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YES! Please make fewer feats, all of which stand on their own, rather than having lists of prerequisites.


Feats get boring.
Characters get so many feats that there's a design problem trying to make each feat interesting. I understand that you don't want to give a 5th level character 3-8 special abilities on top of what they get from class and other sources. However, a huge number of interesting feats require boring (numerical bonus only) or almost unrelated prerequisites. Not only does that make a bloated list, but it means players often sit with boring or unused feats on their character sheets.


  • Spell Focus (only effects spells with saves) is required before taking Augment Summoning (only effects spells without saves).
  • Dodge (AC) required before taking Spring Attack (movement), and
  • Spring Attack before Whirlwind Attack (attacks during which you can't move).
  • Improved Trip (eliminates a penalty) required before... you get the point by now!

Feat selection is a skill tester.
One of the biggest problems with d20 (D&D 3.0, 3.5, Pathfinder) is that a player's skill and experience with the game system often leads them to make characters with wildly varying effectiveness. It's okay if an experienced player can squeeze more out of a class than a newb, but the characters should at least belong in the same adventure together.

There are many reasons for this, but one is feats. There are a huge number of feats to choose from, and often you have to plan multiple prerequisites of ability score, level, other feats, and miscellaneous features to get the ones you want, planning which must take place many months in advance. Beginners make choices that seem cool and effective, but often fail to make a character build that works as expected.

I think this is easy to solve in a fair and fun way.



1. Make or purchase a masterwork knotted rope, using the costs for masterwork weapons. (Pay 301 gold, or craft the equivalent.)

2. Have it enchanted with the Magic Weapon or Greater Magic Weapon spells, in the same way that any other magic weapon would be made.
(cost: 2,000 gold for +1, 8,000 gold for +2, etc.)

3. Fight!

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I don't mind starting at any level between 1-5, but my favorite is 4. It's low enough to create pretty much create the a standard Pathfinder campaign feel, yet high enough that all classes and most builds function as designed:

  • Everyone has enough HP that a single hit is unlikely to kill a PC.

  • Everyone has enough gold/equipment to make their characters function, including nonmagic armor, weapons, mounts, etc

  • Combat classes that need certain feats difficult to attain at 1st level to function can have those feats by third level. (Weapon Finesse, Exotic Weapon Proficiency, etc.)

  • Caster classes can all cast enough spells to make it through a day of adventuring with just a little bit of rationing.

  • Multi-class characters can have...multiple classes.

  • Class abilities that are key to the theme and functioning of the class, but too powerful to give out at 1st level lest people use one-level dips to acquire them, are mostly in place by level 4. (Wild Shape, Ki Pool, Channel Positive Energy, more than one point in various pools, Hunter's Bond, etc.)

Lazlo.Arcadia wrote:
I'm trying to get a feel for how the Rogue: Unchained stacks up when compared to other sneak attack classes. Specifically I'm comparing the following:

Thanks for providing details and links!

Lazlo.Arcadia wrote:
With these considerations / limitations in mind, can the group help to take a look at these classes and lets get a feel for the differences between them and why one would be a "better" class over another?

I've been playing an Unchained Rogue in a campaign, now level 6. It's a homebrew campaign setting, with slightly different racial bonuses, and a few other changes, but it's close enough to "core" that it makes a good case study. Our party is: UnRogue, Barbarian, Cleric, and Wizard. I'm a more experienced player than the Barbarian, and through careful character building (two archetypes, unusual weapon selection, etc.), close attention to tactics during combat, and conscious teamwork, I'm able to contribute about as much to a fight as the no-frills Barbarian does. The UnRogue is definitely weaker in combat than the purely martial classes, but not so much that it's no fun to play.

The UnNinja is definitely more powerful in combat than the UnRogue. Dispatchment is stronger than Debilitating Injury on an individual level. (Debilitating Injury helps your party members more, but the to-hit bonus from Dispatchment really fills in a gap for the 2/3 base hit martial character.) Also, Ki Pool is very powerful (extra attacks! extra movement!) and many Ninja Tricks using Ki Pool are more powerful than the standard Rogue Talents.

The Slayer is more powerful in combat than either of the previous classes. It will simply deal more damage than either, and more consistently.

I have no experience with the Spell-less Ranger. It definitely reads powerful. Since it's only minimally sneak attack based, it wouldn't be my first choice as a "sneak attack character".

My top picks for style and effectiveness, UnNinja or Slayer.

Lazlo.Arcadia wrote:
I am a DM (since about 1995) and want to get a good feel for if any of these classes are really overshadowing the others and thus making them non-viable.

I think they're all viable (playable, able to contribute) but the two Un-Classes will definitely take some work to make them keep up.

Lazlo.Arcadia wrote:
Ive heard alot of folks stating the rogue is now a substandard class, and that is what I'm trying to size up.

The UnRogue is stronger and less frustrating than the core version, but I would still call it "substandard" if simply measured by combat effectiveness.

Profession: Cook

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Le Petite Mort wrote:
Blueluck wrote:

I enjoyed your guide, and I hope you will continue developing it. I'll share a few thoughts for improvement, just my opinions of course.

It's OK to have a weakness!
I don't think you should lower your various requirements, but I do think you should recognize that after identifying weak areas, one option is to leave one of your weak areas as a legitimate weakness.

