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I give up on trying to find enough time to reply to everything all at once so I'm just going to work my way through in bits and pieces. In order with one initial exception. If I skip over something you think is important then please raise the issue again, trying to hit the big points here.

Ryan Freire wrote:
First off, PFS rulings are garbage if you want martials to even approach the power level of a mediocre 9 level caster, stop using them.

As I mentioned in my last post, that's not my current concern here. I have plenty of knobs to adjust in terms of martials vs casters.

What I'm currently concerned about is that if someone wants to make Roy Greenhilt using a Greatsword or Gimli using a Greataxe then that shouldn't be massively inferior to using a Polearm with Shield Brace (which is a feat in a player companion and literally had to be PFS-ruled to weaken it).

I'd much rather say "Okay all martials using melee weapons get +5 AC" than say "Okay all martials who want to use melee weapons need to use Shield Brace."

ErichAD wrote:
It sounds like you aught to have paired some feats together rather than giving your players extra feats without limiting their selection.

I mean, their selection is limited per the approved content (CRB/APG/ACG). I figured they'd run out of "focused" feats and need to diversify which was the goal.

But yes, a much more involved solution would have been potentially better. Runs into problems of its own, though.

ErichAD wrote:
The reason why you'd expect a stat difference between a dual wielder and a non-dual wielder is that the single weapon fighter doesn't need the dexterity to qualify for dual wielding. This doesn't always matter if you aren't using point buy, or are using too high a point buy.

Point buy rules are nothing above an 18 or below an 8 pre-racial, 25 point buy. Used to be <= 8 and >= 7 with 20 point buy but I had some players who wanted all their stats reasonably high and were hurting the party. So I agreed to give them a slightly higher point but limited dump stats (someone who had two 7s only effectively gets a 21 point buy).

Also I would expect most Fighters to want at least 14 Dex for Armor Training. Which means you just need 2 more point buy points to get to 15. At that point you'd wear a belt to get to the higher Dex requirements (from my understanding of what people actually did).

rorek55 wrote:
If you put someone against another person in a duel, with one being a swordmaster with little experience in using a shield offensively, and the other just being really good at fighting with both a sword and shield, the sword and shield guy has the advantage.

Look back at the original post. Say you have 4 people.

Person A has a weapon in one hand and nothing else. Person B has a weapon in both hands. Person C has a weapon in one hand and uses a shield defensively in another hand. Person D has a weapon in one hand and bashes with a shield in the other.

A: 100% offense, 100% defense (baseline)
B: 150% offense, 100% defense (uses offhand for more damage)
C: 100% offense, 150% defense (uses offhand for more defense)
D: ?? offense, ?? defense

What values do you think person D should have?

Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:

Crit fishing/crit debuffer/crit passing

Intimidate/vicious/sickening debuffers
Teamwork builds
Style feats
Shield and reach.
Dex to damage

Crit fishing is using an 18-20 weapon I assume. Crit debuffing is using things like Stunning Critical or something? No idea what crit passing is.

So stuff like Dazzling Display, you mean?

Combat maneuvers are a thing that reward some investment in intelligence but are often unreliable due to size or lack of weapon using enemies or what have you. But that's literally only like 3 feats and the "advantage" is only a +2 on the checks...but you get double the checks.

Teamwork builds...what are good teamwork feats besides Outflank and Precise Strike? Also the shield basher can usually cherry pick the best ones.

Not sure what style feats would be appropriate.

Not sure what shield and reach means. If you're referring to Shield Brace then at a minimum I'd use the PFS ruling of that the polearm is treated as a one-handed weapon at a minimum.

Dex to damage isn't allowed.

Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:
1 free attack at level 18 is nothing at all out of line for level 18. Also it uses his swift action.

One free attack is like a 30%ish (for full attacks) to 100% (for standard attacks) damage increase per round. For one feat. That doesn't seem out of line to you?

Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:
Hurtful + cornugon smash synergises best with two handed weapons. Because one hit from them is more impactful and they’re more inclined to pump strength the most and there are feats to make intimidate run off strength.

Two attacks at -2 are roughly as good as a single 2H attack. I don't see why the strength scores involved would be any different?

If the shield basher had to drop some strength then I'd be fine with things, they're losing out on significant offense in that case.

Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:
I feel like the answer would be just to write away some of the prerequisite, doubling feats to me seems like it’s going to limit variety

Even with doubled feats when I've made fighters I can't remotely get all the things I'd like. And that's with Weapon Specialization/Greater Weapon Focus/Greater Weapon Specialization being given for free as well.

So in practice I've generally liked how it's worked out -- I've even been tempted to offer more feats because it's still extremely hard to justify picking up some basic ranged feats as a melee character, for example. But that relies on running out of pure power increases for feats and needing to take branching out feats.

Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:
Very few feats are just raw numbers and most of the are from the core rulebook.

Hurtful is a raw numbers feat. It helps you do more damage in basically all cases.

Quixote wrote:
Because if that's what you're saying...of course one is better. One has more feats than the other. They both have the same equipment, but one utilizes it better. What's the other guy doing with all these resources? Probably something cool that the othere player can't do.

And when the shield basher had to pick up 4 extra feats for his shield (Focus/Spec/GFocus/GSpec) along with 2 extra DW feats (Improved/Greater TWF) that was far more of a limiter.

In order to help "normal" DW (because it was weak) I've created a problem where shield bashing is incredibly strong.

Again, I'm currently happy with the balance between 2H/DW/1H+Shield/Archery. The odd man out is shield bashing.

Also, see the above example with characters A through D -- what values do you think D should have?

upho wrote:
1. PF's many and varied PC build options allow for tremendous power differences between same level PCs

While definitely true, that's not really the issue here. I've dealt with monks doing 700 damage per round at level 12 and Vivisectionist Alchemists doing 400 damage per round plus 20 strength damage.

The concern specifically here is not between classes and not between casters/martials. It's that if a Fighter specifically is looking at a 2H, sword and board, dual-wielding, or shield bashing as a melee character that I want those four options balanced against each other. Right now I'm happy with the first three but not shield bashing. Before I simply said "No shield bashing" but the new player really wants to do it so I'm trying to find a solution.

upho wrote:
The player of the new shield-bashing Viking puts more effort into (or has more talent for or experience of) optimizing his PC's mechanical combat effectiveness than the other players do.

Good lord no. A third of his feats are terrible, he doesn't even HAVE Shield Master, and is currently using a Longsword instead of a Short Sword (so is suffering -2 AB on his Longsword attacks).

upho wrote:
And consequently you didn't define and agree on a suitable approximate power balance point for the PCs before the players started making them.

Nah, I've been designing around the PCs. I had a few PCs who seemed to want to break the game (like the monk and alchemist I mentioned above) and then they got mad when I started severely buffing enemies to still be a viable threat.

upho wrote:
Hopefully, that will make the players actively try to balance their PCs' to your game

Heh. That definitely didn't work with prior players so decided to just adjust the difficulty instead.

upho wrote:
instead of the Viking player just looking for the most powerful options

Viking player just wanted to play a viking and has no clue about any balance issues -- if shield bashing was notably weaker he'd still have wanted to do it and I'd be trying to figure out a way to make it work.

upho wrote:
Why does that interaction seem bad?

Because the point of moving it from a swift to free action seems to be to enable other generic swift actions -- for example, if you Step Up you lose your swift action next round. That seems a far cry from "Yeah get an extra attack at full AB each round."

Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:
Aren’t other characters investing in other feats to make their fighting styles better than their base too?

Such as? The default allowed content is CRB/APG/ACG, everything else per approval.

Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:
The two weapon guy could be going into a hurtful, intimidation build for example.

Assuming you mean this Hurtful, then it seems that could apply just as well to other styles, not just 2H.

For example, the shield basher is a Viking, which would mean at level 18+ he'd basically get a free attack each round due to free action intimidate.

That seems like a bad interaction for a feat from the Monster Codex.

Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:
Basically it seems like you’re looking at what a sword and board character can do with heavy feat investment to broaden the power of the style.

Not a sword and board character, a shield bashing character. Can very easily have sword and board that doesn't dual-wield (there's two other characters doing that in the party of six, for example).

As as aside, I also house ruled literally double the fighter's feats -- so basically two per level. This was done to make it easier to get the "necessities" and then have room to pick up other stuff that gives more tactical options.

If I allow a bunch of new feats that are raw number increases (in effect), then that encourages fighters to delve even deeper into those and both A, gives a larger power increase than intended and B, prevents fighters from being able to branch out which was the whole goal.

Which is a "problem" of my own making, I'm aware.

Philippe Lam wrote:
Shield Master is nowhere near as powerful as other options. It merely raises "budget".

It's more than just budget -- person dual-wielding with a Longsword/Short Sword doesn't get a shield AC bonus or the shield special abilities, for example. If Shield Master was just "You get a free magic shield that scales up as you level" and had nothing to do with attacking I'd be much less worried (assuming it was properly restricted or whatever). But it's basically like getting an extra item slot in addition to massive savings.

Ryan Freire wrote:
Plus im relatively sure you need to add the +1 as a weapon before you can add holy and axiomatic. meaning you could have a +4 shield which was enchanted to +1 holy/axiomatic and then shield mastery overwrites the +1 but not just a +5 shield (that adds to ac) with holy and axiomatic.

Correct. But +5 holy/axiomatic weapon costs 162k. With the shield it's 75k and ALSO gives a 7 AC bonus.

rorek55 wrote:
2- you can't make a shield flaming, or keen, or speed, etc. At least not to my knowledge.

As mentioned, you definitely can.

rorek55 wrote:
if you read that differently, then allow weapons to be "paired" (which is what I do in my home games anyway), double weapons and a pair of TWF weapons can be enhanced for 1.5 the cost instead of 2x. Or, in other words, the off-hand weapon only requires half the normal cost for all its magical needs. exclude shields from being "paired".

That's an interesting idea. Not sure how you'd "enforce" the pairing costs as upgrades happen and some are sold.

Still leaves 1H + shield as being much worse than a shield basher which seems less than ideal -- same defense but the shield basher has much better offense.

Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:
There are literally thousands of distinct character builds in pathfinder, but fighting with two shields is silly.

It's only silly when it's flat out superior to fighting with a weapon plus shield from my perspective.

ErichAD wrote:
Honestly, I'd always assumed that if you used the enhancement bonus thing from shield master, that you couldn't use the weapon enhancements on the weapon aspect of the shield. If you want to nerf it, just use my accidental house rule.

That would also help late game, but even around level 11-12ish you'd have the problem of the shield being both a +5 weapon and a +5 shield when weapons are usually at +3-+4 at best.

And still leaves non-bashing sword and board in the lurch.

Jared Walter 356 wrote:


You do realize that a shield used a weapon loses its defensive bonus until your next turn, and that enhancement bonus of a shield doesn't count on an attack right?

It doesn't lose its defensive bonus.

The enhancement bonus does count on an attack.

Ergo the math above is correct.

avr wrote:
Suppose shields had a worse reach, i.e. 'adjacent targets only with shield bashes'. Depending on how much your players use enlarge person, lunge etc. this might matter to them, might not.

That would seem weird compared to stuff like unarmed strikes though, no?

And yeah, it would drastically vary based on how much they enlarge.

avr wrote:
Alternately or in addition you might say that you need a swift action to switch between being ready to bash with your shield and getting the AC bonus. Or even if it's a free action that does mean that off-turn you can get the AC bonus or be ready to take AoOs with the shield but not both.

That more or less seems to be equivalent to removing Improved Shield Bash. Which is an option I considered.

The biggest problem with simply removing Improved Shield Bash is the fact that end-game so many characters have the ability to cast Shield or UMD a wand of even the Greatsword using Fighter can have that +4 Shield bonus. If the Shield spell didn't exist I'd have just done that from the start -- can choose each round between more offense or more defense.

avr wrote:
Edit: Thinking about means of boosting other styles which wouldn't equally boost shield bashing styles has been harder, I haven't come up with anything I think at all good there.

