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Ah, that's a real shame. I hadn't checked out the Ranged Tactics Toolbox. I hate it when they make their own previous products obsolete, though.
It looks like I misjudged you, and I apologize. I had initially taken your "not calling you out" line to be somewhat sarcastic, and I'm a bit sensitive regarding the way people discuss issues like this online, particularly the presumption of guilt and dog-piling. It's clear now that this wasn't your intent, and I jumped the gun.
I share your disdain for many of the public reactions to clear proof of wrongdoing by celebrities. At the same time, I'm also concerned about the presumption of guilt based on the severity of allegations, particularly since the fallout doesn't end up being equal (Roman Polanski is still considered a "genius" after being convicted and escaping his sentence; Bill Cosby is a social pariah over numerous allegations that never went to court).
But I digress; any conversation about the various iniquities and failures of the U.S. justice system and the media/entertainment machine that reports on it could easily consume an entire forum, let alone a single thread.
Back to Upchurch, it's funny that you should mention running into his defenders at your comic shop, as I was just talking to the (female, if it matters) co-owner of my local shop about Rat Queens. She told me that immediately after the news hit (shortly after issue 8 came out) she had a lot of female readers say they were quitting the book, who then came back to it as soon as they heard Upchurch was being replaced). I didn't find out about it until a while after that, because Rat Queens has always had a pretty inconsistent schedule, and I just figured Upchurch was slow.
For me, I fully understand people not wanting to be involved with him under the circumstances. My initial point was that his art style is unique enough that he'd be hard to replace, and since the art was such an important part of the book, I was concerned about the future. I fully understand the necessity of him paying the consequences for his crime, and I expect that to happen.
I was unaware that the creator-owned caveat at Image extended to Artists - everything I've read on their submissions guidelines for writers say "you own your work, but we won't find an artist for you, you need to find one yourself." This to me has always implied that the writer owned the scripts, characters, and narrative - while the artist was contracted to the work with the writer, by the writer.
I am not privy to the contract details between Wiebe and Upchurch; it is possible that he retained full rights to the IP, but it seems unlikely; modern comic artists are all too aware of what happened to Jack Kirby, Bill Finger, and other silver/golden age artists who made huge contributions to the characters we all know and love, but were robbed of both the financial gains and historical recognition for what they did. Artists typically get co-creator rights for characters that they help develop, so it seems likely that Upchurch has some kind of continued stake in Rat Queens, but the only way to be sure would be to ask Wiebe. And even if I'm right, I imagine it wouldn't be too hard for Wiebe to buy Upchurch out of his stake, as I'm sure both parties are aware of how much damage Upchurch's continued involvement would do to the IP.
Lastly on to more pleasant topics: Yes, the Braga one-shot was fun, and actually speaks very well of Wiebe's work with other collaborators.
These aren't different rulesets. Pathfinder Society is an organized campaign that uses the Pathfinder rules; Pathfinder Society Core is the same thing, but with a more limited set of potential sources. It's a *reaction* to complaints about bloat. It's the anti-bloat.
This isn't even out yet.
These aren't really different rulesets either. The Mythic rules fit on top of the existing rules, and the Beginner Box is just a stripped-down version of the normal rules designed to appeal to kids and get them interested in regular Pathfinder. It even comes with a booklet to teach those kids who to convert their Basic characters to normal Pathfinder.
I always kind of liked Warding and Evil Eye more than Slumber, personally. There are plenty of things that can't be affected by sleep, and a will save totally negates it. Even if they succeed at a saving throw against Evil Eye, they still take the penalties, but for only 1 round. And unlike Slumber, you can re-apply Evil Eye to the same target over and over again. Ward is also something he can always be doing to contribute to the group's success, so if he isn't taking that, I don't know what he's doing with his other hexes. Fortune/Misfortune are also popular.
Witches are actually one of the better classes introduced in the APG; they're more balanced than the Summoner in my opinion, and they fill a role (debuffer) that wasn't really being covered by either Divine or Arcane spellcasters. Both Wizards and Clerics *have* debuffs, but they don't really focus on them. Witches are almost entirely geared towards weakening the enemy so that other people can murder them. If you're in a party with a Witch, they *should* be setting the pins up so you can knock 'em down. Perhaps you should talk with your Witch about some tactical team-ups you can try.
