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This cover would look better if included a Prothean.

Regards,
Ruemere


Hello,

I am converting creatures for Bonegarden, ye olde sandbox module from Necromancer Games. The currently converted creature is something nameless, called (by yours truly) Titanic Bone Assembly.
It appears, for those who would like to make a comparison, on page 14, in the Valley of Bones, and it is simply a colossal assembly of bones.

However, as this creatures goes beyond PFRPG guidelines with regard to its CR, I have used my gut feeling (and experience) to assign Challenge Rating. Just in case my players may feel under-rewarded, please rate its CR.

Before adding comments, please take into account the following important factors:
- the creature cannot pursue (and will not pursue due to story reasons)
- it is very slow (low speed, takes a few rounds to awaken)
- at the same time its physical stats are formidable
Therefore, using ranged attacks it is rather easily dealt with. However, in close combat, it is a girallon of its class.

----
TITANIC BONE ASSEMBLY
Variant Colossal Bloody Skeleton
Skeleton CR 17
XP 102400
NE Colossal undead
Init +0; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +0

DEFENSE
AC 20, touch 2, flat-footed 20 (+0 armor, +0 Dex, +18 natural, -8 size)
hp 416 (64d8+128); fast healing 32
Fort +23, Ref +21, Will +34; channel resistance +4
DR 5/bludgeoning; Immune cold, undead traits

OFFENSE
Speed 20 ft.
Melee 2 slams +58 (2d8+18 +bull rush)
Melee (power attack, dazing assault) 2 slams +40 (2d8+44 +free bull rush +dazing assault)
Space 30 ft.; Reach 30 ft.
Special Attacks free bull rush, dazing assault (DC 58), power attack (-13 attack, +26 damage), trample (2d8+27, DC 60)

STATISTICS
Str 47, Dex 10, Con —, Int —, Wis 10, Cha 14
Base Atk +48; CMB +74; CMD 84
Feats Power Attack(B), Improved Bull Rush(B), Dazing Assault(B)
SQ deathless, delayed assembly, immense size and mass

ECOLOGY
Environment any (mass graves, unhallowed ground)
Organization solitary
Treasure none

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Deathless (Su): A bloody skeleton is destroyed when reduced to 0 hit points, but it returns to unlife 1 hour later at 1 hit point, allowing its fast healing thereafter to resume healing it. A bloody skeleton can be permanently destroyed if it is destroyed by positive energy, if it is reduced to 0 hit points in the area of a bless or hallow spell, or if its remains are sprinkled with a vial of holy water.
Delayed Assembly (Ex): Unless already active, a colossal bloody skeleton takes 1d4 rounds to assemble from available remains. During this time it cannot take any actions, however all its abilities, including fast healing, are already active. A colossal bloody sketelon disassembles into mounds of bone and black miasma after an hour of inactivity.
Immense size and mass (Ex): Due to immense size and mass, a colossal bloody skeleton's attacks are treated as slams, with each successful attack complemented with Power Attack feat and Dazing Assault feats (penalties factored in stat block) and free use of bull rush (perform free bull rush after each successful attack). Speed reduced by -10 due to awkward, lumbering gait.
----

Regards,
Ruemere


The atmosphere reminds me a little of Brotherhood of the Wolves.
Engaging beginning.

Regards,
Ruemere


I wonder if today's title similarity to certain game opening quote is merely a coincidence.

Anyway, bonus points for reminding me about wildest and darkest bouts of GMing.

Regards,
Ruemere


Here is how gunslinging thief looks like in Guild Wars 2 preview:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLUPciNFXjI

Note the ultra high agility, numerous gun-related maneuvers, and how the character makes up for lack of armor.

Regards,
Ruemere


Here is a thought I've head about building Gunslinger as Magus Archetype.

Similarities:
- both classes have a decent base class ability to complement medium melee abilities (actually, guns are worse, much worse than Magus spells, and Magus are clearly superior in terms of melee efficiency)
- both classes use power pool to power their class abilities

Magus came off as a decent class - bringing Gunslinger to Magus power level should be good enough to save the Gunslinger from oblivion.

Vague proposals:
- allow Gunslinger to complete gunslinging with melee
- allow Gunslinger to wear armors
- allow Gunslinger to use both guns and melee weapons at the same time

Regards,
Ruemere


The Premise

As written, gunslingers are not playable in standard campaign. It was already covered by others, but allow me to summarize it for the sake of completeness:

- economy. Gunslingers are not viable financially. At the cost of 1 GP per bullet, I am quite sure that anyone capable boring an impression in a brick is likely to laugh their had off at this price. When one takes into account the breakage rules for firearms, it becomes obvious that Gunslingers are money sink.

- damage. Loss of iterative attacks (well, one could always use Quick Draw and draw a bow, but that somewhat ironic, not effective). Guns are inferior both in terms of range and damage to other weapons. oh, and guns can break.

- complexity. Gunslingers are Fighters sans weapon and armor training. They are saddled with most ineffective weapons in game (well, crossbows do come close, but crossbows do not break). And yet, in order to do their shtick they have to memorize rules for grit. The grit and deeds have been very precisely criticized by Cartigan and ProfessorCirno elsewhere.

Salvaging Bits and Pieces

As written in playtest PDF, firearms rules are not open to debate. As such, they are not salvageable. The prices, the fragility and default loss of iterative attacks are there to stay.

In order to fix the Gunslinger, we have to make them overcome shortcomings listed above. Fortunately, it is not difficult as in terms of problem complexity, Gunslingers are still rather simple.

- economy.

Let the Gunslingers make their own guns, mend their guns and produce gunpowder and bullets at no cost. In the beginning, the musketeers had to make do in the field with their weapons. And so they did.
Additionally, increase breakage chance for anyone without Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Firearms). That way robbing gunslingers will not be profitable - why would you want to steal an unusable item?

- damage.

The loss of iterative attacks (and at the same time in-game presence of spells like Scorching Ray) led me to the following ideas for salvaging damage (essentially, this is a Warlock class ability in disguise):

Firearm Expertise (Ex) A Gunslinger firing a gun gains bonus damage damage equal to 1d6 per two class levels (+1d6 at 2nd level, +2d6 at 4th level, up the the maximum of +10d6 damage at 20th level). The damage is not multiplied upon critical hit. The damage is considered precision damage and as such does not affect creatures immune to critical hit. This ability replaces Weapon Training.

The next ability is meant to portray insane mobility of inconic Hong Kong action gunslingers. At the same time, it fulfills the purpose of allowing gunslingers to use ranged weapons in melee.

Enhanced Mobility (Ex) As an immediate action, a gunslinger may use an attack of opportunity to move 5 feet into any direction. The action provokes attacks of opportunity as normal. If the ability is used in response to an attack, resolve the attack first albeit increase Gunslinger's armor class by 4 and his Reflex save by 4. This ability replaces Armor Training.

Evasion (Ex) (to reflect Mobility and to help with the next weakness)

Fragile Supplies: Any fire based effect which inflicts damage on Gunslinger renders 10% of his supplies unusable and inflicts 50% more damage. Any soaking with liquid renders 10% of his supplies unusable until the supplies are properly treated.

- complexity.

The game already has feats, spells, smites, energy channels, rages and so on - do we need yet another class incapable of multiclassing due to incompatible subsystem?

Drop Grit and Deeds. The Monks do it better and yet they still are quite bad at being in the front line. The Magus gets better action economy with Spell Combat, and Magus Arcane Pool mechanic is simpler and more effective.

Drop targeting. This is far outside of existing combat system. And it makes no sense with the presence of other ranged weapons in game - the crossbows and bows are pretty accurate, too.

Just add a few Gunslinger-only feats. And let Gunslinger qualify for Fighter feats.

Additionally, you could add firearm upgrades (costly and requiring certain prerequisites to use effectively):
- revolving gun chamber - ability to fire several shots at the cost of extended reload and increased misfire chance
- bayonet - mountable blade

Regards,
Ruemere


Spellstrike (Su): At 2nd level, whenever a magus casts spell with a range of "touch" from the magus spell list, he can deliver the spell through any weapon he is wielding as part of a melee attack. If successful, this melee attack deals its normal damage as well as the effects of the spell. Instead of the free melee touch attack normally allowed to deliver the spell, a magus can make one free melee attack with his weapon as part of casting this spell. If used with spell combat, this does not grant an additional attack.
----

Needs to be clarified. There are four cases to be handled here:

#1 Magus uses spell combat to deliver spell with a range of "touch". It works just like a regular use of spell combat.

#2 Magus casts a spell with a range of "touch" using a standard action. Instead of making a free melee touch at his melee touch attack bonus, he can opt for making a melee attack with his weapon, doing normal melee attack and delivering spell upon success.

#3 Magus casts a spell with a range of "touch" using a swift or free action action. Magus is entitled to free melee attack with ability to deliver spell effect. This use of the ability allows Magus to take his remaining actions as normal (i.e. Spellstrike on quickened Daze, then Spell combat with full set of iterative attacks and Vampiric Touch). This is quite possible as Spell combat does not prevent one from using Spellstrike, and rods with metamagic feats are quite likely to feature in Magus reportoire of magic items.

#4 Magus begins turn with a held touch spell. *bzzt* *problem* Magus cannot use spell combat, as it would dissipate the spell (held spell disappeares the moment you begin spellcasting). He cannot use spellstrike since this is not the round Magus cast the spell.

Concluding: This is pretty *meh* unless the Magus can produce #3. It's also overly complicated.

Proposal: Clean the ability description to to clearly specify uses of the ability. One should not analyze rules to find all benefits. Secondly, remove ability to cast two spells per round (i.e. #3) - this could be quite a hog (i.e. time waster) due to sheer number of abilities to resolve in addition to iterative attacks.

For example:

Spellstrike (Su): Whenever casting a spell with a range of "touch", magus may opt to replace subsequent melee touch attack with a melee attack with a wielded weapon. Note that this attack is considered part of spellcasting, and as such is made at your highest attack bonus plus any applicable penalties (such as caused by Spell combat or Power Attack).

Relevant quotes:

Pathfinder PRD, Magic wrote:
Touch Spells and Holding the Charge: In most cases, if you don't discharge a touch spell on the round you cast it, you can hold the charge (postpone the discharge of the spell) indefinitely. You can make touch attacks round after round until the spell is discharged. If you cast another spell, the touch spell dissipates.

Regards,

Ruemere


This is a proposal for eliminating Cost lookups. As per my tentative estimate, 4 NPC Wordcaster Sorcerers of 10th level require 400% longer pause to allocate Target and Effect words, the biggest time waster of which is cost accounting. As a GM, I feel obliged to optimize costs expenditures, and so I need to look up costs at least twice per word being cast - once to make a decision, and the second time, to check if I cannot allocate leftover budget.
Granted, this could be optimized by memorizing costs, yet, at this moment, I am unlikely to do so due to the system being fairly new.

DEFINITIONS

spellword - spell assembled and cast using words of power.
spell slot - caster resource in vancian spell system. Used to store and power up magical effects known as spells and spellwords.

THE PROPOSAL

  • Observe standard limits for wordcasting for composition of spellword: one target word, up to three effect words, minimum spell levels for words (and see below for levels 16-20).