I could easily come up with some extra feats to boost other styles but then you're required to take more feats to keep up, y'know?

Not sure that's really ideal.

Claxon wrote:
Usually you can just have the character move to a square directly adjacent to the one they wanted to end in.

Wasn't possible in this case, hence why I made this thread. It wasn't quite to the degree indicated by the image, to be fair.

Claxon wrote:
However, as a GM I never do that. I move the invisible NPC into a adjacent square, to prevent metagaming.

Also not possible for the invisible NPC to have moved into an adjacent square without invoking squeezing or something.

That said, if the character is MOVING through the square vs STOPPING in the square I let the invisible person make a choice whether they allow the other person to pass or block the path.

blahpers wrote:
If it's okay to fireball a bandit, it ought to be at least as okay to confess one.

Are you arguing that telling a captured bandit "Okay, tell me X or I'll keep hitting you with Fireballs" is something you'd consider moral?

blahpers wrote:
It's one of those things that technically has an answer but never really satisfied a lot of folks, myself included.

Pretty much. And none of the threads I checked really ended on a satisfactory note.

Half tempted to go with Claxon's idea in particularly egregious cases.

Interrogation spell.

Confess spell.

I have a NG Inquisitor claiming that it's okay for him to use the Confess spell since it lacks the evil tag of Interrogation.

I'm not really seeing the difference between...

A, casting Confess on someone


B, put someone under a truth telling spell (assume they fail saves for something like Zone of Truth or whatever) and then torturing them if they don't answer questions

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Only rules I can find on this matter say:

"Accidentally Ending Movement in an Illegal Space

Sometimes a character ends its movement while moving through a space where it’s not allowed to stop. When that happens, put your miniature in the last legal position you occupied, or the closest legal position, if there’s a legal position that’s closer."

So say our roguish hero (who has 30 feet of movement and this is his SECOND move action) tries to tumble through a mass of hobgoblins to the square he thinks is empty (fortunately his acrobatics skill is crazy high so he can move at full speed) but instead contains an invisible hobgoblin alchemist?

Image of the situation.

He used 25 feet of movement to get there but can't stop there. Does he...

A, get shunted back 25 feet (50 feet of movement for his second move action)?

B, get shunted forward 15 feet (40 feet of movement for his second move action) and gets to freely move through more enemies he might not have been able to tumble past?

C, something else?

Both A and B seem really weird.

avr wrote:
Are you asking for suggestions for more house rules to limit the effect of shield bashes, or for some to boost other styles


For example, giving the style a -2 AB/AC penalty might keep it in line with other styles at high level but would cripple the style at low levels when it's already fine or even underpowered.

I'll default to "Sorry, no shield bashing characters" if necessary but I'm trying to avoid that.

There's just so many shenanigans surrounding shield bashing like using a shield as a 2H or dual-wielding heavy shields to eliminate the dual-wielding penalties entirely (plus the enchanting stuff I mentioned above).

Really not a fan of the way its implemented in Pathfinder.

So just to get this out of the way up front: I'm aware that some of my house rules/campaign specifics have skewed the balance in this case, particularly in three ways.

1, this campaign is intended to go to 20 and Shield Master (usually) requires level 11 minimum. So campaigns at lower or mid levels will never see any issue.

2, I'm effectively using some of the Two Weapon Warrior/Unchained Action Economy rules, meaning a standard action or attack of opportunity can strike with both weapons

3, I tried to reduce some feat taxes (like Weapon Focus and Two Weapon Fighting scaling automatically into their more powerful versions at higher levels)

That aside, I'm currently relatively happy with the balance between 2H, dual-wielding, and sword and board.

- 2H is better at dealing with damage reduction and damage shields
- Dual-Wielding is better at dealing with mirror images and has higher DPR against lower AC enemies
- sword and board has less damage but better defense

...but then using a shield to attack comes into play and presents a problem because it deals more damage than a "normal" dual-wielder while having the same defenses as "normal" sword and board. Basically seems to make both obsolete.

Shield Master makes this problem even worse since you can get a +5 Heavy Shield that gives 7 AC which is also enchanted as a Holy Axiomatic weapon for 5^2 + (5^2)*2 = 75k when normally that would cost 162k for a +5 Holy Axiomatic offhand weapon that gives *zero* AC.

This has probably been traditionally seen as "balanced" due to weakness of default dual-wielding and extra feats required, both of which are reduced in this case.

Imagine if a person with a 1H does 100% damage and has 100% survivability

2H is 150% damage and 100% survivability
Dual-wielding is 150% damage and 100% survivability
Sword and board is 100% damage and 150% survivability

Ideally I'd like Shield Bashing to be like 130% damage/130% survivability but instead it's like 175% damage and 150% survivability -- more damage than dual-wielding and the same surviviability as a "normal" shield user.

And again, level is a big deal. At level 1 you're giving up damage on the off-hand and a feat to gain 2 AC or something -- not a big deal and honestly not very good. But that radically changes past level 10.

And the player entering the campaign who wants to bash with a shield is starting at level 12, so the whole "He had to wait for this to pay off" argument doesn't apply (I don't even agree with that argument regardless, but still).

TL;DR: I want to figure out a way to allow him to shield bash without making "traditional" dual-wielders or sword and board users feel obsolete.

JiaYou wrote:
Dirty Fighting obviates the need for the 13 Int, and dumping CHA to 7 damn near gets you to the stat array you're asking for though (16 point buy equivalent)

Dirty Fighting didn't come out for like 6 years after the CRB was published, so that's not a reasonable solution at a minimum.

Also, you're not allowed to dump stats in an array, that's part of his whole point.

Note that even the Elite Array (15/14/13/12/10/8) comes close to what I wind up with 1 Con mod rather than 2 which is less than ideal but otherwise you actually get the stats needed.

Bob Bob Bob wrote:
...that being said, you pitted a horde of minions against a well built martial character. Of course the player tore through them like tissue paper.

Er...yeah? There seems to be a misunderstanding here, my concern isn't the Inquisitor (or any level 12 PC) being able to tear through CR 6s. Like you said, they're supposed to do that.

My concern is the Inquisitor never missing a CR20.

Two very different things.

Bob Bob Bob wrote:
One AP does not an entire game make.

Never seen it in any other campaign or module I've played either. YMMV.

Bob Bob Bob wrote:
Monsters with no ranged attacks or way to ground flyers (also T-rex).

Sure. That's one of the reasons I strongly dislike flying in Pathfinder, even the designers of Paizo APs fail to account for stuff like that.

Bob Bob Bob wrote:
At every step between Cave Giant and Balor a big beefy bruiser gets more attack and saves from Cleric than Fighter

I get that. My question do you is, how would you handle that instead? Again, the designers seem to have done that to ensure the Cleric's CASTING ability is relevant...and due to the design of the Cleric chasis, the BAB/saves is an issue.

A CR16 Frost Giant Fighter (7 levels) makes sense. A CR16 Frost Giant Cleric (7 levels) is a joke of a cleric. Are 14 cleric levels too much? Possibly, but coming up with consistent rules to get like 10-12 caster level might be tricky because it has to work for all levels.

I guess my question here is -- what's your concern precisely? That the GM will "abuse" the situation and basically turn a Cleric into a better Fighter? The GM can already change whatever stats he wants and put whatever creatures he wants into a fight.

Bob Bob Bob wrote:
But all I'm trying to say is that CR is not a very accurate measure of power

If you go from Ogre to Cyclops to Hill Giant to Frost Giant to Fire Giant to Cloud Giant and so on it seems to be fairly reasonable, no (excluding the Cyclops ability potentially)? It's obviously not perfect.

Bob Bob Bob wrote:
Without "no gear" they just go back to their normal CR, at which point you might as well give them full NPC gear, at which point I would have to argue the relative merits of one class versus another.

Nah, NPC gear would give them 4650 gold. That's enough for something like a +1 full plate, a MW weapon that feats apply to, and another magic item or two, which then gives something like +6 AC, +3 AB, and +3-4 damage. That's definitely enough of a difference to bump up the CR by 1 compared to Hide Armor and a Spear or whatever.

If we interpreted it in your manner then a wizard would have no spellbook and thus be unable to cast anything.

17 gold worth of item falls within the spirit of no gear mentioned there.

Bob Bob Bob wrote:
And using the Grizzly is problematic because it has lower attack and AC than the table. Dire Boar is less AC than the table as well. You can't discount Tiger for being too strong and then cherry-pick the weaker monsters to compare.

Grizzly Bear does 25.5 if all hit vs 16 expected, hence falls into this statement:

"A creature with higher than normal attack bonuses will often deal lower damage, while a creature with lower than normal attack bonuses will often deal higher damage."

I literally just looked at two other CR4 animals randomly, if I cherry picked was a fluke. And stuff like the two beetles and the bison seem to be in the same ballpark.

Hydra might have reach but it attacks at +6 for 7.5 average damage on AoOs. Would it beat animals that don't know how to sever heads and apply fire/acid? Sure. Weird stuff will do that.

Toolbag wrote:

But why can't the array be 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9 and modified by race bonuses?

I'll tell you why. Because hack and slash type of power gamers think this character is a turd that couldn't slaughter a level 1 kobold in one attack.

Let me offer an alternative.

Say you want a Fighter who is smart enough to use the various Int 13 feats. You also want enough Dex to use your Armor Training class feature (so 14 needed).

Highest stat should be strength, so that's the 14 and then hopefully add 2 from racial, or 16.

You need 13 int so there's the 13.

Next stat up is 12 -- so already we can't use Armor Training properly if we put that in Dex, a core class feature. But it's the best we've got.

Now we have Con modifier of 0 as a front line melee fighter, that's not good.

Then Wisdom of 10 and Charisma of 9 which are both good enough.

So that stat array fails. We really want a minimum of the following (without racials):

Str 15
Dex 14
Con 14
Int 13
Wis 10+
Cha anything

It doesn't need to have multiple 16s (or higher) or anything, but feats and class features do assume you have a minimum of some stats.

blahpers wrote:
Follow-up: Not that there's really anything BadWrongFun™ with running a game on rails such that the GM writes the plot and the players just act it out if that's what people signed on for.

Perhaps you could explain how saying "Okay, that's the fourth crit in a row against the PCs, that's crazy awful bad luck for them, I'll turn it into a normal hit" is stripping away PC agency?

Wheldrake wrote:
It's where you decide what actions the NPCs or monsters will take. If you need to give the PCs a little breathing room, you choose suboptimal actions for the NPCs or monsters. Maybe they waste an action gloating. Or they cast a spell that seems vaguely appropriate but doesn't involve killing PCs. Maybe they decide to run. Maybe they decide to do soemthing else.

I've been on the receiving end of that as a player. It sucked and was insulting when the dragon moved and single attacked rather than full attacked. Felt like the GM was trying to use kid gloves.

I would much rather the GM say "Okay, this RNG is crazy stupid and I'm bringing it back to something more reasonable" than have monsters act like complete idiots when they have no reason to.

KingGramJohnson wrote:
Saldiven wrote:

My suggestion is to always rebuild a dragon's feats, especially if you're using a Bestiary (first one) dragon. There are so many amazing feats available now that didn't exist in the beginning of Pathfinder, and a lot of the feats on the Bestiary dragon entries kind of suck for utility.

Consider a combination of Fly By Attack, Snatch, and Snatch and Drop.

That's a great idea.

Keep in mind that by doing this you're effectively changing the CR of the creature.

Why does a Grizzly Bear have Endurance, Run, and Skill Focus (Survival) as its feats rather than Improved Natural Armor for another 3 AC?

Because the designers already gave it all the natural armor it needed (6 to be precise) for the bear to hit the AC they wanted it to have. Some of the "useless" feats are for flavor because the dragon ALREADY has the stats and options it's supposed to have.

