I don't ban anything other than 3rd party. Nothing is really OP IMHO. I have very limited controls on non core races, but only because I'm sick of so many special snowflakes wanting to play drow or some other disruptive race. I ban based entirely on RP reasons, not power concerns. So if we are playing a heroic campaign, no evil characters.
I disallow campaign traits from other APs. I also disallow rich parents.
I strongly discourage characters who aren't capable in combat, I run a pretty tactical game and push the bounds of the CRs of encounters pretty hard. Needless to say it actually makes the party actually willing to RP past stuff instead of having a risky fight.
Its pretty harsh on certain aspects. Some of the combats can be hard for some play styles to deal with. Also its important to read up on environmental hazards (cold and snow) and later on aerial combat.
Much of the difficultly will lie in how hard your GM plays some situations, as written and played as intended its going to be rough for the PCs. If the GM rules loosely or gets certain details wrong it can be a cakewalk. Read environmental conditions closely.
Oh, the random encounter chart is on the brutal side of things, pray you don't get hit with some of the stuff on there.
Hellknights which are an important institution in Cheliax are often LN. The average Chelish person is going to be LN/le anyways, the ruling classes are the ones that push it into full LE territory. Tieflings favor evil but can be any alignment. I would honestly be more concerned with worshiping the wrong devil more than not being evil.
Also on your skills: You will still suck at knowledge checks, you will still have virtually no skill points, investing in intelligence for a battle cleric is like investing in a pool for a battleship. It doesn't serve a purpose and it takes away resources from its primary use. If you want to have skills look elsewhere. A 7 Int battle cleric plays the same a 10 int one.
With the CR system its pretty hard to TPK a well built party even if the enemy is aware without going to the higher ends of the "reasonable" encounter scale, or abusing flaws in the CR system. A prepared adventuring party can take down buffs and defenses of the enemy faster than he can keep them up, if you boost the numbers of enemies you have to reduce the individual CR or increase the XP budget for the encounter. Lower CRs means the enemy might fail to reach thresholds to actually harm the PCs. It becomes a story of action economy vs having capable enough monsters. Lower the mooks too far and they die to an AoE effect. Make it one solo or a pair and they get focesed down with action economy. When it comes right down to it, expending resources on an alpha strike actually conserves resources since you have such short combats. A high level wizard or sorcerer is hardly going to run out of spells in a normal adventuring day if played that way (often 1 spell 1 encounter can happen, if its the right spell that is).
Interesting points, i have one player who fits into several of those categories. AND he wants to play a kender. I told him he has 2 strikes and him playing a kender would be strike 3.
stuart haffenden wrote:
The success rate of spells, especially ones that actually allow saves, isn't the problem. Its that the spells them selves have to much narrative power. Got a over land trek complete with random encounter charts and such? Too bad, over land flight. Got a dungeon complete with traps to challenge the rogue and tough fights to challenge the fighter? Tough luck, detect magic finds the dangerous traps, spells can bypass the danger, and you can use magic to get past the monsters. BBEG doesn't see it coming because you bypassed his defense (unless he in tern is a caster). Surprise round, drop a battlefield control spell blocking off reinforcements. Round one the enemy goes down because the sorcerer did the barbarian full attack delivery trick. The rest of the party is reduced to being the war head of the magic ICBM.
The thing is there is nothing in the arsenal if full martials that can compete with the story changing powers of casters. A party full of martials by definition are all aboard the plot train types. It requires a much heavier hand to control casters.
Not really. I've done it with relatively weak characters before. Apparently a heavy pick + crit kills bosses in one hit. Same with save or die spells/hexes. Even a non crit can end an encounter with little effort, and a lance charge just obliterates enemies.
Heck, at first level a power attack + cleave can drop 2 CR 1 monsters (which is a CR3 encounter) in one round on average (2d6+9 = 16, 15 is average HP of CR1s). Seen it done in society before, seen it done in normal play.
DM Under The Bridge wrote:
Player assassinations particularly going above and beyond the normal CR scaling and targeting specific weakness that can't be overcome by ANY of the party sounds like controlling behavior and not creating a challenging encounter.
Your scenarios involve: out ranging range specialists, the melee characters in that sort of party are hardly going to be able to contribute at all. Specifically murdering a PC using over CR rogues with no chance to respond whatsoever. Destroying weapons on the weapon specialist, note that this doesn't really work since he can just club it to death with a chair leg if he has to. Draining the strength of the melee specialist, which doesn't' work because he is still better than any other combatant in the same situation (in fact it could KILL other characters against many enemies). Draining all of the dex of the range characters, not that this doesn't actually work due to similar issues that appear in the melee example.
It all smacks of heavy handed attempts to control the party and/or punish players. And that is poor form. You can challenge a party without such ham fisted tactics and without going beyond APL+3-4 range.
