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RPG Superstar 2015

Con Artist (Bard)


Round 2 - Top 32: Create an archetype

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Bats Kabber

Con Artist (Bard)
Con artists use their bard skills to manipulate and swindle the foolish, the greedy and anyone else they befriend. Their oratory performances are lies, their acting is manipulation and their depravity knows no bounds.

Irresistible Charm (Ex): At 1st-level a con artist gains a bonus equal to half his level on Bluff, Diplomacy, and Sense Motive checks (minimum +1). This ability replaces bardic knowledge.

Deception (Ex): At 5th level, the con artist becomes so accustomed to thinking on his feet that he can manipulate others with ease. He can take 10 on Bluff, Sense Motive and Diplomacy checks. Additionally, if he has 1 full day to rehearse and plan for the ruse, he can take 20 on any one of the checks listed above. He can use this ability one additional time per day for every six levels he possesses beyond 5th, for a maximum of three times per day at 17th level. This ability replaces lore master.

Bardic Performance: A con artist gains the following types of bardic performance.

Inspire Confidence (Su): A 1st-level con artist may use his performance instead of Diplomacy to gain the confidence of NPC's. This performance creates the effect of the charm person spell, but at the end of the performance, if the creature failed to save, their attitude shifts toward the con artist by one step for 1 day per class level. Inspire confidence is a language-dependent, mind-affecting ability that relies on audible components. This performance replaces inspire courage.

Insidious Negotiation (Su): At 8th-level a con artist can use his performance to broker a one-sided deal. To succeed, the bard may use Perform (oratory) versus the targets Sense Motive. If his check succeeds by 5 or more the deal is 10% in his favor; by 10 it is weighted by 20%; by 15 it is 30% and by 20 it is 40%. Special: if his check succeeds by more than 25 the GM may decide the outcome. Insidious negotiation is a language-dependent, mind-affecting ability that relies on audible components. This performance replaces Dirge of Doom.

Impersonation (Su): At 12th-level, a con artist may use his Perform (acting) instead of the Disguise skill to impersonate someone else. While in effect, this performance functions like the seeming spell. Impersonation is a language-dependent, mind-affecting ability that relies on audible and visual components. This performance replaces Soothing Performance.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

I like the notion of a con artist archetype for a bard (or even a rogue), but this design lets me down in a few key areas. First, the Irresistible Charm ability is fine on its own, but not if you leave the bard's Versatile Performance intact. That's because if someone chooses singing or stringed instruments, they're going to be able to stack their Perform skill ranks in addition to half their class level as a bonus on at least two of the three skills for Bluff, Diplomacy, and Sense Motive. I don't view that as a good thing. It pretty much ensures this archetype becomes the "I win" mechanic with regards to those skills.

In addition, I can see how the Deception ability replaces lore master (with very similar wording and mechanics), but taking 10 and taking 20 on Knowledge checks is a lot different than applying that to Bluff, Diplomacy, and Sense Motive. Those skills come into play in a lot different ways than Knowledge checks. And I don't see this as an equal trade.

Next, I'm not quite sure I follow the wording of the Bardic Performance changes. Are you saying inspire confidence, insidious negotiation, and impersonation are all performances? If so, they should be italicized rather than bolded to offset them. You also say they replace inspire courage, dirge of doom, and soothing performance, in which case this archetype isn't just gaining new bardic performances, it's replacing three of them...which I take to mean the con artist will never learn. Either way, it's not as clear as I'd like it to be in presentation.

Next, I really don't like the insidious negotiation performance. And why is it a performance? How do you negotiate in mid-song, mid-dance, or during a musical performance? And, more importantly, how do you define an outcome that's better by by 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, or left to GM fiat? You don't, because you can't. That makes this a very poorly-defined performance mechanic.

So, to sum up, there's enough to here mechanically to sour me against this one. The idea was good. The mechanical execution and presentation isn't fully there.

As such, I DO NOT RECOMMEND this archetype design to advance to the next round. But, the voters might disagree. Let's find out what they think. And best of luck in the voting.

CEO, Goblinworks

Total Points: 2.5 Points
Recommendation: Not recommended for advancement

Comments In Detail

Name & Theme (1 point)
Name matches the theme.

