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Building a Caster for Serpent's Skull


Advice


Right, so I'm going to be participating in my first PF adventure path and our DM has chosen Serpent's Skull. I read through the players guide (briefly) to get a feel for the setting, but best I understand it's just a lot of jungle.

The Deets so Far:
Stats: Going to be rolled, probably 4d6 drop the lowest 7 times.
Books: Anything pathfinder, and perhaps some third party stuff if the DM feels it's balanced.
Races: This one is tricky. The DM already said he's interested in some non-traditional races that he'll need to balance against the rest of the party. I don't know what these races are, but I do know that the Advanced Races Book is available so all of those options are mine.
Group Make-up: Races are undecided, but we're going to have a Rogue, a Soulknife (reflavored to be divine), and a martial type- currently leaning Ranger.

I've never read through the AP and I really don't want to either. I'd love some spoiler free advice on the whole thing, though. I've played a lot of wizards so I don't want to go down that path. Also, I freakin' hate clerics. Nothing against the class, but the flavor rubs me the wrong way. Same with summoners. They're neat, but I don't like the class.

Currently I'm leaning towards building a druid. I think it would be really fun to build a wildshaping druid who could fall back on spellcasting in a pinch. I'd really like to play a monstrous race (perhaps a Merfolk?). Oracle might also be fun, too. Honestly I'm just looking to play a caster with a melee presence. I've done the "hang in the back and let the others fight" character and no matter the flavor they all start to feel the same after a while. Bard also seems like a strong choice for a party with this much melee capability, but I'm not sure. It seems like we could really benefit from a full caster.

Thoughts? I'd appreciate anything y'all can offer.

Thanks in advance.

Sczarni

If you play Merfolk then make a Cavalier with the Beastrider Archtype. Nothing strikes fear into the hearts of the enemy like a Merfolk riding a pouncing Raptor into battle!


You guys really need a healer. I think you also need an arcane caster.

There's a lot of outdoors stuff, so druid would be good. I don't really care for that class too much though, so I personally would take an oracle. Not the best fighter, but Flame as the mystery maybe.

Will your Soulknife have any healing ability? You guys are going to need some.

A witch might work okay for you guys. But you will need healing, I can tell you that.

Cheliax

I am playing this one right now in my home game and I can attest that a full caster is usefull. Druid or summoner might be nice so you can have your caster and melee also.

Sczarni

sunbeam wrote:

You guys really need a healer. I think you also need an arcane caster.

There's a lot of outdoors stuff, so druid would be good. I don't really care for that class too much though, so I personally would take an oracle. Not the best fighter, but Flame as the mystery maybe.

Will your Soulknife have any healing ability? You guys are going to need some.

A witch might work okay for you guys. But you will need healing, I can tell you that.

Do NOT make your character while falling into that trap...you never really NEED a healer. If you all make good characters and play well (not all charging headlong into certain death) the most you need is a character or 2 that can use wands.


I am not sure I would want to try Serpents Skull with only wands for healing. We are only on book 2, but I think the DM would have to change things a lot (I am also unsure where you would get the wands from before 4th).

However the class which has not been mentioned yet is inquisitor, a reasonable melee presence, skill and spell + some class abilities. I think a witch would be too similar to a wizard for what you are looking for.

Taldor RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Serpent's Skull isn't just jungle, there's a lot of exploring ancient ruins too.

Druid is never a bad choice for a caster/melee hybrid.

You might also want to ponder witch and magus. The witch spell list brings a mix of arcane/divine spells and is 9 levels, plus you have hexes to use on rounds when you are not casting. Magus would let you be a hybrid arcane caster/melee, with the ability to deliver absolutely huge single target damage.

Battle oracle is a full divine caster that can easily use martial weapons and heavy armor, if you want to be an up front type who heals between encounters. Oracle lets you get cleric spells without that pesky cleric flavor you dislike.


Thinking about this, heck if I were rolling up the party I'd go with a melee (Ranger? That might be a little low on tankage), a Bard, a Witch, and some kind of Oracle.

A lot of stuff would work though.

Qadira

I think an animal shaman archetype (particularly saurian shaman) is a great druid for this campaign for flavor, brings just enough healing without having to commit to a full healer role, and can be very effective in melee (not to mention an animal companion to flank with your rogue).