It's true that a high level fighter should do something to shore up their will save, but not every fighter needs a 12+ Wisdom, a trait, and a feat dedicated to plugging that hole, especially not by level five. Some will want to, some won't, and both are reasonable choices.

The Party
To me, any advice on how to make characters is incomplete without mentioning other party members. Somewhere after your "3 character origins" I'd love to see a bit about filling basic roles within a party, and not stepping on other characters' shticks. I know this isn't the emphasis of your guide, so a single paragraph seems sufficient.

Keep up the good blogging!

Honestly I'm thinking about excising the three origin story schtick in this one and expanding it in it's own post. I like the idea still, but it doesn't tonally fit with an otherwise Math/Logic oriented benchmarking article.

Party composition is another excellent prompt for a post. Finding where you fit in a given campaign is a very common challenge. I don't think I should dilute the focus of this post, but it would be an interesting topic to take on in the future.

Taking out the part about character origin seems like a good idea. "How to come up with a character to play" is an excellent idea for an article, and it is quite separate from your current project.

I look forward to seeing that post sometime:)

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I enjoyed your guide, and I hope you will continue developing it. I'll share a few thoughts for improvement, just my opinions of course.



It's OK to have a weakness!
I don't think you should lower your various requirements, but I do think you should recognize that after identifying weak areas, one option is to leave one of your weak areas as a legitimate weakness.

It's true that a high level fighter should do something to shore up their will save, but not every fighter needs a 12+ Wisdom, a trait, and a feat dedicated to plugging that hole, especially not by level five. Some will want to, some won't, and both are reasonable choices.

The Party
To me, any advice on how to make characters is incomplete without mentioning other party members. Somewhere after your "3 character origins" I'd love to see a bit about filling basic roles within a party, and not stepping on other characters' shticks. I know this isn't the emphasis of your guide, so a single paragraph seems sufficient.

Keep up the good blogging!

Thanks for all the advice!

I've decided to go with the Thug archetype, and use the Enforcer feat to get free intimidate rolls. Eventually I'll pick up Dazzling Display and Shatter Defenses.

Lastoth wrote:
If the party comp supports it (two melee bros), a whip rogue with Gang Up is ungodly good, and at that point Rake is better (IMO) because you're going to be sneak attacking a lot.

I have a Barbarian, Cleric (non-melee type), and Arcanist, so will rarely have two bros in melee with me.

hiiamtom wrote:

Uh, you can get free intimidate checks with attacks with a feat and then break the game rules of imtimidate with Thug. On top of that, Thug has a "drop 1d6 to add a no save debuff" to the victim.

There's not even a little contest; Thug is a better archetype, it is one of the best rogue archetypes out there.

I'm leaning that direction as well. The extra feat and nonlethal damage both hurt, though.

Also the repeatable +5 to intimidate checks is awfully tempting! Give up all the sneak attack dice, and my intimidation is basically unbeatable. +10 at level 3, +20 at level 7, +30 at level 9...

Manly-man teapot wrote:
The benefit of Thug+Enforcer is that you will almost always go straight to Frightened.

It's definitely a tool in the toolbox! Having an enemy flee is sometimes great, sometimes terrible, and Thug+Enforcer seems like a great way to do it.

I'm making a Hobgoblin Unchained Rogue for a new campaign, in a homebrew setting. The build I'm using is Two-Weapon Fighting with whips. The character has high DEX, but otherwise fairly low ability scores. Using whips and TWF uses up quite a few feats, so I'll be fairly feat starved.

I'm considering making intimidation a significant part of the character, and I'd like advice on a couple of options. Which archetype would you suggest, Rake or Thug?

If I use Rake, the Bravo's Blade ability becomes my method of getting intimidate rolls without wasting an action. That lets me deal lethal damage, slightly reduced, and trade dice of sneak attack for bonuses to my intimidate roll.

Bravado’s Blade (Ex)

When a rake hits an opponent and deals sneak attack damage, she can forgo 1d6 points of that damage and make a free Intimidate check to demoralize the foe. For every additional 1d6 points of sneak attack damage she forgoes, she receives a +5 circumstance bonus on this check.
This ability replaces trapfinding.

Rake’s Smile (Ex)

At 3rd level, a rake gains a +1 morale bonus on Bluff and Diplomacy checks. This bonus increases by +1 for every 3 levels beyond 3rd.
This ability replaces trap sense.

If I use Thug, I'll depend on Enforcer to get free intimidate checks. That's nonlethal damage, but longer duration, and at the cost of a feat. Also, I get to add Sickened on top of Shaken and Debilitating Injury.

Frightening (Ex)

Whenever a thug successfully uses Intimidate to demoralize a creature, the duration of the shaken condition is increased by 1 round. In addition, if the target is shaken for 4 or more rounds, the thug can instead decide to make the target frightened for 1 round.
This ability replaces trapfinding.

Brutal Beating (Ex)

At 3rd level, whenever a thug deals sneak attack damage, she can choose to forgo 1d6 points of sneak attack damage to make the target sickened for a number of rounds equal to 1/2 her rogue level. This ability does not stack with itself—only the most recent duration applies.
This ability replaces trap sense.