Dear James Jacobs: One of the big shifts in 3.0/3.5/Pathfinder was a greater emphasis on planned character growth, versus organic character growth. The rules make it easier to start out a character above level 1, and the nature of feat trees (along with potential multi-classing synergy, which seems to now be part of class design) means that not only are players rewarded for planning their character growth, but they can be penalized for not doing so.
Is this movement towards planned character growth a positive or negative in your opinion? Do you think there is a market for games that encourage more organic, modular character growth, or was that an older style of play that has died off?
Captain K. wrote:
It's a free Masterwork dagger that, from a story POV, you aren't supposed to be using. The dagger is supposed to be kept sheathed except when mercy-killing someone else, or killing yourself to avoid capture. A rogue who takes it and uses it as a free masterwork dagger for everyday killing is mechanically doing the "right" thing, but is also kind of spitting on the traditions of the community they're supposed to be defending.
j b 200 wrote:
The first book seems to be more about defending a settlement from an Orc invasion than about giants. Also, there are interesting locals like fighting inside a volcano and a flying castle. Unfortunately since none of the books are out yet (and we don't even have a final product description yet), we can't really sell you on the AP, since we don't really know what the AP is....
We have descriptions for the first 5 volumes of Giantslayer. It doesn't seem all that varied:
1. Defend town from orc army, explore tomb.
2. Fight Hill Giant chief.
3. Finish exploring tomb, then go to Mindspin Mountains. Fight a bunch of giants in a valley.
4. Fight village of Frost Giants.
5. Fight dungeon of Fire Giants. Learn about flying castle
Presumably, volume 6 will be "go to flying castle, kill Storm Tyrant". I think the problem for me here is the lack of motivation for the villain. Karzoug awakened after thousands of years and was trying to rebuild his empire. First Emperor Xin saw his dream of a perfect society destroyed by his students who then tried to kill him, slept for thousands of years, and went mad. Hakotep had his soul torn into fragments and finally has a chance to avenge himself. These are interesting villains.
The Storm Tyrant is just a guy with a cloud castle and an Orb of Dragonkind, who wants to conquer Avistan because....well, just because. I've heard people comparing this to Against the Giants, but I never had a chance to play that module. What could I be missing out on if I skip Giantslayer?
But seriously...who would? I mean, it's not like hypnosis is a harmless parlor trick in Golarion. Magic is real, and so is the concept of magical mind control. If you have the requisite Bluff/Diplomacy to convince someone to let you hypnotize them without any safety net (someone they trust watching, etc.), then you probably don't need to Hypnotize them in the first place.
It's an interesting thought experiment, but like most powergaming, it's only effective in a world where the player is the only person on earth with a working brain.
And really, any thread derailment that doesn't involve Rogues being underpowered is more than welcome here :D
Calistrian clergy wear black and yellow a lot.
I suppose the ultimate permutation of this would be a DEX 20 Elf Calistrian Warpriest in studded leather armor with a whip and stiletto heels. The real challenge would be enduring the snickers and outright laughter at the gaming table, though ;)
Cap. Darling wrote:
If channeling is gonna be the thing, i like a Half elf oracle of life with the elf FCB on the channeling. He Can wear a breastplate plate but with a trait and a breastplate plate i. Mithral he wont notice.
If he's wearing a breastplate, then he isn't unarmored, and this is a thread about unarmored healers.
And channeling isn't a requirement; I was just answering the question of why channeling is a useful healing tool. It's a source of healing; someone who can cast Cure spells *and* channel (like a Hex Channeler) is going to have more overall healing per day than someone who can only cast Cure spells (like a White Mage).
That said, I think the White Mage might be a bit more interesting, since Arcanists have more offensive spell options than Witches do. I suspect the Hex Channeler/Hedge Witch will do a better job at healing though, and would be more suited to a party where they were the sole source of healing. White Mage would be fine in a party with a Divine caster though (perhaps an offensively-minded Oracle, like a Flame or Metal Oracle?)
Cap. Darling wrote:
1d6/2 levels is pretty good compared to 1d8+level/2 levels (the Cure spell series) when you consider how much more often you can channel versus cast Cure Light Wounds. Even if you only use it outside of combat, Channeling is more efficient at healing groups, and lets you save your spell slots for buffs, remove curse, and attack spells.
