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Alchemists can be good switch hitters... Bombs target touch AC so you don't need a ton of Dex to hit, and fighting with a 2hander doesn't cost a ton of feats (pretty much just power attack) and benefits well from mutagen.
Depending on what exactly you're trying to get out of alchemist there are some archetypes that might work for you too... The Mutation Warrior fighter has great combat ability plus mutagen and a couple discoveries; the steel hound investigator gets extracts and firearms, and would be even better at skills.
Adopted only lets you pick traits from the 'race' category (as opposed to combat, faith, magic, etc); it does not let you pick racial traits from different races' descriptions (that's a very common misunderstanding, and its unfortunate that the terms are so similar).
Also, have them check out the warpriest it's literally designed to be a cleric/fighter hybrid (and it official Paizo material, from Advanced Class Guide). There are also ways to build effective melee clerics and oracles; bards (or witches with pragmatic activator) can be useful in combat and provide some healing- with UMD they can also handle status removal; even paladins can be effective healers with the right build (and focusing on ending combat faster and doing most healing out of combat).
Adopted only lets you take traits labeled 'race' (as opposed to combat, faith, magic, etc)- it doesn't give access to racial traits that you find in race descriptions. It is a common source of confusion for people that the two are so similarly named...
edit: Regarding Thunder and Fang... I love the idea of a dwarven magus using an Earthbreaker 1-handed (and it would work really well when you did 2-hand it, on a charge or whatever) but mechanically that's a lot of feats to invest for a class that already has a lot of feats it wants and not a ton of bonus feats...
Also, is there a reason you want to go duergar? The SLA are interesting but you'll be able to just cast them as regular spells if you want to and light sensitivity can be a pain... plus a standard dwarf would get that tasty weapon familiarity...
There aren't too many options that have diplomacy, knowledge, and combat... Bard is the best fit but probably not as strong in combat as you're hoping for...and there's the issue of being MAD to do all those things (need all physical stats for combat plus Int for skill points/knowledges, Wis for will, and Cha for diplomacy).
A lore warden fighter might be an option... Strong combat, extra skill points and all knowledges as class skills, and you can either just put a couple points in Cha and take a trait to make diplomacy a class skill (+1), or take student of philosophy so you can use Int for diplomacy.
If you put a little in Cha the variant multiclassing for bard could be a really nice addition to a lore warden chassis here too...
Yeah- I like eldritch Knights but they're tough to make work well, and especially now that you can't qualify with spell-like abilities. Magus becomes an even better option when you want to make a guy who wears armor... for a wiz/sor/witch it takes extra feats and troublesome action economy to do that, magus does it out of the box...
You can build magus/EK but generally speaking you'd be better off staying magus...
The biggest problem with the gunslinger VMC (IMO) is that up until 15th level, you've given up 3 feats for... 3 feats. Literally all you get for 3,7, and 11 are one feat each- if you're building the characters at high level I'm sure it's a fine thing to add, but if you're starting at low level all you're really accomplishing is forcing yourself to wait for the feats you need to make your build work... A half-elf with ancestral arms (or human with full BAB class) can start with EWP[firearms] and gunsmith, and add amateur gunslinger at 3rd- with the VMC you have to wait til eleventh level for that...
i found most of the VMC options pretty underwhelming... barbarian was probably the biggest exception (and the fact that its first probably made the others seem even weaker). any Str based melee with the feats to spare gains a ton from gaining rage (in particular- a mutation warrior fighter with the VMC barbarian would be fairly outrageous).
other than that, it seems like most of the options are mostly just for flavor, and some would be really difficult to integrate well...
i have some ideas that i think would make the system better (more than one VMC for many classes with tighter focus in many, VMC archetypes, better means of interacting with some existing feats)... if I ever have any free time maybe I'll actually write them up and post them somewhere...
hmm... i've never heard that objection before... bardic performance seems like one of the more realistic Su abilities to me... think about how many great movies have a scene (or scenes) where someone gives a rousing speech right before battle... William Wallace rallying the fleeing men in Braveheart, Theoden right before the rohirrim charge across Pelinor fields, even Captain America on the intercom before taking the Triskelion... those are (IMO) all examples of bardic performance (probably all inspire courage, though I suppose you could argue inspire greatness). Plus music obviously has some effect on people when it comes to get 'psyched up'- just consider how ubiquitous it is among athletes preparing for a game/bout/whatever (you always see them listening to something to get pumped up- sometimes they even play certain songs through the PA system to stir the home team).