A witch can also be a good fit if you play up the whole "witchdoctor" flavor which could be a lot of fun in the setting. While similar to wizards in one sense, your hexes really set you apart from wizards giving you a very different toolkit to play with rather than only relying on your spells; not to mention witches have access to some healing as well. However, if a prepared caster is not of interest, I would stay away.

In terms of oracle, an oracle of battle or oracle of metal both have exceptional melee potential. I don't really care for oracles personally, tho, so I can't say much on this topic.

Based on what you've described, I think a melee druid sounds like the best fit for what you're wanting to play and will work very well in the adventure. Focus on Str>Con>Wis>Dex>Int=Cha in my personal opinion, but exact build seems like something you are more than capable of coming up with on your own.

Merfolk are fun, but there's not a lot of the game that you'll be spending in water (swim speeds are still fun tho), so 5ft land speed will get really annoying after a while. Oread make great melee druids with some nice racial options in the ARG if you're looking for a more uncommon race. Vanara could be fun too. Tengu might work as well, but they take a hit to con.


@Ossian666: Haha, cavalier sounds fun, but the group really does need a caster. I'm more comfortable with some form of magic to rely on.

@sunbeam: Honestly, we really don't need a healer. I'm with Ossian on this one. Our DM is fantastic and might provide an NPC for spot healing early on, then leave us to our own devices as the levels progress. I'd like something with access to healing for emergencies, but between some sort of divine and the ranger/rogue I think we'll be set. Flame Oracles/Witches both play like caster wizards, which is what I want to avoid. Also, the soulknife is the one from Psionics Unleashed, so no, it won't have healing.

@Haldrick: I agree with you here. I like the idea of playing a class with healing to fall back on. I don't like the inquisitor because I think it rings pretty similar to the cleric. I'll look it over, though. As for witch, I totally agree- the witch is just a wizard with different tricks.

@Ryric: Good to know- I had been looking at the Jungle Druid and thinking it might be super overpowered in a delicious and hilarious way. Witch is too similar in playstyle to wizard so I'm not interested in going that route, and I don't think the Magus provides enough utility to be more than just an arcane striker (if you'll pardon the terminology). Though I will admit to being very interested in the Hexcrafter. I also love the oracle. I mean, I wrote a guide on it after all. Battle Oracle is probably my least favorite of all of them though, lol. Wood and Nature are both very fun.

@Dukai: When I was looking over the archetypes I think I settled on a few choices: jungle, world walker, and Saurian shaman. I'd definitely go the animal companion route, too. As for casters, I don't have an issue with prepared casters- I'm just trying to avoid wizard analogues. Also, just for clarification, merfolk have two things going for them in the ARG that makes them playable in a land-based game. First is the alternate trait Strongtail which changes speeds to 15 land and 30 swim. Second is the 3rd level spell Fins to Feet. It's an hour/level duration that automatically grants you a land speed of 30 feet when on dry land. Among the races you mentioned the only one I really care for is the Oread, but I played an earth Genasi in our last campaign so it's kinda like doubling up. :)

After all this discussion I think I've settled on a melee wildshape focused druid. Race is still up in the air, but I'm feeling flexible. I'd love any advice on feats or archetypes, especially third party sources that I likely haven't read.

Thanks for all the replies so far, y'all!

Qadira

Yeah, I forgot about the strong tail option. Good point. Although, with armor, that still drops you to 10 which is pretty rough. Then again, Oread with armor is at 15, so not much better. Fins to Feet is great if you can make it through the first 4 levels without it.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

As for races, if you're looking for an uncommon race that would be flavorful for Sargava and the AP then either Nagaji or Vanaras could fit the bill.

And since the AP starts off on a ship from the Shackles then a Tengu would work too.

Both Tengu's and Vanaras get racial bonus' to Wisdom as well.


@Son of a Veterinarian: The Vanara don't chime well with me, but the Nagaji seem really interesting. I'd been considering the Naga Aspirant but it doesn't seem like it's going to be very useful for a melee/caster hybrid. I mean, serpent forms are among the worst wildshape forms.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

For melee check out the Tengu. They get a bunch of sword proficiencies that you can trade out for 3+ Oriental weapons if you'd prefer.

Sczarni

Oooph I have a hard time telling anyone to pick a Tengu...their racials just don't gel with me.

You can always go Aasimar or Tiefling. They don't sound exotic because they are the more popular options right now for making characters, but they are still exotic in the sense that they really aren't as popular in a world sense like Human or Elf.


