Unchained Skills and Feats

Thursday, April 9, 2015

If classes are the main chassis of a character, skills and feats are its nuts and bolts. When they let us designers loose in Pathfinder Unchained, it's only natural that we wanted to play around with how the nuts and bolts attach, and even try changing the shapes of those nuts and bolts entirely! In Chapters 2 and 3 of Pathfinder Unchained, there are not only several daring subsystems that play with feats, there so many different options for restructuring skills that it's easy to lose yourself in all the possibilities. I've gathered some of the coolest tidbits from all those options to share with you today!

Starting with skills, the three major skills options each serve a different goal.


Illustration by Géraud Soulié

I Need More Skills to Flesh Out My Character
The background skills variant separates out certain skills as background skills as opposed to adventuring skills. It also adds some new background skills to the game, such as Lore, a very specific version of the Knowledge skill. To round it out, everyone gains 2 extra skill points to spend on background skills, no matter your class!

There Are Too Many Skills
The consolidated skills variant serves a somewhat opposite goal, combining current skill functionality into only 12 skills.

Assigning Skill Points Can Be Tough
The grouped skills variant makes it easier to assign skills, speeding up the level-up process. It also gives characters a middle tier of skills that they are pretty good at, rather than most characters having mostly max ranks, 1 rank, or no ranks.

As cool as the skill sections are, the sections involving feats are the showstoppers of today's blog!

Variant Multiclassing
Have you ever wanted to multiclass your character for flavor reasons—maybe pick up some bardic performances and versatile performance to represent the time you unexpectedly spent studying music one adventure—but then you realized that your character would be pretty significantly handicapped by taking those two levels in bard? It happens all the time, and it requires you to sacrifice something whichever choice you take. With the variant multiclassing option, you can choose a secondary class and trade out half your feats (3rd, 7th, 11th, 15th, and 19th) to instead gain a progression of special abilities based on which class you pick. Want to be a fighter who dabbles in divination magic such that he always acts on the surprise round or vexes his foes with hexes? You're covered. Want to be a druid who specializes in taking out dragons as her favored enemy or flies into a rage when the natural world is in danger? You've got that too. With variant multiclassing, you can open more combinations than ever before, without delaying your access to your main class's cool new features!

Stamina System
The stamina system offers new powers for every combat feat in the RPG line. Yes, you read that right: it specifically lists every combat feat in the whole line and then grants each feat new powers. Right from the start, the system offers options for you to just give the system to fighters or to give it to all martial characters, depending on your preference. Stamina is a new resource that allows martial characters to boost themselves and use their feats in new and exciting ways. It regenerates relatively quickly between battles, allowing you to enjoy an entirely new mindset to your daily exploration; a party of stamina-users benefits from hit and run guerilla tactics, emphasizing the value of mobility, stealth, and timing (as opposed to the mindset of "buff, buff, buff, speed through!"). Stamina lets you boost your effectiveness or change the rules of the feat in your favor. These special stamina powers are called combat tricks. While I'm sure that the ways to use stamina to boost your effectiveness will be quite popular (like Critical Focus, where under certain conditions, you can increase your critical multiplier, potentially multiple times if you roll high enough), I'm a fan of the combat tricks that let you retroactively apply an effect (like declare a Stunning Fist after you already know your attack connected), and my absolute favorites are the ones that let you trick your opponent through devious tactical play. For instance, the Combat Style Master combat trick allows you to spend stamina to switch your styles as an off-turn free action. So you can lure people into attacking you and then suddenly be in Snake Style before they can even call off the attack! In the same vein, I also really enjoy the combat tricks that let you use your powers when you normally couldn't, since that has two cool psychological effects: not only can it present great "gotcha" moments, but once your enemy knows you can, say, spend stamina to take a second attack of opportunity against them from the same opportunity, it changes the way they view your threat, and it might allow you to control their actions without even spending your stamina!

Tune in next time to learn more about magic—specifically, the new scaling magic items in Pathfinder Unchained that grow with your character!

