Good feat chains for Monsters


Advice


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Greetings all,

I'm updating some monsters for a campaign and I fear I'm going towards intimimancy too much, since I know those builds well.

If you assume everyone has power attack, weapon finesse and improved unarmed strike, what cool feat chains would be fun for creatures?

We're talking no class features and no weapons here, and sometimes maybe only 1 or 2 feats free.

Thanks for all the help :)


If you have enough spare feats, Feral Combat Training and a distinct combat style might surprise your players.

Monsters sometimes have higher BAB than PCs, so they qualify for critical feats earlier. Sometimes it's rather more HD (extreme example: fey), then a Cha heavy monster can easily pick up Eldritch Heritage and its follow-up feats.

Circling Mongoose, Dimensional Dervish, Whirlwind Attack and Spring Attack (combined with terrain / allies; maybe the new Improved and Greater version) create some diversion from mundane full-attacks. Combat maneuvers do this too. Some things come as early as Pushing Assault, Mud In Your Eye and Uncivilized Tactics.


Combat reflexes - it's not a chain, but all NPC beasties should have combat reflexes as a bonus feat - especially if that critter has reach.


I really like intimidate, but for a change of pace certain monsters can get pretty scary with the Vital Strike chain, especially combined with Improved Natural Attack.

Combining Greater Trip and Vicious Stomp is also really wonderful. The fact the Vicious Stomp can trigger Enforcer and potentially Hurtful is the extra gravy of delicious damage. Stay down and be ineffective or stand up and get smacked again - up to you, PC...


The Whirlwind Attack chain is actually very nice for big monsters with lots of reach and single attacks - they now have as many attacks as there are PCs in range. Turns action economy to their advantage, without the sort of “full attacks = dead PC” that rings games to a halt.


Devilkiller wrote:
I really like intimidate, but for a change of pace certain monsters can get pretty scary with the Vital Strike chain, especially combined with Improved Natural Attack.

I discussed Vital Strike recently in a thread on how to make dragons more scary. Usually, Vital Strike seems to be a bit of a waste on a Dragon 'cuz you'd rather have it full attacking. However, if you tweak a dragon to have Flyby Attack, Snatch, and Snatch and Drop, the Vital Strike (and Improved and Greater versions) becomes a bit more interesting.

Flyby attack with a Vital strike bite, likely hitting and doing a bunch of dice worth of damage. Free grapple check. A PC target is likely small enough to get free bite damage on the successful grapple. Carry PC target for the rest of the dragon's movement, then crash to the ground (still grappling) for 2d6 to dragon and PC. Next round, breath weapon on grappled target, allowing no Reflex save due to the Snatch feat. Free action drop the PC. Fly away before the PC's buddies catch up to beat on the dragon. Repeat as the breath weapon comes back online, casting buffs or ranged spells while waiting for recharge.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Power Attack + Pushing Assault + Shield of Swings + Lunge

Combat Reflexes + Stand Still

Dodge + Wind Stance + Lightning Stance + Mobility + Side Step + Improved Side Step + Spring Attack + Point Blank Shot + Shot on the Run


Improved initiative. Skill focus x.
Not chains but they can make an encounter more challenging in subtle ways.


From Ultimate Wilderness, the Totem Initiate and Improved Spring Attack trees have some promise.


NeoTiamat wrote:
From Ultimate Wilderness, the Totem Initiate and Improved Spring Attack trees have some promise.

Ooh, imagine Totemic Master for greater beast totem on, say, an adult time dragon, pouncing with eight natural attacks and a 200 ft. flight speed.


Dragons already have dimensional dervish line to wreck s*%% ;-)

I'll try to reply in detail for each chain with counterpoints or questions in about 30 mins. Thanks to everyone who posted so far :-)


Improved Bull Rush+Awesome Blow+Awesome Charge on something with pounce or a single high damage attack. Warning: Deadly!


@SheepishEidolon: I hadn't though about eldritch heritage, that's f+#!ing brilliant. Any good bloodlines come to mind? Although keeping it thematical would probly be best, I've found that those bloodlines are often redudant (I wanted to make Bralani bloodrager with the celestial bloodline but it gives them nothing they don't have, same with dragons) I knew about dimensional dervish and srping attack, but hadn't considered whirlwind attack. It's a bit feat intensive, but with feat tax rules in play it's greatly lessened so worth it. As for Circling Mongoose, I fail to see the advantage of it... it looks cool but ultimately I don't see it helping out.

