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Advice for Lore Warden?


Silver Crusade

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Now that I'm (mostly) settled into my new home and starting to play regularly again, I think I want to try making a new PC for Pathfinder Society.

I've had some ideas of character types I'd like to try rolling around in the back of my head for a while. Three of them are the Lore Warden fighter archetype, some sort of reach weapon specialist, and some sort of combat maneuver specialist. The recent thread about building an intelligent fighter based on Roy Greenhilt from Order of the Stick (my avatar!) got me thinking of this, and now I think I'd like to try combining those three ideas into a single PFS character.

So what I'm thinking of is a Lore Warden with a guisarme who specializes in tripping, unless someone has suggestions for a better weapon and/or combat maneuver to specialize in. And being a Lore Warden, I want him to be something of a skill/knowledge monkey out of combat, even if it means sacrificing a little bit of combat ability. I don't want to make him useless in a fight, but I'm not going to dump stats that I'll need for skills just to get pure combat optimization.

Here's what I'm thinking of for stats:

Str 17 (7) (+2 racial)
Dex 14 (5)
Con 13 (3)
Int 14 (5)
Wis 10
Cha 10

Obviously, strength would be the stat to boost at levels 4, 8, and 12. Int is for skills, dex for Combat Reflexes and AC, since Lore Wardens only get light armor and I'll be on the front line, and Con for survival. Toughness right from level 1 is looking tempting.

I was originally thinking of avoiding dump stats with this guy, thus the stat array above. But I've been having trouble deciding what type of personality to give him, and I don't think I'll have enough skill ranks to make him that good at charisma skills while still focusing on the knowledge stuff that Lore Wardens are supposed to be good at. So now I'm thinking of just dumping charisma and giving him an arrogant know-it-all personality. Lowering charisma to 7 would give me 4 more points to spread around, probably starting with boosting Con to 14.

I'm just assuming human is the way to go here. Since I want to be good at skills, the extra skill rank every level will be good. I'd also consider Focused Study to get Skill Focus at levels 1 and 8 instead of the 1st level human bonus feat, though I'm not sure about that one. And then there's Fast Learner, Improvisation, and Improved Improvisation for even more skill bonuses, along with some extra favored class bonuses to get more HP and skill ranks, though again, I'm not sure if I want to go with those. Given that I want to be a skill jock and fighters get tons of feats, that might work out well, though.

Thinking about factions, I decided to go Osirion, since I don't have an Osirion PC yet, and I think a Lore Warden would fit their theme perfectly. Then I looked at their faction traits and remembered that they get one of the best traits in the game - Tomb Raider, which gives +1 on Perception and Dungeoneering, and lets me get Perception as a class skill. I haven't looked into what my second trait will be yet.

For feats, as I said, Toughness looks good given my relatively low AC for a front liner, and not that great Con. Combat Reflexes is a must to get early. Lore Wardens get Combat Expertise for free at level 2, and that's the prerequisite for Improved Trip, so that will be my level 2 fighter bonus feat, followed by Greater Trip at level 6.

Other than that, I'm looking at those human feats I mentioned earlier, along with the obvious Weapon Focus, Greater Weapon Focus, Iron Will, Dodge, and Mobility. And yes, I realize I've only listed feats from the Core Rulebook and Advanced Race Guide. I haven't really gone through all the feats in the Core Rulebook, let alone the other books, looking for stuff that might fit this guy. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Any thoughts, comments, suggestions would be appreciated.

My advice would be to not make tripping your only combat maneuver you specialize in. Something else, like disarming, bull rushing, or dirty tricks, would probably be handy when tripping an enemy just isn't feasible.

Silver Crusade

My advice, if you're set on the Tripping spec, make your backup 'lots of damage'. Take Power Attack and 'facesmash' anyone you can't trip. Even better, trip them, then smash them while they're prone.
And for those fights where even your expertise will not give you enough protection, carry a composite bow and fire off a few shots. Contributing to the damage and living to fight again is very satisfying.

You have a few combat styles to look at here. You don't get shield proficiency, so sword and board is unlikely, and between maneuvers and skill focus (and other feats), you're not going to have the feats available for two weapon fighting. That leaves two handed and ranged builds, and since you want to do maneuvers, that leaves us by default with the two handed combat style. Fortunately, two handed can be done well with only a few feats.

There are six knowledge skills used to find monster weaknesses (for your 7th level ability "Know the Enemy"). Arcana, Dungeoneering, Local, Nature, Planes and Religion. The DC to trigger the ability is 10+CR of the creature. (5+CR for common creatures, 15+CR for rare creatures). With a 14 Int and having them as class skills, max points will get you at level 7 a +12 to the skill. Given that, you are going to want skill focus feats to help make it automatic, or at least nearly so. The important ones early are local, which gets you the humanoids, and nature which has the biggest number, so if nothing else you are going to want to keep them maxed. This will also be the ones you will most likely use your skill focus feats for. You may also want to start out with perception as your skill focus. Definitely take focused study.