  • Maximum number of words within spellword is determined by caster level:
    1-5: Target + Effect,
    6-10: Target + up to 2 Effects,
    11-15: Target + up to 3 Effects,
    16-20: up to 2 Targets + up to 3 Effects (yes, you can cast spellword with more than two target types)

  • (Wizards and those who prepare spells) Memorize Target and Effect words just like you would memorize spells, one word per slot. When casting a spellword with words allocated to different slots, use highest level slot to determine caster level. At the end of the casting, mark a single spell slot of your choice used in the casting as used-up. For every word beyond 3rd, mark additional spell slot as used up.

    Examples:
    - 2-word spellword - uses up any one of two slots used in the casting
    - 3-word spellword - uses up any one of three slots used in the casting
    - 4-word spellword - uses up two of 4 slots used in the casting
    - 5-word spellword - uses up three of 5 slots used in the casting

  • (Sorcerers and other spontaneous casters) As above, with the exception that words are not assigned to specific slots. However, when making up a spell slot as used-up, mark the highest spell slot used in the casting.
    Total sum of spells and words is subject to Known Spell limit.
    Unlike spells, words can be unlearned and learned again over the course of an hour, provided there is an arcane spellbook with words available.

  • Learning spells and spellwords: any caster may learn any spell or spellword, as all of them use spell slots in the same way.

  • Converting spells to spellwords: any caster may attempt to research breaking down a spell into spell words. The following limitations apply:
    - when determining target, assign most similar target word
    - when determining effect, assign most similar effect word and increase minimum level by one

  • Converting spellwords into spells: any caster may attempt to research producing a spell out of spell words.
    - determine spell level as a sum of minimum word levels less one

Regards,
Ruemere


I have devised a simple tabular cost calculator for Words of Power System.

Features:
- Single page
- Three tables: budget, target words, effect words
- Included information: costs, levels, restrictions. Also groups and names.
- Obligatory Pathfinder Compatible and OGL licenses included... just print the first page for your viewing pleasure and enjoy.
- Available via Google Docs
- Contact information: in the document
- v.3 based on Round Two, Beta 1, version of Ultimate Magic Playtest document

View Words of Power Cost Calculator
To download original file, follow the link above, click File / Download original.

Regards,
Ruemere

PS. In case this is wrong forum to post the file, please accept my apologies and move it to the right one.


I'm reading the rules and find them very complex.
So here is the request for an algorithm or block diagram to describe the procedure.

For example:

1. Select an available spell level and find spell budget.
2. Pick a TARGET word. Add the cost.
3. Pick EFFECT words. Observe restrictions. Add costs.

Regards,
Ruemere


As per Sunbeam spell description, all opponents, who fail Reflex save are blinded.

Spell description does not specify duration of the condition, however:
DURATION
Subjects, Effects, and Areas: If the spell affects creatures directly, the result travels with the subjects for the spell's duration. If the spell creates an effect, the effect lasts for the duration. The effect might move or remain still. Such an effect can be destroyed prior to when its duration ends. If the spell affects an area, then the spell stays with that area for its duration.

So, the question here is:
- does the blindness go away at the end of spell duration?
- if so, does that mean that the last round use of the spell will result in a blindness lasting only a single round?

Regards,
Ruemere


i. Basing on the structure of playtesting feedback, here is a suggestion on how to conduct open playtests in the future.

1. Provide base class material (already implemented).

2. Provide builds created by class designers. Builds should include items and several versions (for different levels). Builds should not be optimized.

3. Discuss builds and alter them as per player feedback. A few builds intended for abusing class mechanic should be added (community feedback would be most helpful in this regard).

4. Provide challenges (a list of sample encounters or Bestiary monsters). A sample encounter should be sketchy - a list of opponents, starting distances, general description of terrain.

5. Evaluate playtests.

ii. The reasons for this proposal

1. Two weeks are unlikely to provide ample time for high level tests. And, as per our experiences, stuff tends to break down more at higher levels.
Sample builds should facilitate casual playtest in campaings.

2. Quite a lot of feedback provided was rendered somewhat useless due to changes introduced by designers. The on-the-fly changes are necessary, they are also appreciated by the community, however they also mandate reevaluation of tests. Presence of sample builds and challenges is likely to ease the pain of changes.

3. While comparing three forums for each of three rounds, it is pretty evident that quite a lot of enthusiasm was lost over time. It's to be expected as playtests require quite a lot of preparation on both player (new rules) and GM (rules and encounters). By adding sample content community users would be able to devote more time to playtest.

--
Hopefully, this short commentary will be of some use.

Regards,
Ruemere


Here are a few deceptively simple questions:

1. What is intended niche/utility for Summoners outside of combat?

2. What would be a social role for a Summoner NPC in a community?

The Summoner, at this moment, looks like a pokemon trainer with basic swarming spellcasting tactics. That means that unless the GM and players will bend the concept to create a niche (a ratcatcher, a wandering tournament pokemon player, etc) there is no actual reason to put one in a campaign.

The reason why it is important - good game worlds follow certain inner logic. Adventurers have their ecology, so to speak, however, once retired/not adventuring, each class can become a worthy member of a community... which makes for a great way to build stories, characters etc.

So, what is the intended role, non-combat, for a summoner?

Regards,
Ruemere

PS. No offense intended for those who find pokemon references disagreeable. The pokemon trainer stereotype has been present in various media for a long time now... my cause for concern is only its extreme shallowness of concept - hence my indirect request for expanding it.


(disclaimer: based on BETA impressions)
(note: BETA had lower page count)

I would like to submit a request for a graphic-light PDF version of Pathfinder RPG.
The reason is that netbooks and older laptops process the book rather slowly, and when one is about to run a search for an obscure rule or when you want to quickly navigate between different sections, one may become rather annoyed with waiting.

Regards,
Ruemere


To counter Sunder nastiness allow me to propose a fix. Pathfinder BETA already allows to mend items with "Broken" condition via low level magic spells (any weapon not Destroyed is Broken, Destroyed = 0 hp, during Sunder you may choose NOT to Destroy a weapon if you find out yourself dealing too much damage).

The fix would be as follows:
1. Any object which gained "Destroyed" condition may be repaired.
2. Repairing using tools and appropriate materials consumes half of original resources both for mundane and magic items.
3. Use of magical repairing spells on a "Destroyed" magic item is allowed provided that magical spells are employed within 1 hour per object's caster level. Otherwise, the magic is lost and the repaired object loses all magical traits.
4. To prevent influx of repaired magic items into campaign world, use the following rule during normal repair (#2) and strictly magical repair (#3): the character performing repairs must make a repair check similar to the one used during magic item creation with the same DC (check Magic Item Web Enhancement by Paizo).

Regards,
Ruemere


There is an mabiguity with regard to the limit of controllable Undead.

Specifically, it is not stated toward which abilities/spells are affected:

"" wrote:

Necromancy School

Specialist Bonus: You can control 8 HD worth of undead
creatures per caster level. If you prepare spells of your
opposition schools, excess undead immediately become free-
willed and do not return to your control when you regain this
bonus. You choose which undead are released.

However, the power does not state which spells or abilities are affected:

- Channel Negative Energy (1 HD/level)
- Control Undead spell (2 HD/level)
- Animate Dead (4 HD/level)

Regards,
Ruemere


Problem #1:
- You're a wizard specializing in necromancy.
- Most Necromantic spells bear [Evil] descriptor.
- You want to play Good or Neutral Necromancer.

How to reconcile this?

For now, we have ruled that creation of primitive Undead (mindless) is not Evil if Elemental spirit is used to animate the corpse (i.e. the caster states at the casting time: I choose to use Elemental spirit).

Other Necromancy [Evil] spells of note:
Contagion.
Create Undead.

Problem #2:
- You're a wizard specializing in necromancy.
- You want to control Undead.
- Lowest control Undead spell is available at 13th level (Control Undead). Until then the best you can do is use Animate Dead to create a zombie.
- Cleric can Channel Negative Energy from 1st level onwards.

How to reconcile this?

Replace 8th level ability with Channel Negative Energy as per Evil/Neutral Cleric of appropriate level.

Regards,
Ruemere


Problem #1:
- You're a wizard specializing in necromancy.
- Most Necromantic spells bear [Evil] descriptor.
- You want to play Good or Neutral Necromancer.

How to reconcile this?

For now, we have ruled that creation of primitive Undead (mindless) is not Evil if Elemental spirit is used to animate the corpse (i.e. the caster states at the casting time: I choose to use Elemental spirit).

Other Necromancy [Evil] spells of note:
Contagion.
Create Undead.

Problem #2:
- You're a wizard specializing in necromancy.
- You want to control Undead.
- Lowest control Undead spell is available at 13th level (Control Undead). Until then the best you can do is use Animate Dead to create a zombie.
- Cleric can Channel Negative Energy from 1st level onwards.

How to reconcile this?

Replace 8th level ability with Channel Negative Energy as per Evil/Neutral Cleric of appropriate level.

Regards,
Ruemere


PS. Here is specific proposal for fixing Necromancer Arcane School power (basically, allowing Necromancer to be closer to Cleric in terms of Undead control proficiency).

Regards,
Ruemere


COMBAT MANEUVERS
Proof of Concept aka Saving the Fighter Class

Introduction

My stern belief is that Pathfinder Fighters are inferior to 3.5 Fighters with regard to scalability. In other words, high level Fighters under Pathfinder system are worse off than their 3.5 versions. According to Crusader of Logic problems occur beyond 5th level, while in my campaign this issue began to trouble my players around 8th or 9th.

Stating all the reasons for this claim is beyond the scope of this article, however for those who want to know here are a few tips:
1. Read the posts in Classes: Barbarian, Fighter, and Ranger.
2. 3.5 staple Fighter feats were nerfed: Power Attack, Improved Trip, Combat Expertise.
3. It is possible to construct much stronger melee characters without relying on Fighter class, for example, using Pathfinder BETA Prestige classes:
Fighter 4, Sorcerer 2, Dragon Disciple 4, Eldritch Knight 10
- you lose 2 BAB, 2 Fighter feats
- you gain 14 spellcasting levels
4. At the moment this article is written, Pathfinder BETA feats improve Fighter ability to deal Critical damage, however criticals do not apply to numerous important opponent types (as opposed to, say, Pathfinder BETA Sneak Attack damage).
5. Pathfinder BETA Combat Maneuvers are significantly weaker than 3.5 counterparts (smaller chance to succeed, smaller chance to hinder opponent activities).

Additionally, Fighters are still limited to 2 skill points per level and they still lack ability to deal with impossible challenges. Also, Fighters are still ridicoulsly easily eliminated from melee combat. Three simple examples of issues with persisting in this approach:
1. All brilliant strategists of military forces of our history would have to multiclass into Rogues.
2. Pinned Spellcaster uses Dimension Door. Pinned Rogue uses Escape Artist. Pinned Druid uses Wild Shape. Pinned Fighter keeps losing one Combat Mamneuver check after another since his chance to succeed at CM is so low.

Having said this, I have decided to create a proof of concept for allowing Fighters to shine using Combat Maneuvers. Caveat: this is just a proof of concept, i.e. it is a proof that this is still possible to save Fighters from being reduced to dumb damage dealers, but the mechanics proposed below are not complete or playtested.