KingGramJohnson wrote:
Saldiven wrote:
Also, redo their spells, especially defensive spells. Consider adding a combination of Displacement and Mirror Image.
I've actually rebuilt his spell list and did put displacement on there

Again, be careful with this.

Dragons have thematic spell lists (sometimes based on elemental type but also compare a Gold Dragon to a Red Dragon -- the Gold dragon has more defensive and restorative spells like the Red dragon has more selfish and offensive spells).

If you give all dragons the optimal spells you'll reduce the differentiation between them.

Bob Bob Bob wrote:
We can use a naked level 6 Fighter versus a Tiger or Hydra for the same "are these really the same difficulty fight" comparison. Honestly, I'm probably always going to choose "naked guy who needs gear to fight" over "fully kitted and ready to murder monster".

Well, I meant they were edge cases in three ways.

1, level 20 tends to make problems worse as you noted

2, Fighter itself is an edge case -- I don't think any other class gains 6-8 AB and 8-10 damage at high levels solely based on having the right type of weapon. Nor do they have class features like spells, animal companions, or abilities like Lay on Hands. I think even a rogue without gear might be better off.

Even giving a fighter 17 gold for a Spear and Hide Armor means he has AC 16ish, AB of probably +10/+5, damage of 1d8+6, and HP of 58 ((6 + 3) * 6 + 4). Possibly better. And that's assuming the wrong weapon with no feats for it, of course.

Compare that to a bear or boar and it's quite respectable despite not having magic gear or even just the proper weapon/armor you could have by level 2.

3, the tiger is way stronger than other typical CR4 enemies (no matter if you go by comparing it to the table or comparing it to other CR4s).

As an aside, also keep in mind that 1 CR is a 42ish% power increase. So something can be 35% better than something else and still be in the same CR range, for example.

Bob Bob Bob wrote:
A Balor Fighter 10 versus a Balor Cleric 20 is a more extreme example but still not an edge case (as everything inbetween has the same "a bunch of Cleric levels gives better BAB, saves, and spellcasting"). I even said "The higher level the monster the worse it gets.", which is almost literally the opposite of an edge case.

Those are now both CR30 creatures that are more powerful than most demon lords, so I would think it's definitely an example of an edge case. And clearly they tried to do that rule since a CR30 creature with level 10 Cleric spellcasting would be massively underwhelming -- it just so happens to "break" the game if the GM tries to use it to maximize creature melee power (also I don't think they envisioned most high CR creatures getting more than a handful of levels).

Bob Bob Bob wrote:
As for the last example, what? Like, seriously, what? Zombies (or something staggered) don't come up in games? The ability to cause the entangled condition never comes up in games? What exactly is the rare situation that only occured in my game that you're saying is happening here?

Well, in the Strange Aeons AP I played in I think zombies might have come up once. Not even sure about that. The undead we encountered were typically something else. Zombies tend to be reserved for low level threats.

And having a low level threat with no intelligence, slow movement speed, and no alternative combat modes (like the ability to pull out a ranged weapon of any kind) would be an edge case, I think.

Entangled is another matter...but no, actually, I've very rarely seen entangled come up as a player or GM. Obviously if you built a character around it and tried to have a ranged party to exploit it you'd probably do very well against a lot of enemies.

Bob Bob Bob wrote:
That's... well, not very helpful. Did any of them have other defenses? Miss chances? Damage reduction? Flying? Burrowing? Even if I'm not including the special abilities (and you definitely should be) there are other defensive things that need to be included (and they affect different builds different ways).

No to all of the above.

Bob Bob Bob wrote:
That tells me almost nothing useful about the combat.

It was 10 CR6 typical archers, 20 CR6 run of the mill soldiers with greatswords, one elite CR10 archer, one CR10 elite soldier, and one CR10 cleric as I recall. Can give more info if you want.

swoosh wrote:
I'm trying to figure out what the OP wants out of this thread. It's ostensibly an advice thread about a character with a really high attack bonus causing problems, but almost all of his replies just seem to be dismissive or mocking toward pretty much everything anyone else in the thread has suggested or thought. What was the goal here?

There wasn't really a goal, I was just initially flabbergasted by the number.

Then after some more thought I realized that a Fighter could have 28 AB baseline, 34 after Outflanking with Menancing, and 38 after a Divine Favor wand and Fate's Favored...just like the Inquisitor. So the problem was my perception of player power -- I expected it to be high but still less than that.

It wasn't my intent to be dismissive or mocking of anyone who was attempting to help -- could you point out some examples?

JiaYou wrote:
To answer OPs question about WoW, I think it was around Cataclysm's release.

Cataclysm came out late 2010 so I doubt that -- did you get a powerful ability at level 10? If not, it was prior to Cataclysm.

WoW suffered initially from some of the same issues of D&D/Pathfinder -- designed worried about players cherry-picking abilities by multiclassing or the equivalent and thus locked good abilities until higher level.

JiaYou wrote:
One of my favorite battles that I DMed was a sorcerer under the influence of the Fey Queen. The party was in a forest at night and it was raining, and the party and the enemy ended up dropping five area effect spells that I had to draw on the battle map. It was glorious confusion, and the sorcerer had access to primal magic blasts that were quite dangerous or amusing (can't remember what started falling out of the sky as a result of a miss on his part).

Sounds fun. Here's a segment of the battlefield from last session. Lots of stuff going on.

JiaYou wrote:
It's funny, I was rereading this thread this morning (before you posted) and I thought, "this feels like my experience with WoW." I played it for three straight days (with a bit of sleep) in 2006 and then uninstalled. It was addictive, but it was also a slog. I felt like all combats had the same pattern for my character, and my thought was "I know I'm going to get more abilities if I level up, but the enemies are going to scale at essentially the same rate and it's going to be as much of a slog at that point as it is now."

Man, that would have been back in Classic, right? Brings back memories.

What were you playing, if you happen to recall? Back then certain classes had much rougher times leveling than they do in more recent times. If you played since probably Cataclysm I suspect you might have felt differently.

My first character was a Mage, but got tired around level 30 of being so squishy.

So then I made a Paladin and gave up on him around level 35 when I literally couldn't kill an enemy because I couldn't outdamage his healing (but he couldn't kill me).

And then I made a Rogue and actually got to 60.

Those were different times for sure.

JiaYou wrote:
To me, it sounds like you were making things SOOOO epic that long fights against super enemies became normal and a bit boring rather than exciting and novel and fresh. Hopefully in the future everyone can use this experience to get games and tables that work for them even better!

I got specific feedback that the players would prefer fewer harder fights over a lot of easier fights. But it's certainly possible I went too far in the other direction.

avr wrote:
When four people drop out of your game this is a sign that you have GM'd badly.

Quite possibly.

But I was on the verge of just cancelling the whole campaign several times in the preceding months due to frustration so something had to change.

Quiddity wrote:
I’ve only spoken about tactics and composition and every time save-or-dies are mentioned the OP rolls right past that.

Phantasmal Killer requires two back to back saves to be failed.

Stuff like Plane Shift/Stone to Flesh/etc can be resaved against via the house rules linked earlier.

What other save-or-dies did you have in mind?

Bob Bob Bob wrote:
So every time I see CR cited as if it was gospel I cringe. CR is a helpful guide. Used as a rule it's terrible.

Just pointing out that you used three specific edge cases there and I'm not sure how any of the cases I've presented are edge cases.

Bob Bob Bob wrote:
CR can point you in the right direction but that's all. Blindly following it can easily lead to steamrolls (in either direction) if either side has some special ability the other side can't deal with. A party of Strix can fight a hundred T-Rexs.

Right, but I'm not talking about special abilities right now. I'm just talking about raw numbers for melee combatants.

Dasrak wrote:
Would kinda defeat the point of spells like Disguise Self or Invisibility if ongoing spells had continued manifestations for their full durations.

Not if manifestations only occurred when an actual action was taken.

I've always viewed it as the way OotS shows.

So if the paladin is concentrating/taking an action, there's clearly something going on.

I've given numbers to the nearest 25%.

100% = Uninjured
75%-99% = Barely Wounded
50%-74% = Moderately Wounded
25%-49% = Heavily Wounded
01%-24% = Critically Wounded
0% = Disabled

I think you know the rest from there.

Matthew Downie wrote:
Why does the combat need to be so hard? It seems like you're scaling it up to balance the characters. You could equally scale it down to balance the characters.

At a minimum, it's because that's what I enjoy. I was a high end raider in WoW for years and like difficult and tactical combat. And the campaign was pitched as mostly focused on challenging combat.

Would I be willing to run a campaign less focused on combat? Probably, but I wouldn't use Pathfinder to do it.

I'm not sure what you mean by the last statement about scaling it down. It originally was easier when I was going by the bestiary/bench pressing rather than what characters could actually do.

Matthew Downie wrote:
Infinite. Once they can hit the AC of a typical enemy, further bonuses are meaningless.

Part of the default assumption of the game (looking at monster creation rules and the like) is that players will hit enemies that are higher level less often (and conversely hit enemies that are lower level more often).

Also, a level 20 Fighter or Monk out of the CRB can hit 50ish AC passively. Should a level 12 character be able to hit that consistently?

Quiddity wrote:
. . . or bardic music, a Skald, or both, and/or other buff effects dedicated to increasing to-hit, including aid another optimization with low-level scrubs.

A party of four level 12s is APL 12. So a CR16 enemy is already APL+4, past the "epic" fight (and in theory an even fight for the whole party). Six level 12s is APL 13, still APL+3 encounter.

In reality the fight isn't even because of action economy issues, but the enemy is individually supposed to be very dangerous.

And you're saying that that no, not only can that enemy not win (due to action economy), but he can't even present a threat to the party without giving him a bunch of people to buff him up in some manner.

Syries wrote:

Out of everything that has been said since I last posted on this thread, this line stuck out to me the most.

A 12th level inquisitor SHOULD be able to hit 65% of the time or even more without nova'ing. They SHOULD be able to hit 95% of the time when they do nova. It's what inquisitors DO. They and warpriests have some of the highest attack bonus capabilities in the game.

Okay? The way you say that makes it sound like you're disagreeing with me on something.

Just to recap:

Me: People are saying enemy AC is way too high. But given that the Inquisitor is still hitting 65% of the time on an equal CR enemy non-nova, that seems like a reasonable result.

You: He SHOULD hit 65% of the time non-nova.

Me: Um, yeah? I just said that? The person I was quoting said "the only way any character can hit is by novaing buffs" which clearly isn't the case.

Syries wrote:
Start over with the base Pathfinder rules. Give enemies advanced templates and utilize delay tactics for fights you want to have drawn out a little more.

I mean, that's how the campaign started. What's going to go differently this time?

Matthew Downie wrote:
There are very few systems that allow for such extreme optimized characters.

I guess from my perspective it doesn't even seem that optimized. Or maybe optimized is the wrong word, that munchkin? I remember back in NWN making a Sorcerer 38/Paladin 1/Monk 1 -- got Improved Evasion in Full Plate armor and shield (auto-still spell), tumble/discipline dump, and +20ish saves from Divine Grace. In addition to still casting as a level 38 sorcerer.

This is just using RAI.

Matthew Downie wrote:
(a) ask them nicely to stop trying to break the system

How exactly do you say "Don't break the system but make powerful characters because the combat is going to be hard?" Where do you draw the line?

How much AB is acceptable for the Inquisitor? How many natural attacks for the Vivisectionist? How much damage per hit for the monk?

This is an entirely serious question, I don't know the answer.

Latrecis wrote:

Crafting feats aren't a tax, they're a boon. You could argue they are overpowered in comparison to other feats. Especially in a restricted magic item market such as HR.

The pc's get the magic items they want for half price.

FWIW that's literally not how it's supposed to work.

"However, game balance for the default campaign experience expects you and all other PCs to be close to the listed wealth values, so the GM shouldn’t just let you craft double the normal amount of gear. As a guideline, allowing a crafting PC to exceed the Character Wealth by Level guidelines by about 25% is fair, or even up to 50% if the PC has multiple crafting feats.