Chengar Qordath wrote:
The funny thing is at high enough levels even a APL+8 encounter can be beaten if the party is built right and can spike damage or boost DCs by enough. I've seen it done. Hell had a party do 1/3 of the health of Yamasoth, a CR24 qlippoth lord. At level 12. It was a "cinematic encounter" but it was still crazy that they did that so i had to shorten his appearance by a round.
DM Under The Bridge wrote:
MY PFS has a longbow. It's an elf, which is the iconic alchemist. Bows are really good. Bombs are limited. Both have overlapping feats. You would have to be stupid to not see the synergy. Alchemists don't have to be steam-punk, in fact alchemy predates steam by centuries.
Most of your "solutions" sound like tactics a control freak GM might use if they feel like they don't like how their players are playing and need to punish them for building characters by the rules they don't like. Sure once and a while its good to through a variety of encounters at the party to let other people shine, but if every encounter is against dex draining/distored longer range than the PCs fly aways, it gets really old really fast.
Also, rogues do crap damage. Sure, if you want to throw multiple rogues of a level that can combined one shot a PC, go ahead. You are likely blowing right past the CR guidelines to do it. 4 rogues vs a PC would have to be several levels below the level of the summoner for it to be a legit challenge, as 4 enemies is normal CR+4. Since a normal NPC PC class is CR=lvl-1, the rogues would have to be at least 2 levels below the level of the summoner. And that would be really vindictive because that is asking a single PC to face a total challenge 2 CR higher than his level, when that is a hard encounter for a party of 4. Way to go GM, you can use fiat to murder PCs, what an amazing discovery. Any thing lower than that and the summoner is likely to survive in my experience. Which is more of statement about how much rogues suck. Also Summoners are 3/4 BAB classes that have access to good AC boosting things, while rogues are 3/4 BAB guys that for some reason like to lower their to hit by being edgy and duel wielding light weapons.
Also, my vanilla summoner is IN the battle-line. Summoners are legitimate combatants if you know how to build them.
DM Under The Bridge wrote:
Most of what you are describing is actually attacking the strengths so only weakness remains. Problem is most of your examples are pretty easily surmounted:Alchemists have ranged feats, lots of them. They also carry a longbow if they know what they are doing. Or can fly.
Nothing stops the lightly armored quick barbarian from using ranged attacks. Or drinking a potion of fly.
Greatsword fighter has back up weapons. If not his fists are mighty enough to take out a rust monster if he has to.
Summoner summons more. Or uses create pit or other spells do to the right job. This one is so easy I don't know why you even stated it I mean rogues? Really? really? Laughable. Glitterdust those idiots and laugh all the way.
Archer ranger vs ranged foe that has protection from arrows? as per the spell? As in the spell that doesn't actually work against magic arrows? I don't know what beholders abjurers is supposed to be, but beholders aren't in PF at all.
Most melee fighter/barb/ranger have back up plans if the player isn't an idiot, and after combat is over they chug a potion of restore or give over some gold for a restore/remove spell. Cost of doing business. They are also still full BAB, so will still hit more frequently than a 3/4 BAB or low strength same class would in the same situation. I mean a 14 strength fighter cursed for -6 strength is a joke. A 18 strength fighter still can do some stuff, and is barely worse than the weakling is normally.
Two weapon combatant is already fighting at a disadvantage by going with 2 weapons. He wises up and fights with one hand and loses a couple of attacks. As long as those attacks weren't light slaps he is still effective.
I've played characters that dumped con, only to 8, because I didn't need any more points, but still, its doable. There are more forms of damage mitigation than having a big health pool. Positioning, high AC, miss chance, cover, making use of enviromental and situational bonuses... Heck my PFS witch had a 10 con, and didn't take a single point of damage till 4th level despite being forced to "tank" some enemies due to party incompetence (partially build incompetence, but also tactical).
Nearly every drawback that comes from optimizing one area at the expense of another can be mitigated with magic, items, tactics, or RP in my experience. Tank wisdom on a barbarian? Well he is superstitious and took some nice traits to help that out, and wears a cloak. Tank Charisma? Well normally other party members can do that part, since they have Cha as a primary or secondary focus (cleric, sorc, pal ect) but if not you can erase deficits in character creation through trait use and skill points, and you can roleplay for those super nice situational bonuses to diplomacy (bribes work too), and perhaps pick up some items (which are cheap honestly, gold solves most problems) that boost your diplomacy.
In all honesty it doesn't actually matter what your Charisma score is as much as how high your skill is in Charisma based skills. The -2 that you get for a full dump is not going to invalidate your build, favored class bonus, trait bonus, and a skill rank more makes up for taking a low score, not to mention racial mods like half orcs and intimidate, or class mods like stern gaze.
Some classes get no real benefit from INT, like clerics. They get 2 points for class, INT does nothing for them, they don't get a generous allotment of class skills, they can use magic for most things, dropping down to 7 still gives them 1 skill point for being a character, and they can favored class for 1 more (and they can be human for a third if they really want another). An 8 actually gets them the same number of skill points. Since they usually have good scores in most other skills, they can afford to spread their paltry skills out a bit and still be adequate for what you need clerics to do. Fighters are in the same boat, and unless they need 13 int for feat chains there is not any real reason not to tank further.
