On the issue of mage hand vs locks. Old simple locks are actually really hard to open quite often. When you take the mechanical advantage the shaft of the key provides I believe you well over 5 pounds of force even for a Victorian era house key. I live in such a house and the old keys are almost as strong as a screwdriver and require more force to turn (enough to break a screw at the very least). Heck my 10 year old modern lock requires more than 5 pounds of force to open. And yes, I broke at least 2 keys on it (and it took more than 5 pounds to do that even though modern keys are weak junk it seems).
My favorite spell? Reverse gravity. As a player I've used it to take brutes out of the fight while the archer picks them apart. As a GM I've used them as magical traps (jump across a gap, actually its a reverse gravity area and the spikes are on the ceiling and the pit is an illusion hiding the handholds to get across), 1 way up elevators, and mancannon launchers for the air support wing of a castle. I've also kill 1 PC by dismissing the spell.
Archery does more damage on average in an AP. Paladin would get 1 full round attack a combat, if he was lucky. Player rerolled an archer and his damage per combat trippled. Archer does so much damage we don't even miss the party tank (paladin) that he used to play, the monk can soak a couple rounds of attacks while the ranger kills everything in sight.
Playing shattered star if you are curious (large dungeons built to Thasalon scale). Its even more so in Kingmaker with a decent number of open area encounters.
"Devil's Advocate" wrote:
I tend to agree, though I usually consider Remove condition spells to be part of healing. The issue is, PF has changed them so they are no longer spells that just do it, but rather ones that need a check. This means about 1/2 - 1/4 of the time the spell just does nothing, which is another reason to not use them in combat unless there is a big need, and a few of them, people don't realize are not a Standard or Full Round Action to cast. So it really just depends on how much it is needed for right then vs can wait a few rounds.
I'm sort of confused by this, most of the remove conditions spells I shared don't require a check. Suppress charms suppresses the effect for the duration of the spell and gives a bonus against new charms cast (though if the duration is longer than the suppression it comes back into effect). Remove paralysis works all the time as long as you don't target multiples. Remove blindness works all the time.
Sure the remove disease spell needs a check, but disease is usually not an immediate problem anyways (long incubation times). Remove cures is another, but considering how nasty curses are its probably still worth doing it despite the check required. Curses in my experience tend to be rare, but some people like them more than others I suppose.
As for casting times, everything I suggested requires only 1 action to cast, its the restoration spells and raise dead spells that require more time. Which is solved by people having their own lesser restoration potions available. They are only 300 gold (or 50 if you can get the GM to buy into the 1st level paladin spell idea).
I found that HP healing is the least important thing a "healer" class can do. Remove paralysis, suppress charms and compulsions, remove blindness/deafness, and similar condition removal spells are far more important. That fighter can operate at 100% till he is dropped if he has no conditions on him. If that fighter is dominated, blind, or immobile, not so much.
Last night the party was forced to go without their primary healer, only having a witch (their backup healer) available. Party got hit with a feeblemind trap, and the witch got nailed too. It required a UMD'ed scroll to fix the witch, the witch teleporting back to town to buy the right spells, then teleporting back to fix the party. Then there is the level drain and ability damage they took... They had to risk the saves and spend the time to fix that. They also got hit with confusion (which the cleric usually fixes). It was just a train wreck of a night for them (1 killed, 1 neg, 3 feebleminds, 2 levels drained, and 3 party members taking wisdom damage). They got lucky on the saves vs madness effects, that would have been crippling for the summoner who only made it with a hero point.
My party tends to have 2-3 round combats normally, they usually have 2-3 people who are really good at dealing damage, with the others being able to contribute save or dies/save or sucks in addition to incidental damage. There really isn't time for in combat damage mitigation other than a clutch breath of life (the cleric always has a reach breath of life available for emergencies). Interestingly enough breath of life is a condition removal spell for her, it removes the dead condition.