Didn't mean to rant. All that is just to say that in the real world people are regularly inspired by music and/or speech and that, to me, is what that element of the bard is all about (plus they have so much other stuff going on that that's only a small part of what they can be).
i really don't do much with PFS at all (or much CORE only for that matter), but i'm always surprised that there don't seem to be many bards... they're a great support class, which seems important when you never know who/what else you'll be playing with! They can be a skill monkey, they make everyone (including themselves) better at combat, they have decent casting abilities (including healing), and are natural UMD candidates...
I'd guess more people don't make them because you don't get as much glory as the barbarian who's one-shotting baddies left and right or the caster who drops 3 or 4 chumps with a single big burning hands, but they're a solid class that has (or, at least, could have) something to contribute in every situation.
Mine's fairly similar... I'd probably go with something like:
- kitsune ninja. face skills/disguise and UMD, realistic likeness.
Inquisitions can be selected in place of a domain by any class that gains a domain (as per this FAQ).
Can they be selected with the Believer's Boon feat?
Technically it's not a class feature so RAW the Ultimate Magic/FAQ text doesn't apply, but it kind of seems like one of those 'looks/sounds like a duck' type scenarios we keep hearing about... off the top of my head none of the inquisitions seem unbalancing to allow (given the restrictions built into the feat), but I could see something like conversion getting a lot of use (especially among dwarven diplomats).
a human fighter [mutation warrior] with heart of the wilderness racial:
I really like that sacred fists can get such easy access to crusader's flurry... I've had trouble building a character on that chassis that I'm really excited about though...
For the stat array you're looking at, I would definitely suggest wearing armor. Also pummeling/dragon will probably do a fair bit more damage. When you flurry you can't use 1.5 Str... so you're gaining an extra attack but doing less damage with each one... dragon style will let you really benefit from your Str and the crit mechanic for pummeling strike means your overall dpr increase from crits is probably higher this way then with the falchion.
It seems to me like if you want to really pull off flurrying with an unusual weapon as a sacred fist your best bet might be a dex build... that's tricky too because all the weapons you'd want you no longer would gain proficiency in... a Tengu worshipper of Cayden Cailean with fencer's grace, or one who worships Serenrae with dervish dance, might be worth looking at... this is all off topic for your question, though. sorry
I like the bad ass pacifist trope too, but I prefer the version that is perfectly capable of dishing out damage but chooses not to...
I also agree with the concerns about team dynamics... A diplomacy monster only really works if the whole team is on board (or in a solo campaign). if you do have a chance to play one, a dip in synthesist summoner will let you pick up the skilled evolution for +8 diplomacy
If you do decide to go with the first type- the caster build is a pretty good option (use non-damaging control spells most of the time but have a nuke or two ready for when there's no other option), or optimize a melee build but use maneuvers or non-lethal attacks as much as possible.
The most effective magus I've ever played (or maybe even seen) was a strength based 2handed weapon user... i kind of cheated though...
he was a tetsubo wielding kensai. Made use of spellstrike, but not spellcombat, focused on 1 big hit each round (which helps with accuracy at higher levels since you're not worried about hitting with iterative attacks). the thing that made it insane (and the reason i said i kind of cheated) was that my friend I was playing with made a fighter who dual-wielded two kukris and had the butterfly sting feat- he would crit pretty often (almost 1/round by 9th when he picked up improved crit) and pass the crit to me for (big hit x4)+(spell damage x2)! this combo could easily be pulled off alone with the leadership feat, though not in PFS... the fighter actually had a really solid damage output on his own too though if you can find an interested friend... (you just have to figure out how to get dex to damage with kukris... or ask and I'll show you)
Are you opposed to playing dwarves?
Petty Alchemy wrote:
isn't that pretty much exactly what the Daring Champion does? they lose mount, expert trainer (which makes them better at training/handling their mount), and the mounted charge abilities...
Also, @OP why not daring champion? It does what you're looking for and is a highly functional archetype...
here's one option:
Evangelist Cleric- go for a reach build to add some damage through AoOs and have your turns free for spells/channel/performance. full caster, great buffer, heals/status removal, some melee, probably some face skills.
Ranger- take divine tracker (its great for the theme, and a solid archetype), stack that with Trapper if you're really worried about traps or Demon Hunter if not; build as a switch hitter (enjoy evangelists buffs). melee and ranged, great skills (including scouting), either trap finding or some spell support.
