Silent Saturn wrote:
So if Keen turned a x4 weapon into a x8 weapon instead of a 19-20/x4 weapon, then x4 weapons would actually benefit more from Keen than 18-20/x2 weapons? Interesting...
Depending on what variable you are manipulating the doubling is always going to benefit one weapon over another weapon.
Doubling threat range from 18-20 x2 to 15-20 x2 is dramatically more 19-20 x2 doubled to 17-20 x2 or 20 x3 doubled to 19-20 x3.
3.x in generally wanted there to be system mastery elements which rewarded certain weapon = feat combos like the imp crit falchion. I just don't think it's particular good design.
My problem with this is that 20 x8, 20 x6 or even 18-20/x4 and 19-20/x4 create really unbalanced weapons and lead to massive mortality simply because optimized characters are going to have such massive static damage bonuses meaning that a big crit will be absolutely lethal
Doubling the critical multipler is really dangerous. While 20 x 8 might not happen very often when it does it will almost certainly result in massive damage to the victim.
This increases the swinginess of combat which almost always favors the NPCs (they are assumed to only face one battle) vs the PCs (who end up facing a lot of potential criticals over the course of their lives).
Even adding +1 to the multiplier is dangerous.
I don't really care for imp. crit and keen as they currently work simply because they make 18-20 x2 weapons unreasonably desirable but there is some danger in throwing around big crit multipliers.
Being willing to defend your home from brigands or goblin raiders is one thing. You should reasonably expect to see the militia being called out to deal with an Ankheg infestation.
Actually heading into the wilderness in order to trackdown the source of the goblin raids or the brigand camp is generally left to the professional soldiers or adventurers.
I typically make a large number of the NPCs of a village level 2 NPCs (Commoner 2, Expert 2, Commoner1/ Warrior 1) simply because CR 1/2 allows me to use a good number of them before completely overwhelming the low level PCs.
But honestly having somewhat competent NPCs really helps provide the resources needed by PCs plus means that even a low level party of PCs is going to have to somewhat mind it's manners in the average village.
You seem to be assuming that NPCs would be getting the elite array (15,14,13,12,10,8) instead of the base standard (13,12,11,10,9,8) or the bog standard (11,11,11,10,10,10).
A Human Commoner 2/Adept 1 might have the following array:
Str: 10 Dex: 10 Con: 12 Int: 9 Wis: 13 Cha: 11
The +1 on Con and Wis give the Goodwife a slightly more robust frame (+3 HP, +1 to Fort Saves) and good skill checks (+1 to Wisdom based skills). Save DCs on her spells are pretty low but she rarely needs to cast an offensive spell.
For me the idea that an experienced villager might be a commoner 2/warrior 1 or a commoner 2/adept 1 really doesn't undermine verisimilitude for me.
Golarion (insert other generic fantasy world here) is a violent place, it really stands to reason that the average farmer has probably seen his share of conflicts if he's older than 18 or so.
Yeah most of what he does on a daily basis is relatively boring Profession (Farmer) stuff but he's probably been recruited to function in the militia and has probably been used to beat of the occasional goblin raid. In border areas with a high level of conflict he's probably even served in the king's military a handful of times. Most of that is just marching a drilling but he knows how to hold a spear and set a shield wall.
He's probably even got a set of leather armor (or padded armor) in a trunk that he can pull out if the constable needs help.
His wife has some skill at herbalism/healing on top of the profession (farmer) and profession (cook) skills. She's also been inducted into the local temple as a acolyte of Erastil so can function as a adept.
Most mornings she prepares a cure light wounds or maybe a cause fear spell (in case there are known predators in the area). Burning Hands or Sleep are rarely prepped.
It just really depends on where you draw the line in terms of NPC competence. The NPC Codex and GM guide have templates for city guards of Warrior 3 so I'm quite comfortable in having experienced famers/goodwives at Commoner 3 (or Commoner 2/Expert 1 or Commoner 2/Adept 1).
Yeah that's really going to TPK a group.
Even an Adept 3 is maybe going to have a Sleep Spell prepped and that's hardly a TPK vs a level 1 party.
Personally I think there should be a NPC class version of each of the big 4 meaning a hedge mage NPC class and a thug NPC class. I dislike having to use expert to represent NPC class rogues.
Technically there really is nothing keeping any NPC with higher than average wisdom from selecting adept class levels. Being able to heal injuries with a cure light, or cast endure element or detect evil/protection from evil would be a compelling ability for many villagers to develop.
