I'm very interested in this sort of thing. It involves a major overhaul of the whole game, but I think it's a worthwhile, and maybe even necessary step towards future editions.
I like the effect it has on the player's ability to relate to what's happening, and how good a character or how dangerous a monster really is. However, I feel like this particular example (in the article) shifts too much of the burden onto hit points, which are also unrealistic and difficult for players to reconcile.
I mean, when a character is struck by a longsword for 8 damage, what does that look like if the character has, say, 70 HP, compared to if he has 10 HP? We have the same problem here, where players can't relate to what 8 damage means without comparing it to their character's current power level. It's equally difficult to imagine or narrate, and some immersion is lost in the process.
This is around where I usually get stuck when I think of making ground-floor renovations to a system like this.
I've played kobolds before in 3.5e, but never in Pathfinder. I'd really like to play a kobold Dragon Herald. The idea is to make him an expert of bluffing and intimidation, taking the Frightener and Wyrmcrowned alternate racial traits, and probably the Extremely Fashionable trait.
Everywhere he goes, he just strolls around like he owns the place, telling everyone he's the emissary of a famously powerful dragon and that they'd better show some friggin' respect, courtesy and hospitality, or else. This would be a complete load of crap, of course: it's all lies, merely a defense mechanism he'd adopted to save his own skin when his tribe was raided by novice adventurers - but eventually it turned into a whole way of life.
In combat he'd put up Inspire Courage, and debuff, mostly with intimidate and other fear effects. If things get hairy or someone gets wise to him, he can always toss up Diplomatic Immunity and beat a retreat.
Playing a kobold is mostly about flavour, and I just really like the idea of a scrawny little charlatan bossing people around, demanding offerings, and making his enemies run from the battlefield. Good times. It'd be especially fun if this elder dragon actually exists, and maybe catches up with him some day.
I like the Wood mystery for melee. It's pretty straight-forward:
Wood Armor is hourly, so you shouldn't be donning it during a fight unless you were caught with your pants down overnight or something. During the adventuring day, you should spend an hour at the first sign of anything fishy. People often like to play an Aasimar (elf will do, but isn't ideal) and drop the favored points into Wood Armor for advanced AC progression. Either way, with Barkskin and Magic Vestment up your AC should be terrific.
Wood Weapon is a little trickier, I'll agree, and really only gets good at mid-late levels. It may not even fully pay off in PFS. Early in your career you probably just want to carry a regular q-staff and buff it with Shillelagh if you know a fight is about to go down. However, know that as a melee character you'll often have a round or two to kill while the cowardly archers and squishy spellcasters lob their garbage at each other. Having good scouting is key for powers like this, so you'll know when to prep it. If done right, it can save you a lot of cash on magic weapons. Maybe pick this up at 7th or earlier with Extra Revelation? While you're playing without it, during each encounter think about when you would summon a weapon and count the number of times you'd have the standard action to spare.
Wood Bond is what will make up the difference between your 3/4 BAB and a full BAB. You won't get the extra attacks, but that's okay: It's basically a scaling Weapon Focus (any kind of wooden weapon) and that's pretty great.
Thorn Burst ain't too bad, either. The damage is pretty weak, but it has two things going for it: it's a swift action, and the caltrop effect may deter movement.
Example, my Thug with Enforcer hits someone with a sap (no crit) and beats the DC to demoralize by 10 and does 7 points of damage. How long is he shaken for? Can I make him frightened for a round?
It isn't entirely clear, but the way I run it in my games, the target should be shaken for 10 rounds. That's 7 from the damage, +2 for beating the DC by 10, +1 from Frightening. Or, you could make the target frightened for 1 round.
I can see different interpretations, however, such as one where Enforcer overrides other rules dictating the duration of the shaken condition. I don't know if there is an official ruling, sorry.
I usually plan out my build, but in doing so there usually winds up being a lot of wiggle room. Some feats will be vital to the build, while others will be more flexible, and it helps to gauge the feel of the campaign, the GM, and the other players before deciding whether it's better to take Combat Reflexes or safer to pick up Toughness with a spare feat, etc.
Likewise with spell and skill point selection.
Damn, I basically clicked to post this suggestion, so I'll just +1 it instead.