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I think it would be fun to play a pair of ratfolk with sneak attack. rogues and ninjas have sneak attack, but to avoid duplicating abilities too closely, I'd make one of the two a vivisectionist alchemist.

Ratfolk are used to living and fighting communally, and are adept at swarming foes for their own gain and their foes' detriment. Up to two ratfolk can share the same square at the same time. If two ratfolk in the same square attack the same foe, they are considered to be flanking that foe as if they were in two opposite squares.

If the rogue/ninja takes the scout archetype, they'll get sneak attack after charging or moving, then the vivisectionist can move into the same square and use flanking to deal sneak attack damage. A few of the teamwork feats that benefit sneak attack are better than average, and the infusion discovery will let the alchemist share formulas with the rogue/ninja.

Your idea is totally possible, and if you want to pursue it as a theme, go for it.

On the other hand, if you don't want to invest so much (2 feats, 4+ ability buy points, and an ability bonus at level 8) you can buy Animal Fury for the cost of 1 rage power (or 1 feat) to get a bite attack.

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John-Andre wrote:
1) If you discourage dump stats in your game, how do you do so?

I don't discourage dump stats. As a GM, I like it when characters have distinctive characteristics like a low ability score.

John-Andre wrote:
2) How does the discouragement of dump stats affect your willingness to join a campaign, and your enjoyment of the game, as a player?

I don't mind if dump stats are discouraged, but I wouldn't put up with a "screw the player" enforcement method. If you don't want me to have a certain ability score, character class, alignment, etc. just tell me up front.

It can be hard to keep some play groups focused on the game. I find this problem requires two different typs of solution, combat and non-combat.

During combat, I have a player keep track of initiative using cards with each character's names on them. There's also a card for each group of enemies, usually labeled things like, boss, minion, critter, etc. When someone "wanders off" during a fight, I just ask the initiative keeper who's turn it is. This trick has three benefits: it removes one responsibility from the GM (who's generally the slowest "player" since I have more than one character to control, and it's different for every encounter), it enlists a player in keeping the others on track, and it makes initiative visual (so everyone can see when their turn will be coming up and can prepare).

Out of combat, I do two things. 1) try very hard not to BE the distraction. 2) I roleplay with whoever is paying attention. Generally, if I stay on track and keep at least one player on track with me, everyone else will hop back on after a brief digression.

Something else I've found that works well is to call for a break occasionally. If I need to do a few minutes of preparation during the game, I'll send my players to gather the dishes, refill drinks, play with the dog, or whatever else gets them away from the table for 5 minutes. It makes my prep time go faster (fewer distractions) and keeps the players from being in a limbo of playing/not playing.

There are a few tips from an experienced, and I hope reasonably good, game master. Every group is different, so try out everything you can think of, and see what works!

w01fe01 wrote:
just wondering what makes you look at a class and go "eww"

Without listing every class, I'll try to answer your question.

1) Lying outside the power curve, either high or low.
To me, the important type of game balance is that all of the party members are balanced with one another. It's fine with me if the party is more or less powerful than expected for their level, as that's easy for a GM to compensate for.
Example: Monk, they just can't keep up unless I grant the player some special items or house rules to compensate.

2) Not functioning at some levels.
Pathfinder went a long way toward fixing this, but it still applies. Some classes don't work at low levels, and others have trouble at high levels.
Example: Druid, who should have some degree of wildshape from level 1 and/or summon spells that last "until the end of the fight" instead of rounds per level, which is useless at 1st level.

3) Requiring a change to the game world to function.
I want each class to work in the setting, both mechanically and thematically.
Example: Gunslinger, the only reason to add firearms to a Pathfinder game. Also, because it's the only class that expends gold to use its basic abilities, it throws off the party economy.

What party members will you have?

Xavram5 wrote:
I've seen this in the game I'm currently in, where the characters who use a 2-H weapon are just getting whupped in the AC department and really paying the price for this...

As much as you can, please post the builds for everyone in that party and describe the party dynamics a bit.

I ask because I don't think you're seeing a problem with the AC of two-handed fighters. You're describing multiple characters using two-handers and getting beat up. Who are you comparing them to? Are they getting attacked more often then the other characters?

A good guideline might be to look at spells. They have save DC, caster level, and rules for making single use items (potions), which could line up quite well with poisons.

"The costs for materials and ingredients are subsumed in the cost for brewing the potion: 25 gp × the level of the spell × the level of the caster." Using that formula a potion of Harm would cost 25 x 6 x 11 = 1650 gold and have a save DC of 19.

Ways to balance poisons:

  • Price
  • Availability
  • Save DC

To help you avoid a common mistake ...
Here is the table that tells you how many you can cast in a day. This is modified by your Wisdom score.
Here is the table that tells you the number of spells an inquisitor knows. This is not modified by your Wisdom score.


Here is the list of spells you can choose from.

Some recommend orisons:
Light - It's good at what it does, and very useful.
Detect Magic - Versatile, oft used, and helps you find treasure!
Guidance - You can use this every time you or a party member uses a skill outside of combat.
Create Water - Very good at what it does. Drink it, bathe in it, put out fires.
Brand - It's not an impressive spell, but only inquisitors ever get to cast it, so it's kind of a specialty thing I think is cool.