For combat styles, do you have a couple in mind? Let's say one for a bruiser one for a skirmisher? I have to admit fighting styles aren't my forte (I usually play casters or at least semi casters)

@the combat reflexes posters: thanks, yeah most monsters should have combat reflexes for OoT actions, and to hit players when flat footed with AoO.

@Devilkiller: Holy s@&+ that's nice!!! I love that!!! I think I'll redo the staglord in my kingmaker campaign with exactly that chain (Improved trip/Greater Trip/Vicious Stomp/Avenger/Hurtful) and he'll just be a dude who specialises in tripping you and kicking you while you're down. ITS SO HIM!!!

@Saldiven: yeah I actually read that thread!! that's a really good combo, I'll try it with a wyvern too whenever I get a chance.

@Smilodan: I really like power attack+Pushing assault+ Lunge (If I'm not mistaken the goal is to deny the opponent full attack action while still hitting him a bunch of times?) I'm just curious about shield of swings, it seems pretty bad...
For : Dodge + Wind Stance + Lightning Stance + Mobility + Side Step + Improved Side Step + Spring Attack + Point Blank Shot + Shot on the Run... I'm... not sure what's going on with that chain, what are you trying to accomplish? Cause that's a lot of feats, I wonder if, at that level, taking hard stat feats would not be better?

@thelith: can you give me exemples of good skill focuses (foci?) to take? I used to do that too but it always seems lackluster. Improved Ini is of course awesome.

@NeoTiamat: yeah totemic master sounds fun, not sure I'd put it on a dragon though, as they have dimensional dervish. On other, more primal creatures though...

@derklord: I like that there's awesome charge, but I've always found that the standard action limitation of awesome blow was a real turn off. At best you trade actions on a 1 for 1 basis with a bruiser, at worst you do literally nothing. Same goes with awesome charge. What are the pros of awesome blow/charge?

Sorry for the delay in answering.


Whirlwind Attack can be good on something that has a large reach and typically only a single, heavy natural attack.

I mean, imagine a T-Rex with Whirlwind Attack.


Saldiven wrote:

Whirlwind Attack can be good on something that has a large reach and typically only a single, heavy natural attack.

I mean, imagine a T-Rex with Whirlwind Attack.

If a player asked me why the T-rex has whirlwind attack i'd just send him this link and say nothing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEsOok-mJZg


AlastarOG wrote:
@derklord: I like that there's awesome charge, but I've always found that the standard action limitation of awesome blow was a real turn off. At best you trade actions on a 1 for 1 basis with a bruiser, at worst you do literally nothing. Same goes with awesome charge. What are the pros of awesome blow/charge?

Awesome Charge is not a standard action, it's a free action Awesome Blow on a successfull charge attack.

Not only does the enemy get knocked away 10' and thus can't full attack the monster, Awesome Blow also deals the damage of a normal attack.

So your T-Rex does 4d6+22 on a charge and makes a free Awesome Blow maneuver that, if successful, deals another 4d6+22*.

If you think that's nasty, imagine a monster with multiple attack charging an enemy against a wall... double damage+1d6 on all attacks, and the enemy is prone (+4 attack rolls) after the first hit.

*) The feat descriptions aren't completely clear, but the Brawler ability does a regular attack's damage, so I'd definitely presume that Awesome Charge does the damage of the triggering attack.


If the monsters come in a pack, give each one a Teamwork feat. (Paired Opportunists would be vicious in conjunction with Combat Reflexes and any Greater maneuver gimmick.)


Slim Jim wrote:
If the monsters come in a pack, give each one a Teamwork feat. (Paired Opportunists would be vicious in conjunction with Combat Reflexes and any Greater maneuver gimmick.)

I like where your head's at jimmy :) definitely writing that one down (I can see two Bralani playing pinata with someone using this combo)


Derklord wrote:
AlastarOG wrote:
@derklord: I like that there's awesome charge, but I've always found that the standard action limitation of awesome blow was a real turn off. At best you trade actions on a 1 for 1 basis with a bruiser, at worst you do literally nothing. Same goes with awesome charge. What are the pros of awesome blow/charge?

Awesome Charge is not a standard action, it's a free action Awesome Blow on a successfull charge attack.

Not only does the enemy get knocked away 10' and thus can't full attack the monster, Awesome Blow also deals the damage of a normal attack.

So your T-Rex does 4d6+22 on a charge and makes a free Awesome Blow maneuver that, if successful, deals another 4d6+22*.

If you think that's nasty, imagine a monster with multiple attack charging an enemy against a wall... double damage+1d6 on all attacks, and the enemy is prone (+4 attack rolls) after the first hit.

