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Silver Crusade

I have an unusual thing I'm trying to do; I want to get a Celestial Sorcerer a Familiar. Specifically, a Silvanshee Agathion.

Can anyone suggest some PFS legal routes to do this? Presume a Human, NG alignment, and maximum level of 12. If at all possible, I want to avoid losing any spellcasting progression.

Silver Crusade

I'm pretty sure this is a basic question, but it's also one I want to be absolutely sure I'm right on since it does affect how dangerous certain monsters are. As you know, some monsters list their attacks as multiple uses of the same thing... for example you might see "Melee: 2 Claws (stats here), Bite (stats here)". Obviously you can only get 2 Claws and the Bite on a Full Attack. That part is clear enough.

Here's my question: Can such a creature use the 2 Claws as a standard attack action after doing some other move action (such as moving adjacent to the target they wish to hit)? Or would they be limited to just 1 Claw because a standard attack action generally only grants one attack?

If you need a creature example: Brown Bear on D20PFSRD

Most of the Summon Monster IV list has comparable creatures if more examples are needed; Giant Scorpion for example.

Silver Crusade

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(Edited shortly after posting to remove a duplicate 'Skills' section. Whoops.)

Foreword: This article (and others like it) assumes your character is a Wizard or Sorcerer willing to research and meet the prerequisites. I assume Summoners can do most of the same tricks and likely do them better, but I'm writing this from the perspective of the older classes instead. Other classes may benefit as well.

The Silvanshee Agathion is a seemingly odd choice regardless of whether you're using it as a Summon or a Familiar, since it's not very useful in a fight. This holy cat's real value emerges in other situations, where its unassuming appearance and mix of special abilities allow it to influence events in ways many of its peers simply can't match (or if they can, they can only cover some of the same uses). Useful as a scout, emergency healer, universal translator, and more, the Silvanshee rewards creative play.

Before we begin, you may want to review the following stats. Note that Summoning them requires the Summon Good Monster feat, and using them as a Familiar requires the Improved Familiar feat.

Silvanshee Agathion Stats on Paizo.com PRD

Normally this is where I would offer a quick overview of its combat stats, but let me blunt: Silvanshee Agathions are just short of worthless in a fight. Their AC and speed are fine, but even at full power their damage output is pathetic compared to Summon Monster I's Eagle (nevermind its Summon III peers). They're Tiny, have no Reach, and even a full Pounce attack doesn't do much. If a Silvanshee Agathion is engaging in direct combat, the situation has either gone very wrong or you're trolling by having it pick fights with Level 1 Commoners. They are good at many things, but not combat.

So what do they excel at? Several things, such as these examples that should get your creative thoughts flowing.

Animal Translator: While having a Druid or Ranger handy for Wild Empathy is fantastic, not every party includes one. Silvanshees have a constant Speak With Animals effect, letting them fill roughly the same role. Has your party accidentally wandered next to a bear den and you don't want to fight? Have the Silvanshee tell them that. “We'll leave some food for you if you let us go” can resolve the encounter far less dangerously (and with far less healing resources used) than beating up wildlife will.

There's another benefit for summoning-oriented characters; you can use the Silvanshee as an 'order relay' for summoned animals. Unlike D&D 3.5, Pathfinder summoned Celestial/Fiendish animals don't have Intelligence 3 and don't have a language. They're Intelligence 2, with their normal animal behavior modified by their Good (or Evil) alignment. Most GMs will thus forbid them from following complex plans. A Silvanshee Agathion lets you get around this, giving summoned animals specific instructions. The instructions will still be limited by their Intelligence score, but now you can do things like tell an Aurochs to “Bash that door open” or a Dire Bat to “Let him ride you, go wherever he points”, or even tell a Leopard to “Attack ONLY that foe, no matter what!” In other words, they let you make summoned animals do things said critter normally doesn't understand.

Universal Translator: Their Truespeech ability lets them understand nearly all languages, which has obvious uses. The only caveat is they don't understand certain unique languages, such as Master-Familiar (which differs for every master/familiar pair). On the other hand, if you're using one as a Familiar then you can have them use that language to report things they overhear from foes; the enemy won't know exactly what information was being passed on (though they might have a decent guess).

Emergency Medic: While they can only do a single 1d6 Lay on Hands per day, Silvanshee do have unlimited uses of Stabilize and fly very quickly. If a PC or NPC is Dying, the Silvanshee can spend its own actions stabilizing them until proper treatment can arrive. It's not a Touch spell, it has a Close range so it's even easier for them to do this. Heroic Strength can also bring their Strength score up to 11 for a short time, and while this next part will have Table Variance it's worth trying anyway: You could have the Silvanshee use said increased Strength to bite down on someone's shirt collar or belt or whatever, and slowly drag them away. This is especially plausible for most Wizards and Sorcerers who probably don't weigh as much as a fully-armored Fighter would. Remember, most creatures can drag or push way more than they can carry.

Sure, having your unconscious character dragged away from the fight by a cat will probably look weird. Nonetheless, having your magical kitty stabilize and drag someone out of a bad situation can allow the rest of the party to focus on other problems. This is particularly convenient when facing villains who love to confront heroes with the cruel “Chase me, or heal the bystanders I just hurt?” choice; let the Silvanshee take care of the latter.

Courier/Thief: A Silvanshee's light load is 5 pounds, and they're limited in what they can actually carry due to having a cat-like body. However, this is still useful because they can Dimension Door (once per day) with themselves and up to five pounds of objects. They can't bring any creatures with them, but any items within the weight limit that they're touching can be teleported in this way. Imagine an important book in a place that is simply too small for even a halfling or gnome to get to, but a cat could reach. The Silvanshee could fly over to it, touch the book, then Dimension Door over to your character at its earliest opportunity. From there it's easy to just pick it up off the ground.

Their Flight speed might also let them rapidly carry other small objects, provided the item can fit in their mouth, be secured to their back, or wrapped in their tail. For example, you might have it chomp down on a potion vial (they're smaller than most fantasy art suggests!) and fly that over to someone who needs it.

Deity Hotline: One Commune a week with no material requirements seems pretty nice. While you're likely to only get supporting information with this, it's still a fantastic option to have. You may have to provide the Silvanshee a list of questions in advance, or even a flowchart for what to ask next if the deity responds in certain ways, but this isn't a problem. Just remember that the cat asks the questions, as it's the caster.

Compass: Constant Know Direction means even a party with poor Survival checks will have a decent idea where they're going.

Dancing Lights and Prestidigitation: While your character probably already has Prestidigitation, having a cat with it is not a bad thing; their spells have no components and thus the Silvanshee can do all the hilarious things a normal creature can... while being far less obvious about what's causing these effects.

Dancing Lights is likewise a flexible spell. Aside from its normal uses (including trolling, since who the hell is going to think a nearby hidden cat is causing them to appear?), you can use it as an improvised Glitterdust. Odd as it seems, let's assume your party doesn't have Glitterdust. You can simulate it by granting See Invisibility to the Silvanshee, and then have it frame Dancing Lights around the creature you want located. “Why not just use See Invisibility on yourself?”, one might ask. Well, doing it this way instead has the Silvanshee can spend its actions pointing out what square the target is in... and this lets everyone in the party take a whack at it. True, Miss/Concealment chances will still apply. However, having 4 to 6 people swing away on the target even with 50% miss rates is probably better than 1 person doing so even with no concealment chance.

Skills: While not very good at actual cat activities, Silvanshee make up for it by having ranks in things like Knowledge Arcana and Knowledge Planes. Their modifiers are low, but they can still Aid Another on some skills. If used as a Familiar, they can even aid your character in other skills. Imagine a holy kitty backing them up in Diplomacy, for example. +6 Survival and +6 Sense Motive also have some value.

Scout: An exceptional Stealth modifier plus flight movement and a cat mist form make this an incredibly mobile, survivable scout. Note that they have only +10 on Perception however, and they do not have the Scent ability. Other defensive abilities may help them get back alive, but be sure not to send them somewhere too dangerous. If they're a Familiar, this can be a good way to get them killed and you don't want that. Be smart on where you send them!

Cat Appearance: While their behavior might not convincingly pass for a cat if a nature expert (such as a Druid or Ranger) is observing them, everyone else will usually be fooled. This is normally a good thing. Guards won't usually freak out at a 'cat' wandering by to check the place out unless strays have absolutely no business being there. Random citizens are more likely to react well to a kindly cat than they are a fire elemental. Of course, this has a downside as well... Evil creatures might go out of their way to hurt Silvanshee. Also note that their cat body can do pretty much anything you'd expect a cat can. For example, they could just hurl their 20 pound selves atop a switch to operate it, or shove something off a shelf by nudging it with their head, or so on.

Cat's Luck: Giving a nearby ally a +1 to all Saves isn't much on its own... but it's a Luck bonus, so is likely to stack with most other Save boosters they have. Not only that, but all it takes is one effect's Save DC to be met exactly by that +1 for you to see the value it can have. If someone is about to go somewhere dangerous, have the holy cat toss a +1 onto them. Note that ones granted by a summoned Silvanshee are likely to end as soon as the summon itself does, depending on how your GM interprets certain rules. Thus this use is usually better for Familiars.

Camp Watch: While their Perception of +10 is only decent, Silvanshee make great camp guards for one other reason... they don't need to sleep! They are true Outsiders, and thus don't need food, water, or sleep. A Familiar can set up in a hidden spot to watch over the party's rest and make a lot of noise if it sees trouble approaching. You might want a spare watchman anyway, but this still relieves some of the party's logistical needs. Especially since they have Low-Light Vision and Darkvision 60 Feet.

Good Alignment, Intelligent: Silvanshee can be counted on to do things in the summoner's/master's interest provided it fits their Alignment. If your character tells them to do something, they can understand most plans just fine (Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 13)... and are smart enough to adapt or even ditch the plan if complications come up. They might even bring plot hooks right to your character; “I found someone who needs help!” Besides, who do you want bringing problems to the party's attention... a heroic cat, or some smelly guy in shadowy robes at the tavern speaking those two famous words: “Ahh, adventurers!”? Exactly.

Rules Note

For those Summoning these creatures, please remember that Heroic Strength (the Silvanshee's ability) and Augment Summoning (the Feat) provide the same type of bonus to Strength... so they don't stack. Normal Silvanshees are Strength 3, Augmented are Strength 7, and 'Heroic mode' ones are Strength 11 (3 + 8) ignoring the +4 this Feat normally provides.

Conclusion

It's true that Silvanshee Agathions are terrible in combat, and most of their abilities can be duplicated by other means. However, they offer all these uses in one creature. Sorcerers in particular benefit from this, allowing them to summon a holy cat whenever one would be good to have around. They are also excellent Familiars both in regard to what kind of things they can do, and that they don't take the spotlight away from PCs. Nobody is going to mind if the kitty is on 'heal innocent bystanders' duty, watching camp at night, or serving as a translator; these are all uses that leave the PCs free to do the really heroic stuff.

That, and they're really cute. Who wouldn't want a spirit cat that embodies enlightened kindness?

Silver Crusade

I've recently had the chance to play Glass River Rescue and Wardstone Patrol. Overall, they are decent scenarios and I like the general storyline they're telling! The majority of their content is on the right track for making Season 5 a good one. However, I wished to provide some feedback on their sub-missions/faction missions... as I feel Wardstone Patrol handled this very poorly.

This will contain specific spoilers for both adventures.

My broad critique is that faction missions based on random chance aren't much fun. The impression I got based on Glass River Rescue is that PCs are to be rewarded for an attention to detail. Keeping an eye open for important things that their briefing didn't cover, reacting to events that falls within their faction's portfolio, and so on. I like that idea! Wardstone Patrol seemed to stray from this, however.

A quick comparison. First, Glass River Rescue missions that I'm aware of as a player (haven't GMed it).

Spoiler:
As I understand this one, PCs are expected to rescue the dwarven delegation, clean up evidence they were there in the first place (especially any evidence that could be used to scry on the dwarves?), ideally convince nearby non-combatants that something else entirely is going on, and prevent a certain Razmiran official from escaping to report on the party's actions.

