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First Time Fighter


Greetings Paizo community! Over the past couple days I have been browsing your forums and have become quite satisfied with the breadth of knowledge and openness to discussion of your members. With that in mind, I have decided to reach out and ask for some advice with a new character.

So I went over to a friend of a friend's place this past Sunday night and found out they would be playing some Pathfinder. They invited me to join their game and I accepted. I had to make a character up on the spot and the other players informed me that they were missing a tank/bruiser type character which fits in well with my "get hit and hit stuff back" mentality when I play roleplaying games of all types.

We were starting the campaign from level 1 so I decided on rolling a Half Orc Fighter that would go for a Warhammer/Spiked Heavy Shield combo aiming to focus on the defensive/shield feats. I sort of jumped into things blind without a real plan for how I would flesh my character out so it might be a bit wonky the first couple of levels. Here are the stats from what I can recall (don't have the character sheet with me):

Str 16
Dex 14
Con 18
Int 11
Wis 13
Cha 8

As I mentioned, from looking through these forums it seemed that a Shield Slam build is what I'm looking for in order to play defensive, attack with my shield, and have some battlefield control. Unfortunately as you can see, my Dex isn't high enough to qualify for Two Handed Fighting until level 4 when I can bump it up. It is my understanding that as a Fighter I get a feat every level due to my bonus feats on evens and normal feats on odds. With that in mind, here is the overall arc for my feats that I have come up with from browsing Paizo:

1: Imp. Shield Bash, Dodge
2: Shield Focus, Bravery +1
3: Weapon Focus (Warhammer), Armor Training 1
4: Increase Dex, Two Weapon Fighting, change Dodge to Dazzling Display
5: Combat Reflexes, Weapon Training 1 (Hammers)
6: Shield Slam, Bravery +2

Will this accomplish what I am aiming for? Primarily, I want to focus on 1) not dying 2) being enough of a threat to keep enemy attention and 3) some battlefield control to help protect the squishies. Do I have penalties on my Warhammer swings pre-TWF if I have the heavy shield equipped but don't use it for combat? If yes, would it be possible to change my shield type to avoid such penalties until I hit 4? Is Combat Reflexes worth it for the increased AoO's and branching to Stand Still later or would I get more mileage out of another feat like Weapon Specialization?

Sorry for the list of questions, but I just want to have a good idea of an effective strategy without going full min/max mode. The 1st level feats are locked in of course, but we just hit level 2 at the end of our first session so there is still a lot of flexibility.

Thank you in advance for any help.

A few things in no particular order:

1. A warhammer and a heavy shield is not a very good combination for Two Weapon Fighting; the problem is that with the feat Two Weapon Fighting you will be taking -4 on both your mainhand and offhand attacks because both are one handed weapons. If one of them was a light weapon (a light shield is) you would only be taking -2 on both.

2. With your dexterity, TWF is not really viable. For Improved TWF you need 17 dex, and for Greater you need 19 so you'll most likely be capping at the first part of the feat chain.

3. To answer your question about using a weapon with a shield, no, you wouldn't take negatives for using your warhammer with your shield. The negatives only come in once you try to attack with that shield as well.

4. For your stats, an 18 in Con is pretty overkill; instead perhaps take Toughness (+3 HP, and then +1 HP for every level past third) or use your favored class bonus for the extra hit point. What you could do is switch your con and dex, so you can access the Two Weapon Fighting tree.

5. For TWF, you want at least one light weapon so you are only taking -2. Like I said earlier you could take a light shield, or you could go for a light alternative instead of a warhammer and keep the heavy shield for the extra AC. Another option could be to instead opt for a light weapon and a light shield and perhaps take Weapon Finesse (lets you use dexterity to hit instead of strength for light weapons).

