprismed. Perhaps defeating Karzoug will be an optional story arc to be tackled at the high levels of my new sandbox campaign.

Option 1 seems unsatisfying, while 2 and 3 seem tempting, although I'm nervous about implementing option 3. It could be completely awesome or could go very sour if handled poorly.

Any ideas on how to best conclude the campaign?

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I never thought Pathfinder would have to use the stack.

Just an update:

The Druid has decided to instead become a Void Wizard. (Glad I asked "Why druid?") I'll still need to walk her through some spellcasting tips to get her on a strong footing.

The Bard has taken the tips from the buffer guide to heart and will be a phenomenal buffer. Also, she opted for the Duettist archetype, so she has a performing familiar now.

The Witch is now a Lore Shaman, oddly enough. Too bad about the loss of the potential of sharing spellbook/familiar spells, but very happy to have a full Divine caster on board.

The Swashbuckler is going for the Inspired Blade archetype, allowing her to dominate with a rapier.

The Synthesist... Not really sure what he's up to. I'll discuss his character with him closer to when my campaign starts.

Almost 4 years ago I asked much the same question. And a lot of people gave good answers. Hope this is helpful!

Training myself up to be a good GM

Kolokotroni wrote:

One option that a gm in my group went with to give some of the mythic feel but not go overboard was to give specific mythic abilities peicemeal out to the party.

He chose specific mythic abilities and powers to give out to each character that suited them. Basically we got surge, mythic power and one of the chosen 1st level abilities for a relavent path. But we didnt get all the hp, mythic feats etc. You could give out a few specific things that offer options instead of just extra numbers, and it will have less of an impact on players steamrolling normal encounters.

For instance the fighter being able to jump in the air and attack the dragon isnt really going to be all that different to ending the encounter then him pulling out a bow (all things being equal ofcourse) but it does give that mythic feel. You can trickle in certain abilities as you see fit, that way you can keep things roughly at the power level you would like.

That's another thing I was considering, like letting them keep a single path ability as a token piece of awesomeness after completing a Mythic one-shot/arc.

Or I could use it like your GM and simply hand out the ability without ever going into full Mythic rules.

LazarX wrote:
The Chort wrote:

I've been considering implementing Mythic rules into my upcoming kingdom building sandbox campaign, but I'm also somewhat concerned about my players steamrolling the non-mythic aspects of my campaign.

So I'm considering Mythic only being active when I say it is. They might be mythic for 1 combat, 1 day, or 1 month, depending upon the nature of the challenge they face. What say you? Would this be a good house-rule? Or would this be a headache if you were one of my players?

Best example I can think of a good way to handle this was the three part PFS Adventure Destiny of the Sands. Players got a one time taste of mythic play, had a mythic adventure, and when it was over, they were no longer mythic, but one level higher as a result of the XP they got.

I do not advise that you give Mythic to your players , but keep it in reserve as a tool for your use when you want to throw something challenging at them. If you want to give them a one time taste of mythic the way Destiny did, that's cool. Maybe you can have them encounter a being who grants them mythic powers, sends them on an adventure and then takes them back when it's over. ("Preservation of the Balance and all that chaps.")

But I would strongly suggest that you don't regularly mythic flip flop your players, or give them mythic permanently.

I really like the sound of this; might be the best I can offer my players. Would 1 tier be plenty to feel mythic? Or how many tiers wound you recommend for a "Mythic one-shot"?

alexd1976 wrote:

I would lean towards not using it again... if it is your first time using it, while trying to do kingdom building, be prepared to treat your game like a part time job (20 hours of prep).

Trust me. I have the time, and I still don't always feel prepared for my sessions.

I'm an accountant in the middle of tax season. I, uh, probably don't need another part time job. Haha, thankfully this campaign likely won't start until... May? Still, Mythic is seeming like a lot of work that may not necessarily enhance the game. Between Heroic Progression, Magic Schools, and generally giving access to 3rd party material that's useful to their character concepts, I think the party will seem mythic enough.

alexd1976 wrote:

I have used it all the way up to level 19/mythic tier 9, I'm not sure I would do it again.