Mark Seifter
Designer

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Tags: Géraud Soulié Iconics Jirelle Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
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Would variant multiclassing involve save progressions?

Also damnit Mark you were right! I'm still not going to buy on release date, but this is sounding like a hardcover I would actually want on my shelf!


Will there be new spells and/or magic items that enable characters to replenish stamina?

I can see it being a very useful potion and/or wand to keep around, especially if it competes for the CLW wand as far as usefulness.

Scarab Sages

Variant Multiclassing has me drooling. It looks like I might be able to finally have a full-bab with wildshape.


I was already excited about this book from the last blog post. Now I'm definitely getting it once the PDF comes out.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mark Seifter wrote:
Eoin Maloney wrote:
I'm realizing that the Variant Multiclassing could easily supplant several archetypes and prestige classes. Is this a feature, or a bug?
It's all about giving you more options to make the concept you want. That said, this option grants select features, so in some cases, the archetypes and prestige classes likely may grant different ones.

I can't wait to see what features the Cleric allows you to pick up: fighter + variant multiclassing cleric = ?

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
GM Hills wrote:
I have not approved your rogue!

Sure you have... you just don't know it yet! I'm from.... THE FUTURE!

Designer

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Rynjin wrote:
That, or maybe allow half-casters to spend Stamina to suspend the duration of their buffs while they're resting.

Now that's in the true Unchained spirit!

I hope you guys use these variant rules in even-more-variant ways than the way we present them. I hope some people who want to make characters flat-out much more powerful homebrew a version of variant multiclassing where everyone gets one for free (and maybe even buffs the options to give more and stronger features if they want), and others who love background skills create their own additional background skills, or add skills that are unusually less useful for adventuring their campaigns to the background section, despite what we said the background skills were.

This is my first book with Paizo as a designer, really (and now that I mentioned that the RPG line is the only line the designers worked on, that statement will make more sense than it did), and I have high expectations that this will be a book that's not just about exactly what we wrote in it but also about opening up new ideas and variants of the variants, spurring creativity in the Pathfinder community. But for it to be that, it goes beyond what we wrote in the book and out to all of you. I'll need all of your help thinking in the Unchained spirit of innovation and modification. I can't wait for the book to come out so I can read all your houserules and new variants you make from the options we gave you!


Are the NPC classes (adept, aristocrat, expert, warrior) in Pathfinder Unchained?


On the subject of pushing ahead with buffs vs waiting to restore stamina; I've had that a bit with some third party things. Path of War maneuvers and Martial Actions from Necromancers of the Northwest both recharge after combat. Both those in addition to the Inquisitor class forced me to define 'end of combat' as 10 mins of not doing anything similar to how 5th edition deal with 'short rests'. There haven't been too many issues partly because most of those things have a some kind of mid-battle action to partially recharge. If the new stamina system has something like that then there shouldn't be too much conflict as when keeping the buff isn't as dire the players can rest and when there is a serious time crunch with too powerful buffs they can move on to some capacity. Otherwise if the stamina system is open to anyone some of those classes can take those buffs along with the rest of the martials and use spells for buffs to a lesser degree or take spells that they would take if they didn't need those buff spells.


So is it clear in the variant multiclassing whether you gain class abilities or separate abilities that are like them. Example the fighter has divination casting, is he now a caster? Does the fighter have the hex class feature? Does the druid count as having the rage class feature? Like for feats and pre-reqs for prestige classes?

If you want to give the answer now that would be cool, but I'm mostly interested in knowing whether it'll be clear or vague, like how currently the mutation warriors mutagen discoveries aren't clear if you can select the extra discovery feat with them or not.


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*slow clap*

Designer

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Chess Pwn wrote:

So is it clear in the variant multiclassing whether you gain class abilities or separate abilities that are like them. Example the fighter has divination casting, is he now a caster? Does the fighter have the hex class feature? Does the druid count as having the rage class feature? Like for feats and pre-reqs for prestige classes?