You're not alone, of course; I've seen a lot of people turn up their nose and in-combat healing, as as long as you're facing down fairly safe encounters that give you adequate time to buff ahead of time, I suppose that can work.
I've been in plenty of PFS scenarios where we were dealing with surprise attacks that drastically dropped everyone's HP, and/or were surrounded by a large number of creatures. Now obviously, if you have AOE damage, then it's clearly the better tactical choice there, but if not, keeping all of your friendlies in positive HP, even if it costs you a Standard Action, can mean the difference between success and failure. Channeling is how Clerics can carry a lower-level party through the decision to "play up" a tier in PFS, at least in my experience.
And again, the fact that it doubles as an AOE attack vs undead hordes (again, a common encounter in Paizo adventures) makes it one of the more important things that Clerics do, IMO.
My problem with more "traditional" AP modules like this is that it feels like something I could put together in a few hours using the tables in a GM's guide. Warlord obtains [macguffin], rallies legions of [cannon fodder], attacks small village, heroes intervene, fight their way up the ranks, kill warlord.
Mummy's Mask had the hook of an exotic locale (Osirion!) and the promise of fighting a 10,000 year old ghost pharaoh in a flying pyramid. Going from that to fighting an evil Giant in a cloud castle feels (a) redundant and (b) like a step down.
I can understand that Iron Gods doesn't appeal to everyone, and I'm not totally against "traditional" modules (I'm looking forward to Hell's Rebels), but much like Wrath of the Righteous, this AP seems a bit too cookie-cutter to appeal to me or my players.
I would count myself as being somewhat concerned as of the release of the Advanced Class Guide, which I've held off on buying for a bit. I'm actually more excited about the Occult book, because those classes are introducing a whole new pseudo-psionic thing to Pathfinder and Golarion, which is cool. I'm less excited about the ACG classes, many of which just seem like combat-buffed versions of the core classes (is there a reason to be a rogue now that Slayers exist?)
So, with the recent release of a certain 5th edition, I've been thinking a lot lately about my preferred game system for swords and sorcery. D&D was the first RPG I'd ever heard of, and while my entry to the game was delayed by my mom's belief in the corrupting influence of AD&D, I started playing in college and have basically never stopped (though I did spread out into Shadowrun, M&M, etc.) I remember a time when I thought the Forgotten Realms were awesome, but now, the thought of playing a game set there is just...meh.
Golarion, on the other hand, feels almost like a real place. A place that I'm engaged with. A place that doesn't feel crowded with NPC heroes to solve the world's problems, yet which still has a distinctive character, no matter where you go. And...a place where I can imagine someone like myself living. To keep it short, I'm a dusky gentleman of exotic background, and while I didn't think much about Paizo's decision to be more ethnically inclusive with their setting (particularly with the iconics), it hit me when I was flipping through the 5e book and I found myself staring at page after page of rather generic, vaguely-european humans, elves, dwarves, and halflings. I'd always kind of thought of it as a genre convention when I was younger, and it's not as though I play a lot of non-white characters in PFS, but I think there's something subconsciously attractive about knowing that people like yourself have a place in the fantasy world you're playing in.
It also makes Golarion look a lot more interesting, as the architecture often reflects a variety of different influences. It feels more like a world, while Faerun seems more like a single region (the Sword Coast) beset by the same threats (Orcs, Drow, Undead) for eternity. I like a lot of the rule changes in 5e (rogues seem much more attractive mechanically, for example, and the emphasis on character background is nice), but I just can't see myself playing it, perhaps because I just can't see myself in the Forgotten Realms anymore.
Thanks a lot, Paizo. You've spoiled me.
Ya like Goblin dags?
Insain Dragoon wrote:
She just happens to have a psychological need to fight and possibly kill, no biggie! At least she has positive channels for her needs in Golarian.
A desire to improve oneself through conflict is, at worst, a Neutral trait, not an evil one. Her backstory contains no violence against innocents, and in fact all of her fights appear to be sanctioned matches, against opponents who agreed to the terms of the fight. She's not just "good" from a moral perspective, but an ethical one as well.
I play as my party's defender and I've found that if the GM ignores me and attacks my fellow party members, then I become mostly useless. I'm wondering if there's a feat or action I can take that will force the enemy to attack me. Any suggestions?
