|Paizo Pathfinder® Paizo Games|
|About Paizo Messageboards News Paizo Blog Help/FAQ|
My Self wrote:
Huh, so is UMonk (Scaled Fist)//Sorcerer (Any archetype except Sage or Empyreal) a good option now? Or Oracle, if you swing that way.
And a slew of special features including Stunning Fist, evasion/improved evasion, bloodline or mystery powers, and bonus feats and ki powers which can be used for offense, defense, or more mobility. Two of your ki powers are locked-in to the not great elemental effects, but your sorcerer bloodline isn't locked into "all I really want is to cast with Wis."
Skills are middling but 4 ranks is passable.
The Bible of Poisons was 610. We should be on:
614. Garden Spirits: On the Cultivation of Leshy. Referencing this illustrated book grants a +2 bonus on Knowledge (nature) checks to grow a Leshy body and increases the chance of attracting a Leshy spirit by 25%. Copies are typically written in Druidic or Sylvan, though occasionally translations in other languages are found.
The line "This spell does not prevent subsequent natural decay or spoilage" implies that once transformed, the wine will last long enough that it could reasonably be expected to naturally spoil again - longer than 10 minutes/level and probably indefinitely.
I believe the duration applies to the bonus on Int and Wis-based skill checks.
I'm not sure if the duration should start ticking as soon as you create the wine (as in, if you drink it 10 minutes after casting you subtract 10 minutes from the duration of the bonus) or if the duration only applies once you actually drink the wine and get the bonus.
It's also not clear how many creatures can be affected - you can create a pretty large volume of wine at higher levels.
I agree with you, though I don't think I can find any kind of citation.
Ciaran Barnes means that the developers are unlikely to spell out something explicitly when it seems intuitively obvious to most readers, as in this case. (Also the +10 is from 5 for the guard being drunk +5 for wanting to believe you.)
"Impossible to believe" is a more extreme version of "unlikely." There is no situation in which a lie would be "Impossible to believe" but not "unlikely." Thus there is no reason to list separate penalties and require the group to add them together - it just makes things needlessly complicated and requires the group to do more math to figure out what the penalty would be. They already double to indicate increasing difficulty.
Hopefully having a couple of people chime in on the forums is enough for your GM?
Dex on a small cat is 21. Str 12, Con 13.
AC 19: 10 + 5 Dex + 1 natural + 1 size + 2 leather*
Attack +7 = +1 BAB + 1 size +5 Dex (weapon finesse as the feat)
HP 14 = 2*(4.5 + 1 con) + 3 trait (Blackthorn Rancher, which I actually took to get Handle Animal for a Sacred Huntmaster Inquisitor)
*It's my understanding that the lack of ACP means the cat can wear leather barding even without Light Amour Proficiency (which is going to be my next feat with an upgrade to chain barding). If not AC is 17, which is still a point higher than the Inquisitor running around with the cat.
Legal systems, being Lawful constructs, do tend to treat chaotic behavior as inherently bad.
I see law and chaos as a spectrum from "Laws/Rules/Hierarchies are inherently valuable" to "Laws/Rules/Hierarchies are tools that can be used in many ways" to "Laws/Rules/Hierarchies are inherently undesirable." (I'll also note that thinking laws are inherently valuable doesn't mean that you always agree with all laws - lawful characters prioritize their own rules and are willing to violate other rules if the two conflict, eg "god's law before man's law.")
Because they not only don't value laws but are actively uncomfortable with them, chaotics are much more likely to break rules or traditions even when there's no advantage to doing so - sometimes even when there's negative consequences in the form of social disapproval. They talk back to authority figures, or marry the person they love even when their whole family disowns them (because who cares about a family that would do that anyway?).
They're also likely to avoid putting themselves in positions where they have formal obligations, or where others have authority over them - they gravitate towards self-employment or flit between short-term jobs. They won't see the point of marriage even if they do get into a serious long-term relationship, because why would you want to make a formal commitment in front of everyone you know? You know I love you, isn't that enough?
So if you were just to follow somebody around without talking to them, reading their mind, or magically detecting alignment how could you tell the difference between an NG person and a CG person who live in the same village? Is this just an issue of "count the number of normative/legal infractions and the person with the most is probably the chaotic one"?