Those are all fine. One is somewhat luck-based, but even if you fail it (and that's pretty easy to do, especially with lower-level parties)... the others just rely on the GM giving you good environmental descriptions and having a solid plan for dealing with the biggest threat near the end. Even if you lose init, so long as you have a sound plan there is a very good chance you can handle the last objective.

I really liked this! PCs who pay attention to the details will usually succeed and be rewarded.

Then I look at how Wardstone Patrol went and honestly feel cheated. It seemed to involve, based on the end of session overview the GM gave us...

Spoiler:
The main objective is as straightforward as it gets. Unless the PCs are being willfully contrary or outright lose, they'll get this every time. That's fine. It's the faction missions and sub-goals that left me going "Wait, what? That's luck-based almost the whole way through!"

Two of the goals involved saving allies or bystanders. Poor initiative rolls combined with Area of Effect attacks made this impossible in both cases. The citizens in the flooded ruins were cut down by multiple Mass Inflict Light Wounds before my character could do anything about the situation. Had they lived, I would have gladly 'wasted' combat rounds getting healing effects going on them... but there was simply no chance to do so. Back to back AOEs took care of that quite well.

Then it happened again in the final battle of this adventure. Rescue 5 of the crusaders? Nearly all were dead before the party even got meaningful turns! A pre-engagement AOE made sure of that. It's not like the PCs sat back and buffed while the demons cut people down... they moved in and were making a clear effort to take the fight to the demons in order to save lives. Getting even some of them, or even one of them, out in light of that seems like an impressive result on its own.

I don't remember what the Scarzni (sp?) sub-mission was, but I do recall the Cheliax one being something the players and their characters receive little to no hint about. I don't even play that faction and when I heard it I was left wondering "How is anyone supposed to complete that? The only NPCs a Cheliax character might plausibly pursue that goal with would have no reason whatsoever to share that info, and using magic to coax it out of them is liable to turn the PC into a pin-cushion for their archer forces." Or if that doesn't happen, I suspect there's a good chance Ilivan would, perhaps violently, take exception to the data-gathering?

Outside of the Chelish concern... overall, bad Initiative rolls plus terrain/distance considerations plus numerous area of effect attacks resulted in what amounted to automatic failures for most of the sub-missions. There wasn't even much of a chance to save them as they were struck down; the GM was clear on the victims being dead, not just dying, so various healing effects weren't going to matter.

That left me rather annoyed, and I hope that future missions won't use so many luck-based outcomes. It wasn't even the GM's fault; he did a great job with the story materials provided, and as far as I can tell he ran the encounters as-written. It's just that as-written, it's pretty likely you're going to fail a majority of the sub-missions without some lucky rolls. It's a pity, because I loved the overall story told in Wardstone Patrol and only felt cheated upon hearing how the secondary objectives went.

I much prefer 'pay attention to the finer details' goals like were used in Glass River Rescue, and hope this will become the norm. It's a great idea, and one I really liked seeing since it rewards things beyond just combat optimization and tearing every room apart looking for the specific item the faction leader asked for (which was very disruptive to the flow of play).

Silver Crusade

This question is PFS specific, as PFS generally runs on RAW and I'm unclear how to handle it in this case; I am currently working on building an Improved Familiar from the 7th level list (likely one of the mini-Dragons or Good Outsiders)

It has been mentioned that Familiars are not to be modified from the stats we see them with. For example, any familiars that 'cast as a' specific class nonetheless keep the spell list shown in their Bestiary entry, Feats generally stay the same unless you're doing the 1:1 'extra slots' swap mentioned in other threads, and so on. The only modifications you do are the ones laid out by Familiar rules. I understand most of this, but Skills confuse me.

My Question: How does an Improved Familiar of a non-Animal type interact with Skills in PFS? Do they keep the exact skill ranks (and class skills) shown in their Bestiary entry? Do you have to redo their skills since their Intelligence scores may be lower (or higher in some cases) than said entry? Bear in mind that Familiars and the original creature's Type (Outsider, Dragon, etc.) have contradictory class skills.

Basically, I want to be sure I generate a legal Skills list for said Improved Familiar.

Silver Crusade

I checked the FAQ ( http://paizo.com/paizo/faq/v5748nruor1g1 ) for Ultimate Combat, couldn't see any mention of it there, so I want to turn to the community to make sure I have this 100% right.

How do Style Feat pre-reqs interact with A> a Monk in general, and B> a Master of Many Styles archetype Monk?

An example, Crane Style's pre-req list is: Dodge, Improved Unarmed Strike, base attack bonus +2 or monk level 1st.

That's the exact text. Here's what I'm wondering...

Can a regular Monk select this Crane Style feat without taking Dodge beforehand? That is, does "or monk level 1st" override the entire rest of the prereqs? Or does the use of 'or' in this sentence only allow you to override the BAB +2 requirement, making the prereqs effectively "Dodge, Improved Unarmed Strike, Monk Level 1st" insofar as a starting Monk cares (and thus they would need to take Dodge beforehand)?

Moving on, would the same be true of Crane Wing? Prereqs are: Crane Style, Dodge, Improved Unarmed Strike, base attack bonus +5 or monk level 5th.

That is, could a Monk 5 acquire it by only being Monk 5 and having Crane Style (the Style Feats section makes this prereq very clear), or do they have to satisfy Dodge as well?

Finally, how does a Master of Many Styles interact with this? Am I right in believing only Bonus Feats provided to this archetype may ignore the Monk Level prerequisite (edit: and other non-Style Feat prereqs), provided they obey the style feat chain itself? That is, such a MoMs could use Bonus Feats to acquire Crane Style at level 1 without taking Dodge, then Crane Wing at level 2, and so on? Or does being a Master of Many Styles permit the MoMS to also use this style feat behavior when selecting their 'base feats' at levels 1, 3, 5, 7, etc. too? (I'm guessing not, but had to check since it's on-topic)

References to Game Material in Question:

Monk Class on D20PFSRD
Master of Many Styles (Monk Archetype) on D20PFSRD
Style Feats Overview on D20PFSRD
Crane Style Feat on D20PFSRD
Crane Wing Feat on D20PFSRD

Silver Crusade

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Foreword: This article assumes your character is a Wizard or Sorcerer willing to meet the pre-reqs below. I assume Summoners can do most of the same tricks and likely do them better, but I'm writing this from the perspective of the older classes instead. Other classes may benefit as well.

Pre-requisites: Summon Monster II spell, Summon Good Monster feat. Augment Summoning is strongly advised and I will assume your character has it when I use any specific numbers.

Pseudodragons are not a standard summoning option, and at first they don't seem like an effective one when compared to heavy-hitting peers such as the Small Earth Elemental or other fliers such as Small Air and Small Lightning Elemental. Yet a closer look reveals several advantages, ones that reward clever players. Most valuable around levels 3 to 6, it nonetheless maintains some uses up to a few levels beyond that. Its ability to Fly while delivering Sleep Poison is an impressive threat, one that most opponents will go out of their way to attack if they're aware of this factor. If they aren't, a single lucky sting could put them to Sleep. You'll learn about both its combat uses and more subtle benefits here.

Pseudodragon Stats on Paizo.com PRD

Where my numbers disagree with the PRD, Augment Summoning is usually why.

Combat

At a glance:
Tiny Dragon (tail has 1 square of Reach)
AC 16
HP 19
SR 12
Immune Paralysis, Sleep
Diehard Feat added via Summon Good Monster is backed by a Constitution score of 17.
Melee: Sting +6 (1d3+0 plus Sleep Poison, DC 16, 5 ft-Reach), Bite +6 (1d2+0, no Reach!)
Speed 15 ft. ground movement, 60 ft. flight (Good maneuverability, Fly skill is +15).
Low-Light Vision, Darkvision 60 ft., Blindsense 60 ft.
Languages are Draconic and Telepathy 60 Feet.
Str 11, Dex 15, Con 17, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 10
Align Neutral Good

So we have a fairly mobile flier that does very low damage per hit, but has impressive durability for a CR 1 creature. The Bite isn't much use due to its lack of reach, but the tail's Sting is excellent. 1D3 damage is negligible, but Sleep can shut down an opponent in one hit; this requires a little luck yet is plausible. So, what can he do for you? Broadly, four things.

Hunting arcanists and other low Fortitude targets: Most arcane classes have a low Fort save, and fixing it requires significant resources. This means if you've identified such an opponent, you can tell the Pseudodragon to specifically go after them. It's Int 10 and most readings of Telepathy allow it to overcome language barriers, so the Pseudodragon will understand what you want. It will fly over there, deliver a Sleep-poison Sting, and that will usually be the end of the matter. Even if the spellcaster does make their Fort save, the Pseudodragon will be sticking around for a few more rounds and will simply keep trying. In other words, the mage now has a huge problem right in their face and must do something about it. Regardless of whether the mage falls asleep, calls for help from the front lines to protect it, or fights the Pseudodragon itself, you have relieved a lot of pressure on the party!

Flanking: Since the tail threatens out to 5 feet, the Pseudodragon can fly behind enemies and provide flanking to one of your allies. If it puts higher-AC, higher-Fortitude front line enemies to sleep then that's a fantastic bonus that lets your front-line allies move on to the next target all that much sooner, but granting +2 to hit for an ally is nice on its own.

Tanking: I'm absolutely serious. Sleep Stings are a huge threat to enemies; if they're aware of the possibility then they will react to it. This means they'll try to hit the Pseudodragon. While AC 16 isn't exceptional, having 19 HP plus Diehard with Con 17 is. Some summoning characters can even add Damage Reduction to them, making this even more effective. Toss a Pseudodragon at something it has an even halfway realistic chance of hitting and causing to fail the DC 16 Fortitude save, and most foes will give it very focused attention.

Spotter: They have Blindsense out to 60 feet. This isn't as good as Blindsight, but it's still enough for them to know what square an invisible foe is in. The Pseudodragon can then either swoop in and try to hit them (though Concealment will still apply), or fly above the target. If your character tells it to point at the invisible enemy's location, the Pseudodragon could then just tip its tail in the right spot. This will let martial characters take a swing at the correct square (Concealment, again, will still be in effect) while spellcasters and those willing to use splash weapons can just rain artillery on the location; so long as the Pseudodragon is flying high enough it won't be affected by the barrage.

Caution on Sleep: Most GMs play this as Sleep, not Unconscious. This means they'll probably allow subsequent damage to wake the Sleeping target up or otherwise be roused. Allies should be advised of this, so they can either Coup de Grace said foes or otherwise secure them.

Unfortunately, as you get into higher level adventuring you will find the Pseudodragon struggles to keep up. After a while, +6 or +8 (when flanking) won't be enough to hit targets reliably and DC 16 Fortitude saves (or 14 without Augment Summoning) are easily met. It has been my experience that Pseudodragons fight very well at levels 3 to 4, decently at 5 to 6, and are best left only for very ideal targets at levels 7 to 8. Still, this gives you three to four levels of adventuring where they are very useful... and by the time they become obsolete, Summon Monster III or IV will be available to give you adequate replacements.

Weaknesses:

While impressive, Pseudodragons have some flaws. Among them...

Inclement Weather: If the weather is too harsh, these Tiny Dragons may not be able to fly around well. +15 Fly checks are great in most circumstances, but tossing them into tornados and hurricanes might not work out so well.

Sleep-immune foes: There's no point sending them after elves and other such creatures. Those foes ignore the Pseudodragon's only meaningful combat gimmick, and with that removed you're doing a mere 1d3 damage per hit; even summoned Eagles or a Magic Missile casting will outdo that, and using a Level 1 spell slot to boot.

High AC, high Fortitude: While +6 is reasonably accurate at lower levels, foes with excellent armor and/or Fort saves (usually if they have one, they have both) are far less concerned about a Sleep Poison Sting than 'squishies' are. Pick your fights carefully. That said, if there's even a small chance of them failing the Fort save then this can be worth trying if the Pseudodragon is already on the board and has nothing else worth doing; few enemies will risk even a 10 or 15% chance of being dropped in one hit and will either focus on the Pseudodragon or at least not hand it Attacks of Opportunity.

Out of Combat

Pseudodragons have several fun uses when not fighting... though you may be limited by how long the Summon spell lasts. Since they have Intelligence 10, Wisdom 12, and a language, they understand commands as well as most people do (or perhaps even slightly better than people). This also means they have enough mental presence to do other things unrequested if it's in line with the summoner's goals or the creature's Neutral Good alignment. Among the more useful or fun tricks are...