IMHO condition removal and damage prevention through smart use of buffs/debuffs is more important than in combat damage mitigation. That isn't to say that it isn't sometimes needed, but I have found that in combat healing usually involved the party being caught with their pants down, or that they are low on resources at the time the combat occurs.
1: Skills are often uncovered, and some people forget to pack their own healing. Some people who seek to fix the above problems forget to bring combat ability (ever sit down at a table with a healbot cleric and a skill monkey rogue? I have, as a result my WITCH had to tank an encounter, and she was actually better at healing and skills than the other two combined).
I would say for a pick up game where you are unsure of other players you should pick a hybrid class/versatile class. Examples are the inquisitor, the witch, the magus, the alchemist, the cleric (especially the evangelist archetype), a well built bard, the druid, and the summoner. The other classes are very much specialized/lack important skills and you can't count on the other party members of filling the missing pieces.
By far the best character (IMHO) you can make for a new group you know nothing about is the evangelist cleric. You give up some important features for even better things. You are one of the best buffing characters possible, and you are full caster (and 3/4 BAB). Grab a good domain, build for buffing, and use a ranged weapon to support the party after you are done buffing. This character doesn't really heal that well, but you can just carry a 2 PA cure stick for that (and when you get your channels you might as well pick up a alt channel ability for even further party support, protection is a solid choice).
The problem is at higher levels when the CMDs for many monsters can be so high that even characters specializing in that maneuver needs a 20 to pull it off. Heck that just happened tonight to one my players. Needed a 46 total to trip a medium sized CR12 enemy (the players was level 14 even). His character specializes in tripping and tons of cool and good things happens if he does so (flowing monk).
Also tons of monsters can't even be tripped. Natural attacks are the most common, so disarm sunder is right out. Trying to grapple high level monsters can be suicidal (since they are often much bigger than the PCs). And the forced movement maneuvers have similar problems that grapple has.
The longest I have run over a weekend is 2 sessions of 14 hours each. 5 hours of sleep between them. No prep, heck it was the first time I ever GM'ed. I was just running with the ideas that I had in my head, and filled in the rest with random stuff that I rolled for. The players in that formed the core of my current party (though all but one has left the area, they still are what got my group started).
I don't think I could do what I did again, at least not with the same group. I haven't repeated any story elements or encounters ever, but if I ran that long unprepared I would fall back on stuff I've already done.
Heck last night I GM'ed for 6 hours without advanced warning for the store owners 3 kids. It went pretty well till the anti paladin decided to channel negative energy in a room with 5 wolverines (thus triggering all of the rage effects). 1 round later he was bleeding out from 3 full attacks and 2 charges. Good times.
I'm running for a group that includes a flowing monk, and a trip bard/fighter. Level 13, tripping things that have CMD in the high 40s.
Other CMs? not so much. Reposition and bull rush happens about once a month (we play weekly). The last time I saw a disarm was in 3.5 (well, they have used spells to disarm instead). Grapple is common mostly because the monsters use it quite a bit in the AP I'm running. The PCs have built their characters to get out pretty easily (and that liberating command spell...) Its not to say that CMs are useless at the level I'm running for, its just that the players are ready for them on the monsters side. When they don't work on the players side its usually because the monster is immune to the CM that is being attempted (nothing ticks off a flowing monk than an immune to trip creature with super high CMD).
I've used sunder in the past, but one player actually prepares the repair spells or at least has a scroll for it. And the players usually have layered backup plans for their combat actions.
I remember one fight in particular from another campaign. I built up the fight really big, it was vs a pugwumpi with character levels, and he had a magic weapon and he could actually use it (kinda, but they didn't know that). Due to the unlucky effect pugwumpis have they couldn't hit the darned thing. Then the metal oracle had an idea just walked up and pick the guy up, put him into a bag, and tied it off (then dropped it down a well IIRC, pugwumpi tea). Yeah, high AC and unlucky aura, but a CMD so low that the player almost had no failure chance.