"Tanking" in Pathfinder doesn't work like "Tanking" in a traditional MMO. Instead, it works more like "Tanking" during teamfights in a MOBA such as DOTA2 or League of Legends. You can't just sit back and wait for stuff to attack you. You have to give them no other choice.
- Use your positioning, and that of your party, to force enemies to get through you before they can reach your party's squishier members.
- When possible, be the one to "initiate" contact with the enemy, so that you can control where and when the fight begins.
- Make tactical use of feats and combat manuevers to control the battlefield. Reach weapons, attacks of opportunities, feats like Stand Still, and Trip Attacks are all useful tools to protect your party and control where the enemy can go.
Ah, that does explain a lot. I'm still a bit confused as to how the kindest of the good gods, and a Neutral Good former angel, has the center of her worship in one of the largest slave states in Golarion (one assumes that Qadira has about as many slaves as Cheliax, if not more). Even if we assume that followers don't hew to the exact dictates of their deity in all matters, we're talking about a society-wide institution that is directly opposed to the definition of "Good" as far as the Alignment rules go. I mean, if we're giving Sarenrae a pass for her followers practicing slavery, why not Asmodeus?
Come to think of it, that'd be a great slogan for Chelaxian evangelists: "Why not Asmodeus?"
Sometime last year, I decided to try out an experiment: I would run a Pathfinder game for my mother. How this came about is a bit of a long story...suffice it to say that she had been tagging along to some of my games previously and expressed some curiosity about what was going on.
The game started out with two college friends of mine (let's call them Tom and Carl), and Carl's wife (let's call her Wendy) joining my mom (we'll call her Jen) playing through The Dragon's Demand. I wanted the new players to get into the sense of freedom you get with tabletop gaming, so I didn't make any real class suggestions based on their aptitude; instead, we just asked what kind of characters they wanted. So we ended up with:
Tom, the Musketeer Gunslinger
Almost immediately, Tom bailed on us, so for the early parts of the adventure they were a party of 3, with no frontline (aside from Bob) and no one capable of finding or disabling traps. As you might recall, Hunclay's house is full of traps, as is the Kobold lair. Jen was loathe to put Bob in danger, despite him having better stats than most of the party at the early levels. They managed to survive, disabling Hunclay's traps via the time-honored tradition of having Carl's Witch walk into them face-first. Jen and Wendy seemed happy to meet up every week, but were also rather distracted, and would often miss important game information. Jen, in particular, would then complain loudly when this led her into trouble, or quibble about the rules when they weren't going her way. If you've never been rules-lawyered by your own mother, I highly recommend it; there's no experience like it.
Around this time they realized that Hunclay's mansion was probably not the first place they should go, so instead they pursued the Kobold lair, where they were doing just fine until the entire party fell into a pit trap. Well, the entire party except for Bob, who managed to make his reflex save. At this point a new player, also experienced, joined the party.
This was Mike, the Ranger/Barbarian.
Mike kindly fished them out of the pit and acted as their tank for the duration of the game. He would often tease Jen about her wolf, jokingly encouraging her to send him into danger.
With Mike around, I found that I didn't need to prompt them as often with tactical advice, which was nice. If you're wondering why I was doing this in the first place rather than just watching them die repeatedly...I don't think that's an effective way to encourage new players. They should, at the very least, understand *why* they're failing in combat. By trying to teach Jen how to effectively make decisions about healing, I hoped to get her more engaged in the game. Wendy, being a Bard, was still having trouble though, as her chosen spell list was often ineffective in battle, and much of her Bard's class abilities were only useful outside of combat.
Wendy was actually the source of most of their successful Knowledge checks (thanks to Bardic Knowledge and that trait that lets you take 10 once per day), but due to a mild language barrier she wasn't very engaged with the plot of the game and was mostly rolling at Carl's prompting.
Jen's ignorance of genre conventions made for some great roleplaying though, as her elven Druid turned out to be quite the mercenary, suggesting that the group squeeze the baroness for more money, keep more of the loot from Hunclay's estate, and even trying to press-gang the villagers they rescued from the Kobold cave (who were in pretty bad shape) into helping the group clear out the rest of the Kobolds. Her lack of attention to details also led to some funny moments, such as when she insisted on going to Tula's tomb as soon as she heard that there was treasure there, then reacted with shock when they were inside and she realized that they were inside of a tomb (and being attacked by undead).