Mechanics (.5 point)
Wow is this not inspiring. You're affecting a few checks a few times per day and sometimes getting a good deal when you negotiate. That's worthy of a player (or GMs) time?

These (weak) mechanics are mostly harmless so you get half credit.

Awesomeness (0 points)
Just not awesome in any way.

Template (1 point)
Followed the template well.

Context (0 points)
There's two kinds of con - the long con and the short con. Short cons are already covered by the Rogue abilities and a few items and spells (Hat of Disguse, Alter Self, etc.)

The Long Con is something that doesn't get much play in Pathfinder; mostly because its SO GM dependent, and it matters greatly if the PCs are running the Con or being Conned. Either way, there's room for something interesting here - come up with a way to put The Sting into Pathfinder and this would be Superstar. As it is, well, it's not.

Paizo Employee Developer

This is one of several bard/rogue archetypes this year based on deception and social manipulation. Seems to share a common theme within the contestant pool. Let's look at this on its own for now, and I'll leave it up to the voters to do the final comparison.

My overall impression of this design is "safe." You chose a descriptive but uninspiring name and the alternate class features are mostly just reskinning existing class features or spell-like abilities. While it's easier to make a cohesive and mechanically sound archetype this way, it's not very exciting.

I get that deception is supposed to function like lore master, allowing taking 10 on skill checks, but it's not a 1:1 switch. Bluff, Sense Motive, and Diplomacy have a chance of failure with negative results if one doesn't succeed (as opposed to Knowledge skills, which just mean you don't know something). Combining the ability to take 10 with the 1/2-level bonus provided by irresistible charm, and the assumption that a member of this archetype would max out these skills each level, you're setting up a situation in which a con artist will nearly always succeed at these checks. If this instead granted an "always take ten" bonus to Swim or Climb, even when threatened, would it still seem balanced to you? I'm also not quite sure how one can "rehearse" Sense Motive in order to take 20. Can I practice catching you in a lie?

The alternate bardic performances are thematically appropriate but mechanically unclear. Getting rid of inspire courage is a big deal, and I'm not sure it's balanced by inspire confidence. It's a neat ability and certainly fits the theme, but you're removing the most commonly used bardic ability in combat—one that's so popular because it's so effective. You should also better explain what it means to have a "one-sided deal" and how the different percentages actually play out in concrete mechanics. As it is, it seems to leave far too much up to GM interpretation, which is fine for an alternate mechanic, but isn't ideal for a class ability, as it means the GM has to work harder whenever the player uses this ability.

In the end, there aren't very many issues with balance here, but more a lack of Superstar mojo. This would make a perfectly fine entry in "Ye Olde Book of Archetypes" with a little development but doesn't really inspire me. As such, I DO NOT RECOMMEND this archetype for advancement, but should the voters propel you to round 3, you really need to bring the innovation and the "wow!" Best of luck.

Contributor

Irresistible Charm: You're replaced a semi-passive Knowledge skill bonus with a bonus on three skills that are vital to this sort of character. This is a powerup.

Deception: You can already take 10 on Bluff, Diplo, and Sense Motive checks if you're not rushed or threatened. If this ability lets you do that when rushed or threatened, it should say so.

Inspire Confidence: This gives you a charm person you can use a bunch of times per day at a cost of only 1 round of bardic music, and its lingering effect lasts for *days* afterward. A starting bard is going to have 4+Cha mod uses of performance per day. By comparison, he'll only have 1+Cha mod 1st-level spells per day. There's almost no reason to learn charm person as a spell if you can get this performance.

Insidious Negotiation: I assume this is about price haggling. Price haggling sucks because it means you're spending time in shops instead of adventuring. And the bard has enough performance rounds to use this several times each day and get great deals, which means his wealth is going to be skewed much higher than what it should be for his level. Too good, and an annoying game element to avoid (there's a reason the flat "sell-back for 50% of its value" rule is in the game--to speed up the selling of the loot so you can get back to adventuring).

Impersonation: It's unclear if this uses the performance's duration or the duration of the spell effect. If it's the performance's duration, the only reason to use seeming instead of disguise self is because of the higher DC (seeming's other benefit is you can use it on other people, but this performance doesn't say that so I have to assume the intended benefit is the higher DC).