Druid (Lion) 3 (Animal Domain)/ Witch (Hedge) Healing Patron 3 MT10

Trait Magical Knack (druid), Boarded in the Mwangi Expanse

Druid stuff

Orson & Spell
Nature Bond animal Domain Animal Companion -3 Ends up -4 at
Nature Sense
Wild Empathy
Woodland Stride
Trackless Step
Totem Transformation

With Stuff
Alertness (Free)
Cantrips Spell
Monkey familiar +3 Acrobatics Deliver touch spells (Buff & Healing)
Hex 1 Fortune
Hex 2 Cauldron

Human Skill Focus Nature level 1, 8th Skill Focus Perception, 16 Skill Focus Acrobatics

1 Extra Hex Healing
3 Eldritch Heritage Fey Bloodline (Sylvan) Animal Companion -5
5 Boon Companion +4
7 Craft Wondrous Item
9 Adept Channel
11 Improved Eldritch Heritage (Greater invisibility)
13 Arcane Blast
15 Extra Channel
17 Greater Eldritch Heritage (Fey Wings)
19 Spell Penetration

This guy jack of all trades. You may want to go with scribe scroll at level 1 instead of extra Hex. All your spell pull double duty and at level 15 triple duty. Your Pet (AC) is weak it not take up the show and still let the other PC shine. It just meant to block and flank.

If you can Arcane Hierophant(Race of the Wild) to be allowed then take it for 10 level then MT for 4 you will end up casting 9th level spell in both class. You end up with caster level of 19 Druid and 17 Witch and channel 5 time per day for 10D6. If Arcane Hierophant is open then drop Boon Companion feat for Sribe Scroll feat.
Your Animal Companion ends up
+ 1 Druid aniaml Domnain
+15 Eldritch Heritage
+10 Arcane Hierophant
So it end up level 26 at level 20 or max out 20 at level 15.


I'd like to seize on your brief thoughts about playing a bard - and I know you're a fan of them!
Works reasonably well in melee, the class is a full caster (only doesn't go up to 9th level spells) and with all these ruins everybody whispers about...

You could go DD for more melee presence, too.

Ruyan.


@Son of a Veterinarian: Yeah, I think the Tengu are a "maybe." Their racials don't really contribute to the druid, though.

@Ossian666: Honestly I'd really like to go something more monstrous.

@Tom S 820: That's a really neat idea but it falls short of what I'm wanting to do. That build has no melee capability and requires a minimum of 19 wisdom, 19 intelligence, and 17 charisma. And you'll end up with a better blocker/flanker by summoning monsters than you will by using your companion.

@RuyanVe: Haha, I really am a fan of the bard. I keep flip flopping back to "maybe I should play a bard." The group is largely martial, so something with Inspire Courage and/or haste would be very helpful. Ugh, this is exactly why I wish there was a Fochlucan Lyrist in pathfinder.


Sean FitzSimon wrote:

@Son of a Veterinarian: Yeah, I think the Tengu are a "maybe." Their racials don't really contribute to the druid, though.

@Ossian666: Honestly I'd really like to go something more monstrous.

@Tom S 820: That's a really neat idea but it falls short of what I'm wanting to do. That build has no melee capability and requires a minimum of 19 wisdom, 19 intelligence, and 17 charisma. And you'll end up with a better blocker/flanker by summoning monsters than you will by using your companion.

@RuyanVe: Haha, I really am a fan of the bard. I keep flip flopping back to "maybe I should play a bard." The group is largely martial, so something with Inspire Courage and/or haste would be very helpful. Ugh, this is exactly why I wish there was a Fochlucan Lyrist in pathfinder.

19 wis, 19 int, 17cha With Cfaft Wounderous item and 77K means you only need to start with 13 wis, 13 int, 11 cha. Easly reach by time you can craft.

Headband of Mental Superiority

Aura strong transmutation; CL 16th

Slot headband; Price 16,000 gp (+2), 64,000 gp (+4), 144,000 gp (+6); Weight 1 lb.

Description

This ornate headband is decorated with numerous small white gemstones. The headband grants the wearer an enhancement bonus to all mental ability scores (Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma) of +2, +4, or +6. Treat this as a temporary ability bonus for the first 24 hours the headband is worn. The headband also grants skill ranks as a Headband of vast intelligence.

Construction

Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, eagle's splendor, fox's cunning, owl's wisdom; Cost 8,000 gp (+2), 32,000 gp (+4)," 77,000 gp (+6)"

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