Tula's Tomb was the group's first real combat test, as the Wraith gave them a lot of trouble. Few of them had offensive spells, and only Mike had an attack bonus high enough to make good use of their magical weapons. Why Carl and Mike, who knew better, went into a tomb without Holy Water is a question I still ask myself.
The end came soon therafter, when the group entered the Monastery. They recognized the arrow slits and decided not to use the front entrance, instead choosing to hop the fence (easy as pie when you have a flying Witch and some rope) and explore the grounds. They were immediately spotted by the Alchemist in the bell tower, and noticing an indoor courtyard with a bucket of berries, they smashed the window and went inside to claim them. The Dragon's press-ganged Druid shows up and gives them all of the exposition they need, and they begin exploring the monastery, knowing that their enemies are aware of their presence.
Well, as they make their way through the hallways, they check out the Assembly hall, and while they find nothing, Mike decides to listen at the stairwell. Well, a giant-ass Man/Bat aberration is going to make some noise on the floor above you, so naturally he hears and decides to investigate. The rest of the group, who hadn't been paying attention, decide to follow, and the combat that followed was painful for everyone involved.
Everyone beat the creature in initiative except for Mike, who was right in front of the damn thing. Starting with Carl, they all decide to run past Mike (through the creature's threatened area) so that they won't be bunched up in the stairway. Carl goes down immediately from an AoO, but encourages Jen and Wendy to follow suit, reasoning that he set off the creature's only AoO.
As you may know, the creature in question has Combat Reflexes and a Dex of 18. While he didn't one-shot Wendy and Jen, they certainly got hurt, and Mike went down to a full-attack before he ever got a chance to do damage. Jen and Wendy managed to partially revive Carl, who got off two Maximized Lightning Bolts, with Bob the wolf bravely sacrificing himself to protect Carl. Carl died not too long after that, as did Wendy, who was actually critted. Jen came close to killing the creature with damage over time (using a Flaming Sphere) but in the end she died as well.
So what did I learn?
2. While running for experienced players may have trained you out of "railroading" players, you may want to reconsider doing so when the alternative is watching a poorly-optimized 5th level party take on a CR 8. Having said that, I am confident that experienced players would have reduced that CR 8 to a fine paste within 3-4 rounds.
3. Pathfinder needs large-print character sheets. The inability to read her own character sheet made the game much more troublesome for Jen, and contributed to a lack of engagement as she was constantly having to rely on other players to read her spell list and update her sheet.
4. The difficulty curve of the Dragon's Demand takes a serious turn around 4th-5th level. DR is one thing, but Incorporeal Undead vs a party with no Ghost Touch is rough times. Poor Mike needed a ton of restoration after the tombs.
5. You may think that you're doing new players a favor by not trying to influence their build decisions, but this game has a learning curve, and it's better for them to play something that you know will be fun for them, rather than something that they think will sound cool. Fighters/Rangers/Paladins are all fun, they hit often, and are very survivable.
In the end, the group decided that they'd rather try new characters in a new campaign (The Mummy's Mask) than make new characters and push through Dragon's Demand. That's no knock on the module; I honestly think it's a great intro to the game, and one of the best adventures I've seen from Paizo.
I'm kind of wondering why this isn't being "removed" for being a personal attack, but I suppose that only matters if you're on the wrong side of the argument.
Regardless, the new Crane Style feat is not "on par" with the other feats in UC; it's now objectively inferior to the other defensive styles (Snake/Turtle).
The only thing that has changed due to this errata is that now, you simply *can't* make a decent defense-oriented martial character. Is that really an improvement?
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Can you explain, then, in what universe the errata'd Crane Wing is "as attractive" as its alternatives?
because fun is largely subjective. So ppl on the board give advice based on what is effective. if you're in it for fun alone, you don't need to go on msg boards and ask for advice for having fun.
I think the problem here is that people are asking for a specific type of advice ("how do I make this character better?") and they're getting a different kind of advice ("play this other character instead").
It's more challenging to find a way to make an unusual build viable, but it's also very rewarding.