I'm concerned about the mechanical issues here and the impact it has on other parts of the game (like taking up game time making haggling rolls).

RECOMMENDATION: I do NOT recommend this archetype design for advancement in the competition.


Danny Lundy wrote:
Con Artist (Bard)

Ok,

Deception is way to powerful for what it replaces. Its better than the similar rogue ability.

Inspire Confidence is cool.

Impersonation is cool.

I'm not sure the Con Artist is a very playable character. It relies heavily on roleplay and the need to trick people into doing things for you. Some of the abilities lost are important for the Bard to help his party. I hate to see him lose those in exchange for these.

I'm on the fence on this one. Some of the judges comments are pushing me over it.

Ken


I would love to love a bard archetype that focuses on perform and role playing - my favorite character will always be my first and that was a bard who certainly knew how to tell a tale. Although she was too sweet to be a con artist, I'm sure I could whip up a suitable character for it.

However, the truth of the matter is that party members want a bard for inspire courage. If you take away inspire courage, people will hope that you'll choose another character. And a charm person is not going to be enough to persuade them.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka Serpent

Despite the judges' somewhat negative reviews, I still think your archetype is better than many of the ones I read before it. The negotiation thing is the only thing I don't like, however. At any rate, good luck!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013

This is another example of a good idea which falls down on mechanics. Deception seems particularly unbalanced. Assuming max ranks and an ability score of 18, coupled with 1/2 my level I can make a Bluff of 34 as long as I know what I'm going to say ahead of time (at 5th level!). This gets more and more severe as you go up in level, or take appropriate skill focus. These skill can already be game breaking if you focus on them, I'm not sure they need any more help.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

I think he replaced Bardic Knowledge with something stronger, then replaced Inspire Courage with something he judged as weaker. They both come at the same level, and before Sean's recent post in General Discussion there was no reason to believe this was a bad idea. The Sandman bard in the APG does exactly the same sort of thing (adds half level to Bluff, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth, all very powerful skills, but then gives a 1st-level performance with a lot less general utility).

Also, as a GM I think that using Perform (oratory) to negotiate makes some sense, and can't think of a situation where arbitrating a "10% better" deal would be all that hard. This game has a gamemaster for a reason.

I'm still mulling this one over personally. There are things I like, but it bumps into a lot of issues with the power of "diplomancy" in the game, and Neil was totally right about how it stacks with Versatile Performance. I didn't notice this until now, but the Sandman gets rid of that one and now I think I understand why.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013

This might be the archetype equivalent of "good enough for a book of magic items". Even if some of the mechanical issues were tweaked, this just isn't grabbing me.


Irresistible Charm (Ex) Breaking DCs for three skills. BAD.
Deception (Ex) Good idea, weird use limit. GOOD.
Inspire Confidence (Su) Nice mass control effect. VERY GOOD.
Insidious Negotiation (Su) Charm Person with wonky mechanic. BAD.
Impersonation (Su) Spell as Su. NEUTRAL.

Verdict: Good, but not good enough.

Regards,
Ruemere

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 aka Lord Fyre

While I like the concept. Mr. Spicer is right. The balance problems are pretty serious.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013

I'm not sold on this for reasons others mentioned.

Danny, if you don't advance, then take from this the learning experience. All class abilities/skills/bonuses are *not* created equal. I fear you've discovered a good example of the troubles of archtype (or class for that matter) design. Swapping an ability out doesn't just impact the class ability, it affects the class.

I enjoyed your beads of the flaming fist and that might get you enough legacy votes depending on the other contenders. If it doesn't, don't give up. Live, grow stronger, and fight another day.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Bats Kabber

Thank you for your support and your feedback! I appreciate your vote. If you have questions, I'll be happy to answer them once voting for this round is closed.


I like the theme and I think it is a decent presentation.

I think the following part of the introductory text should be discarded.

their depravity knows no bounds.

It does not quite feel like it fits.