Ninja in the Rye wrote:
Jimmy Olsen had his own comic line. Every issue a new powerthat he kept only till the end of the issue. Only a few times did they ever repeat powers. Oddly enough Superman tried to make Jimmy marry an ape more than once... Superman is a jerk.
Anyways the best thing to do as a GM when 1 player is blatantly weaker than the others is to make sure things come up that only he can do. Done well you don't even notice it, done poorly it looks overly contrived. Its like campaigns with no traps suddenly having traps when a new player shows up with his rogue.
You can make campaigns that have rolled stats with varying levels of power work. It just requires more effort on the part of the GM and players to make sure it remains fun and balanced for all members of the group. I'm pretty lazy (so much that when I play wargames I choose the side I'm standing on because walking around the table is too much work) so I prefer point buy.
Ninja in the Rye wrote:
I remember 1 player who wanted to rejoin our group after we converted to PF that asked if they could play a race from the bestiary 2 right after I said core races only. On top of that he wanted to gestalt it despite the already largish party (we had 6 and he would have made 7) and complained that we were "only" using a 20 point buy rather than rolling or using a higher buy. I asked him why can't he just play a normal single class character and core race... His response was "too boring" This coming from a guy who NEVER played a single class core race race character during all of 3.x... I for one would find that level of constant "special snowflakes" characters tiresome and boring (he once played a character all the way to 12 that was almost useless just because his build would come together right where I said the campaign would end so he could get all the glory of killing the BBEG). I'm glad I don't have to deal with that munchin anymore. Its unfortunate that he latched onto one of my best players own group (the GM hates "that guys" concepts as much as I do, but he doesn't have quite as many players so doesn't have the luxury of telling him to hit the road).
While I agree with the problem of casters vs martials having a major difference in power level (fighters fight over inches, casters fight at continental distances ect) I have to say when I play a caster I prefer to have a fighter in the party. It's much more efficient to have a guy who is already martially powerful that I can buff to be a combat god. A well built and equipped fighter with caster support can 1 round out of zone (higher than APL+4)encounters.
The advanced template is so hit and miss that I feel its not worth the +1 CR. I see it more of xp earnings inflation. There are some exceptions to this of course (mostly by bumping up already high DCs on save or die/suck abilities).
I find that point buy has nothing to do with racial choices. If you roll for a stat array playing a certain race is still going to happen due to maximizing your abilities at a certain class.
That being said, I find it very hard to justify a non human for my own characters. Half of the racial abilities that other races get are either super narrow (elf magic) or very randomly useful/useless (specific racial hatreds, bonus to find unusual stone work ect). Extra skill points and feat, and flexible stat bonus is 9 of 10 times more useful than whatever situational garbage that most classes get. The only game changer is dark-vision and MAYBE low-light vision. And even then that can be made up for by mid levels by spells and items.
Heck I have a couple of PFS boons that let me choose to play a kitsune, nagiji (sp?) or a wayyang (sp?), and I haven't been able to figure out what to do with them because every times I make a build with them I just feel like it would be better to just play a human.
Also, while dual talent on the human sounds good, its not really all that great unless you are building for very specific classes. Losing a skill point per level is almost like having a -2 to Int, and losing a feat is a huge deal for early game viability. So if you plan on not needing skills because you either don't need them or have a high enough int AND you don't have much use for a bonus feat, then dual talent might be a good choice. IMHO that is a pretty rare build (full disclosure, my battle cleric of gorum is a dual talent human, but that is because the character is super 1 dimensional and didn't qualify for many good battle feats at level 1)
Crocs actually act like that when they withdraw. They face the threat and back away with their mouth available to bite any who follow.
As for the trogs, that's just bad tactics against any party not run by idiots. If they don't get in melee just range them down. Trogs aren't particularly good at throwing javelins. Or the party could perhaps just move in to attack. Its not that hard, don't even eat AoO, and the only bad thing is you might eat a full attack (which would require a large number of levels on the troglodytes). Which is why its a good idea to just range them down at higher levels.