It is an entirely different game.

I throw CR+5, CR+7 and more stuff at them, they curbstomp it.

They literally killed (full hp to dead) a custom Balor with class levels and 5 mythic tiers... in 2 rounds.

He killed one of the pcs (vorpal sword)-they mythic timestopped, true rezzed him and continued the combat.

It totally alters the game.

I would advise one of two ways to use Mythic:

a) Introduce it early (gain one tier every other level, starting at level 2)

b) Don't use it at all

I introduced it later, and it was rough...

More or less what I was afraid of. The CR system falling apart (more so than it already does) resulting in excessive preparation time for designing challenging encounters and copious amounts of fudging and on-the-fly template adding just to keep combat somewhat interesting. The party is optimized (I'm helping them optimize; whoops) and I have 5 players so I'm probably already going to have to do CR+5 or more for a challenging fight.

I did mention to my players they'd eventually be mythic, but hopefully they'll understand. Or perhaps they'll forget if I never bring it up again. Haha.

Covent wrote:

I introduced mythic at level 4 and caught them up by level 6/tier 3. They are now level 9/tier 4 and loving it, but they can and have killed up to CR 15 non-mythic without much fuss.

Honestly mythic is going to force me to homebrew all opponents. It is much more work and a very different game but so far lots of fun.

It really could be fun, but I'm wondering if I'm prepared to do all the extra work for designing encounters. Maybe if my players can manage their kingdom without too much hand-holding from me, I could manage.

kestral287 wrote:

Mythic has various means for which it can be granted; using an item (possibly an intelligent one) or a god can handle this easy from a story perspective. If you want it to be a one-off I'd use an item, god is easier for multiple uses.

How important are the non-mythic aspects? That is to say, can you just bring them up a bit in power to compensate?

I was intending to just straight run mythic, but I have so many systems I'm trying for the first time (Downtime, Kingdom Building, Magic Schools, Heroic Progression mitigating the Christmas Tree Effect... Probably more.) that Mythic seems like one more thing I have to take into account for everything.

Not to mention this Q&A with James Jacobs intimidated me:

James Jacobs:
Kalindlara wrote:
5) On that note, actually... do you still want to fix Mythic? (Do you even consider it broken?) I got the impression from a previous question that the forum response to WotR left you completely embittered with Mythic. I think the idea was really innovative and cool, and I'd like to see Paizo refine it a bit more, reining in the problematic aspects. (Less extra attacks and unstoppable spells, more Seven-League Steps and Mirror Dodges, etc.) I hope you and the rest of the staff can find the desire... not to mention the time.
5) At this point I'm pretty down on Mythic. A few folks in particular on these boards really wore me down and made me really frustrated and unhappy wiht how Wrath turned out. A classic case of the vocal minority having a STRONG influence on things, as it were. I suspect we'll continue to use mythic on monsters now and then, but at this point, I'm like 98% convinced those rules belong to the GM and not to the players. That, and the fact that there really wasn't a lot of thought put in during the playtest about how mythic impacts high level play, which was PRECISELY what I wanted it for, was frustrating. Yeah, I am indeed bitter about it.

After hearing that and considering my workload and considering the campaign (It's sandbox kingdom building; explore the world kind of thing. I don't want everything to be a mythic undertaking) I just thought I should give up on it.

OR find a solution like I've mentioned in previous posts. Or potentially just move mythic out to later levels so I can get a feel for what my characters can accomplish without Mythic and prepare myself for what they can do with it. (I was thinking of introducing it around level 4 to 6, maybe I should wait until they're inclined to leave the continent? Plane of existence?)

So that's where I'm at with mythic:

1) GM toggle control it.
2) Move it to later levels.
3) Remove it entirely.