Nothing happened; touch attacks are still viable for casters...a strength of 6 is the strength of a small child. If you dump a stat that hard, you should be reaping some consequences.
I'm looking at a Sandman Bard for PFS, and I'm a bit confused about Stealspell. The description says:
Once the performance is started, the bard can steal a prepared spell or a spell known from another creature with a touch attack as a standard action.
...but it doesn't state whether this is a melee touch attack or a ranged touch attack. Can it be both? Or is it assumed to be melee?
I am by far more of a comic nerd than I am an RPG nerd. I preferred having the maps, and am strongly considering ending my subscription. My comics were never damaged by the presence of the maps, and the maps added enough value to the comic that I was willing to overlook a serious problem with art quality that, quite frankly, would normally prevent me from buying the comic in the first place.
Huerta has a good sense of motion in his art, but his pencils are too loose and without a good inker the art ends up looking muddled. The new artist has cleaner lines, but has a very poor sense of facial expressions, which is a serious problem when paired with a dialogue-heavy writer like Jim Zub.
Erik Mona wrote:
I was really disappointed with the lack of a map and the much shorter "game info" section in the back. I enjoy the story and all, but to be honest, I think the art has been consistently awful and the game material is sort of the "clincher" that keeps me subscribing at this point.
It's a two-step process:
1. Decide what would be fun to play.
2. Figure out how to optimize it to make it useful.
If Evocation Wizards exist in the game, then they were meant to be played. The party should adjust to having an Evocation Wizard, rather than expecting the Evoker to do the job of an Abjurer or Transmuter. You might not be effective in the traditional Wizard role, but as long as you're effective in *some* role, you're pulling your weight in the party.
I've been thinking about trying out some archetypes, or at least a less common build lately. One thing that came to mind was a Cad, or some other type of Fighter (Brawler seems most likely) that specializes in either single or dual-wielded daggers.
This is basically a thread for thought experiments. As near as I can tell, the humble Dagger has the following advantages as a weapon:
- It deals both Pierching and Slashing damage
It also has some disadvantages:
- Low damage die
Now, why be a fighter instead of a Rogue if you want to be a dagger guy?
- Weapon Specialization damage
Looking at the Fighter archetypes, the best synergy that I can see is with the Brawler, who gets a +3(!) bonus to damage with all close combat weapons. They also get some bonuses to CMB for bull rushing and reposition, so I can begin to see a Fighter built around Manuevers and battlefield control, but it still leaves us with the question: why do this with daggers?
The Cad seems like it would fit well with the theme of a Dagger fighter, but I have my doubts about it as an archetype. You're giving up medium and heavy armor, plus tower shields, all for 5 extra class skills and no extra skill points. And a bonus to Dirty Tricks. I love the concept, but it really just seems like a poor-man's Rogue.
Two-Weapon Fighter has some synergy, but why bother with two daggers in that case? Surely longsword/shortsword is a better combo in that case.
You know, after all of this, my original idea for my next PFS character was a Metal Elemental Wizard, but I eventually realized that I just wanted to be a martial artist who could turn into metal. And honestly, if the Metal Elemental wizard wasn't intended for monks to dip into, I have no idea what the hell it's good for.
But that's a whole 'nother thread. Thanks for the help, everyone.
I've seen some of the other threads on Unarmed Fighter as an archetype versus Monk, and the consensus is generally that the Fighter does more damage...but that's looking at level 20. What about low to mid-level play?
I'm working on a Pathfinder Society character, starting out at level 1. The max it could ever go is 11, since retirement occurs at 12. The main benefit I see with the Unarmed Fighter at low levels is that they get to "cheat" when it comes to one style feat at level 1. Of course, the Master of Many Styles gets to do this repeatedly, and with the later feats in a style chain as well. You could basically complete a full Style tree by 6th level as a MoMS if you focused on it.
Martial Artist has to "play fair" for Style Feats, but by 4th level they can "cheat" and pick up Fighter feats (like Weapon Specialization).
So let's assume for the moment that all three characters have a Strength of 16. Let us also assume that all three will, eventually, be going for Dragon Style.
At first level:
The Martial Artist has +3 to hit once, or +2/+2 on a flurry, doing 1d6+3 with both attacks (average of 14 damage per turn if both attacks hit).