If you are creating items for other characters in the party, the increased wealth for the other characters should come out of your increased allotment. Not only does this prevent you from skewing the wealth by level for everyone in the party, but it encourages other characters to learn item creation feats."

Latrecis wrote:
I'm not sure how Blindness is a particularly awful save or suck spell

Well, for starters it's permanent and available a spell level lower than the spell that removes it.

Quiddity wrote:
With NPCs, you can go far further by simply flooding the field with high to-hit low-hp scrubs

Flooding implies a lot -- what CR are we talking about and how high to hit?

Because the monk, for example, was at 44+ AC as an offensive build, which would require a high attack CR16 monster to hit on anything less than a natural 20.

Even the Inquisitor/Vivisectionist were at 38ish AC, so CR11 high attack enemy to hit on less than a natural 20.

If we're trying to play by the rules I imagine we're not flooding the field with CR11+ creatures.

Matthew Downie wrote:
You had a Vivisectionist who could do 400 damage and 20 strength damage per round to anything with a CR-appropriate AC, and the problem you wanted to fix was "the Inquisitor can hit enemies reliably"?

I actually made the thread about the Vivisectionist before I made this thread, for the record.

"Besides," until the Vivisectionist said he had Crippling Strike it seemed less worrisome than the prior Unchained Monk who was attacking for 75+ damage 7-9 times a round.

Matthew Downie wrote:
or switch to a different game system.

Can you elaborate on why you would say this?

Player asked what stops the party from knocking out foes and placing them under geases to help defeat their previous master (or something similar). 10 minute casting time is circumvented by, y'knowing, the enemies being unconscious.

Though maybe they have to be conscious at the time the spell finishes? So could revive them at that point or just have them tied up or something I guess -- same principle, same end result.

Not really familiar with this spell.

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I set up a house rule where creatures can attempt a new save at a -2 penalty as a full round action (basically a worse version of the Hold Person save), but only for 3 rounds. If they're asleep/feared/etc then they automatically get a new save at the end of each turn. If they're dominated/charmed they only get a new save after being attacked (plus the usual against your nature saves).

Seems to generally be better -- mooks getting CCed are very unlikely to make the new save while at a penalty, PCs have better chances to break free within a few rounds if the combat isn't over by then.

Does lead to a few odd cases, I'll admit, still trying to figure out how to handle those appropriately.

Kianti wrote:
I will start with saying that I do not think anything you find strong from UC and UM are that bad but I doubt my opinion matters to you on that.

For the record, your opinion matters, even if I wind up disagreeing with it.

Things like Tetori Monk, Quick Dirty Trick, Clustered Shots, and more seem to be significantly above the power level of other options. Do you disagree?

doomman47 wrote:
Budget is 47k per person at 7th level, always make sure at least some one in the party can craft, if not some one else can you make sure your own character can craft. So these are the numbers a fighter of that level should have at that level.

That's literally exactly the opposite of how Paizo says it should work.

"However, game balance for the default campaign experience expects you and all other PCs to be close to the listed wealth values, so the GM shouldn’t just let you craft double the normal amount of gear. As a guideline, allowing a crafting PC to exceed the Character Wealth by Level guidelines by about 25% is fair, or even up to 50% if the PC has multiple crafting feats.

If you are creating items for other characters in the party, the increased wealth for the other characters should come out of your increased allotment. Not only does this prevent you from skewing the wealth by level for everyone in the party, but it encourages other characters to learn item creation feats."

Dragonborn3 wrote:
Even if it is a different game, THAT many enemies means it is not low powered unless you aren't even trying to hide the fact you want the Player Characters to lose and get wiped out, and are now upset that isn't happening.

Or I'm letting the Sorcerer have a grand time with his new Chain Lightning spell. Could go either way.

Lyoto Machida wrote:
How long do you say passes each time they search a room?

Well, you can search a 10x10 square in 1 minute of taking 20. So even a 20x20 room can be searched in four minutes by just one character.

Lyoto Machida wrote:
If you allow all his 12 minute long buffs to last half the dungeon crawl, it's going to be tough for you to challenge him.

That has been a significant issue, yes. Even got into an argument with one of the players who was basically mad I wasn't letting him have an 8 minute buff last for four separate battles.

Grandlounge wrote:
A fighter without Ultimate Equipment and weapon masters handbook is at a staggering disadvantage.

Fighters have access to Gloves of Dueling. Also get more feats, free feats, and armor training gives bonus saves. What else is really missing from Weapon Master's handbook (serious question)?

Gray Warden wrote:
So on one hand we have an hypothetical 5th level martial character built with standard feats and traits to make it good at fighting (Power Attack, Weapon Focus, Combat Reflexes, reach weapon and so on), on the other a hypothetical 5th level martial character with Wildling, Pass for Human and Skill Focus[Survival], using a club to fight because it's, obviously, so cool.

Unfortunately that's not the situation.

The situation is that Player A picks those standard feats/traits to be good at fighting. Something that is quite reasonable/sensible.

Then Player B brings in a character that makes Player A feel completely irrelevant.

Melkiador wrote:
The fireball with metamagic has a higher chance of being saved against. But a lot of the time, the area of a fireball just isn’t practical, unless you want to nearly kill your teammates as well.

Let's look at the actual difference.

Say you have a 15% chance of succeeding for a level 3 spell and a 5% chance of succeeding for a level 5 spell.

That's 0.85 + 0.15 * 0.5 = 92.5% of the spell's damage vs 0.95 + 0.05 * 0.5 = 97.5%. So 5.4% more damage (compared to the +50% damage from metamagic), that's not remotely close.

Now say you have an 95% chance of succeeding for level 5 and 85% for a level 3 (take it to the other extreme).

0.05 + 0.95 * 0.5 = 52.5% damage vs 0.15 + 0.85 * 0.5 = 57.5% damage. Now we're up to a 9.5% damage difference best case scenario...but still a vast difference from +50% damage. The reflex save doesn't matter that much.

Melkiador wrote:
And while there is metamagic to get around that, that would also be metamagic you’re not using to boost the damage.

Unless you just haul out your selective metamagic rod when you need it.

Matthew Downie wrote:
I understand trying to counter that, even if banning all metamagic is a bit extreme.

I've learned that players hate stuff being taken away that they already had, so I pre-emptively banned metamagic and figured I could add it back in on a case by case basis as desired. Much better feeling than having Dazing Spell and then having it taken away.

Stuff like Extend Spell, Widen spell, etc are realistically all fine but I haven't seen any real interest in them. Even Silent Spell only concerns me if the PCs try to make it the cornerstone of their strategy or something.

Matthew Downie wrote:
There is no intrinsic problem if a PC hits 95% of the time.

In practice I ran into three major problems with that philosophy:

1, not everyone has the same number of attacks. The Inquisitor was attacking at +40/+35/+40 for 50ish damage. The Vivisectionist was attacking at +32/+32/+32/+32/+30/+30/+30/+30/+30/+30 for 40ish damage. If both are hitting 95% of the time then the Inquisitor is doing 150ish damage while the Vivisectionist is doing 400ish damage -- the fact that the Vivisectionist has less AB is irrelevant.

2, things like Crippling Strike apply per hit (with no save). Even if I give the Giant Warlord 5000 HP, after a full attack from the Vivisectionist the giant has -20 strength (so -10 AB and -15 damage).

3, enemies HP had to scale massively up per level because their other defenses didn't matter (remember, an enemy at +2 CR is supposed to be twice as strong as a player). Which then also caused problems with scaling for spells and things like Alchemist Bombs.

If I don't respond to something in this post and you'd like me to, please restate it because otherwise I'm never going to catch up on anything right now.

Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:
But let's see if we can't challenge them with a CR 12 encounter.

Party's level 12 currently, FWIW. And the problem seemed less severe at 9.

Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:
I assume we'd double the demons' hitpoints, on account of the players getting the same advantage?

50% more, not double, but your general idea is correct.

Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:
The Hezrou will use this turn to cast gaseous form and sink beneath the floorboards (or up through a porous ceiling, which would be better).

So we're assuming an indoors fight here, yes?

Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:
The players are somewhat bemused by how quickly the largest demon there died.

No, because they have good Knowledge: Planes and know it's a weaker type of demon.

Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:
They attempt to summon help. Odds are good they at least get another shadow demon.

Not until the next round, since summon is a 1 round spell. Also, if the shadow demons are inside a wall they can't see anything to target their spell so that's also a problem.

Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:
The shadow demons use their spell-like abilities, with one of them casting deeper darkness to turn out the lights.

So we're assuming something that is not bright light at a minimum (conceptually it makes sense since Shadow Demons are powerless in sunlight or bright light).

Then we're assuming it's not even normal light (otherwise the party's Darkvision will allow them to still see).

Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:
After this, the demons' strategy is fairly straightforward - use hit and run tactics to avoid full attacks while hammering the party with at-will spell like abilities.

So the players delay until a demon emerges and casts a spell, then all kill the demon in a round. Hit and run won't actually work here.

I get the spirit of what you're trying to do, I just don't think it'll work out in practice like you think. And even if it does, if the only way to challenge the party involves light/darkness with incorporeals in their ideal environment then that'll get old real fast.

I do appreciate the ideas, though. And would be willing to play this sort of thing out if you wanted in a test.

Anguish wrote:
I will also gladly compliment you for remaining very civil during this conversation

Well, thank you. Same to you.

Anguish wrote:
You likely know why the quotes.

Aye, for SA Book 3.

I am curious, however, what is giving your party trouble. Our three unoptimized characters basically breezed through the book with one exception near the end of the book (which mostly was due to a mistake on the GM's part).

...except the GM had (unknown to us) been maximizing HP for creatures the whole time (we didn't have maximized hit points ourselves).

Later in the campaign two players from one of my campaigns showed up, completely broke the game, and ruined the experience for the GM, another player, and myself (third original player was ambivalent). So I know what optimized characters look like (or at least more optimized, quite possibly they could have broken the game more I suppose).

Anguish wrote:
We all (when playing) actively plot and scheme how to deal with BBEG encounters and some of the stories retold most often at the table involve ability-stacking such that BBEGs didn't get to act.

Yeah, I can see my game wouldn't appeal to you, it's literally the exact opposite (trying to make sure EVERYONE, including the players, gets to act). I accept your reasoning, even if I wouldn't find it fun.

ShroudedInLight wrote:
Using these rules its great for making use of magical items, combat maneuvers, weird spells, and other fun/suboptimal plays that a smaller group cannot usually rely upon because they are locked into a DPS race with the party.

I tried something along those lines where creatures with abilities could use them as a bonus action, basically (but could not make any extra attacks instead). Some players got very upset.

I liked the result, though, and the people remaining in my campaign seemed to like it so I plan to continue doing it.

I'll get to more later, but for now...

Serum wrote:
The players aren't blaming each other.

They are absolutely blaming each other. I'd rather not go into too much public detail about it, but across several games there have absolutely been multiple players very unhappy with this sort of thing (including one where I was a player).

Serum wrote:
They're unhappy that the GM is updating the game mechanics so that the only way any character can hit is by novaing buffs on two-three characters, one of whom is the inquisitor (because of the class' large amount of limited self buffs).

As I stated before (literally a few posts ago), when novaing the Inquisitor had 40 AB and a CR12 enemy (same CR) had 41 AC. So even without Bane and Divine Power the Inquisitor is hitting 65% of the time (so non-nova).

Latrecis wrote:
The OP played whack-a-mole with rules he couldn't adjust to in order to respond to player optimization

This is incorrect. For starters, there's a huge difference between "Thinking something is poorly designed" and "Can't adjust to it." Let's break it down:

Latrecis wrote:
the OP has changed the rules they might use having already prohibited flight, metamagic, crafting, and at least some combat maneuvers (among other things I might have missed.)