While I prefer the array of str 16+2, dex 14, con 12, int 14, wis 10, cha 8, going with a starting str of 17 is not horrid either. With two handed weapons str 18 gets you that +6 dam, vs the +4 dam at str 17, but +4 should be enough until 4th level. I would choose my first level feats as skill focus, power attack, and either furious focus or weapon focus. Furious focus means you can use multiple weapons with your power attack, while weapon focus gives you the +1 to maneuvers as well. It depends on if you know what weapon you are going to be using. Are you going to go heavy blades (Two handed sword/Falchion) or polearm? Polearms have the advantage of being able to use maneuvers without worrying about attacks of opportunity from your target, while the heavy blades are more useful in general. Really, your choice here.

Your second level feat should be either a maneuver feat or whichever of furious focus or weapon focus you didn't take at first. Since you get combat expertise for free, and you took power attack at first, you got the entire range of maneuvers to pick up. Now, you don't get maneuver mastery until 3rd, so it's completely up to you what you want to do. It also depends on what weapon you are going to specialize in. Stand still is a fun feat, but you can't take it with a polearm. Conversely, there are a few polearms which gives you a bonus with a maneuver (usually disarm). You could also go with improved sunder or even something like improved drag. Try out different maneuvers early, see which ones you like and which ones you don't.

Also, are you going to want combat patrol? It's a nifty feat for a maneuver specialist, but it takes dodge, mobility and combat reflexes to get. Plan accordingly.

Around 5th or 7th, you will likely want to start looking at other skill focus feats. You should be competent enough by this point that you can afford to branch out and improve your knowledges, while using your combat feats to keep adding maneuvers and/or weapon focus and specializations.

Hope you enjoy the character.

I'm looking forward to possibly playing a lore warden based around tripping and grappling. I talked about my build in this post, which may give you some ideas.

The logic is this: Human fighters can invest their favoured class bonus points into improving their CMD against any two combat maneuvers; this is a huge boon to grapplers, as their CMD is what keeps the grapple going round after round. Combine that with a bucket load of feats, good stats, and the lore warden's Maneuver Mastery ability and you have a huuuge CMB and CMD for grappling.

And with the right feats, such as those I outlined in my build, you can set up a bunch of routines that trip, and then grapple the prone opponent. You basically add a +4 to your CMB and CMD against prone characters, and once they're pinned they can't stand up without first escaping your grapple.

Plus, I like the idea of a thoughtful, intelligent fighter who studies and practices complex takedowns and submission holds not unlike the way a wizard studies spells, and who treats every battle as an opportunity to learn - or to teach. It's not all brute force, there's an art to it - though brute force helps, too. ^__^

Dilvias wrote:
You have a few combat styles to look at here. You don't get shield proficiency, so sword and board is unlikely, and between maneuvers and skill focus (and other feats), you're not going to have the feats available for two weapon fighting. That leaves two handed and ranged builds, and since you want to do maneuvers, that leaves us by default with the two handed combat style. Fortunately, two handed can be done well with only a few feats.

Exactly! You'll want a two-handed weapon that does combat maneuvers. If you don't want to pay a feat to use an exotic weapon, that leaves you 5 choices: Heavy Flail, Guisarme, Halberd, Ogre hook, and Scythe. My suggestion would be the Heavy Flail because it has higher damage and crit range, or the Guisarme if you want reach. Of course, the Scythe has a certain amount of style!

Dilvias wrote:
There are six knowledge skills used to find monster weaknesses . . . Given that, you are going to want skill focus feats. . .

I suggest Breadth of Experience instead of Skill Focus, since it will give +2 to all of your knowledge skills. A Headband of Intellect will go a long way too. I'd skip Skill Focus in favor of combat ability.

Personally, I'd be reaching for Felling Smash ASAP, because it allows to you deal full damage and still perform a trip. It's actually better than Greater Trip in many circumstances because you get to deal damage in the first place rather than getting a chance to deal damage with an attack of opportunity.