Is that really a bad way to go about it?
If I'm trying to figure out who might be evil by following them around, I'll look for people who commit an unusually high number of petty cruelties - minor evil acts. Conversely, if I'm trying to spot the good villager I'll look for someone who seems to help others the most, especially when it's costly or when no one else is interested in helping.
Why not say that the chaotic person is probably the one who engages in the most petty lawbreaking, who tends to defy norms even when it's costly and even - if we're looking at the CG vs NG - even when the norm isn't getting in the way of any particular good result?
I built a level 1 small cat companion for PFS with 19 AC, three attacks at +7 to hit (d4+1 bite, two d2+1 claw) and 14 HP (5.5 per HD + 3 from a trait).
In the future, consider having animal companions start with 1 HD, increasing to 2 at level 2 and 3 at level 3. This makes it weaker for the first two levels, though with similar HP to a normal companion if you keep applying your max HP houserule - which I recommend.
You could minimize the impact of free Weapon Finesse by dropping the Dex of high-Dex companions by 2 points or so, possibly increasing other stats as compensation.
I would not suggest making these changes to an in-play companion unless it's causing significant disruptions. If the other players are feeling overshadowed try dropping them some nice character-specific loot.
So you have not one but two houserules - increased HP* and free Weapon Finesse** - that make animal companions stronger, particularly the roc.
Allowing a Paizo mechanic as written normally doesn't count as "letting someone have cool stuff." If you're worried that your house rules have unbalanced the roc and that this is bugging your other players, ask them privately. It's quite possible that you are just imagining a problem.
Keep in mind that since you've just reached level 2 the problem has already begun rebalancing itself.
*My table actually also plays with max HP for companions, but then we run high power games with stats ~35 point buy so that makes even a full HP pet less impressive by comparison.
**The small cat, another solid animal companion, also gets a big darn boost from free Finesse with its Dex 21.
chess pwn wrote:
If you take rich parents or similar traits makes it possible to get lv1, since you're starting level 2 with at least 1000gp if following WBL. And PFS gives ~1650 gold by the time you reach lv2, though in there rich parents isn't allowed.
Ah, so when you said "at level 1" you meant "before reaching level 2" rather than "at character creation."
Sure, it's possible if you're really invested in full plate, but banded mail is a better assumption (and even then at 250gp it's a bit pricey to start with).
In any case I agree with the general assessment that the roc is pretty strong but the low Con (with 7 HP to start) is a big limitation and the potential difficulty in indoor areas with less than 10ft ceilings is also worth keeping in mind. I also don't believe they keep up with the big cat in terms of damage after level 7, though I haven't done a direct comparison.
I do agree that the animal companions could use some rebalancing. It's true that game content is often not well balanced and many choices are situational, but the choice of animal companion is such a powerful piece of flavour that it bugs me when bears and boars are so much weaker than wolves and cats.
There is a reason I specified fighter.
@PK the Dragon - I don't think that's how the rules work.
Polymorph General Rules wrote:
The bonus to disguise checks applies generally, which implies that you can indeed make a Perception check (not a Sense Motive check) to see through a Polymorph effect. I agree with Luthorne's interpretation that the wording "take on the shape" and "appear to be" indicates that an imperfect transformation is possible and even likely if the shapechanger isn't skilled in the nuances of Disguise.
Since you can't use polymorph spells to turn into specific individuals, they give you no bonus to a Disguise check to impersonate a specific person. (I do think it's a reasonable house-rule to reduce or eliminate Disguise penalties for impersonating a different race, gender, etc. You can't use Alter Self to turn your elven sorceress into the orc chief, but you can at least take on the build, skin tone, etc of a generic orc male, making the task about as difficult as disguising the average orc male as the chief.)
Normally Kitsune turn into a specific human and only get a +10 bonus to appear human generally ("The red-headed human bard, Simon, is totally not a fox person!") Realistic Likeness lets you impersonate specific people, giving you a +10 bonus to appear to be specific humans, which is valuable because normally you can't do this with a polymorph effect.
bitter lily wrote:
I do still have a concern of four or more melee types trying to get in to hit on the big baddie, although I suppose a grappler moves into the baddie's square, opening up a spot for a friend.