  • Flight: I think flight is incredibly poorly implemented in Pathfinder -- I have a whole list of seven reasons why I think it's a bad idea. And these reasons have been validated by my experience as a PLAYER, including as a player in Paizo designed adventure paths. So this had nothing to do with players using it in my campaign and me being unable to adjust.

  • Metamagic: as a PLAYER, I remember seeing a sorcerer toss around 55 damage Fireballs at level 7 and one-shotting most encounters. It was not an enjoyable experience for me. Nor was reading things like this caster using Persistent Dazing spells to completely break the default game. Nor was reading guides like this which say "Level 5 and Beyond

    No. At this point, your higher level blasts are better spent on low level spells with metamagic. Sure, you could prepare a 7th level Delayed Blast Fireball for 56 (14d6+7) damage. But in the same slot, you could prepare an Intensified Maximized Fireball for 97. You could prepare Cold Ice Strike for 1d6/level as a short line effect with a swift action… or just throw a Quicken on a low level blast to get the same level of power. The same is true even with the 5th level spells – Cone of Cold, Acidic Spray, and Lightning Arc just don’t compare with metamagic’ed up Fireballs."

    Not to mention issues like an Empowered Fireball doing 15d6 at level 10 while a Cone of Cold does 10d6 -- it severely skews the scaling. We can go further into this if you'd like, but it had nothing to do with not being able to adjust to it -- it had to do with thinking it's bad for the game.

  • Crafting: players have not had the downtime to craft. But they've been able to get the gear they want and are reasonably ahead of WBL, so this isn't some sort of punishment.

  • Combat maneuvers: despite what Kamea said, Sunder was not nerfed. I just pointed out that they'd be destroying loot and that enemies could start doing the same thing back to them. And we all know destroying character gear is worse than death (literally, actually), so it's been more of a gentlemen's agreement not to go around sundering on either side. Kamea joined later in the campaign and I guess never picked up on that.

Themetricsystem wrote:
Fact is, it sounds like your Inq and GM are at war with each other like this is some kind of wargame for them

As Kamea mentioned, I am the GM.

Also, the Inquisitor is hitting an equal CR opponent 95% of the time on his best attack (misses on a natural 1). He also hits a CR+2 opponent 75% of the time on his best attack.

If I'm at war with the Inquisitor I'm apparently very bad at it.

doomman47 wrote:
7bab +6str +1 weapon focus +3 weapon training(gloves of dueling are a must have for a fighter) and a +2 weapon

Our level 7 character has a budget of 23.5k. So far we've spent 15k on Gloves of Dueling and 8.3k on a +2 weapon. That gives us 200 gold for armor, belts, ring, amulets, cloaks, and everything else.

doomman47 wrote:
Also that damage looks tiny especially compared to what a sorc can dish out or even a min maxed martial. Even am barbarian at several levels lower would laugh at those numbers.

I like how people are claiming my campaign is high powered but apparently think Doommman's campaign seems perfectly normal.

Kianti wrote:
Now that is cleared up, what do you want from us? What kind of advice are you looking for?

I'm not sure. I was just thrown for a massive loop when I saw those numbers.

Really I just want everyone on the same page. The problem is party disparity.

doomman47 wrote:
With the amount of posts it seems he is having the same issue with every player in the group where high level characters are doing things high level characters should be doing.

Ironically if that were the case I wouldn't be here baffled.

Instead it was 2 people doing this sort of crazy stuff. Now it's a third who switched from a cleric to a Vivisectionist Alchemist with 9 natural attacks.

The other half of the party seems left behind by a MASSIVE margin.

And a few levels earlier this discrepancy didn't exist, or at least was significantly smaller to the point it wasn't a problem.

doomman47 wrote:
Well a sorcerer can one shot a group of cr 11 creatures with one fireball at 12th level, and can get over 300 dpr for single target. Add 3 more levels and they can be doing over 600dpr vs single targets and can wipe out even higher cr enemies in an aoe.

Again, no one is batting an eye when Doomman thinks a level 15 caster should be able to one-shot a CR26 enemy (according to the Monster Creation chart, that's how much HP a CR26 enemy is supposed to have).

Derklord wrote:
But then again, neither is AC 36 for a CR 10 monster (the CR 10 monster with the highest AC in the game is the Nosferatu at AC 30).

The CR10 with 36 AC is basically a Fighter with a shield.

Without a shield CR10 enemies have 31 AC, which is pretty close to your Nosferatu.

Derklord wrote:
My presumption is that you tried to fight the players min-maxing by increasing monster difficulty/stats, and the players responded by min-maxing even more, and so on, to the point where you're at now.

Well, I started by trying to prevent their min-maxing and keeping their power level at roughly what the game expected.

That upset half of them and they said they'd much rather I change enemies than nerf them (other half wasn't a problem at the time and didn't care either way).

So then I increased monster stats based on what their characters could actually do and then apparently we went off to the races apparently, yes. But now we're leaving behind the other half the party which is my real concern.

Lyoto Machida wrote:

I'm more interested on how the two handed weapon Inquisitor has a 38 AC to be honest.

I can see having a 38 to hit or a 38 AC, but I'm not sure how you get both.

10 base AC

3 from Dex
11 from +5 Mithral Breastplate
5 from Barkskin
4 from Shield of Faith
3 from Judgement (he activates AB and AC Judgments)
2 from Monstrous Physique

That's 38.

Doesn't even have something like Dodge or a Wand of Shield or something.

Melkiador wrote:
Really, the only big thing I can immediately think of outside of those 3 sources is advanced weapon training for the fighter. Most of the stuff outside of the core line of books is weaker, but more flavorful than the stuff inside the core line.

I would consider Ultimate Combat and Ultimate Magic as part of the core line of books, no?

Monstrous Physique seems to be a major boost in power as one example from Ultimate Magic. I only allowed it because the Brown Fur Transmuter claimed the monk could use his unarmed strikes as a Huge Bear or something anyway so it really only "hurt" the non-monk party members.

I'd rather regretting allowing it currently.

Not to mention stuff like Quick Dirty Trick, Clustered Shots, Tetori Monk, etc.

*Khan* wrote:
How is this a problem? You dont get anything out of bypassing AC by alot.

It means attacking a higher level enemy doesn't cause you to miss significantly more, which is part of the game's balance. If AB/AC are meaningless then the game boils down to damage and HP, at least from the martial angle.

Which means a creature has to gain a LOT more HP per level to keep up with the appropriate power growth -- right now the game assumes you'll also miss more and thus the HP growth is slower.

*Khan* wrote:
A touch attacking gunslinger will do the samme and having easier time full attacking each round.

Guns aren't allowed for thematic reasons.

*Khan* wrote:
Save or die spells with ridiculous high save DC are just as effective.

Such as?

Ferious Thune wrote:
Why limit the sources if you aren’t going to overrule options you view as overpowered from outside those sources?

Quite possibly I should.

He kinda didn't tell me what he was turning into ahead of time or else I might have said that.

That said, others here are claiming there are other forms either more powerful, as powerful, or nearly as powerful so I'm not sure that would really fix the problem.

SorrySleeping wrote:
I'm pretty sure the GM was hoping that with such few books, there wouldn't be overpowered options like this and things would be simpler.

Or less overpowered things, at least. Something I'm finding a lot in Pathfinder is that sometimes a lot of things are individually maybe a bit stronger but not gamebreaking but then you combine them and boom massive problems.

I mean, if he didn't have Sneak Attack and all of the bites were just secondary weapons for half strength damage, I doubt we'd be having this conversation. It might still be above par, but not the "holy cow what just happened" level.

SorrySleeping wrote:
From the sounds of it, the GM probably has dealings with one guy making a super munchkin while the rest of the party makes whatever.

Yep. Though his influence has now spread to 2 other people it seems (one of those two people being the alchemist). The guy in question joined at level 9.

Bill Dunn wrote:
In many cases, it's less an issue of stopping broken characters than having well-known expectations of exactly how they'll work. Yeah, we know wizards and clerics are pretty potent. That's news that's more than 30 years old.

Certainly true.

Also, stuff like Quick Dirty Trick, Clustered Shot, Tetori Monks, etc are all from Ultimate Combat IIRC. Things that seem significantly above the power level of prior equivalent options (even if all three are still technically weaker than Wizards or something).

I can plan around Wizards and Clerics. Planning around all of this other crazy stuff is much harder.

Also, it's a very widely repeated piece of advice on GM blogs, Paizo forums, Reddit, and beyond.

doomman47 wrote:
Have you seen his house rules? The party needs to optimize to utter hell and back in order to deal with them everything is x10 or more hp and has 15 or more ac above the average of their cr.

The party last fought a small army of CR6s led by some CR10s. The highest HP in the fight was 220 and the highest AC was 36 (people with shields who traded out offense, I'd point out).

Also, you have the cause and effect backwards.

Enemies have higher stats BECAUSE players are apparently capable of being this powerful.

I started out just using enemies straight from the bestiary.

doomman47 wrote:
Its not actually the alchemist that is casting that transformation though, he is receiving the buff from someone else.

No, the Alchemist is the one casting it. But even if he couldn't the Brown Fur Transmuter could.

Derklord wrote:
*) Please don't quote that one rules section that only deals with mixing manufactured and natural weapons!

How about the rules on Eidolons?

"Slam (Ex): The eidolon can deliver a devastating slam attack. This attack is a primary attack. The slam deals 1d8 points of damage (2d6 if Large, 2d8 if Huge). The eidolon must have the limbs (arms) evolution to take this evolution. Alternatively, the eidolon can replace the claws from its base form with this slam attack (this still costs 1 evolution point). This evolution can be selected more than once, up to the number of the eidolon’s limbs (arms) evolutions."

Seems pretty clear that slams are intended to be exclusive with claws.

SorrySleeping wrote:
No I haven't, as he hasn't posted anything in this topic about them. It also depends on how many enemies the OP is using. I like to send waves of enemies against my group, but that can be a ton of work. One big bad in a fight isn't overwhelming.

There's literally been two enemies in a level 12 campaign with super high HP. One boss with 273 HP at level 6 and one boss with 1200 HP at level 11.

doomman47 wrote:
What's wrong with point blank master? All it does is make you not provoke when making ranged attacks.

It eliminates what's supposed to be a core weakness of what's considered the most powerful combat style. And is widely available to Fighters, Rangers, Slayers, Warpriests, and possibly more, it's not some class unique trick.

John Mechalas wrote:
Also, turnabout is fair play. :) If the players employ a tactic excessively, have opponents do the same thing to them.

They've definitely complained about that in the past when I had some demons use Mirror Images after the party liked to do it a lot.

John Mechalas wrote:
But then what happens if I need to teleport the party somewhere and I used up my 5th level spell slots memorizing a 4th level spell? Or I used my higher level sorcerer spell slots to cast a lower level spell? What if I need my 4th level spell slots for something else, like Arcane Eye or Scrying? Dimension Door? Wall of Fire? Globe of Invulnerability? Secure Shelter? etc.

I mean, this is a valid argument at level 8. Or 10. But when players have sixth level spell slots (and above) this stops becoming an issue.

Not to mention that given the lack of DC and automatic "scaling" of Enervation (always using a d20) the penalties are just as bad at high level.

Dave Justus wrote:
If you want to nerf enervation, just make a house rule that it takes 2 negative levels to get the effects of 1 (in this case, round up). So if they roll a 1 or a 2 on enervation, it is one negative level, a 3 or a 4 gets 2. Then each spell still 'counts' and debuffs the enemy, but it isn't as severe.

Still means in four rounds (or less if multiple casters are using it) you're looking at -6 AB/skills/saves on average.

If anything I'm tempted to give it a save and then increase the base effect, but then I worry that would be penalize enemy casters more (low Fort and lose entire spell levels).

Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:
Keeping the game as is has unanticipated side effects too. The only difference is that enough people have played it long enough to scout the terrain. Balkoth is traversing uncharted territory. Here there be lions!

