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Zen Archer critique


Advice

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

I'm taking a shot at making a Zen Archer as I have a really great role-play concept for him. I've never been much of a monk guy, so I'm looking for any helpful advice - this is what I've got so far.

Human Zen Archer & Quinggong Monk
Focused Study, Monk favored class option, Vow of Truth

Attributes: (20 point build)
STR 14
DEX 14
CON 14
INT 14
WIS 15 (+2 racial bonus, +1 at 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th and 20th level)
CHA 7

Traits:
Honored Fist of the Society (+1 point to Ki Pool)
Sound of Mind (+2 saves vs. mind-affecting effects)

Feats:
1st - Skill Focus: Sense Motive
1st - Improved Initiative
1st - Improved Unarmed Strike
1st - Perfect Strike
1st - Precise Shot
2nd - Point Blank Shot
2nd - Weapon Focus: Longbow
3rd - Point Blank Master
3rd - Snake Style
5th - Deadly Aim
6th - Improved Precise Shot
6th - Weapon Specialization: Longbow
7th - Alertness
8th - Skill Focus: Perception
9th - Hammer the Gap
10th - Improved Critical: Longbow
11th - Lightning Reflexes
13th - Great Fortitude
14th - Pinpoint Targeting
15th - Iron Will
16th - Skill Focus: Stealth or Acrobatics
17th - Stunning Fist
18th - Shot on the Run
19th - Toughness

Skills:
Climb (1 rank at 1st level)
Swim (1 rank at 1st level)
Perception (1 rank/level)
Sense Motive (1 rank/level)
Acrobatics (1 rank after 1st level)
Stealth (1 rank after 1st level)

My initial thought was that with Snake Style and a high Sense Motive skill, I can basically negate 1 attack per round, be it a melee attack, ranged attack or touch attack. Its not very often that you deal with foes who have multiple ranged attacks per round and it should be adequate to deal with the occasional fly-by attack as well.

I don't ever pre-plan magical items in my build as we don't tend to buy and sell them in our capaign as many do, but its reasonable to assume that I will have appropriate magical items throughout the course of the campaign (magic bow, wisdom booster, etc.). I try instead to plan the build to be as capable as possible without magic items, and then let what I get be enhancements rather than character-definers.

One of my concerns is going to be accuracy when using Flurry of Blows - the Monk's attack bonus progression, the penalty for Deadly Aim and so forth makes me wonder how much trouble my interative attacks will have hitting.

The character should have pretty high Perception, Stealth and Acrobatics skills to go along with Sense Motive - with his enhanced movement and ranged ability he looks like he could be the ultimate scout and skirmisher. I considered trying to work Survival in, but it didn't really fit with the character concept.

As stated before, any reccomendations would be most welcome.


I'm playing a ZAM right now, and it's a blast. My first few levels are very similar. Snake style is amazing. At level 5, my sense motive is one behind my AC, which means I'm basically immune to anything that only has one attack per turn.

I didn't take deadly aim at 5, though. For the reason you mention, the accuracy issue. I also don't find I'm lacking in damage yet anyway, so I haven't felt the need. I took a home brew version of Master Craftsman at 5 (can craft my own bow/arrows only). I'm debating between deadly aim, the second snake feat (sucks, but the third is amazing), and monkey style (It's a naval campaign, so crazy jump checks and climb speed would be really useful).

Only question with your build is why so much int? I would knock that down and get more wis...

Grand Lodge

I play a dwarven Zen Archer in PFS right now - level 9.

Hmm, well I'm a bit of an optimizer, but I'd start with a higher Wisdom. It affects almost everything for you (Ki, AC, CMD to hit) and thats pretty low. I started with a 19 on my wisdom. I'd do at least a 17 though.

You see to be missing a vital feat: clustered shots. This feat is so good you'd be crazy not to take it. I also like impact critical.

For styles I was looking at Crane Style and deflect arrow personally, but went with no style feat. While snake style is nice, it prevents you from using Ki the following round, and I'm not sure it will still make the hits that hit you miss. On tough fights I'm boosting my AC to a 38 (3 points less than our party duelist, and much higher than anyone else in the party), so its hard to see you beating that consistently enough to make snake style worth it.

I'd be a qi-gong monk and get barkskin!

I really like dwarves by the way. Steel soul feat and glory of old trait gives you +5 vs spells and spell like abilities. It is great when you make almost every save on a 2 or higher!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
Worldbuilder wrote:

I play a dwarven Zen Archer in PFS right now - level 9.

Hmm, well I'm a bit of an optimizer, but I'd start with a higher Wisdom. It affects almost everything for you (Ki, AC, CMD to hit) and thats pretty low. I started with a 19 on my wisdom. I'd do at least a 17 though.

You see to be missing a vital feat: clustered shots. This feat is so good you'd be crazy not to take it. I also like impact critical.

For styles I was looking at Crane Style and deflect arrow personally, but went with no style feat. While snake style is nice, it prevents you from using Ki the following round, and I'm not sure it will still make the hits that hit you miss. On tough fights I'm boosting my AC to a 38 (3 points less than our party duelist, and much higher than anyone else in the party), so its hard to see you beating that consistently enough to make snake style worth it.

I really like dwarves by the way. Steel soul feat and glory of old trait gives you +5 vs spells and spell like abilities. It is great when you make almost every save on a 2 or higher!

With the racial bonus I do start at a 17 Wisdom and it gets bumped to 18 at 4th level. Obviously I would like to have it higher, but the attributes are what best suit the character...

You are absolutely correct on Clustered Shots - I knew I was forgetting something when it came to my archery feats. Thanks for that. I'll slip it in at 11th level, maybe? Drop Iron Will and bump Lightning Reflexes and Great Fortitude up to later in the build.

That's a good point about Snake Style preventing you from using Ki the following round, but truth be told I don't plan on getting attacked very often anyway, and I have the feats to spend. I do see a lot of people running around with obscene AC's for Monks, but I'm not sure how they are getting there. I haven't done the math, would you mine outlining the steps you took to get a 38 AC for a level 9 character without any armor?