The number of 4th level adepts (necessary to cast 2nd level spells) and 7th level adepts (necessary to cast 3rd level spells)are going to be quite low.
But I could definitely see a number of goodwives in the average village being something like commoner 2/adept 1 to represent induction into whatever clerical mystery cult dominates in the village.
19-20 x2 = 20 x3
it's the presence of x4 and 18-20 x2 weapons that throw stuff off significantly.
Personally I feel like the weapon list should be designed around most weapons being 20 x2 (simple melee), 19-20 x2 (accurate), 20 x3 (overwhelming). x4 and 18-20 x2 go away. Imp Crit and Keen change from expanding range to making a 19-20 x2 or 20 x3 weapon into a 19-20 x3 weapon.
I dislike that the current system creates winners and losers in terms of PC wealth due to the presence of treasure bundles in suboptimal configurations.
In order to get wealth (largely in the form of magic items for PCs) into a more desirable format you can do the following:
1) Keep found item
For PCs with crafting feats this typically means that found wealth equals PC wealth (you either find useful items or you convert them into cash in order to fuel an equal amount of wealth).
However the key problem is that not everyone has crafting feats and not every crafting feat is taken so you have some people trading wealth for 50% of it's true WBL value.
If PCs craft at cost for their friends then most of the key feats (wondrous item, wands, scrolls, arms and armor) are covered eventually (Rings are some of the key outliers).
The problem with crafting for teammates at actual value instead of cost is it creates 2 transactions.
PC 1 sells item at cost = 50% reduction of value (lets say 10,000gp item becomes 5000gp cash)
This creates a difficult issue because if we assume that PC 1 got an even share of the treasure and there is 4 PCs then PC 1 has increased his WBL by 5000 whereas PC 2 has presumably increased his WBL by 10,000 + 2500 for each PC he crafts for.
This obviously can lead to massive discrepancies in terms of total wealth for the party and can make adhering to WBL very difficult. Considering the primary crafting classes are already more powerful than the martial classes this further increases the power discrepancy.
In my mind the only tenable solution is to assume that allied NPC crafters are willing to trade items at a roughly 1=1 ratio of value. Non-allied NPC crafters will trade but at a slightly cost to the PC (normally 10%) . Selling items for cash still occurs at 50% (not many people have 10,000 gp lying around) which means PC crafting can still be fueled.
This undercuts more mercenary applications of PC crafting feats because NPCs will typically cover most crafting. PC crafting is useful for handling items on a quick turn around or items that it's difficult to find an allied crafter willing to craft.
Net effect is that WBL stays relatively constant throughout the party.
Some people get trapped in a mindset that says bad gaming is better than no gaming. Personally my free time is too precious to be doing an activity where I'm not enjoying myself so I abandoned that mindset a long time ago but I definitely remember a younger me that was willing to put up with bad gaming in order to get gaming in.
Technically cash should be a premium in most campaigns. While the PCs probably have enough to cover consumables and some NPC casting/crafting but the bulk of PC wealth is going to be in the form of magical items that the PCs can only really sell at 1/2 rate in order to gain the cash to craft their own items.
Sell an item worth 100k at 50k and you have 50k to produce an item worth 100k which is a net savings of 0.
Basically this is designed to allow the PCs to convert unwanted vendor trash items into other more valued items.
Personally I kinda like using a residuum type system like that used in 4e where unwanted items can be directly converted into a substance of some monetary value so you don't even need to mess with the trying to find a vendor willing to buy you vendor trash.
The problem with PC crafting really only comes up in settings where there is a great deal of cash or conversion of vendor trash to cash is at a better than 50% ratio.
Sorcerer is a great NPC class because I can just generate a spells known list and I don't have to deal with the wealth consequences of the PCs gaining yet another overpriced spellbook.
Give a sorcerer a handful of spell scrolls to cover some contigency spells and you have a decent one shot opponent.
For PCs though the inherent flexibility and earlier access to spells for the Wizard is just too much to pass up, plus the Wizard ends up with an insane number of skill points by end game. Yeah the sorcerer is probably a better social monkey but wizard will have skillpoints coming out his ears.
Honestly even with the sorcerer being buffed spontaneous casters tend to lag behind practiced casters unless adding spells as a wizard is really difficult.