Combat Maneuvers, Mission Goals

Current Maneuvers fare pretty well in most playtests, however they are notorious for low effectiveness. Also, especially at higher levels, DC to succeed is so high have you cannot really hope to win (Storm Giant, CMB +30 at CR 13 vs Fighter 13, CMB +19, Tripping Giant: DC 45 [15 base DC], Escaping Giant's Grapple: DC 55 [15 base DC, +5 circumstance for winning grapple check]). Moreover, damage dealing is often preferred since it is viewed as more dependable way of disposing of opponents.

So, to make use of Combat Maneuver to be a viable combat option, the following changes should be made:
- reasonable success chance against same CR monsters for ALL (including Clerics, non-Wildshaped Druids, Rogues)
- significant success chance against same CR monsters for CM Specialist (Fighters, Monks)

To be more precise, we must detail elements further (forgive me certain assumptions as to statistics - D20 system is anything but linear and uniform):

1. Expected range of CMBs for PCs to face is as follows (all of these share two common traits - their BAB is that of a fighter, their abilities are diverse enough not to make them specialized in CMB value [as opposed to Elder Earth Elemental, CR11, CMB 31], 2 of them can use Improved Grab):

- CR 9 - Bone Devil (Osyluth) - Large Outsider, BAB 10, Str 21
CMB 16, CMB Defensive DC 31, CMB Grapple Defensive 36

- CR 11 - Barbed Devil (Hamatula) - Medium Outsider, BAB 12, Str 23
CMB 18, CMB Defensive DC 33, CMB Grapple Defensive 38

- CR 16 - Horned Devil (Cornugon) - Large Outsider, BAB 15, Str 31
CMB 26, CMB Defensive DC 41, CMB Grapple Defensive 46

2. Expected range of CMBs for PC Cleric, Medium, Str 18 (i.e. PC of average melee competence, no special buffs or items factored in):

- Level 9 - CMB 10
- Level 11 - CMB 12
- Level 16 - CMB 16
- Level 20 - CMB 19

3. Expected range of CMBs for PC Fighter, Medium, Str 22 (i.e. PC of high melee competence, no special buffs or items factored in):

- Level 9 - CMB 15
- Level 11 - CMB 17
- Level 16 - CMB 23 (assuming 24 Strength)
- Level 20 - CMB 28 (assuming 26 Strength)

4. Expected range of CMBs for CM Specialist, i.e. PC Fighter, Large, Str 24, CM +4 competence bonus (i.e. PC built or prepared for high degree of CM specialization):

- Level 9 - CMB 21
- Level 11 - CMB 23
- Level 16 - CMB 29 (assuming 26 Strength)
- Level 20 - CMB 34 (assuming 28 Strength)

5. We would like to achieve the following:

- ordinary melee characters should be able to try to get out of desperate situations (like escaping grapples) or to try something wild - 5% - 10% chance of success

- competent melee characters should have a reasonable chance to escape grapples, they should not shy away from trying cool maneuvers - 20% - 30% chance of success

- CM specialists should be terrifying opponents and next to impossible to grapple or pin - 60% - 80% chance of success

Conclusions from Pairing Opponents

Comparing abilities listed in previous section we find out that:
- character facing its doppelganger has 30% chance to succeed at maneuver (CMB Defensive DC = 15 + CMB)
- character facing its doppelganger has 5% chance to escape from its grapple (CMB Grapple Defensive DC = 15 + 5 + CMB)
- character facing opponent with higher grapple has extremely low to nil chance of success (there are no natural twenties in CM test)
- average PCs cannot hope to use CM successfully against weaker opponents and fail disastrously against equal CR opponents
- non-optimized melee character vs weaker opponents may feel like facing doppleganger
-non-optimized melee character vs equal CR opponent is going to have low chances of survival (PC's CMB is lower)
- CM specialist using non-existent feat granting +4 to CMB can hope for only to win against significantly weaker opponent. Equal CR opponents are around his power level in addition to their other diverse combat abilities
- CM specialist NOT USING NON-EXISTENT FEAT GRANTING +4 TO CMB simply fails

CMB Formula, Further Conclusions

Current CMB formula:
Base Attack Bonus + Str modifer + CMB size modifer + other modifers

Current CMB defensive DC:
15 + CMB

All significant melee monsters gain BAB at the same rate as fighters, and some gain even faster (Monstrous Humanoids). How is that possible? The answer:
- Challenge Rating is not proportional to Hitdice - CR usually lags behind HD.
- BAB for certain monster types scales with Hitdice as 3/4 or even as 1:1.

Add to this the fact Strength and Size adjustments usually favor monsters and suddenly, with defensive CMB being better by 5 points, the DC scales quickly beyond any hope of making the check into the realm of impossibility.

Without non-existent combat feat granting +4 to CMB even dedicated CM specialist can hope for 25% chance to pull off a stunt. With this feat - they may close on 45%.

So, basically, when you're frontline character, hope that the opponent does not use CM on you (or if he does, that you have buddies to support you). Otherwise, unless your opponent is a wimp in melee, you're going to get grappled, pinned and killed.

Why current CMB formula causes problems?

Four flaws:
- high differences between average melee characters, dedicated melee characters, specialized CM characters and monsters with CM inclinations
- high DCs
- dealing damage is more dependable and often faster to deal with NPCs
- CM used by opponents are deadlier than CM used by PCs

What would be sufficient to annul the flaws:
- reduce differences in order to bring back relevancy of d20 roll into equation (differences in excess of 15 points nullify worth of d20 roll, while differences in excess of 20 points are simply wrong)
- DCs should be reasonable
- there should be a way to deal damage with maneuvers (combat lasts 3 significant rounds, wasting one round on a failed maneuver is bad, wasting all three because you cannot deal damage while failing maneuvers is simply wrong)
- CM lockdown (i.e. total action denial) should not be possible unless attempted by CM specialist (preferably on PC side)

Proof of Concept Fixes

1. To reduce differences change CMB Formula to the following:
1/2 * Base Attack Bonus + Str modifer + CMB size modifer + other modifers

Current CMB defensive DC:
10 + CMB

Current CMB Competence bonus for attacker:
Remove it altogether or, at worst, chance to +2

2. Introduce "Combat Maneuver Specialist" feat:
Combat Maneuver Specialist (Combat)
You are exceptionally skilled with combat maneuvers.
Benefit: Gain +4 competence to any combat maneuver you attempt.
Special: You may use this feat only during your action or your attack of opportunity.
Important: Use of this feat during grapple to resist break grapple attempts would bring us back to inescapable grapples.

3. To compensate Monks (and possibly other Martial Arts classes) for low BAB, either class description or "Improved Unarmed Strike (Combat)" feat should include the following entry:
- Use of Combat Maneuver is subject to +1 competence bonus for every 2 levels this character possesses.
Important: Does not stack with "Combat Maneuver Specialist", compensates for lower BAB and lack of usefulness of "Combat Maneuver Specialist".

4. Introduce the following feats to enhance Combat Maneuver experience:

Combat Maneuver Brutality (Combat)
Your combat maneuvers are exceptionally brutal.
Prerequisite: BAB 6+.
Benefit: Whenever you succeed at Combat Maneuver, you may deal damage with a wielded weapon as per standard attack.
Special: You cannot deal critical damage during maneuver.

Combat Maneuver Follow-up (Combat)
You know how to quickly perform two maneuvers in succession.
Prerequisite: BAB 10+.
Benefit: Whenever you succeed at Combat Maneuver, you may immediately follow up with another Combat Maneuver.
Special: You may use this feat only once per round.

Combat Maneuver Fatality (Combat)
You know how to gain supreme combat advantage through combat maneuvers.
Prerequisite: BAB 12+.
Benefit: Whenever you succeed at two Combat Maneuvers in a row against the same opponent, you may immediately perform Coup De Grace as a free action on this opponent (subject to attacks of opportunity).

5. Introduce Combat Maneuvers which enhance Combat Maneuver experience:

- Grab and Throw (for martial artists)
- special signature attacks for martial artists
- maneuvers which inflict one round negative conditions (Dazed, Shaken, Fatigued, Bleeding)

Regards,
Ruemere


The following proposals have become a part of our regular campaign. They have been all somewhat playtested and, in general, they were found out to be useful addition to gaming.

1. Weapon Finesse & CMB.

Users of Weapon Finesse are allowed to use Dexterity instead of Strength for the Purpose of calculating CMB.

2. Love for Monks.

Monks gain +4 competence bonus on Combat Maneuvers.
The bonus is improved to +8 at 11th level and +12 at 16th.
Monks are allowed to use Wisdom instead of Dexterity or Strength for the purpose of calculating CMB.

3. Revisions to existing combat maneuvers.

Existing maneuver: Grapple.
Change: Add new option, Throw. Allows to throw grappled target (opposed CMB, -4 per 5' feet to be thrown, grapple is canceled whether you succeed or fail, if successful, roll ranged touch with -4 per 5' thrown).

4. New combat maneuvers (note that there is no prerequisites, this is just a proposal, not a fully fleshed rule).

New maneuver: Intercept.
Effect: Immediate action costing attack of opportunity. Opposed CMB to cancel opponent's move action.

New maneuver: Grab and Trip / Throw.
Effect: Immediate action costing attack of opportunity. Opposed CMB to use opponent's momentum to grab opponent and trip or throw.

New maneuver: Strike to Unbalance.
Effect: Standard action to attack, deal damage and inflict Shaken condition.

New maneuver: Strike to Daze.
Effect: Standard action to attack, deal damage and inflict Dazed condition.

New maneuver: Strike to Cripple.
Effect: Standard action to attack, deal damage and inflict Speed penalty condition.

5. We have houseruled Improved Grab. If someone finds it useful, brief version quoted below:

ruemere wrote:

Improved Grab (Ex): Whenever a creatures with this ability hits with weapon capable of grappling, it may immediately execute a Grapple combat maneuver at +4 competence bonus as a free action without provoking attacks of opportunity. If the creatures chooses to maintain the grapple, it cannot use this particular weapon for other actions than grappling. The creature may continue using other weapons as per multiattack (natural attacks lost due to maintaining of grapple are considered to be secondary) or multiweapon fighting (attacks lost due to maintaining of grapple are considered to be done with offhand weapon).

Additional grapple options (Move, Damage, Pin) are available for use with natural weapons. Manufactured weapons options are subject to specific rules listed in weapon descriptions and GM's approval.

Constrict (Ex): Whenever you grapple successfully, you may deal additional damage as per amount listed.

----

The effects of these revised rules:
- you lose attacks with weapon dedicated to grappling
- some weapons (like net, bolas, whip) grant effectively Improved Grab, though access to additional options is limited (they all restrict movement, whip grants free Trip maneuvers). On the other hand, you are free to use weapon in your off hand to whack at grappled opponent.
- note that there are no additional penalties to grapple checks when doing something else besides grappling. Grapple Combat Maneuver is hard enough to execute and maintain as it is.
- note that there is no size limit grapple target - a small dog may bite its opponent's leg, so to speak - the grapple size penalties are enough to handle this.
- note that there is no mention of anyone being pulled into anyone's space during grapple - it's all covered by Move grapple option.
- note that there is no special rule for grappled target hindering grappler's action. Again, it was deemed too cumbersome to use due to smaller effectiveness of grapple itself.