Now if you say that perhaps people shouldn't play mono task characters that only do damage, then I can agree with that, fighters kind of suck at most things, but man they are good at dealing damage. Why give up the ability to deal damage when you have 3-5 other guys who don't do so much damage, but can handle the others stuff? I mean once you choose the role "fighter" you aren't really seeking to play diplomat, professional sailor, burgler, merchant or anything other than a guy who fights. Same thing goes with Barbarians, Why invest in diplomacy when you are the freaking barbarian?
In the long run dumping wisdom on a paladin isnt' going to matter, they get their CHA bonus to Will pretty quickly, and they will have over all strong saves even with taking a -2. Also IMHO its a bit of a jerk move for a GM to hit a new player with a cursed item gambit, it smacks of screwing with a player in game because the GM didn't like the fact that the paladin dumped some stats, GMs doing this sort of crap often drive new players away. As for missing the perception stuff, its actually hard for most classes to get perception, since wisdom isn't the main focus for them and perception isn't a class skill (and most classes are skill point starved, and can't afford to spend much on any one thing). Getting surprised also isn't that big a deal, because your enemy gets ONE action, not a full round action, ONE action. Paladins being a heavy armor class rather than finesse rarely lose much AC being flatfooted, and have damage mitigation pretty early as a swift action. None of the trade offs are actually a big deal most of the time (-2 isn't' a game breaker, you aren't suddenly going to see ambushes with a +2 anymore than a -2, the stealth bonuses for hidden enemies are just too high if they are designed for it).
As for the particulars of how far he took strength, if it was past 18 post racials, or 16 pre, then yes, he boosted that too much at the expense of other things. I personally will put a pre racial 16 in STR, a 15-16 in CHA, and the rest in Con after a INT dump (PFS 20pt buy). If its 15 point buy I will just 17 STR post racial, 14-16 CHA post racial (some good races can get +2STR +CHA, angel blooded Aasimar for expample), actually i would pretty much use the standard heroic array for 15 point buy on a paladin, its pretty good and you can wait till 4 to get your 18 STR, esp if you sword and board: 15, 12, 13, 8, 10, 14 pre racials. Notice the standard array has a mild dump score, an 8. Putting that in wisdom is probably a mistake, INT is better 9/10 to dump a paladin, but its not much worse than a 10 that you would put into wisdom either. Saves are pretty important, but honestly paladins have some of the strongest saves in the game, RNG are going to bite anybody however, particularly if GM is out to get a player for dumping a score.
As for the party face, every party that ever was has somebody that handles most of interactions. Even in a troop of actors there is still the spokesperson who has the most CHA and skill in it. Only when you get a party of surely dwarves is the Face going to be an issue. As for healing, any class can heal, either natively or with UMD, and its an easy check to make DC20 with not much real penalty for failing. Dumped wisdom is an issue, but honestly even spending your feats on iron will and the like isn't going to make up for the fact that will saves don't scale up worth a damn. Any fighter type is going to eventually have to resort to save enhancers or immunity items (or play a build that gets bonuses). Spending your irreplaceable feats on mitigating things largely outside of your control just waters down what your class is supposed to do. No point of having a fighter if he can't actually hurt things, might as well just taken a battle cleric instead.
I personally only respond to anti optimizing threads for one reason and one reason only. People often spread bad advice in this hobby to new players, and this forum is often where new players go to learn the hobby. Nothing is more discouraging for a new player than to spend hours making and playing a character using the advice presented and having it just not perform as well as some people on these boards say it will. People agreeing a bad build is good is going to make a new player put the lack of performance on themselves, which may lead to early exit from the hobby. Its important to have somebody there to call crap, crap, instead of the entire board spending time polishing it and placing it in the best light.
In other games I've seen quality content and good advice drowned out by the fluff bunnys and anti optimizers/no net builds ect saying "Play how you want!" While that is true the hobby is still a cooperative game, and if you play how you want to the point of making really bad choices that harm your groups enjoyment and/or chances of success, then that is not good for anybody. In MMOs you kick the person who can't play their class in an appropriate way or who are undergeared, misbuilt, or underpowered. In P&P people get hurt feelings and leave the group/hobby.
That being said you should always dial down your power level to the expectations of the group you are playing with, but that doesn't require a complete aversion to optimizing your character.
From a guy who played magic at Nationals in 2006, this isn't really true. You can make a killer casual deck, one that is more tuned than a competitive deck even.
Competitive decks exist in a tournament metagame, and have to make choices that actually harm what the deck is doing to be able to counter the known competition. Often tourney decks have to change so much from week to week that they never really find the optimal list, they just find the right list for that week, or as close to it as they can with time and card resources (scrambling for the right card can nuke your wallet or trade binder, one of the reasons why I cashed out).