I like the name and the idea behind the Insidious Negotiation ability, but I don't like how it's implemented.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6, Contributor , Dedicated Voter 2013

Not to much wrong with this archetype that can't be fixed (for example, the one-side deal ability deals with something people just don't do), but also not very flashy. I'd like to see slightly different abilities given up to make this more obviously not a standard bard, vs. being a bard who's good at tricking people. I actually thinking dropping inspire courage was a good start there, but that's a tricky one. If you're dropping that, you're dropping most of the bard's own combat ability, and possibly forcing your archetype into a non-adventuring role.

I really like the long-term attitude influencing, that's probably the idea I'd most want to borrow for another pass at this concept.

With only 8 votes each , I'm afraid this archetype didn't rise high enough to grab my own nod. But still, good luck in the voting!

Grand Lodge Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Nice job Danny;

I really enjoyed reading your entry. It has some potential!

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

First I have to quibble with the use of the word "befriend." To befriend someone is to become friends with someone by giving them assistance or favor. A con artist does not actually act as a friend to the people he's swindling, he neither aids them nor favors them. He may seem to befriend them, may give them the impression he befriends them, but you do not say that he only seems to befriend people. That's likely to be a personal gripe, but it influenced my thinking.

I've decided that I don't like abilities that are only good for PC's to use against NPC's. As someone who mostly plays behind the screen I probably wouldn't get a chance to play this archetype unless it was as a NPC. A con artist would be a good villain. When used as a villain I want a full compliment of abilities I can use to put the screws to my players. I would be disappointed to see this in a sourcebook.

If I remember correctly, though, I dug your item.


Danny Lundy wrote:

Con Artist (Bard)

Disclaimer: My ranking scheme for this round consists of given marks form 0 to 4 in the following three categories:

1.Is the Archetype conceptually interesting?
2.Are the mechanics of the Archetype interesting?
3.Are the mechanics of the Archetype balanced and well executed?
But rather than simply adding up the marks for a final score I'm gonna interpret them as a point in 3-dimensional space and the final mark of your submission will be the length of the vector between the origin and this point.
Note that my ranking doesn't need to directly correspond with my votes, as other factors like: Strength of your item submission, mood, my horrorscope and other random stuff still factor in. Also note that this scheme is highly subjective and only mirrors my perception and opinion about your archetype submission.

Conceptual Mojo (CM): 2, Very popular concept, but your execution seems to be too focused on lying, and Somehow feels more like rogue to me.
Mechanical Mojo (MM): 2, Nothing really new here, mostly abilities that work like spells, or are skill bonuses.
Mechanical Execution (ME): 1. Many problems here, starting with giving something similar but distinctly more powerful for an ability, going over GM's discretion land, and single rounds of bardic music that have hour if not day long effects.

Final note: I can see why so many of you chose charlatan or con artist like archetypes, but this fails to impress me on any level.

Total Score: 3

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

The basic concept is familiar and some of your power ideas are not bad. In fact, even the ones that fail miserably as game rules make SENSE. Of COURSE a con artist would be good at ripping people off and haggling the snot out of them and selling snow to eskimos, but in a game where wealth is a power balancing feature, giving out free discounts (when buying) and bonuses (when selling) is a nightmare for power balancing, especially when you remember that the con artist in a party of characters will logically be doing the buying and selling for everyone in the party.

Giving up inspire courage is a big hit, but long-lasting charm more or less at will is a pretty big get on the other side. The skills are likewise similar swaps on the surface, but with much deeper implications for regular gameplay than what you're giving up.

Overall, the idea is basic and the execution is just okay, with a big NAUGHTY for messing with the economy with con artists. It works great in a story, but it's problematic in a party-based game.

Congrats on making round 2, and best of luck!

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2009 Top 4 , Star Voter 2013 aka raidou

Danny, you're the second contestant to bring us a bard who uses his talents to hoodwink the good people that come into contact with him. I will try not to compare your two entries as I go.

con artist wrote:
Irresistible Charm (Ex): At 1st-level a con artist gains a bonus equal to half his level on Bluff, Diplomacy, and Sense Motive checks (minimum +1). This ability replaces bardic knowledge.

