Mark's stated (well confirmed it as the truth when I stated it) that basically the flaw of them is that they either work at the same time in which case there is only a few youd take as youd want them to stack, or they don't in which case you wouldnt take very many as you want your songs up.
Either way the system doesnt fulfill its role. And the only thing stopping it? Us really.
We can make a hundred guides and even rate archetypes. But the issue is that Mark's said they don't have the time to "rate" the performances, and therefore can't possibly balance them to make them all viable to work with performances.
Some are simply too cheap. Others have an up front cost. Others do amazing things compared to equal level ones.
The whole system needs an overhaul. If we REALLY wanted to get it as a community we would.
Should be rated based on a few criteria.
If we had judged them all based on these and handed a list in, there may have been a mass overhaul to suit our wants. As is, we waited years for them to do it for us and it's too little too late now.
I find saying "I power attack the wizard" at level one when he says "I'm playing a wizard" is an effective way to end tier arguments. It is important to act quickly before they reach the point where they verbally masturbate about tiers at the table instead of playing the game. It also has the secondary benefit of reducing the amount of end bosses in the world.
Because end bosses are always a wizard.
The masterpiece system is an imperfect beast to begin with. Much like the bardic feat discordant voice, it has a prerequisite that simply doesnt work for taking with a feat.
Prerequisites: Bardic performance class feature, Perform (oratory or sing) 10 ranks.
But...that's ok. One could simply use the retraining option to learn it.
There are many of them that are "worth it" but vs the simple mechanics of to hit and damage (worth more than a feat with each +1) it's hard to argue as to if they are worth "more or as much".
But that's in a straight comparison. Which, frankly, I don't agree with. The point of them is to have a use for a pool that may not get all its rounds used in a day. Rather than use spell slots, use performance slots.
If you are playing a race that picks up rounds per day (gnomes halforc/elf) then you're essentially increasing your "casting" per day. A major benefit.
Given that paladins rangers and bloodrager can be full bab and be 4th casters... full loss of spells is a but much. Then again there are other trade offs. Skills and such.
Myself, I trade away casting on rangers for trapper, which stacks with freebooter. Sneak in, lay down traps, pick a target and annihilate. It's a real change up in the traditional ranger.
It is worth noting that an amulet of spirits (battle) would allow the swashbuckler to curse as a swift action someone suffering bleed damage and increase that number by 1 for 8 rounds.
That would be a severely shortened lifespan on someone with even a 16 in a stat. On a 7? Yeah it ain't pretty. You could stack it with a bleeding weapon, increasing both effects and if you're targeting something like con you could shed HP at a phenomenal rate with a little effort.
By itself it's great vs dumb animals or characters that can't figure out they need to heal (like dex damage on a raging barbarian), but doubling that amount is likely to send anyone into a panic.
It actually says ignore adverse effects of difficult terrain. Snow specifically states it stacks with difficult terrain. Therefore it isn't difficult terrain.
Like above I can see both arguments. However, I cam apply a little logic here and solve this.
In Reign of winter book one, there is a fight where it is heavy snow and some potions of this spell are nearby, used to move freely around.
Therefore, I can only surmise that despite RAW highjinx, its allowing free movement in snow based on the writers doing exactly that. While AP arent the best place for rules, it IS an example of how it should work
Yeah I'll take the multiple (more than one) full campaigns I've seen them in over a white room theory with no campaigns at all any day.
While % of flying creatures is one thing, they are in no way at all a measurement of a campaign, because it suggests that once you fight a single elf you'll never fight one again, as with any other race with actual NPCs in a campaign setting. So the viewpoint isn't actually balanced its fundamentally flawed from the start. % of choice means little when numbers of that choice are obviously skewed during actual non white room theory game play. If you lack the actual data that matters, its it isn't worth much for the data that doesn't.