A grappler does not move into the baddie's square.
Grapple Rules wrote:
If you successfully grapple a creature that is not adjacent to you, move that creature to an adjacent open space (if no space is available, your grapple fails).
Keep in mind that beating a Disguise check by 10 or more requires a very good Perception result, so the clues are potentially very subtle - and often baked into how a character does something rather than the broad strokes of what you describe them doing at table.
I can't recall a specific incident in a game I've played, but some ideas:
1) Vocal tells. Even if you don't outright recognize Peter Parker's voice you might be able to spot an accent, unusual word choice, or other element of speech that would give you a clue.
2) Mannerisms. Does the kitsune in human form momentarily brush at their backside before they sit down, as if expecting there to be a tail?
3) Imperfect changes. In many myths, shapechangers are unable to make a perfect copy and certain elements might clue an observer in. Examples include a mark that shows up across forms (think Peter Pettigrew's missing fingers), an odd shadow, or even cloven feet. Since these represent a flaw in the disguise they're best used when the shapechanger's disguise check is low.
Luna Protege wrote:
A guard looking at a dog acting strangely has a good reason to assume its an awakened animal playing dumb. To go from "this dog is acting strangely" to "I'm not sure this dog is even a dog" can sometimes seem like a leap in logic.
Awaken is a high-level spell with an expensive material component. I would expect most guards to be more familiar with shapeshifting druids than with the awaken spell. Though I suppose the first guess for some animals might be "familiar."
I'm not excited with the crafting build for several reasons.
1) Retraining takes extra resources, and is an optional system which some GMs do not use especially if it's part of a planned attempt to manipulate your level progression (examples A, B - see caveat 2, C, and myself).
2) Crafting is commonly houseruled to be less advantageous, either by reducing the discount provided by crafting or making it more difficult.
3) Crafting using cohorts is particularly contentious - GMs that allow crafting as written will still sometimes place limits on a cohort's willingness to craft at cost for a PC. Given that the drake description says they "enjoy accumulating hoards of shiny treasure" and "are fairly lazy," there's a lot of room for a GM to argue that the drake is not going to spend a lot of time crafting, or will demand payment beyond materials, reducing the discount you get.
4) Master Craftsman is a pretty limited form of crafting. You get to make items using one craft skill. That's weapons (but not bows), or bows, or armour/shields, or a subset of wondrous items up to GM interpretation with a generous interpretation being "clothing = gloves, belts, cloaks, robes, shirts, vestments, and hats." You'll have more trouble meeting item prerequisites than a crafter, and having spent all your feats and drake powers on crafting your Craft skill is still only equivalent to the Spellcraft of a 7th level Wizard with 18 Int and no other skill investment.
So there's a lot of places where a GM is likely to restrict this build's utility, whether with houserules or just interpreting ambiguous issues unfavourably.
And your best case scenario is a 50% discount on 2-3 significant items, which based on the way prices scale generally buys you an extra +1 on those items until the normal budget allows for +5 or higher magic armour or weapons (level 12ish), at which point you can get an extra +2. Which again is an underwhelming benefit given how long it took you to get there and the rest of the stuff you gave up.
When I google "define flat-footed," basically every non-medical usage of the term includes the word "caught" or "catch." It's part of the idiom.
"Cannot be flat-footed" is smoother than "can't become flat-footed" but I still think that the author would have thrown "caught" in there just because it sounded right.
The glossary also starts with "A character who has not yet acted during a combat is flat-footed." If we can accept that a character can be flat-footed at a time other than when they have not yet acted in combat - that is, that the glossary definition of flat-footed is applied generally despite defining the term in context of start of turn - we should also accept that the glossary discussing uncanny dodge in the context of start of turn does not itself prevent uncanny dodge from applying elsewhere.
Xaimum Mafire wrote:
Let's save the drake vs familiar comparison for another thread. It's really only applicable to the Shaman, in terms of this topic, and I'd like to keep it focused.