So you're dealing with social interaction, not information. This is a pretty equivalent trade. Works for me.

con artist wrote:
Deception (Ex): At 5th level, the con artist becomes so accustomed to thinking on his feet that he can manipulate others with ease. He can take 10 on Bluff, Sense Motive and Diplomacy checks. Additionally, if he has 1 full day to rehearse and plan for the ruse, he can take 20 on any one of the checks listed above. He can use this ability one additional time per day for every six levels he possesses beyond 5th, for a maximum of three times per day at 17th level. This ability replaces lore master.

Thinking on one's feet and preparing for a ruse are on opposite ends of the spectrum. This is better handled by the Skill Mastery advanced rogue talent. Plus, taking 20 means you try and fail a whole bunch of times before you succeed. The mechanics of that don't match this ability.

con artist wrote:
Inspire Confidence (Su): A 1st-level con artist may use his performance instead of Diplomacy to gain the confidence of NPC's. This performance creates the effect of the charm person spell, but at the end of the performance, if the creature failed to save, their attitude shifts toward the con artist by one step for 1 day per class level. Inspire confidence is a language-dependent, mind-affecting ability that relies on audible components. This performance replaces inspire courage.

Does the charm only last while the bard is performing? Does it exactly mimic Charm Person? You need a caster level here. Lingering attitude shift is interesting, but I'm not sure I am on board with how you've gotten there.

con artist wrote:
Insidious Negotiation (Su): At 8th-level a con artist can use his performance to broker a one-sided deal. To succeed, the bard may use Perform (oratory) versus the targets Sense Motive. If his check succeeds by 5 or more the deal is 10% in his favor; by 10 it is weighted by 20%; by 15 it is 30% and by 20 it is 40%. Special: if his check succeeds by more than 25 the GM may decide the outcome. Insidious negotiation is a language-dependent, mind-affecting ability that relies on audible components. This performance replaces Dirge of Doom.

So you are haggling, using Oratory. This seems a too-easy way to break the wealth limits a character should have. There's a reason no codified haggling rules exist in the game. Such rules are too easily abused.

con artist wrote:
Impersonation (Su): At 12th-level, a con artist may use his Perform (acting) instead of the Disguise skill to impersonate someone else. While in effect, this performance functions like the seeming spell. Impersonation is a language-dependent, mind-affecting ability that relies on audible and visual components. This performance replaces Soothing Performance.

Seeming merely duplicates Disguise Self, for a group of people. It's like Mass Disguise Self.

Danny, there are a lot of problems with this archetype. Just about any bard can simply take Charm Person, or Disguise Self, and get the same results as your bard performances. With regard to haggling, there's some interesting roleplay value to be had with basic haggling rules, if you're talking about low-cost goods and services. But they really break the game when we're talking about magic items costing tens of thousands of gold pieces. So a flat system of discounts is just not going to end well.


Danny Lundy wrote:

Con Artist (Bard)

Con artists use their bard skills to manipulate and swindle the foolish, the greedy and anyone else they befriend. Their oratory performances are lies, their acting is manipulation and their depravity knows no bounds.

Disclaimer:

You should know the drill by now, but in case you missed it the first time round, Ask A RPGSupersuccubus is posting from the point of view of a CE aligned succubus:
Spoiler:
Fairness is an adjective applicable to hair coloration, balance is what a couple of mortals rapidly losing it on opposite ends of a plank pivoted on a rocky spire a couple of hundred feet above a slowly rising pool of molten basalt try to do, and logic is one of those things which you could swear is there when you rattle the piggybank but if anyone other than a demon opens it the contents turn out to be a couple of dead moths and a three week old shopping list.
;)

Would you want this person sitting next to you as a guest at a formal evening dress dinner party?
Given that this particular plier of the less-than-noble side of the bardic trade deals in lies and manipulation, and that their depravity (by mortal standards - I assure you that they are likely to be quite strait-laced by the standards of fiends) 'knows no bounds', yes please. It's always nice to have a few hours sniffing over such a mortal, savouring their performances, their little treacheries, their malicious deceits...