It's always tough being the only melee character. The animal companion should help out with that, though, so there's that. Hopefully they'll be able to support you with summons and some fat control spells.
Anyway, I'm not an expert on Rangers, but here goes anyway:
On the dex vs wis issue, think I'd go for the extra wis and trust that my allies can back me up. Wis 14 is an extra Barkskin per day, which will probably help your AC more in the long run. Initiative isn't so important with 3 primary casters in the party; going first is their problem, you're there to clean up what's left.
For weapon choice, as a half-orc you get access to the double axe, which isn't bad. It deals better damage than a scimitar+cestus, and feats like Weapon Focus will help you with both ends; however, it's weaker on crits, you're a little more vulnerable to disarm, the chances of stumbling on an enchanted double axe is minimal, and you can't use it at all if you have a hand full for some reason or when grappled. I'd actually stick with the scimitar and cesti. Be sure to wear two cesti in case you get caught without your scimitar drawn.
Which brings me to feats: quick draw really isn't necessary unless you want to switch-hit, and even then you'll probably be okay. You'll probably get more mileage out of either combat reflexes, or power attack, depending on your style and whether you plan on getting teamwork feats with your animal companion.
A Vest of Surgery maybe?
I wish there was a way to speed up the time on Treat Deadly Wounds, maybe by accepting a higher DC. Otherwise, a Ring of Sustenance can give you the spare time while camping to use it, but it's still a pain.
Having a familiar also helps since they can make their own set of checks, and the skill says nothing about how many people can treat a patient at once.
What's additionally frustrating about how easily magic replaces the Heal skill is that it's a Wis-based skill, and most characters with a decent Wis are going to be divine casters.
Hmm, the closest I can think of is a racial trait from the "Creating New Races" rules:
It would make a cool feat, though.
I think you should just have him jump in. Experienced gamers tend to assume that the game is somehow too complicated for newbies, and that they need some special method of coaching to "get" the game. But when I think back to when I first played as a little kid, we just dove in and played the game. Yeah, we messed up a lot of rules, and I made suboptimal characters, and they were super bland and not fleshed out at all, but I had an awesome time. And I was, like, 9. A teenager or adult should be able to handle that.
I introduced Pathfinder to an adult friend of mine last year; she played 1st ed way back in the day, and a session or two of 3e, but hasn't really touched much since. I suggested she start out with a rogue or a fighter - something simple like that - but after giving her a run-down of all the classes she really wanted to be an oracle. So we went with that. And while she was far from optimized (wading into melee with a club and Str 12 *facepalm*) she did just fine for herself and we had an awesome time. She picked up the system gradually, and she's going to join my usual group soon. Her next character is a big improvement over the first.
So, just dive in. He'll be fine. Whatever he picks will probably be super sub-optimal, but he'll either find a way to survive, or die trying. That's D&D. You can adjust encounters a little, too. As he learns the rules he'll probably start to see the flaws in his character (and the flaws in the system), and he'll be able to correct those things next time he plays. That's how we learn.
As for cutting through the stigma: in my experience, roughly 9 out of 10 people who still think D&D is for "fat virgin nerds" have logged 200+ hours in Skyrim and own the LotR trilogy on blu-ray. They would love D&D if they could just get over their insecurities long enough to try it. I'm glad your friend seems to be up to the task, and that he has a friend like you who will run a game for him.
Vancian casting is perhaps the most jarring and unintuitive thing in the world when just starting the game. Especially since most things you encounter represent magic resources as some kind of energy pool or stamina where you cant just 'lose' spells. I defend it because it has it's established place and when a DM just changes it without compensating for the fact that the rest of the game assumes Vancian casting exists it just causes all kinds of mechanical problems.
One of my first GMs, back when I really little, explained Vancian casting as wizards essentially cheating the system by completing 99% of a magical ritual, and saving the last 1% for when they actually needed to cast it. That's what preparing your spells meant in his world: getting the magic "all loaded up" so that you can pull the trigger later.
It's still sort of a silly idea, but it stuck with me. I don't think I would have designed wizards that way, either, though.
For me, it depends a lot on the group I'm running the game for. I find that newbies tend to want a pretty stereotypical experience: they want to kill orcs and goblins, they want to find chests full of treasure, and they want to fight the BBEG at the end of some sort of dungeon. It doesn't always have to be THAT typical, but there's little point in designing a campaign that goes against the norm when the players aren't even familiar with the norm.