Casual decks can be tuned to a greater degree, because you aren't worried about making top 8 or having a hard counter vs your deck like a competitive deck is often worried about. They aren't concerned about wining as much as doing their "thing" whatever that happens to be. Taking a tuned casual deck against a tourney deck can actually be eye opening, often casual decks can crush a good portion of the meta. But the reason why they stay casual is they can't stand the rigors of a tourney season, either through meta swings or having hard counters that are also popular. Sometimes casual decks actually make the transition to competitive, some really crazy ideas have been meta breakers after being tuned by casual players.
Basically what I'm saying is even though the casual deck is doing things that the tourney player thinks is not tourney worthy, it doesn't' mean that the casual player isn't building their decks optimally. Playing casual isn't an excuse to be lazy. I don't want to play against a guy who has a deck that is more like a pile of draft rejects any more than I want to build such a deck myself. Nothing is more frustrating than watching your opponent flounder with his poor deck design/play while you beat him without even trying hard.
Which is really where I stand on optimization. Just because you are playing a low power, RP heavy, or suboptimal character style doesn't mean you shouldn't optimize with what you have. If nothing else if you over build for an adventure, you can always choose to self limit things. When things get dangerous, you can swap your sword to your right hand, and declare "I'm not left handed!"
If you just want generic soldiers there are often bargain bins of dead war games at game stores. GW's WHFB minis used to be a decent value, but they have priced them selves sky high these days. I would just browse the reaper catalog and pick what you like, what you see people play a lot, and what you would like to use if you GM.
Also the iconic line of minis for PF is a good way to get great sculpts of various PF classes.
Kirth Gersen wrote:
I only started in 2nd ed AD&D, so I'm just beginner. THAC0 was a bit of a pain in the butt, but I remember making a fighter, my very first character, rolled 3d6 in order, first stat was 18 STR, rolled 00 on the bonus strength. Witnessed by the GM and all players. Got 17 dex, and everything else was 7-11 range. GM made me retire character after only a few sessions because it was "to strong". He was really upset about the negative AC more than the high strength though. He didn't want to run monsters with good thacOs against the party since everybody else was like AC2-5 range.
I see grognards like you in games stores from time to time, harping on about the kids on their lawn, how if G Gygax (whom they played a game with personally) were still around he would sick an owlbear on them and make them go away.
They usually have some old ignored supplement they tried to self publish back in the day they want to you try out, complete with rusty staples from the university copy shop. They drag out old minis that had runs of less than 4 digits, from companies that haven't existed in 20 years. Talk about how in the keep on the borderlands they totally destroyed that crazy old guy in the woods with a 10 foot pole and a bit of chalk and some string. Now kids won't even go adventuring without a +1 weapon, the spoiled snots.
In all seriousness I find OD&D pretty fun, its not the same game as 3.x/PF though. In OD&D if you rolled up something with terrible stats, it didn't matter all that much because the game largely didn't give out much unless you were at the extreme of the bell curve. Most of the mechanics came from the class and not the stats. 3.x/PF stats matter much more, and how you choose to progress your character matters much more.
Joanna Swiftblade wrote:
A typical encounter should late 2-4 rounds, depending on the set-up. A large encounter with a miniboss/BBEG should probably only one or two longer than that. The only time I have experienced long encounters was in the two final encounters of a level 1-20 campaign. The first one lasted about 6 rounds (spanning about 3 hours in real life) where the party had to fight an absurdly powerful barbarian and two incorporeal (who did practically nothing). The barbarian died in three rounds, and then was promptly resurrected by the impossibly angry god sword he was wielding. The last encounter only lasted that long because the final boss (Orcus himself) was hiding from the party trying to ambush him (the party had gotten so strong at that point that Orcus was legitimately afraid of their power).
I've found that long combats are the result of difficult environments more than any other factor. Combats in water, combats using flight heavily, combats with massive terrain altering spells (solid fog, walls of thorns, entangle, and a whole host of others). Other methods of generating long combats involve deceptive monsters that can hit and run, or aren't what you think they are. Phase spiders are a good example, and incorporeal creatures are really nasty this way. High level casters who make good use of magic jar or summon gobs of demons/devils with sacred summons can make a combat bog down for a VERY long time.
I actually had an enemy "solo" boss abuse the summons hard (did a one shot dungeon done up in a tuned MMO dungeon style, complete with trash, DPS checks, and a end boss with adds, but followed all encounter design rules in terms of CR math), round one, sacred summon max ereynes with superior summons, augmented summon, swift action inspire (evengelist cleric of asmodius), move action quick channel to protect his summons with an anti party debuff alt channel. Full attacks from the archers put the PCs immediately on a defensive footing. Just getting through the field of fire that the archers put up was daunting, and waiting out the summons wasn't an option either, since he had more spells incoming. Fight took about 8 rounds when it was all over, and instead of fighting the summons they went for caster assassination followed by a bugout by all PCs via transportation items (teleport scroll, ninja abundant step, full run with magic boots, ect). It took 8 rounds because I messed up and didn't reposition him 5 feet on turn 5, if i had remembered to it would have been much longer since he would have been able to avoid the lockdown combat maneuver monk that got through the defensive line.