Scout: Flight plus a +19 Stealth (+23 in Forests) makes them fairly well suited to this. Tell them to fly ahead, quickly check out what can be seen, then come back and report before the Summon ends. Their Perception is only +6, but their various Senses can help a little with this.

Retrieving Small Objects: If Mage Hand just won't do, a Pseudodragon might suffice. They can carry about 19 pounds (Strength 11 means 38 pounds carrying capacity Light Load, halved for being Tiny equals 19) in flight, presuming their claws, teeth, and tail can wrap around it well enough to get a decent grip. While GMs may impose limits on this, in general it's possible for them to retrieve weapons, chairs, books, holy symbols, spell component pouches, and so on. Note they are not good at combat maneuvers, so this is best done for unattended or recently dropped objects.

Voices in Your Head: Either by using their excellent Stealth or someone providing a Vanish or Invisibility spell for them, Pseudodragons can get within 60 feet of a target, stay out of sight, and begin saying things right into their mind via Telepathy. It takes a generous GM for this to work, but you could do things like instruct the Pseudodragon to pretend it is actually a long-range magical message. A guard mentally hearing something like “This is an urgent message from the captain, urgent enough he had me use magic to contact you. Get back to headquarters right now,” or similar commands might be willing to abandon their post. So long as they can't see any obviously nearby creatures causing this, they'll probably be at a loss to explain how else they're hearing this voice in their mind.

...Or if you just want to be hilarious, have the Pseudodragon telepathically broadcast rambling nonsense and make the recipient think they're going crazy!

Activating small switches/etc.: While their body shape isn't ideal for this, it's plausible for a Pseudodragon to operate switches and similar devices. GMs may not allow some uses of this, but it's worth asking them if they think it's plausible before you bring this summon in.

Good Alignment, Intelligent: Pseudodragons have a conscience and will either act on their own or report back if they find something they think the PCs should care about. While an Elemental might simply carry out the plan given to it, their Intelligence 4 and Neutral alignment mean they're not likely to care about anything outside your exact orders. Intelligence 10 and a Good alignment means the Pseudodragon will probably come back and notify its summoner about the crying child in the next room (or even just ask the child to follow it back to the party, perhaps), or that the summoner's orders are risky (“If I steal the key from the next room, the dozen guards are going to notice and follow me right back to you; are you sure you want me to do that?”).

Thanks to Telepathy, if the summoner is relatively nearby then they can even give such updates silently (and thus not raise any alarms).

Skills: They only post a +5 on Diplomacy, but they can indeed try it. If nothing else, some GMs might let them Aid Another someone else on such checks. Sense Motive +6 and Survival +6 may also have occasional uses.

Appearance: Pseudodragons, in their official art, do not appear particularly threatening (some might even say they're “cute” or “adorable”). NPC reactions may vary, especially depending on your GM, but at the very least they're not as alarming as summoning living flame (Fire Elementals), various demons and devils, and so on. If a bystander spots a Pseudodragon and isn't able to conclusively identify what it is, there's still some chance they won't panic like they would upon meeting some of the other summoning options.

Conclusion

While they're never going to win the DPR Olympics (You're better off with a Small Earth Elemental if raw damage is what you need), Pseudodragons are an excellent choice for those willing to make the investment of a spell (Summon Monster II) plus one to two feats (Summon Good Monster and optionally Augment Summoning). They're useful combatants against softer foes for several levels, and may retain some value in certain non-combat situations even after you gain Summon Monster III or above.

Creative use of their high speed, poison sting, telepathy, human-like intellect, senses, and other advantages will pay off, and it is for these reasons that I feel the Pseudodragon is worth considering whenever your character uses Summon Monster II with the appropriate feat(s).

Silver Crusade

Hello,

I come to you for advice on an admittedly strange build that focuses on being a highly mobile, light armor, Reach/polearm combatant that dabbles in other things (a little healing, Int skills, etc.). I realize the build below cannot be 100% optimal for CMB/Tripping, but "close enough" will suffice. Could you please look over this and make suggestions? Advice should ideally be PFS legal. Character is currently level 2 (Lore Warden 1, Martial Artist 1) so those aspects cannot easily be changed.

Goal: Improve Tripping as a primary goal, improve Dirty Tricks as a secondary objective. I'm especially interested in Items that will help.

Human Lore Warden (Fighter) 9, Martial Artist (Monk) 2, Separatist Cleric of Milani 1, CG Align.

Str 17, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 10, Cha 10.
Attribute-ups will be +1 Wis at Level 4, +1 Str at 8, and +1 Str at 8.

Traits are Threatening Defender and Carefully Hidden.

Weapons: Horsechopper. Morningstar, Dagger, and (Martial Artist) Improved Unarmed Strike are backup. Armor is/will be a Chain Shirt, likely of some special material.

Current Feats: Fast Learner, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (Horsechopper), Combat Reflexes, and the usual Monk automatic feats.

Cleric Domains: Freedom, Travel (Travel gained via Separatist archetype).

Planned level progression:

3 - Lore Warden 2. Gain Combat Expertise, Improved Trip, Improved Dirty Trick.

4 - Separatist Cleric 1. Wis 11 means only 1 normal spell plus the Domain spell per day.

5 - Lore Warden 3. Gain Toughness feat and the class-granted CMB/CMD bonuses.

6 - Martial Artist 2. Gain Dodge (and Evasion).

7 - Lore Warden 4. Fury's Fall.

8 - Lore Warden 5. Greater Trip and Greater Dirty Trick.

9 - Lore Warden 6. Quick Dirty Trick.

10 - Lore Warden 7. CMB benefits improve to +4. Planning on Furious Focus feat but open to other ideas.

11 - Lore Warden 8. No special plans here.

12 - Lore Warden 9. Also no special plans here.

Given my bizarre build (I would like to keep the class progression as-is if possible), can you think of any Item purchases (or Feats, if need be) that would help get my CMB up for Trip and/or Dirty Trick? I am happy with every other aspect of the character, so just need a little nudge to get these to decent values.

Thanks for any thoughts you can offer!

Silver Crusade

Apologies if this topic has come up before; I couldn't find anything about it with a glance through the last several threads and this has been on my mind for a while.

Excepting the Andoran faction's special benefit (the 2 Prestige one, I believe), am I right in believing that if a character or party is completely defeated (there is no way, no how, they are winning the fight or escaping)... that they are better off killing themselves on the spot than accepting any calls to stand down? As I understand it, there are mechanics for retrieving their bodies (5 Prestige cost) and then raising them from the dead plus undoing the resulting negative levels, but apparently no way to come back from standing down in that fight.

Am I missing something? If not, is this intentional or something worth looking at? While nobody sets out to fail, this strikes me as odd; it appears appears that a PC is vastly better off just doing a Coup de Grace on themselves or otherwise making sure they die in the event of inevitable defeat. Perhaps picking up one of the Asian weapons with bonuses on this just to be sure the job is done right, if one wishes to go that far.

Edit: And yes, this actually has come up for at least one character of mine. While most enemies try to kill them outright, I've run into a few that wanted to bring them in alive and I thought to myself "Better not let that happen." Fortunately had just enough resources in each instance to eke out a win, but... it was food for thought.

Silver Crusade

Important: Silvanshee Agathions received errata on how their Lay on Hands behaves. Please review the revised text (linked below) before offering rules answers.

Overview: I wish to know how, if at all, Bracers of the Merciful Knight interact with Silvanshee Agathions and their Lay on Hands ability. Does this 15.6K magic item give them extra uses of Lay on Hands and improve how much it heals? Or is there a bit of rules-fu involved that makes this have no effect at all? Let us assume for this question the bracers are a pair specifically crafted to fit a Silvanshee.

Relevant game materials:

Silvanshee Agathion
Silvanshee Agathion on D20PFSRD
(Please make note of text reading "lay on hands (1d6, 1/day, always as a 2nd-level paladin)")
OR Paizo.com listing for Agathions

Bracers of the Merciful Knight
Bracers of the Merciful Knight entry on ArchivesOfNethys

Paladins, for full info on Lay on Hands
Paladin Class entry on Paizo

Simply put, is this a 15,600 GP way to get a Silvanshee Agathion up to being a decent healer again? Or would the item have no effect, still leaving at a maximum 1 per day, 1d6 Lay on Hands?

Silver Crusade

With Pathfinder Society Organized Play Season 5 rapidly approaching, its focus on the Worldwound means we'll probably be seeing a lot more of the various Fiends out there... Daemons, Demons, and Devils. I wanted to present my character as they currently are, plus my currently planned build for them, and ask a broad question: Can my character face these threats in a viable way that helps the party win? If not, what PFS legal materials (spells/feats/items/etc.) would I need to acquire to remedy that? Here's my build:

Human Sorcerer (Celestial) Level 6, Neutral Good Alignment, Deity is Sarenrae.

Stats are as you'd expect; low-20s Charisma at this time, 8s to 14s in everything else. AC/HP also average for a Sorc 6.

Inventory is currently mostly things like a Handy Haversack, Merciful (Lesser) Rod chosen for roleplaying purposes, and so on. While most of their budget is already spoken for on things like Cloak of Resistance, Charisma and Constitution boosters, etc. I am open to purchasing suggestions.

Traits: Force for Good, Illuminator. Additional Traits feat adds Irrepressible and Desperate Focus.

Current Feats: Eschew Materials, Spell Focus Conjuration, Augment Summoning, Summon Good Monster, Additional Traits.

Planned Additional Feats: Skill Focus Knowledge/Religion (Celestial 7 Bonus), Eldritch Heritage Arcane (Level 7 base feat), Improved Familiar (Level 9 base feat), and any one other at Level 11. The reason? I plan to acquire a Silvanshee Agathion as the Improved Familiar. Skill Focus is sub-par but needed for Eldritch Heritage.

Spells: Bloodline spells, APG Favored Class options and a Page of Spell Knowledge were used to acquire additional spells over the normal limit.

Sor 0: Acid Splash, Detect Magic, Ghost Sound, Light, Mage Hand, Mending, Prestidigitation, Read Magic.

Sor 1: Bless, Burning Hands, Enlarge Person*, Grease, Mage Armor, Magic Missile, Snowball, Vanish. 1/day Protection from Evil via Shining Wayfinder.

Gaining at least one more spell of this level, and it can be virtually anything.

*: Ear-Piercing Scream is planned at next level. Or since I have not finalized my level 6 options, I could swap Enlarge out for the Scream now and get Enlarge next level.

Sor 2: Burst of Radiance, Resist Energy, See Invisibility, Summon Monster II.

I plan to acquire Create Pit next level with an APG Class bonus, and have one other Sor 2 slot open at that time as well. Create Pit is not specifically useful against most Fiends, but I'm picking it up for use against other opponents.

Sor 3: Summon Monster III.

I will have an additional Sor 3 slot open next level, unsure what to use it on (Haste is likely, but Fly and a few others are strong competitors too).

That's most of the noteworthy stuff. My major concern is that either my spell list may not be suitable, or spending three feats getting a Silvanshee Agathion may gut things I might need (Spell Penetration? Toughness? Various Metamagic?). I'd really like to keep the Improved Familiar in my build since it's very flavorful (“Your character has been pleasing Sarenrae so much that a holy cat-spirit shows up to be their friend!”)... but if it's truly needed I can ditch this plan. However, I need to make that decision before my character hits level 7.

My major concerns are the abundance of Spell Resistance and Energy Resistance that Fiends tend to have, but if I've missed any other key points then please let me know. Currently my best answer to those two factors is “Lantern Archons, lol" but when you only get 4 or 5 for the entire adventure... clearly I need a backup plan.

Please feel free to offer all kinds of advice, suggestions, and critique; if it helps revise this Celestial Sorc into being able to hold their weight against Fiends them I'm all for it. Or if you legitimately think my character plan will work as-is against such foes, I'd welcome the good news; after all, this is a character that could be showing up at the same table as yours and I want to contribute my fair share.

One caveat: Even though PFS allows it, this character completely refuses to cast Evil-aligned spells. Cleverness and even some deception is okay, but anything that would unarguably cause Sarenrae to say "No! That particular method is never acceptable" is right out insofar as build improvement goes.