Paladin- take oath of vengeance, use an angelkin (they make awesome pallies), dip bloodrager[celestial]; use a simple 2hander build (enjoy evangelists buffs). solid melee, face skills, some healing/status removal.
Inquisitor- take the sacred slayer archetype (losing judgements hurts, but studied combat has no limit on uses/day, and evangelist buffs will help) and conversion inquisition, take the slayer's trapfinding talent. great skills (face, scouting, traps), decent combat, back up caster.
The last slot is tricky... a warpriest would be cool/interesting, and would get a lot of mileage from the evangelist buffs, but then you only have one full caster (and no arcane)... A celestial sorcerer (possibly with the seeker archetype to spare the ranger from taking trapper) would be a strong option (and an emberkin aasimar would be good for that, they already got most of what you trae away at 3rd level).
i'm not up on any 3pp stuff, but i have fooled around with a fighter [lore warden/martial master]/student of war who was fun, and functional enough that he was never dead weight and am currently playing an investigator [empiricist] with the student of philosophy trait who's combat ability is lagging some, but is an awesome skill monkey with all 20 of his skills based on his killer Int.
Since you're allowed 3.5 stuff though, you might want to look at the Warblade (from Tome of Battle)- It's an Int based melee right out of the box (well, Int heavy at least... you'll still want some Str and/or Dex for combat too).
One of the most successful campaigns I've ever run (in terms of the enjoyment and satisfaction of the players and myself) was designed sort of like a TV show... every session was a self-contained adventure with the threat/conflict/resolution you'd expect in an adventure of any size (think the 22 minute version of the heroes journey*), but there were also recurring characters (NPCs that were allies or enemies, and occasionally really hard to tell which) and threads that wound through multiple sessions (like a seed that gets planted in one session, and may even seem like background noise, that comes to fruition several sessions later). For us that was a great way to get that sense of accomplishment each week but also to feel like it was part of something bigger and more substantial.
It's also worth noting that for that specific campaign we switched from our normal mostly-european-fantasy style game to a very oriental feeling game. That change of style was refreshing too (though I think it was the format that really made the difference).
*the heroes journey and other inspirations:
I'm a huge proponent of GMs (and writers, players, people in general) learning about the heroes journey. Joseph Campbell is the most famous/successful teacher on it and you can easily find a lot of information on what he terms "the monomyth". Basically there is a specific structure that underlies the journey of all heroes, and using it formulate adventures/campaigns makes your work easier but also helps ensure the journey you take the players on will resonate with them and provide some sense of triumph.
There are also some other literary/mythopoeic influences that I think can be very helpful... the ring structure, or chiastic structure, can make for a compelling (and easier to design) adventure/campaign; and literary alchemy can (in its ideal application) provide the ultimate gaming experience- real katharsis through a players identification with their character's desolation and consolation.
i like the VMC entry for a blade adept, for the reasons already mentioned. if you want to do a scarred witch doctor/EK, IMHO, you're better off taking a level of bloodrager... 1 level is all you need to pick up the mad magic feat, then you can use bloodrage to up your hp and DCs during combat- that's probably worth losing an extra caster level for (and it frees up half your feats again). You're still really nerfing your hexes (which is sort of the biggest draw of a witch, i think) but if you want to do a SWD/EK i think this is a better option...
I really like this trope too. I know things like sword canes are a possibility, but to my mind you really want, maybe even need, to go with an unarmed combat style and no armor (or close to it).
Monk is the most obvious option for that- and with good reason, they can pull it off.
A slightly less obvious option (that might actually be even better, depending on the type of role you want to fill) is the Sacred Fist (warpriest archetype). They still don't rely on any weapons or armor, but with the right spell selection and/or blessings can be better support than a monk (and can still use those things, plus fervor, to self buff for their own combat effectiveness).
Brawlers are great for unarmed combat- they do monk unarmed damage and have full BAB, and martial flexibility as awesome for making sure they always prepared in a variety different situations. The big draw back here is that AC is still armor dependent :(
One last option I'll mention- kensai magus... This is kind of the opposite of the brawler... They'll rely on a sword cane or some such to attack, but they're not really armor dependent at all. And even when you're unarmed you can still be useful in combat situations by casting.
Be careful, the antipaladin doesn't get to use ToC as a swift action like a paladin can...
Using 3.x opens up lots of interesting options... The book of swords classes are really good, and warblade especially is a great option.