How effective a flower-picker does this person seem likely to be?
No. I wouldn't trust him any further than I could throw him, and I assure you that I'm a lady who prides herself much more on her charm and force of personality than her brute strength. (Well unless I've dined on a very particular type of mortal recently when I may embarrassingly get a little frisky, but that's strictly by the by.) Anyway, I would not give such a fellow any kind of errands to run. Not even if he were a halfling or gnome whom I might actually be able to throw a distance of a foot or two.

Could you hire one person like this to do a better job than one other trained mercenary and/or to do the jobs of two (or more) other trained mercenaries?
Well in theory, this mortal is more than adequately equipped to lie to, cheat, and deceive his fellow mortals, but there's the problem that he's going to imagine he can lie to, cheat, and double-cross a succubus employer too, which does not make for a happy business relationship in most circumstances.

Other comments?
The real problem with this sort of mortal is that he's like that big juicy chocolate éclair sitting on top of a plate, and you know you should be polite and leave it for someone else, but...

Desirability:
Snack. (Too tasty to resist.)

Further Disclaimer:
Ask A RPGSupersuccubus (with half an eye on Lord Orcus) would like to clarify that mortal voters should probably rely on more than just her own (impeccable) assessments in making up their minds on how to vote. Thank You.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8 , Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Demiurge 1138

Wow. This is the third con artist-type archetype I've read, and the second for bards. How does it stack up? Not so well, unfortunately. The synergy with the bonus to social skills is too potent, as has been mentioned before--Knowledge checks are good, but not "warp people to my will" good. The charm person effect is pretty darn powerful, and the haggling mechanic feels like it could easily break a game in the PC's hands and be useless for an NPC. So it's not exactly desirable from either standpoint.

Add to that the fact that the abilities seem more basic than inspiring, and I'm afraid that I will not be voting for this entry.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Interesting concept, your flavor text needs a bit of work. Serial commas in both sentences: “the greedy, and anyone…” and “manipulation, and …”. I also didn’t like “depravity”, can’t I be a con artist with a slightly good alignment?

Irresistible Charm: This is pretty good, but as a con artist I want to be good at telling lies. I don’t know about the bonus to Sense Motive, not all con artists are that good at seeing through the lies of others.

Deception: this is not so good, and the other judges have mentioned it. I get really worried about the take 20 bit as well.

Inspire Confidence: I like this because unlike other charm abilities, the person you charmed doesn’t hate you at the end. If you had said that they don’t realize they have been charmed that would be even better, although a little bit strong.

Insidious Negotiation: Ok, this is what con artists do, but making it a performance is not the best because they have rounds per day and this doesn’t list how many rounds worth I have to use. I would have preferred this as a normal class ability.

Impersonation: Again, how long does it last? Or how many rounds of performance do I have to use? Con Artists don’t normally impersonate specific people that much, I can see why you put it in the archetype, but I would have preferred a different ability.

You are likely to have a tough time the voting booth seeing as there are other con artist type archetypes. If you get through, work on keeping your villain concept clear and matches what you want it to do.

Good luck.

Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Name and concept: As I mentioned elsewhere, I'm just not sure about this Con Artist - Bard connection, though the author ties it in well to the bard's core abilities.
Archetype mechanics, expression of the concept: Irresistable Charm: I think the balance tips at the point where he gets large bonuses to all three vital skills for the role.
Deception: Taking 10 on all three skills arrives at too low a level, compared to the rogue talent that does the same thing. The nature of the skills makes it not a fair trade for Knowledge. edit: The take 20 part of this ability might be worth keeping on its own, for the long con mentioned above.
Bardic Performance is incorrectly formatted, which makes the distribution of changes unclear.
Inspire Confidence for the whole of the adventure is inappropriate for first level. I might be OK with it after 10th level, when (as mentioned earlier) rogue skill mastery could allow taking 20 on Diplomacy.
Insidious Negotiation is very different from Dirge of Doom, but I don't think it's overpowered - in fact, it seems too fiddly to be worthwhile compared to just beating the target into Helpfulness with the earlier boosts to Diplomacy.
Impersonation: I see no reason to cite seeming, which differs from disguise self only in affecting multiple subjects (which the con artist doesn't get), duration (which could have been handled in the text) and saving throw (I can't even guess how the author intended to determine success). The ability substitution seems OK.
Finally, as Neil mentioned, Versatile Performance calls many of these abilities into question.
Wider relationships: The meditation beads showed a slightly weird approach to costing of the magical fire ability as well, from my reading.