Animal companions are a single class feature on a 3/4 BAB full caster. If the animal companion was anywhere near as good as a NPC warrior or NPC aristocrat of the equivalent level they are probably too good.
Animal companion gives you boosted damage which is good for a more martial shapechanging druid or can be used to provide a flank buddy for a fighter or rogue which should dramatically improve overall party effectiveness.
Yeah the animal companion simply isn't going to keep pace with an Eidolon. I'm not sure it was ever supposed to although perhaps the eidolon is too potent?
But honestly the druid animal companion is pretty much always worthwhile.
Animal companions at level -3 ranking I feel less sure of but at least they are better than their 3.5 counterparts which were basically pointless after a period.
How are you guys going to handle healing? Non-magical healing is quite slow and this will probably limit you to a very small number of encounters per day unless the fights are quite one-sided.
Basically an all muggle campaign could be okay for a one shot game but the game just assumes a massive amount of magic in order for anything to really work particularly well.
Honestly looking at something like iron heroes or 4e with only martial power sources is a much better bet than using PF.
Dex really isn't that critical for a Paladin unless you are playing a archer paladin. Yeah you really don't want to dump it to a 7 but you can definitely afford to go with a 10 in Dex.
For standard Paladins I think you can pretty much just focus on Str, Con and Cha. Yeah a Str+Con belt is extremely expensive but it's cheaper than a physical perfection belt. Headband of Charisma is pretty much a given.
The main thing is that Paladins generally can't safely dump a stat to a 7 without brutalizing skillpoints (7 Int Human Paladins are okay) or risking a somewhat inferior ref or will save.
For people looking for really min-maxed Paladin builds the inability to dump 2 stats to a 7 is possibly a problem but personally I think that's actually a sign that the class actually uses all the ability scores relatively evenly unlike the vast majority of classes that see almost no problem in dumping Cha to 7.
PF isn't normally a monotheistic society where you can just go around smiting random shop owners because the register as evil on your scanner. For one thing evil aura's can be faked and would probably disappear after the death of the victim which might leave the Pally having some explaining to do after he smites Yeoman Janek because he's an adulterer and a miser. Sure people won't cry about his death that much but it still violates the basic law of the land.
While some nations might condone the Paladin being judge, jury and executioner I think those are kinda few and far between.
Bill Dunn wrote:
I'm not sure where you are getting that 1e/2e fighters couldn't move and make multiple melee attacks. You were limited to one charge per turn but AFAIK there wasn't any rule against move and multiple strikes.
You could definitely do stuff like move forward half speed + first iterative strike, then wait for any return attacks, then make you iterative strike.
Another option would be attack then move, wait for any counterattacks, then take you iterative strike.
Considering rounds are much shorter in 3.x and for the most part your actions aren't split over multiple segments I really don't see a problem with move and strike in a 2e style PF game.
Honestly if you want to have 3.x/PF with a 2e feel you just need to make a couple of tweaks.
1) Make Casting Slower- Extend the casting action of most spells to full round actions. If there is no move and shoot (unless the Wizard is riding a mount which has it's own complications) and the casters are limited to 5' steps then wizarding is much riskier. Gank the squishy mage becomes a much more reasonable task. No Quicken spell at all.
2) Make martial types more mobile- If you don't want full move + full attack then go with a partial move that you can split attacks anywhere in between. Move 10' swing a sword move 5' more and swing another time.
3) Consider eliminating AoOs- they slow combat down
4) Consider revising Iterative attacks- I like the Trailblazer revision (2 attacks at a diminishing penalty).
5) Revise save progressions - 1/2 HD + 2 for favored save is a nice progression. This is nice for removing the ever present cloak of resistance from the game.
6) Boost Evocation- it rocked on toast in 2e, it sucks in 3.x/PF
Looting the corpse to pay for being raised is also going to have moral issues for some PCs plus it's kinda uncool. It's much more in keeping with the source material for the dead character to be buried with his gear rather than looting his corpse for all available value.
By removing the financial penalty associated with raise dead and other spells you enable parties to either bury the hero (if the character doesn't want to be raised) or the hero is taken to town (which can help the BBEG advance his/her plot) to be raised and the character can return to action relatively quickly.
If you want there to be some penalty associate with raise dead then simply make it so that the PC has to spend x amount of days recuperating rather than just spamming a couple of restoration spells.
