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Mock my Samurai Builds! Alternatively, offer helpful feedback!


Advice


Hey! I'm gearing up for a long-term game, starting at level 4 and running clear through 20. The game will be approximately 50% high narrative, low crunch (our group's SOP) and 50% old-school dungeon crawl (a first for pretty much everybody).

The promise of a brutal crawl is one of the big draws for this game (much like the video game Dark Souls), however, that means that everybody needs to bring their "A" game to survive. Optimized builds are encouraged. I'm new at this kind of thing.

Help me, Obi-Wan? Only hope and whatnot?

The Current Party consists of:

  • A Kitsune Flame Oracle
  • A homebrew Warlock (3.5) conversion
  • An INT-based Sorcerer bloodline (also homebrew - note the theme)
  • A Dwarven Rogue
  • A Ranger Homebrew (swapping out spellcasting ability - for the girl who just wants to stab things alongside her kitty

And me. I'd been planning to play a Bard conceptually, but looking at that setup has me shifting to a Martial Class Melee Anchor. After significant deliberation, I've opted to go with a Sword Saint Samurai, with a slightly modified Order of the Star (swapping Calling for the Bard's Versatile Performance)

So! That's a fair bit of detail, I realize - but every build thread I've seen has requested more, not less context, so there we have it.

The character is racially a Nagaji variant (flavor-wise, it combines the Nagaji & Vishkanya; mechanically, it swaps out Serpent's Sense for the Toxic ability) because if you hadn't noticed yet, this isn't exactly PFS play as regards RAW. :)

Anyway! Preamble over! Builds commencing!

Kavita Vadha, Nagaji Sword Saint Samurai 4

25 point buy w/1 additional secondary ability increase (CHA)

STR 18
DEX 12
CON 16
INT 10
WIS 11
CHA 16

Masterwork Full Plate, +1 Katana

Feat Builds

The Deadly Stroke Build:

1 Power Attack
3 Weapon Focus (katana)
5 Sleep Venom
6 Dazzling Display
7 Shatter Defenses
9 Greater Weapon Focus (Katana, now +2 to hit)
11 Deadly Stroke
12 Dreadful Carnage (Free 30 ft. Demoralize on kill)
13 Improved Critical
15 Weapon Specialization: Katana (+2 damage)
17 Blinding Critical
18 Greater Weapon Specialization: Katana (now +4 damage)
19 Penetrating Strike (ignore 5 DR)

This young lady works to scare the bejeebus out of people, then murders them with her Deadly Stroke. Samurai + Rogue + flat-footed opponent = Fine Red Mist.

Problem: Redundant with the rogue, who'll be doing that too. Whooping on flat-footed enemies is kind of his thing. Iajutsu Strike may or may not stack with Deadly Stroke - it’d make good sense if it doesn’t. Requires a bunch of setup either way. Works better for order of the cockatrice, so you don’t have to full-round.

Having said that? This still sucks out 2 rounds just to set up - a better idea might be to just stop at shatter defenses, and focus on Intimidation Through Murder, and just be happy with the terrified mooks.

The Duelist:

1 Power Attack
3 Sleep Venom
5 Weapon Focus (Katana)
6 Weapon Specialization: Katana (+2 damage)
7 Cornugon Smash (demoralize opponent when dealing power attack damage)
9 Improved Critical (+4 to confirm)
11 Bleeding Critical (2d6 bleed, stacks with self)
12 Dazing Assault (-5 to hit to add Dazed to all your attacks this round)
13 Greater Weapon Specialization: Katana (now +4 damage)
15 Penetrating Strike (ignore 5 DR)
17 Improved Penetrating Strike (Ignore 10 DR)
19 Toughness. Because why not take 20 more HP?

This young lady lays down the hurt on single opponents. She’s whacking the unholy hell out of BBEG’s like nobody’s business - between her challenge, Weapon Specialization, the Bleeding Critical, and eventually (hopefully) a keen weapon - once this girl hits you, your quality of life rapidly deteriorates as the debuffs stack up, and the hits just keep on coming - and when they come, there’s a reasonable amount of static damage. Good stuff.