Some recommended 1st level spells:
Cure Light Wounds - You definitely want this! at 1st level 1d8+1 hit points is huge! Literally a life saver.
Litany of Sloth - A swift action, no saving throw, and it prevents attacks of opportunity on you or allies.
Lots of other 1st level spells get stronger at later levels, when the bonuses they offer are larger or last longer.

Here's the table for ability scores and spellcasters.

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I agree with all of the previous posters, and both members of the design team - the player builds the cohort. While it's appropriate for the GM to work with the player to integrate a cohort into the game, the GM should not impose any more restrictions than are absolutely necessary.

I like to introduce cohorts into the game and give them a reason to follow their leader, so I ask players to create their cohort (using whatever character creation rules apply to PCs, but with NPS wealth) and give me a copy, with either a verbal or written personality description. Then, I use that NPC as a story element. Regardless of a "limited population" I'm sure you can think up a reason to have any cohort available once the PC creates it. If you're stuck on ideas, start with this brainstorm:

  • The party frees the cohort from captivity. (jail, prison, kidnapping, cult indoctrination, a tower accessible only by hair ...)
  • The party rescues the cohort from harm. (attack/combat is the simplest, but a cleric could gain a cohort by casting Heal or Resurrection)
  • The cohort seeks out the PC/party because of some past deed they have done. (presumably some impressive feat(s) done in a previous part of the campaign.)
  • The cohort has an existing relationship to the PC. (blood relative, marriage, betrothal, childhood friend, etc.)
  • The cohort was hired to oppose the party (spy on, assassinate, thwart, follow, etc.) but after observation has decided to turn on it's employer and join the PCs instead. (They may reveal their original job right away, or only admit it later when they feel the need. There's lots of room for story in this one!)

I agree with the others. The best approach is to roleplay the enemy. (It is a roleplaying game, after all!) For some enemies that will be easier than others, and leaves the GM a lot of leeway to choose different behaviors by choosing different enemies. (i.e. Animals will attack whoever is closest to them, so if you want your front line characters attacked a lot, send animals.)

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I have two distinct opinions on this matter.

What you should say to your GM
"So my GM plays all opponents as smart, regardless of their background, ability scores, etc. It doesn't feel like how the characters would likely act, and it makes gameplay less fun for [me]."

See that, you know what to say! If you feel it's un-fun or unrealistic to have all enemies fight smart, tell the GM. As Kobold Cleaver suggested, he GM can always use numbers (or gear, or hit points, or terrain) to make fights challenging instead of using tactics.

What I would like to say to you about attacks of opportunity
Almost no enemy is bad enough at fighting to provoke attacks of opportunity unless it is to their advantage to do so. Many animals with intelligence scores of 2 (wolves, lions, dinosaurs) are full-time professional predators, and darn good at it! If they weren't good at killing things, they'd have starved to death long ago. Human combatants are similar, in that even the dumbest fighter knows how to fight, maybe not how to read or do math, but how to avoid getting stabbed in the back during a fight.

The only time enemies should provoke attacks of opportunity are:

  • When it benefits them. (e.g. It may be worth provoking an attack from the non-flanking rogue to finish off the wounded caster before another spell gets cast.)
  • When they don't have enough information to avoid it. (e.g. Invisible PC, Snap Shot, concealment)
  • When they're mindless. (e.g. An ooze or zombie who has already chosen a target may ignore other enemies, or a frenzied animal may ignore danger.)
  • When the PCs force them to. (e.g. Cornering or surrounding a spellcaster, Come And Get Me, Greater Trip)

I like it! I'll play around with it a little more, and make some suggestions. But, for now, have you considered adding some of the other stats for each form?

The way I've done it is this: Saurian Shaman, Druid 6
Wildshape 2/day
Duration 6 hours
If I take the form of a dinosaur, I use Beast Shape III
If I take the form of another animal, I use Beast Shape I

I would do it as a chase. The nice thing about Pathfinder chases is that there's a choice to be made at each stage.

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kyrt-ryder wrote:
First off, there are the Combat Maneuver rules, where which combat maneuver a character can use against another are restricted by their sizes. These have got to go.

I agree. "Can't" isn't nearly as fun as "Probably won't be able to because the roll is so hard." It would be reasonable for certain maneuvers to give a very large bonus/penalty for each difference in size category.

kyrt-ryder wrote:
Secondly, Weapon Size Categories are double-dipping bonus damage onto creatures who already have massively higher strength scores than their smaller contemporaries.

Yes! Also, weapon sizes play havoc with die sizes and introduce strange inconsistencies. Personally, I would tone down some of the STR bonuses a bit and make weapon damage add a die for each additional size category. (But I would also eliminate weapons with more than one die of damage.)

kyrt-ryder wrote:
Third, is the existence of the Small Size being so damn similar to Medium. Why have the size if it's going to take the same space and have the same reach dammit. For my own games I'm actually working on eliminating the Small Size, moving creatures in it to either Medium or Tiny.

Biggest Gripe Ever! Well, biggest gripe about size. The most common sizes are the ones that don't follow the rules? Bah!

Doomed Hero wrote:

1) What Would Happen If You Kicked a Chihuahua?