*) The feat descriptions aren't completely clear, but the Brawler ability does a regular attack's damage, so I'd definitely presume that Awesome Charge does the damage of the triggering attack.

Hmmm Ok yeah I understand it. It is especially powerful coupled with pounce but feels ... ''cheatish''? This is very qualitative though, I'd have to try it out to know more.

the way you've explained it though makes it indeed awesome for single attack people ! Thanks for taking the time to post.


AlastarOG wrote:
Slim Jim wrote:
If the monsters come in a pack, give each one a Teamwork feat. (Paired Opportunists would be vicious in conjunction with Combat Reflexes and any Greater maneuver gimmick.)
I like where your head's at jimmy :) definitely writing that one down (I can see two Bralani playing pinata with someone using this combo)

Pack of wolves. All have the Trip feature on their attacks. Give them all Tandem Trip.


How about a pack of lyrakien azatas with Lastwall Phalanx and Desna's Shooting Star?


Avoron wrote:
How about a pack of lyrakien azatas with Lastwall Phalanx and Desna's Shooting Star?

Ouuuh that sounds fun!!! And you can even have them take positions and be 9 dotted shapes, constantly keeping in right formation.

It would work well too with the ones that have the permanent returning starknifes


AlastarOG wrote:
Slim Jim wrote:
If the monsters come in a pack, give each one a Teamwork feat. (Paired Opportunists would be vicious in conjunction with Combat Reflexes and any Greater maneuver gimmick.)
I like where your head's at jimmy :) definitely writing that one down (I can see two Bralani playing pinata with someone using this combo)

Well...be careful. You can TPK the party past with that sort of business, especially if the GM runs all the monsters as a block.

(That combo is horrifying enough when it's rolled into a barbarian/hunter/mammoth-rider and his huge mount w/15' horns, both with Fortuitous weaponry. You can literally kill the tarrasque twice over every round. -- I don't call Paired Opportunists the most powerful feat in the game for no reason.)


Also do consider the nature of the monsters. I would think that apart from some obvious exceptions like Vrock's Dance of Ruin, the more Chaotic monsters wouldn't be that much into Teamwork -- I mean come on, most of the players aren't into Teamwork feats unless they can get them as class features (Cavalier, Hunter, and Inquisitor). Probably most Azatas aren't going to be into this either. Now, Devils, Kytons, Inevitables, and Archons(*), on the other hand -- now we're talking . . . (Actually, this seems like a missed opportunity on the part of the monster developers).

(*)Also add class-leveled NPCs from Nidal, Cheliax, Molthune, Rahadoum, Mendev, and Lastwall, among other places where strong organization is highly prized in more than name.


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AlastarOG wrote:
Slim Jim wrote:
If the monsters come in a pack, give each one a Teamwork feat. (Paired Opportunists would be vicious in conjunction with Combat Reflexes and any Greater maneuver gimmick.)
I like where your head's at jimmy :) definitely writing that one down (I can see two Bralani playing pinata with someone using this combo)

Snapping Flank is especially nasty for a bunch of T-Rex style monsters.

If you want to do the exact same thing on a PC, that's what the Monster Tactician Inquisitor is for!

AlastarOG wrote:
Hmmm Ok yeah I understand it. It is especially powerful coupled with pounce but feels ... ''cheatish''?

Indeed - part of why I abandoned my plan to take the chain on my Summoner's Eidolon.

In practise, it's better on a single attack character, though - and I think a big charging beast that throws you through the air when it hits you is pretty iconic (or maybe I've played to much Serious Sam?).


UnArcaneElection wrote:

Also do consider the nature of the monsters. I would think that apart from some obvious exceptions like Vrock's Dance of Ruin, the more Chaotic monsters wouldn't be that much into Teamwork -- I mean come on, most of the players aren't into Teamwork feats unless they can get them as class features (Cavalier, Hunter, and Inquisitor). Probably most Azatas aren't going to be into this either. Now, Devils, Kytons, Inevitables, and Archons(*), on the other hand -- now we're talking . . . (Actually, this seems like a missed opportunity on the part of the monster developers).

(*)Also add class-leveled NPCs from Nidal, Cheliax, Molthune, Rahadoum, Mendev, and Lastwall, among other places where strong organization is highly prized in more than name.

Indeed, as a DM, encounters need to be flavourful, however some chaotic characters bond really well with one another (Remember, chaotic doesn't mean ''sucks at teamwork with allies'' it means ''doesn't adhere to social conventions as well as the baseline''). While slaad's with teamwork feats would be a bit on the nose, I could totally see like a 4 pack of azata brothers who have ALL the teamwork feats.