Create Mr. Pitt wrote:
If you let them choose when to use it it's just fine. Toggling it on for special battles is a bit metagamey. But giving them mythic abilities they can use very occasionally at their discretion is fine.

That's interesting... It'd require me to draft up specific rules/limitations in that case. I was of course thinking the opposite; it'd be under GM control. Something like:

As Sting glows blow when orcs are near, PCs go mythic when mythic bad guys are near.


Some benevolent/capricious/malicious/bored/whatever deity (or other powerful being) guides the fate of the PCs by granting them power whenever the deity feels like it. It eventually becomes a plot point to find the source of the mythic power, and something happens. (Benevolent deity? Maybe there's some path to permanently gaining mythic power. Malevolent deity pulling the strings? Defeat it and... something happens.)

I've been considering implementing Mythic rules into my upcoming kingdom building sandbox campaign, but I'm also somewhat concerned about my players steamrolling the non-mythic aspects of my campaign.

So I'm considering Mythic only being active when I say it is. They might be mythic for 1 combat, 1 day, or 1 month, depending upon the nature of the challenge they face. What say you? Would this be a good house-rule? Or would this be a headache if you were one of my players?

I've got my list of recommendations, hopefully she'll like one of them. I can still show her other archetypes/schools if she has another concept that these don't cover.

Wizard Conjurer Teleportation
Wizard Diviner Foresight
Wizard Evoker Admixture
Wizard Void
Wizard Exploiter
Arcanist Occultist
Arcanist School Savant

kestral287 wrote:

The only major 'new' piece is the Exploiter Wizard, which... you can argue over whether it's a loss or a gain, but it is an interesting piece. If she's interested in the Arcanist toolbox but not Arcanist casting, point her there.

Beyond that, a few new spells, same Wizardly ways.

Exploiter Wizard is certainly an interesting archetype, and one made better since I'd allow players to take Extra Exploit with this archetype. (I guess there's some uncertainty about this?) I'll see if she likes the exploits.

Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
If you're starting from first level, there's time to learn. Grease and Pit, Sleep and Charm Person and Mage Armor, Burning Hands if you're a blaster... the first and second level spells are pretty much a set of solved problems. I agree that conjurer and evocation-admixture blaster are the two good ways to go here, with the latter probably being easier for a relative newbie.

We'll be starting at level 3. Which is still pretty low, but high enough to ignore things like Sleep. I'm hoping she'll go Conjurer, to fully enjoy the subtleties of "God" wizard-ness. You don't have to deal the finishing blow to be invaluable to the party's success.

Douglas Muir 406 wrote:

As to something new, I believe alchemical reagents are new since Ultimate Combat. I did a post a while back about how you can use them to make a blaster just a little more blast-y. Here it is; hope it's of some interest.

That was an interesting read! I've used Liquid Ice for Ray of Frost, but I never took the time to read much more into Alchemical Reagents. There's cool stuff for an Evoker like Urea.

thundercade wrote:
Make sure she understands the need to familiarize herself with the spell lists and descriptions - hopefully, she is excited to do this. This takes some time. Especially when it comes to casting times (i.e. summon monster), allowed targets, and which ones need savings throws vs. a ranged attack. A couple guides here in the advice forum give a decent rundown of useful spells.

She has seen wizards in action for several years, so hopefully it won't all be foreign concepts. We'll assist when necessary. Oh, and maybe have another player control monsters she summons. I think I have a player who keeps Summon Monster details on flashcards or excel or something for the most popular summons, so he could run them.

thundercade wrote:
Also, make sure you (or whoever is the GM) is good about handing out scrolls and spell books so there's some stuff for her to copy. I've found this is easy to forget if you don't have a resident whiny wizard in the group.

I was intending to include spellbooks as loot before she chose wizard (There's a witch in the group) but now I'm definitely going to make sure there's a few wizard enemies in the sandbox campaign I'm building.

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