Thanks for any help you can provide!

Silver Crusade

Foreword: This is proposal 1. If it ends up needing adjustments, I'll have to make them in a separate post in this thread. Search for the words "Updated Poleaxe Stats" to see revisions (if any).

Source: MyArmoury.com's article on the Medieval Poleaxe.

See Also: This Image.

Poleaxe

Game Stats: (See Note 1)

Two-Handed Martial Weapon

Poleaxe // 18 GP // Damage (S) 1d8 // Damage (M) 1d10 // Critical 20/x2 // Weight 8 lbs (See Note 2) // Type B or P or S // Special: Reach and See Special Text

Flavor Text: Sometimes called the 'Knightly Poleaxe', 'Pollax', or 'Poleax', this weapon entry refers to the broad class of polearms featuring a spear tip, axe head, and hammer head all on one end of the weapon. Despite the 'knightly' term, this weapon is available to the general citizenry, including adventurers. It was popular amongst some duelists for its versatility and significant striking power, allowing them to choose the right response to each situation without having to change weapons.

It should not be confused with other polearms that happen to have an axe head, such as halberds, horsechoppers, and certain other weapons referred to as 'poleaxes' but feature different designs opposite the axe blade (such as a beak/hook).

Special Text:

You gain a +1 bonus to your CMB on all sunder combat maneuver attempts with a poleaxe. (See Note 3)

Designers Notes:

1: I've attempted to balance this weapon against the Horsechopper, Bec De Corbin, and Lucerne Hammer. The 20/x2 crit may seem underwhelming, but in light of its special benefit on Sunder checks I felt this might be a fair trade-off. Playing with the exact Damage and Critical values might be necessary, but this is in the general ballpark as the others.

2: This weight is roughly in line with real world poleaxes, but is not in line with other Pathfinder polearms. If this is a concern, you may instead have it weigh 12 or 13 pounds and this will make it consistent with core Pathfinder rules and APG weapon weights.

3: This is admittedly a minor variation on an existing mechanic, the lucerne hammer and bec de corbin give +2 against certain armor types. Given you have three different weapon heads (hammer, axe, spear tip), I felt a broad +1 bonus might better reflect how the user could pick the ideal head for what they're trying to destroy. This may be too powerful, however; it's roughly equal to half a Feat.

If it is too powerful, I propose replacing it with the flat +2 bonus the above weapons provide. However, if you do this you should give it a 20/x3 crit instead of its current 20/x2.

In Summary:

Compared to the bec de corbin, this poleaxe is equal in damage and Reach but inferior in critical. It has all three damage types (B, P, and S) but loses Brace. Its Sunder bonus applies to everything instead of just specific armor types, so in theory this should be a 'zero sum' weapon that is balanced againts its immediate peers.

The most obvious benefit comes from fighting multiple enemies with Bludgeoning, Piercing, or Slashing related Damage Resistance. This is roughly in line with the poleaxe's real world benefits, where each weapon head was ideal against different kinds of armor. For those actually versed in poleaxe fighting, I acknowledge these proposed stats gloss over a few interesting techniques you can do with them... however the same is true of most other polearms in Pathfinder and representing them here would make for a clearly overpowered weapon; I apologize.

I would love to hear input on whether you feel the benefits are reasonably balanced against the drawbacks, or whether I've gone too far in either direction. And if you wind up making it available in your home games, I'd like to hear that too!

Silver Crusade

This is several adventures off, so I have time to think on it, and I wanted to get input from a variety of players. Could you look at the following Sorc build, my basic plan (feel free to warn me off said plan, too), and offer some thoughts on a good PFS-legal Feat to pick at Level 5? Note that most of the build below cannot be changed, I've already played the character up to level 3 so major rebuilds are impossible.

In short summary: A Celestial Sorcerer built around Summoning, Blasting, Buffing, Terrain Control, and Defense. Also handles Face skills (Diplomacy/Bluff/Intimidate). The character openly revels in their bloodline and seeks out abilities that either directly improve their ability to wield 'holy arcane' magic, or keeps them safer; they're okay with indirect improvements toward their goals, thus. Feats outside this theme will gladly be considered, though!

Build Details:
Human Sorcerer (Celestial), NG Align, Deity is Sarenrae, Faction is Silver Crusade.
HP 18 currently (at level 3); if nothing changes they'll be approx. HP 30 at Level 5.
AC 12
Str 8, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 19 (will become Cha 20 at level 4).

Spells:
0 - Acid Splash, Detect Magic, Light, Mending, Prestidigitation, Read Magic. Level 4 adds UNSURE, Open to Player Advice from Sor/Wiz 0 spell list.

1 - Bless (Bloodline), Grease, Magic Missile, Summon Monster I. Shining Wayfinder grants Detect Evil, plus a 1/day Protection from Evil. Level 5 adds UNSURE, Open to Player Advice from Sor/Wiz 1 spell list but I have a few ideas already (perhaps Feather Fall).

2 - Level 4 adds Summon Monster II. Level 5 adds Burst of Radiance (Champions of Purity). I have ideas for additional spells already.

3 - Level 6 adds Summon Monster III. I have ideas for additional spells already.

Feats:
Human Bonus - Spell Focus (Conjuration)
Level 1 - Augment Summoning
Level 3 - Summon Good Monster (Champions of Purity)

Level 5 - ??? - Want advice! I've already considered Improved Summons but worry it might upset GMs with excessive table-time-taking, so seeking other ideas.

My basic plan from here is...
Level 7 - Skill Focus (any Knowledge) via Bloodline feat, and Eldritch Heritage (Arcane) via Level 7 granted feat.
Level 9 - Improved Familiar (acquiring a Silvanshee Agathion)

So I'm primarily looking for a Level 5 Feat (feel free to talk me out of my Familiar plan if you also have good Feat ideas at levels 7 and 9, too), secondary interest in Sor/Wiz 0 and Sor/Wiz 1 spell suggestions. Thanks for any ideas you can offer!

Silver Crusade

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In a game as detailed as Pathfinder, backed by the intricate fictional setting of Golarion, it can be helpful to have a 'quick reference' guide to a lot of important terms that keep coming up. ...This thread will not be that guide. Instead, it will be a humorous version of something like that! I'll get things started by offering silly, mocking, or sarcastic definitions of some terms. Before I do though, you are strongly encouraged to contribute your own definitions or request others provide some for certain words. Definitions should NOT be helpful or serious, but rather comical! Cynical humor counts so long as it's actually funny and unlikely to provoke fighting in the thread. (I would advise not defining Paladins, for example, for this reason)

Adventuring Party: A gathering of four or more individuals with notable skill at weapons, magic, trap-finding, and other talents who are invariably hampered by either extreme paranoia or complete recklessness. Paranoid parties will spend four hours stuck at the first door in an adventure written for level 1 characters, casting every possible Detect spell on it followed by Take 20 on every Knowledge, Perception, and Search roll they can think of. When this reveals no traps, they will proceed to take the door apart on a molecular level “just to be sure” and ask for additional Knowledge checks to verify the exact grainage of wood the door is made of. May eventually require Railroading to get the adventure moving again.

Reckless parties have all the strategical and tactical acumen of the Kool-Aid Man, plowing headlong into obstacles no matter how dangerous it may be. Players in such parties tend to have great need for additional Character Sheets and may be frequent customers of Herolab.

Alignment: A decades-running prank by Gary Gygax, whose effects have persisted long after his death. A system that uses a maximum of two words and/or letters (in abbreviated form) to briefly sum up what specific reasons, motivations, and/or justifications any given PC or NPC has for breaking down the door, killing everyone inside, and taking all their stuff. Alternatively used to start fights between players when they disagree on which of the aforementioned motivations are truly Lawful, Chaotic, and/or Neutral Good (or Evil).

Broken/Overpowered: Any weapon, spell, or equipment that does more than 1 damage. Alternatively any such game content that does more than slightly annoy monsters. Paizo Publishing primarily stays in business by selling books full of Broken/Overpowered content and Adventure Paths where you can use said content to completely crush an Encounter with zero effort.

Critical Fumble: An outdated method of resolving weapon attack rolls that hasn't been a core rule since at least D&D 3.5 and likely a little further back than that. The rule supposes that a Natural 1 on a weapon attack roll does not simply reflect an automatic miss, but that your character is so dangerously uncoordinated that roughly one out of every twenty attacks they make will cause the weapon to go flying out of their hand or their bow-string to snap or any of several other outcomes more fitting in slapstick comedy than heroic fantasy.

For comparison, a weapon droppage rate of 5% would probably be enough to earn a soldier the nickname 'Butterfingers' and/or an immediate discharge on the grounds of 'dangerous incompetence.'

Summoned Monster: A creature that has been plucked from one of several planar realms, at least partially embodying an ideal of that plane. Effectively the equivalent of 'clock scamming' that one finds in professional sports, the summoned monster's purpose is to slow down the game as the player has likely forgotten to apply relevant templates, feat-based stat adjustments, and so on prior to calling the creature onto the board.

Sufficiently devoted players may take great delight in flooding the table with hordes of the same creature type, leading to bizarre situations where a heroic fantasy adventure instead gets derailed into being a reenactment of Alfred Hitchcock's “The Birds.”

That's all I have for now. Feel free to take a shot at more terms!

Silver Crusade

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This is a set of reactions and questions prompted by the recent article on Milani in the AP book "Shackled Hut", with some reference material before we get started: Paizo Store Product Link for Shackled Hut

Also relevant, Milani on Pathfinder Wiki. This broadly establishes she is a CG-aligned Lesser Deity who favors revolutions that have the express intent of installing a better government for the citizenry, and works together well enough with LG deities such as Iomedae.

Between that overview and the article, it brings up questions that I find interesting so I'm going to quote some pieces of it in the hopes it prompts good discussion.

Is Milani a minarchist?: Milani is unusual amongst Chaotic Good in that she seems to tolerate some government. Clearly she isn't an anarchist in the classical sense (meaning "no strong central authorities in the society", not "burning kittens in the streets and robbing everyone you come across"), as she allows "(fair) taxes that contribute to the betterment of society..." So, is she a minarchist (that is, someone who wants the smallest government that can maintain authority on topics of broad social interest, but shows no control in small-scale/private matters)?

Combined with her willingness to cooperate with Iomedae (who is Lawful Good Classic), can we infer that Milani and her followers generally want a government structure where any given topic is handled at the smallest possible unit of organization? That is, they start at "can an individual handle this?", and work their way up (Family/Friends, City Government, Regional Government, National Government, Worldwide Organization) only if the immediately preceding unit in that chain cannot deal with the matter? For the purposes of this question, you can substitute 'Church' or 'Privately Owned Company/Business/Guild' for 'Government' if it makes more sense on any given problem.

Clearly Milani wants some kind of organization, just one that favors individual freedoms as its main priority while simultaneously encouraging these free citizens to be excellent to each other. Where does she draw the line, though? Her CG alignment suggests there is one, else we're left to wonder why she's not NG or LG instead.

On Elves in Milani's faith: Clearly Milani avoids elven deities wherever possible, the AP68 article makes that clear. What about mortal elven followers, though? Does she try to discourage them (or possibly even forbid them?) from joining, or are actual elves quite welcome?

Expanded Summons: This brings up some fun questions, some of which are game mechanical in nature.

Defining 'Priest' - Is a 'priest' someone who casts any kind of spells and follows Milani? For example, can a Wizard with Milani as their deity cast Summon Monster I and bring in the Great Horned Owl? Edit: Or would this be strictly defined as Divine casters of this deity? Regardless of the answer, can it also be applied to other deity-expanded-summon lists in AP articles?

Great Horned Owl in general - What is its value as a summon? It appears to be slightly inferior to the Eagle overall (albeit cool looking). Can one apply the Celestial template to it when summoned through Milani's expanded summoning rules in this article?

CG Hound Archons - Now here's the real surprise; Milani counts among her celestial army... a breed of creatures that are supposed to be embodiments of Lawful Good. Here we have a CG deity with CG Archons. The flavor link I infer from this is it's meant to further illustrate her cooperation with LG forces ("Let's work together to beat up Evil, then we'll sit down and have a non-violent talk about what kind of 'Archy/Cracy/etc.' we're going to replace the deposed regime with.")