@Derklord: Ohhhh I love snapping flank!!! I'll keep it in mind, it really makes some monsters awesome as an encounter (They need to flank, so getting them out of flanking position is vital, but they can move and attack without impacting EDV, it's really elegant).

Part of the reason why I massively enjoy the flavor of awesome blow is for that big image of the monstrous hit, I just wish it was a bit less underwhelming in practice. Awesome Charge does that, so thanks a lot!

@Slim_Jim: Indeed, Paired Opportunist does exploit a lot of very strong options in the game. You told me about it and I briefly considered adding it to the paladin's arsenal in my game (combined with his mount) but I could see the DM's head exploding in rage as I thought about it.


I feel however that we've stayed away from fighting styles too much. I have to admit that fighting styles often feel way too lackluster for me and don't seem worth the investment (4-5 feats just to get some effects) with some exceptions like cut through the air/smash through the air. What good fighting styles are there out there so I can maybe diversify my humanoid npc's?


Not a Style chain, but Ace Trip (requires Deadly Aim, Ranged Trip, and Weapon Training ({insert group containing your ranged weapon})) would be a great way to put the crimp on flying characters.


AlastarOG wrote:
@Slim_Jim: Indeed, Paired Opportunist does exploit a lot of very strong options in the game. You told me about it and I briefly considered adding it to the paladin's arsenal in my game (combined with his mount) but I could see the DM's head exploding in rage as I thought about it.

Tell him that your next character concept is a half-orc Mammoth Rider on a tuskbladed megaloceros sharing PO and Amplified Rage (and three or more other teamwork feats).


Slim Jim wrote:
AlastarOG wrote:
@Slim_Jim: Indeed, Paired Opportunist does exploit a lot of very strong options in the game. You told me about it and I briefly considered adding it to the paladin's arsenal in my game (combined with his mount) but I could see the DM's head exploding in rage as I thought about it.
Tell him that your next character concept is a half-orc Mammoth Rider on a tuskbladed megaloceros sharing PO and Amplified Rage (and three or more other teamwork feats).

Dude we game at my place, I don't want to clean that exploding brain up!!!


UnArcaneElection wrote:

Not a Style chain, but Ace Trip (requires Deadly Aim, Ranged Trip, and Weapon Training ({insert group containing your ranged weapon})) would be a great way to put the crimp on flying characters.

hmmm and this is a good control build for a more mundane encounter.

Such as 5-6 bandit thugs with an archer bandit leader who does ace triping.

Shadow Lodge

Step Up and Step Up and Strike are great for surprising players with. Cut from the Air and Smash from The Air are pretty good too, especially on something with a long tail(in my mind at least).


Dragonborn3 wrote:
Step Up and Step Up and Strike are great for surprising players with. Cut from the Air and Smash from The Air are pretty good too, especially on something with a long tail(in my mind at least).

Yeah the step up line has some awesome sticky, specially for mobile warriors that threaten the back line.

The problem with cut/smash is the weapon training pre requisite, meaning only a select few base monsters can get it (like erlking) or otherwise it has to be a fighter 5 monster, which is ok, but I'm wondering what would be thematical..

Shadow Lodge

Variant Multiclassing, the Simple Class Fighter template, or the Weaponmaster fighter archetype?

Or just give it too them anyway. You are the GM after all.


AlastarOG wrote:
Dragonborn3 wrote:
Step Up and Step Up and Strike are great for surprising players with. Cut from the Air and Smash from The Air are pretty good too, especially on something with a long tail(in my mind at least).

Yeah the step up line has some awesome sticky, specially for mobile warriors that threaten the back line.

The problem with cut/smash is the weapon training pre requisite, meaning only a select few base monsters can get it (like erlking) or otherwise it has to be a fighter 5 monster, which is ok, but I'm wondering what would be thematical..

Class levels on monsters is always a subjective issue. From a practical standpoint, any intelligent monster could theoretically have character levels. It just comes down to whether or not it makes sense for that particular monster to have them.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I love putting class levels on monsters. Just 2 levels of fighter give +3 Fort (great for aberrations, fey, monstrous humanoids, and undead), a couple BAB, a couple combat feats, and Armor, Shield, and Weapon Proficiencies. Ever put full plate and a colossal greatsword on a great wyrm dragon? 8d6 x 4 attacks per round, plus wings, bite, tail, etc.

EDIT:

Colossal Mithril Full Plate Barding is called Wearing Your Hoard.

;-)

Shadow Lodge

Oooh, Silksworn Occultist has potential on monsters, thematically!

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