Troglodytes are stupid? Man, never thought that -1 to int based skill checks was the same thing as being stupid. Heck that is just a racial tendency, no reason why a troglodyte can't be a wizard or sorcerer with different stat allocations.
If an animal is 5 foot away from the enemy, why wouldn't they 5 foot step instead of eating a AoO? Heck even spiders and scorpions approach dangerous prey with cation.
The game is balanced around a certain expectation about the challenge of encounters. If you have only a round or three between encounters then that 2nd encounter is really part of the first for balancing issues. Which means that unless you really like forcing PCs to face APL+4 or higher encounters every encounter than this style might be overly punishing, and actually push some groups to alpha strike even harder so they don't need to heal at all (yes I've actually seen this happen).
I've GMed for groups that could wipe out 7-8 encounters a day without breaking a sweat, but a 9th encounter would just kill them. Even then that many encounters of any reasonable difficulty would be hard on even a defensively oriented traditional w/healbot group. In fact the offensively oriented party actually has better staying power than a in combat healing group, as in combat healing is inefficient in terms of both actions and resource use.
I think part of the problem is that many groups can't find the "tank" class in the core book, APG, or the ultimate books. (btw the term noob doesn't reflect length of experience, not calling you even passive aggressively that, just clarifying). I know with my group which we have in the past gone up to level 18 fighting appropriate enemies have had to deal with monsters capable of doing even more damage than that. Yet they didn't really ever take that much damage, because combats tended to be over in 1-3 rounds of actual combat, the preceding rounds were mostly setting up the perfect round of rocket tag (positioning, buffing, ect). When a party member gets hit, he withdraws and lets somebody else deal with the pressure (or lets the summmons take brunt of the enemies offense). If somebody dies, there is usually a res later or a breath of life now that fixes it.
1. You aren't being creative enough to find your buffs. There are tons of them available that do stack if your party has good synergy and your primary buffer knows what he is doing.
Its a 750 gold consumable, use it up like any other consumable. At high levels I see individual party members suck down 300+gold in potions/scrolls ect in fights. Does it make sense to suddenly get cheap about post combat stuff and make a party member give up a good chunk of his limited class abilities as a result?
John Kerpan wrote:
Then the bard or evangelist is really needed. Inspire courage will mitigate the twf penalty, and adds damage twice for that character. The bard also gets good mileage with the druids animal companion if its a multi attack build.
I have a somewhat large party of experienced players, the one character who always plays the bard type didn't show one week, suddenly party damage was down 30-50 percent, and they couldn't pass a DC 10 diplomacy check. It turns out the +3 she was giving with inspire (relatively high level at the time) actually almost doubled the numbers the party could hit the higher AC monsters with, add in the extra spell buffs she was responsible for and its surprising the party even managed half of their normal output.
That being said it takes the right personality to play the buff character. Its about giving up personal glory for the success of the party, something that not every player is ready for or is willing to do.
Can I assume from this statement that you heal in combat? I might be presuming a bit too much so I won't get into that.
For higher levels wands are still viable, just have to have a bundle of them, they are still cheap consumables. Also a well prepared party can use buffs and abilities to avoid damage, preventing damage is better than restoring lost HP.
Heal spell is still really nice, but it takes up a very good spell slot. And its unlikely that the cleric will have more than a couple at any given time. Sure he could have metamagic cures prepared, but going full heal bot is the same thing as playing a health dispenser instead of a real character.
So he wants to play a rogue, when the parties problem is hitting and dealing damage...
Actually I think most of the hitting and dealing damage problems can be solved with a bard. Inspire courage and other bard buffs can make up for a good portion of the BAB hit those 3/4 BAB characters have to deal with. Go with sound striker to have the bard still be able to deal damage too.
Or alternatively an evangelist cleric. Get the better buffs from bards, but get the spell casting of a cleric. Giving up med armor, a few channel dice (which you might as well take an alt channel ability as a result) and a domain is totally worth the eventual action economy and massive buffs they can lay down.