The Master of Many Styles has their first Dragon Style Feat, so the first attack in their flurry does 1d6+4, raising their average to 15 damage per turn if both attacks hit.
The Unarmed Fighter also has their first dragon style feat, but they'll need two-weapon fighting to give them their second attack. They'll have +4 if they attack once, or the same +2/+2 with TWF. Damage will be a mere 1d3+4 for the first strike, and 1d3+3 for the second. Average of 11.
If human, all three of our examples will have an additional feat. The Fighter could pick up Power Attack, which would drop him to +1/+1, and giving him a bit of extra damage on both attacks, raising the average to 14. The Monks don't really have any other damage increasing options that I know of, so we'll leave those be.
At 1st level then, the Master of Many Styles wins, with the most damage at a decent chance to hit.
Now lets look at our fellas at level 5.
The MoMS has, at this point, gotten two feats into his style and has been that way since 2nd level. With Dragon Ferocity, he's getting an extra +1 to his damage rolls. He could also have picked up Power Attack at level 3, giving him +2 damage to each of his attacks, since unarmed monk attacks are never off-hand. His damage has gone up to a d8, so if he hits all three attacks his average is up to 23 damage per turn. How likely is he to get that kind of damage? Well, He'll be at +5/+5, if I'm doing my math right.
The Martial Artist has finally been able to pick up Dragon Style (at 3rd) but won't get Dragon Ferocity until 6th level as a bonus feat. On the bright side, he was able to pick up Power Attack as his bonus feat at 2nd level, and Weapon Specialization at 5th. That leaves us with an average of 25 damage per turn if all attacks hit. On the bright side, Exploit Weakness gives him a +2 to all of his attack rolls if he succeeds at a d20+WIS+Monk Level check versus 10+Target's CR, a roll that is weighted in his favor. He will also be ignoring DR. Plus he had to pick up Weapon Focus, so his attack bonus would be +8/+8.
The Unarmed Fighter, due to problems with prerequisites, was unable to pick up Dragon Ferocity with his 4th level bonus feat, and will have to wait until 6th level. He does, however, get Weapon Specialization at 4th level, and Weapon Training at 5th level, for a total of +3 to damage all the time. Sadly, he has only two attacks still. I believe that leaves his damage per turn at 17 if he uses TWF. His attack bonus is also +8/+8 with TWF, if my math is correct.
The Martial Artist has pulled ahead.
At 10th level let's assume that all 3 have STR 18:
The MoMS could complete the Dragon Style chain by this point, or have two feats into the Boar Style chain and combine boar style's bleed damage with the damage bonuses from the first two feats of Dragon Style. So that'd be...a lot of damage. Dragon Style only adds 1.5 times strength to the first attack, but still that's 58 damage plus 12 points of bleed, for an average of 70 per round if all attacks hit. 11/11/6/6 attack bonuses.
The Martial Artist will have the same attack bonus, but won't be able to combine styles. On the right side, by 10th level he'll have Greater Weapon Specialization. I believe this will leave him around 66 damage per turn if all attacks hit, with a bonus of 13/13/8/8 when he flurries.
The Unarmed Fighter...honestly, I don't know how to help him catch up at this point. 55 damage per turn by my count, since off-hand attacks only add +1 damage from Power Attack. Anyone have a good build here?
So as near as I can tell, the best absolute damage would be the Master of Many Styles, with the Martial Artist probably being the best option overall, due to its ability to ignore DR.
I'm pretty sure I'm going to be laughing the first time that wizard gets hit with Cause Fear or whatever. The only way it would stop being fun is if the GM was spiteful and just focused on ways to punish the character/player, and in that case I'd just stop playing with them.
No amount of optimization would fix that problem, though. I feel sorry for players/GMs who get caught up in an arms race to see who can break the system harder.
You're kind of making my point for me, here. In your example, the Lawful Neutral God defended slavery, because "Good" is meaningless to him. The suffering of the elven girl is irrelevant to Tyr, because he isn't Good. He's Neutral. The Paladin, in this case, was specifically empowered by a God of Law, which means that he was obligated to obey the local law. Had he been a Paladin of a Lawful Good deity, or even a Lawful Neutral one with a different portfolio, the results may have been different.