When big creatures hit smaller creatures, it should move them. It should be built right into the size mechanics. Awesome Blow isn't good enough. If a Stone Giant hits a Halfling, that Halfling shouldn't stay in the same square it started in. My house rule is Any creature who hits a creature two or more size categories smaller than itself can initiate a Bull Rush as a free action. Use the Grenade Scatter rules to determine the direction of the Bull Rush.

I like your house rule a lot!

Doomed Hero wrote:

2) Big Things Take Big Steps. ... A good fix is to make a creature's in-combat Adjusting Step equal to the creatures own Space.

Another good house rule, although I prefer the way D&D Next handles it. If you move out of an opponent's reach, you provoke. Period. No measuring, no tricks, the rule introduced in 3.0 that was intended to keep people from fleeing without a moment of vulnerability is used to prevent fleeing rather than as a geographic movement limit.

Doomed Hero wrote:

3) Fleas Can't Actually Jump Very Far.

I don't actually care about this one, but I commented on the rest. In my experience this problem is exceedingly rare, and can be handled with simply logic by the GM.

Touc wrote:
I want to capture the creative social spirit rather than creative mechanical effort.

D&D Next is a deliberate attempt by Wizards of the Coast to do exactly what you describe.

D&D Next Goals by Mike Mearls: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

Quandary wrote:
This probably belongs in Advice?

I'm looking for a rule that does something in particular, so I asked in "rules", but I could see it going either way.

If I can't find such a feat, and you don't know of one (I used to read these forms a lot, and I know that you're very knowledgeable) then there probably isn't one.

Rub-Eta wrote:
Check with your DM if you're allowed to take the Cleric domains as your Nature Bond. The Healing Domain grants Breath of Life as 5th level Domain spell.

I was really hoping to have an animal companion, but I'll think about that.

Thanks for the suggestion.

I know there are some feats that will allow a spellcaster to learn spells that aren't usually on their class's spell list, but is there one that would allow a druid to do so?

I really want to make a druid for an upcoming campaign, but I'll be the only divine caster in the party and I'd really like to get Breath of Life eventually. I love that spell:)

Broken Zenith wrote:

I like Blueluck's analysis, but here's what the Party Picker says.

(I believe that the oracle is melee based? I could be wrong, but that's how I figured things.)

You are fantastic on healing and melee, with some decent tanks and a butt-load of magic.

You are low on ranged, and that should be your number one priority. You are also low on sneaky guys ( I assume), and a little low on blasty damage. However, range is your biggest concenr, so I would suggest a character that can really knock ranged fighting out of the park.

TG MaxMaxer has a great idea with a Ranged Inquisitor. A gunslinger, ranged fighter, or zen archer would also be grand. For a different feel that would also round out the party, check out Alchemists!

For some reason I missed that the oracle does melee. I even wrote "Oracle(no combat)" earlier, and I think I was mixing his oracle up with one from another thread.

I disagree with the Party Picker that a martial character who mainly contributes "ranged damage" is an essential component of a strong party. Since he's playing a Zen Archer in another campaign, I would still avoid any kind of dedicated archer build. Why play two characters with the same basic strategy when you can explore more of the game?

However, with the oracle stepping up into melee, the math does change a bit!
2 melee
2 casters
3 healers
2 arcane spellcasters
That party is perfectly well rounded, and open to just about anything.

Atarlost wrote:
I would avoid order of the sword. It's too mount oriented and gets practically nothing for unmounted combat. You want Cockatrice. Standard action Dazzling Display means you can move into position and then mass intimidate. It's the best caster support option any melee class has. You're also not weapon restricted like it usually is so you can use it on a horse with a lance in your hand or on foot with a sword or at a fancy dress ball that suddenly turns into a war zone.

I chose Order of the Sword because I had a small race in mind. A small cavalier on a medium mount can take his trusty steed into any dungeon his tallfolk friends are foolhardy enough to enter. Unfortunately all of the small races get penalties to strength, making their martial performance suffer.

The character is beginning at 9th level, which means starting with the amazing Mounted Mastery ability. Among other bonuses, it allows the cavalier to add his mount's strength bonus to damage when charging. It's great for small cavaliers, and it can be combined with Beastmaster for some truly stunning damage output.

It wasn't so much a statement of "This is the best build" as "I think this would perform well and be fun to play".

The Shifty Mongoose wrote:
Liberating Command, but that isn't a Sorcerer/Wizard spell.

Yes, Liberating Command is a Sorcerer/Wizard spell, and it's great! Since it's an immediate action, it doesn't provoke an attack of opportunity. Any caster who has full ranks in Escape Artist and casts Liberating Command should be able to slip out of a grapple quite easily and without even wasting a standard or move action.

Other good low-level options are: Mirror Image, Levitate, Fly, attacking from far away, attacking from behind difficult terrain, or staying behind your bodyguards or summoned creatures.

There's a cool option that's a blend of my first two ideas (melee ranger + lancer cavalier).

Ranger with the Hippogriff Rider archetype gets a great flying mount, and with the chosen fighting style Mounted Combat, you'd get all the great mounted feats for free. (Or you could choose Archery fighting style, and use your regular feats for mounted combat.) Either way, you fly, charge for 3x damage, and have a bow for an excellent ranged option when needed.