For what its worth, at 9th level I'll have a Sense Motive check of +23, which means AC 24-43 vs. 1 attack per round. At 10th level that jumps to +29 (AC 30-49).


Worldbuilder wrote:

You see to be missing a vital feat: clustered shots. This feat is so good you'd be crazy not to take it. I also like impact critical.

For styles I was looking at Crane Style and deflect arrow personally, but went with no style feat. While snake style is nice, it prevents you from using Ki the following round, and I'm not sure it will still make the hits that hit you miss. On tough fights I'm boosting my AC to a 38 (3 points less than our party duelist, and much higher than anyone else in the party), so its hard to see you beating that consistently enough to make snake style worth it.

I'd be a qi-gong monk and get barkskin!

I really like dwarves by the way. Steel soul feat and glory of old trait gives you +5 vs spells and spell like abilities. It is great when you make almost every save on a 2 or higher!

Clustered shots is good, but I hate spending a feat to counter a terrible game mechanic. And can't you just get specific arrows to bypass any particular dr you might run into?

At level 9, my monk's sense motive will be +23, without magic items. I will likely have a +5 item by then, and a headband of +2 wis, so +29 is more realistic. It beats 38 on an average roll, and absolutely crushes any typical monster's to-hit bonus by that point. (How is your ac 38 at 9, btw?) Losing the swift is unfortunate, but sense motive is also a useful skill in it's own right.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
Vestrial wrote:
Worldbuilder wrote:

You see to be missing a vital feat: clustered shots. This feat is so good you'd be crazy not to take it. I also like impact critical.

For styles I was looking at Crane Style and deflect arrow personally, but went with no style feat. While snake style is nice, it prevents you from using Ki the following round, and I'm not sure it will still make the hits that hit you miss. On tough fights I'm boosting my AC to a 38 (3 points less than our party duelist, and much higher than anyone else in the party), so its hard to see you beating that consistently enough to make snake style worth it.

I'd be a qi-gong monk and get barkskin!

I really like dwarves by the way. Steel soul feat and glory of old trait gives you +5 vs spells and spell like abilities. It is great when you make almost every save on a 2 or higher!

Clustered shots is good, but I hate spending a feat to counter a terrible game mechanic. And can't you just get specific arrows to bypass any particular dr you might run into?

At level 9, my monk's sense motive will be +23, without magic items. I will likely have a +5 item by then, and a headband of +2 wis, so +29 is more realistic. It beats 38 on an average roll, and absolutely crushes any typical monster's to-hit bonus by that point. (How is your ac 38 at 9, btw?) Losing the swift is unfortunate, but sense motive is also a useful skill in it's own right.

I think the fact that it also replaces touch AC is important to note.


Wiggz wrote:
I think the fact that it also replaces touch AC is important to note.

Yeah, definitely. My party fought some sort of incorporeal undead wraith thing that drained both the fighter's to within one hit of being dead. They backed off, I stepped up and just danced with the thing 'til it died. ;)


1. No need for Snake Style, or many of the Skill Focus Feats. Snake Style is not that great because you could easily roll under your normal AC, and as an archer you will not be getting many melee attacks against you. Deflect Arrow is just as good and you do not have to waste 2 feats.

2. Your saves as a monk will be perfectly fine, no giant need for the save feats.

3. You forgot to add in the stat bonus from being Human.

4. You use full BAB -2 for Flurry so you will hit plenty, as long as gear is balanced.

5. You really do not NEED a 14 int, you get the bonus point from human, so a 12 or even a 10 would be ok.

I would go:

Str: 12
Dex: 16
Con: 12
Int: 10
Wis: 18 (16 base +2 Human)
Cha: 7


You still didn't mention, why such high int?


Whisperknives wrote:
1. No need for Snake Style, or many of the Skill Focus Feats. Snake Style is not that great because you could easily roll under your normal AC, and as an archer you will not be getting many melee attacks against you. Deflect Arrow is just as good and you do not have to waste 2 feats.

It's easy to keep sense motive equal to or greater than ac, thus it's impossible to roll lower than your AC. It is not 'easy' to do at all. Deflect arrow does nothing against melee or touch attacks. Also, early levels, the ZAM gets most of the ranged feats as bonus feats, so you have plenty to play with.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
Vestrial wrote:

I'm playing a ZAM right now, and it's a blast. My first few levels are very similar. Snake style is amazing. At level 5, my sense motive is one behind my AC, which means I'm basically immune to anything that only has one attack per turn.

Only question with your build is why so much int? I would knock that down and get more wis...

LOL - yeah, that's a typo - it should be 10, not 14. Wish I had caught that in time to change it.

The character is actually pretty cool. He is all about finding truth in things - since he permits himself no acts of deception, no self-deception, he sees the truth in the things around him much more clearly (hence the higher Perception and Sense Motive and higher Will saves). His tendency to tell the truth openly and without shame along with his penchant for pointing out lies and exaggerations by others is what gives him his low Charisma. He's not pathological about it, he wouldn't do it to harm another or to the party's detriment, he just has little patience for people who tell lies needlessly.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
Whisperknives wrote:

1. No need for Snake Style, or many of the Skill Focus Feats. Snake Style is not that great because you could easily roll under your normal AC, and as an archer you will not be getting many melee attacks against you. Deflect Arrow is just as good and you do not have to waste 2 feats.

2. Your saves as a monk will be perfectly fine, no giant need for the save feats.

3. You forgot to add in the stat bonus from being Human.

4. You use full BAB -2 for Flurry so you will hit plenty, as long as gear is balanced.

5. You really do not NEED a 14 int, you get the bonus point from human, so a 12 or even a 10 would be ok.

I would go:

Str: 12
Dex: 16
Con: 12
Int: 10
Wis: 18 (16 base +2 Human)
Cha: 7

1. At level 12 (for instance), I'll have a +32 bonus to Sense Motive checks - I doubt I'll have a 33 or higher AC.

2. I honestly couldn't find many things I thought would be better to select at those spots.

3. Its in there, in the parantheses, making my initial Wisdom score a 17.

4. Good to know - I'm still trying to wrap my mind around Monks and their crazy ways.

5. Yeah, as I stated in the other post, that was a typo - INT should have been 10, which would have put the character much more in line with your reccomendations. still might make those changes though as its a pretty good spread.


