Thank you to everyone who donated to Paizo's 2018 team for the Gauntlet charity tournament. Team Paizo fought hard in Tak, but a catastrophic Valeria round tumbled us towards the bottom, and we clawed our way back up to 11th, and almost as high as 8th, with an awesome performance on the final Puzzle Hunt round. Thanks to all of you, including an incredible last-minute donation over $1,000, we also unlocked an astonishing number of blog segments revealing further secrets about previously blogged classes. This will be a monster-length blog, so strap in for a long ride!
Fighter Combos: Randyll and Solveig
I've always been a big fan of martial characters, which was fully solidified by one of my favorite characters, who happened to be a fighter. One of the big things I love about the fighter in Pathfinder is his ability to do just about anything in combat. With the right set of feats, a fighter can be anything from a typical sword and shield-wielding knight, to a spear master who leaps across the battlefield to defend his allies, to a light-footed master of the rapier. When I got a chance to join one of the playtest games here in the office, my first thought was to put this new fighter to the test. A lot of it felt the same, as the fighter was gaining lots of feats, but it turns out there was much more to the fighter this time around.
The Fighter Class Preview previewed several fighter feats and class features, but one thing it didn't mention was fighters' ability to string together attacks to make powerful combinations. They do this through abilities that let them Fan attack or press the offensive—abilities with the open trait must come before any other attacks, and those with the press trait must come after you've already made an attack. Fighters can also enter stances, which are one of the most common types of open abilities, and grant various powerful benefits for the duration of the encounter or until you enter another stance. A bastard sword switch-hitter can appreciate the debuff potential of following up an Intimidating Strike (which is neither an open nor a press ability) with Shatter Defenses, a press ability that stacks various penalties on an intimidated foe, or Combat Grab, a press ability that uses your open hand to grab a foe and simultaneously attack with the weapon in the other hand. Between those options and your ability to make your opponents flat-footed with critical hits, you can significantly reduce the AC of monsters so your lower-accuracy allies can take them down. With all of these new abilities in mind, I created my first fighter, Randyll. He was a master of the bastard sword with a penchant for yelling and rushing into combat. He would use the versatility of his bastard sword to his advantage, switching between a one-handed grip and a two-handed grip to use whichever feat was best for the situation, granting him a surprising amount of versatility.
Unfortunately, due to his recklessness, Randyll was not long for Golarion. In his place, I created Solveig, an Ulfen shield maiden entirely dedicated to defending her allies. She's fared even better. A shield fighter with a flail is all about careful tactical placement on the battlefield. If you're standing in the right spot, you can block for your allies with Shield Warden, and the flail critical specialization effect of knocking enemies prone can keep enemies right where you want them, even on an open battlefield. With Shielded Stride, you can even Stride at half speed with your shield up, ignoring reactions that trigger off your movement. The Shield Paragon stance is an open ability that gives you the benefit of a raised shield for the rest of the battle, an extremely powerful advantage. Solveig is a complete shift from Randyll's combat style. Her movement is calculated and her defense is unmatched (at least by the rest of the party!). By the time she had avoided close to 10 attacks in a row, I was in love with the fighter. I had found that same feeling that I had in Pathfinder First Edition and I could tell that there were so many possibilities with different weapons, armor types, and of course, all the new fighter feats. But there are so many amazing feats—how can your fighter take all the ones he wants? And how do you make sure you have the one you need for the day's adventure? The fighter's 9th-level Flexibility feat grants a different feat each day, and that increases to two flexible feats with Improved Flexibility at 15th level. This also means that, counting those two flexible feats, fighters have the most class feats in the game! Let me just say that playing the fighter in the playtest has only further solidified my love for the class. The fighter is awesome and continues to be awesome in Pathfinder Second Edition. In fact, if I were told I could play only fighters for the duration of the playtest, I would be happy. There's so much the fighter can do that I don't see myself running out of ideas any time soon!