However, what I enjoy most is doing something atypical. A very successful game I ran a couple years ago had a very low-level villain who could put up almost no fight against the PCs, but who had a vast support network at his disposal. The PCs knew this, and didn't expect a big show down with him; the game was all about locating him, surrounding him, and getting through his remaining minions so they could watch him grovel at their feet. And they did, and he did, and it was every bit as rewarding as taking down an ECL+4 encounter with some giant BBEG.
I've also run events instead of a BBEG, where the point is to prevent something from happening or to cause something from happening, usually with a time limit or in a race against other interested parties. This can be cataclysmic, end-of-the-world stuff, or just something of incredible personal importance to the PCs (ideally the latter, as I always like to make things personal). The point is, the villain of the story sort of winds up being anyone and everyone who happens to be in the PCs way; really, any delay or obstacle is the enemy, and a good deal of the tension comes from not always knowing what lies between them and their goal.
It's especially fun to have the PCs try to accomplish something, rather than prevent something from happening. In a typical game, the assumption is often that things are going fine until a BBEG shows up and threatens to ruin stuff. This is fine, but it puts the PCs in a very reactive position. Instead, I prefer to allow the PCs to set a goal of their own to accomplish, so that instead of just restoring the status quo, they're actually going out and changing the world for the better (at least, from their perspective).
Even in traditional BBEG fights, I try to stay away from deliberately creating something for each player to do. I find those obviously prefab encounters start to feel a little contrived and even patronizing, like I'm suggesting a player might be useless if I hadn't gone out of my way to give them something to do. It also causes the players to start to expect a job to do in the end, and it makes things very mechanical. Lastly, it can make their character building choices seem irrelevant if the GM is just going to tailor-make a challenge for whatever feats or spells they happen to choose.
Eek. As long as you're prepared for a potentially very anticlimactic fight, I guess go for it. It does depend on the party, though. I've seen solo BBEG fights end in the first round before, and I was once in a situation where I deliberately messed around with buffs and went easy on the BBEG so as not to end things immediately. Some classes (in my case it was a witch) excel at disabling individual targets.
There's also the matter that the PCs sometimes don't feel that great about winning the day because they ganged up on a single dude. Even if they're out of their league, it somehow always feels like they're taking only 20-25% of the glory.
I love the ring idea, though. It puts them in a pretty difficult spot if they know about it and their principal method of dispatching foes is raw damage. Just be prepared in case they don't think of disarming him and instead just go for a lot of save-or-suck spells.
I run a homebrew world, and it's fairly low-magic. At least there are no "ye olde magic shoppes" to be found, but there are merchants who will deal in magic items. If they aren't casters capable of fully scanning an item, they'll hire one - and it's wise for the PCs to do the same, as these transactions are entirely unregulated. Usually there are a lot of sense motive rolls involved, sometimes diplomacy or intimidate factors in, too.
My players seem to like it this way. It can be a hassle, yes, but it creates a little tension between adventures, and gets them even more excited about pulling off a deal that either nets them some money or a new item they can't wait to put to good use. It also rewards characters with the associated spells and skills to make these deals go down, as well as making item creation feats a little more attractive.
I just want to say that I love games that operate in a somewhat murkier moral area like this. I find that if the BBEG is clearly evil and despicable to the core, and has already done things that make him/her irredeemable, then so many decisions are already made for the PCs. A game like that is essentially telling them what to think right out of the gate, and that's boring. It's at least a missed opportunity to keep the players thinking about the consequences of their actions, which can sometimes highlight the differences between their own alignments, religions, and world views.
And even if you make him evil, evil is somewhat relative. Evil characters can still be very moral in a lot of ways, or at least parallel moral behaviour for other reasons. His reasons may be justifiable or at least sympathetic, even if his methods occasionally aren't. That sort of thing.
Likewise, Neutral characters can still occasionally do evil things without themselves being actually evil; a lot of that has to do with how guilty they feel afterwards, or whether they realize the true repercussions of their actions.
And I like the idea of him having good-aligned associates who have their own reasons for supporting him. They need not necessarily condone all of his actions, even. Perhaps they think he can be redeemed or that he's simply deserving of pity.