As avr pointed out, the druid can take a familiar instead of an animal companion if they take the right domain (eg serpent) - which also gives them spell slots. Or they can be a draconic druid and lose not just the animal but also wild empathy, woodland stride, venom immunity, a thousand faces, and timeless body. And Dragon Shape is weaker than Wild Shape.
The paladin can take chosen one for a familiar, with Improved Familiar automatic at 7th level, in the long run giving up just the mount. The drake paladin archetype not only trades the mount but also channel energy, aura of justice, aura of righteousness, and a good chunk of their smite evil and mercy.
If the drake companion just replaced the animal companion, I would consider it basically balanced. But all of the archetypes give up the animal companion plus other significant class features. No thanks!
Even valued at the same as the animal companion/familiar the progression is a bit odd - it's a good scout at low levels but not much else (since Int and Cha are still low), then at mid-high levels it becomes a middling combatant, mostly useful for flanking, gets steadily worse at scouting, but potentially better at other forms of utility. It's almost like having a familiar for a few levels before it becomes an animal companion. Weird.
Chess Pwn wrote:
That doesn't follow. Let's look at the context.
1) A character who has not yet acted during a combat is flat-footed.
Or in general terms:
1) A character who [situation] is [condition].
Substitute a different situation and condition:
1) A character who [has been demoralized by the intimidate skill] is [shaken].
All of these statements are true, and they make logical sense together. It's even something you might expect to read under the Intimidate skill, if Aura of Courage were the only ability that protected from fear effects (similar to uncanny dodge for flat-footedness). However, we cannot conclude that a character with Aura of Courage is only immune to the shaken condition when demoralized by the intimidate skill.
For that we have to refer to the actual text of the ability. As already stated I think "caught flat footed" ought to be interpreted generally as written. If it were meant to be more limited, then Uncanny Dodge should have used the text "she does not begin combat flat-footed and does not lose her Dex bonus to AC if the attacker is invisible" which is both clear and natural sounding.
In contrast, the phrase "cannot become flat-footed" feels weird and unnatural because in general usage the wording "caught flat-footed" is overwhelmingly more common. Paizo does not make a habit of being technically precise - they're going to use the natural-sounding term even if it is not quite as precise.
Chess Pwn wrote:
Can't be caught flat-footed. NOT cannot become flat footed.
That is WAY too nit-picky for Paizo.
Chess Pwn wrote:
The time that flat footed usually happens is before you acted in combat, aka someone getting the jump on you and you being unready, not in your combat stance, or caught flat-footed.
That's the most common time to be caught flat-footed, but if you were to become flat-footed at a different time, and I hit you, then I have also caught you flat-footed.
If someone can't be caught flat-footed, they can't become flat-footed, because if you become flat-footed then someone can catch you flat-footed.
The fact that a character with uncanny dodge also keeps Dex to AC when attacked by invisible opponents also indicates that it isn't just supposed to apply in the beginning of combat, but also at other times when most characters would be unable to react to danger.
I play with max HP. I haven't done the math, but...
1) Power Attack is considered "worth it" because it increases DPR (against most opponents with CR-appropriate AC). More DPR is good even when everyone has more HP.
2) Can't access the build. Save or suck is still plenty useful in my experience since it prevents damage.
3) Combats take longer when you have more HP so assuming you have the same number of combats you'll run out of limited-use stuff more often. However if you end up having fewer combats because the combats take longer to resolve, then it may balance out and make limited use abilities equally or even more powerful. It is not uncommon for my group to have one big/dramatic encounter in a day.
Uncanny Dodge wrote:
At 2nd level, a barbarian gains the ability to react to danger before her senses would normally allow her to do so. She cannot be caught flat-footed, nor does she lose her Dex bonus to AC if the attacker is invisible. She still loses her Dexterity bonus to armor class if immobilized. A barbarian with this ability can still lose her Dexterity bonus to armor class if an opponent successfully uses the feint action against her.
The general rule is that they can't be caught flat-footed, not merely that they don't start combat flat-footed.
Bloodrager/Paladin is the next best option as I pointed out upthread.
The only issue is that there isn't a VMC Bloodrager so you'd have to do it through class dipping instead of giving up feats.