Yeah, as I've mentioned I've scouted ahead a bit as well. I could see where my campaign was going. I saw where the Strange Aeons campaign went. Hell, half of my enjoyment of Strange Aeons was looking at things and thinking "Okay, make sure you don't do this in your campaign."

Taja the Barbarian wrote:
I doubt this would work: Given the length of the fights, if spamming enervation is a good tactic, spamming 'enervation/2' is probably still decent. You'd probably have to make the spell non-stacking to stop spam, at which point you might as well remove it from the game entirely...

Eh, it could still go up to a no save allowed chance for -4 AB/saves which is still huge. If the enemy is attacking at +30/+25/+20 AB and the players have 35 AC, you're looking at 80%/55%/30% chance to hit, or 1.65 hits per round. -4 AB drops that to 1.05 hits per round, or about a 36% drop in incoming damage. If the enemy has a lower chance to hit the percentage reduction is even larger.

Taja the Barbarian wrote:
It sounds like the casters in this campaign are playing more of a support role (buffing, polymorphing, relocating, summons, etc) and I'm wondering if they have any other valid option:
  • Direct Damage seems to be out of the question (how many Harm spells would it take to down a boss if it failed every save (and someone else was around to do the last hp of damage)?)
  • I'm guessing the bosses make their saving throws nearly all the time, or someone would try hold monster spam or something along those lines.

Eh, there's a Sorcerer in the group who basically uses nothing but blasting spells (Lightning based, Blue Dragon Sorcerer)...even when he really should.

The Arcanist wound up turning the boss into a puppy for a few rounds later in the fight as well (bad rolls on the boss's part, sure, but still).

Kayerloth wrote:

Part of the issue is even if the players enjoy a long hard fought battle it is still in their interest to make the fight use the least resources as possible so as to have enough umph to get through the next fight.

Another crack at mitigation

Aye. And I'm not upset with the players, I'm annoyed with the system.

Some of those ideas may be workable.

Interesting fact: in NWN most people would get an Ability/Level Drain Immunity item quite quickly and carry around Restoration scrolls to clear negative levels as needed (which anyone could use and did not provoke AooS).

Syries wrote:
If you’re not willing to do that, maybe Pathfinder isn’t the right tabletop game for you.

That's entirely possible. I originally got into D&D and related material with the video game Neverwinter Nights which was based on 3rd edition. I more or less figured Pathfinder would be similar but better balanced.

Syries wrote:
Use of natural terrain

Why isn't a caster Dimension Dooring the party to the boss? Or a Monk/Magus/Horizon Walker/etc using Dimensional Dervish or something similar full attacking the boss with that? Or hell just using Flight?

Also, what if the boss is supposed to be a warlord (either something with melee class levels or just a brute like a Giant or something similar)?

Syries wrote:
minions that pose serious threats if the party ignores them

Give me some examples please, because in default Pathfinder they'd be CCed in one spell, too weak to be a real threat, or so powerful they're definitely exceeding the CR guidelines.

This has been my experience as both a GM and a player in Pathfinder by default.

Syries wrote:
And as others have iterated, not every combat- not even every BBEG combat- should be super lengthy.

I've never said otherwise.

Syries wrote:
Also, have you been asking for feedback from the table regarding your house rules? Can you be open to the idea that they might have suggestions to make the game even better?

I mean, a few posts ago I explicitly stated how I changed Haste/Slow based on the feedback of two players who were unhappy. So...yes?

Also recently agreed to undo some of the Animal Companion nerfs and see how it goes (in the middle of evaluating that right now).

Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:
I’ll second the notion that there are dynamic ways within the existing rules to make combat harder, and that slowly chipping away at a creature with thousands of hit points sounds repetitive and monotonous as hell.

Well, when I used some Vrocks (who can cast Mirror Images) I had major complaints about how the Mirror Images were super annoying and unfun (as, y'know, the players were using Mirror Images themselves).

I guess my question is how you're defining "chipping."

Chromantic suggested 80-120 damage per round per person is normal (some might do less but be buffing others, for example).

If six people are doing 100ish per round each, that's 600 per round. That means the 1200 HP boss I mentioned would be dead in two rounds if that was the whole fight.

That doesn't really feel like chipping to me, but perhaps you have another perspective.

Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:
not even remotely interested or able to do that. Sorry.

No, I don't believe you are sorry. Especially after saying you're not "remotely interested."

I tried to give you the benefit of the doubt here, but you'd rather continue to make unfounded and wildly inaccurate assumptions than take a few hours to see how you're misguided. Hell, you've probably spent more time than that posting in this thread and the other related threads already.

It's clear where your priorities lie as well as your preference for snark over being constructive. I had hoped for better but didn't really expect it.

Good day, sir.

Anguish wrote:
I don't understand the challenge.

You said you support the claim of the "game has deviated from Core play so drastically that it's unrecognizable." I strongly disagree with that notion. The challenge is for you to be willing to test your assertion/belief.

And I say this as someone who is also PLAYING in a RAW game -- just finished the Strange Aeons adventure path, actually, ended up at level 16.

Our party was...

Bard (me, default bard, no fancy Banner of Ancient Kings or related stuff)
Gnome Armor Master with a 2H weapon (not exactly a great character)
Alchemist (who basically had no back-up plan after he ran out of bombs)

Even with our characters definitely not being remotely optimized, we steamrolled through the campaign even after the GM started maximizing enemy HP just to try to slow us down slightly.

Hell, around level 13ish I think we faced this Giant Scorpion. I pointed out how we could easily defeat it without endangering ourselves and the GM basically said "Please just fight the damn thing properly."

So we did and killed it in two rounds. Nearly killed it in one.

...and that was AFTER the GM maximized its HP (312) and then added on another 200 HP (512) just to try to keep it alive a tiny bit longer (he told us afterward).

Again, that's with 3 characters, unoptimized, no crafting (and frankly under WBL by a decent chunk), and completely RAW on our end.

So unless you mean "Can't completely steamroll everything" when you say "unrecognizable as Core gameplay" (and I rather doubt that's what you meant) then as someone who is doing and has done Core gameplay let me assure you I completely recognize it as fundamentally similar to Paizo's AP paths at an absolute minimum.

Anguish wrote:
That said, I've read your house-rules and I don't personally like most of them.

That's a strong claim. That's not disliking some of them or even the majority of them -- "most" implies a significant majority.

Perhaps you could elaborate?

Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:
Lol I’ve been struggling to get my group together for over a month. Trying to get six people all around on Saturday seems a big ask. Good luck though.

I was rather hoping you'd set aside your usual snark and join us.

I'm willing to go as long as we have three people. Maybe even two.

Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:
I sent you a friend request, my discord tag is YordleSandwich.

Accepted it.

Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:
You’ll note that the post was originally made some time ago, and was edited as more rules were made. My assumption is that at some point or another Balkoth decided to remove haste, and missed some of the references to the spell.

Ding ding ding we have a winner. The dual-wielding buffs were made at level 1 at the start of the campaign. Haste was only overhauled at level 9 when I started massively changing things. Things were becoming more and more rocket taggy and was about to result in a TPK on turn 1 of a fight due to most of the party members failing a saving throw.

That's when I decided things couldn't continue as they were.

Turned out four of the six players didn't care about the Haste adjustment (bit of a nerf) but it really stuck in two players' craw who really wanted to have the spell give them something new in regards to action economy. Because that felt "right" to them. Of course, neither of them was aware that back in the 3.0 days it doubled spells per round as well, which I found amusing.

So I changed it again to its current form in which it's less powerful on a full attack (no more numerical bonuses) but allows better mobility/action economy when not in position to full attack.

doomman47 wrote:
With their party composition its entirely possible, one of the casters has an archetype that lets them hand out spells that normally are personal only

This is part of it, aye. Going from memory, the math is roughly this...

2d8 base Monk damage (Monk's Robe)
4d8 damage from being made Huge by the Brown Fur Transmuter

That's 18 damage base.

22 str goes to 30 str with the polymorph. Dragon Style makes that 15 damage per hit (20 on the first attack).

Up to 33 damage so far.

Axiomatic Amulet of Mighty Fists and Holy Lance from the Cleric adds another 14 damage (campaign is largely themed around demons and their followers).

Up to 47.

Power Attack adds 6.

Up to 53.

Powerful Justice from the Oath of Vengeance Paladin gives 15 more damage (would also give other bonuses from a normal paladin, just less times per day).

Up to 68.

Greater Magic Fang/Weapon adds another +2.

Up to 70.

Weapon of Awe adds another +2.

Up to 72.

Prayer adds another +1.

Up to 73.

Deliquescent Gloves (I really dislike those on general principle) add another 3.5 acid damage.

Up to 76.5 (and 81.5 on the first attack).

He gets 3 normal attacks plus two Flurry attacks plus one Hasted attack for 6 attacks total (with four of those at the highest AB). If all hit you're looking at 464 damage per round average. If his Stunning First on his first attack is successful, then he gets another 2 attacks from Medusa's Wrath (and all of the attacks are more likely to hit) bringing his potential damage to 617 in an ideal case.

Oh, and he can also spend a Ki point for a ninth attack which is then 693.5 on average if they all hit.

Not even including potential natural attacks here...

That's also...
1 buff from the Oracle (Prayer, hits everyone and enemies too)
1 buff from the Brown Fur Transmuter (Beast Shape or Monstrous Physique)
2 buffs from the Paladin (Sacred Weapon, Powerful Justice which can both be done in a single round)
1 buff from the Cleric (Holy Lance)

(Also technically a very long term GMW/GMF (11 hours) from someone)

Some of those can be pre-buffed as well, but even with no pre-buffing allowed that's one turn to make the Monk into a 600+ DPR killing machine.

Anguish wrote:
I think the basis of your point is sound, that his game has deviated from Core play so drastically that it's unrecognizable

I strongly challenge that assertion and will put my money where my mouth is.

I happen to be free this Saturday night and am willing to run a one-shot on Fantasy Grounds (I have the Ultimate Edition, so you just need the free version). I'll take up to six people. Add me on Discord if you're game for testing out your assertion (Balkoth#0313).

We'll figure out what the level (something in the 1-12 range) and subject matter is, I can prep a one shot in an hour or two of work I imagine.

I don't have time to respond to everything right now so I want to just hit a few things right now, rest will have to wait until Friday or the weekend.

Anzyr wrote:
My personal advice to improve the situation would be for Balkoth to you know.... play Pathfinder. Crazy suggestion, I know, but I felt someone had to make it.

I don't know if people are forgetting or just intentionally ignoring this bit, but I've repeatedly said in the past (previous threads) that I did just that for the first nine levels. A few minor tweaks like buffing dual-wielding.

I thoroughly enjoyed levels 1-6, things started to fall apart at levels 7-8, and things were completely broken at level 9. That's when I started adding in significant houserules as the alternatives were abandoning the campaign or switching systems.

In all fairness, level 9 is when one person who's been pushing boundaries in terms of character building joined (he was invited by a few friends in the campaign).

Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:

Then you tell us level 11 martial characters are doing 280 damage a turn as a standard.

Now we know, you are not playing pathfinder

You seem to be under the impression that something about my house rules enabled that monk to be doing sometimes 400+ damage in a round at level 11.

My house rules have zero effect on that, the 400+ damage in a round is completely default Pathfinder (there is like a round of buffing from other party members).

If my house rules were affecting it I'd be hammering that craziness into the ground -- but the 2000 HP health monsters you refer to are a direct result of players being able to do 400+ damage in a round under completely default Pathfinder.

Kamea wrote:
For those that are interested. His Rules

FYI some of that isn't up-to-date and my philosophy has significantly changed -- I gave up a while ago on trying to match up PC level vs expected power in terms of actual bestiary creatures. Would have required a ton of nerfs which people playing Pathfinder generally don't like.

Dragonborn3 wrote:
This amount of houseruling seems... ill advised? Doubling the spell slots of the most powerful classes in the game is more of an issue than Enervation is.

I knew doubling might be overkill but I wanted to make it less scary of a change for people used to casting one Save or Suck spell and just winning. And I wanted it to be super easy to calculate.