Sgt.Sunshine wrote:
So update, apparently the cleric died. So now replacing the cleric is a sorcerer, and replacing the monk is a healing witch. I guess that fills up the backline rather well, and leaves me with a lot of options to play around with. Would a more melee oriented character be suitable with the current composition?


So your party is now:

  • Paladin
  • Oracle (with barbarian follower)
  • Sorcerer
  • Witch

You have 1.5 characters who want to be in melee (counting the cohort as .5) and 3 characters who want to stand back. You have plenty of healing (3 characters), plenty of arcane magic (2 characters), and plenty of divine magic (1 full, 2 partial). That's a pretty tight group!

Since your party doesn't have any gaping holes that need filling, you're pretty free to make whatever you please. If you rule out duplicates (Paladin, Oracle, Sorcerer, Witch, Barbarian) and near-duplicates (Cleric, Wizard), you're left with these classes to pick from:

  • Fighter
  • Ranger
  • Cavalier

  • Monk
  • Rogue

  • Alchemist
  • Bard
  • Magus
  • Summoner

  • Druid
  • Inquisitor

My suggestion is to make a character who:

  • deals HP damage.
  • spends all or some of his time in melee.

My favorite ways to do this would be:

  • Ranger - Two-handed weapon specialist with lots of useful skills and enough wisdom to cast Instant Enemy.
  • Cavalier - Order of the Sword charging lancer build.
  • Magus - Dervish Dance with a scimitar, high crit, Shocking Grasp for everyone!
  • Druid - Be a combat animal or summoning specialist, whichever appeals to you. Keep your pet out front in either case.

lock wood wrote:
this looks real good. temple sword is out but i do like as a

Right! Temple Sword is from the APG; I forgot. I'd just substitute any decent slashing or piercing weapon with the "monk" trait. The point is that you should carry a weapon so that you can fight enemies who shouldn't be touched or who have certain kinds of DR.

lock wood wrote:
the man reason for druid is shillelagh to have a +1 2d6 weapon that i can use my monk attacks with which would be great up to like level ten and i dont even think it will get that high

That's a good idea. I'd definitely check with your GM before trying it though. If you GM is restricting 3rd level characters to 1000 gold, she probably has some ideas about magic items. Either magic weapons are supposed to be restricted (she might resent you subverting her plan), or she might plan to give out special magic items (and your plan would be wasted).

ZenFox42 wrote:
Blueluck, thanks for the advice! Altho I'm sorry to hear that you wouldn't even try playing a spellcaster with what I've proposed, it only affects some 40 spells total (and a lot of those are 8th and 9th level). And the spells still work as before, just taking more time and money. Ok, also some major penalties if they don't work, and minor penalties even if they do. :)

In my experience, playing a character type that your GM has a prejudice against, even a justified prejudice, turns out to be a bad time. If I were presented with your list during character creation, I would take it as a sign of things to come. What might you do if I pwned a couple of back-to-back encounters with Create Pit? How would you rule on spells used in creative ways?

Now, if you proposed a single change to alter the tone of your game, I would take that as GM world-building, not a prejudice.

Any spell which brings back the dead can only be cast at special holy (or unholy) sites. Access to many of these sites is controlled by various churches, and consequently bringing back the dead will be difficult, and likely involve social consequences. At the very least, some travel and a donation or favor will be in order.

Or, if you had only called out a couple of spells you'd had bad experiences with, I'd assume it was for good reason.

Wish and Limited Wish only do the listed options in my game, don't expect to use them as a Swiss Army Knife or to abuse them.

As I said, you sound like an intelligent and thoughtful GM, and I'd be happy to play with you. I'm curious if you plan to run Pathfinder for an existing group of gamer friends, and what they think of your proposed changes.

I would definitely play a front line martial character, for two reasons. First, because it's what your party composition needs. Second, because martial characters benefit from a wide array of high ability scores.

If you've ever had an interest in playing a monk, this is a great opportunity. The biggest problem with monks is that they're MAD (Multiple Attribute Dependent) and you certainly have the multiple attributes to depend on!

Don't waste a level on Druid. You already have a top notch healer (cleric), second tier healer (bard), and a little-bit healer (ranger), all of whom can use the important wands. Your other two party members are a sorcerer & rogue, both of whom are likely to have Use Magic Device.