Regards,

Ruemere


This is an extension of original Channel Energy rules (Pathfinder BETA, Combat 9 - Combat, Special Attacks, page 148), created in response to requests for allowing for holding undead at bay instead of damaging them or making them flee or controlling them.

The rule has been discussed in [Channel Energy] Holding undead at bay.

Current version number: v3.0

Ladies and Gentlemen, the rules themselves:
---- v3.0
Holding At Bay
Regardless of your alignment, you may channel your energy to hold undead at bay. The affected area is 30' burst centered on you. The effect lasts one round plus one round you choose to use standard action to maintain it. The effect is canceled if you fail to maintain it or if you leave the space occupied during initial round.
You may use this ability for extended periods of time, however you must succeed at Fortitude save at the end of each hour you maintain this effect. The DC is equal to 10 + number of hours you have already spent on Holding At Bay. On a failed save the effect is canceled and you are Fatigued (if already Fatigued, you become Exhausted instead and you cannot use Channel Energy abilities for as long as you are Exhausted) - see glossary for rules on recovering from both conditions.

The restrictions imposed on undead vary depending on the number of Channel Energy damage dice. Undead with hitdice up to your damage dice in Channel Energy:
- if present within the area of Holding At Bay must use Withdraw action until they leave the area. If unable to leave the area, they will cower.
- may not enter the area of this effect. You and your allies are treated as if you had total concealment against undead and their special abilities and you automatically succeed on any saves against undead special abilities of spell-like or supernatural type.
- any attack made by any character staying within area of the effect, and directed against undead within or outside of the area of the effect, cancels Holding At Bay for the attacked creature. The effect resumes for attacked undead once a round passes.

Undead with hitdice exceeding your damage dice in Channel Energy are affected just like their lesser brethren, however they are entitled a Will saving throw to resist the effect. The DC of this save is equal to 10 + 1/2 your cleric level + your Charisma modifier. Failed save results in standard effect taking place. Failed save may be retried once per minute. Success allows undead to act normally and ignore Holding at Bay for one minute.
----

Regards,
Ruemere


Here is a thought - how about allowing clerics capable of channeling positive energy to hold at bay undead instead of damaging them and/or making them flee?

Regards,
Ruemere


First of all, it's rather important to remember that properly fit armor was not restrictive to movement actions. You could do somersaults just fine in plate armor if you had proper training (of course, added weight or improperly fit armor could factor into this).

Secondly, Light armors and Medium Armors made of Mithral are superior to Heavy or straight Medium Armors. No movement penalty, no dexterity bonus limit, negligible armor class difference and, most important of all, you do not get skill penalties (no drowning, no problems with escape artist and so on).

Suggestion:
Improve armor class bonus for Medium and Heavy armors to make them worth using again.
Lessen dexterity limit.
Replace movement penalty with Fortitude save when engaging into strenuous activities for extended periods of time.

For example:

SRD 3.5 wrote:
A character can walk for more than 8 hours in a day by making a forced march. For each hour of marching beyond 8 hours, a Constitution check (DC 10, +2 per extra hour) is required. If the check fails, the character takes 1d6 points of nonlethal damage. A character who takes any nonlethal damage from a forced march becomes fatigued. Eliminating the nonlethal damage also eliminates the fatigue. It&#8217;s possible for a character to march into unconsciousness by pushing himself too hard.

Running, fighting, swimming beyond (CON bonus + 1) minutes in Heavy armor requires that Fortitude save is made (DC 10, +2 per extra minute beyond limit). Failure means that the character becomes Fatigued.

Continued activity while Fatigued: Exhausted.

Regards,
Ruemere


Short version:
Polearms can be used in close quarters just fine. They just don't benefit from added momentum (known also as torque).

The longer version:
Restriction of reach for polearms is very artificial. They can be easily swung at the target 5' away from you. The only thing you may be losing is the fact, that since you're using less of a reach, you lose some momentum and consequently your blows may be less powerful.

Solution:
Introduce attack or damage penalty for 5' range fighting (-2 to attack, for example). Given that

Alexi Goranov wrote:

Use of the Medieval Poleaxe

The poleaxe is generally accepted to have been the knightly weapon of choice for dismounted combat.[...]

it stands to a reach to lift the restriction and replace it with this penalty.

Regards,
Ruemere


This is the intended (corrected) post.

Regards,
Ruemere


A few personal impressions on NEW FEATS and critical ranges

First of all, allow me to tell you an anecdote from a session from some years ago:
A party of tough characters, selected personally by one of the ruling quasi-divine beings for their strength and resourcefulness (this is Oathbound, you're strong or you die), faces some group of brutish opponents. Upon the first round, the leader of opposing force charges and gets a critical in for over 120 points of damage. Game over for one party member, the rest of the party quickly clears the battlefield.

This anecdote illustrates general uneasiness most GMs feel around weapons with good threat ranges or high damage multipliers. On the one hand, scythes and scimitars are part of the game. On the other hand, critical-optimized characters, NPC or PC, can change the flow of a battle with one lucky die roll. And the problem is not the lack of predictability, the problem is that of randomness. Critical based character is very strongly dependent on die rolls - he may be a pushover during one session, and total wimp during another. And if you put a lot of critical-immune opponents, he is going to feel left out.

And now we get a generous helping of new critical options:
Critical Focus (Combat)
Critical Mastery (Combat)
Critical, Bleeding (Combat, Critical)
Critical, Blinding (Combat, Critical)
Critical, Deafening (Combat, Critical)
Critical, Exhausting (Combat, Critical)
Critical, Powerful (Combat, Critical)
Critical, Sickening (Combat, Critical)
Critical, Staggering (Combat, Critical)
Critical, Stunning (Combat, Critical)
Critical, Tiring (Combat, Critical)

in addition to:
Critical, Improved

Consequently, Immune to Criticals Special Quality becomes more valuable, ditto for Fortification in armors and weapons with good threat ranges.

Balance-wise, Criticals are a schtick of similar applicability as Sneak Attack (they roughly affect the same targets in 3.5), albeit more random and Critical optimized Fighters are likely to be pretty much useless in combat involving elementals, undead and similar, since most of their feats are going to be rendered void.

Given these issues, I would like to propose some balancing, specifically:

#1 SOME LOVE FOR FIGHTERS WHO WANT TO USE CRITICALS

Fighter class feature: Weapon Training, Level 9
- ADD: Whenever you score a critical threat against creature immune to criticals, you may confirm it in order to maximize damage (there is no multiplying damage). Also, additional critical effects like Burst damage (Flaming Burst weapon quality) and negative conditions are also applied (subject to your GM's approval: bloodless creature cannot bleed, for example).

Fighter class feature: Weapon Training, Level 17
- ADD: Whenever you score a critical threat, you may ignore immunity to criticals, though some effects may not apply (subject to GM's approval).

#2 KISS FOR IMPROVED CRITICAL

The problem with Improved Critical feat: your weapon gets sundered or you find a better weapon. Result? Your precious feat is wasted.
The second problem: if you optimize character properly, your criticals may happen too often for GM to stomach it (doubling threat range for Falchions with Power Attack? Anytime, baby, anytime...).

So here is a way to lower unpredictability while improving appeal:

Weapon property: Keen
Keen: This ability adds +2 enhancement bonus to original threat range of a weapon (use weapon critical multiplier for the whole range). Only piercing or slashing weapons can be keen. If you roll this property randomly for an inappropriate weapon, reroll. Depeding on bonus type, this property may stack with other bonuses which expand threat range.
Moderate transmutation; CL 10th; Craft Magic Arms and Armor, keen edge; Price +1 bonus.

Spell: Keen Edge
Replace: "This transmutation doubles the threat range of the weapon."
With: "This transmutation adds +2 enhancement bonus to original threat range of a weapon (use weapon critical multiplier for the whole range). Depeding on bonus type, this property may stack with other bonuses which expand threat range."

Feat: Critical, Improved
Prerequisite: Wielding Martial weapon, BAB 8+.
Benefit: Add +2 competence bonus to threat range to any wielded weapon of martial type. Whenever you score a threat, if the threat is of the original weapon threat range, use weapon critical multiplier. Otherwise, use x2 multiplier.
Special: if your BAB is 16+, increase competence bonus to +4.

----

Net result: For attacks (including rays and natural weapons) with negligible threat range, +2 becomes more beneficial than simple doubling. For standard threat ranges, we preserve the bonus and add much needed stacking between Keen and Improved Critical. For weapons with bigger threat ranges, we maintain higher critical range, however instead of doubling, they get a fixed enhancement.

Also, weapons with high critical multiplier are not that disruptive to flow of combat rounds (Scythe, anyone) since their threat range is kept in check, too.

Finally, the feat does not go to waste with loss of a weapon. It stays and grows with the owner. In other words, you don't need to invest into vulnerable hypersecialization.

Regards,
Ruemere


At the risk of repeating myself, this is the list of several feats which may allow for viable built of Combat Maneuver specialist.

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Feat: Shall Not Pass (Combat, Combat Maneuver)
You can stop foes that try to move past you.
Prerequisites: Combat Reflexes.
Benefit: Whenever an enemy provokes an attack of opportunity due to moving through area you threaten, a successful Combat Maneuver check causes them to take melee damage as per your attack and stop moving losing current Move action. Enemies can still take the rest of their action.
Special: Use of Shall Not Pass requires expenditure of Attack of Opportunity. Certain creatures (Incorporeal, Liquid) may be immune to this maneuver (subject to GM's approval).

Feat: Strike To Stun (Combat, Combat Maneuver)
You can try to stun your opponents.
Prerequisites: BAB 6+ or CMB 8+.
Benefit: As a standard action, make a Combat Maneuver check to inflict Dazed condition on your opponent for one round. Your opponent may recover from Dazed condition at the beginning of their next turn upon successful Fortitude save versus your CMB.
Note: DC is pretty low. However the opponent who loses to this maneuver, loses all AoO and other immediate actions between successful maneuver and beginning of their round.

Feat: Strike To Hinder (Combat, Combat Maneuver)
You can try to decrease opponents ability to fight.
Prerequisites: BAB 12+ or CMB 16+.
Benefit: Each time you make an attack, you may make a Combat Maneuver check instead to inflict -2 penalty to their attack, saves and skills upon your opponent for one round.
Special: You may use Combat Maneuver Follow-up only after last attack.
Note: This is actually pretty powerful maneuver. You may perform it several times per round (Monks and their flurry for example), you are not subject to interative attack penalty. And if you have Combat Maneuver Brutality feat, you get to inflict damage anyway. You still cannot benefit from CM Follow-up more than once. And if you face an opponent with high CMB, you still are likely to fail. Otherwise, you may perform a nice ability lockdown by stacking several penalties together.

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Monk class feature: Martial Arts Flurry
Level 9
As a standard action, you may deal damage upon successful Combat Maneuver check equal to your unarmed attack damage times number of attacks (add attacks from Flurry Monk class feature to total). Ignore critical threats, if any.
It is a bit weaker than Sneak attack, but against low CMB opponents, it should be pretty effective.