If you want to give the answer now that would be cool, but I'm mostly interested in knowing whether it'll be clear or vague, like how currently the mutation warriors mutagen discoveries aren't clear if you can select the extra discovery feat with them or not.

It should be clear in all of them (find out all the details in the book itself!). If we missed one, make a FAQ thread and we will make it clear via FAQ.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

what exactly are the The background skills, i can gues that maybe profesion and craft but what else?


Mr. Seifter,

Will there be variant multiclassing opportunities for the Occult Adventures classes. I could really see a Sorcerer taking a Kinetic Blast or some such. Or, perhaps variant multiclassing only covers the core classes ... I could see that. Could also see it being more open ended with them offering suggestions and being able to build on that with future class releases... Just wondering if this is the last we'll hear about variant classing possibilities. Damn, you all really have me hopping to see this book now : )


any wager on what the 12 super-condenced skills are?

Rogue 18 INT can have them all lol.


I guess this is why the fighter didn't get a rewrite. With combat feats getting buffs the fighter (and human Warpriests) get buffed like crazy and if the price of mini-gestalting is half your feats Fighters (and Human Warpriests) almost lose nothing in exchange for more class features.


Mark Seifter wrote:
Chess Pwn wrote:

So is it clear in the variant multiclassing whether you gain class abilities or separate abilities that are like them. Example the fighter has divination casting, is he now a caster? Does the fighter have the hex class feature? Does the druid count as having the rage class feature? Like for feats and pre-reqs for prestige classes?

If you want to give the answer now that would be cool, but I'm mostly interested in knowing whether it'll be clear or vague, like how currently the mutation warriors mutagen discoveries aren't clear if you can select the extra discovery feat with them or not.

It should be clear in all of them (find out all the details in the book itself!). If we missed one, make a FAQ thread and we will make it clear via FAQ.

Cool, I'm glad to know you feel confident that it'll be easy to distinguish. :D


Interesting to see if you do a bard/skald archetype or feat chain that lets you toss out more stamina. Oh, stamina is going to interact with teamwork feats.

Designer

Yrtalien wrote:

Mr. Seifter,

Will there be variant multiclassing opportunities for the Occult Adventures classes. I could really see a Sorcerer taking a Kinetic Blast or some such. Or, perhaps variant multiclassing only covers the core classes ... I could see that. Could also see it being more open ended with them offering suggestions and being able to build on that with future class releases... Just wondering if this is the last we'll hear about variant classing possibilities. Damn, you all really have me hopping to see this book now : )

We have all the current non-hybrid classes represented (since the hybrid classes are already hybrids to begin with). However, much as I biasedly love the kineticist, Unchained will not be listing any options that use rules from unpublished books, no.


So... Rogue multiclassing Sorc, or Sorc multiclassing Rogue? My only regret is going to be not being able to make a Sorc variant-multiclassing Medium when the Occult Adventures comes out.
Edit: ninja'd.


Eoin Maloney wrote:
I'm realizing that the Variant Multiclassing could easily supplant several archetypes and prestige classes. Is this a feature, or a bug?

Yes.

Sorry. I had to.

Silver Crusade

Very interesting. Can't wait to see the full book. Especially for the skills variants.

Love the Fighter love, too.


Malwing wrote:
On the subject of pushing ahead with buffs vs waiting to restore stamina; I've had that a bit with some third party things. Path of War maneuvers and Martial Actions from Necromancers of the Northwest both recharge after combat. Both those in addition to the Inquisitor class forced me to define 'end of combat' as 10 mins of not doing anything similar to how 5th edition deal with 'short rests'. There haven't been too many issues partly because most of those things have a some kind of mid-battle action to partially recharge. If the new stamina system has something like that then there shouldn't be too much conflict as when keeping the buff isn't as dire the players can rest and when there is a serious time crunch with too powerful buffs they can move on to some capacity. Otherwise if the stamina system is open to anyone some of those classes can take those buffs along with the rest of the martials and use spells for buffs to a lesser degree or take spells that they would take if they didn't need those buff spells.