Something like doubling base spell slots only would have worked or possibly something else.

Asmodeus' Advocate wrote:
Having read it, though, I don’t see why enervation is such a problem. Shouldn’t the enervated BBEG get a new save, using their lowest saving throw, for the first few rounds of the effect?

Only if he spends a full round action on it -- it's generally more meant for things like Stone to Flesh or Plane Shift or other "fail one save and lose" things.

Though I suppose a "boss" property could be an automatic save vs any effect currently on it...but I fear that'd be too much.

20 feet per level so 240 total.

"The wall must be vertical and either rectangular or a ring."

What does rectangular mean in this case, then, if it can't bend?

A level 12 caster can make a 30 foot radius circle around enemies with Wall of Blindness/Deafness -- can you alternatively make a square with sides of 60 feet each? That affects a much larger area.

Lelomenia wrote:
Beastmorph bonuses/benefits are alchemical, even though they are from the Beast Shape (polymorph) spell descriptions.

Sorry, yeah, the line "The first thing that looks questionable to me is, if I understand correctly the player is trying to stack multiple polymorph effects." is a quote from someone else earlier in the thread. I screwed up while quoting people, basically. And can't edit it now.

Lelomenia wrote:
but I have trouble imagining a player running a beastmorph vivisectionist is a non-ridiculous manner.

He presented it to me as just wanting something other than bombs, so I figured it'd be Claw/Claw/Bite plus Hasted attack, which would be powerful but probably reasonable enough.

I feel like I'm regretting allowing Monstrous Physique -- originally said "fine" because the Monk at the time was getting turned into a Huge beast anyway and using his unarmed damage. Seemed like the monk didn't care about being a beast or monstrous humanoid since he didn't wear armor and didn't use a manufactured weapon. But there's apparently a lot of other crazy things Monstrous Physique can do that Beast Shape can't...

Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:
How is he getting sneak attack damage on every bite of his attack?


LordKailas wrote:
From Context I'm guessing the character is level 7?

New character at level 12, but from looking at what he's doing this would have been possible since level 7.

The first thing that looks questionable to me is, if I understand correctly the player is trying to stack multiple polymorph effects.

LordKailas wrote:
As a DM you could certainly require that the character has to have knowledge of a creature before it can become one. This means that in order to become a Euryale the character would either need to have experienced one 1st hand or make a knowledge nature check DC 30, unless such creatures are rare in which case it's a DC 35 at minimum. While not fool proof it makes it more difficult for characters to turn into things with a CR far above their own level.

There's an arcanist in the group who can take 10 and hit that DC35 check, I'm sure they'd argue that someone like the arcanist would have told him about it and the alchemist would have studied it.

Arcanist is also a Brown Fur Transmuter who polymorphs other PCs so would legitimately make sense for him to know this kind of stuff (since he'd polymorph the Alchemist into the same shape if the Alchemist couldn't I'd image).

avr wrote:
Yeah, there's some nasty monstrous humanoids which did not exist when the monstrous physique spell line was created and, well, they break it.

Do other people agree with this statement? I only started playing like 2-3 years ago.

Derklord wrote:
Balkoth wrote:
the player promised not to make a natural attack monstrosity (...) So...first combat with the new character he uses Monstrous Physique (...)
Yeah... do I have to point it out?

Yeah, well, in all fairness I was thinking something like a race that added extra natural attacks + Helm of the Mammoth Lord + other stuff. I just didn't realize a polymorph like this even existed.

MrCharisma wrote:
Forget the specifics of the class/archetype/spell/etc. The problem here is that the player is being dishonest with you.

As mentioned, the main PC is what I expected. I didn't say anything about polymorphed forms, and frankly given there's a Brown Fur Transmuter in the group even if the Alchemist hadn't polymorphed himself the Arcanist would have done it for him.

Melkiador wrote:
In general, anything with DR will be tough. In this case, tack on sneak attack immunity.

I'd rather not screw over actual Rogues/Slayers/etc who aren't abusing natural attacks.

John Mechalas wrote:
Why? Because spamming a spell is a legitimate tactic, but it comes at the cost of flexibility. Players can't sustain that.

Define sustain here? Seems like a party with a few wizards/sorcerers/arcanists could easily cast this spell a few times and basically get a guaranteed kill on anything lacking high touch AC, negative level immunity, or spell resistance (which is a large chunk of enemies) without draining significant resources.

The fact that I've been running campaigns for groups of six does skew that a bit since more likely to have multiple casters, but 3-6 is apparently a common group size.

You are way, way outside the band of typical play. And you didn't tell us any of this until we were a dozen posts deep in the thread.

John Mechalas wrote:
But the first question is always going to be, are your players having fun?

I've pulled them aside individually every few months to ask everyone that. Last time I asked five out of six people said yes, sixth was frustrated with a few things. Most or all of those have been resolved, as far as I can tell, and he seems much happier.

John Mechalas wrote:
It would really help to know if your players are asking for longer fights and harder encounters. Because if you have an arcanist that is using this as a tactic regularly enough that you think it's a problem, maybe that's a sign of a deeper problem.

He literally used it on one fight so far, but I can see already how it'd become a pattern -- he's a capable player and goes for things that are effective.

Also, after the boss fight he sent me an angry message:

"i see no reason why he even had to run, he could have just killed us. He had the upper hand on us. I get it if you dont want another TPK but still....It feels like you are pulling punches which I am fine with but I am rather you make that clear going forward that is how the game is going to be run."

Ironically I wasn't trying to pull punches -- the boss was down to 100 HP, I didn't think he'd survive another round, and the players gave him an opening to escape, so I had him due to.

...but it was late and we had been playing for 5ish hours, so I missed that the players also left an opening to attack the back line and very likely wipe the party -- was more concerned with the boss trying to survive than killing the party.

So we simulated how it might have played out and we were both right -- good odds the boss could have killed the party at that point (barely), but also reasonable odds for the boss to die. I assured him that I wasn't trying to coddle the party and instead just didn't see it and he seemed satisfied.

Anguish wrote:
Second - and here's the kicker - your players wouldn't be using enervation spam if they didn't want to. They do want to.

Nah, his primary goal is to polymorph party members (Brown Fur Transmuter) and reposition them with Teleport/Dimension Door. Also likes Stinking Clouds, Heroism, Invisibility Sphere.

He just literally had nothing to attack hit point damage or keep buffing the party so after several rounds he was at the point of "Hmm...what now?" and decided to try Enervate. It was like his 6th option during the fight or something...but in retrospect would have been basically the best thing he could do all fight. Doesn't even know Magic Missile!

Anguish wrote:
They are still trying to escalate the arms-race and address what you've done to make encounters last longer. That strikes me as a message.

2-3 of the players will always try to escalate the arms-race. I figure eventually we'll plateau and I can balance around that once I see where the summit is.

blahpers wrote:
If I understand correctly, you've made house rules that beef up certain NPC defenses in an effort to extend combats involving said NPCs, but now you've noticed that there are ways to circumvent the specific defenses you've increased. Does that sound right?

Aptly put (though for the record HP/saves/AC are pretty universal defenses).

blahpers wrote:
If that's the case, why not simply house rule an increase in those defenses as well? You've already made bosses with 5x to 10x the expected hit point total, so why not have some sort of (probably non-literal) ablative barrier protecting them from negative levels?

Well, let's imagine I did something like that and said the first 10 negative levels were absorbed or something.

A, the first four casts will now do nothing at all and if the caster then died mid-fight would have contributed nothing (unlike HP damage which is part of a common pool)

B, this encourages even more getting multiple people to spam the spell to get through the barrier faster

If you've played Divinity Original Sin 2, you'll have seen this problem in the way they handle Magic and Physical armor -- it's far more efficient to focus one type of attacks on an enemy than have to deplete each source of armor.

C, this is also a lot harder to balance -- number too low and get the same result. Number too high and might as well make the boss immune.

Don't get me wrong, I like the idea and the way you're thinking -- but I'm not sure that's the right approach. Unless you're seeing something I'm not.

blahpers wrote:
Some other intrepid GMs on this forum suggested using hero/fate points for this sort of thing. Important bosses, especially recurring ones, might have a finite number of hero/fate points that they can expend to negate successful save-or-die/save-or-suck effects. I can't say that I've tried it, but it might work for you if your players are on-board with that sort of thing.

I've had my players suggest that to me, actually.

...of course Enervate doesn't allow a saving throw, which is the problem in the first place.

Melkiador wrote:
Just be aware that your limited selection of books contain a majority of the most powerful options in the game.

If you're referring to full casters, I'm aware, but right now I'm concerned about the balance between martials.

Themetricsystem wrote:
To answer your Q: No it's not normal, this is what happens when you let your Inq overbuff spending 3-10 rounds of pre-combat setup

I'm sorry, what?

He has Heroism, that lasts for 2 hours per cast right now.

Then he spent one round in combat casting Divine Power, that's it.

Themetricsystem wrote:
ideal positioning

Meaning "next to his animal companion?" Not exactly hard.

Themetricsystem wrote:
built to spec munchkin nonsense and also burning up all their daily uses of various abilities.

Exactly what has he done that is munchkin? That's a serious question -- the result seems munchkin, but all the individual decisions seem reasonable.

Also, "standard" Pathfinder combats only last like 2-3 rounds so 12+ rounds of Bane is enough for 4-6 combats...

GM Rednal wrote:
Statistically, a regular to-hit of 26 or higher at Level 12 is min-maxed - anything past that point is really just the player wasting resources buffing something that doesn't need to be buffed.

Again, an enemy with class levels (which a lot of enemies in this campaign are) can easily have 40+ AC at level 11 as demonstrated by my own players.

doomman47 wrote:
This seems about average honestly they could be doing much better if you hadn't nerfed a bunch of things especially since a level 7 fighter pre buffs should be having about a +20 to hit(21 if they start out with slightly higher str).

Please share how you got those numbers.

I'm getting something like

4 from base strength (19)
1 from strength item (Belt +2)
1 from +1 weapon
1 from Weapon Focus
1 from Weapon Training

That's 15. Not 20ish.

That said, a level 12 Fighter would have something like...

12 BAB
7 from strength (including strength item)
+3 weapon
+4 weapon training
+2 GWF

That's 28. With Heroism, Outflank, and Menacing that's 36, "only" 2 less than the Inquisitor (of course, the Inquisitor has an Animal Companion, larger damage bonuses (14 from Greater Bane alone), and a bunch of spells to buff the group).

Kianti wrote:
Personally, I do not think this is out of line and does not even seem to be min-maxing since I doubt he does a whole lot of damage.

Define a whole lot of damage?

He's hitting for 9 (1.5 str) + 5 (Falchion) + 14 (Greater Bane) + 3 (+3 weapon) + 5 (Divine Power with Fate's Favored) = 36 base damage.

That goes up to 44.5 if Polymorphed by the Arcanist and 53.5 if Power Attacking (would have 39 AB still at that point).

Kianti wrote:
It is easy as that. If they refuse then you have a problem player on your hand and there are many ways to deal with that. I do not really know how your game is run but this is the best way instead of changing the rules.

Except that is changing the rules.

Also, the campaign is supposed to be about challenging combat so simply saying "Hey I need you to not use those abilities" feels like a cheap cop-out at best.

If something needs to be nerfed I'm happy to nerf it, but I expect the players to make powerful (but not munchkin) characters.

Kianti wrote:
That is only two levels higher, this Inq will only miss on a 1 or 2 but what about the rest of the party?

They'll miss a lot more.

Going by the normal AC, last level (level 11) ONE character was doing over 300 damage per round to CR 11 enemies (CR 11 enemies have 145 HP, for reference). Killing two enemies per round that are supposed to be roughly your strength is clearly skewed.

So I can either go in and start nerfing characters to bring them in line with what the game expects or I can start scaling up the enemies. I got feedback from my players which indicated they'd rather I do the latter.