Problem: Very committed to smacking one target at a time. Options are pretty much limited to up-close & personal swordplay with a single opponent, though there is a high chance of seriously debuffing said opponent. Maybe not the best at defending the squishies.

The Snake who is a Charmer:

1 Power Attack
3 Sleep Venom
5 Skill Focus: Diplomacy
6 Weapon Focus (katana)
7 Eldritch Heritage: Serpentine (Bite Attack)
9 Improved Eldritch Heritage: Serpentine (+1 natural armor, +2 to escape artist and poison resistance - eventually +3/+4/+4 - but is it worth 3 feats?)
11 Furious Focus (No penalty on 1st PWR atk)
12 Dreadful Carnage (Free 30 ft. Demoralize on kill)
13 Cornugon Smash (Demoralize target when dealing Power Attack damage)
15 Dazzling Display
17 Shatter Defenses
18 Greater Weapon Focus (Now +2 to hit)
19 Deadly Strike

This is admittedly my favorite out of all the builds. This girl is very much an Ophidian Terror, who uses her relatively high CHA to scare the living **** out of people, while the combination of Skill Focus & Versatile Performance makes her quite the diplomancer. She doesn’t go the full Deadly Stroke route until the endgame, but by the time she’s there, dealing double damage to everything is a mercy, as she’s been terrifying everything in sight (or 30 ft.) since level 12.

Bottom line: scare things by hitting them - scare other things by killing the thing you’re hitting, then proceed to hit them, which is, in turn, scary in it’s own right - rinse and repeat.

Problem: Not exactly a DPR juggernaut. This build is more thematic and flavorful - lots of Bardic Snakey goodness - but no critical feats, no weapon specialization, and no penetrating strike. Eldritch Heritage’s Bite attack is functionally worthless here, I think. Dropping one 2x damage attack instead of 4 attacks at 1x(with a full attack) is really only worth it to punch through DR - which 2 Penetrating Strike feats could arguably do better.

...

So! That's where I am. Thoughts? Concerns? Piles of scorn?

I've never really played a melee character before, so any and all feedback is welcome.

Thanks! (And sorry for the verbosity)


get Conugan Smash into the deadly stroke build.

that way you auto intimidate when you hit.
the awesome bit about deadly stroke is once enemy is demoralized it's only a standard. so deadly stroke whenever a foe moves away.

doubles all damage
(including challenge) so makes vital strike builds cry!


STR Ranger wrote:

get Conugan Smash into the deadly stroke build.

that way you auto intimidate when you hit.
the awesome bit about deadly stroke is once enemy is demoralized it's only a standard. so deadly stroke whenever a foe moves away.

doubles all damage
(including challenge) so makes vital strike builds cry!

Fair point - I dunno why it wasn't in there. I can shuffle some feats around, drop Penetrating Strike, and get Cornugan Smash in early.

So the strategy would be something along the lines of Full Attacking until the opponent is running (literally) scared, then close and wallop harder than you've any right to?

...

This is relevant to my interests.


basically.

if you get a skill item and maybe even fit in skill focus: intimidate. you can do the full round thing on everybody. you debuffed a whole group and can insta Deadly Stoke anyone.

Grand Lodge

I'd look to the Advice forums - top of the list stickied is the Optimisation guides. There is a GOOD one for the Samurai there.


@STR Ranger: What is this skill item you speak of? Never bumped into them, which is going to be a common refrain as regards magic items.

@Helaman - true story. Chengar Qordath's Way of the Samurai is how I know about the Sword Saint Archetype in the first place.

Question to this effect - do we know if the Sword Saint's Iajutsu Strike stacks w/Deadly Stroke? At level 10+, these are both options for my standard action. If they don't stack, I believe it's math time for me.


Killstring wrote:

Hey! I'm gearing up for a long-term game, starting at level 4 and running clear through 20. The game will be approximately 50% high narrative, low crunch (our group's SOP) and 50% old-school dungeon crawl (a first for pretty much everybody).