The difference between a 15 post racial and an 18 post racial is 2. Being 2 results lower to hit is not a big deal at low level, and from 4-7 the difference is only 1 (odd numbers and stat bonus) With that stat array a fighter with shield and longsword would be quite playable. Low dex doesn't matter since you can full plate later (when you need to). A lowish con can be mitigated by putting favored class bonus there.
3 feats can go a long way towards a build right out the gate. 1d8+2 damage is fine for level 1's. Weapon focus can mitigate some of the issues with hitting (by level 4 you are +1str bonus and w/focus are equal to a normal full BAB). Starting armor is 4 mirror (super cheap) and a heavy shield. Should be 19 AC which is on the high end for most PCs, and you can take some other feats for even more AC.
+4 to hit for moderate damage with a solid AC is not a bad character, and is like 10 percent less effective than one with a 16 rolled somewhere, but that 16 rolled character would probably just roll with the typical 2 handed fighter and focus on just doing damage. This build lets the fighter take the expertise based feats and comes up with some better survivability.
Alternatively you could go with the alt human trait that lets you take +2 to two different stats instead of the racial free feat and skill points. Put that in STR and Wisdom and you have the start of a decent battle cleric. Put the 10 in Int and Dex Obviously. Giving up the feat at first level kind of hurts, but clerics with their 3/4 BAB don't really qualify for much in terms of battle feats.
I'm running Shattered Star currently, I'm up to book 5 now, and let me just warn you book 1 is just a casual warmup.
A number of the dungeons are long, so to make up for the longer adventuring day, the designer has to use lots of lower level encounters. And lets face it, unless the monster is a level 3 warrior fully optimized or 3rd level adept with burning hands he isn't going to challenge anything within normal guidelines with a CR of only 1. CR 2-3 for a first level party are the fights meant to be a challenge.
This AP has claimed the party witch 3 times, the rogue once, a paladin (who died horribly in 1 round of triple crits +7 more hits), dropped to negatives the monk, the summoner, and dismissed the eidolon countless times. I'm running for 6 players without adjusting the encounters very often (I'm telling them I'm adding the advanced template on some things, or adding monsters, but I actually haven't been doing so as often as I say I am). Those 6 players are also 20 point buy rather than the AP normal 15, and the players are very experienced at optimizing (the witch is a brand new player, and makes new player mistakes hence his death rate). I might be running the encounters a bit too optimally, but I doubt it because the big set piece fights last all of 3 rounds against my party (its like rocket tag currently).
What I guess I'm saying is the APs tend to get off to a slow start, but generally starting book 3+ can turn into a meat grinder. This cleric thing will sort itself out one way or another, its pretty obvious that he is going to multi class into some strange hybrid build, one that is going to be below par compared to just taking the right class to begin with.
Play a monk archetype. Flowing Monk I think gives you the most amount of things to build around. Even then you will get bored of flinging the enemy around like a rag doll and pummeling downed enemies. Redirection + greater trip + vicious stomp = tons of damage against enemies on their turn, then when its your turn they are probably still prone next to you, flatfooted and sickened.
Got done playing at an all weekend event at the FLGS, a barbarian in the party had taken this feat. 35 HP IIRC at level 2 (he had taken toughness too). Despite the fact that he was playing the higher tier in a season 4 adventure he still ended up being a main frontliner. He had also taken the barbarian archetype that gave him a pet (mad dog?) so combined they had a huge amount of HP and could really get high to hit numbers, and he had a trip wolf so with flanking and tripping his to hit numbers were spectacular (+4flank+4prone+2BAB+3STR=13 before other buffs).
The build was really effective, hitting above his weight, able to take on damage above his level, able to walk faster than dwarves charge... Only problem was the inability to heal his pet which was solved by having 2 clerics in the party.
That being said the feat isn't broken or anything, its just really good in the right build and situation.