Regarding the Punisher, you are simply wrong. Nearly all vigilantes/superheroes operate without a formal endorsement from the government, and even those that do operate with a mandate would not cease to do what they do if that mandate expired. Vigilantes like the Punisher and Batman exist because of perceived failures in the operation of law enforcement as regards public safety and maintaining the peace. They are acting on behalf of the civilian population, rather than the government, and they operate within strict guidelines. The Punisher will not shoot someone simply because they cut him off in traffic. Batman does not break a guy's arm for littering.
Chaotic Neutral behavior, in a comic book, would be better exemplified by a character who randomly changes allegiances and cares nothing about the sanctity of human life - a mercenary, such as Deadpool, Deadshot, or Deathstroke the Terminator.
LG: Cares about maintaining order, and the preservation of sapient life. May have to do things he/she doesn't want to (such as letting an enemy escape) in order to either comply with an obligation, or save a life. (Superman, Captain America).
NG: Cares about the preservation of life and happiness. That's it. Would prefer to avoid conflicts with authority, but would be willing to do so in order to safeguard an innocent. (Wonder Woman, Spider-Man)
CG: Actively dislikes authority and/or is independent in the extreme, but is a genuinely good person. Often the alignment of loners. Would gladly break the word to an evil person. (Wolverine, Green Arrow)
LN: Cares about structure/order, and believes that this need outweighs any concerns about the sanctity of life. Would willingly sacrifice one person to save 20. Would use lethal force on an inferior combatant if that combatant's crime was severe enough. (The Punisher, Judge Dredd)
N: There are almost no truly Neutral characters in comics. Even The Watcher, who is supposed to be completely neutral, has broken his neutrality before. I suppose Death, particularly the Marvel Universe version, qualifies.
CN: Doesn't care about loyalty or sapient life; out for themselves. Likely to change allegiances frequently. (Deadpool, The Secret Six)
LE: Honorable, but actively disdainful of the sanctity of human life. Has no qualms about sacrificing others to accomplish a plan. (Dr. Doom, Ra's Al Ghul)
NE: Primarily concerned with personal advancement. Would lie to an ally or break an oath if convenient. Most "hireling" type villains fit in here. (The Rhino, most of The Flash's Rogues Gallery)
CE: Generally reserved for the criminally insane. (The Joker, Norman Osborne)
I've been having a lot of fun lately playing characters that are intentionally not fully optimized. The first was a Sorcerer who (still, even at level 5) knows nothing about Spellcraft. This led to some funny situations where the party found a magic item and her response was simply "Yep...that's magical." It's fun to break out of the mold just a little bit, and it's not crippling to gameplay at all.
A riskier example is that I recently sat in on a friend's Beginner Box game at my FLGS and played an elven Wizard. I rolled some pretty good stats...and a 6. Now, the obvious choice would be to stick the 6 in strength, but for some reason I thought it'd be funny to put it in Wisdom. So my absent-minded Wizard, who didn't know when to shut up and generally lacked common sense was a blast to roleplay during the game. The other players, who were new to the game, had the opportunity to define themselves in opposition to her ("I'm an elf, but we're not all like *her*...")
Best of all, both characters experienced cool, dramatic moments when they actually succeeded at something. The Sorcerer who doesn't really study magic was one hell of a badass when she started tossing out Elemental Rays and magic missiles at the creatures that the melee characters couldn't hurt due to DR or high AC. And I truly wish I could have gotten a photo of the table's reaction the first time my Wizard hucked a longsword right into the gut of some lizardfolk we were fighting, or rescued the Rogue (who was unconscious and drowning) by casting sleep on her attackers and wading into the water to drag her to the surface.
The last benefit is, I'll admit, merely superstition: I've noticed that when I intentionally forgo maximum optimization, I tend to roll better. Seriously, my best optimized characters will get saddled with terrible rolls, but my flawed protagonists always come through in a clinch.
The Punisher is absolutely a Lawful character. He does not punish people randomly, nor does he ever let people off the hook. He is enforcing a strict code of law. He is the definition of Lawful Neutral.
You seem to be confusing Lawful Good with Lawful Neutral. A Lawful Good character cares about both the law and the sanctity of human life. A Lawful Neutral person only cares about what is "right", regardless of the consequences. That's what "neutral" means. The "goodness" of an action is irrelevant to a Lawful Neutral character. What matters is the letter of the law, not "justice".