Wiggz wrote:

LOL - yeah, that's a typo - it should be 10, not 14. Wish I had caught that in time to change it.

The character is actually pretty cool. He is all about finding truth in things - since he permits himself no acts of deception, no self-deception, he sees the truth in the things around him much more clearly (hence the higher Perception and Sense Motive and higher Will saves).

Ah, that makes sense.

And that's pretty much how I play mine. I am also kinda the defacto party face, which is kinda fun to play when you can't lie, though almost always know when others are. ;) In the world we're playing in, my monks' clan act as advisers to the rulers (and also assassins when called for), so sense motive and perception are pretty key. I also took the wisdom of the flesh to get disable device as a class skill, with wisdom, which is awesome.

It's a very fun character, and I really like the fact that I don't feel like I must blow every feat on combat stuff to stay effective since he gets so many as bonuses. You could pretty much spend zero feats on combat and still be extremely effective, and be good at other stuff. I'm very tempted to take skill focus: stealth and hellcat stealth since I tend to do a lot of sneaking around ...


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
Vestrial wrote:
It's a very fun character, and I really like the fact that I don't feel like I must blow every feat on combat stuff to stay effective since he gets so many as bonuses. You could pretty much spend zero feats on combat and still be extremely effective, and be good at other stuff. I'm very tempted to take skill focus: stealth and hellcat stealth since I tend to do a lot of sneaking around ...

If you decide to play aroundwith that, don't forget about the Focused Study racial option humans get.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

Updated Feat selection:
.
.
.
.
Feats:
1st - Skill Focus: Sense Motive
1st - Improved Initiative
1st - Improved Unarmed Strike
1st - Perfect Strike
1st - Precise Shot
2nd - Point Blank Shot
2nd - Weapon Focus: Longbow
3rd - Point Blank Master
3rd - Snake Style
5th - Alertness
6th - Improved Precise Shot
6th - Weapon Specialization: Longbow
7th - Deadly Aim
8th - Skill Focus: Perception
9th - Clustered Shots
10th - Improved Critical: Longbow
11th - Hammer the Gap
13th - Lightning Reflexes
14th - Pinpoint Targeting
15th - Great Fortitude
16th - Skill Focus: Stealth or Acrobatics
17th - Stunning Fist
18th - Shot on the Run
19th - Toughness


Wiggz wrote:

Updated Feat selection:

.
.
.
.
Feats:
1st - Skill Focus: Sense Motive
1st - Improved Initiative
1st - Improved Unarmed Strike
1st - Perfect Strike
1st - Precise Shot
2nd - Point Blank Shot
2nd - Weapon Focus: Longbow
3rd - Point Blank Master
3rd - Snake Style
5th - Alertness
6th - Improved Precise Shot
6th - Weapon Specialization: Longbow
7th - Deadly Aim
8th - Skill Focus: Perception
9th - Clustered Shots
10th - Improved Critical: Longbow
11th - Hammer the Gap
13th - Lightning Reflexes
14th - Pinpoint Targeting
15th - Great Fortitude
16th - Skill Focus: Stealth or Acrobatics
17th - Stunning Fist
18th - Shot on the Run
19th - Toughness

I would suggest starting with alertness. Lose 1 point, but gain 2 on perception, which is a really important skill (both mechanically and thematically). And by the time you get to 5th you'll probably realize you don't also need skill focus. (though you may decide to take it after 10 when it gets good) And skill boosting items are dirt cheap, relatively speaking...


Vestrial wrote:
I would suggest starting with alertness. Lose 1 point, but gain 2 on perception, which is a really important skill (both mechanically and thematically). And by the time you get to 5th you'll probably realize you don't also need skill focus. (though you may decide to take it after 10 when it gets good) And skill boosting items are dirt cheap, relatively speaking...

Never mind, just read focused study. (My monk's not human) ;)

Grand Lodge

Vestrial wrote:
Worldbuilder wrote:

You see to be missing a vital feat: clustered shots. This feat is so good you'd be crazy not to take it. I also like impact critical.

For styles I was looking at Crane Style and deflect arrow personally, but went with no style feat. While snake style is nice, it prevents you from using Ki the following round, and I'm not sure it will still make the hits that hit you miss. On tough fights I'm boosting my AC to a 38 (3 points less than our party duelist, and much higher than anyone else in the party), so its hard to see you beating that consistently enough to make snake style worth it.

I'd be a qi-gong monk and get barkskin!

I really like dwarves by the way. Steel soul feat and glory of old trait gives you +5 vs spells and spell like abilities. It is great when you make almost every save on a 2 or higher!

Clustered shots is good, but I hate spending a feat to counter a terrible game mechanic. And can't you just get specific arrows to bypass any particular dr you might run into?

At level 9, my monk's sense motive will be +23, without magic items. I will likely have a +5 item by then, and a headband of +2 wis, so +29 is more realistic. It beats 38 on an average roll, and absolutely crushes any typical monster's to-hit bonus by that point. (How is your ac 38 at 9, btw?) Losing the swift is unfortunate, but sense motive is also a useful skill in it's own right.

Ac: 10+ Wisdom (7) + Dex (+3) + Deflection (2) + Monk Bonus (2) + Dodge (1, I was going to do crane style) = 25

Boosts: 25 + Mage Armor (wand 4) + Barkskin (Ki 4) + Ki dodge (4) + Haste (Boots 1) = 38.

I have 10 rounds of haste from boots and 12 ki. In PFS, with set battles, anytime I think I may be hit, its easy to turn up to 38. I have yet to run out of haste or Ki in any scenario I have played, and I play at tier 10-11 a lot(everyone else in my group is a few levels ahead of me). If your GM grinds your resources more, you wouldn't be able to rely on it as much.

I did forget snake style adds to touch, and thats REALLY nice to have and makes it better than I initially was giving it. I still feel like there is better options. I also agree, Sense Motive is great OOC as well!