For feats I'd prioritize as:
1. Two Weapon Fighting, Weapon Finesse (if you decided to go with two light weapons) come first, as that is what your fighting style depends on.
2. From here it's up to you whether you want more defense or more damage first: for defense you'd want Improved Shield Bash and then Shield Focus. For offense, there's Power Attack and Double Slice.

Weapon Focus/Specialization are good feats, but the problem for you is that you are using two different weapons and they only apply to one weapon each time you take the feat, so it would cost you more feats if you decided you really wanted it for both.

Sorry that is kind of unfocused, it's the middle of the night and I can't sleep. Hope I helped somewhat >_<

Might i recomend switching your stats a bit?

Str: 18
Dex: 16
Con: 14
Int: 11
Wis: 13
Cha: 8

As for Feats id recommend

1: Two Weapon Fighting , Imp Shield Bash
2: Weapon Focus Shield Bash
3: Iron Will
4: Weapon Specialization Shield Bash
5: Your Choice
6: Shield Slam
7: Improved two weapon fighting
8: Improved Critical Kukri
9: Your Choice
10: Your Choice
11: Shield Master
12: Bashing Finish
13: Greater Two weapon Fighting

Use the kukri as your off hand and wield your shield in your main hand so your attacking at the standard -2/-2 penalty for 2 wep fighting.

Assuming your wearing scale thats a starting ac of 20.
13 hp
+3 attack on both attacks
+5 attack if you arent full attacking
1d6+ 4 damage on the slam
1d4+2 damage with the kukri

Average Dpr at lvl 1 is 7 , 9 on the full attack.

Thats respectable take the archetype shielded fighter and this makes for some good times.

Of course your natural ability ups would go towards dex for twf

But i guess it all boils down to what you want really .
Why do you want to be a sword and board fighter?
If its to be a tank then your choice is a little misguided theres only a slight difference in survivability from a sword +shield fighter and a 2h fighter or a 2 wep fighter .
The main reason why people pick this build is due to early lvl crowd control (in the form of shield slam) and late game burst (in the form of bashing finish).

If you want to be a pure tank by dnd standards i would recommend the 2 weapon warrior build or oddly enough a archer build using snap shot + combat reflexes .
The best defense in pathfinder is a solid offense its better to play proactive than reactive and kill the sucker before it can even attempt to harm you.

Every attack that goes your way has a chance to crit , if it hits consumes a valuable resource and opens you up to a ton of variables .
Statistically the quicker you kill it the less harm you expose yourself to.

Two Weapon Warrior is something else to consider if you can use archetypes. With this you get extra AC when you do a full attack, and your Weapon Training gets changed so it isn't dependent on weapon groups; as long as you are full attacking with TWF you get the scaling bonuses to hit and damage.

Maybe I wasn't too clear about my intentions for the character. The Two Weapon Fighting feat is primarily there for the prerequisite to Shield Slam. I believe the Shielded Fighter archetype is more towards the style I'm going for concentrating on using the shield offensively and defensively. I don't have much interest in swinging both my hammer and my shield and would rather play as a sort of bully on the battlefield by intimidating and bullrushing enemies into objects.

I wasn't aware I could use Weapon Focus/Specialization for shield bashing. That is clearly superior to using it on my hammer since the shield is the primary focus. I assume that means I can use Dazzling Display with my shield as well?

My stats are my stats. They won't be changing as I don't want to reroll, just adjust to what I have (including my 1st feat picks). With the Shielded Fighter archetype in mind, how about this:

1: Imp. Shield Bash, Dodge
2: Weapon Focus (Shield Bash)
3: Dazzling Display
4: Dex to 15, Two Weapon Fighting, Dodge -> Weapon Specialization (Shield Bash)
5: Combat Reflexes (I can shield bash AoO's correct? prereq to Stand Still), Shield Fighter
6: Shield Slam

If I primarily shield bash instead of using both shield/weapon, should I worry about using a heavy shield vs a light shield? Are there any other crowd control methods I should look into like Trip?

Thanks again for the quick replies.

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