That way you have 1 day for memorizing raise dead (most PCs don't keep raise dead memorized and spell scrolls of raise dead aren't that cheap), and x number of days of full bed rest (basically negating the rapid recovery possible with restoration spells) and viola you have a penalty that can cause the PCs some discomfort (the BBEG's plot advances) but doesn't force the party to take time to recover the lost wealth and hunt down a diamond.
The main problem I see with eliminating the financial penalty associated with raise dead as it becomes less of a barrier for NPCs to be raised which can have some interesting impacts on world design as death is less of an impediment. Yeah it's still heavily dependent on somewhat powerful clerics to cast the spell but I'm not sure we necessarily want every merchant with the ability to hire a cleric to be able to come back from the dead.
Longspear is a useful weapon but it's almost certainly relegated to backup fighter weapon status (i.e. clerics and such). Reach + Two-Handed weapon damage bonuses make it a solid but unspectacular option for area defense. A cleric armed with a long spear supported by other melee types can be really nasty as the longspear is a really effective at countering charges. At low levels this is really effective at protecting the soft and squishy classes from charges.
Unfortunately, the regular spear simply isn't that useful as a weapon (other than being cheap and flexible) due to having a really poor crit progression and being a two-handed weapon.
Short Spear + Light Shield TWF Spear and Board mainly suffers from the short spear being strictly inferior to martial weapons.
Trident + Shield is probably the best bet for the TWF Spear and Board build but other than offering a slightly improved base damage dice it's really not stellar as an option.
If you want THF + reach + trip options the guisarme or halberd are pretty decent. They'll lag behind the Greatsword/Falchion builds in terms of raw damage output but you can do a lot of area denial. Make sure you have armor spikes to cover close in melee fighters and take advantage of you ability to punish at range.
The major problem with Evocation is that the spells are still scaled to 2e HP. 10d6 fireball in 2e? Yes, I like nuking a whole room full of badguys. 3e with the dramatically inflated HPs? Simply not worth the time or effort unless you fight hordes of mooks all the time. In those situations a wand is generally a better solution even though wands of fireball tend to be dramatically overpriced.
Even ole reliable magic missile which was awesome in terms of interrupting opposing casters in 1e-2e has really fallen on hard times.
Scorching Ray is halfway decent but for the most part evocation blast are a big pile of suck because they do crap damage, almost always have saves attached, and elemental resistance are a dime a dozen.
3.5 with the orb spells was really bad about just kicking evocation while it was down but the truth of the matter is that evocation just scales really poorly currently.
If the damage dice were bigger or scaled better or there was fixed bonus damage based on caster level or casting stat modifier I think there would be a lot less of an issue with Evocation but right now it ranks pretty firmly as a trap option which is really a shame because it's so iconic and just about every new wizard/sorcerer player wants to spam blast all the time since it's visually cool even though it's distinctly subpar.
Before polymorph got nerfed into the ground (with some justification) I think Transmutation had a possible claim to the best school (due to having a massive spell list and awesome buffing) but right now conjuration just provides so much control it's unbelievable.
Looking at the chart on page 266 of the Core Rulebook- Creatures of 5 HD or less simply don't have an detectable aura. The second column that lists 5-10 is probably in error and should read 6-10 HD as registering as faint.
I think it's also important that evil intent doesn't give the PC the right to smite the evil NPC. People can be quite evil yet perfectly law-abiding, indeed many LE NPCs work explicitly within the letter of the law, and are protected by the law (and those who uphold it like Paladins). So you might know that the LE cleric of Asmodeus is evil but that doesn't give you rights to slaughter him and if you harm him and his, he can often use his legal rights to pursue a case against you.
Many LE or even NE and CE characters can be perfectly normal and even pleasant to be around and they can even have objectives that align with a LG party in many cases. I think it's very interesting to have the LG paladin placed in a situation where he has to be pleasant and accommodating to Evil NPCs because they can be instrumental in defeating a more dangerous and immediate evil. It's really fun when the actions of the LG do-gooders end up actually advancing the schemes of a evil mastermind who has maneuvered them into conflict with a rival but is also protected from retribution by the PCs.
So detect evil can be a really powerful tool but it can also be the source of a lot of drama as you can force PCs to choose between the lesser of two evils.