I'm impatient, so here's another build I like that doesn't require those questions to be answered... The dragonknight:
Full BAB, full caster progression, full bloodline abilities, all abjurant champion abilities, all dragon disciple abilities, and 15 levels worth of paladin abilities.
Gunslinger/ inquisitor is a great combo... If you can easily get ammo or gunpowder... without access to that its going to be tough going.
While I wait for answers to my questions, here's another simple build...
I like slayer for all the reasons you mentioned... Plus, IMO, studied target is great arena ability- size up your opponent and then lay into him! Being so weak mentally is a real vulnerability but sometimes it can be fun to have a glaring weakness. Just make sure that a) you're ready to be saddled with that weakness for the whole campaign, and b) that the rest of the party is ok with you playing Forrest Gump.
Resource management is gonna be important. If you want a reasonable build, slayer/witch is really solid- hexes are virtually an unlimited resources, and studied target can be used as often as you can afford the action, they get full BAB/d10 HD/all good saves/6+ skill points, combat feats and/or other talents, and they're full spellcasters when you really need a spell!
If you want cheesy builds I'll post some later :)
It will definitely make your/the GMs life easier to keep everyone on equal footing.
If you want to try something different that opens up more options maybe consider letting everyone take a free variant multi-class from the new unchained book... If you don't charge them any feats for it, it would be like "gestalt-lite" with less opportunity for abuse but still tons of options for unusual/different builds... Players who want to seem 'normal' could choose a second class that's close related to their actual class, and the ones who really like the idea of gestalt could get a little crazier... If you want to take it one step farther you could pick a level to give everyone a free bonus feat for great fortitude, lightning reflexes, or iron will but require it go towards a save that's good for their multiclass...
I'm assuming that besides matching the look, you want to be effective... Guns are great for hitting (touch attacks FTW), but need help dealing damage. There are a number of ways to do that:
There are others I'm sure but those are the best options I can think of off the top of my head.
The Two Weapon Warrior archetype is completely unnecessary for this... in fact, I think it might be a mistake... You don't need 'improved balance' at all because shield master makes it so you take no penalties for wielding a weapon in the other hand (it doesn't matter that both are one handed), and you lose armor training! That might not sound like a huge deal, but bear in mind that you need a lot of Dex for the later 2wf feats... if you want to maximize his AC, armor training will be awesome (at 11th level it would let you wear mithril full plate with upto +6 Dex and no penalty to movement).
In fact... Dex is really important for a build like this... Why not run with that... This might be
It should also be pointed out that the cleric could be a tank... They can cast in heavy armor and potentially have a lot of hp... With just 16 con (easily achievable for a dwarf), toughness, and favored class going to hp you'd get 10 hp per level after 1st (if you use pfs progression). With that much hp and some full plate he'd be able to eat quite a few attacks.
The magus can do pretty well too... If you're making at least some use of stealth/spells for scouting, he can cast blur and mirror image before combat and have pretty good defenses in melee that way.
There are other, nastier tricks they could use too... If everyone choose a type of tiefling for their character and invested the feats for see in darkness your sorcerer could open every combat with deeper darkness and they'll pretty much always be fighting blind opponents (while the PCs can see fine).
I think that your best course of action depends on a lot of considerations (like point buy, what level you'll likely play to, and whether you'll go mythic or anything like that), but generally slayer is a great option... You can focus of strength and not worry much about Dex but still be able to get a ton of attacks (by choosing the ranger 2wf style), and studied target will offset 2wf penalties.
I don't think outlawing any combos should be necessary... If there's a particular mechanic you don't like (like attacking touch AC with a gunslinger), then just outlaw the class/feat/whatever entirely and be done with it. I ran something just like this a while back- you could gestalt on the slow xp track or play a standard character on the fast track. Casters mostly went single class- the earlier access to new spell levels was just too important to them, and extra HD largely made up for not having the extra toughness of gestalt. The melees were kind of split, with some going for the extra BAB/HD and others going for the extra benefits of a second class- their power levels were pretty similar generally speaking. We also started with around 15,000xp (4th or 6th), which probably helped- at 1st level there would be a pretty obvious gap.
I like melee clerics, and especially ones that follow Gorum, but it sounds like your party needs another melee combatant like the hobbit needs a fourth movie...
You're only second level, honestly I'd suggest asking your GM if you could rebuild to something that better suits the party. If he says yes, rebuild as an evangelist cleric- the performance ability will get a lot of mileage in a party like yours. And you could focus on battlefield control with your spells. You would have to raise your wisdom (and maybe charisma a little bit too) to do that well though.