I'm not privy to what the devs say in private conversations, so I won't comment on that. But I have read the monsters by CR chart, monster design chart, seen and run years of paizo created encounters, understand their intended tactics, and what the players need to do to overcome those obstacles. Mostly on the GM side of the screen excluding society play. With that knowledge there is a certain baseline ability that needs to be reached without risking loss of too many resources and/or player death. The build of your inquisitor doesn't meet the minimums as far as I can see to be able to thrive in published APs or PFS. In a home setting with encounters tailored to the party and/or very few combat situations? Yeah, any build can do that by definition. I by no means mean badwrongfun, but if you are playing by houserules or heavy modification of encounter design as presented in the core rule book and/or game mastery guide, then complaining about people who build more in line with the APs and society play optimizing to a degree that you find excessive is perhaps misguided since your own baseline perceptions might be off.
On the other side the stories I hear about power gaming parties using 35+ point buy, 3rd party splats from 3.5, Gestalt characters, templates, powerful monster races ect. are also far from the baseline that I don't really consider that to be the same game either. Which is fine, people can optimize the big guns as well as the smallest knife. Not going to tell them to stop, but I will say that isn't by the books baseline expectations of pathfinder. I do find it funny to look at one of these "munchin" characters and point out that they are actually pretty bad in terms of power though. I remember one having like a PB equivalent of like 42 AND gesalt, and it wasn't as good as the 15 point versions of the iconics at similar levels.
You have mentioned 5 feats on your character. toughness, skill focus, 2 basic archery feats, and combat reflexes. You also managed to get proficiency with a glaive somewhere too, but there are non standard ways to pick that up so I wont count that. If you are human that means you are 2 for level 1, 1 for 3, 1 for 5. 5th level at the very least. You have the option for one attack with a crossbow at that level for 1d10+1 points of damage at best per round, for 5 rounds before you skip your turn. Occasionally you can use your judgement so the attack does more, and you have a handful of potentially useful spells and domain abilities. Or you can use a glaive with two hands and deal 1d10+1 pts of damage as a reach weapon, and get some free strikes against enemies with negative wisdom/intellegence modifiers, well actually they can be smart enemies too since that sort of damage isn't going to scare a CR1 mook. You have a generous allotment of skill points, but skill monkeys aren't THAT useful, and even rogues can be built to be more effective than this, and bards blow it out of the water. Comparing your damage output even at higher levels, like when you get iterative attacks, shows that this build fails to keep up with CR appropriate encounters, encounters as presented in APs, or even from the book warrior NPCs. I can get more DPR from a CR2 kobold warrior using the non heroic NPC array than this min level 5 inquisitor has. You aren't a primary caster, so your limited magical resources cannot compensate for this deficit. You are sort of a skill class, but you don't have to focus on skills to beat level appropriate tasks or to beat DCs of common occurrences.
If your contributions are "great" in comparison to the rest of the party, you are playing an entirely different game than I am, and are so far away from standard by the book pathfinder that you really shouldn't be talking like your table is anywhere close to the norm.
Heck, I have one player in my group who likes to role with concept builds that aren't particularly optimal. He still optimizes them, he is mechanically weak compared to some other PCs, but he maximizes what he can do within that concept well enough to fulfill all role requirements and as a result isn't a burden to the party. He even likes to play inquisitors, and honestly he doesn't do a huge amount of damage most of the time (he is at least within touching distance of expectations for his level), but he does enough to play clean up after a blast or the big hitters get their shots in. He doesn't give up his ability to be the skills guy or be secondary support caster to do this either. As for RP, the most power gaming person in the party also is the most RP focused person. They made a cavalier/pathfinder chronicaler character that is just brutal on the battle field while at the same time buffing the party. Spikes well past normal damage thresholds with a completely by the books build, and is extremely creative in getting her mount into dungeons (contrary to popular wisdom most dungeons in published material actually have large areas to fight in and very few pinch points where large things can't get into, especially APs with large numbers of large/huge monster NPCs). She is very good at using consumables to push past minor obstacles. She is currently role playing a Hussar, heavy drinking hard fighting men who were barely restrained and didn't let conventional wisdom tell what they could and couldn't do on the battlefield http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antoine_Charles_Louis_de_Lasalle.
Last campaign she played a evangelist cleric of Calistria. Most OP support build I've seen played, and she RPed the crap out of that character while pretty much carrying the party through extremely difficult encounters.
I have no idea what this build is even trying to accomplish then. Judgements are a limited resource aren't they? Anybody can heal, anybody can scout, and with 12 strength you aren't hurting anybody with that glaive. Toughness isn't terrible, but its more of a hedge, combat reflexes value assumes your attacks hit for something, which they don't. Skill focus perception is still skill focus, which is the poor end of the feat power curve. It's like you are TRYING to make a character who sucks at everything and is good at nothing. I can make a inquisitor (or cleric/oracle) that does ALL of that and doesn't suck (which is to say its more effective in everything your character does, and a whole lot more). Are you playing 10 point buy or something?