The core problem with Sword and Board and even TWF is how awesome THF is in comparison. Because BAB tends to progress at a faster rate than AC (in order to make iterative attacks more viable) hit mitigation via AC boosting is often seen as an inferior strategy to just going THF with a big killstick. TWF Sword and Board negates some of the problems with TWF (mediocre AC) and regular sword and board (mediocre damage). It's feat intensive but generally worthwhile.
Fighters have plenty of bonus feats, Paladins have great saves and smite already which helps boost damage, Rangers can avoid some of the issues with feat prerequisites. I'm less in favor of the Cleric TWF Sword and Board simply because it's so feat starved but I think it might work for a battle cleric. I really haven't played with a Cavalier or Inquisitor TWF Sword and Board.
Aligned Creatures (Non Cleric, Outsider, Undead) of less than 6 HD have absolutely no detectable aura unless they are actively under the impact of a evil spell cast by a CL 6 caster or above.
Seems pretty cut and dried, low level evil simply doesn't register as evil to the Paladin.
Pretty much everyone above a certain level is going to have access to an undetectable alignment effect that they keep up on a daily basis to avoid notice of Paladins.
I don't even know how a Paladin will keep pace with the Bard in terms of social skill checks.
Charisma is going to be high on a Paladin but they are also going to want to boost Strength and Con which means that Charisma is often going to lag behind (max Charisma Pally builds are kinda a trap). The Paladin also has way fewer skill points so he'll either be max Diplomacy (which really isn't that important considering it's got a flat DC progression) and sacrifice on other skills. In contrast the Bard generally has good skill points and has Charisma linked to his casting stat so Charisma is almost primary.
From pure skill checks Bard are almost always going to put the Pally to shame and that's before spells get factored in.
Web is very situational. In dungeons it can be amazing but in wilderness encounters it's of limited utility.
Color Spray is a very potent spell but the main drawback is that it has mediocre range. It's a great defensive spell and works great in most low level dungeons but you are typically going to be a pincushion if you are facing archers/crossbowmen in an outdoor setting.
That's largely because the game math basically breaks down after about 12th level and gets more and more sketchy past 15th. You can certainly play past that point but it requires more and more time on the part of the GM to balance encounters. It's also a bear to write APs that handle 15+ effectively which is why most APs tend to end around that point.
PF made some improvements to high level play in terms of logisitics but it still tends to turn into rocket launcher tag after a certain point and most people don't really care for that.
Reducing offensive prowess might solve some of those issues but it's a really difficult balancing act.
The paladin has better burst damage than the Fighter in some cases (smite evil) but should lag behind in terms of non-burst damage. Both suck in terms of skills but having charisma be a primary stat generally makes the Paladin a decent face character.
The major difference between the fighter and the paladin is in terms of sheer durability as the bonuses to saves and the ability to self-heal with a swift action are two major advantages. Paladin spellcasting isn't stellar but it gives the Paladin a couple of tricks that the regular fighter doesn't possess.
If the Fighter wasn't subpar in so many areas I think the comparison of fighter to paladin wouldn't be so problematic but right now the Paladin just has a ton of advantages that the Fighter with his bonus feats and static bonuses can't negate.
Paladins are definitely not overpowered unless you are only comparing them to the fighter and the rogue.
In comparison to the mage and cleric they are pretty solid middle of the road.
Now whether it's a particularly well designed class is a whole different story and whether alignment restrictions make it problematic in many campaigns is definitely a good question.
Personally I think you can solve most of the issues about the Paladin being overpowered by just buffing the Fighter and Rogue, or getting rid of the Paladin as a regular class and replace it with the prestige paladin.
The game math is built around the elite array which means 15,14,13,12,10,8 before racial modifiers. So there is already an assumption that everyone will have at least one negative stat modification. This also means you can survive with only a 15(17 after mods) in your primary stat. I think you could argue that stats of 17+ really aren't necessarily needed at chargen although having them certainly is nice. I think a case could be made that excessive stats can actually harm a game because the system just doesn't handle high stats well.
Optimization tends to get taken to an extreme on some boards (although honestly most optimization here seems to be relatively sedate in comparison to late 3.5 optimization on the WotC boards).
Optimization for a role really isn't that bad of a thing and having weaknesses really isn't that big of a deal.
Personally I dislike 20,16,12,7,7,7 builds but there are some reasons why they get promoted. The truth of the matter is not all the ability scores are made equal and if you aren't a spontaneous caster there are really not that many reasons not to dump charisma as it doesn't take that many ranks to negate that penalty for cha-linked skills.