Just a quick question, are you aware that Path of War actually defines when the Maneuvers should recharge? It's 1 minute (10 rounds) without a single combat, not 10.

Unclear whether you knew that and had changed it, or had made a judgement call.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

So, do the multiclass options for Rogue, Monk, Summoner and Barbarian use the original or unchained versions?

Designer

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Kieviel wrote:

So, do the multiclass options for Rogue, Monk, Summoner and Barbarian use the original or unchained versions?

Why, whichever one you like, of course! It's Unchained; it's all about options.

Non-real not-in-the-book example: Suppose that the Unchained Rogue's evasion ability said "An Unchained rogue with evasion automatically ignores all effects that target AC, touch AC, and Reflex saves, taking no effect, even if there would be an effect on a successful save or a miss." or even "The rogue shuns all vases, and takes 1d6 damage when touching a vase." If the variant multiclass offers you evasion, then you get whichever evasion you're using.


Oho, now THIS is quite a juicy teaser!

I've grappled with some of these issues myself at the table; skill points are often a precious commodity for non-int based classes, and the ability to add some fluff to my character's skills along with the things they need to be good at would be greatly welcomed.

Variant multi classing sounds badass, too. I've had a lot of frustration when my character concepts have required multi classes but this meant I was at the same level as the party with a greater number of low-level abilities instead of the same high-level abilities they were starting to get. Losing some feats to increase class features is a good deal for some concepts, particularly with Fighters, while at the same time not being a no-brainer. Very cleverly done.

I'm interested to see the Stamina system in play, as well. My players tend to take a "sack of hammers" approach to the Forge of Combat; I get a lot of full-power warrior concepts from them but fewer mages and 6/9ths casters, although usually the group's got at least one. This system could potentially make for tactics more based around the warrior-types' feats than the mage-types' spells, which is exciting. I can't wait to see this book for myself!

Designer

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Blackwaltzomega wrote:
I'm interested to see the Stamina system in play, as well. My players tend to take a "sack of hammers" approach to the Forge of Combat; I get a lot of full-power warrior concepts from them but fewer mages and 6/9ths casters, although usually the group's got at least one. This system could potentially make for tactics more based around the warrior-types' feats than the mage-types' spells, which is exciting. I can't wait to see this book for myself!

If that's your party makeup, and you guys are interested in having longer adventuring days, then if your players like strategizing their abilities and, with time on their side, setting up tactics and strategies to gain an advantage, I'm thinking the system is going to serve you on multiple levels.


If this material is half as good as it sounds, I need this book a year ago yesterday.

Arcanist "Varied"* with Bard. I'm in love already with just the realization of being able to do that.

*Shamelessly naming it.jpg


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No!: "Sprinkled"


I have not been more excited for a product release since the core rulebook.

Just the stamina system alone is making me twitchy! Can't wait!


Was anything done to change feat chains?

Are you telling me that now all the caster-fighter combos can finally get their hands on spell combat?

Potions of stamina?

Designer

Raiderrpg wrote:

If this material is half as good as it sounds, I need this book a year ago yesterday.

Arcanist "Varied"* with Bard. I'm in love already with just the realization of being able to do that.

*Shamelessly naming it.jpg

It depends. If people are expecting to get a character as strong as taking all their levels in both classes, that's not what the option is about. It's more like an archetype for characters instead of for classes, that trades away those five feats for something you otherwise couldn't get (and which are balanced somewhat stronger than having five feats would be, unless you really needed those feats, due to the lack of flexibility inherent in getting five fixed things over five flexible things). The secondary class is definitely secondary though. More like having a subjob in those old job system console RPGs.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Variant Multiclassing Arcane Trickster where? Though I'm a bit doubtful that a caster can trade half their feats for Sneak Attack (or that it's a good idea period). Still, magical rogue and roguish magicians make me happy.