I'd probably do feats like this:

  • 1st - Power Attack, Furious Focus (Now you're doing plenty of damage.)
  • 2nd - Combat Expertise, Improved Trip (Now you're a tripper.)
  • 3rd - Breadth of Experience (Now you're at +8 on any knowledge skill with 1 skill point in it.)
  • 4th - Improved Dirty Trick (Now you have a good variety of combat tricks to use.)
  • 5th - Improved Disarm if you're using a flail and feel like having one more trick up your sleeve, or you may want one of the others: Drag, Grapple, Overrun, Reposition, Steal, or Sunder.
  • 6th - Felling Smash
  • 7th - Greater Trip
  • 8th - Greater Dirty Trick

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Since Lore Wardens only get light armor, you might want to consider going with a higher DEX and Weapon Finesse. Perhaps a whip fighter, which would let you trip and (eventually) grapple at range:

STR 14
DEX 18
CON 12
INT 14
WIS 12

1: Weapon Finesse, EWP (Whip), Weapon Focus (Whip)
2: Whip Mastery, Combat Expertise
3: Power Attack
4: Improved Trip
5: Improved Whip Mastery
6: EWP (Elven Curved Blade) - For better damage, still usable with both Power Attack and Weapon Finesse
7: ???
8: Greater Whip Mastery

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Maybe take Aldori dueling sword instead of Curved Blade? Still finessable, but keeps one hand free.

I'd also suggest Iron Will in there somewhere. +2 to will saves always helps.

I suggest Breadth of Experience instead of Skill Focus, since it will give +2 to all of your knowledge skills. A Headband of Intellect will go a long way too. I'd skip Skill Focus in favor of combat ability.

Breadth of Experience is nice, but you have to be over 100 years old, so no human for you. If you're playing an elf or dwarf then definitely take it, otherwise you may need to rely on skill focus.

Silver Crusade

Thanks for the suggestions. I'll have to spend some time thinking about it all and deciding what I want to do. I like Chris Bacon's advice about going for a trip/grapple combo, using the human fighter favored class to increase CMD vs grapple.

I think the biggest variable I need to look into more before deciding what feats to take is how many skills I want to focus on, and how many skill ranks will I need every level. If there are useful skills that I won't have enough ranks to train, then Fast Learner and Improvisation start looking better. But if I think I can get enough skill ranks to cover everything I want (2 for fighter, +2 for int, +2 for lore warden, +1 for being human = 7 before favored class bonus), then maybe I don't need that. The key is that Improvisation and Improved Improvisation only help with skills that have no ranks in them, so am I going to be getting big enough bonuses from just those feats to actually succeed at anything? And are there two specific skills that I consider important enough to go for the Skill Focus on, which would make Focused Study worthwhile for Skill Focus at levels 1 and 8 instead of the normal human bonus feat at 1st level.

Also, I just noticed the human feats Defiant Luck and Inexplicable Luck, which may be worthwhile just because fighters have so many feats that I can afford to take one or both of them, especially if I end up not taking the Fast Learner/Improvisation chain.

Silver Crusade

So looking it over, I'm liking the idea of specializing in tripping with the guisarme, with straight up damage with the guisarme as plan B. Throw in Combat Reflexes for 3 AoO's per round, and a spiked gauntlet so I don't need Quick Draw to threaten adjacent to me, and I'm good.

Other than Combat Reflexes at level 1 and Improved Trip at level 2 (Lore Wardens get Combat Expertise for free at level 2, which is the prerequisite to Improved Trip), then Greater Trip at level 6, I haven't decided the rest of my feats. There are a ton of good feats I could take, starting with Weapon Focus, Power Attack, and Furious Focus.

One thing I was looking at is maybe going for Whirlwind Attack. I already get Combat Expertise, which is one of the prereqs, and I was considering Dodge and Mobility to compensate partially for the light armor on Lore Wardens, so that just leaves Spring Attack as the only prerequisite feat I wasn't really already considering. With all the bonus feats fighters get, I could have Whirlwind by level 5, which would have me tripping everyone within 10 feet of me in a single round at that level. At level 6, when I pick up Greater Trip, I would then get AoO's on the first 3 that I successfully trip. With the Lore Warden bonuses to CMB, along with the tripping specific feats, I should have a good chance to hit, even without having enough feats to get Weapon Focus and Greater Weapon Focus until higher levels.

The down side is this takes a LOT of feats to accomplish. Here's what I'm thinking for feats:

1 - Dodge
1 - Combat Reflexes (fighter bonus)
1 - Mobility (human bonus)
2 - Combat Expertise (lore warden bonus)
2 - Improved Trip (fighter bonus)
3 - Power Attack
4 - Spring Attack (fighter bonus)
5 - Whirlwind Attack
6 - Greater Trip (fighter bonus)

As I said, the down side is that it takes a ton of feats. If I don't shoot for Whirlwind Attack, then I might still take Dodge early, but Mobility would be a maybe, and I wouldn't need Spring Attack or Whirlwind Attack. Thus, I could take Toughness to help survive the light armor AC, Weapon Focus and Furious Focus to help with hitting, Weapon Specialization for more damage, etc. In other words, all the fighter classics, but with the same Combat Reflexes, Improved Trip, and Greater Trip mixed in for reach/tripping fun.

What do you think? Is Whirlwind Attack worth investing all those feats to get?

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