PB and precise are the baseline feats that all ranged specialized characters get. I forgot that Inquisitors get prof with the repeating bow too. That being said the weapon is still suboptimal because you can't add strength (or dex like a gunslinger) to it, you can't take multishot, and a whole host of things that makes ranged combat effective rather than a backup plan. Also the round where you reload the bolts is pretty much lost. Once you get iterative needing to reload every 2 rounds is going to seriously crimp your damage output, which was pathetic to begin with.
My idea of good choices is "fun to play and EFFECTIVELY contributes to the team" When DR2 reduces your DPR by 1/3, that isn't a great place to be. DR5 reduces this concept to .5 damage per round. That is laughable. You know what outpaces .5 damage per round? An acid splash (resist acid is less common than DR).
2-5 rounds, heavily weighted towards 2.
Reasons for the numbers: large party, 5-6 players, most are optimized (not munchin or power gamer, just very good at the roles they have chosen). Short encounters means very little in the way of resources spent per encounter, which means the adventuring day is very long.
APs are also full of mook fights, against CR=APL or +1 (and due to large party, requires me to add mooks or increase HP to max to even reach that). Since they know what they are doing and have played well together they take down bosses (CR=APL+3 or higher)before they really get going most of the time.
It is still a challenge for them, I generally don't pull punches (will if its my fault and I missed something, that is pretty much it). I get PCs to danger zone HP and apply nasty hard to deal with conditions all the time (most APs end up with double digit body counts, but they get better since death is only a inconvenience to pathfinders apparently). PCs manage just fine due to preparation and knowing the game system. I limit item availability by settlement size, but if it comes under those limits some time resource in game can usually find what they are looking for, IMHO its a good balance between Monty Haul/MagicMart vs NoFunAllowedSersiousBusiness/NoMagicItemsForSale style.
I allow nearly all Paizo published material that came out for PF (so no 3.5 stuff). No evil characters, causes to much trouble IMHO, and I can't be bothered to fix butthurt players feelings when somebody "roleplays their alignment" too hard. PvP is not allowed short of mind control, attempts to do so will result in suspension of game for the night, I have got better things to do than watch neckbeards go crazy over dividing loot or whatever causes such urges.
Not a huge amount of RP, only one person really gets into it effectively, the other player who wants to RP always takes too long to realize the situation and misses opportunities to RP (low Wis IRL).
The problem with the example of the sword and board vs gs is larger than 2 damage. Much larger. lvl 1 18 str power attack fighter with good weapon 2d6+9=16 damage. Sword and board fighter at lvl 1 1d8+6 = 10.5. difference of 5.5 damage. That is a sizable percentage better. One of them 1 shots the typical CR 1 monster (15hp iirc)on average, the other only drops the enemy when it crits (max damage is only 14, comes up short every time) . The sword and board fighter idealy will have TWF and can shield bash for some additional DRP, but at the cost to hit numbers (HUGE drop off on DPR) and one or more feats. Feats that could be better spent. Heck they can even be spent to improve AC. Sword and board builds are inherently poor at low levels since they hit like a wet noodle, eats up feats for dubious benefit, and honestly doesn't scale at high levels well either (sure you can enchant the shield, but you still won't catch up to monsters + to hit without burning more and more character choices).
The case of the crossbow: the resources needed to make the repeating crossbow to get up to the default bow in quality could have been used to either make a bow better than the crossbow could ever be, or to buff other areas of the characters design. Wasting resources on mechanically poor options actually decrease the leeway you have when building characters. You aren't able to fit in as many personalized options if you go with difficult and intensive feat chains. And at the end of said feat chains you are still questionable anyways. Take the good options, conserve resources for actual choices instead of feat traps and false choices.
Sadly the person most likely to actually prepare stabilize is also the one most likely to think its a touch spell. It is part of the point I was making.
I won't let somebody bleed out by any means, but if you get dropped by a soft hit like 7 damage to knock you out, I'm not exactly going to run over there the first round and use the heal skill, cure spells, or get close enough to cast stabilize. The heal bot every hit point must be healed now clerics will though.
From a society perspective in defense of optimization of characters:
If I've invested 40+ hours of game play into a character, I am pretty invested into it. I don't want it to die or be ruined (due to having to spend all of the prestige or gold for a res) due to some party load causing a wipe or dead PC. Often a weak character doesn't actually die, its the guy being forced to cover for the weak character that dies. Similar to how a geriatric driver doesn't get into accidents, but they sure do cause a lot of them.
Being forced to carry a party just sucks, and I've had to do so in the past, even taking my witch into melee combat since it had the best AC and damage potential (in a party with a figher and oracle...)