You CANNOT bypass any DR, there is DR/-. That is unovercomable, and can stack up pretty big (a 10th level barb can have 5/-), and knocking 5 off per arrow, when you hit with so many really hurts. On top of that, even the types that are arrow dependent, how do you plan for good, evil, adamantine, etc, and its so pricey. No, it would hurt your pocket and your damage severely. DR gets greater and greater as you level too. They also have DR slashing, which is impossible to over come with arrows, and I know one creature has it at 10, 10 off each arrow sucks bad.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
Worldbuilder wrote:
Vestrial wrote:
Worldbuilder wrote:

You see to be missing a vital feat: clustered shots. This feat is so good you'd be crazy not to take it. I also like impact critical.

For styles I was looking at Crane Style and deflect arrow personally, but went with no style feat. While snake style is nice, it prevents you from using Ki the following round, and I'm not sure it will still make the hits that hit you miss. On tough fights I'm boosting my AC to a 38 (3 points less than our party duelist, and much higher than anyone else in the party), so its hard to see you beating that consistently enough to make snake style worth it.

I'd be a qi-gong monk and get barkskin!

I really like dwarves by the way. Steel soul feat and glory of old trait gives you +5 vs spells and spell like abilities. It is great when you make almost every save on a 2 or higher!

Clustered shots is good, but I hate spending a feat to counter a terrible game mechanic. And can't you just get specific arrows to bypass any particular dr you might run into?

At level 9, my monk's sense motive will be +23, without magic items. I will likely have a +5 item by then, and a headband of +2 wis, so +29 is more realistic. It beats 38 on an average roll, and absolutely crushes any typical monster's to-hit bonus by that point. (How is your ac 38 at 9, btw?) Losing the swift is unfortunate, but sense motive is also a useful skill in it's own right.

Ac: 10+ Wisdom (7) + Dex (+3) + Deflection (2) + Monk Bonus (2) + Dodge (1, I was going to do crane style) = 25

Boosts: 25 + Mage Armor (wand 4) + Barkskin (Ki 4) + Ki dodge (4) + Haste (Boots 1) = 38.

I have 10 rounds of haste from boots and 12 ki. In PFS, with set battles, anytime I think I may be hit, its easy to turn up to 38. I have yet to run out of haste or Ki in any scenario I have played, and I play at tier 10-11 a lot(everyone else in my group is a few levels ahead of me). If your GM grinds your resources more, you wouldn't be able to rely on it...

Ah - AC 25 is closer to what I was looking for/looking at. What is the Deflection bonus there?

Mage Armor, Barkskin, Haste - yeah, that's all great stuff, assuming you have the chance to get it all going before the battle. I imagine there will be any number of buffs available from items or other characters... I'm just looking at what this build can accomplish alone and naked.

At 12th level, I get an AC of 33-52 against a single melee, ranged or touch attack once a round, every round without having to do any powering up or expend any resources. For me that's more than worth the feats spent, and as we've discussed, I gain some benefits in some very useful skills as well. I don't want to neglect my AC because I'm sure form time to time I'm going to be faced with up-close threats I can't run from, but with blasters and tanks drawing fire, I suspect that 90% of the tim ebeing able to mitigate 1 attack/round will be all I need.


Worldbuilder wrote:

Ac: 10+ Wisdom (7) + Dex (+3) + Deflection (2) + Monk Bonus (2) + Dodge (1, I was going to do crane style) = 25

Boosts: 25 + Mage Armor (wand 4) + Barkskin (Ki 4) + Ki dodge (4) + Haste (Boots 1) = 38.

I have 10 rounds of haste from boots and 12 ki. In PFS, with set battles, anytime I think I may be hit, its easy to turn up to 38. I have yet to run out of haste or Ki in any scenario I have played, and I play at tier 10-11 a lot(everyone else in my group is a few levels ahead of me). If your GM grinds your resources more, you wouldn't be able to rely on it...

Ah, I didn't realize you were factoring in using a ki point. If that's the case I think snake style wins hands down. I didn't take barkskin because I'd rather be totally immune to difficult terrain for an encounter than have a few more ac that probably won't be relevant. Barskin is something that's nice, but you won't really want to burn it every combat, but then if you dont, you kick yourself for getting hit lol. I'd rather just bring a wand or potion if I really felt I needed a few more AC (but with snake, I don't really care as much).

Re clustered shots, I guess it depends on your gm's style. We play in a very political game, so humanoids are far and away our most common adversary. As such, DR doesn't pop up quite as often as if you're doing a lot of dungeoneering. I guess in PFS it's probably mandatory. I still haven't really decided if I'm going to take it or not. I'm not really sold that it's even worth it when you're facing an encounter with a monster that has DR, because there will certainly be other targets to service that don't have DR, and if you're down to one baddy, the odds of losing the fight by the margin of his DR are pretty slim. But like I said, I may take it later, just because DR is such an annoying mechanic. (And a poorly designed one imo. They really need to redesign it or ditch it all together for the next iteration)

Grand Lodge

Deflection is ring of protection.

Mage Armor is an hour per level, haste is a free action with the boots, and ki is a swift action. Barkskin lasts almost two hours now. I don't need to activate those "Before" a battle, I just keep them on. I only turn on the Ki when I think I may be swung at.

I guess my biggest thing with snake style is, as an archer, I go entire LEVELS(not scenarios) without getting swung at. Its like being a wizard. I have gone two levels without being swung at, its a lot of feats for something that never gets used. Of course, once in a while I get mobbed on, but usually its a conscious decision to protect people much squishier than myself.

How do you become immune to difficult terrain?

Vestrial - I have fought plenty of combats with a single BBEG with DR 5-15. With a zen archer, your probably getting 5 shots a round at level 9. Thats 25-75 damage a round negated, or 5-15 with clustered shots. There is very few feats that give you that kind of return on your damage.

Qadira

I posted a zen archer build in the ultimate archer thread.

I definitely think cluster shot is required. One of the best feats there are for any archer build. The thing that will nerf you more tan anything else is DR. And thats just a stoneskin away.

I also don't think you need snake. The point of being an archer is not to get into melee range.

But either way.. you'll have fun..


Worldbuilder wrote:

Deflection is ring of protection.

Mage Armor is an hour per level, haste is a free action with the boots, and ki is a swift action. Barkskin lasts almost two hours now. I don't need to activate those "Before" a battle, I just keep them on. I only turn on the Ki when I think I may be swung at.