How common are they, though? Does this have any implications on similar creatures existing in other deities' realms? For example, LG Azatas, NG Archons/Azatas, etc.?

Hopefully these topics bring up some good things to discuss; AP68's article on Milani added some much needed details on an obscure but interesting deity!

Silver Crusade

Resources for this Discussion:

Summon Monster IV Core List

Foo Lion Stats

Champions of Purity: The Summon Good Monster Feat, found on the inside back cover. In short summary, it allows you to summon Foo Lions via Summon Monster IV and grants Diehard to the following monsters on the newly expanded list: Celestial Dire Wolf, Celestial Giant Eagle, Celestial Pegasus, Faerie Dragon, Foo Lion, Hound Archon, Pixie.

With all this laid out, I wanted to put a question to the community: Is the Foo Lion too strong a summon for its level? Does it obsolete the other melee-oriented summons available to Summon Monster IV? I'm worried that this might be the case. If it is so, is this a problem?

Compare it to the regular Lion. The Foo's defenses are flat-out equal or better in every way. They're of equal Speed, equal Size, and AC. Yet the Foo version has notably more HP (plus Diehard, which may or may not matter depending on how your GM interprets RAW), better saves, and several immunities the Lion won't get. Adding the Celestial template to the regular Lion helps a little on the defensive end, admittedly. However, the Foo Lion is definitely the better fighter; it posts higher attack bonuses and does more damage, unless Smite Evil is relevant (and while it often will be, it won't always be so). Add in an impressive Reach on the Foo version, and it seems that this is the superior summon in most cases. The regular/Celestial Lion is slightly better in regard to Combat Maneuvers, but I'm not sure this overrides the extra HP, attack bonuses, and Reach. Excepting corner cases, Foo Lion appears to obsolete Lion in this list.

I find similar results looking at the Foo Lion when comparing it to the Bison (admittedly they serve somewhat different combat roles), Dire Ape, Dire Boar, Medium Earth Elemental, Brown Bear, and arguably the Hound Archon (though the Hound has other benefits that keep it relevant).

Are we looking at a single summon that obsoletes several others on the core Summon Monster IV list? This is something I'd definitely like a lot of input on, as I'm concerned that using it on my PCs may be unfair to other players and inconsiderate to the GM; I don't want to bring in something obviously overpowered.

Silver Crusade

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With the sheer number of threads asking for input on whether a specific Paladin should 'fall' or not, I thought it might help to offer some context to Players and GMs about what a Paladin is and define their position in the forces of Good. The odd truth one has to face is that a Paladin is an elevated mortal... but still mortal, and thus imperfect. Even the gods of the Golarion setting are imperfect. This means one must judge a Paladin based on their station compared to peers 'below', equal to, and 'above' them. I think it's helpful to consider this a 'Hierarchy of Good.'

What is this Hierarchy? It doesn't strictly exist in game mechanics or Golarion lore, but we can infer its existence through things like Aura of Good, aligned outsiders, and so on. Simply put, it is a theory that creatures can share an alignment yet be of different 'degrees of authority or elevation' within it. The most obvious example is comparing a Level 1 Lawful Good Human Commoner to a Level 1 Lawful Good Human Paladin, though you could do an extreme comparison of either of them compared to their Deity.

If you use Detect Good on them, the Commoner will not 'appear' on the detection even though his soul is acknowledged by divine nature to be kind, trustworthy, and overall a wonderful person whose eternal reward will be in either a LG-aligned plane or his deity's plane. The Paladin however will trigger, because his Good nature is more pronounced; he has a spark of divinity within him that makes him 'higher ranked' than the Commoner. Obviously, you know this part... but the problem lies in not taking it to the next level. There are creatures above the Paladin in the hierarchy, and none of them are Perfect Good either! Consider various celestial creatures, and realize most of them 'outrank' the Paladin yet might do un-Paladinlike things too.

Thus I think it's a good idea to start asking how a Paladin's deity would judge those equal, above, and below them for the same action. Would their deity cast out the Commoner for that action? If so, then obviously the Paladin should get in trouble too. Would their deity punish a Hound Archon (a creature who literally embodies the concepts of benevolence through order, represented by the Lawful Good alignment, yet still isn't Perfect) for it? If yes, then the Paladin is likewise in trouble. Would the Archon be let off with a warning because it couldn't have possibly foreseen the consequences, or because its nature or pressing circumstances gave it a decent justification for the action? Then the Paladin should probably be given the benefit of the doubt too. Even Good deities sometimes do questionable things, due to their not being all-knowing or all-powerful. You can even compare the Paladin to peers such as matching Clerics to see if a 'Fall' makes sense.

Obviously this does not mean that you excuse gross negligence or willful cruelty. A Paladin is someone who has agreed to be a shining symbol of virtue, as best as a mortal can manage; they need to be Very Good! This means special powers and a 'mark of divine approval' in return for elevating their actions to a higher standard, but their superiors are also imperfect... so it's not fair to expect perfection of an 'elevated mortal' either.

I would like to propose that the above standard be one of the first things GMs and Players apply to evaluating a Paladin's situation... and only if their peers within a few steps of them in the 'Hierarchy of Good' would similarly be harshly punished should “Does this Paladin fall?” be asked. If nothing else, it would certainly cut down on a lot of repeat threads and might save some headaches for everyone.

Silver Crusade

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Foreword: Please DON'T quote this entire post if you have something to respond to. It's just not a good idea with an opening post this size.

Champions of Purity introduced the Summon Good Monster feat, which expands the Summon Monster list to have a variety of new holy-themed creatures and grants Diehard to many (not all, but many) of them as well as some already available summons. This post is meant to promote analysis and discussion of the new options. It is not comprehensive, as I do not feel I have enough experience in high level play to gauge the summons from those lists and this will be long enough as it is. Each section will be divided into three sections. 'Negative RAW' will discuss how the list is affected if one uses the 'negative' interpretation of summons disappearing at 0 HP and thus making Diehard not work at all. 'RAI' assumes Diehard works for them, and points out how certain existing monsters particularly benefit from it. 'General' discusses each new creature in detail, then a short conclusion leads us to the next summon list/section.

I want this to be a good discussion, and I'm probably not an all-knowing authority on our PCs' new allies. So feel free to chime in with different interpretations, corrections, and general opinions! With that said, let's begin with how I feel about Summon Monster I through IV under this feat.

Summon Monster I

Important: Despite how it looks, you're not getting Diehard for the entire existing SM1 list. Only six of the eight do, as Dire Rat and Poisonous Frog are left off the list. This is not a huge loss as you were unlikely to use either of them outside very unusual corner cases anyway.

Negative RAW: The feat actually does nothing for Summon Monster I at all in this case, because it only grants Diehard to an otherwise unexpanded list.

RAI: Summon Monster I normally suffers from being hard to use; it's basically useless at caster level 1 unless you find a way to get +1 to caster level, so the summon won't even stick around long enough to do much. Not all casters can conveniently pick it up at caster/class level 2. It starts to be obsolete by level 3, and is almost completely outclassed by level 4. How do you fix that?

Adding Diehard to most of them helps significantly. Your main fighters are Dogs, Eagles, and Dolphins (water only); they can now hang on a little longer and remain relevant against foes that would otherwise be killing them in one shot by level 3-ish. The Pony becomes a decent tank at this point as well, provided enemies are willing to spend time fighting it (they're not a huge threat, admittedly). Everything else gains no serious benefit from the extra durability and were niche-case summons anyway; that doesn't change.

It's a little sad you're not getting any new creatures here, but that's not too bad. If you play by RAI, the existing choices gain enough durability to remain meaningful (not great, but not terrible either) until you can pick up the next spell in the series.

General: Nothing of note; this list's benefits entirely rely on whether you're going by 'negative RAW' interpretations, or RAI.

Summon Monster II

Negative RAW: Under this interpretation, you only gain three new summons of note but they're actually good ones. A little fragile, and none of them are good brawlers, but they all offer something useful.

RAI: Going this route has some interesting balance implications in that two of your existing summons get some nice upgrades. They are...

Octopus: The extra durability gives this creature options as a watery tank, in contrast to the more aggressive Squid. It was already a decent choice, but now it's a genuinely strong contender in water combat for its level.

Wolf: Is rescued from obsolescence. Normally inferior to the Hyena in almost every way, you now have your choice of a little more offense (Hyena) or notably more staying power (Wolf with Diehard). This has the odd side effect of making the Horse less valuable in the tanking role, but the Horse retaining its Large size means they now serve different functions.

General: We get three new options that are not good direct fighters, but offer special abilities well worth considering.

Faun: A well-rounded choice, the Faun fills multiple roles capably but not superbly. It's an okay melee fighter, and at the lower end of acceptability for an archer. Ghost Sound is a useful spell when employed creatively, and Hideous Laughter can shut an opponent's offense down for a few rounds. The Panpipes will bring their DCs up to acceptable totals, too. Sleep is sadly starting to become obsolete by the time you get access to Fauns, but considering its other spell-like abilities are fine this isn't a problem.

It speaks Common and Sylvan, and combined with its nature as a bipedal creature with functional hands you can have it do various things (“go open that door for us”, for a basic example). This is true of some Elementals too, but the Faun's higher Intelligence means it can understand a wider range of ideas and exercise some personal judgement on your orders if need be.

This leaves you with a summon that is rarely the best choice for a situation, but is also rarely the wrong choice; it's a safe pick if you're expecting a variety of problems within the next few rounds.

Grig: The loss of its Fiddle ability seems like it would seriously hurt this summon, but it's still a very good choice for clever players. It's tiny and can fly, plus it has a ranged attack (which does 1d4-1 with Augment benefits). This alone would make the Grig worth playing, as you could have it to fly into unusual locations and 'plink' at enemies. 1d4-1 is not exactly high damage, but most enemies will move to another area if they can't fire back on the Grig. They might even pursue it back to your party, allowing you to fight at a place of your choosing. This is something melee oriented summons can't do because entrenched foes will just pound on it and remain in place. The Faun is also capable of this 'plink lure' tactic, but its larger size and lack of flight makes it less suited to the task.

But wait, there's more! The Grig also has Disguise Self and Invisibility, which lend it to some use as a very short-duration scout or a mobile improvised version of a 'ghost sound' (granted, it's limited to noises a Grig could naturally make while speaking). The DCs on its Entangle and Pyrotechnics are slightly low and require situational terrain to make full use of, but they're still strong options to have.

On top of this, the Grig speaks Common and Sylvan. In conjunction with its decent Intelligence and nature, a Grig can be counted on to show some initiative if its summoner doesn't give specific orders. Their tiny size and low strength means they can't do all that much to influence the physical world around them, but that's a role covered better by other summons anyway.

These factors make the Grig a surprisingly good choice. It doesn't do much damage, but it can disrupt the enemy's plans in ways few other summons of its level can.

Pseudodragon: A special-purpose summon, the Pseudodragon's benefits lie in its flight and its 5 foot reach tail that has Sleep poison. Enemies that know about the poison will 'respect' it and tread carefully (which is fine for your purposes), while those who don't may just blunder into it and find themselves unconscious (which really suits your purposes!). The reach means it also serves as a decent flanking partner since it now has a threat range, and the Diehard feat means it can easily take a hit. They're very Stealthy (+19 in most terrain, +23 in forests!) as well, though the Grig may be better at scouting due to having Invisibility.

It's fairly mobile in the air, so one fun thing to do would be to send it up after flying enemies and Sleep poison them. If they fail the save... well, what happens to something that falls unconscious in mid-air? That's right: Gravity. Ker-splat!

Pseudodragons primarily communicate via telepathy. Expect some table variation on how this behaves, but favorable interpretations of the wording allow it to overcome the language barrier (it otherwise only knows Draconic) and communicate with its summoner just fine.

Overall: Summon Monster II was worth casting as-is. The upgrades it provides to the Octopus and Wolf expand your options, and all three new creatures offer something worthwhile. The Faun and Grig are generally better than the Pseudodragon, but the latter's value in flanking and 'anti-air' roles are worth keeping in mind.

Summon Monster III

Negative RAW: Doesn't hurt this list nearly as much as you might think. Most of its inclusions are special-purpose to begin with, and remain worthwhile in their niches even if they don't get Diehard.