Cleric Domains of the Mox Gauntlet
Thanks so much to everyone who helped us get this far! Your generosity is hugely appreciated, and we did our best to represent you accordingly at this weekend's showdown. And as a special reward to those of you who made your donations in the name of Team Cleric, here's a sneak peek at more of what's coming for everyone's favorite energy channelling, undead-neutralizing, wound-healing bludgeon enthusiasts!
If the Mox Gauntlet was a deity, what domains would it have? A gauntlet is a symbol of Might, the donations are a form of Wealth, the charity this year helps Families, and each year there's usually a final round shrouded in Secrecy. So let's talk about the domain powers that a cleric of the Gauntlet might be able to cast. The Cleric Class Preview already included unity, but the Family domain also has the basic power soothing words, which dispels emotion effects on a target; this is actually extremely strong because as a power, it's always heightened to your highest possible level. This means it's quite tricky to keep up emotion effects on a Family cleric's allies, and you'll probably never need to prepare remove fear. Might has two options that are really good for heavily armored and high-Strength clerics. The basic power athletic exploit lets you ignore your armor's check penalty and movement speed reduction when you really need to, and enduring might is a reaction that reduces damage based on your Strength modifier and your cleric level. The Secrecy domain has forced quiet, which limits the target's voice to a hoarse whisper, making it much harder to raise an alarm. Even a successful save against forced quiet still affects the target for 1 round (though the effect might last as long as 10 minutes on a critical failure!). Secrecy's advanced domain power, safeguard secret, has a 1-minute casting time but thereafter grants you and all willing allies in range an enormous conditional bonus to skill checks (almost always Deception) to conceal a specific secret you pick, and to saving throws against spells that seek to ferret out that specific secret. These benefits last indefinitely until you use the spell again. Finally, Wealth's basic power, acquisitive's fortune, is sure to make you popular with every business owner in the city and with allies who like to make money during downtime. Once cast, it allows the target to reroll any critical failure on their check to Perform a Trade in the next 24 hours. As the name implies, it's a fortune effect. The domain's advanced power, money talks, allows you to substitute coin currency for any sort of cost with a value measured in monetary value. So for instance, if you needed a vase worth 100 gp, you could just use 100 gp. This is particularly handy when you're away from a settlement and suddenly need a bizarre item for a cost that you wouldn't have thought to bring along; the Wealth cleric has you covered.
The Rogue's Hidden Tricks
Although I'm not particularly stealthy in real life, I've always enjoyed rogues and their stealthy ways because I figured they were most like how I would actually behave in an adventure setting. Instead of barreling headfirst into a fight and counting on being able to chug a bunch of potions afterward, the rogue is more calm, calculated, and precise. What's the point in drawing attention (and attacks) to yourself when you can tiptoe in, get the job done, and sneak away unscathed? Never let your opponents know how strong you are, and they will always underestimate you.
Even after the Rogue Class Preview, the rogue was hiding some of her sneakiest tricks. What did you expect? One thing about the rogue that's different than in Pathfinder First Edition is the rogue's focus on slippery mental defenses. In addition to the Cognitive Loophole feat mentioned in her preview blog, the rogue gains the slippery mind ability, which makes her a master at Will saves. Add in double debilitation, the ability to apply two debilitations to a foe at once, and you have a good sense of the rogue's odd-level features. But there are so many feats still hiding in the shadows. While the first blog focused on ways to get sneak attack, the rogue also has some fun ways to play with the action economy, including drawing and attacking with a weapon as a single action, or Stepping and Striking at a -1 penalty with the same action (in either order, perfect for flanking, entering reach, or forcing your foe to take an action to reach you). The rogue also has a pair of feats that allow her to poison weapons more easily, keep her poisons from being wasted, and create a bunch of doses of a very simple poison for free each day (this also works great with an alchemist on the team to make some really powerful poison for free every day). For those interested in traps, you can gain Trap Finder, which makes finding even the most devious traps easier and protects you against them, and Delay Trap, which can give you the time you need to escape the area when you accidentally set off a trap. However, unlike in Pathfinder First Edition, engaging with traps as a rogue is your choice.