Unless the GM went for a homebrew bloodrager VMC (add the bloodline feature, grant the 1st level bloodline power with bloodrage Con+level rds/day at level 3 and the 4th level power at level 11 instead of the rage power) but I doubt they'd do that if they had a thematic beef with the barbarian VMC.
Except the point isn't to be a barbarian/paladin, the point is to be a paladin who can rage.
Knight who says Meh wrote:
Ha, ha! Yeah! Keep ragging on the guy for the way he personally likes to build characters!
I'm not intending to disparage the way that he likes to build characters. The thing is, when he says that characters with dips are:
ugly meltin' pots of classes made for mere numerical convenience.
...it's sort of insulting to people who do build with dips and do so partly or entirely for narrative rather than mechanical reasons.Some people do have twisting life paths that lead to them learning unexpected skills. This is sometimes best represented by a dip into another class.
MoMS needed the nerf because every style had to be written around the possibility of people ignoring prerequisites, meaning every style had to do crazy stuff to balance something meant for level 6+ people in case someone cheesed his way into it at level 2.
Allowing the monk to use wildcard slots to ignore prerequisites other than the other feats in the style chain would do that too, as you can't get wildcard slots (and thus ignore prereqs) until level 6 at minimum and can't get the third feat in the chain until level 10 unless you buy the second feat normally, prereqs and all.
To me it looks like "let's make a CG paladin class by crossing it with a barbarian." Which is thematically interesting but not the same thing as "can I cross a LG paladin with a barbarian?"
I went back to look at VMC Barbarian again, and Rules As Written, it doesn't say you have to be non-Lawful, which would even let you combine it with regular Paladin, but admittedly this is probably an oversight and moderately likely to get Errata'd if they ever do an Errata for Pathfinder Unchained.
I very much doubt it. As I pointed out above, the Monk VMC explicitly is allowed to be non-lawful and the only thing they can't use is the ability to treat their Ki Strikes as if they were lawful weapons. Note they can still use the rest of the ki pool (which is the feature the non-lawful martial artist archetype gives up). Since leaving the alignment requirement off the monk is clearly not an oversight, I don't think that leaving it off the barbarian is an oversight either.
If the devs thought it was important that rage be alignment restricted, they wouldn't have created the bloodrager or the wild stalker ranger without alignment restrictions.
VMC in general needs to be cleared with the GM since it's an optional rule system and not assumed to be available.
I can understand the idea if you can't multiclass into barbarian you shouldn't be able to variant multiclass into barbarian. However while most classes with behavior or alignment restrictions have them explicitly included in the VMC (including paladin), they have been notably omitted from the barbarian and monk VMC. In fact, the monk VMC actually specifies "He only ever gains ki pool (lawful) if he is of lawful alignment" which implies that it's possible for a VMC monk not to be of lawful alignment.
Given that, and the fact that none of the other sources of rage in the game require you to be non-lawful, I think it's clear that the intent is for a lawful character to be able to take VMC barbarian.
OP's reasons for wanting this build also sound strongly thematic - wanting to reflect the character's orcish heritage and link to her atavistic twin brother despite her loftier calling and outward appearance. That sounds like a darn good pitch to me.
GM is still free to disallow it, as the GM is free to disallow anything. If they do I suggest a 1-2 level dip in bloodrager (celestial bloodline). It'll slow down paladin advancement a bit but you'd get a few rounds of (blood)rage and a handful of other benefits without loss of BAB or HP.
I wonder if, as writers, you'd create a character thinking "he should have taken a Monk dip".
No, but I certainly would write a character who had spent a year training in a monastery and left when, say, their father and elder brother died and they inherited a lord's estate. They will never master the skills of a monk but still learned a few tricks that they will remember even now that they are learning samurai arts...
I doubt that the intent is to forbid all strong relationships. I imagine the thought process was a little like this:
- What kinds of special Oaths should we create for paladins?
While you certainly could argue that loyalty to other family members or close friends has a similar effect I think that's a stricter interpretation of the vow that's intended. Certainly a paladin can't help preferring her brother to a stranger - just as long as she doesn't ignore innocents in need or perform evil acts on his behalf.
Make it too hard to learn languages with Linguistics and people won't bother. See: Comprehend Languages, Tongues.