It's perfectly acceptable to have a low charisma diplomat who has used a bunch of diplomacy ranks to negate the impact of his low charisma. Sure he's not as gifted as the charismatic character with lots of natural talent but he's used hard work (skill ranks) to negate his inherent disadvantage.
I don't think that's a bad thing and I think it's a strength of the skill system that you can have characters that play against type and that ability scores aren't a massive brake on character ability after 4th level or so.
The main thing is that most of the auto-win spells present in core have been significantly toned down. Most of the skill replacement spells give bonuses rather than auto-wins vs skill challenges, most monsters are somewhat more resistant to SoL tactics due to significant revisions to the bestiary, etc.
There have been some sketchy spells added in some of the later splatbooks that have brought back in some I win tactics but for the most part the spell list has been somewhat effectively nerfed.
There are definitely some big game changer spells that have been retained and wizards generally have the best access to those game changers (divination, imp invis, teleport, overland flight, etc) but the overall advantage in the spell list is less than was present in 3.5.
In return the wizard got a bunch of nice bonuses especially related to improved durability as ability scores are generally higher, improved HD, and some at-will casting of cantrips.
I think you should start with changing poor save progression and see how that works for you for a few games.
Honestly I really don't have that many issues with the PF version of power attack which is much simpler than the 3.x version and is much less open to abuse.
Considering that the martial characters pretty much just have one schtick, "killing things", and HPs went up so dramatically between editions I'm pretty much okay with martial characters being able to kill monsters pretty quick.
Honestly while Power Attack is a great feat it's really not that far out of the norm in terms of offensive feats.
Pathfinder assumes average encounter length of 3 rounds not counting any maneuver or surprise rounds for average CR = APL fights.
In my experience this is pretty accurate, especially with 4 PCs vs 1 foe cakewalks.
In these setups team CoDzilla can definitely romp. You really don't need full BAB to handle most CR appropriate foes and battle clerics with a high strength can easily keep pace through 3-4 encounters as long as spell slots are being used for buffs and consumables are being used to handle the bulk of the healing.
I generally don't play with summoners (I think the class has some gameplay issues) but a team of summoners especially with some UMD and wands of CLW should be able to blow through many APs relatively easily.
Wizards can definitely struggle at lower levels but honestly once they get the ability to bypass encounters, bind meatshields (which technically happens with charm person), and dictate the course of a day's adventure a team of them really can be quite powerful. Vulnerable but with enough skill they can probably deal with most published APs
CoDzilla got whacked in the transition to PF. Most of the nerfing to wizards mainly took place in the spell-list which has been slowly negated with new unbalanced spells and feats in various splatbooks.
Make no mistake the wizard is one of the most powerful classes in PF and has received some nice bonuses in terms of durability and class abilities. Is it completely ridiculously overpowered like it was in 3.x? There is still some debate over that but I think that for the most part it definitely survived the transition more or less intact.
The real question is whether other classes managed to keep pace or close some of the powerlevel gap and the jury is very much still out in that regard.
Personally I don't really find shield spikes to be particularly worthwhile as an investment as you end up having to enhance your primary weapon, you shield and then shield spikes. It's a pricey investment.
I think just doing shield slams with the light shield and working towards shield master at +11 BAB is the better solution. Yeah your DPR will dip off vs an shield spike variant but I think the cost savings is worthwhile.
The main problem I see with the TWF build is the initial investment in TWF at 15 Dex is pretty heavy which makes this a more viable build at high point buy values.
TWF (Sword and Board) can be pretty effective especially if you have multiple melee combatants in your group.
Damage wise it's going to lag behind THF builds but for the most part it's a worthwhile build especially if you know when to drop the shield and just swing for high damage.
I think the key is that the bonus to AC from going sword and board really makes sense in a less optimized game due to the higher AC really negatively impacting the ability of foes to hit the Sword and Board fighter accurately and with big power attacks.
In contrast in higher challenge fights it's generally more efficient to kill you opponent before they kill you and heal up with wands after the fight. In the cases damage negation through high AC is less critical because often the foes are going to be accurate enough that your AC isn't going to matter as much.
Personally I think the Sword & Board TWF Paladin is one of the better builds available in many games because it combines good defense with self-healing and decent damage dealing capacity.
I've got less experience using old school Sword and Board build using Tower Shields and such because frankly they just seem way too defensive.