RAI: Two existing summon options are modified by giving them Diehard, and covered below.

Lantern Archon: An effective summon already, letting them stick around after falling to 0 HP just makes them even more annoying to enemies. Much like the Grig, the Lantern Archon's flight lets it go into places and pester opponents which may force them to move if they're not fond of continuing to eat 1d6-damage light beams. This upgrade was hardly even necessary, but is certainly welcome.

Shark: Previously an aquatic summon whose only virtues were an above-average Swim speed and Large size, adding Diehard also makes them a passable tank. This makes them the better choice if your goal is merely to buy time and consume battlefield space, though the other aquatics in this level (and there are several) are better at dealing damage.

General: Four new choices are available, most of which fill special 'tool' purposes or are sidegrades to existing options.

Blink Dog: Unintentionally underwhelming, because of one major caveat to Summon spells... summoned creatures cannot use Teleport effects, and Dimension Door falls into this category! Without that, you are left with a creature whose only options are an underwhelming melee attack and a constant Blink spell on themselves... which most enemies will not care about because wasting time fighting a weak Blink Dog. Only in the somewhat uncommon situation where an enemy will fight anything put before it is this worthwhile, as the Blink effect can make them incredibly frustrating to take down before their summon duration expires.

They speak Sylvan (and despite being 'dogs', they do indeed speak) only. This might have some unusual uses, but nothing obviously and immediately comes to mind.

Overall, the Blink Dog seems like a near-pointless addition to the list. It would have been an unusual choice for Summon II, and in Summon III it appears to be outclassed by nearly everything. Am I missing something here?

Foo Dog: Some GMs might bar them due to their Asian themes (on the same grounds they might ban Samurai, Ninja, etc.) but I'm going to presume this isn't a problem in your game.

Notably slower than the name 'Dog' might suggest, they move at Speed 30 yet are otherwise a modest upgrade from the previous level's Hyena. Their bite attack only does so-so damage, but has a Trip effect attached to it and the CMB is slightly better than the Hyena's. Their ability to look like a statue could have some useful ambush prospects, though their Stealth check is fairly low.

Foo Dogs have a variety of nice defensive options, including Stony Defense (gaining Hardness 8 for a turn) and a Protection from Evil amongst themselves if paired up with another Foo creature, which combined with their decent HP can make them passable tanks (and one enemies will take seriously, due to their potential to Trip).

However, it must be noted that the Foo Dog's damage output pales compared to most of its peers. Its single attack is nowhere near as strong as an Auroch's, and the full attacks on the Cheetah and Leopard quickly eclipse it as well. Worse, the Constrictor Snake and Crocodile are more likely to succeed on their special control options. The only real advantage is the Foo Dog speaks Celestial and Common with Intelligence 6, so you can give it specific orders (“Trip the elf!”, etc.) with ease compared to the aforementioned Animals since unlike D&D 3.5 they remain Intelligence 2 in Pathfinder and do not have a language.

Lyrakien Azata: While considered an excellent choice for Improved Familiar, these fairy-like creatures are still decent Summons if you communicate with them. No one option they offer is particularly good, but they have so many choices open that you're sure to find something useful for them to do. Ventriloquism and Silent Image can be used to mess up how enemies perceive the situation, and Cure Light Wounds may not be an efficient use of a third level summon but it's there if you absolutely need it. Commune is not an option for most casters, as it takes ten minutes to prepare and the Lyrakien will likely be gone by then. Traveler's Friend might work if done by higher level casters, but the one minute performance time is otherwise too short.

Their Starlight Blast is a low damage burst, but might help a little bit against swarms. Then again, by the time you can cast Summon Monster III you likely have better anti-swarm options available. This in conjunction with Detect Evil can make them decent alignment checkers, which is good since they're certainly not much in a fight.

Other benefits include a variety of languages (including Truespeech abilities), decent Social skills such as Diplomacy, and a +8 on 'any one' Knowledge skill (which one that might be is best discussed with your GM ahead of time).

Overall, the Lyrakien is a grab-bag of random tricks. It has a weak AOE, one Cure Light Wounds, some decent Skills, and is very mobile. Its illusions are also nice. Getting full use out of a Lyrakien requires very unusual situations and creativity in what orders you give to them, but they have their place... it's simply not 'in the thick of fighting.'

Silvanshee Agathion: Another collection of random abilities, this holy cat can help out in several subtle ways. While its Dimension Door doesn't work (see Blink Dog above), it could act as a flying emergency medic due to its unlimited uses of Stabilize plus a single 1d6 use of Lay on Hands. Silvanshees can also offer a +1 luck bonus on saves to one other creature that will last for ten minutes, which isn't huge but if you have nothing else for them to do then you might as well. They have decent Perception modifiers and +5 on some Knowledge checks... not great, but it is one more ability they have among many others.

Spectral Mist is a particularly good version of Gaseous Form, and combined with their +19 on Stealth they make fine scouts. Please note that Augment Summoning and Heroic Strength both grant Enhancement bonuses to Strength, so they don't stack. This leaves the Silvanshee as a pretty underwhelming brawler, so don't use it as one unless the situation is desperate.

Silvanshees speak Celestial, Draconic, Infernal and have Truespeech, but they have one other very interesting benefit; a constant Speak with Animals effect. This means you could summon several animals and a Silvanshee, and have the latter relay your orders to the former. Said orders will have to be fairly simple given the animals remain Intelligence 2, but this is one way to command them to do specific tasks.

Emergency medics, scouts, and animal translators... Silvanshee are ultimately not much of a combat summon, but they have their uses.

Overall: Summon Monster III is already considered a great Summon spell and this just makes it better. Upgrading the shark and Lantern Archon is a fine benefit, and clever summoners will find good uses for the other creatures. Most of them are not efficient fighters, but they have so many special abilities that you're sure to come up with something worthwhile for them to do!

Summon Monster IV

An already large summoning list with few meaningful gaps gains several flying creatures, some of which are spellcasters. The ones that can't cast spells are instead Large creatures with decent melee attacks, making them incredible flankers and space-takers. A few of your existing summons get an upgrade as well.

Negative RAW: The only serious downside here is that your brawlers won't be as durable. This is unfortunate, but most of the existing ones were playable as-is so it is hardly a deal-breaker.

RAI: Offers upgrades to two existing choices...

Dire Wolf: Essentially the next step in the line of Trip attackers, adding Diehard makes it acceptable as a tank. However, it must compete with the Foo Lion, regular Lion, and other options as an overall combatant... most of which are better than it at this job and several of them offer similar 'control' options as well. The Dire Wolf is thus only useful within a specific niche, but this is better than being generally bland and nearly pointless as it was before.

Hound Archon: I'm not really sure why it got this upgrade, as a Diehard-less Hound Archon is still a very good melee fighter and offers some nice spells such as a constant Magic Circle Against Evil. Adding that feat just makes it even better.

General: Your new options are a lot of fun! You get some effective melee fighters, including a few that are high-speed Large fliers; this is particularly nice since they can set up flanking for two of your allies with ease. The ones who don't fit into either of these categories can still do some very interesting tricks.

Celestial Giant Eagle: An excellent flying attacker, it is less durable than the pterosaur but much faster and has three attacks instead of one (though admittedly the pterosaur has 10 ft. Reach on its attack, which is somewhat useful). The giant eagle even has Evasion, and understands (cannot speak) Auran at Intelligence 10 so you can give it detailed orders. Do note the 4 hit die mean this eagle does not gain some of the Celestial benefits its 5 HD peers get, but this is not too big a problem.

As a pure fighter, the giant eagle is also superior to the Giant Wasp though the latter does offer a decent Poison effect. The Medium Lightning Elemental and Medium Air Elemental have useful abilities that can make them better against specific types of foe, but the giant eagle is better in most fights overall.

If summoned in sufficient quantities, giant eagles allow you to make Gandalf jokes! This is always a good thing.

Celestial Pegasus: The good news is this summon option does not cause me to appear at your gaming table! The even better news is it instead brings in an incredibly fast aerial melee creature. Where the giant eagle flies at 80 feet (average), the Pegasus has a flight speed of 120 (average). This means that they can effectively pursue and overtake a lot of things, and they're durable enough to put up a decent fight once they do. Since they understand (but cannot speak) Common at Intelligence 10, you can give them complicated instructions and put them to use pursuing specific targets. Their higher speed also makes it even easier for them to help your allies flank someone.

While a little weak in melee, they're still decent enough that they must be taken seriously by whoever they're attacking and Smite Evil can help even the odds (though Giant Eagles can do this trick too). Beyond that, the only obvious thing Pegasi contribute is a constant Detect Evil and Detect Good.

Faerie Dragon: Seemingly purpose-built to annoy the hell out of its enemies, the Faerie Dragon is a poor fighter but hard to retaliate against due to its self-only Greater Invisibility. Toss in relatively low DC abilities like an euphoria breath weapon and Grease and while it's unlikely to succeed at any given use... it has enough shots that eventually something will get through. Not only that, but Grease has some use even if the opponents make their saves. In addition, Silent Image and Ghost Sound remain useful if you find clever ways to use them.

Do note that while they “cast as a Sorcerer”, you don't get to rebuild their spell list in most cases. This means what you see on their default sheet is usually what you get; this is particularly important to remember in PFS play. Other interesting tricks include having both Fly and Swim speeds, speaking four languages (Common, Draconic, Elven, and Sylvan) plus telepathy.

On its own, the Faerie Dragon is unlikely to win fights or even directly set up circumstances that will allow you to win. However, they have enough spells and breath weapon usages to be consistently extremely frustrating to deal with. If you want a prankster that can distract enemies or just blanket huge chunks of the battlefield in Grease, this is your choice.

Foo Lion: A significant improvement over the niche-use Foo Dog, this summon might actually be better than conventional lions. The Foo version has more HP and is about as good at hitting and dealing damage, while offering most of the same special attack options a regular lion does. Toss in the same defensive options that a Foo Dog has, and Reach 10 ft... and suddenly the only obvious way for a Celestial (regular) Lion to keep up would be to use Smite Evil.

Like the Foo Dog, this creature understands Celestial and Common plus has a passable Intelligence score of 6. Very complex plans may elude it, but anything you'd expect a Good-aligned human child to understand is probably within the Foo Lion's capacity as well. This means you can tell it where to go and which targets to focus on, which is a fine advantage over Celestial Animals.

The Foo Lion is a very efficient melee fighter and unless you have balance concerns about using them (are they too powerful for Summon Monster IV? I worry that they might be) or your GM has problems with Asian content then they are probably one of the best things this feat grants.

Pixie: Another 'flying fairy' choice, though this one offers some interesting benefits. First, it is Small and thus can provide flanking in some cases. That might not be the best idea given its underwhelming melee, but this is an option.

What's probably a better choice is to make use of its constant invisibility to let it pester enemies with arrows and foil an ambush in this way. Of course, by this level they might have means of firing back on it. If archery is impractical then you can still make use of its Use Magic Device skill (just remember to have it return items to you before its summoning duration ends, or the items will likely fall to the ground where the pixie disappeared at) or Knowledge Nature checks.

It also has a surprisingly good spell list, ranging from a full suite of alignment detections (constant) to Entangle, Dispel Magic, and even Permanent Image (though it might not be so Permanent once they leave!). They speak Common and Sylvan, so it's easy to give them orders... and Intelligence 16 means they're probably clever enough to come up with some nice plans on their own if you don't tell them what to do.

The DCs on its special arrows are fairly low, but when there's no real risk to using them you may as well. Effects include equivalents to Charm Monster, Modify Memory/Memory Loss, and Sleep. Most of these can rapidly turn a situation around, so even a low chance of success is worth a try.

Overall: Easily the most improved set of the first four Summon Monster lists, this spell's expanded options allow you to pick the exact right melee creature (in your choice of Medium, Large, Flying, or non-flying varities!) and several decent spellcasters. You even pick up a few ranged attackers, so there is a summon for nearly every situation here.

In Conclusion

Summon Good Monster is a very strong feat with a lot of flavor to it. It remains a great feat even under strict-negative interpretations of RAW that make Diehard non-functional, and adding it just makes several nice summons more durable. I think it's worth trying to fit into summoning-centric builds around character levels 3, 5, or even 7 at the latest. Almost every list becomes significantly better with this feat, so it's worth getting as soon as possible (though it shouldn't be your Level 1 feat, since Augment Summoning is better overall).