In some ways it's better than the Crooked Man, but it still has to beat 23 other archetypes. Balance with the core bard is too far out of whack.


I have to say that I did not want to like this class. It seemed as if it dumbed down the bard. But after reading it three times I have to admit that I like it. Despite what some people see as an overpowering aspect I see the limitations.

I would love to play this class.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Bats Kabber

1st, and most importantly, thank you all for comments, support and votes. I appreciated all of it. Here are some thoughts about what you have all had to say.

Con Artist (Bard):

Spoiler:
Rather than sing and dance this kind of bard tells lies and manipulates people. I apparently did not make that clear in my opening statement as Neil humorously gave the example of trying to negotiate while singing and dancing. :)
I chose bard because, for the most part, if you are playing a bard, you are doing it to be a roll playing kind of character. Bards have always been synonymous with “arrow fodder” to those of a combat orientation. Those of us who enjoy the class know that their true abilities lie in the roll playing aspects of the game. I was only trying to put more of that slant on this class, and also because a con is a kind of performance.

Irresistible Charm (Ex):

Spoiler:
I didn’t see a lot of complaints about this one, so I think it started off well.

Deception (Ex):
Spoiler:
As Mark pointed out, this does not clarify when to take 10 and it’s impossible to prepare for a sense motive check. I meant that the con artist could take 10 in a stressful situation and the take 20 should have probably been restricted to bluff only.

Bardic Performance:
Spoiler:
Not to rehash the rules here, but this is the basis for how I set up my performances. An average bard starts with 4+cha bonus rounds of perform (not uses per day – rounds per day). So let’s say 7 rounds at 1st level (or 42 seconds). At 5th level that would be 15 rounds (90 seconds). At 10th level that would be 25 rounds (150 seconds). At 20th level that would be 45 rounds (270 seconds or 4.5 minutes). Since I was moving many of these abilities off the initiative board and into a role playing setting, I thought this would be self limiting. I specifically did not specify how long each performance would take because it varies based on the situation. This puts a lot of power in the hands of the GM. You might be able to inspire confidence in a barmaid in only a couple of rounds, but doing so to a local ruler or an NPC villain will take a lot longer.

Inspire Confidence (Su):
Spoiler:
I respectfully disagree that getting rid of inspire courage was a big deal. It’s frequently used, yes, but that’s because the bard has nothing better to do. Replacing it with a charm like effect would allow the bard to more effective at distracting a monster while the rouge sneaks up behind him. I’ve always hated leaning on the wall strumming my lute while all my friends are fighting. Does the bonus really help your big beefy fighters all that much?
I’ve noticed, and enjoyed, that many Paizo modules take NPC starting attitudes very seriously. I did not see that in other modules I have run. I like that and thought this would greatly benefit any party running through a Pathfinder module.

Insidious Negotiation (Su):
Spoiler:
This was by far the hardest part of the whole archetype. My original notes had this listed as +2,+4,+6 bonus to haggling checks and was slated to replace Versatile Performance. When I read Neil’s review hammering the stacking possibility I left open, I kicked myself. I scoured the book for any mention of haggling rules. There are none. But how does one play a con artist and not do the one sided deal? And also note that “one sided deal” is not limited to haggling over price, this also included negotiating of any kind. If your party has a con artists and your mission is to end the bickering between two warring nobles – your employer will be very pleased with the results of your treaty.
I was left to either throw out the concept entirely or take the gutsy move and create rules of my own. This is superstar, so I opted to take the shot. It did not play out well for me with the judges or the voters.
First off, I changed what it replaced. Big mistake. I still needed to knock out versatile performance for all the reasons you all mentioned.
Second, I overpowered it. It might have gone down a little smoother if it had only been a 5% bump each time (5-10-15-20). Still, after thinking about it and reading the responses I think I would have done it differently still. I think I would have replaced VP and gave a set amount at certain levels. 5-10-15-20%, and put a high cost on the number of rounds it takes to haggle. 5 rounds for 5%, 10 rounds for 10% etc etc; only unlocking those higher percentages at higher levels.
So, on this ability, I would argue that I played it anything but safe. I tried to design a completely new mechanic. Admittedly, I failed. But I would say that I’m not sorry that I tried it. I still feel it was not too bad for my first attempt.