One of the criticisms that has been leveled against this feat is it actually does more damage to AoE with channel. While this is true it also forgets where the real power of multiple enemies comes from. It comes from actions. If you make a character that full attacks or even vital strikes (and there is a domain power that lets you do that without even taking the feat) then channel smite is a legitimate way to increase single target damage. Why is that important? It doesn't matter that much if 4 characters/NPCs take 4d6 save for half, they will still be alive when its all said and done and get all of their actions still. If you instead focus the damage potential in the form of a 2d6 weapon with channel, full attacks/vital strike (with the domain power that lets you use a feat without actually taking it) + any crazy static bonus/weapon effect, you can drop a single target quite easily. 4d6+4d6channel+ static damage adds up to quite a bit. A single target will be dead quite often or close enough to dead that the target or his allies might have to take actions to prevent that target from dropping (in combat healing, withdrawing, or even going for less risky but less rewarding actions like fighting defensively). Single target damage actually puts preasure on the enemies action economy. Minor mass damage doesn't really put pressure except on out of combat resource depletion (using up wands).
As for wasting channels, if your are built for negative energy combat cleric, you aren't wasting anything. That resource is meant for dealing damage and this is an effective (if not efficient in terms of raw numbers) way of doing it. My PFS cleric is one built for using channel smite, combined with his destructive smite currently he drops nearly anybody he swings at, including some of the scenario bosses (season 4 bosses take 2 hits to down, but the other season tend to drop like chumps). Despite only having 6 smites a day (exalted of the society trait gets me 1 extra) I have yet to run out due to how the adventuring day is normally done. And if I do manage to run out of channels? I still have my spells and wands, and I still have a high strength while wielding a great-sword (which is enough to be better at dealing damage than most 3/4 BAB characters out there that don't do the same).
It is though. Move action, feint. Std action, single sneak attack for weapon damage + 1d/6(1/2 rogue level). Requires being in melee at beginning of turn, or 5 feat step away. Means you can't really leverage the sneak attacks, and has a feat and skill tax to work, if it even works.
That damage is better than nothing, but its not noteworthy for any martial class, and its not even noteworthy for most 3/4 BAB classes.
Is a pathfinder rogue skill monkey useless? No.
Does a rogue skill monkey contribute as much as another class in both skills and other things? No.
Is a rogue's contribution if they focus on skill use enough to contribute as much as other classes, especially classes that can also do skills just as well or better? No.
Is it fun to sit down at a PFS game with a rogue who hits worse than an NPC class with NPC stats while they train up to get their feats and talents that still leaves them 3-4 levels behind on DPR? No.
Lets face it, the rogue is viable in terms of "Can my guy contribute". They can even with the right build and optimization build to be effective combatants that can at least hold their own. The build the OP is talking about however is essentially running away from any build that might be effective outside of completing faction missions.
Rogue's niche is always being able to contribute in some way. They aren't consistent damage dealers, but with work they can contribute. They aren't the best at skills, but they are pretty good at them. They aren't the best party face, but they can get the job done. The class itself is pretty flexible. Focusing on just 1 thing be it skills or damage makes the character bad. Since the class isn't actually the best at anything, focusing on one thing means that you still aren't the best at that thing, and now you aren't very good at the other things.
The sad thing about the rogue is they aren't even the best at being able to always contribute. Other classes have archetypes that fill the rogues niche, or straight up is a better at everything at rogue can do (and do even more things the rogue can't even attempt). Even the random crap like trapfinding and sneak attack has been infringed on.
Against guns hit them with fog cloud. This actually works against any ranged build. Just like irl, if you can't see the enemy you are just firing blindly. If nothing else it forces them to waste actions moving to where they can see, that's when you hit them with another fog. Send in waves of blind sense melee guys and your ranged party is going to be hurting.
Also against ranged weapons proper use of cover and the prone position can go a long way towards nerfing range characters. Its a free action to fall prone IIRC... Move, stand up, std fire at PCs, free fall down.
How are the NPCs gaining advantages over the PCs? I understand you wanted specific advice on making the mechanics of crafting at lower level, but you also posted at length the mechanics of why the NPCs were going to be lower level.