I'm not comfortable discussing things in Summon Monster V and above due to my lack of experience in high level play, but you're welcome to do so! Ideally, this thread can serve as a discussion for several good ideas on the new summon options rather than just being a static 'guide.'

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

This is something that has come up several times before, and in my research I came across threads including This discussion on Ferocious Summons along with another Ferocious Summons question. The Diehard aspect of Summon Good Monster has also been brought up here.

By RAI I can infer they mean for Ferocity and Diehard to work on summoned creatures, regardless of whether it's on their stat block already or granted by some other means. That's intuitive to me and games generally ought to be intuitive. However, some of the discussions linked above tap into my concern: By RAW there is room to disagree, and I have actually seen GMs do so... which means this could come up in PFS play.

So here's my question: Do Ferocity and/or Diehard (regardless of whether the creature already has it or got it from their summoner in some way) override the "Summons disappear at 0 HP" rule? If yes, can I get an official citation for this (even something like a forum post by a developer would suffice) since it will matter in PFS? It seems like this has come up many times if the above threads are any indication, yet I cannot find any specific answer to it.

Silver Crusade

Here's a weird one. Let me get you the relevant text real quick, then my question:

Pseudodragon monster entry: Pseudodragon or the relevant section: Languages Draconic; telepathy (60 ft.)

Telepathy info: Telepathy or quotation: "Telepathy (Su) The creature can mentally communicate with any other creature within a certain range (specified in the creature's entry, usually 100 feet) that has a language. It is possible to address multiple creatures at once telepathically, although maintaining a telepathic conversation with more than one creature at a time is just as difficult as simultaneously speaking and listening to multiple people at the same time."

So, here's what I'm wondering: Let's say a spellcaster uses the newly expanded (in Champions of Purity) summoning list to bring in a Pseudodragon. This mage has Common, but not Draconic, for languages.

To what extent can this summoner give orders to the Pseudodragon? Does Telepathy allow the Pseudodragon to start a 'mental conversation' with the summoner and their replies in "Thinking in Common" are both received and 'translated'/understood by the Pseudodragon? Must the summoner think in Draconic instead?

Or is the telepathy one-way and the summoner couldn't "reply by thought" in this case? If so, would they need to talk in Draconic to give it orders?

The way Telepathy is written, I assume mental communication sent by the Pseudodragon is indeed 'automatically translated' by the recipient so long as they have any one language and it doesn't matter which one it is. Am I right in believing that? Or does it 'think in Draconic' and your character must likewise be able to think in that language in order to understand the dragon? (If that's the case, one presumes it was intended to prevent the Pseudodragon from telepathy-linking to animals and such).

Or to put it as plainly as possible: "How much communication, and by what means, can a Pseudodragon with its default languages and a summoning spellcaster that lacks Draconic do?"

Silver Crusade

I know, "Rule X in PFS" threads are something of a hotly debated topic at the moment... but I have tried to research this in the Rules Questions sub-forum and found only a lot of debate both there and when I ask people about this off the forums. The sheer variance in answers I got made it clear; I should ask before spending a Feat this way in PFS play.

With that said, here is my inquiry:

Can you use the Catch Off-Guard feat to 'staff fight' with the shaft section of a polearm (broadly, a Reach weapon of a generally spear-like design featuring a metal striking head, held by a long wooden grip)? If yes, can you do this to fight an Adjacent foe that has stepped past the polearm's normal 10 foot reach? Could you similarly use this Improvised Weapon to attack with (almost certainly reduced, perhaps 1d4 or 1d6) bludgeoning damage at Reach as well as on adjacent targets?

Obviously that sounds powerful for a feat, but just wearing a Cestus or some sort of Gauntlet yields similar results insofar as fighting enemies that moved adjacent by going past your Reach is concerned.

I'm not asking whether you can two-weapon-fight in this manner, and am definitely aware the shaft/staff would not have the metal striking head's enchantment bonuses; it would be an unenchanted (albeit perhaps Masterwork where relevant) stick with a resulting lower damage die. That's fine; it's an Improvised Weapon.

The short summary is I'm trying to find a PFS legal way to 'staff fight' with the shaft end of a polearm against adjacent foes. There are mentions of the Polearm Master shortening their grip to achieve a similar benefit, but they're still using the metal striking head to attack with in that case; I am looking at using the wooden end instead. Does my reading of Catch Off-Guard allow this? If not, what other PFS legal material would? I'm going more for flavor than power, so a reduction in damage for doing this stunt is both expected and acceptable.

Silver Crusade

I'm confused by several things relating to Improved Familiar, both in general play and how PFS handles them... and looking through several threads with the word "Familiar" in them haven't quite cleared it up for me. Can I ask for PFS-legal (I'm not concerned with "but your GM might say otherwise" in this case) answers on the following?

Improved Familiar and Alignment: The wording I have handy says "You may choose a familiar with an alignment up to one step away on each alignment axis (lawful through chaotic, good through evil)." Am I right in understanding that, for example, a Neutral Good spellcaster could have a Chaotic Neutral (or Lawful Neutral for that matter) familiar since it's One Step Away on Each Axis? (from socially Neutral to Lawful or Chaotic, then from there Good to morally Neutral)

If yes, how does this apply to Familiar descriptions that discuss the spellcaster needing to be a precise alignment? Does the body text for that Familiar override the general Alignment mentioned above? For example, must one be EXACTLY Chaotic Good to acquire a Lyrakien Azata, EXACTLY Lawful Good for a Harbinger Archon, and so on? Also, how are apparent typos (for example, Cassissian Angels talk about "Lawful Good alignment" requirements even though they're NG) handled insofar as PFS cares, if this is true?

Or is this a case of the sources conflicting so you go by what the table and its accompanying text says?

Restricted Familiars?: I've come across discussions that suggest some Improved Familiar choices aren't automatically legal even if you meet the pre-reqs. For example, there are several threads indicating you can only get a Faerie Dragon with a very specific chronicle sheet award.

Are there any others that are similarly locked out? Looking through the FAQ and Additional Resources didn't entirely clear this up for me.

If it matters, what I'm broadly considering is something like (provided I can get all the Feats for this set up at the appropriate levels) the following 'Familiar sequence' for a Neutral Good align Sorcerer that picks up Arcane Bloodline's first ability via Eldritch Heritage:

Celestial Thrush,

then upgrade to a Sprite a few levels later,

then finally to any one of Silvanshee Agathion, Lyrakien Azata, Cassissian Angel, Harbinger Archon, or Pseudodragon. Is there anything that would unavoidably prevent this from working (alignment issues perhaps explained above, requirement of certain boons, familiar explicitly illegal in PFS, etc.)?

Sorry for the lengthy questions... I've tried to research it, but I either get contradictory answers or I'm just not parsing what's currently out there. Any clarification would be a big help!

Silver Crusade

Asking: These questions are mostly aimed at the general community. Replies from Paizo staff are also welcome, but this is not urgent and I wouldn't want to impose on your time if you're busy.

Please note I am asking for sources to study, not reposting of copyrighted materials. Textual information, provided it is paraphrasing and not word-for-word reprinting from a published work, would also help. If it'd irritate Paizo to see it in this thread, then let's leave it out.

With that said, I'm hoping to get some more information on the layout and visual design of a typical temple to Sarenrae. I know they are open-air (at least in the main worship area), but not much else. Does anyone know what sources/info I could look at to learn about the following topics?

- General layout of such a church?

- Notable features common to them?

- Accommodations for clergy and others who live at the temple? (if anyone? Perhaps everyone lives off-site and comes in when needed, for all I know)

- Do you know of any sources in which the PCs spend significant time in such a location?

- Are there any sources that offer a map of such a temple, or more conventional artwork of it? Maps preferred, but I'll take what I can get.

One would think Faiths of Purity would be a good start, but I only got extremely generalized info from it. Thus I'm hoping others can point me in the right direction. Thank you for any help you can offer!

Silver Crusade

I'm really sorry to have to ask this... I tried to research it last night and came across tons of different threads, FAQ entries, allegations that various NPC entries in books contradict one another on this topic, etc... and I simply cannot figure it out on my own.

I'd like to ask for some quick help understanding Monk attacks, both their non-Flurry attack and the Flurry attack bonuses. Please consider the stats below:

Human Monk 1 (Qinggong Archetype, if this matters)
Str 18 (16 + 2 Racial)
Dex 14
Con 12
Int 8
Wis 14
Cha 10 (I know this is sub-optimal, but I have plans for the Cha score so dumping Int worked better for my concept)

Feats are Toughness (Human Bonus), Deflect Arrows (Monk Bonus), and... I have not chosen the Character Level 1 feat yet. I don't think any of them could affect this question, though.

Traits: Unsure. Most likely something granting Diplomacy as a class skill, and Mizu Ki Hikari Rebel (+1 Unarmed Damage)

With all this laid out, I think the attack bonuses on their Unarmed Strike would be something like this?

Unarmed Strike (Standard/Attack Action): +4 for 1d6+5

Flurry of Blows: Any of... (and remember the Trait bonus is adding damage here, otherwise I think it's 1d6+4)

+3/+3 (1d6+5/1d6+5)
+4/+4 (1d6+5/1d6+5)
+5/+5 (1d6+5/1d6+5)

Based on my reading, I'd think the +3/+3 is correct? My understanding is it's something like... Monk 1 replaces BAB, so +1 BAB, then Str +4, then -2 for Two Weapon Fighting (both light/'off-hand' weapons). 1 + 4 = 5, then -2 = 3?

If I'm right, would the Monk at level 2 look like... standard Unarmed at +5, Flurry at +4/+4?

Do I have all this right, and if so am I right for the right reasons? It's an embarrassing question to ask because this is a core mechanic of a core class, but with all the debate on how the Monk class works I wanted to be 100% sure before I bring this sheet to tables.

Silver Crusade

Apologies if this has already come up, I searched paizo.com for strings like 'snapdragon fireworks errata', 'snapdragon fireworks reflex', etc. and only found discussions of how many shots per casting of the spell a character gets.

Simply put, I'm confused by the Saving Throw entry for Snapdragon Fireworks, relative to its body text. Here are the relevant sections (from http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/ultimateMagic/spells/snapdragonFireworks .html )

Saving Throw reads: Reflex Negates

Body reads, in part: Creatures in the target square take 1d4 points of fire damage and are dazzled for 1 round (Reflex half, a successful save negates the dazzled condition)

What do I take away from that? Normally for this sort of 'a Save or not has multiple different effects' outcome, I would expect the Saving Throw field to read 'See Text'.

Presuming a character doesn't have Evasion and has no specific immunity to Dazzled, what happens if...

They fail the save? Full damage and Dazzled for 1 round, right?

They make the save? Is it No Damage and No Dazzle, or Half Damage and No Dazzle?

Basically, how should saving throws for this spell really work?

Silver Crusade

Several people have made jokes about how the Red Mantis Assassins are basically a pack of hired killers who stole their armor designs from Japanese 'Kamen Rider' superheroes. The joke is apt, but it got me thinking: the ability to 'transform' from unarmed/unarmored to having your equipment on hand would be interesting. It would be useful for those assassins, and it would be useful for enabling character concepts who want the hero to be able to look like a normal bystander until it's time to act.

After searching for this in the forum archives, the most common advice I saw was 'use a Synthesist archetype Summoner'. In theory that works, but it takes ten rounds (one minute) to do such a 'transformation sequence.' That's excessive; by the time you're done the fight will either be over or well into its late stages. Instead, I'm wondering how one would achieve the following goals, and on what sort of requirements/budget:

- Character goes from either genuinely or seemingly having no gear on their person, to clearly having it. Disguise Self partially covers this already, but truly teleporting your equipment to you would be a fine bonus that spell does not cover.

- Illusions to hide the gear are acceptable at lower levels, though not ideal. Disguise Self and related effects are the obvious uses, once again. Still, if there is absolutely no better way to do a Transformation Sequence at low levels beyond these spells, I'll settle for being told that.

- The 'transformation' takes no more than a Full-Round Action to do. This needs to be something that can be done quickly once the threat to the PC shows itself. From normal person to hero, in just a few seconds!