Hence how you get a 1200 HP boss who also summons a bunch of adds when the party is level 11.

P.S. Also remember an enemy monk built roughly the same as the PC monk could have the same or higher AC at the same level and thus the same CR. I've just tried to avoid doing that and instead am just using general AC/AB guidelines.

Wonderstell wrote:
Sorry if you interpreted it as snark, I've just gotten the impression that you hold a very high-powered game where +38 AB might not be enough to guarantee a hit at level 12.

I think there's two misconceptions here that should be cleared up.

First, my game is a fairly low-powered Pathfinder game.

A, while I am allowing a 25 point buy, characters can't go below an 8 or above a 16 prior to racial bonuses. So no one can start with a 20 and a character who would dump two stats to 7 is effectively only getting a 21 point buy. Frankly it was originally 20 point buy and you could dump to 7 but I had a pair of players who really hated having low Charisma and would sacrifice other important stats to keep it positive.

B, I'm severely limiting the selection of books to CRB/APG/ACG with everything else per approval -- and I've turned down a lot of things (including some stuff within those three books).

C, the group is pretty close to WBL and there's no crafting, so no getting items at 50% off.

D, more powerful races are allowed but toned down.

E, there's no gestalt or anything else like that.

Second, Pathfinder itself is by default a very high powered game -- people can wind up with 40+ AB, AC, and damage per hit while having hundreds of HP.

Hell, at level 11 I had an Unchained Monk in the group who was attacking for +30, dealing 80+ damage a hit, and consistently had 41+ AC...AFTER some nerfs I applied. And he wasn't even using something like Crane Style or his AC would be even higher (though his damage would be slightly lower).

And if we're treating the monster creation rules as RAW, then let's remember another point of RAW: a character with PC class levels and PC wealth is considered that CR of a creature (NPC wealth is one less).

So I could take a carbon copy of that monk and throw it at the party (some of his numbers would be slightly lower due to lacking group buffs) and we'd have a CR11 enemy with still like 39ish AC. And again that's AFTER nerfs and NOT allowing a lot of stuff and WITHOUT using a defensive style.

Or to bring up this Inquisitor, he's running around with a 2H weapon while having 38 AC with a Judgement (and a polymorph) at level 12.

Wonderstell wrote:
While your examples do show that your creature AC values are a bit inflated, +38 AB is still just overkill.

I revamped the monster creation based on what players have ACTUALLY been doing -- because right now a Balor is supposed to be as strong as 24 level 11 characters but the Unchained Monk could more or less solo it with one round of group buffs, at least in a straight up melee fight.

For example, the default scaling is roughly 11 + 1.26 per CR. I upped it to 11 + 2 per CR. Basically takes into account more the stuff that players can do as the level since the game apparently vastly underestimates character growth. Meaning a CR14 enemy would have a default of 39 AC...which is only 1 more than the Inquisitor's AC at level 12, so I'm wondering if I need to tweak the values again. Especially since the Inquisitor also has 38 AC...and would be at 40 with a polymorph.

Wonderstell wrote:
I'm guessing the rest of the party is about 10-15 points below that, and you worry about being able to challenge the Inquisitor while not shutting down the rest of them?

That's a good chunk of it -- the Archer Paladin, for example, has 29 AB with Rapid Shot/Point Blank Shot/Smite Evil/Divine Favor.

And if the game was primarily story based with combat as an afterthought I'd be less worried -- but the campaign is primarily challenging combat. Hell, a few sessions ago a major enemy was in really bad shape after a long fight and I elected to have him flee when the party inadvertently gave him an opening to do so. The catch is this was quite late after a long session and I was so focused on the boss trying to survive that I didn't realize I could probably had TPKed the group if I had him be more aggressive. I was just worried about him living another round. So the next morning I get this message from an upset player...

"i see no reason why he even had to run, he could have just killed us. He had the upper hand on us. I get it if you dont want another TPK but still....It feels like you are pulling punches which I am fine with but I am rather you make that clear going forward that is how the game is going to be run."

We talked and I told him that I apparently missed it given the late hour, it wasn't intentional, and he seemed satisfied...but that's the mentality of at least a good chunk of the group.

Wasum wrote:
How do other players feel about this? Does he make them feel useless?

At least two other people are frustrated (out of 6 total). Two others tend more towards a support role and the last just brought in a Vivisectionist monstrosity mentioned in another thread...which is mainly a probably because I didn't expect him to polymorph into a CR20 creature with 6 extra bite attacks.

Lyoto Machida wrote:
Sounds like a pretty munchkin character, but I wonder what his own AC is?

38 usually. 36 if they don't have a chance to polymorph him.

He's also just a straight level 12 Inquisitor using standard stuff, don't think munchkin seems appropriate (which is what frustrates me the most -- nothing he's doing seems against RAI or unreasonable but the results are nuts).

Artificial 20 wrote:
Nominally, a PC with "normal" wealth by level is of a CR equal to their class levels, notwithstanding a powerful race or mythic tiers. While you haven't provided the typical damage values or other statistics of this character, if you presented a clone of them as a CR12 enemy, by either of the above references they would not be normal. Discounting the bonus owed to flanking, which is conditional, the character's leading strike is a +32 to attack. This is matched earliest by a CR22 "normal" monster, which is, poetically, worth 32 times as much experience and thus nominal challenge as a CR12 monster.

This is more or less why I've given up on the default monster creation table, aye.

Also, the flanking isn't really conditional -- he has an animal companion (Animal Domain) and Pack Flanking so as long as his pet is next to the enemy he gets the flanking bonus. Which is like 90%+ of the time.

awbattles wrote:
+7 is coming from buff spells, which aren't going to be part of a bestiary entry, so subtract that.

Au contraire:

"Because this system uses benchmark numbers instead of calculating individual statistics, a monster that uses its spells primarily to increase its own abilities (so that it can become a strong melee combatant, for instance) should use the array that best matches the way it will be used in the game rather than using the spellcaster array just because it can cast magic."

In other words, monsters with powerful buff spells are going to have less default AB/damage to compensate. Or if you're doing simple monster creation, you just bake the buff spells in and go with the final numbers.

awbattles wrote:
I maintain that the player is pretty normal, just maybe oddly concerned with boosting attack bonus over AC or saves.

38 AC with a 2H and saving throws of 20/17/24 seem pretty good to me.

Pizza Lord wrote:
Also, if you or your GM consider obsidian to be both a volcanic glass (which it is) and a stone (being an igneous rock), then effects like stone shape or certain solvents or acids could also be used.

I am the GM. I've limited the books severely and have most things per approval only, a player asked me about this spell.

If I allowed it, how would you adjudicate breaking free?

Java Man wrote:
An additional, small correction: natural 20s are not automatic successes on ability or skill checks, so those with insufficient strength or escape artist bonuses cannot hope for a 20 to save them.

True, so someone with 16 or less strength who also lacks Escape Artist could apparently never get free.

willuwontu wrote:
Another thing to note is that it's a level 4 spell, as opposed to entangle, which is level 1.

Yeah, except that puts it on the scale of Greater Magic Weapon or Ice Storm.

Frankly it seems like Entangle was assumed to only be used at low levels where the maximum DC would be like 15ish, so even someone with a -1 to Strength had a 25% chance to break free.

Spell in question.


Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S, M/DF (a small piece of obsidian)
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Area 20-ft.-radius burst
Duration instantaneous
Saving Throw Reflex partial, see text; Spell Resistance no
You convert a thin layer of the ground to molten glass that cools quickly. Creatures in the area take 1d6 points of fire damage per two caster levels (maximum of 10d6) and become entangled. Any creature within the area that makes a successful Reflex save takes half damage and is not entangled. An entangled creature can attempt to free itself by spending a move action to attempt a Strength check or Escape Artist check (the DC equals the spell’s saving throw DC).

The ground is covered with slippery expanses and sharp shards of obsidian. The area of effect is difficult terrain, and the DC of Acrobatics checks within the area of effect increases by 5. A successful DC 15 Acrobatics check is required to run or charge across the area. A creature that falls prone in the area takes 1d6 points of damage from sharp obsidian.


For reference, the Entangle spell:

Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S, DF


Range long (400 ft. + 40 ft./level)
Area plants in a 40-ft.-radius spread
Duration 1 min./level (D)
Saving Throw Reflex partial; see text; Spell Resistance no


This spell causes tall grass, weeds, and other plants to wrap around creatures in the area of effect or those that enter the area. Creatures that fail their save gain the entangled condition. Creatures that make their save can move as normal, but those that remain in the area must save again at the end of your turn. Creatures that move into the area must save immediately. Those that fail must end their movement and gain the entangled condition. Entangled creatures can attempt to break free as a move action, making a Strength or Escape Artist check. The DC for this check is equal to the DC of the spell. The entire area of effect is considered difficult terrain while the effect lasts.

If the plants in the area are covered in thorns, those in the area take 1 point of damage each time they fail a save against the entangle or fail a check made to break free. Other effects, depending on the local plants, might be possible at GM discretion.


For example, there's a level 12 Arcanist in the group with 26 Int. If he casts this spell and uses Potent Magic, enemies have to make a DC 10 + 4 + 8 + 2 = 24 Reflex Saving throw.

If they fail, they're rooted in place literally forever unless they make a DC 24 Strength check (so anyone with 18 Strength or less literally has to roll a natural 20) or make an Escape Artist check (so someone with that skill could get out fairly easily).

Is that correct?

Lyoto Machida wrote:
Does he spend the first couple rounds buffing?

Literally just Divine Power in terms of spells that "need" to be cast in combat. Heroism is long term.

Technically Judgement and Greater Bane as well but those are swift actions, one on turn one and one on turn two.

Wonderstell wrote:
It's not normal that a PC should ever need +38 AB at level 12, since the average AC of a CR-equivalent opponent is supposed to be 27. But you aren't holding a normal game for your players, so I'm gonna guess our opinions on what is normal aren't that important for your table.

Check the attitude, please. Here's the roster for the main combat last night (first fight of level 12, mainly meant to let them play around with new abilities and feel awesome...especially the sorcerer who just got Chain Lightning):

10 CR6 creatures (AC 23 each)
20 CR6 creatures (AC 23 each)
1 CR10 creature (AC 31)
1 CR10 creature (AC 31)
1 CR10 creature (AC 36)

Wonderstell wrote:
If you're wondering how they reached +38, you should probably just ask your player instead of us. But considering that the Inquisitor is pretty good at stacking buffs, I don't doubt it's possible.

I know how they reached it, I went over the math once I saw the number. That's why this is in Advice rather than Rules.

Wonderstell wrote:
Inflated gold per level and just picking up Outflank should definitely make 38 AB possible.

Quick character sheet audit shows 111kish, with 8k of it in a back-up Ghost Touch weapon. That's also with no crafting, so full price for everything.

Name Violation wrote:

Anything is possible.

But until you say more than "OMG +38AB WTF" we don't have enough information to give any advice.

That was pretty much my initial reaction, yes. But it all seems possible within the rules, that doesn't stop my reaction as you so aptly put it.

Name Violation wrote:
Do you have a breakdown of how this is happening? Can you post the characters stats or even better a copy of the character sheet

It's in Fantasy Ground (VTT) so unless you can parse the XML a character sheet isn't possible. But here's the relevant info:

STR: 22 (16 at level 1, +2 from leveling, +4 from belt)
BAB: 9 (level 12 Inquisitor)
+3 Falchion
Weapon Focus

That adds up to 19.

Outflank is 23.
Menacing weapon from his Animal Companion is 25.
Divine Power (with Fate's Favored) is 30 (+4 base becomes +5 with FF)
Heroism is 32
Judgement is 36 (would be +3 but Dwarf Favored Class bonus gets it to +4)
Greater Bane is 38 (plus more damage)

Can also put any other info you'd like to see it.

This is without the Brown Fur Transmuter transforming him into a form which would give another +2 AB. Is this sort of thing normal?

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