Well. The minor defense of being charmed helps, since they make decent party faces and will have intimidate too they would do well with a 16 charisma or so. That's +3 to a roll. Not ideal but take what ya get. They aren't great for saves, agreed.
This got me thinking
given free feats and BAB and counting as fighters... you could take the martial focus feat and then look into going towards spell cut....
It's a long road and basically only worth it if you get extra feats to play with (and making training to catch up on those feats almost a definite) but yeah, near immunity to archers and a way to simply whack will saves into the ground? I'll take it.
Well yes I AM presuming that every fight doesnt start with single collosal flying NPCs. If it did, then I'd feel bad for the archer since that character doesnt have a mechanic to at least try to avoid attacks from this apparently omnipotent Npc unlike the swashbuckler anyways. Its a class that is dex based and can add extra dice to acrobatics at the same time as moving full speed through enemies spaces. Hell, if I remember right my wife's character had a 10 foot vertical jump she didnt even have to roll for, because she could simply take 10 on it combined with her horizonatal leaps allowed her to basically jump over difficult terrain and obstacles without even picking up a die.
Frankly most fights ARE some weaker enemies and a tougher one, and flying isn't that common as to be a game ender every fight. If it was, the wizard would be best suited to casting flight on the swashbuckler to counter that, since casting flight on oneself against opponents who can fly doesnt seem productive anyways.
But I'd still rather take the character with total battlefield control on turn one vs an archer anyways. You'll get more than one attack a turn when they are no longer armed and running from you. Since its swift action, it's a better use of a turn.
Again, people think this class is weak when it's got some amazing options that can really set the battle up. I already mentioned how some time ago (year and a bit?) I showed how a swashbuckler can straight up break most games by low mid levels. We can't go by what a guide tells us are the best options since all guides are obsolete with every book release, and certain concepts are just buried in the white room scenarios of "but what if" that frankly just don't come up that much. Even against flying single large target creatures in open fields a swashbuckler has options, rare as such fights are. They aren't sitting on their hands and waiting. The notion is ridiculous. At the very least (the bare minimum least) they can also pick up a bow and use it as a full dex and BAB character, so even at this sub par option they are contributing.
The concept that one has to presume the fight is an airborne target in an open area already flying with a massive cmd FIRST and that all others are the exception is just not true. Even if it was? The swashbuckler could make that roll to get around it for flanking while moving at full speed.
I will never understand the need to create white room scenarios that simply are the minority in order to pigeonhole martials.
Best part about this is being order like warrior, having DR then dropping into negatives, spending resolve to act anyways and suddenly healing.
Samurai are very hard to kill
I think swashbucklers actually do better against large numbers rather than just solo. Their bonuses to acrobatics and high strike damage allows them to get behind foes and take out vulnerable opponents quickly and set up others for flanks for those that do not go down in a round.
If you just see combat as approaching from one angle head on, you're not using it well.
With some feat investments and focus you can actually turn them into aoe fear machines, capable of affecting targets in air or on land with total panic. A little research goes a long way into making them shine.
To answer your actual question, yes there is a difference between class levels and character levels.
The abilities you mentioned would only go up based on class levels, total levels in that class, as opposed to character levels, total levels of all classes.
I think that the swashbuckler is fine past 5th level. Targeted strike and bleeding wound are great abilities.
If you're enjoying the character then keep going.
My wife played one to 16. Targetted strike and the ability to move through enemies perfectly allowed total battlefield control.
Also, remember, if you multiclass you won't keep keep getting your favoured class bonus.
Inscribe magic tattoos is just a way to double up on some slots ar the cost of non slotted items.
Which is to say, have the benefits of 2 things you want but the cost of the second is extremely high. I would take traits to lower it.
But of you really want 2 "cloaks" and can not choose, you dont have to
In our group we did limit the tattoo slots to at least make sense. No headband slots on feet etc.. it rarely came up as conflict and we had a tattoo sorceress with the feat as the main caster.
Your oracle is incorrect.