I guess my biggest thing with snake style is, as an archer, I go entire LEVELS(not scenarios) without getting swung at. Its like being a wizard. I have gone two levels without being swung at, its a lot of feats for something that never gets used. Of course, once in a while I get mobbed on, but usually its a conscious decision to protect people much squishier than myself.

How do you become immune to difficult terrain?

Vestrial - I have fought plenty of combats with a single BBEG with DR 5-15. With a zen archer, your probably getting 5 shots a round at level 9. Thats 25-75 damage a round negated, or 5-15 with clustered shots. There is very few feats that give you that kind of return on your damage.

1.5 hours is not really 'almost two hours.' =p You will be level 12 before it's two hours. So right now you're casting it 5 times to keep yourself buffed all day? Yet you say you go entire levels without getting swung at. See the disconnect? You burned a monk power (a resource more scarce than feats), and 5 ki/day to keep yourself buffed. Instead of a feat, which works better (way bigger AC bonus when used, and works on touch), and is always available, and has ooc uses, and cannot be duplicated with a cheap spell. The more I think about it, the more I'm glad I didn't pick up barskin. ;)

Not to mention, with snake I can literally tank anything we go up against when needed, and really do it better than the fighter (I'm effectively immune to one swing. The fighter gets hit, often). If the thing has multiple attacks, I'll likely take damage, but still less than the fighter, because my real AC is pretty close to his, and I can still burn a ki to get +4 when I really need. Just because you carry a bow doesn't mean you have to fear melee. I flank for my party all the time. The zam's ridiculous defenses are what make him such a unique archer. I don't run from enemies in melee, they run from me. =p

Feather Steps, one of the other lvl 4 Qinngong abilities; 1ki, 10min/level, effective immunity to difficult terrain. (including 5' steps, which you can't normally do)

15 dr at level 9? Uh, what had that? Because in the bestiary at CR 12 I only see DR 10, it's not that common, and most of them are easily bypassed (good, cold iron, silver, adamantine, etc) Again, I'm not big on spending rare resources (feat) to get an worse effect than a cheap spell or relatively cheap ammo can get me, but better (bypassing all-together is better than stacking your damage).


cp wrote:

I posted a zen archer build in the ultimate archer thread.

I definitely think cluster shot is required. One of the best feats there are for any archer build. The thing that will nerf you more tan anything else is DR. And thats just a stoneskin away.

I also don't think you need snake. The point of being an archer is not to get into melee range.

But either way.. you'll have fun..

You think you're going to get more mileage out of farshot or combat reflexes than snake? You don't even threaten with a bow until 9, and even then only to 5' which means it's only useful in melee, which contradicts the point of being an archer. =p I'm also not a fan of reckless aim, as I don't want a 5% chance to hit my teammates (We also use fumble cards, though, so it's potentially doubly-bad), but I can see the appeal for that one.

And you miss the point anyway. Snake isn't about 'need.' It's about awesome. Being able to go to-to-toe with a hulking fighter in full plate with a greatsword and make him look like a fool is just fun. ;) And it can pull your party's bacon out of the fire when you need to step up in front, and that's much more important to me than occasionally getting an extra aoo with my rather mediocre melee strikes, or being able to shoot slightly father than normal (without burning a ki)...

Grand Lodge

Uhhh, monk powers suck man. Your not really burning anything, your making them something useful. The monk is well known for its crapiness, thats why they added so many options to switch them out. I've already switched out three, and plan on switching two more (if I play him that high)

As far as the time it lasts, you must play vastly different games than I do. It is rare that an adventuring day takes more than an hour or so, especially if its a dungeon crawl. Certainly never more than 3-4. And if the enemy has any chance to miss (besides the auto miss on 1) it increases that chance by 20% - 25% at level 12.

I'm not saying snake style isn't awesome, I am just commenting that there are other things you can use those 4 feats for.

It also deteriorates more as you level. That fighter that you block a hit from, has 2-3 more coming at you. Creature with pounce are tearing you up in a heart beat. Generally you will be defending a wizard or cleric caster in the back, and be taking the ambush dudes face to face, not running up to the BBEG with the fighters. Therefor, a high AC will block all their hits.

Personally, I would take the save boosters first - especially Will. Most of what I'm shaking off these days is dominates (because I destroy the battlefield) and with my +14 will save (add +5 to spells and spell like abilities) they rarely hit. Still, when I do its bad for my allies.

Feather steps is awesome, but it is also a 10 min/level ability. And if I can't 5 foot step, I am likely as effective anyway. I am a howitzer for gods sake. Being a dwarf, I also have rock step, so its benefit is lost to me in one terrain type anyway.

You sometimes fight battles over CR 3 higher than oneself, though I was speaking of at higher levels. As you said you play more political campaigns with humanoids, you would get less mileage, but in most campaigns it is crucial. Money cannot by penetrating a lot of DR, or you are talking about an astronomical expenditure of your capitol.

I think farshot is good, though I haven't taken it yet. Combat reflexes is still good, you can AOO with your feet still (monks threaten with every part of their body) and opponents who don't know your a zen archer could very likely try to swarm past you (thinking you can't AOO). I probably wouldn't take it still personally unless I did the improved snap shot line, but there is reasoning there still.

Reckless aim is risky, but is actually extremely good if your front liner uses reach weapons. By RAW he threatens him still, but is not adjacent so can't be shot on the misfire, so it either hits nothing, or a different enemy. I use it a lot.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
cp wrote:

I posted a zen archer build in the ultimate archer thread.

I definitely think cluster shot is required. One of the best feats there are for any archer build. The thing that will nerf you more tan anything else is DR. And thats just a stoneskin away.

I also don't think you need snake. The point of being an archer is not to get into melee range.

But either way.. you'll have fun..

Agree on Clustered Shots.

Snake isn't for melee attacks - its for ranged attacks and ranged touch attacks. Being able to negate one of those every round is about as good a use for feats by a ranged character as I can imagine.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Zen Archers are actually well suited to be front line fighters. Early Point Blank Mastery means that you are highly effective in the front lines. I leverage my monks speed to close quickly with the most dangerous opponents then full attack.