The promise of a brutal crawl is one of the big draws for this game (much like the video game Dark Souls), however, that means that everybody needs to bring their "A" game to survive. Optimized builds are encouraged. I'm new at this kind of thing.

Help me, Obi-Wan? Only hope and whatnot?

The Current Party consists of:

  • A Kitsune Flame Oracle
  • A homebrew Warlock (3.5) conversion
  • An INT-based Sorcerer bloodline (also homebrew - note the theme)
  • A Dwarven Rogue
  • A Ranger Homebrew (swapping out spellcasting ability - for the girl who just wants to stab things alongside her kitty

And me. I'd been planning to play a Bard conceptually, but looking at that setup has me shifting to a Martial Class Melee Anchor. After significant deliberation, I've opted to go with a Sword Saint Samurai, with a slightly modified Order of the Star (swapping Calling for the Bard's Versatile Performance)

So! That's a fair bit of detail, I realize - but every build thread I've seen has requested more, not less context, so there we have it.

The character is racially a Nagaji variant (flavor-wise, it combines the Nagaji & Vishkanya; mechanically, it swaps out Serpent's Sense for the Toxic ability) because if you hadn't noticed yet, this isn't exactly PFS play as regards RAW. :)

Anyway! Preamble over! Builds commencing!

Kavita Vadha, Nagaji Sword Saint Samurai 4

25 point buy w/1 additional secondary ability increase (CHA)

STR 18
DEX 12
CON 16
INT 10
WIS 11
CHA 16

Masterwork Full Plate, +1 Katana

Feat Builds

** spoiler omitted **...

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Your build's smell of cheese and foolishness!!! I MOCK THEM ALLL!!!!

Silver Crusade

Killstring wrote:
Question to this effect - do we know if the Sword Saint's Iajutsu Strike stacks w/Deadly Stroke? At level 10+, these are both options for my standard action. If they don't stack, I believe it's math time for me.

Iajutsu Strike can not stack with Deadly Stroke they are both standard actions. You can only have one standard action in a round.


Solwynn bint Khalsim ibn Abdul wrote:
Killstring wrote:


A long-winded explaination

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Your build's smell of cheese and foolishness!!! I MOCK THEM ALLL!!!!

But.. but... *sniff* is it at least good cheese, like a Brie, or a Vorpal Cheddar or something? *Weeps openly*


Killstring wrote:


But.. but... *sniff* is it at least good cheese, like a Brie, or a Vorpal Cheddar or something? *Weeps openly*

No, it's more like a smelly roquefort. This black stain on your gaming soul will last till the end of time.

Seriously though, I've never played such a heavily optimized game nor a game with a 25-pt build (highest was 22-pt with no dumping). It seems like a very solid build to me and is a good fit for the party listed.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I seriously f*cking hate the term "cheese".

Everyone has their own meaning for it, and it changes to suite their needs.


Since you've got homebrew class designs in your line up, you ought to consider Rite Publishing's Way of the Samurai supplement for the Kaidan (Japanese horror) setting.

Included (and close to your character line up):

Yojimbo (ranger archetype) drops spell casting in exchange for Ancestral Discourse which after a period of meditation provides hour long stat bonuses and other spell-like abilities. Also gains an enemy Samurai House in addition to Favored Enemy.

Onmyoji (wizard archetype) uses origami for spell components and spell casting, also gains a shikigami oni as a familiar.

Four Samurai Archetypes:
Kuge - upper class samurai with diplomacy class features and a slower progression on samurai features.
Nitojutsu Sensei - mostly ronin with loss of Order, in exchange for 2 weapon combat style and special features for wielding katana and wakizashi (based on life of Miyamoto Musashi).
Tajiya - paladin like slayer of undead and outsiders.
Yabusame - an archer specialist samurai, with mostly full round action archery special abilities.

2 Prestige Classes: Bugyo(government official with huge diplomatic advantages), and Mosa (martial tank of samurai).

3 new samurai orders: Order of the Shogun, Order of the Tajiya, and Order of the Undying Emperor

Included are archetypes for gunslinger and paladin.