All right, those feats were cool, but what about some high-level options? Sense the Unseen is a reaction you can use when you Seek that lets you automatically learn the location of unseen creatures in the area, no matter how well they were hidden. You still can't see them, but it's a good start! Cloud Step allows you to step so lightly that you are essentially weightless when you are Striding, allowing you to walk over water or air and avoiding pressure plates until you finish moving. Perfect Distraction allows you to use smoke and mirrors, decoys, and other tactics to make it seem like you are somewhere you aren't, perfect for leaving a decoy right after you hide. If you have Legendary Deception, you can even gain Reactive Distraction and use the decoy as a reaction to avoid an enemy's attack or other ability. Afterward, it takes a bit of time to set up your next decoy, but it's worth it! Trickster's Ace lets you jury-rig magic item resonance and stolen magical energy to set up your own magical contingency each day, similar to the spell. And finally, Hidden Paragon lets you go completely invisible, even beyond the sight of true seeing, see invisibility and the like and impossible to outline with even glitterdust, faerie fire, or similar magic!
Take That, Evil!
The Paladin Class Preview was centered around alignment and the paladin code, with some extra helpings of spells, healing, and defenses, but there's more to paladin options than that. Sometimes you just want to put on your Gauntlet and beat evil down. So, this section is all about offense. Retributive Strike, first mentioned in the paladin blog, is a good way to add onto your damage while enfeebling enemies that dare to attack your allies, and all paladins have access to it at 1st level. Another ability all paladins receive is the righteous ally, a holy spirit that assists you from 3rd level on. There are three righteous allies to choose from (and you can take the Second Ally feat to gain another): blade, shield, and mount. Naturally, the blade righteous ally is the most offense-focused of the three, inhabiting your weapon (which you are free to change each day), and giving it the benefits of a property rune for the whole day. This starts with some simple properties like disrupting and ghost touch, but you can use feats to gain the benefits of more powerful runes; for instance, you can make your weapon dancing, allowing the spirit in your blade to attack on its own. The first major blade righteous ally feat is Blade of Justice, which is parallel to the Pathfinder First Edition paladin's smite evil—you declare a target to face judgment and deal extra damage to evil foes. Although Blade of Justice deals less damage than smite evil, it can be used as many times as you like as long as you have the actions for it. And the real kicker is that this extra damage is good damage, which means that creatures like fiends that are weak against good abilities are going to take a lot more damage.
Speaking of how offense-focused paladins can wreck fiends, there's also Aura of Faith, a feat that makes nearby good allies' first attacks each turn deal 1 extra good damage against evil creatures (and of course, this can become quite a bit higher when applying a fiend's weakness!). But there's also a smiting ability every paladin gets that can ruin a fiend's day. Holy Smite deals persistent good damage equal to your Charisma modifier to evil creatures you hit with any Retributive Strike, which can apply extra damage round after round if the creature has a weakness to good. Instrument of Zeal is the last in the series of badass offensive abilities for the blade righteous ally: when you score a critical hit with your weapon, either with a Retributive Strike or against your Blade of Justice target, you gain an additional die of damage and the target is slowed 1 on its next turn, which can put it in a really tight spot! There's another fun way every paladin can increase a party's offense, particularly if the group stands in a tactical formation. Aura of justice is a class feature all paladins get that allows you to take a penalty to any Retributive Strike in order to allow all allies within 10 feet and in reach of the monster to make Retributive Strikes of their own! If you find your group often uses this to create a mega-chain reaction, you can later take the Aura of Vengeance feat to remove that extra penalty when you use aura of justice.
Behold the Gauntlet!
The Gauntlet is a powerful magic item fought over by champions since ages long past. We will now reveal the powers of the Gauntlet in a Pathfinder Playtest-compatible form. Behold, the Gauntlet!