Sczarni

Very very close to my ZAM build. I chose Wisdom in the Flesh (& Disable Device) in place of Clouded Mind or whatever your 2nd trait was. Otherwise basically identical. I skipped the vow as well... Play mine kind of like a Ninja...

Qadira

well different opinions make the world go round. Snake is good I just have a different style.

Permanent symbol of mirroring is going to negate one attack a round costs around 5k and doesn't take a feat.

And my style of play is - as long as they don't take me down, I want them spreading out the damage; hitting me not the wizard. And the build I proposed had a high enough AC iteratives aren't going to hit.
I think the difference on init more than balances the one cancel a round.

Qadira

Vestrial wrote:


You think you're going to get more mileage out of farshot or combat reflexes than snake?

If you are outside 30' range - you're outside of sneak.

If you're flying 65 feet up - virtually no spell is going to hit you as they will AoE your party first. So you're already cancelling more than half of all melee hits (the ones that can't fly) and most spell hits...

You'll also get a fair number of misses due to the enemy having to overcome the range incremeent.

Toss in the value of having a high screener (cover for wizard, perception checks

So... nah, not really. Pick whatever feat you want =P


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
cp wrote:
If you are outside 30' range - you're outside of sneak.

I'm a little confused - what does this mean?


Worldbuilder wrote:

Uhhh, monk powers suck man. Your not really burning anything, your making them something useful. The monk is well known for its crapiness, thats why they added so many options to switch them out. I've already switched out three, and plan on switching two more (if I play him that high)

As far as the time it lasts, you must play vastly different games than I do. It is rare that an adventuring day takes more than an hour or so, especially if its a dungeon crawl. Certainly never more than 3-4. And if the enemy has any chance to miss (besides the auto miss on 1) it increases that chance by 20% - 25% at level 12.

I'm not saying snake style isn't awesome, I am just commenting that there are other things you can use those 4 feats for.

It also deteriorates more as you level. That fighter that you block a hit from, has 2-3 more coming at you. Creature with pounce are tearing you up in a heart beat. Generally you will be defending a wizard or cleric caster in the back, and be taking the ambush dudes face to face, not running up to the BBEG with the fighters. Therefor, a high AC will block all their hits.

Personally, I would take the save boosters first - especially Will. Most of what I'm shaking off these days is dominates (because I destroy the battlefield) and with my +14 will save (add +5 to spells and spell like abilities) they rarely hit. Still, when I do its bad for my allies.

Feather steps is awesome, but it is also a 10 min/level ability. And if I can't 5 foot step, I am likely as effective anyway. I am a howitzer for gods sake. Being a dwarf, I also have rock step, so its benefit is lost to me in one terrain type anyway.

You sometimes fight battles over CR 3 higher than oneself, though I was speaking of at higher levels. As you said you play more political campaigns with humanoids, you would get less mileage, but in most campaigns it is crucial. Money cannot by penetrating a lot of DR, or you are talking about an astronomical expenditure of your capitol.

I think farshot...

'Monk powers' include those for which you are swapping out the 'standard' powers, many of which are awesome. The first choice really comes down to feather steps or barkskin. In order for barskin to be really useful, you have to burn ki in advance, which means you may end up wasting a variable amount of ki every day before you get into a fight. If you can schedule your fights like clockwork, I guess it's easier to manage that, and then I guess we do play very different games. True dungeon crawls are fairly rare in my game, and even when we do a 'dungeon' type thing it's not a multi-day, wake up and start crawling type adventure. We don't know when combat is going to come a lot of the times, so waking up and throwing up two hour buffs would be a waste much of the time.

I'm not getting your point on feather steps. Difficult terrain comes up quite frequently, even in the APs. But it's not the kind of thing you need to keep running all the time to benefit. Usually you see difficult terrain coming before the fight, so you throw it up as needed. Being able to negate it (thus getting better position on the enemies/minimizing attacks thrown your way) just seems better than a small ac buff. I guess financially speaking, barskin is better since it's a level 2 spell and feather steps is only level 1. Come to think of it they are both rather mediocre choices! =p

The fighter's iterative attacks don't bother me. Snake avoids his biggest bonus attack, and my ac is still the same as the non-snake monk's, so he's in worse shape than me. Ditto with the pouncer. You get to eat the full pounce, I negate one of the attacks.

Where is all this DR money can't penetrate? It only doesn't penetrate /- DR, and that's fairly rare. Looking at CR 16 at random, there's only one monster that has 15/-, and that's the plasma ooze. All the rest are easily bypassed with very little money (good, silver, etc. one adamantine). The more I look, the more a waste the feat seems. (because it doesn't even bypass, it just reduces the effectiveness of dr.) Personally, by that level I plan to have an endless quiver with 6 of each arrow ready to go, and either scrolls of bless weapon, or better yet have the quiver do that on-use x-times per day too since it's so cheap by that point...


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

And don't forget that a +5 weapon bypasses Cold-Iron, SIlver, Adamantine and alignment based DR's - leaving only DR/- to bypass. At high levels you can assume that a Zen Archer will have at least one +5 bow (likely more than one, probably with other enhancements on it) so probably doesn't even need arrows of any particular material (though may have various types of arrows for types of damage variability)

As a player of a Zen Archer what is this "endless quiver" you are referring to? I have an "efficient quiver" which is indeed useful - though I definitely still have to track arrows as it is far from endless.

The new "conserving" weapon enhancement is somewhat helpful - automatically replaces any arrows that miss - though for a Zen Archer that often wouldn't help much with conserving ammunition (as at high levels Zen Archers don't miss all that often)

The spell Abundant Ammunition is of course great for a Zen Archer (particularly with a very highly enchanted bow so using non-magical arrows doesn't matter as much)


Rycaut wrote:

And don't forget that a +5 weapon bypasses Cold-Iron, SIlver, Adamantine and alignment based DR's - leaving only DR/- to bypass. At high levels you can assume that a Zen Archer will have at least one +5 bow (likely more than one, probably with other enhancements on it) so probably doesn't even need arrows of any particular material (though may have various types of arrows for types of damage variability)

As a player of a Zen Archer what is this "endless quiver" you are referring to? I have an "efficient quiver" which is indeed useful - though I definitely still have to track arrows as it is far from endless.