PFS scenarios are very hit and miss when it comes to lethality. Some are cakewalks you can hop and skip through, others are brutal multiple PC deaths are the norm scenarios. Season 4 is particularly brutal at that. Some GMs are also more brutal and less forgiving. PCs that are played by people who complain the most about optimization are often party loads that do nothing other than waste spot in the party. This is not an exaggeration. The most annoying wastes of space are the "skill monkey" and the party white mage that only heals. The skill monkey is utterly worthless when life and death is on the line 90 percent of the time, and the healing make specializes in fixing failures instead of contributing to success. Instead of running to a downed PCs side to cast stabalize, perhaps you could help the combat actually end?
You should be able not just contribute, but contribute well and contribute in a way that is actually needed. Often people who complain the most about other people being "optimized" or "powergaming" can't even pass this low bar. I would say the majority of people who get butthurt over optimization I've met in person are in this camp.
There is nothing "quick and easy" about a legit encounter that lasts only 2-3 rounds. Those 2-3 rounds have more danger in them than the 10 round slogs with nerf bats some people are saying should be normal. And I for one like to run more than 2-3 combats a night and/or get to the RP stuff quicker without mook fighting taking up the whole session.
Round one: setting up the field of battle, which means buffs, control spells, closing distance, finding a favorable piece of terrain to fight around, and summons.
Note in single monster encounters or in all mook encounters that focused damage against solos or burst effects against mooks can make round 3 not happen.
Pounce builds and ranged builds can often skip round 1 tactics and go to round 2, battlefield dependent. Thus in certain situations you can have a 1 round combat due to skipping round 1 tactics and ability to focus down enough to remove the need for round 3 tactics.
Tactics that rely on incremental advantages over many rounds are often wasted in groups that play like this. That means haste isn't that thrilling when only 1 full round attack occurs (which means blasts do more damage), that means summons get 1-2 round of action (which means blasts actually do more damage). Since both summons and haste are meant to increase damage, and damage isn't really required in your party, perhaps its better to focus on high impact control spells. Dropping pits, fogs, and lockdowns. In all honesty though if I was playing in said group I would just save resources if it looks like a cakewalk encounter. Get a set of wands so you can contribute without expending spell slots, save spell slots spell for hard encounters. Arcane power should be saved till its actually needed after all.
Gwen Smith wrote:
What? I just checked the PFSRD and there is no improved channel pre req before quick channel. Just knowledge religion and channel class feature.
When the Mooks at level 20 have 200 HP (and they do, and even higher). You need to take them down just as fast as you did at level 1. Which is one round per takedown. Anything slower means you fail at your party role as primary damage dealer. Bosses shouldn't be able to survive 3 rounds of full offense, otherwise they are too strong IMHO (Since a boss should be capable of a 1 round take down IMHO if the PCs don't take him seriously, just look at liches or AP end bosses, longer combats mean TPK quite often).
Play some scenarios where the mooks have 100hp+, Giants and their ilk are often great mid/high level mooks, and if you have more than a pair of them you need to be able to cut down at least 150ish HP in a round or you are going to get struck back (PC defense lags offense of enemies, giants can one round PCs with their often favored high crit modifier weapons and power attacks). Heck there was a scenario in an AP that involved over half a dozen giants + pets where if the party didn't have the ability to spike down giants in one turn, they would have been quickly overwhelmed. And that was like only book 4, not 5 or 6. I think I have more fire giant/frost giant kills on PCs than any other monster. They are just nasty and not taking them seriously is a sure way to die horribly.
A competently made level 1 party will make most combats last 2-5 rounds. That is the default for an average combat, and thank god for that. 10 round slogs should be reserved for climatic boss fights. A level 1 damage specialist should be averaging well over 10 damage per hit, when the average CR 1 monster has like 15 HP or so. That is just one guy fighting, add in the other 3, which at least one of should be about the same in damage (2nd damage dealer or a battle focused cleric or rogue), and another at least competent (the average cleric or rogue) and only 1 non damage character (the wizard type), and the average CR 1-2 encounter should mathmatically be over in 3 rounds.
As for that Set Piece with 20 rounds of fighting off waves of zombies? That is actually multiple combats with no rest between, not really the same thing as a single encounter. If its overall CR is balanced with the party, then its not a real challenge since each monster is far below being a real issue.
Also epic encounters are perfectly fine, as long as its not every combat, it gets to be boring if every fight is a long drawn out affair against "Impossible Odds" ect (or the worse version were combatants are armed with a flashlight and a nerf bat and have to hunt each other in the dark).
I use vital strike on my Cleric of Gorum. Of course I didn't actually take the feat, I use the domain power to get free access to it. He is a big hit build with a spell storing sword (inflict wounds stored in it). As a result hits amazingly hard. Once i have my swift action freed up (2nd round of combat) I add channeled smite. Lots of dice, large bonuses to damage after dice. Usually drops enemies with one hit, no need for full attacks, needs to move more as a result.