If you want it a little more realistic, ideas:
1) Separating languages and alphabets. If you want to read a language you can speak, you need to learn its alphabet separately.
1b) Some languages should use the same alphabet depending on worldbuilding. (ex: for Golarion, Gnome might use the Sylvan alphabet - in other settings, the Dwarven alphabet). If you know the alphabet but not the language a text is written in you can sound it out to someone who knows the language but not the alphabet.
2) Require a PC specify which language they are learning at least a level before putting the rank in it. To compensate for this and increase realism, allow the PC to communicate basic concepts in a language they have declared they are learning after earning half the XP to gain the level.
3) Specify that some languages are close enough that speakers of the two can communicate simple concepts, requiring a Linguistics check. This works well for languages associated with neighboring regions (eg Spanish and Portuguese) or even dialects (I've got three elvish dialects which are mostly interchangeable but using the right/wrong one can apply modifiers to social skills).
I actually go the opposite way on this - in my games, each new rank gives your number of ranks in additional languages. So rank 1 gives you 1 additional language, rank 2 gives you two more, and so on.
My only problem with this is that PCs are likely to run out of languages.
Of course, if you use this together with adding a bunch of regional languages and dialects, and perhaps learning alphabets separately, then it could work very well and really reward high investment in the skill.
Personally I think the errata should have specified that wildcard slots let you ignore prerequisites other than the feats in the style chain themselves.
So a 10th level MoMS with two wildcard slots could take both Snake Sidewind and Snake Fang even without having Combat Reflexes or the ranks in Acrobatics and Sense Motive, but he couldn't take Snake Fang without taking Snake Sidewind.
More generally by 10th level any MoMS could use wildcard to become a master of any one style that they have the base style feat in regardless of other prerequisites (aside from Elemental Fist).
That would make it much easier for the MoMS to actually switch between styles as the situation demanded without worrying about skill ranks, Dodge, Combat Expertise, and so forth.
The question is whether the insanity is actually curable via the usual means, or whether the GM has decided that in this particular case the influence of the goddess Urgathoa means that it's incurable (except, perhaps, using Wish or Miracle).
If the insanity and curse are both incurable and the party knows that the boy would be a living ghoul spending the rest of his days in a cage to prevent him from killing and eating his fellow humanoids - that's when the party might legitimately consider death to be a mercy.
The LG character is an oracle with the Life mystery. However, he is a priest of Sarenrae. From what I understand of her, evil should be repented of and redeemed, if possible, but if not, destroyed. I'm not sure if the flesh eating child would be considered on one side or the other.
Well, that sounds like your answer.
The NPC should advise against mercy killing until it is clear that the child cannot be redeemed/cured, at which point her faith would consider it acceptable.
Yes, but if you give the bard//fighter an infusion of Haste it will only affect the bard//fighter. Whereas if you cast Haste as a wizard, it also affects the monk//cleric and the ranger//rogue. More efficient. So group buffs as a wizard, and individual buffs (especially personal range buffs) as an alchemist.
0o0o0 O 0o0o0 wrote:
I always recommend the Mindchemist archetype for the alchemist//wizard since then you get a potent long-duration Int booster that affects wizard as well as alchemist abilities. It actually adds raw power to a gestalt wizard in addition to versatility and durability.
Full BAB is ideal, but I don't think it's necessary for a casting-heavy gestalt.
Yolande d'Bar wrote:
That's an interesting idea, but would the different roles in the church necessarily line up perfectly with the mechanical classes?
A cardinal and a crusader cleric have very different skill sets. Conversely, a tactical leader inquisitor with the chivalry inquisition would look very much like a divine commander warpriest, especially if the warpriest has a higher Int and the human 'skilled' trait. A church that wants to make the best use of its people will give the two clerics different tasks from each other, and the inquisitor and the warpriest similar tasks to each other (even though they can tell for example that one casts differently than the other).
What I could see is differentiating the priests based on holy vows taken, which correlates well with class (paladins, inquisitors, and clerics/warpriests having three different 'fall' conditions). You could then include 'Orders' which are differentiated primarily by tasks performed and which may or may not be class-specific.