Impersonation (Su):
Spoiler:
Impersonation uses the seeming spell because it covers multiple people, as does Soothing Performance which it replaces. The main difference is that seeming normally lasts for 12 hours, this only lasts as long as the performance. I thought I clarified that with “While in effect, this performance functions like the seeming spell”, but I saw it was missed by a few, as was the fact that it affects multiple people. I did, however, fail to put in the spell DC information. Bard level equals caster level for the purposes of determining the DC.

Overall, it was a very tough assignment. There are certain things you just don’t see until someone else points them out to you. I think my archetype might have fared better if there weren’t 3 of us to choose from. A lot of people liked my concept, but all of those people went into three separate buckets. I doubt anyone voted for more than one "con artist" archetype. In the end, that may have hurt all three of us.
Whether I advance or my journey ends here, thank you all for your support, your criticism and your time. I have enjoyed the ride so far.

Spoiler:
Insidious Negotiation!!
(Check your wallet)


Dear Mr. Lundy,
My fellow succubus is currently somewhat busy drafting an 'End of Round 2' post right now, so I get to handle this one:

Danny Lundy wrote:
...I chose bard because, for the most part, if you are playing a bard, you are doing it to be a roll playing kind of character. Bards have always been synonymous with “arrow fodder” to those of a combat orientation. Those of us who enjoy the class know that their true abilities lie in the roll playing aspects of the game. I was only trying to put more of that slant on this class, and also because a con is a kind of performance...

I believe that 'roll playing' is gamer slang for gaming in a manner where the thrill is in rolling dice to deal with combat or other situations; it's a sort of satirical comment/riff based off of 'roleplaying', and is the antithesis of the approach that you appear to me to describe bard players as enjoying.

Hoping that you will excuse this comment and have found this piece of lore To Be Of Interest. ;)

Yours Helpfully,

Ask A Succubus.

Edit:
Oh, and good luck with the next round if you get through. :)


Disclaimer:
Ask A RPGSupersuccubus is posting from the point of view of a CE aligned succubus; and in the language of the Abyss ‘sorry’ is what you make others after you’ve had a bad day, ‘commiserations’ is the concept whereby if you’ve had a miserable day you go out and make others at least as unhappy as you are, and ‘sympathy’ is military jargon for a popular model of half a mile high siege-tower with spiked wheels, ballistae and fireball hurling catapults. (By way of explanation for the latter it’s a demonic joke: ‘See, we have sympathy for your situation’.)

Obligatory End of Round 2 Results Post:

Spoiler:
In the ever-shifting chaos of Abyssal hierarchies and social-networks, Good Manners are naturally essential. One never knows when a powerful demon whom one once jostled at a dinner party and whom one never actually made sufficient reparations to for the inconvenience is going to be the new landlady of your own part of the Abyss and looking for some demons to make Very Sorry having just had a bad day herself.
Consequently a multitude of books of etiquette are in circulation with examples of ‘appropriate’ phrases to use in various situations. I shall take the liberty of quoting a few:
“Abyssal etiquette, Demon Lords” wrote:
…Greetings, your most puissant highness…
“Abyssal etiquette, Apparent Mortal Who Is Prospective Dinner” wrote:
…Why sirrah, it is a pleasure to meet you. May one inquire, is that an enchanted cold-iron dagger of demon-slaying in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?...
“Abyssal etiquette, Guests Whom There Is No Longer Any Room To Accommodate And Who Are About To Depart Through A Trapdoor Into A (Possibly) Snake Filled Pit” wrote:
…Goodbye Mr. Bond…

(The author of the work from which I derive the latter quote is incidentally a fiend with a curious affectation for monocles and white cats who happens to be a servant of Andirifkhu.)

See you around another year, perhaps. Or maybe sooner if you feel like sticking around to post for the duration of this year’s contest... ;)

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013

Thanks for the insight to your designs, Danny. Bards are good and underrated.

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