Monk class feature: Martial Arts Mastery
Level 1
Gain +1 bonus to CMB per four levels. You may also use your Dexterity or Wisdom bonus instead of Strength bonus for calculating your CMB.
Note: That allows Monks to progress in CMB at similar speed to melee classes.
Level 6
Whenever you perform a successful Combat Maneuver, you may also deal your unarmed damage to maneuver's target. If the maneuver already allows to deal damage, add your unarmed damage to that dealt by maneuver.
Level 11
Gain +4 inherent bonus to all Combat Maneuvers you perform or resist.
Level 16
If you deal damage with your maneuver, you may also score a critical on a natural roll of 18 or more with x2 multiplier. Confirm Critical by repeating maneuver check.
Level 20
Gain +8 inherent bonus to all Combat Maneuvers you perform (this does not stack with level 11 ability). Also, your maneuvers critical threat range improves to 16 or more and your critical multiplier improves to x3.

Feat: Combat Maneuver Offense
You specialize in gaining advantage over your opponents.
Benefit: Gain +4 bonus to all Combat Maneuver checks.
Special: This benefit stacks with bonuses of Martial Arts Mastery (Monk class feature).

Feat: Combat Maneuver Offense, Improved
You specialize in gaining advantage over your opponents.
Prerequisite: BAB 8+ or CMB 11+.
Benefit: Gain +4 bonus to all Combat Maneuver checks.
Special: This benefit stacks with bonuses of Martial Arts Mastery (Monk class feature) and Combat Maneuver Offense.

Feat: Combat Maneuver Defense
You specialize in resisting advantage over your opponents.
Benefit: Gain +6 bonus to resist all Combat Maneuver checks.
Special: This benefit stacks with bonuses of Martial Arts Mastery (Monk class feature).

Feat: Combat Maneuver Brutality
Your combat maneuvers are exceptionally brutal.
Benefit: Upon successful offensive use of Combat Maneuver, you may deal damage as per normal attack. Ignore critical threats if any.
Special: If the combat maneuver already allows to damage your opponent, add your attack damage to to that of maneuver.

Feat: Combat Maneuver Follow-up
You are exceptionally skilled at exploiting advantages gained through use of combat maneuvers.
Prerequisites: BAB 11+ or CMB 15+.
Benefit: Upon successful completion of Combat Maneuver, you may immediately perform another as a free action.
Special: You may use this feat only once per round.

Feat: Combat Maneuver Fatality
You are exceptionally skilled at exploiting advantages gained through use of combat maneuvers.
Prerequisites: BAB 15+ or CMB 20+, Combat Maneuver Follow-up.
Benefit: Upon successful completion of two consecutive Combat Maneuvers upon the same opponent, your opponent is Helpless for one round and you may, as a free action, perform Coup De Grace without provoking attacks of opportunity (deal damage as per normal attack).
Normal: Coup De Grace is a full-round action provoking attacks of opportunity.

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Regards,
Ruemere


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FORMAL NITPICKS ONLY

This is a fully developed version of "Formal Nitpicks Only". However, the article is still restricted to formal side of the feats. The feat analysis to be discussed later.

DISCLAIMER: I do not reserve the right to be right.

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INTRODUCTION

1. Thanks for creating new feats.

2. Please fix FEAT LISTING ORDER please. All indices in the world list terms like
<adjective> <noun>
in the following way:
<noun>, <adjective>
So the "Bestial Visage" becomes "Visage, Bestial". That way browsing becomes easier and similar items can be grouped together.
Spell section is organized properly, but feats are still poorly listed - various Improved and Greater instances of a feat should be put together.
See: LISTING FEATS below

3. Be warned: there are four instances of personal anguish getting better of me below. They are fully justified by violation of common sense (and in two cases, rules).

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ABC (AND ABS) OF FEAT DESIGN

Note: Rule 5 and rule 6 are extremely important for game balance. Breaking one of them should be considered valid reason for feat removal.

1. Feat is a special ability of binary type. If you have it, you can use it.

2. Feat name must be informative, so that at a glance at your character sheet, you should be able to recall its function. Consequently, feat text should be brief and unambiguous.

3. Feat availability should be determined by character accomplishments (features which scale with level, like BAB, skills, saves, abilities), not by virtue of other feats or levels in particular class.
Requiring other feats leads to feat chains, which encourage approach of "take this crappy feat or ability to be able to gain a better one later". Feats are a resource of extremely limited type, and no character should be forced to "burn" it for negligible effects. This is especially important for Fighter class which relies on having 5 more feats than other classes (in 11-20 level range, where term "Fighter power" becomes something of an oxymoron).
Requiring levels in particular class changes feat to class feature. The feats were intended to provide options for array of classes based on character accomplishments. Also, class features should be at least listed in particular class entry. And so creating class-only feats is wrong.

4. Virtual feats (bonus feats which work only in particular circumstances: for example, Ranger combat style feats require light or no armor) are unnecessary complication. Let them be simply feats. Otherwise, if one gains a feat by fulfilling prerequisite with virtual feat, the problems begin when virtual feat becomes inactive (i.e. Ranger dons armor) thus invalidating regular feat (as per rules, whenever you failt to meet prerequisites of acquired feat, you lose feat benefit).

5. Feats must never duplicate skill abilities. They work differently (binary effect vs gradation of success). Feat with functionality overlaping with skill may upset game balance.

6. It's generally better to create a feat which scales with level than two feats with one improving another. Exception: if the feat provides bonus to ability which already scales with level (BAB, skill, saves), it should definitely NOT scale with level.

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FORMAL NITPICKS

Acrobatic Steps

Advance (Combat)
- Redundant with Acrobatics skill (violates rule #5)
- overlaps partially with Spring Attack
Recommending REMOVAL of the feat as it renders skill partially meaningless.

Bleeding Critical (Combat, Critical)
"Benefit: Whenever you score a critical hit with a slashing or piercing weapon, your opponent takes 2d6 points of bleed damage each round on their turn, in addition to the damage dealt by the critical hit. Bleed damage can be stopped by a DC 15 Heal skill check or through any magical healing. The effects of this feat stack. "
- specify whether damage occurs at the beginning or at the end of affected target's turn (important for target's with borderline hitpoints)
- Bleeding Critical should not stack - it's very easy to abuse this by scoring multiple negligible hits
- does use of Heal stop all instances of Bleeding Critical or just one?

Blinding Critical (Combat, Critical)

Critical Focus (Combat)

Critical Mastery (Combat)
"Prerequisites: Critical Focus, any two critical feats, 14th-level fighter. "
- please do not use class names in feat descriptions - this essentially turns a feat into a class feature and class features should be included in class entries (breaks rule #3)
- use of high BAB or multiple feat prerequisites are sufficient to restrict feat usage to fighter class (BAB 15+, Improved Critical, Critical Focus)

Deafening Critical (Combat, Critical)

Disruptive (Combat)
"Prerequisites: 6th-level fighter. "
- please do not use class names in feat descriptions - this essentially turns a feat into a class feature and class features should be included in class entries (breaks rule #3)
"Benefit: The DC to cast spells defensively increases by 4 for all enemies within your threatened area. This increase only applies if you are aware of the enemy's location and are capable of taking an attack of opportunity. If you can only take one attack of opportunity per round and have already used that attack, this increase does not apply."
- this is breaking of 4th wall - Spellcaster is not aware of increased static DC
- this increase is largely negligent - Concentration is a skill increased to the maximum
Recommending changing benefit of feat to allow to AoO as normal albeit at improved AC

Exhausting Critical (Combat, Critical)

Fleet
"Benefit: Your base speed increases by 5 feet. You lose the benefits of this feat if you carry a medium or heavy load. "
- specify type of bonus
- this is very dangerous feat since it not only stacks with enhancement bonuses (boots) but also with class features (Barbarian) and itself

Greater Bull Rush (Combat)

Greater Disarm (Combat)

Greater Feint (Combat)

Greater Grapple (Combat)

Greater Overrun (Combat)

Greater Penetrating Strike (Combat)
- please do not use class names in feat descriptions - this essentially turns a feat into a class feature and class features should be included in class entries (breaks rule #3)

Greater Shield Focus (Combat)
- please do not use class names in feat descriptions - this essentially turns a feat into a class feature and class features should be included in class entries (breaks rule #3)
"Benefit: Increase the AC bonus granted by any shield you are using by 1. This bonus stacks with the bonus granted by Shield Focus."
- bonus type should be "shield" or "shield enhancement bonus"
Danger: anyone reading this feat may break down and cry over lack of usefulness of this feat.
Recommending removal of the feat or replacing it and its prerequisite with level-scaling single feat.

Greater Shield Mastery (Combat)
"You can use a shield to deflect a great deal of harm. "
"Prerequisites: Shield Focus, Shield Mastery, Shield Proficiency, 12th-level fighter. "
- please do not use class names in feat descriptions - this essentially turns a feat into a class feature and class features should be included in class entries (breaks rule #3)
"Benefit: Whenever you are using a shield, you gain DR 2/-. You must be aware of the attack to gain this bonus. Any effect that causes you to lose your Dexterity or shield bonus causes you to lose this bonus. This bonus stacks with all other forms of damage reduction without a type, including that gained from Shield Mastery."
- words "great" and "dr 2/-" do not go well together.
- DAMAGE REDUCTION EFFECTS FROM VARIOUS SOURCES DO NOT STACK. THIS IS A CANONICAL RULE and should not be broken for a negligible benefit. This is a major change to balance of core ruleset.
Recommending replacing both versions of the feat with a single feat, which would offer non-stacking damage reduction of level scaling variety (for example, DR level/5 / -).

Greater Sunder (Combat)

Greater Trip (Combat)

Improved Greater Fortitude

Improved Iron Will

Improved Lightning Reflexes

Lunge (Combat)

Master Craftsman

Nimble Moves

Penetrating Strike (Combat)
"Prerequisites: Weapon Focus, 12th-level fighter. "
- please do not use class names in feat descriptions - this essentially turns a feat into a class feature and class features should be included in class entries (breaks rule #3)

Powerful Critical (Combat, Critical)

Shall Not Pass (Combat)
- feat name should be informative, like Intercept or Intercept Opponent
"Benefit: Whenever an enemy provokes an attack of opportunity due to moving through your adjacent squares, a successful hit causes them to stop moving for the rest of their turn. Enemies can still take the rest of their action, but cannot move."
- what if the enemy can use multiple Move actions per turn?
Recommending changing feat name to informative.
Recommending change of wording to "... successful hit interrupts opponent's move action causing them to halt and lose current move action. Oppo
Suggesting change of wording to "successful hit causes them to halt and lose current Move action. Opponent may use leftover move actions."

Shield Focus (Combat)
- see notes on Shield Focus, Greater above

Shield Mastery (Combat)
"Prerequisites: Shield Focus, Shield Proficiency, 4th-level fighter. "
- please do not use class names in feat descriptions - this essentially turns a feat into a class feature and class features should be included in class entries (breaks rule #3)
"Benefit: Whenever you are using a shield, you gain DR 2/-. You must be aware of the attack to gain this bonus. Any effect that causes you to lose your Dexterity or shield bonus causes you to lose this bonus. This bonus stacks with all other forms of damage reduction without a type (such as the damage reduction gained by barbarians)."
- DAMAGE REDUCTION EFFECTS FROM VARIOUS SOURCES DO NOT STACK. THIS IS A CANONICAL RULE and should not be broken for a negligible benefit. This is a major change to balance of core ruleset.