On the other hand, some players such as myself like the idea of being able to take stricter vows than required by your class, which would potentially mess with the vow-based system.
Lord Mhoram wrote:
Or Scaled Fist Monk // Sorcerer, if you prefer your magical martial artists charisma-flavoured. Or want to take a more potent bloodline like Arcane, or Orc if you prefer to pound face.
So the wizard can actually shift their blasting and battlefield control stuff to the bombs. And extracts cover buffs.... so the wizard would be doing a bunch of summoning and SoS stuff with the extra room?
You'd need group buffs like Haste on the wizard side as well, since extracts only affect the drinker.
The issue with gargantuan size isn't so much power as it is logistics. A large mount can occasionally be inconvenient to get into adventure areas - this is a big enough issue that small mounted builds (with medium mounts) are often recommended. I have a hard time seeing a gargantuan drake getting into any indoor adventuring encounter.
I would recommend doing something similar to the animal companion - give the option to increase Str and Con by 2 instead of increasing size.
Thanks for the comparisons!
Based on this breakdown, I'd say that paladin's are getting a fairly even trade. The animal companions get better AC, more resistances, damage reduction 10 and spell resistance, plus link, share spells, devotion, evasion, improved evasion and multiattack. Drakes will get to gargantuan size and get more health (I could see dropping the base con by 2, just to even it out a bit), plus their powers, which are nice.
I'd forgotten quite how extensive the paladin's mount's resistances get as I've never seen a high-level paladin's mount in play.
However I think this is missing a few points.
The DR doesn't hit 10/Evil until 11 HD, at level 13 (though the resistances also advance to 15 at that point, which you've missed).
The drake is intelligent from level 1. As a result it doesn't need Handle Animal checks, which makes Link irrelevant. It's also not limited by the tricks mechanic and gets three times as many skill points until the mount becomes intelligent at level 11. This gives additional utility, especially since the drake can take any skills including handy class skills like Sense Motive or UMD.
Drakes do also get immunity to sleep and paralysis. That, plus a slightly higher Will save offsets the advantage of Devotion.
Share spells is of variable benefit as cavaliers don't use it at all and the paladin and ranger don't have as many options for buffing a companion as druids or shamans.
The drake's AC starts ahead of the horse and only falls significantly behind at high levels (being only 1 point behind at level 12).
Getting 10ft reach with large size at level 9 is significant.
Lesser breath weapon (a ranged energy attack that hits touch AC) is a big deal at low levels. While the damage is not significant at high levels, I would still expect the flexibility to be a meaningful advantage to the drake until somewhere around level 8-10.
It is not clear whether the drake mount gets smite evil as a celestial creature or smite evil as the paladin. If you mean the former, you should specify, as the latter includes an additional ability to bypass DR (and an AC bonus if the drake's Cha has been increased).
I also think you are dismissing the drake powers a bit readily. They get 7 by level 20 and with your new claw/tail powers can get a 4-attack routine with just two of them (and while they don't get free Multiattack they can take the feat), possibly with additional feats to add trip or grab which are more effective than the roc's with greater size. And with glide free (and flight free for air drakes), you only need two powers to get the best flight available to your drake. On top of this Aether Bite or the Breath Weapon gives them the ability to affect foes that normal animal companions would have a real problem with (ghosts and swarms, respectively), and Blindsense and Intellect/Keen Mind add even more utility.
This is before taking the Noxious Bite feat into account, which as icehawk333 pointed out is extremely good for the drake.
While the other classes are trading enough in my opinion, you may be right about the cavalier. Giving up tactician seemed harsh to me, but replacing it with free teamwork feats probably isn't harsh enough, even when you account for the fact that a medium cavalier can't ride his mount until level 9. I suppose I could just cut tactician altogether and call it even
Yeah, based on that comparison cavalier is definitely overpowered since the ordinary mount doesn't get the nice resistances (or the eventual smarts) that the paladin's mount does.
Drake Warden may be in the same boat as the cavalier - no fancy celestial resistances on the normal companion and while the second favoured enemy and favoured terrain are nice, I don't think they make up the difference in the pet's power.
I'm still not sure about the paladin but since they do give up mercies I think it's close enough pending playtesting.