The Gauntlet Item 18
Price 24,000 gp
Method of Use worn, gloves; Bulk L
Activation [[A]][[A]] Operate Activation
This mighty adamantine gauntlet was forged by the legendary artisans of Mox from the Card Kingdom and is inscribed with hidden runes of great power. The Gauntlet boosts your might and enhances your strategy to a razor's edge. You gain a +5 item bonus to Athletics checks and Warfare Lore checks. When you invest the Gauntlet, you either increase your Strength score by 2 or increase it to 18, whichever would give you a higher score.
While wearing the Gauntlet, you gain a +2 conditional bonus to damage rolls on unarmed attacks against minotaurs.
When you activate the Gauntlet, you slam the ground, creating the same effects as an 8th-level earthquake.
While you have invested the Gauntlet, if anyone offers you a challenge for the Gauntlet and the challenge is fair, you must accept that challenge, though you can finish any life-threatening or time-critical task before doing so. Once someone has won the Gauntlet from you in a challenge, you must wait 1 year before you can challenge them again to regain the Gauntlet. If the Gauntlet is stolen, sold, traded, looted from a corpse, or obtained in any way other than being won in a fair challenge, it vanishes instead, perhaps returning to the vaults of Mox.
A Familiar Disguise
Familiars, the traditional fuzzy friends of wizards and witches, are extremely popular in Pathfinder, especially among those who are fans of animals or cute things. While many classes gained access to familiars in later books, including the archetypes I wrote for Familiar Folio (my first-ever author credit for Paizo), plenty of characters have access to familiars from the outset of Pathfinder Second Edition's playtest. Not only can wizards take a feat to gain a familiar even if they also have an arcane bond, but alchemists can also gain an alchemically created familiar, and druids can gain a leshy familiar. But the most surprising and awesome feature might send our fans who love both gnomes and familiars (hmm, who could that be?) into a spiral of gnomes: there is a gnome ancestry feat to gain a familiar regardless of your class.
So enough about who can get familiars—how do they work? As someone who loves building familiars and getting exactly the type of animal that fits my concept, I was sometimes stymied when my ability to choose a familiar was locked behind how many low-power creatures that would be useful mostly only as familiars could be fit into the Pathfinder RPG Bestiary schedule. In the playtest, you won't have to wait for Bestiary 5 to have a flying fox. Familiars have always been magical creatures forever altered by your magic, so why not capitalize on that to allow for more variety and flexibility than ever before?
In the playtest's familiar system, you get to pick from a variety of powers that either allow the familiar to gain special abilities, like flight or speech (yes, you can have a talking cat, or a talking winged cat) or that grant special benefits to you, including extra spells and delivering your touch spells at a distance. You can normally swap those powers each day as part of your daily preparations, which allows you some awesome flexibility for your familiar, though a familiar that would naturally have any of these special abilities (like an owl's flight) always has that ability locked in. So if you need your rabbit to be able to swim for the next day's adventure, you can do that, or you can grant your leshy wings of flower blossoms. For the playtest, we started with around 10 different powers, but I imagine the list will expand over time and we might create feats for familiar-friendly characters to gain more powers than usual or to unlock particularly strong powers.
So we know about powers, but what about a familiar's base statistics? Your familiar uses your full saving throw modifiers and AC, with a set 4 HP per level, so it has better defenses than familiars had before. Familiars are adept at Perception, Acrobatics, and Stealth, counting as trained characters of your level and adding your spellcasting key ability modifier (this is Charisma if you have only innate spells, like the aforementioned gnome non-spellcaster). For other skills, they have the modifier of an untrained character of your level, meaning that after a few levels, their skills are far beyond what a simple animal could achieve.
Whew, that was an epic-length blog. Thanks again to everyone who donated to the Gauntlet to support Wellspring in their efforts to assist the homeless, and if you liked how much content was in this blog, be sure to post and thank all the donors as well!