Sickening Critical (Combat, Critical)

Spellbreaker (Combat)
"Prerequisites: Disruptive, 10th-level fighter. "
- please do not use class names in feat descriptions - this essentially turns a feat into a class feature and class features should be included in class entries (breaks rule #3)

Staggering Critical (Combat, Critical)

Step Up (Combat)

Strike Back (Combat)

Stunning Critical (Combat, Critical)

Tiring Critical (Combat, Critical)

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LISTING FEATS

As mentioned above, the feats should be listed based on <noun> than <adjective> <noun> order.
Please compare two listings below and try to gauge amount of page turning required to compare similar or advanced versions of the same feat. The proposed order also also allows to group feats thematically.

1. Original listing.

Acrobatic Steps
Advance (Combat)
Bleeding Critical (Combat, Critical)
Blinding Critical (Combat, Critical)
Critical Focus (Combat)
Critical Mastery (Combat)
Deafening Critical (Combat, Critical)
Disruptive (Combat)
Exhausting Critical (Combat, Critical)
Fleet
Greater Bull Rush (Combat)
Greater Disarm (Combat)
Greater Feint (Combat)
Greater Grapple (Combat)
Greater Overrun (Combat)
Greater Penetrating Strike (Combat)
Greater Shield Focus (Combat)
Greater Shield Mastery (Combat)
Greater Sunder (Combat)
Greater Trip (Combat)
Improved Greater Fortitude
Improved Iron Will
Improved Lightning Reflexes
Lunge (Combat)
Master Craftsman
Nimble Moves
Penetrating Strike (Combat)
Powerful Critical (Combat, Critical)
Shall Not Pass (Combat)
Shield Focus (Combat)
Shield Mastery (Combat)
Sickening Critical (Combat, Critical)
Spellbreaker (Combat)
Staggering Critical (Combat, Critical)
Step Up (Combat)
Strike Back (Combat)
Stunning Critical (Combat, Critical)
Tiring Critical (Combat, Critical)

2. Proposal: Index listing.

Acrobatic Steps
Advance (Combat)
Bull Rush, Greater (Combat)
Critical Focus (Combat)
Critical Mastery (Combat)
Critical, Bleeding (Combat, Critical)
Critical, Blinding (Combat, Critical)
Critical, Deafening (Combat, Critical)
Critical, Exhausting (Combat, Critical)
Critical, Powerful (Combat, Critical)
Critical, Sickening (Combat, Critical)
Critical, Staggering (Combat, Critical)
Critical, Stunning (Combat, Critical)
Critical, Tiring (Combat, Critical)
Disarm, Greater (Combat)
Disruptive (Combat)
Feint, Greater (Combat)
Fleet
Grapple, Greater (Combat)
Greater Fortitude, Improved
Iron Will, Improved
Lightning Reflexes, Improved
Lunge (Combat)
Master Craftsman
Nimble Moves
Overrun, Greater (Combat)
Penetrating Strike (Combat)
Penetrating Strike, Greater (Combat)
Shall Not Pass (Combat)
Shield Focus (Combat)
Shield Focus, Greater (Combat)
Shield Mastery (Combat)
Shield Mastery, Greater (Combat)
Spellbreaker (Combat)
Step Up (Combat)
Strike Back (Combat)
Sunder, Greater (Combat)
Trip, Greater (Combat)

----

That's it for now.

Regards,
Ruemere


The following occured during last session.

(during introductory session part for a Barbarian player)

Evening. The strongman for hire (will guide, escort or moderate disputes at reasonable rates, including killing in self-defense, squashing bugs or looting corpses for life) was having a quiet drink by himself in his office (shop-like establishment, just selling services instead of goods).
An assassin appears (i.e. enters through the door without opening it) and whacks lone Barbarian mightily (assassin looks like a starved and downsized version of a troll, albeit with a mass of razorwire hair, smells of smelter and packs a serious punch).

The Barbarian is level 11 (Str 20, 2 largely irrelevant magic items, Keen Falchion, Devastating Blow feat, several rage powers, including Mighty Swing, Strength Surge, Powerful Blow). CR 9 as per Pahtfinder BETA guidelines.
Hamatula - basic stats from SRD 3.5. CR 11 (or a little less, there were no Pathfinder adjustments).

The scene was deliberately set up as to allow Barbarian test a few abilities and then escape. It was just a test of his abilities, not to kill him before introducing him to the rest of the party. Also, all film noir references were intentional, as the current adventure deals with betrayal, revenge for family members and close associates (previous campaign) and Hamatula here is a renowned member of mafia-like merchant family (nickname: Uncle Desperate, or Unkledespert - real name).

The Barbarian puts a punch or two, saves versus Fear (no rage yet, merely mild alcoholic intoxication to the rescue of Will save) and gets grabbed and thrown threw the wall of his office (losing also 6 points of Strength due to poison). There he reflects upon ineffectiveness of his actions, enters rage, grabs a weapon and using Devastating Blow, Powerful Blow and Mighty Swing and deals over 40 points of clean damage to Uncle Desperate.

Uncle Desperate decides to get serious as the fun side job turns a little too brutal for his taste and shuts down Barbarian in Ice Wall cage. Then he exits office deciding to change tactics a bit (after all, Barbarian infamous rages are short lived and, best of all, pretty soon second bout of poison will activate). He also uses Stealth at -5 penalty (one full move action) to hide outside of the office.

Barbarian, thanks to Strength surge breaks down Ice Wall cage Hulk style and follows out. He fails to notice Uncle Desperate but keeps searching. He also fails to note that half of the street has been turned to ice already (backup plan by Uncle Desperate).

Hamatula uses Major Image to create three copies of himself, one in the office, one at the top of the roof, one coming down the street from his real direction. The only exit left is ice covered street. He just wants Barbarian to start running without dwelling too much on time limits (Rage duration, Poison).

Barbarian runs, stumbles and does a spectacular salto mortale thanks to Ice Wall lying on the street. He is quickly covered by another Wall of Ice. Still, he escapes again thanks to Strength Surge, only to collaps out of rage a moment later... however at this time the rest of the party appears, and one Seek the Soulless later there is no street to hide, and one Feeblemind later there are no spells to use for the devil. Salivating and muttering intelligibly, Hamatula succumbs to damage returning into welcoming arms of Hell.

He is going to be back later, he's a member of family after all.

Notes

New Barbarian Rage Powers are spot on. Of them most interesting was Strength Surge which practically negated effects of Strength damage (Poison) and allowed escape otherwise inescapable Ice Wall ability.

The test was conducted using Points version of Rage powers, but the same (or similar) was achievable using Swift Rage Powers.

Devastating Blow was nice, but confirm critical power (Mighty Swing) was much nicer. In a simple exchange of blows (Barbarian's 153hp vs Hamatula's 126hp + damage reduction) Barbarian could win with better initiative. Given special abilities of Hamatula however, it wouldn't happen (as it should be, given difference in their CRs).

Regards,
Ruemere


Here a a few nitpicks by a player of mine who converted his Wizard specialized in Necromancy to Pahtfinder version.

1. Current version of school specialization severely limits character concepts. In short, Pathfinder Necromancer is only a Minion Master (to use Guild Wars terminology), and as such must be Evil to be used reasonably. Also, his granted abilities are significantly inferior to those of Universal School.
Hmm, replace "significantly" with "overwhelmingly".

2. Specialist bonus does not come with ability to control undead. In other words, use of this bonus is restricted until much higher level, and only that it is temporary. You also need to be Evil to use the bonus (even Animate Dead is an Evil spell).
Weak, restricting.

3. Grave Touch (Su) aka "If you got an itch, I can I scratch your back". Inferior to spells. Useless unless you want to kill a Tarrasque (or Troll). Hmm, scratch this - it's useless against Tarrasque (and Trolls), too. Oh, and it's melee only.

4. Animate (Su)... the best way to ruin financially a wizard. Material components cost a lot if you use them, and the effects are mediocre (8th level animation vs 5th level fireball - no contest here).

5. Deathless (Su). Should be (Ex) (you cannot negate Ex with antimagic). Should be a template (becoming an Undead is significantly more complex). And Lichdom (available since 11th level) is still much more beneficial.
If you're an Evil necromancer, you don't really care about stuff like being pretty, right?

Fix proposals

1. Bring Specialist up to Universal School wizards or nerf Universal School guys.

2. Less straitjacketing. Not every Necromancer is Evil (Hollowfaust, Hollowfaust, Hollowfaust), not every Necromancer is a Minion Master and, most certainly, not everyone wants to become a poor cousin to Lich.

3. School ability: +1 caster level to Necromancy spells would suffice. It's pretty standard and not as overpowering as Universal School powers.

4. Grave Touch - replace with Spectral Hand or Invisibility to Undead.

5. Animate - either make Animate Dead a neutral spell (mindless dead are automatons, after all) or grant Control Single Undead (or similar) instead. Quantity does not equal Quality.

6. Deathless - get rid of this altogether. +2 DC to all Necromantic spells would be much more interesting (as said previously, Lichdom is already an option since 11th level). Or put Animate here with no material cost. Or some Undead immunities (benefits) without drawbacks.

regards,
Ruemere


Tentative proposals for sexing up Medium and Heavy armors...
These are just vague proposals to provide some fuel for further discussion in original thread.
Proposals below are not intended to be mutually exclusive, merely ideas to be developed further

1. Damage reduction versus criticals and sneak attack damage and other types of precision based damage.

Whenever critical hit is confirmed, the certain values are deducted from additional damage inflicted on target wearing armor of Heavy or Medium type.

Rationale: Medium and Heavy armors cover greater areas of one's body, so it stands to a reason to reduce effect of critical damage, i.e. damage hitting particularly vital spot.

Benefits:
Medium armor: DR 5/- vs critical damage.
Heavy armor: DR 10/- vs critical damage.

Example:
Joe the Knight in Plate Armor is hit by Damian the Master Roguishness and Savagery. He is hit for
[base hit damage] + [sneak attack damage] + [tons of damage added by critical multiplier].
Since he is wearing Heavy armor, his wounds are somehwat lessened to
[base hit damage] + [damage which overcomes reduction], where
[damage which overcomes reduction] = 0
or
[damage which overcomes reduction] = [sneak attack damage] + [tons of damage added by critical multiplier] - [armor damage reduction]
(whichever is higher).

2. Medium and Heavy armors do not reduce speed.

Speed is vital for warrior types, as their reduced speed causes them to be easy target for other characters with higher speeds.
It's also known that properly fit armor does not restrict one's mobility (though carrying such baggage is does tire one faster):
http://www.flickr.com/photos/barryslemmings/103586206/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plate_armour

2. Apply arcane failure to all arcane spells and supernatural abilities targetting people in armors with arcane failure penalty.

Benefit: Each user of armor with arcane failure penalty is also benefitting from straight chance to escape effects of any Arcane spell or Supernatual ability (provided that the effects are subject to spell resistance).

3. Partial elemental and force damage reduction.

Benefit:
Wearer of Heavy or Medium armor is subject to effect equal to Resist Energy/Resist Force Damage. Medium armor grants Resist 5, Heavy armor grants Resist 10. "Resist X" means that first X points of damage received are absorbed.