The new "conserving" weapon enhancement is somewhat helpful - automatically replaces any arrows that miss - though for a Zen Archer that often wouldn't help much with conserving ammunition (as at high levels Zen Archers don't miss all that often)

The spell Abundant Ammunition is of course great for a Zen Archer (particularly with a very highly enchanted bow so using non-magical arrows doesn't matter as much)

I forgot that +5 bypasses all those. That makes the case for clustered shots even worse. Out of curiosity, I just looked through every critter in the bestiary from CR18-20. There are only two that have /- DR, and one is only 10 (the other is 15). There are a whole bunch of 20/magic/good, etc, etc, all of which are totally irrelevant. (why do they even put it on there?)

By endless quiver, I just meant some easy way to get abundant ammo on your quiver. Either wand, enchanted permanently, whatever. It's a cheap spell, there's no reason you shouldn't have permanent access to it by mid levels.

Conserving is terrible. I'd never take a to-hit and damage penalty to retrieve arrows. You would literally have to fire thousands of arrows to even balance the cost, and that's only if you don't want to enchant the bow further. It really should have been a static cost enchant, not an enhancement bonus.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I play in PFS so forget about how easy it is to get Permanency or custom items in home games (since you can't do either in PFS play).

I think Conserving would be good in games where ammunition is tracked and hard to come by (in long encounters/dungeon crawls) if spells like Abundant Ammunition aren't available.


Rycaut wrote:

I play in PFS so forget about how easy it is to get Permanency or custom items in home games (since you can't do either in PFS play).

I think Conserving would be good in games where ammunition is tracked and hard to come by (in long encounters/dungeon crawls) if spells like Abundant Ammunition aren't available.

Oh lame, didn't know you can't have custom items made.

I don't think Conserving is ever worth it. It's too expensive. For the same cost you can buy a bag of holding and fill it to the brim with arrows and not run out in 100 years. After the first time I ran out of arrows halfway through a mini-dungeon I started treating our 18 str fighter like a pack mule. He carries 60 arrows on his back for me, I carry 60, so far it's not been an issue. And arrows are so easy to make, I just knock out a few every night before bed...


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Right - and you can't craft in PFS either...

But yes, my archers carry a lot of arrows though I'm running into the capacity of my efficient quiver actually (though many PFS scenarios also have enemies with bows and arrows if I really needed some mid-adventure)

Have to say however that Adaptive as a +1000 gp enhancement is now basically necessary for every composite bow... really great value for the money if you ever have a means of gaining STR...


Rycaut wrote:

Right - and you can't craft in PFS either...

But yes, my archers carry a lot of arrows though I'm running into the capacity of my efficient quiver actually (though many PFS scenarios also have enemies with bows and arrows if I really needed some mid-adventure)

Have to say however that Adaptive as a +1000 gp enhancement is now basically necessary for every composite bow... really great value for the money if you ever have a means of gaining STR...

Wait, you can't even craft mundane items like arrows? Or just magic items?

Yeah, Adaptive is amazing. Makes potions/wands/scrolls of bull's strength so much more attractive...


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

in PFS you can't craft. You can have a craft skill for day job roles and certain classes will use craft skills (alchemists to identify potions) but yes you can't use a craft skill to make mundane items w/o paying for them (for flavor purposes sure and occasionally for scenario purposes you might need to make a craft or professional check - Profession (Sailor) being the most common example) but yes PFS doesn't have crafting even of mundane items.


Rycaut wrote:
in PFS you can't craft. You can have a craft skill for day job roles and certain classes will use craft skills (alchemists to identify potions) but yes you can't use a craft skill to make mundane items w/o paying for them (for flavor purposes sure and occasionally for scenario purposes you might need to make a craft or professional check - Profession (Sailor) being the most common example) but yes PFS doesn't have crafting even of mundane items.

That really sucks. And does increase the value of clustered shots quite a bit. In a normal game, if your adamantine arrows break you can still collect the heads and make new arrows quickly and cheaply. If you have to actually buy new ones all the time at full price, that could get expensive pretty quick...


Vestrial wrote:


That really sucks. And does increase the value of clustered shots quite a bit. In a normal game, if your adamantine arrows break you can still collect the heads and make new arrows quickly and cheaply. If you have to actually buy new ones all the time at full price, that could get expensive pretty quick...

Make whole.. mending.. what's the problem?

Clustered shots is not the end all be all for archers, even those with many feats to spare.

I would recommend Look Out as a feat if you can travel with someone else that will have it. The chance to get a full attack during a surprise round is worth the feat, and will give you more damage over the career of the PC than clustered shots will (assuming that you prepare with arrows).

-James


http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2nix8?Zen-and-the-Art-of-Monk-Maintenance-A-
Guide#1


james maissen wrote:

Make whole.. mending.. what's the problem?

Clustered shots is not the end all be all for archers, even those with many feats to spare.

I would recommend Look Out as a feat if you can travel with someone else that will have it. The chance to get a full attack during a surprise round is worth the feat, and will give you more damage over the career of the PC than clustered shots will (assuming that you prepare with arrows).

-James

Both those spells fix one arrow at a time. That's a lot of casts to repair all your broken arrows at the end of a long adventuring day. Not many casters are going to be too excited about ending their day doing chores for you.

I also like lookout a lot, but it seems hard to convince people to get teamwork feats due to the scarcity of feats. Most characters have some cool trick they are heading towards and burning a feat would push their trick/combo/whatever, back two levels at least.


porpentine wrote:

http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2nix8?Zen-and-the-Art-of-Monk-Maintenance-A-

Guide#1

Why do you like toughness over snake? By the time toughness is helping you (ie, you're at 0+toughness in hp), you have been hit multiple times. Snake is far more effective hp, and it's value doesn't diminish as you get injured. When you're sitting at one-hit from down, toughness can't do anything to keep you up after the next hit. Snake can keep you going for a long time...