I'm trying to understand why this is even needed when you can avoid all that work and heavy handed top down approach and just use the existing mechanics to structure the adventure to achieve your desired results.
Maybe I'm misinterpreting your intention. Is it your intent to limit what sort of items that the players have on demand access to? Is it your intent to have the PCs alway better than the NPCs? If its the first I have already stated solutions to access control. If its the second then its pretty easy to understand that NPC levels that the typical villager have are pretty much worthless as a power gauge. You can give them 5 levels over the PC and they still won't be an issue unless you are talking warriors and adepts. The NPCs classes were designed with the specific intent of making it so the average non adventurer could have the required skill level and feats to fill the non adventuring roles of the simulated society the game is set in.
If you don't want any advice, post in a different forum. If you want narrow advice, phrase your question more narrowly.
Also, don't call people bro. Its very DB sounding.
The player mainly wants more of the RP value of the shaman, so lots of the nature and spirit end of things. From the way she described it, it kind of sounded like she wanted a kind of Druid/Paladin multi-class.
That sounds like either a druid or nature domain cleric. The Paladin/druid combination won't work without homebrew rules due to iron clad alignment restrictions. It also would be a poor multiclass in general due to lack of synergy.
The druid can give up his AC to take a cleric domain if the player doesn't want to play a "pet" class.
Levels aren't exactly a good way to judge npcs vs players. A 7th level blacksmith commoner with skill focus and the feats needed to make magic arms and armor or wondrous items is not going to be especially powerful in combat compared to a PC of almost any level. Sure he might be by the book CR5... But with non heroic NPC stats he isn't' going to be good at anything other than his crafting/profession focus.
Heck that 7th level master craftsman isn't exactly going to be all that common anyways, most villages won't have any NPCs of that level. A typical village blacksmith is only going to be able to make masterwork items, and usually only barely (good enough to progress past journeyman, but not good enough to be anything other than a village smith).
Restrict access to areas and you restrict available loot. Its like in a JRPG where there is a gate that your character can't pass through because you need to find a certain item, or a path you can't take because the monsters are too hard. Eventually when you do pass that skill/item/level gate you have access to the next town with its enhanced merchants and new higher level stories/quests.
If the players start out at a thorp in the middle of nowhere, their options are going to be limited. If they want to go to that small town, they have to pass through the bandit woods. If they want to go to the main city, they have to make it past the siege camp of the hill giants. If they want to get high level loot, they have to track down legends of ancient ruins past the bleeding edge of civilization and fight monsters that were thought to be only myths. If they go back to that starting thorp? Still has the same people. Might be something they missed the first time (like an old forgotten ruin), but the village itself isn't going to have anything different from what was available at level 1.
The reason why so many builds for S&B style call for 2 weapon fighting is they feel the need to try and counter the huge loss in combat ability not fighting with 2hd weapons causes.
Missing out on 1.5 strength bonus and the much larger weapon damage dice hurts quite a bit. Tanking builds tend to also not work especially well. Figuring out what to do with these inherent handicaps is going to be hard since you want to avoid the most viable way to over come them.
Combat maneuvers tend to fall off in effectiveness as you level up. Some don't even work against certain types of monsters (disarm a dragon or trip a snake?)
I am having trouble understanding why you are opposed to sword and board style fighting when you want to use sword and board. Look up the reconstruction of sheild/sword fighting and you will find that the shield was a weapon not just an extra bit of on demand armor.
Seems like a lot of work to get around player entitlement. A simple NO or "Lets roll for community size", or a check of the GP limits of the town they are in would work just as well. They want to go off the rails and run to the capital? Too bad, bandits above your ability are blocking the road, or the capital is under siege by hill giants. Heck you could have a campaign just by channeling your players greed in getting access to the capitals high GP limit and magic item availability. Also having magic items over 1k crafted for them will take more than a day even if they find a crafter. Force them to do stuff while they wait for their stuff to get made. Even toss their orders on the end of the line (the smith has other customers, first come first serve).