Rationale:
Covering one's body in protective layers does indeed shield from hostile environment.

Regards,
Ruemere


I'd like to ask anyone following this thread to submit their proposals/comments according to this template:
1. Concept (class function within D20 system).
2. Sources of inspiration (general overview of Monks in current culture).
3. Basic class abilities (general fields of expertise).
4. Disposition against canonical four (general comparison of abilities - to avoid stepping on someone else's toes).
5. Class design (suggestions).

Regards,
Ruemere


This is a short version of the article I have tried to post yesterday (the lag monster ate it and I did not feel like trying all over again).

Anyway, here it is:

1. Paladin should stay the way it is, i.e. LG smiter for justice and goodness (with all the new bits suggested by esteemed colleagues here).

2. Class writeup should introduce OPTIONAL rules on champions of other alignments and their concepts. The champions should use different names in order to differentiate from Paladin.

Suggested champions alternative names:
- Vigilante - CG - rebel, hero of the oppressed, lone wolf
- Black Knight - LE - tool of regime, tyrant, archetypical champion of evil military force
- Anathema - CE - scourge of a land, insane cackling beast with sole purpose of sowing the seeds of chaos and destruction

No neutral variants, as the champions of the cause should be built upon their convictions.

3. Paladin abilities should be replaced as per alternative concepts in order to fulfil their duties.

- Vigilante - no smites, no spells, buffs to abilities, negative condition removal, morale boosting,
- Black Knight - command instead of smite, no spells, infliction of negative conditions (Necormancer spells come into mind), morale decrease
- Anathema - smite good, smite law, self-healing only, spells

Comments?

Regards,
Ruemere


This is a short version of the article I have tried to post yesterday (the lag monster ate it and I did not feel like trying all over again).

Anyway, here it is:

1. Paladin should stay the way it is, i.e. LG smiter for justice and goodness (with all the new bits suggested by esteemed colleagues here).

2. Class writeup should introduce OPTIONAL rules on champions of other alignments and their concepts. The champions should use different names in order to differentiate from Paladin.

Suggested champions alternative names:
- Vigilante - CG - rebel, hero of the oppressed, lone wolf
- Black Knight - LE - tool of regime, tyrant, archetypical champion of evil military force
- Anathema - CE - scourge of a land, insane cackling beast with sole purpose of sowing the seeds of chaos and destruction

No neutral variants, as the champions of the cause should be built upon their convictions.

3. Paladin abilities should be replaced as per alternative concepts in order to fulfil their duties.

- Vigilante - no smites, no spells, buffs to abilities, negative condition removal, morale boosting,
- Black Knight - command instead of smite, no spells, infliction of negative conditions (Necormancer spells come into mind), morale decrease
- Anathema - smite good, smite law, self-healing only, spells

Comments?

Regards,
Ruemere


This is short list of notes gathered after creating 12th level Paladin characters.

1. Skill Ranks Per Level: 2 + Int

Should be "Skill Points Per Level"
Not enough to personalize character. Paladin is one of the prominent victims of MAD syndrome (Multiple Ability Dependency) and intelligence does not rank high in terms of priority.

Advice: boost up to 4.

2. Aura of Good (Ex)

Can we please add some meaning to this ability? As it is now, it does nothing.

3. Detect Evil (Sp)

Staple of paladinhood, the most hated low level ability for all whodunit scenarios. It may be fixed with limiting its applicability to Suprise round automatic detection, but still, it would change a lot.

4. Smite Evil (Su)

Not terribly useful. If it worked like Barbarian rage in terms of duration, it could have had some potential. As it is now, it does not come into play very often. And even if it does, by the time it does +20 damage, the damage is not very danagerous.
Suggestion: Duration as per Barbarian rage instead of one shot use.

5. Divine Grace (Su)

Staple of paladinhood, loses some significance at higher levels unless character invests heavily into +Cha items.

6. Lay On Hands (Su)

Nerfed beyond any semblance of usefulness. 10th level paladin can expect to receive 100 points of damage within a round while being able to heal 1/10 of that.

Suggestion #1: Remove limitation on number of points healed or damage dealt (yes, this is going to allow Paladins to heal for
([paladin level]/2 + [Cha bonus]) * [paladin level])

Oh heck, if you find this formula clumsy, simplify it to
(10 + Cha bonus) * paladin level

Suggestion #2: Make use of this ability on self to be Swift action.

Why the suggestions: this ability, especially at higher levels, will keep the character going against really serious challenges. It's nothing astounding to learn that one was dealt 40 or 80 points by an iron golem. It's important however, not to die in the next round.

7. Aura of Courage (Su)

Great ability.

8. Divine Health (Ex)

Classic.

9. Channel Positive Energy (Su)

Paladin turning sucked in general, unless Paladins were optimized for high Charisma. Now, this new and improved turning replacement, is not Charisma dependent. Also, requires browsing of another class section to find out details of actual mechanics.

Suggestion #1: Paladin should not be poor-man's response to turning specialist, so Channel Positive Energy should become fully operational (i.e. no artificial "cleric three levels lower" limitation").
Suggestion #2: Repeat after me: Don't nerf Paladin abilities. Everything Paladin does, can be usually done much better by a Cleric with Quickened buffs so we don't need to nerf Channel Positive Energy.

10. Spells

I have played paladins over years and incarnations of various versions of the system. And I'd like to say that Paladin spells (with the exception of some 4th level unique spells) are useless. Weak effects, short duration, easily dispellable (half caster level, anyone?). Their list is severly limited and their spell slots allotment is minimal, especially since this is MAD victim class.

There is no easy way around the problem, except possibly these below.

Suggestion: Make Paladin spontaneous caster like Sorcerer and Bard.
Suggestion #2: Make Paladin use full level as caster level, not 1/2. As it is, the durations and ease of dispelling make for a very limited usefulness of his spells.
Suggestion #: Add spells listed below as spell like abilities to Paladin Spell list.

11. Divine Bond (Sp)

Great ability. Pokemounts were not terribly useful, but the weapon easily solves warrior golfbag syndrome (i.e. warrior needs different weapons to deal with different damage reductions).
The duration is not spelt clearly though - it's probably 1 minute per level, usable once at 5th, twice at 9th, thrice at 13th, four times at 17th.

Suggestion #1: Make it Supernatural instead of Spelllike ability.
Suggestion #2: Make activation Swift action (Paladins are warriors, they should not dawdle casting buffs).
Suggestion #3: Clearly spell duration and number of uses. For example: This ability lasts until dimissed or one minute per level, whichever comes first. The paladin may use it once per five levels of paladin class to the maximum of 4 times at 20th level.

12. Remove Disease (Sp)

Great idea, problem with ability cost. Resource management should be simplified, not made more complex. Paladins already have: spell slots, numerous abilities with uses/day cost type, abilities which cost uses of Smite Evil, and now we have ability which costs Lay on Hands uses. Apart from removing limits, it is strongly advised this cost.

Suggestion #1: Make it usable once per 6 levels.
Suggestion #2 (alternative): Add Remove Disease, since its already a Spelllike ability, to Paladin spell list and make Paladin spontaneous caster (see 10.).

13. Aura of Resolve (Su)

Great ability.

14. Remove Curse (Sp)

Great idea, problem with ability cost. Resource management should be simplified, not made more complex. Paladins already have: spell slots, numerous abilities with uses/day cost type, abilities which cost uses of Smite Evil, and now we have ability which costs Lay on Hands uses. Apart from removing limits, it is strongly advised this cost.

Suggestion #1: Make it usable once per 9 levels.
Suggestion #2 (alternative): Add Remove Disease, since its already a Spelllike ability, to Paladin spell list and make Paladin spontaneous caster (see 10.).

15. Aura of Justice (Su)

Interesting but somehow little appealing. I do not like idea of ability using up Smite evil uses, so could we simply limit usage to once per day per 10 levels of Paladin?

16. Neutralize Poison (Sp)

Good idea, but still. If it was on the list of paladin spells and if the paladin was a spontaneous caster, there would be no need to list is as a separate ability (like 12 and 14).

17. Aura of Faith (Su)

Great ability.

18. Break Enchantment (Sp)

Great ability but again, problematic cost. See 12, 14 and 16 for my opinion on this mechanic.

19. Aura of Righteousness (Su)

Great ability, but, hmm, you know, he is supposed to fight evil. Why grant protection from all creatures but those which are Evil, and really powerful at that?

20. Heal (Sp)

Great... etc. See 12, 14, 16 and 18.
If necessary, add 5th level to Paladin spell list.

21. Holy Champion (Su)

Very nice but: 19.

22. Code of Conduct.

Classic handicap. What are the "proficiencies" mentioned here - is it a secret eggish return to 2nd ed of AD&D?

It's also twistable and vague on certain aspects of morality.

Could we simplify it a bit, for example:
Paladin's code of conduct in order of descending importance:
a/ Paladin's alignment must Lawful Good,
b/ Paladin respects any non-evil authority unless that respect would lead him to violation of alignment,
c/ Paladin protects the innocent and punishes the guilty unless it would bring him into conflict with authorities he respects (this is intentionally below b/ in order to make Paladin less of a vigilante),
d/ Paladin acts in such a way as not to bring shame to ideals he follows.
e/ Paladin recognizes other sentient beings as independent entities and acts in such a way so as not to limit others independence. Leading by example, not by a leash, in other words.

Especially lack of e/ is often the reason for internal conflicts. Would be a good idea to add that.

23. Associates.

Request to drop this feature. Should be part of the code of conduct. Also, Paladin should not be limiting anyone's alignment, but support those who act in accordance with his ideals - limiting someone else's freedom is definitely not a nice idea.
So, please allow Paladins to become king, generals or leaders (and drop LG requirement for their followers).

Regards,
Ruemere


Below are links to posts featuring paladins. Lecture heartily recommended in order to avoid redundancy.

(found in Playtest section)

lastknightleft
Paladin in Action 2
Paladin playtest comments

Vult Wrathblades
Paladin: Smite Evil
Fix proposal for Smite Evil

Zmar
Paladin Spells
Exhaustive analysis of paladin spells

Adam Karpolorich
New Paladin Class Critique
Brief and to the point


Analysis below response to Jason Nelson

Jason Nelson wrote:
[...]I have seen a misunderstanding that seems to keep cropping up, of fighters "learning feats they never knew and forgetting other feats," so pehaps I will take one final stab at re-explaining it.[...]

Hmm.

Quoting SRD 3.5 wrote:
Benefit: What the feat enables the character ("you" in the feat description) to do.
Quoting PFRPB Beta wrote:
Feats apply bonuses to your statistics and grant you the ability to take actions otherwise prohibited to you.

In short, feats are binary abilities. If you need abilities which allow gradation, you are supposed to either use skills or construct chains of feats or use slot system.

Such division is important for keeping the simplicity of base game.

Therefore, if you need to offer ability which allows for differing levels of competence, you should create a feat which allows to use an existing skill in a new and exciting way instead of adding new mechanic.

Furthermore, there have been attempts to blur this distinction already - virtual feats (3.0, Ranger class), combat styles (3.5, Ranger class again) and needless to say, they failed to boost class attractiveness, while at the same time adding to complication of tracking class information ("you have a feat, but its not a feat, and the feat benefits work only when you do something in a specific way, but they are not active otherwise").