Vestrial wrote:
porpentine wrote:

http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2nix8?Zen-and-the-Art-of-Monk-Maintenance-A-

Guide#1

Why do you like toughness over snake? By the time toughness is helping you (ie, you're at 0+toughness in hp), you have been hit multiple times. Snake is far more effective hp, and it's value doesn't diminish as you get injured. When you're sitting at one-hit from down, toughness can't do anything to keep you up after the next hit. Snake can keep you going for a long time...

Snake style isn't ideal for a zen archer, for two reasons. First, snakiness requires swift or immediate actions both to activate and to use. This puts it in direct competition with ki point swift action expenditure, which you want to do often in key combats, for unarmed arrow damage or extra shots. Second, as a zen archer your AC is competent at moderate levels and eventually almost unparalleled. Spending feats to replace such an excellent defence is wasteful.

In addition, Mantis style gives you decisive bonuses to stunning arrow DCs at the highest levels: in the long run, that's the style a zen archer should take for maximum potency.

Check the sample fights on the class guide. The zen archer never takes damage at all: his defences are so high that snake style would be an irrelevance. Better to be using those swift/immediates for offense.


When you're using a composite longbow, Far Shot seems like a waste of a feat. I've yet to run into a situation where I'm engaging over 110 feet away.

I play my ZA right in the front line after 3rd level, since I can still threaten with UA strike and give the ninja flanking bonus.


porpentine wrote:

Snake style isn't ideal for a zen archer, for two reasons. First, snakiness requires swift or immediate actions both to activate and to use. This puts it in direct competition with ki point swift action expenditure, which you want to do often in key combats, for unarmed arrow damage or extra shots. Second, as a zen archer your AC is competent at moderate levels and eventually almost unparalleled. Spending feats to replace such an excellent defence is wasteful.

In addition, Mantis style gives you decisive bonuses to stunning arrow DCs at the highest levels: in the long run, that's the style a zen archer should take for maximum potency.

Check the sample fights on the class guide. The zen archer never takes damage at all: his defences are so high that snake style would be an irrelevance. Better to be using those swift/immediates for offense.

+2 dc is hardly 'decisive.'

And, quite honestly, I don't care about high level theorycrafting, nor do 90% of the people asking for advice. Most games end before 15. Actually playing the character from 1-15, snake is vastly superior to toughness. Once per turn you get to jack your AC through the roof. Yeah, the swift action is unfortunate, but I don't use ki every single round of combat anyway, and not getting hit is almost always preferable to getting in one more attack. (especially if it's a particularly nasty touch attack.) And one avoided attack is going to be more hp preserved than toughness grants, and if you're being attacked you will likely have the chance to avoid more than one...


+2 DC gives DC36 at 20th level, with the moderate 20pb build described in the guide. As outlined in the sample combats, that is fairly decisive, and certainly not to be sniffed at.

There is nothing wrong with your taking snake style if you want it, but I'll point out again that a nicely built 20pb zen archer has no need of an alternative to AC. Her defences are immense without any need for a feat-bought substitute.

In addition, it's a shame to build a zen archer where multiple assets are running off swift/immediates. Zen archers get some of the best ki abilities in the game. At moderate levels, the extra attack is marvellous: at higher levels, the unarmed damage is superb. Not only do you not need snake style, but using it hinders your offensive capabilities (not to mention the zen archer's other versatile ki spends).

The guide is not a 20th level only exercise. It gives you a great deal of helpful information (I hope) about various ways of building a zen archer from greenhorn to endgame levels. You are welcome to your own opinion, naturally :)


Vestrial wrote:


Both those spells fix one arrow at a time. That's a lot of casts to repair all your broken arrows at the end of a long adventuring day.

1. Do you think that they will run out of mending spells? Nope.

2. Will you need to do this for anything but adamantine arrows? Unlikely. If so, then it's the case of a very long haul so it is repair the arrows or have the wizard go 'pew pew' with acid splashes for the next combats..

In practice you don't need to burn adamantine arrows often. When you do, the party should rejoice that you have them and can still deliver top notch damage.

But then again, outside of organized play campaigns that mandate every man is an island, I tend to foster more lawful groups that tend to work together so this is not a bad thing. If it is, look to get an intelligent item and give it mending..

-James


porpentine wrote:

+2 DC gives DC36 at 20th level, with the moderate 20pb build described in the guide. As outlined in the sample combats, that is fairly decisive, and certainly not to be sniffed at.

There is nothing wrong with your taking snake style if you want it, but I'll point out again that a nicely built 20pb zen archer has no need of an alternative to AC. Her defences are immense without any need for a feat-bought substitute.

In addition, it's a shame to build a zen archer where multiple assets are running off swift/immediates. Zen archers get some of the best ki abilities in the game. At moderate levels, the extra attack is marvellous: at higher levels, the unarmed damage is superb. Not only do you not need snake style, but using it hinders your offensive capabilities (not to mention the zen archer's other versatile ki spends).

The guide is not a 20th level only exercise. It gives you a great deal of helpful information (I hope) about various ways of building a zen archer from greenhorn to endgame levels. You are welcome to your own opinion, naturally :)

DC36 is definitely nothing to sniff at. But neither is 34. Forcing the target to roll two higher is not 'decisive' by any stretch. Statistically, that +2 bonus will be irrelevant the vast majority of the time you use the power.

Again, you bemoan the immediate action by referring to the highest levels of play, which are largely irrelevant. Yeah, at level 17+, I will likely not need snake as much/ever. But from 1-10 it's amazing. And at 10-15 it's still likely to be useful (lots of scary touch attacks out there). And at the low levels you don't burn ki every turn, unless you only have one combat per day. Burning resources like every combat is the last combat of the day is a sure way to guarantee there will be one more, lol.

I know your guide isn't a level 20 only exercise, but all of your advice, and the entire build itself, revolve around high-end play. (every single counter you've made has explicitely referred to high end play) Not to mention the build results in an incredibly one-dimensional character. You have used every available resource on combat. The games I play in don't run like video games, and my character builds reflect that fact. Sense motive is incredibly useful outside of combat, and skill focus:<non-combat ability> is not unheard of at our table. Snake is one of the rare and cool feats that has both in and out of combat utility.

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