Included is a system for creating Samurai House stat blocks.

Also worth checking out Way of the Yakuza, which contains rogue based and yakuza support class archetypes. Its in the same format as the samurai supplement

Both supplements include new feats and prepared locations with prebuilt factions, NPCs, magic items and more.


blackbloodtroll wrote:

I seriously f*cking hate the term "cheese".

Everyone has their own meaning for it, and it changes to suite their needs.

Humorously enough, all I was thinking about when I posted was dairy products.


gamer-printer wrote:

Since you've got homebrew class designs in your line up, you ought to consider Rite Publishing's Way of the Samurai supplement for the Kaidan (Japanese horror) setting.

Nitojutsu Sensei - mostly ronin with loss of Order, in exchange for 2 weapon combat style and special features for wielding katana and wakizashi (based on life of Miyamoto Musashi).

This is spectacular. I used to read the Book of Five Rings daily.

I'm not feeling it for this game, but my biggest complaint with the Samurai class in general, is that it doesn't do a great job letting me emulate Musashi-sensai. This addresses that, and how.

For this game, the honor mechanic isn't really going to jive (my guess is that it would really benefit from a setting that supports it, like the aforementioned Kaidan)

However, my bi-weekly PFS-ish game can expect to see a build based on this quite soon. My main group, for which the game in question would occur, would likely just play L5R if everything was leaning that direction.


Okay, going to do some quick math on whether or not Deadly Stroke is worth it when I've got Iajutsu Strike hanging out.

So! Let's compare these two at level 11, based on the Deadly Strike build. I'll just use the +1 Katana she has now, as any weapon upgrades would apply to either character, evening out. We'll assume that in prior rounds, we've so thoroughly traumatized the target of our challenge that they're now fleeing for what remains of their life.

That won't do.

The deadly stroker (not the best name) closes the gap, and strikes!

+15 to hit (BAB 11+STR bonus 4+ Weapon Enhancement 1+Weapon Focus & Greater 2 - 3 Power Attack, 1d8+1(weapon) +6(STR) +9(Power Attack) +11(Challenge)*2 = 63 damage on average (assuming a 4.5 from the d8). Also, bleed out a CON.

It's... deadly.

Not to be deterred, the same scenario plays out in an alternate universe, where Kavita has the feat, but opts not to use it!

+15 to hit (BAB 11+STR bonus 4+ Weapon Enhancement 1+Weapon Focus & Greater 2 - 3 Power Attack, 1d8+1(weapon) +6(STR) +9(Power Attack) +11(Challenge) + 6d6 (Iajutsu Strike, 3.5x6=21) = 52.5 damage on average (again, assuming average rolls) Also, if for some inexplicable reason, something within 30 feet isn't shaken, it probably is now.

That's antihistamine damage! Meaning it's not to be sneezed at.

Still, the Deadly Stroke is 10 points of damage higher here, and on second look, the comparison isn't exactly fair to it either. A +3 Flaming Katana adds 5.5 points of damage to the Iajutsu Strike, and 11 points of damage to the Deadly Stroke.

Scaling Challenge damage (1/level) doubles to basically give an extra +2 per 2 levels, where the Iajutsu gets +3.5 per 2 levels.

...

So, that's a lot of damage either way.
[list]

  • The Iajutsu works regardless of enemy status, but only on targets of a challenge.
  • Deadly stroke needs a couple (pretty good) feats, and only works on shaken targets - but they don't need to be challenged. Also: MOAR DAMAGES.

    Still torn. It's a very good option, but I do have Iajutsu hanging out regardless, which is also a very good option.


  • So use both.

    Iajutsu strike works ONCE. BUT deadly stroke you need to either hit them at least once first (to intimidate) or use a whole round to dazzling display.

    So. Challenge first. IAJUTSU STRIKE!, (which still carries intimidate) then deadly stroke away.

    Some things cannot be intimidated. This just gives you 2 ways to be awesome.

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