As one of the people who worked on PcGen data files long time ago, I'd like to say that such approach does not produce expected results while the exceptions to base system needlessly complicate it (for example, you need certain feat to qualify for prestige class or for other feat - is a virtual feat, i.e. feat which is active only part of the time, sufficient to meet class requirements or not?).

FIGHTER CLASS: COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS

1. Big number of feats does not increase overall strength of a class.

Feats usually do not stack with each other (unless we chain them) and so greater number of feats increases class versatility. In terms of other subsystems, Fighter class could be compared to a Wizard who gains slots for new spells, but neither spell slot exceeds the 3rd spell level.
So, 20th level Fighter, with bigger number of feats, is just like a 5th level Wizard but with a larger amount of spell slots.

2. Chain feats (stronger feats requiring prerequisite feats) do not increase overall class power sufficiently.

In the beginning, chain feats were supposed to bring strength to characters specializing in certain tricks. Of those specialists, Fighters were supposed to shine thanks to potential to specialize in several different areas.

When you analyze a core feat like Whirlwind attack (3.0 prerequisites: : Int 13+, Expertise, Dex 13+, Dodge, Mobility, base attack bonus +4 or higher, Spring Attack), you find out that Dwarven Barbarian can learn it at 12th level. Mechanically its a weaker version of Fireball, 3rd level spell.
12th level spellcasters gain access to 6th level spells. That's three levels over Fireball.

Human Fighter (Pathfinder Beta) can boast use of Whirlwind Attack at 4th level - but what about later levels? Does he gain anything beyond this feat? No, because there is nothing beyond this power. And so spellcaster will leave him behind after 5th level.

3. Combat focus, melee or ranged, actually weakens the class by limiting class applicability.

So what a Fighter can do besides killing things? Nothing much since neither his skills nor his bonus feats allow him to open to more possibilities. The archetype of big and dumb brawler prevailed during original design of the class - apparently Sun Tzu wrote his work for experts, rogues and wizards.

However, even within his own niche, the mundane tools at Fighter's disposal make him especially dependent on magic trinkets, inferior to buffed rivals (Druids and Clerics). Why? Because Fighter lacks means to control battlefield or counter hostile abilities or escape spell effects after failed saves - he cannot push opponents away, stop charges or escape entaglement and grab attempts.

Also, as primarily melee class, he's going to be the guy to suffer most criticals and effects of special abilities... which brings us to another point:

4. Combat niche and separation of class areas of expertise.

The assumption of canonical D20 party proves to be the worst flaw of Fighter design. Basically, to motivate people to work in teams, class abilities were intended to be split among canonical four classes, i.e. magic user, skill specialist, priest and combat specialist.

The class ability separation led to all the classes becoming very vulnerable to each others' powers, however as anyone can see, versatility of magic proved to overcome or work around weaker combat abilities. Skill specialist, in addition to combat power ironically unavailable to combat specialist (Sneak Attack), gained three skills allowing Skill specialist to somewhat counter or imitate magic abilities (PFRPG Beta: Use Magic Device, Stealth, Perception).

No such luck for combat specialist - he remained as vulnerable as before with one exception - if he is within combat reach of any other classes, and if he wins initative, and if he uses full attack action and and if he rolls really good, he stands a chance of bringing down anyone, including other combat specialist.

That's a large number of IFs, isn't it?

Let's repeat again conclusion from #3: Fighter lacks means to control battlefield or counter hostile abilities or escape spell effects after failed saves.

SOLUTIONS... are there any?

Important! This is not a list of absolute abilities, i.e. nothing here of 4E silliness like "you slide mobs 3 squares away". These abilities should use contested rolls (CMB! CMB! CMB!), albeit with a significant advantage for Fighter.

1. Battlefield control.

Fighter needs to be able, via feats or class abilities, to control his opponents. Improved Trip and Improved Sunder are not very effective, but they are a good start. Other important abilities needed are are:
- controlling opponent movement (example: CMB manoeuver to push away people, CMB manoeuver to stop enemy advance) without resigning from damage dealing - i.e. Fighter should be able to inflict damage and add additional effects to inflicted damage.
Example: strike opponent, and on succesful hit, unbalance opponent (CMB test) with success meaning loss of next move action by opponent.
Example: lock opponent in combat (CMB after succesful hit), opponent using move action or 5 foot steps opens to Attack of Opportunity
Example: inflict temporary negative conditions (CMB after successful hit or Intimidate after succesful hit) like Bleed, Dazed, etc),
- providing morale bonuses to themselves and allies,
- improved perception (bodyguards should not have to take Rogue levels to spot ambushes),
- provide first aid (both to themselves and their cohorts).

2. Counter hostile abilities.

The easiest way to eliminate a fighter is to put him in a situation where his abilities either lose significance (blindness or concealment, restraint like grab or barrier, mind control, removal of weapon, bypassing armor, attacking weakest save, ability damage).

While fighter should not become a powerhouse immune to all of the above, he should be able to either lessen those effects through contested rolls or negate them.

Also, winning such contest should not allow to come back immediately with a counterattack - i.e. Fighter who just broke Hold Person effect, should not be able to immediately execute Full Attack upon spellcaster.

So, what should the fighter be capable of doing?
- contest round after round all effects which eliminate him from play, for example - attack and slowly overcome magical barriers, resist and gradually weaken magic control effects, wiggle out of grabs
- use improvised weapons effectively (i.e. no golf bag syndrome and no magical weapon dependency)
- switch to fully defense mode (at the expense of offense) if his defensive abilities are negated
- improve defenses (full defense mode) against attacks which bypass armor (touch attacks mostly)
- first aid or self-healing (after combat encounters)
- temporarily ignore effects of ability damage (Empowered Ray of Enfeeblement + Quickened Empowered Ray of Enfeeblement = -24 points of strength... and so 20th level Fighter goes down with 1 point of Strength remaining)
- Perception as class skill

3. Add room for additional development.

- 4 skill points
- improving team work: morale bonuses to allies (rousing speeches and so on)
- countering Fear and Mindaffecting control (i.e. imposing hero breaks rebellious crowds or controls his minions panicked by dragon flying overhead)

Regards,
Ruemere


Basically, this is an updated version of my older post. It's nowhere to be found, I'm afraid, so I'm taking the liberty to add it here again.
Some of the problems have been pointed to me during play (Scarred Lands, Fighter and Ranger stuff mostly).

1. Too many subsystems.

The classes, as presented in Pathfinder Beta, use more subsystems to handle progression of class abilities than those in 3.5.

The direct consequences are: steeper learning curve, increased bookkeeping, decreased backwards compatibility.

The indirect consequences are: decreased appeal for beginner players, slower combat resolution due to increased resource management overhead, increased complexity for mutliclassing and use of prestige classes.

Also, all melee classes are still unable to defend themselves from control spells (Weak saves, incapable of working around walls, SoD effects).

Examples follow.

1.1 Barbarian.

1.1.1 New subsystems: Rage point pool, Rage powers.
- Incompatible horizontally (no other class uses Rage point pool or Rage powers) and vertically (no classes to develop on new Rage mechanic).
- Increased bookkeeping... (sorry, going to vent a bit) Ye Gods, I need to say this: try to use a horde of 40 Barbarians in Pathfinder Beta. Whoever came up with this concept, should be made to run such battle 3 times a day until they apologize for not thinking the concept though.

1.1.2 Suggested optimizations.
- Replace Rage powers with [Rage Combat] feats.
- Replace new Rage versions with [Rage Combat] feats.
- Add prerequisite to each [Rage Combat] feat: usable only when Raging.
- Replace "Rage power" with "Bonus Rage Combat feat" in class feature progression.
- Make all feats usable at-will but only one at any given time.
- Make all rage feats to be distinct so that switching between various Rage powers during combat would be an interesting option for character.
- Make use of each feat a Swift action.
- Lengthen Rage duration to 15 minutes.
- Limit number of Rage uses to 1+Con modifier/day.
- Ability to self-heal between encounters. Right now Barbarians with their low armor class provide biggest hitpoint sink for all healing abilities.

1.2 Fighter.

1.2.1 New subsystems: Weapon Training, Armor Training.
- The systems are easier to manage. Unfortunately they lack room for customization.
- New systems are entirely lackluster. Adding more attack bonuses, more damage or improving armor class will not solve two major problems of Fighter class:
- nothing to do besides hitting round after round,
- defenseless against spellcaster characters.

1.2.2 The following Fighter archetypes are still not viable under Pathfinder Beta:
- highlevel Fighter commanders (not enough skill points, no feats for officers)
- melee battlefield controller (fighters able to hinder or penalize opponent actions via use of skirmisher weapons)
- lightly armored duellers
- big game hunter (Improved Grab == bye bye, Mr Fighter)

1.2.3 Broken (unusable) feats:
- Power attack - impossible to find sweet spot (i.e. relation of taken penalty to opponent's armor class)
- Combat Expertise - use of non fighter ability (Intelligence) and general weakening of the feat

1.2.4 Suggested optimizations against tier 1 characters:
- Combat feats pool should incorporate feats allowing to negate magic effects which eliminate fighter from play: effects targetting Will save, effects displacing fighter character, effects building barriers between fighter and his prey, effects which permanently block line of sight between fighter and opponent.
- Combat feats for negating magic effects should be available at higher total character levels, not just total Fighter levels

Examples of test cases which fighter should be able to handle at resource cost:
- Empowered Ray of Enfeeblement
- Invisible Flying Wizard
- Wall of Stone
- Solid Fog
- Dominate Person
- Hitpoint attrition from multiple encounters

Examples of possible abilities to help fighter in a game non-breaking way:
- Ability to temporarily ignore temporary ability damage
- Ability to use Perception based roll to improve chance of guessing location of invisible objects or to fight while blinded
- Ability to break magically conjured or created objects
- Ability to temporarily ignore magical effects impeding movement
- Ability to delay or weaken effects which take away chracter's control from player
- Ability to self-heal damage between encounters

1.3 Ranger

1.3.1 New subsystems: 0. There are however new class features.

Favored Enemy - this is still the biggest pain to handle. Very campaign specific and requires cooperation from GM's side to be effective. Basically, the best way to use it is still to declare Humanoid (human) to be your first and foremost enemy, with appropriate type of outsider or undead second.

Combat styles and Spellcasting still feel very awkward.

Favored Terrain - this is much better than Favored enemy, however some distinctions appear artifical:
Urban <> Underground (dungeons)
Forest <> Jungle

Also, benefits are rather hard to remember.

1.3.2 Suggested optimizations.

Favored Enemy - replace this with ability to study opponent and then gain significant advantages against. It should be personal, at will and require certain time to use.

Favored Terrain - decrease number of terrains, limit number of bonuses to 2 (skills) and 1 (combat). Increase bonuses (+2 for skills is fine, but +1 to initiative is too low to produce an effect).

Combat styles - just allow Rangers to pick combat feats from more limited pool than that of a Fighter. No more virtual feats, please. Just make them regular bonus feats.

Spellcasting - just drop it or make optional. It's not gamebreaking not to cast spells, but such limited spell access only adds to bookkeeping instead of enhancing the class.

Regards,
Ruemere

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