Vital strike on a 2d6 weapon is +7 average damage as long as don't full attack. Personally I've found that one shotting or 2 shotting the enemy means you don't get that many full attacks in the first place.
Nathanael Love wrote:
Cure spells aren't enough for a single attack from my groups primary damage dealers at any level. 1d8+5 is beaten at 1st level, 4d8+8 is easily beaten at 8th... Cure spells are garbage at every level for in combat healing. Channels are even worse. At 11th when heal come on line 110 HP healed isn't even enough for some of the single hits that happen.
At 11th level its not uncommon for mooks to have more than 100 HP, a primary damage dealer should be able to one round a mook at every level, preferably with out using all of his attacks to do so. Heal while not being completely bad, still has its limits of usefulness. IMHO the enemy cleric ought to have something better to do in combat with a 6th level spell than to cast heal.
Nothing says a terrible option like tons of sunk resources in something that doesn't actually end the encounter. Opportunity costs on playing a character that primarily is meant to do nothing other than be a HP battery are prohibitive.
I also disagree on being able to outpace incoming damage, its just not true even in APs. In my reign of winter game a single non crit hit with one of the monster did about 80 damage to a 10th level PC (and even though that was a lance attack, its DPR on full attacks was similarly impressive as well). Lay on hands , channels or cure spells isn't going to fix that.
Healing isn't just HP, IMHO HP healing is a waste of every bodies time. Its not like cure spells or fast healing can keep up with a group of PCs playing intelligently or even delay things much. Certainly not enough to take the hit to the CR budget adding a healer to an encounter entails.
Now removing debilitating conditions and providing protection from such debilitation is another story. Preventing loss of HP or conditions being applied is a better use. A cleric using liberation domains 8th level ability is usually more useful than healing for 4d8+8 or channeling for 4d6.
Well to start with the premise is slightly flawed. "Tank" isn't a party role in pathfinder. There is no aggro mechanic other than what the GM thinks the enemy should be doing. In PFS the GM has to follow combat tactics as written in the encounter, but they give a lot of leeway things so your ability to avoid damage and protect the party is limited by the whims of another. Not a good place to be.
Tower shield is a trap. Don't take it. The minus to hit and other factors make for huge drawbacks for marginal improvement in AC. Its not hard to make a cleric with standard gear and magic to not get hit except on crit threats, any investment past that is a waste and I would argue a waste well before that point. +1 dex, +6 armor (4 mirror armor) and +2 shield is AC 19 at first level. Add in shield of faith and you are not going to get hit by the average CR 3 monster or NPC very often. Of course being a 3/4 BAB character with slow movement and marginal strength means you aren't going to be hurting much either. The combination of high AC and terrible offensive capability means you are a bottom tier target in both types of calculations (ease of threat removal, and how dangerous the threat is). You won't be tanking, you will be shifting the attacks to others.
Don't take channel into consideration when looking at dwarfs. You are -1 channel for being a dwarf and it looks like you burnt 2 build points on cancelling out that deficit. Don't bother. Channel is a pretty bad ability, it doesn't scale well. Its possible to make it reasonably good, but it requires a different build concept than a dwarf tank.
You don't need 18 wisdom if you are a martial cleric. In fact a 15 is all you really need in that stat, +1 at 4th level gives you the 16 you need for the bonus spell that you get at 5th level for having +3 wisdom modifier. Since a 15 on a dwarf is only 3 points, that gains you 7 points to be spent on more important stats for a battle cleric. Heck, follow my advice on charisma and I've gained you 9 build points without even trying. Put that into some dex and strength. Get a reach weapon, take combat reflects. Control a large area of the battlefield with enlarge person. Take the growth domain if you can so you can get a fast enlarge person. That is how you really "tank" in PF. Control a large portion of the battlefield making it hard for you opponents to bypass or deal with.
Bard. Don't really get why it wasn't brought up yet either. The alt racials even support it in Hypnotic and Wildfire heart.
You can even go with dawn-flower dervish if you want to still go with a religious side, but honestly I'm less enamored with them than others seem to be.
Bards are also one of the safest bets in PFS, as not a huge number of players play them and they can fill most holes in a party if needed. Also, PFS in my area tends to have larger tables than 4-5, more often the full allowed than not. Bards slot perfectly into large parties.
IDK, there is still the 20 percent miss chance and the feat tax still sucks. Fog cloud just doesn't seem like the spell for an offensively oriented party. It hurts your parties DPR, and it mostly is a defensive spell. A one round stun spell just seems better. With winning the initiative + half of the enemy failing their saves that's 2 rounds of offense without much opposition. An offensive party can afford to have short duration debuffs because they don't expect combat to last long.
The nonlethal rogue is pretty well known, its not that common because it has one critical flaw. It just doesn't work right half the time. Immune to non lethal is more common than you would think. Also immune to sneak attack is always a problem.
But since you are starting with barbarian, you will be effective enough starting out. Your BAB early on (when it matters more) will be good/decent enough to get the job done too.