A wisdom based stat check for avoiding stupid stuff maybe skinned as the PC having a sense of foreboding about a certain course of action would definitely be appropriate.
If the PC wants to avoid listening to that voice in his head telling him his course of action is stupid then fine after all we all ignore our better judgment at times and PCs should be no different.
I'd avoid it being like a total crutch for the PCs because sometimes intuition does fail you but adding on an optional ability to avoid doing stupid stuff.
In short sometimes it's appropriate for PCs to die or even die due to negligence but I generally prefer for most PC death to be actually be interesting or advance the narrative.
I generally have set wandering encounters for each terrain type and average CR for said area rather than truly random encounters. That way sooner or later the PCs will probably encounter "random" monsters on their journey but the actual timing and placement of these encounters depends heavily on whether the PCs are being sneaky or if they are clanking through the woods making lots of noise.
Further PCs almost always function as disruptions to the local balance of power so if they encounter a band of orc brigands and kill them there is a good chance that other local predators will chance upon the scene of the carnage and might choose to follow the PCs which can result in a "random" encounter at a inopportune time.
Random encounters in most organized dungeons might take a similar form with the PCs initially encountering foes in set locations but the dungeon tends to be more alive with humanoids and even some monsters tending to patrol parts of the dungeon.
This means that instead of always fighting the 5 orcs in the guardroom, 2 orcs on patrol might hear the PCs and come investigate the noises while they are fighting a bunch of stirges, etc.
This tends to increase verisimilitude as the dungeon is more alive and more organic and intelligent NPCs work together to repeal invaders.
It's only the most static dungeons (like tombs full of traps and unintelligent undead) that tend to have few if any wandering monsters.
Efreet binding and the negative impact it has on game balance has pretty much bothered me since 3.0.
Basically my solution is that average efreet don't have the grant wishes SLA only powerful high HD efreet (typically 17+ HD). That way you generally need to be a powerful caster with access to stuff like Gate already in order to do Efreet binding for free wishes.
These Efreet are generally nobility and often have large and powerful retinues of standard efreet and elemental servants. Having sorcerer levels is also not unusual.
So powerful wizards might bind powerful efreet but it's always at a high risk because if the wizard loses control the genie can often retreat to the City of Brass and send all sorts of assassins out to harass the caster.
This modification keeps genies in the game including iconic abilities like granting wishes but postpones the arrival of those abilities until a more level appropriate time.
Lower level PCs will still often get exposed to the wishes but it's almost always going to be the result of interacting with a magic item, or a bound genie, or a fiendish outsider, or some other divine or psuedo divine act. The key thing being is that wishes do not get utilized lightly because the PCs can't replenish them with a simple casting of planar binding.
For the most part this has had the beneficial impact of slowing down the arrival of inherent ability score modifiers as no chain binding of efreet means that inherents generally only get boosted pretty much at the endgame.
The problem is essentially the following:
If you use WBL - average wealth per level stays pretty much level. This ensures that the PCs have the proper amount of magical gear to tackle level appropriate challenges.
So a 5k death tax is just absorbed by selling off some of the PCs gear (which he'll get back sooner or later anyway because the game math assumes WBL).
But in reality it's not just a 5k penalty. It's actually larger than that.
Assume that we have 5 PCs. One dies, the PCs could pay for the hero to receive a raise dead spell (-5k GP) or they could loot his body and the player could bring in a new PC of the same level and same WBL. In general it's almost always going to be preferable to loot the body instead of raising the dead. Yeah the WBL guidelines mean that you'll probably have a bunch of no treasure encounters until WBL stabilizes again but essentially you are always going to prefer a new PC to a raised PC.
Now you can bring in new PCs at average party level -1 but that's generally seen as an unfair penalty to the Player these days. Hell you could even go old school and have replacement at 1st level :(
But in generally we've tried to get away from being punitive and adversarial in D&D so maintaining a death tax is kinda counterproductive, I think it's much better to use the death of a PC to create more storytelling hooks.
So ditch the financial penalty and if you have to have a penalty make it be relatively transparent to the player so that it's not perferable to just bring in a new PC instead.
Altering save progression to 1/2 level plus class bonus can definitely be a worthwhile change. Currently saves definitely don't keep pace with save DCs at higher levels of optimization even with the ever present cloaks of resistance which are boring. Honestly I don't have a problem with the other feats even going so far as to make power attack a standard option everyone has unlocked.