The option you have come up with seems forced and artificial. It's like playing Elder Scrolls: Oblivion and going back to the tunnel you escaped from prison with only to find out the mud crab at the exit has leveled up with you.
Why do you want max wisdom for a battle cleric? You don't need high DCs for your spells if they don't force saves.
A melee cleric with high strength still gets the benefits of the buffs, so the damage is not lame without buffs, and a really strong with.
A battle cleric needs STR, WIS, CON, and CHA, but only STR needs to actually be high. The others just need to be good enough. At 20 point buy I managed to get 18,9,16,7,15,13 as my stats. I did this with the alt human racial that I took. Clerics suck at skills anyways, so dumping int all the way and just taking the favored class bonus works to still get 2 SP per level. I gave up the feat at first level that humans get with some reluctance, but its not like a battle cleric qualifies for many good combat feats at level 1.
Am I missing something with guided hand? It looks like it doesn't do anything at all for damage. A battle cleric isn't going to care overly much for maxed out wisdom, so I don't understand the point since the STR is going to be higher than WIS on such a character.
As for taking vital strike, don't waste your time with taking feat if you don't want to, its profitable to just take the domain that lets you use any combat feat you qualify for (8th level is when you get it, and when you qualify for vital strike). When it makes sense to vital strike, you vital strike. All the benefits without actually taking the feat.
I've been playing in PFS a big hit cleric, and he has been very effective in low level play. At 4th level his record in play damage is a 49 damage crit (would have been 52 but the enemy saved vs channel). The domains I took were rage and tactics, 1st rage domain power gives you destructive smite. +1/2 cleric level bonus damage is not bad. The above hit was a 2(2d6+15)+2d6channel attack. I had bull strength, power attack, divine favor, destructive smite and 18 base strength for the damage. (6str+3bull+2destructive+3PA+1DF). Not too bad for a low level character. At 8th level I gain Rage and limited use of any combat feat I want. So I will be able to add 3 more damage and a vital strike to my attacks (and my channel will be up to 4d6 and Destructive smite will be 4 damage). At 8th that will increase to around 25 static damage and the weapon damage + vital strike dice + channel dice will be 8d6 (which is average about 28 if they fail the save, 21 if they succeed). That is without any magic weapon or its properties at work. It gets even larger if I manage to enlarge myself (and I have multi paths to doing so).
At 8th level dealing consistent 50ish damage with a single attack action is acceptable. Past this level range the effectiveness starts to fall off(drastically). This is mostly because the gimmicks that make it work don't progress very fast compared to other full BAB systems (most notably the archer's ability to take full attack action with extra strikes every round). At low levels the build 1 shots nearly everything it encounters. At higher levels it still contributes, but it will take a beating since it won't be able to 1 shot as many things (and thus eat full attack actions).
In short I would recommend such a build for PFS play, but would suggest a different plan at higher levels encountered in AP play.
A 40 point buy stat array is ridiculous. The NPCs and monsters are designed around a 3-15 point buy, why would even a 35 point buy character make even the slightest sense?
Wanting to play a 14 CHA fighter? Sure go ahead. Want to not be stupid? Sure, the combat expertise/intimidate fighter is viable after all. Still want to have high strength and con without dumping wisdom or dex? Uhh.... Munchin much?
The game is designed around a 15 point buy (or standard array that is effectively 15 points). Messing around with this changes the dynamics of the CR system. Wanting anything higher than a 20 point buy is either being a bit power gamey, or straight up munchin in the case of the 40 point buy equivelent stat arrays/rolled arrays.
Now If you want to have god like or only good rolled stats (how often do you hear about players who actually go 1-20 with a bad roll?) go ahead, play the character with only strengths and no penalties... Just don't think anybody is impressed by it. Besides, wanting to spread your stats around and still be amazing at your core purpose doesn't always do that much. A wizard with 14 strength is just as likely to be a melee combatant as a the wizard with 8 strength.