Druid looks OK, as gutting wild shape is a big pain for them.
Shaman... I'm also not so sure about. They're replacing a familiar with a drake, not an animal companion. That means that instead of getting a smarter and more versatile combat pet, they're turning a fragile but smart pet into a combat monster. Diminished spellcasting doesn't feel like enough of a trade to me.
I also feel like the level power curve might be an issue. The drake seems to be a bigger advantage at lower levels (when the AC hasn't tanked and the skills and lesser breath weapon are a bigger deal).
So first off, I would not worry too much about "not being a paladin" because it sounds like you may have an overly narrow idea of what a paladin is like. For example:
Alternatively how someone who does meet many of the standards of a paladin on the big things - brave, generous, compassionate and all the rest but has a vice or two - maybe he is a glutton or drinks too much, or flirts with every woman he meets or is very vain about his looks or is a compulsive gambler - some clearly defined flaw that stops him being Mr Perfect.
There is absolutely nothing that prevents a paladin from having a vice. Our party paladin drinks, smokes, gambles, and patronizes prostitutes. He doesn't do anything evil or dishonourable as a result, so it's not an issue. He considers these indulgences important to keeping up his morale - a form of "charity for the self."
Instead, let's focus on:
Either that or I just need help finding a way to play Lawful Good without turning into Lawful Nice/Lawful Goody Two-Shoes.
It seems like you're on the right track with being slightly more flexible with the finer points of honesty and honour in favour of achieving righteous goals. In particular, given that you've got a chaotic-leaning party it may be useful for you to play on the LG/NG border.
Ideas along that line:
Law is an important tool for building a Good society but ultimately it is a tool rather than being a good in itself.
Mortals are fallible. While it's important to aspire to high standards, having overly high expectations can push people away from the path of righteousness.
While you are called to encourage and advise others, you are ultimately only responsible for your own behavior. You may object to evil or grossly unlawful behavior from your associates (consider negotiating OOC with your fellow players about where boundaries are drawn) but you certainly don't need to act as the party's morality police.
On the other hand as I think has been mentioned above, Lawful Good really does not have to mean Lawful Nice, especially for more militant deities like Iomedae or Torag. Feel free to recommend or carry out harsh sentences, including death, for those you judge to be a real danger to goodly civilization.
I think the difference may be reflected more in the stats. A paladin is charisma based, so is more of a talker. The warpriest is wisdom based, so is more of a listener.
This is also a good thing to point out.
I played a LG Inquisitor a while back who aspired to be a paladin but had been called to serve in a different capacity. He had serious confidence issues (partly but not entirely related to not being a Real Paladin) and despite being a fairly skilled diplomat felt more comfortable as an advisor/mediator/facilitator than a traditional "face." Never thought of himself as a leader.
As we had a chaotic-leaning party I also played him emphasizing Good over Law, though he was very orderly in his personal life and always made sure the party's paperwork was properly filled out.
I think some of these might now be too powerful, particularly the paladin & cavalier which don't give up much aside from their mount (and the Drake now looks distinctly more powerful than a typical mount, though I have to stat one up when I have time).
If I'm correct, the Drake can now reach gargantuan size. That seems like too much to me - though I like having it start small instead of tiny.
I am 99% sure that line refers to the special bloodline spells (not all of which are on the sorc/wiz list) rather than giving sorcerers the ability to cherry-pick whatever spells they want from any list.
That's an exaggeration. It's not that much worse than a clouded vision Oracle, and we have one of those in our party. She's never left out. Built for melee. If she can't close she spends a round buffing and moves in the direction the rest of the party points her in. Note we started at level 3 so she had to deal with the 30ft range for two levels. As bitter lily's experience shows YMMV but many groups typically fight in fairly close quarters.
ChaiGuy: The new version loses SR and downgrades the blindsight to darkvision, which removes its protection from invisibility, obscuring mist, blindness, displacement, deeper darkness, gaze attacks, etc. That's a lot of caster tools to no longer be immune to, even if you still have impressive save bonuses. (Again, YMMV on how much the not being blind at distance thing matters to you.)
I'm aware - see bolded portion of my previous post.