- (Optional) Transformation is tied to a physical object of some sort. Envision a Paladin confronting the monster and saying "By Iomedae's justice, I cannot allow this to continue!", then holding up their Holy Symbol and pow; they go from unarmored to Clearly A Paladin! It's ok if the character 'fakes it' (e.g. the object LOOKS important to the transformation, but isn't) or doesn't even bother with this step, but it's a fun visual in my head.

Sorry about bringing this up, but it has both practical uses (I'm sure assassins could make use of it to sneak weaponry in), and dramatic/visual value for heroic sorts too. I'd love to get some thoughts on the most practical ways to set it up that don't use the Synthesist Summoner, since that version takes 10 rounds to do and yet is strangely the most commonly advised method that I could find.

Silver Crusade

I apologize for what SHOULD probably be a non-question or an obvious one, but when I've attempted to do this in various campaigns I get wildly varying replies... so I wanted to ask about the new elementals one sees in Bestiary 2, and chain it into a second, related question.

Now, obviously every DM has their own rules; even officially official rules of officialness can be overruled in this way. Nonetheless, I am curious what official materials state on the following topics.

1: Can the new elementals (Lightning, Ice, etc.) from this product be summoned through Summon Monster spells and similar? I would presume yes, they seem to fit the criteria, but...

1a: If 1 is "Yes", can they be summoned in PFS/by-PFS-rules play? Obviously non-PFS DMs can overrule it anyway, but I am curious if it's legal in organized play.

1b: Is there any reason such elementals would not count as Core Content? I had a DM claim this to me once and I was left rather surprised, since I always thought Bestiary 2 was Core.

1c: Does allowing these new summons make the spell over-powered? Are they encounter-wreckers that DMs would have legitimate reasons for barring from use, relative to the 'normal four' Elementals (Fire, Ice, Air, Water)?

2: Are there any other materials that legally expand the Summon Monster list for use in PFS play beyond what one sees listed at http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/spells/summonMonster.html ? I am aware of the Adventure Path books featuring deity-specific expansions, such as Sarenrae adding various genie types, but are there any expansions to Summon Monster beyond the AP books? Ideally ones that are easy to research and the DM isn't likely to have balance/speed-of-play concerns about.

Silver Crusade

I have an unusual question, one I'm hoping for a variety of replies on. I wanted to see how comfortable you'd feel about the following character being brought to the table with the following factors in mind.

Randomized Parties, PFS style play: Presume you don't know me at all, and I show up with this character at a Pathfinder Society style game. 20 point buy, 2 traits, all the usual PFS rules are in effect for the campaign you're playing in. It can either outright be PFS play, or just a home group following that general format or running a Paizo AP. Either way, I just walked up to the table and said "Hey, alright if I run this character?"

Player and DM Input Welcome: I don't want players worrying I'm dragging the group down. I don't want DMs worried about other concerns they may have. So regardless of which side of the table you're on, your opinion is requested.

Build Intention: Broadly, I'm trying to do a more 'clever' character. Most of my previous characters have been move-and-shoot mage types who do quite well, but I'm trying to force myself to be less 'direct tactical' and look at more unusual methods for dealing with problems. Of course, realizing that won't always succeed... I have had the character pack some decent weapons.

No Armor: As part of the above, this Bard has no Armor at start of play; they try to look like "just a traveling performer" when they're on the road or arrive in town. May change over later levels, but for the first 3 levels or so their AC would be Wizard/Sorc-grade.

Advice Welcome: If you would require only minor tweaks to become comfortable with this character, feel free to propose them. For example, simple Attribute shuffles are fine. So long as it would be PFS legal, it's good. If there is no way you would ever be comfortable with this idea, feel free to politely let me know why.

With all that said, here's the build:

Elf Bard 1, Align CG
HP 8, AC 13 (Touch 13, FF 10)
Str 13
Dex 16
Con 10
Int 12
Wis 8
Cha 16

Skills:
Bluff 1, Escape Artist 1, Perform Dance 1, Perform Oratory 1, Spellcraft 1, Stealth 1, Use Magic Device 1, Favored Class Bonus, Bard 1 - Extra Skill Point: Perception 1

Will be picking up a Versatile Performance choice at level 2 to cover Diplomacy and some other skill.

Spells:

0: Dancing Lights, Detect Magic, Read Magic, Prestidigitation.
1: Cure Light Wounds, Grease.

Feats, Traits:
Forlorn (+1 Fortitude)
Reactionary (+2 Initiative)
Point Blank Shot (will pick up Precise Shot at level 3)

Attacks:
Shortbow or Longbow (later a Composite +Str 1 or 2 version): +3, 1d6+0 or 1d8+0
Longsword: +1, 1d8+1
(Misc other weapons at comparable values)

The basic idea is a character who can sneak/scout, eventually cover full 'Face' roles, and use their various Performances as a cover story/day-job. When combat breaks out, short/long bow attacks and Grease castings for the most part. May be able to Cure afterward depending on spells left.

This build is clearly not optimized. Nonetheless, would you be comfortable with someone showing up with a character like this? Would you think the character can likely handle scouting, non-combat solutions to things, and so on while at least pulling their weight (not excelling, but doing okay) when fights inevitably happen?

If not, what would you want me to change in order to feel I wasn't dragging the party down?

Silver Crusade

This is a broad topic, so it's quite alright if you only have advice on any one point here. In any case, I am looking for help picking classes and moderate optimization on two polearm-wielding characters. Normally I would just hit up the Fighter guides, but Character Concept is also a concern. 'Moderate' optimization is fine; I'm only concerned that the character be able to hold their own in a fight, rather than being 100% perfect... especially since my character concepts may preclude it.

In both cases, I am hoping to avoid Cha dumpstat.

In any case, could you look over the two ideas and offer some input?

Universal Aspects

Each character is to be...

- Pathfinder Society legal. This means 20 point buy, 2 traits, etc.
- Good Align (any; LG/NG/CG, all fine by me) or Chaotic Neutral.
- Minimum 30 ft. movement Speed. I won't let them fall to speed 20' or less because it is uncomfortable for me. Doesn't have to be higher than 30 (though 35+ is nice, it's optional), just not less than 30.
- Mostly melee focused; I'll pick up the customary token Longbow/Sling/etc. on my own.
- Ideally should have a reasonably charismatic presence. They don't need to be majestic, just reasonably convincing, sincere, likable, etc. This means I'm trying to avoid Cha dump-stat'ing, but I will accept spending Skill points to cover for a low Cha if need be. Classes that can actually make use of a decent Cha score are even better.
- Able to pull their weight in combat. Does not have to be 100% ideal, but the other players should not suffer or have to work harder just because I'm Playing A Specific Character Concept.

Idea 1 - Naginata wielding 'Serene Samurai'.

Overview: An 'exotic foreigner' from Minkai/Tian Xia, this character is likely to see play well outside that region. They are not concerned with honor as a status symbol or other forms of warrior ego, but instead fit the other archetype; peaceful, polite and well spoken, has pursuits outside of combat (could be scholarly or artistic)... they are specifically out to do right with their talents.

The character is not emotionless, but is quiet and polite until given a reason not to be. Even then there's a chance they'll be fairly serene/calm about their fighting. As they will have spent some time outside Tian Xia, non-Asian-themed classes are perfectly acceptable.

Combat Needs: Effective with Naginata as a primary concern, should have a basic 'Plan B'. This is a mobile heavy hitter, minimum Speed 30 feet and doing good damage at 10 Ft. Reach. Picking up special Combat Maneuver tricks or other such things such as area denial is nice, but optional.
Required Race: Human
Banned Classes: Barbarian, except for any archetypes that lack Rage or similar mechanics (if any exist). It has no place in an 'enlightened warrior' concept.
Recommended Classes: Which ones would you advise? Samurai is an obvious choice, but I am completely willing to accept other classes, and even multi-classing. "Paladin of Iomedae from Minkai" is an acceptable approach to show one extreme, but Chaotic-themed classes work too.
Multi-classing: Acceptable if it helps meet my requirements. I have no problem doing something like Samurai 1/Ranger 3/Paladin 1/etc.
Weaponry: A Naginata or concept-equivalent polearm I can fluff as a Naginata (for example, Glaives are acceptable), Dagger, and any other weapons you advise. I'll pick out ranged weapons myself.
Recommended Feats: Which ones would you advise? This is going from level 1 to 10, though you're welcome to cut off before Level 10 if you wish.

Misc Advice: Anything else you think I should know?

Idea 2: Halberd Specialist

Overview: This one is much easier; they would be a western-themed character (such as could be found in the majority of nations in Golarion) who is out to be very skilled with the Halberd. So long as the character passes as reasonably civilized and normal by social standards, they're fine.

This character has no specific social, artistic, or scholarly needs. If they end up being a somewhat inclined toward any of these by virtue of class choice, awesome.

Combat Needs: Excellent with Halberds, including using their Trip and Brace features. Should also have good general damage output for the inevitable case where the target cannot be Tripped and isn't likely to charge into a Brace.
Required Attributes: Int 13 for Combat Expertise and Improved Trip.
Race: Human or Elf or Half-Elf. Human preferred, but other two are okay.
Classes: Any. It would be nice if I'm able to use a decent Charisma score somehow, but I am not against running a Cha 8 Fighter if you think this is better (I'll just spend skill points appropriately to overcome this).
Multi-Classing: Acceptable if it helps meet my requirements or is a particularly good idea.
Feats: Any, just remember that I have to pick up Combat Expertise and Improved Trip. Anything else should be aimed at either improving halberd use, giving options outside of halberd use, or general improvement of character. Again, presume Level 10 is a reasonable cut-off point.
Weapons: Halberd, Dagger, any others you advise. I'll take care of ranged weapons myself. Please remember that Halberds are NOT Reach weapons. This is perfectly okay for my concept, I'm not worried about the lack of Reach.

Whew. Sorry for the length, but I'd love to see if you can offer any thoughts on "fairly optimized polearm fighter", compromised by my "needs to keep their Speed up and have a likable personality" requirement.

Silver Crusade

Foreword: This is somewhat of a joke question/brainteaser for fun. It is a legitimate question as I really am interested in making this idea work... it'd be hilarious to successfully pull this off in a Pathfinder session. Nonetheless, finding a workable answer isn't urgent. I wasn't sure whether it belonged here or in Pathfinder RPG General discussion, in any case. That said, let's begin.

As you know, it's entirely possible for creatures in Pathfinder to get pretty high up into the air; certain jumping abilities, teleportation, and especially flight make it viable for your character to get quite the birds-eye-view of the action. It's even possible to get opposing creatures up into the air.

What I want to do, and am hoping to hear practical input on, is get both one's own character and their enemy into the air, to perform the (not even remotely realistic) 'martial arts' technique known as the Izuna Drop. It can be most simply described as an inverted spinning piledriver, and a humorous video demonstrating the technique as it's used in video games can be seen here (will require script allowances for Youtube.com and subdomains thereof): http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=2B827VA_IAU#t= 28s

Or a longer example (requiring script allowances for GameTrailers.com, volume is somewhat high): http://www.gametrailers.com/user-movie/usermovies/340651

With the Izuna Drop explained, I'd like to ask you your most rules-practical way, using existing Pathfinder game mechanics and content, to perform one and which sections of the rules to point the DM to when they understandably go "...Wait. What?". The ideal answer will be Pathfinder Society legal, and the lower in level a PC needs to be to pull it off, the better. Still, I'll accept any Pathfinder-general-play valid way to do this. Any class, any skill, any spell, any feat, whatever; so long as it's Paizo published I'll give it a shot.

Edit: The character's survival is optional. It's preferred that they survive it, but not strictly required.

Thanks for any help you can offer!

Silver Crusade

This may be opening an odd can of worms, or I may even discover the answer is "none, deities in Golarion don't operate like that", but I was curious about a deity's favored/representative colors.

Specifically, Sarenrae's. What colors, when used together, are considered hers (if any)? Various web searches haven't turned up much for me on this, aside from two contradictory postings on random parts of the internet that I can no longer locate (one claimed light/sky blues, golds, and whites per Kyra the iconic Cleric, the other claimed whites, golds, and reds).

I'd love to know more about this, ideally with some official sourcing. Thank you for any help you can offer!