I'd probably build it like this:
Human Monk 3
LN Medium Humanoid (human)
Init +3; Senses Perception +10
AC 18, touch 18, flat-footed 14 (+3 Dex, +1 dodge)
hp 33 (3d8+15)
Fort +6, Ref +6, Will +7; +2 vs. enchantment spells and effects
Defensive Abilities evasion
Speed 40 ft.
Melee Unarmed strike +8 (1d6+5/x2)
. . . . . . .Temple sword +7 (1d8+5/19-20/x2) and
Ranged Shuriken +5 (1d2+5/x2)
Special Attacks flurry of blows +1/+1
Str 20, Dex 16, Con 17, Int 15, Wis 18, Cha 13
Base Atk +2; CMB +8 (+10 Grappling); CMD 25 (27 vs. Grapple)
Feats Dodge, Improved Grapple, Improved Unarmed Strike, Power Attack -1/+2, Stunning Fist (3/day) (DC 15), Toughness +3, Weapon Focus (Unarmed strike)
Skills Acrobatics +9 (+13 jump), Climb +9, Escape Artist +9, Knowledge (history) +6, Knowledge (religion) +8, Perception +10, Sense Motive +10, Stealth +9, Swim +9
Languages Common, Draconic, Undercommon
SQ ac bonus +4, fast movement (+10'), maneuver training, stunning fist (stun), unarmed strike (1d6)
Combat Gear Potion of cure light wounds, Potion of enlarge person, Potion of magic fang, Wand of Mage Armor, Shuriken (25), Temple sword, Backpack (empty), Pathfinder's kit, 51 GP
Special Abilities
AC Bonus +4 The Monk adds his Wisdom bonus to AC and CMD, more at higher levels.
Evasion (Ex) If you succeed at a Reflex save for half damage, you take none instead.
Fast Movement (+10') The Monk adds 10 or more feet to his base speed.
Flurry of Blows +1/+1 (Ex) Make Flurry of Blows attack as a full rd action.
Improved Grapple You don't provoke attacks of opportunity when grappling a foe.
Improved Unarmed Strike Unarmed strikes don't cause attacks of opportunity, and can be lethal.
Maneuver Training (Ex) CMB = other BABs + Monk level
Power Attack -1/+2 You can subtract from your attack roll to add to your damage.
Stunning Fist (3/day) (DC 15) You can stun an opponent with an unarmed attack.
Stunning Fist (Stun) (Ex) At 1st level, the monk gains Stunning Fist as a bonus feat, even if he does not meet the prerequisites. At 4th level, and every 4 levels thereafter, the monk gains the ability to apply a new condition to the target of his Stunning Fist. This conditio
Unarmed Strike (1d6) The Monk does lethal damage with his unarmed strikes.

Kyoni wrote:
Anzyr wrote:
Which one of us should have to sacrifice the build we want to play so the other can have fun? Should I stop using Summons (which was the whole thing I found neat about a guy who summons angels) or should BMX Bandit redesign his character to be more effective? (The correct answer is options should be balanced so this doesn't occur.)
How about sitting together at the table when making the characters? It's up to the DM to say: "ok, only 1 pet per character" or: "minion-time, go get leadership". Because it's his campaign that has to adjust for it.

I've used that solution myself. When I start a campaign, I ask the players if they're interested in taking Leadership or not. If most of them are interested, I give them all the Leadership feat for free at an appropriate time in the story. (It might be a level or two later than they would normally qualify, but nobody's ever minded waiting a level.) Some groups want it, some don't, and if there's just one person who's not interested I can usually come up with an equivalent for them. (A Figurine of Wondrous Power fits nicely.)

Durinor wrote:

I've been here. The guy who introduced me to D&D and who was my DM'd for about 15 years was great at making his world come alive, but he loved his invincible NPCs.

We frequently had DMPCs coming along with our group, and you could be sure they would be experts in everything, overshadowing the PCs. Fighter specialised in swordfighting? A mere amateur compared to the expert fencing skills of the bard DMPC. That sort of thing.

Added to this 'friendly' NPCs like church leaders or local authorities treated the group like dirt even when asking (demanding) our help. Dealing with the good guys was frequently as dangerous as dealing with the villains.

Encounters were so difficult that the TPK-fudged-into-capture was a recurring event. . .

I've played that game. That game sucks. That guy shouldn't GM a game, he should stay home and write a novel.

The Crusader wrote:
Blueluck wrote:
The Crusader wrote:
So, my rationale: Suppose my group consisted of a fighter, rogue, cleric, and wizard. Further we are walking along when suddenly we are transported into a giant arena where we are staring down four identical dopplegangers of ourselves that we immediately know we must defeat. No surprise round.
I think this scenario is a distraction from the real issue. PC parties don't fight PC parties regularly, they fight a normal spread of encounters, most of which don't include any spellcasters. PvP scenarios play out completely different than normal adventuring.
I understand why you see it that way. But, it is hard for me to come up with a good, equitable scenario in which a caster and a martial are on equal footing - from which to determine relative power.

Yep, and I understand why you resort to PvP as a measure. I've seen a hundred discussions of "what character is stronger" turn into "who would win in a fight" and it never really answers the right question.

Shadowrun Example:
To use an example that won't be controversial in this forum, 1st edition Shadowrun often spawned this same discussion.

  • "Fighters" always acted first, and frequently with two actions before a mage got one. They could easily shoot one target to death (the mage) before anyone else moves.
  • "Mages" always acted last, but could clear an entire room with a fireball.

So, the answer to "who would win in a fight" was always "fighters". The answer to "which character is stronger" never addressed the fact that "mages" could turn invisible, astrally project, summon elementals with immunity to weapons, cast healing spells, fly, read minds, and generally short circuit almost any story that wasn't extremely well planned.

Lincoln Hills wrote:
Blueluck wrote:
There's a lot of BS on these forums, statements made by inexperienced players and GMs, statements made by people who are upset after a single bad experience, and blatantly false statements made by people who are just trolling.
Hands up, anybody who thinks Blueluck's statement above should be the first thing that comes up on the screen of every new visitor to these boards.


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I've seen this problem in many games, and have a default solution when I GM. I simply set my adventure in a location that allows me to ignore most of the races/cultures.