Silver Crusade

@TriOmegaZero: Yeah, I read that one, shortly before the thread exploded into arguments about summoners (I might not be entirely innocent on that one)

Shisumo wrote:
Sebastian Hirsch wrote:
I am quite curious, how and if anything from that post could be made PFS legal.
I'm curious about what sort of obstacles you see these options presenting. First glance doesn't seem to reveal anything significantly problematic...

Changing the number of skills (well at least removing them) would be a bit complicated for scenarios, which usually call for specific checks to be made. It pretty much invalidates the free characters sheet as well as the premium version.

The new multiclassing option, seems like something, where you would have to commit early (unless they are written in a way that only exhanges the feat for the class ability, if you actually reach that level). And there might be a couple of problems with access to prestige classes (a general "PRCs require level 5" rule would be lovely).

And unless the stamina system actually trades something away, it would be quite difficult to introduce, just introducing a new resource for everybody... would lead to a certain amount of complications.

Grand Lodge

Wow, sounds awesome. I hope the rules are sane enough that a lot of it will be allowed in PFS. I love my martial characters so stamina sounds awesome.


Sebastian Hirsch wrote:

@TriOmegaZero: Yeah, I read that one, shortly before the thread exploded into arguments about summoners (I might not be entirely innocent on that one)

Shisumo wrote:
Sebastian Hirsch wrote:
I am quite curious, how and if anything from that post could be made PFS legal.
I'm curious about what sort of obstacles you see these options presenting. First glance doesn't seem to reveal anything significantly problematic...

Changing the number of skills (well at least removing them) would be a bit complicated for scenarios, which usually call for specific checks to be made. It pretty much invalidates the free characters sheet as well as the premium version.

The new multiclassing option, seems like something, where you would have to commit early (unless they are written in a way that only exhanges the feat for the class ability, if you actually reach that level). And there might be a couple of problems with access to prestige classes (a general "PRCs require level 5" rule would be lovely).

And unless the stamina system actually trades something away, it would be quite difficult to introduce, just introducing a new resource for everybody... would lead to a certain amount of complications.

I believe the stamina system requires a feat to take, unless you're a fighter, who gets it for free.


Rynjin wrote:
Malwing wrote:
On the subject of pushing ahead with buffs vs waiting to restore stamina; I've had that a bit with some third party things. Path of War maneuvers and Martial Actions from Necromancers of the Northwest both recharge after combat. Both those in addition to the Inquisitor class forced me to define 'end of combat' as 10 mins of not doing anything similar to how 5th edition deal with 'short rests'. There haven't been too many issues partly because most of those things have a some kind of mid-battle action to partially recharge. If the new stamina system has something like that then there shouldn't be too much conflict as when keeping the buff isn't as dire the players can rest and when there is a serious time crunch with too powerful buffs they can move on to some capacity. Otherwise if the stamina system is open to anyone some of those classes can take those buffs along with the rest of the martials and use spells for buffs to a lesser degree or take spells that they would take if they didn't need those buff spells.

Just a quick question, are you aware that Path of War actually defines when the Maneuvers should recharge? It's 1 minute (10 rounds) without a single combat, not 10.

Unclear whether you knew that and had changed it, or had made a judgement call.

I was aware but I have multiple subsystems in play at once each either trying to define 'end of combat' or not defining it at all so I put it at 10 mins as a universal house rule to standardize the whole thing. Depending on how fast the stamina system recharges I might bring it back down to 1 min but right now it seemed reasonable to have it at 10 as my players like to eat wondrous food between fights.

As a side note on the subject the magical tattoos in Inner Sea Magic allow players to save some minutes of buff spells by storing the remaining time in a tattoo so eventually this becomes less of a problem.


I'm already giddy thinking about what options to mix-and-max for my home games. These previews for Unchained are hyping me up even more for the full book -- or, you could say:

"The suspense is terrible. I hope it will last..."


I actually really like the consolidated skills idea.


So there are more ways to get skill ranks. But are there any new uses for skills once you have them?

The feat rewrites sound interesting, although as usual with Paizo, it will depend on how well it can handle future releases (e.g., will combat feats in future splatbooks be useful to anyone using this system?)

The multi-class feat idea is definitely something I've seen before, although it took me a minute to remember where: it is the sole method of multi-classing in 4e. The difference from this preview appears to be that in 4e, a multiclass feat is just one feat. If you are a fighter and want to multiclass to bard, you take the bard multiclass feat, not a feat chain as the blog seems to indicate (at least when 4e first came out--they issued substantial errata every week for quite awhile, so I don't know if they turned multiclassing into a feat chain.)

It almost gives me the urge to look at the forums from 2008 and see if the same people who now express excitement over the "great" idea of multi-classing via feats had the same enthusiasm back then.


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I love this new option for multiclassing. I think it's going to be a much better approach to customizing very specific character concepts. This way you can create exactly what you want, rather than trying to take two whole classes, that when combined, only sort of get you in the ballpark of what you had in mind.

Even though class features from Occult Adventures won't be included, I'm pretty happy knowing I can give the Mesmerist I've been planning, some Hexes to throw around. An occult class that dabbles in witchcraft fit's very well!

Liberty's Edge

137ben wrote:

The multi-class feat idea is definitely something I've seen before, although it took me a minute to remember where: it is the sole method of multi-classing in 4e. The difference from this preview appears to be that in 4e, a multiclass feat is just one feat. If you are a fighter and want to multiclass to bard, you take the bard multiclass feat, not a feat chain as the blog seems to indicate (at least when 4e first came out--they issued substantial errata every week for quite awhile, so I don't know if they turned multiclassing into a feat chain.)

It almost gives me the urge to look at the forums from 2008 and see if the same people who now express excitement over the "great" idea of multi-classing via feats had the same enthusiasm back then.

They're not really parallel cases. First, it's not "take a feat to multiclass" because you're not selecting feats per se - you're getting more class features in lieu of feats.

The other thing that differs here is that 4E multiclassing really just expanded the menu of available powers you could pick from; you didn't suddenly get some fraction of the bard's dailies, at-wills and utilities in addition to the ones you got for being a fighter, to use your example. By contrast, that is more or less what's happening with this idea as I understand it.

Grand Lodge

Looks like I'll be ordering this next week.

SM


137ben wrote:

So there are more ways to get skill ranks. But are there any new uses for skills once you have them?

The feat rewrites sound interesting, although as usual with Paizo, it will depend on how well it can handle future releases (e.g., will combat feats in future splatbooks be useful to anyone using this system?)

The multi-class feat idea is definitely something I've seen before, although it took me a minute to remember where: it is the sole method of multi-classing in 4e. The difference from this preview appears to be that in 4e, a multiclass feat is just one feat. If you are a fighter and want to multiclass to bard, you take the bard multiclass feat, not a feat chain as the blog seems to indicate (at least when 4e first came out--they issued substantial errata every week for quite awhile, so I don't know if they turned multiclassing into a feat chain.)

It almost gives me the urge to look at the forums from 2008 and see if the same people who now express excitement over the "great" idea of multi-classing via feats had the same enthusiasm back then.

I too recall 4e's implementation of that mechanic... what I think will keep people from complaining about this now, as they may have then, is that it's completely optional. You can use whichever your group likes best, maybe even both... hmm probably not though... that way lies weirdness. Any way, variety is the spice of life.


Could Hybrid classes use the Variant Multiclassing rules? Like, say, making an impromptu Death Knight-eque character by sprinkling some Necromancy onto the Slayer chassis?

Silver Crusade

Paizo...*sigh*...looks like I'm getting me Pathfinder Unchained.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Ventnor wrote:
Could Hybrid classes use the Variant Multiclassing rules? Like, say, making an impromptu Death Knight-eque character by sprinkling some Necromancy onto the Slayer chassis?

I was wondering that myself. I don't see why not since the new multiclassing option replaces feats.

So we can now kinda/sorta have a triple class?


Free Variant Multiclassing has the sounds of something that could replace Mythic on the player side of things - powers the characters up to handle mythic opponents, without completely dismantling the balance of the game.

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