Advantage #1 - I don't have to write about too many different cultures, instead just developing one, two, or maybe three that the PCs will encounter. So, if we're exploring the Mwangi jungles, I only think about the Mwangi culture. Every other culture is easily forgotten.

Advantage #2 - The PCs races/cultures either match the locals, or are left up to the player do define. If someone is playing a dwarf in my Mwangi adventure, they get to decide what it means to be dwarven. Some players will make stuff up on their own, others borrow from popular literature, and others find an "official" source to make their decisions for them. In any case, I don't have to do anything as a GM except support their assertions by reacting appropriately. (Once in a while I might throw in a fellow dwarven traveler, because it gives the PC a chance to talk about being dwarven.)

hogarth wrote:
I Hate Nickelback wrote:
Umbranus wrote:
hogarth wrote:
Laiho Vanallo wrote:
Every-time we almost get TPK but then to add humiliation to injury he pull his punches! I feel that at least he should suffer the consequences of his actions (unbalanced fights) by making the TPK happen.

If hating this phenomenon is wrong, I don't wanna be right.

Seriously, I hate, hate, hate when GMs do this.

This is so true. It is only made worse if the GM then sends in an NPC to save the party.

There isn't much I hate more than that when playing an rpg. It is definitely worse than having my pc killed.

Nice overreaction ya got there.

I don't know what to tell you. I was in one campaign where every other session our PCs would get curb-stomped by NPCs and other NPCs would swoop in to save us. (The other 50% of the time, the NPCs would curb-stomp us and then leave us alive for no particular reason.)

Looking back, it was awful. The worst part was that the GM was an enthusiastic, diligent guy who came up with interesting stories; his only flaw was in his reasoning -- "If barely clinging to life after a fight is exciting when it happens 10% of the time, then it must be ten times as exciting when it happens 100% of the time!"

I like to run a pretty tough game, but that's not what you're describing. It sounds like you had a GM who wrote a story where his NPCs were both the heroes and the villains, and the PCs only existed to be their playthings. That is IMHO, one of the worst things a GM can do. It's incredibly frustrating for the players.

It's surprising how threatening CR+0 and CR+1 encounters can be when you have four or more of them per day. Occasionally send one at night, or right after another group, or have them lay an ambush. The variance between different enemies will make certain encounters harder for some parties and easier for others, and there's really no reason a GM would ever need a CRx2 encounter to challenge a party.

Sgt.Sunshine wrote:
I'm not sure how I misunderstood that.

No worries. We're probably all skimming rather than studying. This is a discussion about a game, of course, not the manual for a nuclear weapon. It's my personal belief that anyone willing to say, "Oops, I must have had that wrong" is someone worth having a discussion with.

Admixture will be fun! Not only do your blasty spells deal extra damage, but they work against nearly every target. An elf wizard with the right feats can really blast the heck out of enemies, cutting through saving throws and SR.

Magical Lineage (trait)
Spell Focus Evocation (and greater)
Spell Specialization (and greater)
Spell Penetration (and greater)
Spell Perfection

At levels 1-2 I see martials being more powerful than casters, but not enough to cause a problem. Mainly, the martials can just "do their thing" to be effective, while a pure caster has to play strategically to be effective.

At levels 3-8 I see martials and casters sharing the limelight. Some encounters will favor one type, while other encounters favor another, depending on time of day, terrain, spell selection, character build, type and number of enemy, etc. I'd call this the sweet spot.

At levels 9-12 I see casters take the forefront, but not enough to case a problem. Yes, they have enough high level spell slots that with good system mastery they can dominate a couple encounters in a row without help, but teamwork is still critical to success and Haste is still a good spell.

I've only played a little at level 13+ but in my experience this is when casters have to put forth an effort to let others share the spotlight.

13+ is also the range where the sheer complexity of enemies can cause GMs to play them weaker than they're written. Countless times I've seen a GM forget an immunity, feat, special defense, or power of a monster, playing a complex enemy as a simple brute. This tends to favor casters, since martials are still dealing with AC/HP or Hit/Damage, which are easy to track.

Also, with such complex enemies, caster metagaming can become a major factor. The player may know which dragons and outsiders are immune to which elements, but the character has to make a knowledge roll and be given a limited number of facts by the GM.

The Crusader wrote:
So, my rationale: Suppose my group consisted of a fighter, rogue, cleric, and wizard. Further we are walking along when suddenly we are transported into a giant arena where we are staring down four identical dopplegangers of ourselves that we immediately know we must defeat. No surprise round.

I think this scenario is a distraction from the real issue. PC parties don't fight PC parties regularly, they fight a normal spread of encounters, most of which don't include any spellcasters. PvP scenarios play out completely different than normal adventuring.

I'll answer anyway:
I would always attack the Wizard first in that scenario, even at 1st level, because it's the character most likely to be killed with a single attack on a charge. A 1st level wizard is likely to have 6-10 HP, and 10-14 AC, while a 1st level rogue, cleric, or fighter will have significantly higher numbers in both categories.

I use Hero Lab, and I'm playing a Paladin who just hit 13th level in Kingmaker last week, so I have direct and recent experience with your circumstances. You are exactly correct in your calculations.

Personally, I simply ignore my Channel Energy boxes, and mark off two Lay on Hands if I channel.

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