Mischief Mondragon wrote:
Again, this ^
I've had this talk with a player before (actually, a couple), and I found it helpful to view the situation as a two-way conflict between the player and the rest of the group: not only is the player stepping on other people's fun, the player would probably have more fun at a table where that sort of PvP stuff is welcome or even encouraged. Some games run that way, but mine don't.
It's important to remember that there are a lot of ways to play the game, and nobody is really "doing it wrong". But not all players are going to play well together, and sometimes it's just best to part company. If I was the odd-man out in a group that loved to backstab and steal from one another, I'd probably be happier in the long run if I left in search of a more compatible group, too.
These things bother me, too, but I try not to think about it too much. lol It makes about as much sense as the Rapid Reload feat allowing you to full attack + rapid shot with a light x-bow, or how the Manyshot feat somehow allows you to double the force you can generate with a bow, and so on.
Pathfinder is about 25% realism, 75% rule of cool, with heaps of magic thrown on top.
If for some reason your GM is cruel and declares that bolt containers are not containers, and that Abundant Ammunition won't work that way, then try Reloading Hands. It's higher level, but whatevs. It'll get the job done.
I say stick with it. The game is about having fun, and this sounds like fun. ^__^
I think the trick is that a little eeriness goes a long way. When I played Beryl (the Paladin I mentioned), I only had to describe her as being strangely calm and blunt on the subject of heinous evil one or two times, and suddenly the other players are speculating about her actual alignment. lol (Specifically, I think it was the time she made a rather graphic point about the unreliability of torture while the party was eating breakfast one morning, describing in great detail the torture chambers she once came across in a dungeon run by hobgoblins back when she was only a squire.)
Once you step even a little outside the accepted mould, people will be quick to stereotype you and exaggerate your atypical features. So it doesn't take much. lol
Adding the spells to your list before you're able to cast them seems like the most elegant solution.
A lot of this usually has to do with your GM, and his/her interpretation of the Paladin's code and the alignments. However, I figure it's good to have a chat with others to cement your position before approaching the GM.
My take is that you may be strolling into LN or even LE territory with the callousness. A paladin doesn't necessarily have to weep over every kobold they slay, but they should rarely be completely comfortable with destruction. They have the ability to detect evil, but that doesn't give them license to simply write off anything that detects as evil as fit for immediate execution. There are other, and often preferable ways to punish and destroy evil, such as imprisonment or redemption.
Blunt is fine; matter-of-factly is fine, but uncaring and inflexible are where you risk stepping out of line.
As an example, I once played a paladin with a pretty frosty demeanor. She was largely expressionless, somewhat grim, and very matter-of-factly about things. She felt it was her duty to stare evil in the face so that other people didn't have to, and that meant dealing with dead bodies, disease, murderers, monsters, literal demons, etc on a daily basis. She knew the score, knew how ugly and evil the world could be, and simply accepted that. Nothing really shocked or surprised her. She could stare at the most vile acts and not blink once. As a result, most people found her more than a little creepy.
However, she was actually amazingly compassionate and put great thought into her response to evil. The biggest threat to her oath was getting overconfident and lazy in her judgment of evil: I figure after killing your billionth orc it's easy to just throw your hands in the air and write off the entire species as fit for genocide, but that just isn't how paladins work. Surely there are non-evil orcs out there, and to put one to the sword without consideration would be a failure to the cause of good.
So, I think that's more or less the line you want to be aware of.
As for roleplaying the high charisma, I often say that charisma has as more to do with how people react to you as it does what you actually do or say. Some people just have that X-factor, a larger-than-life presence that causes people to take what they do and say seriously. Your paladin may not speak often, but when he does, people will find themselves listening and considering what he has to say. And I think you have the right idea about actions speaking louder than words.
I'd go with Heirloom Weapon. When you have enough money, find and pay a spellcaster to cast Masterwork Transformation on your heirloom (or buy a scroll for a caster in your party, or just ask/hope a party member takes the spell). Now you're free to have the thing enchanted - plus, it makes for pretty fun RP value.
As for my take on why monks aren't proficient with all monk weapons, it's essentially for the same reason that fighters aren't proficient with all weapons. And for the sake of balance.
Glad you're into the game! It's safe to say I'm hooked, too.
There's Deep Drinker which would help quite a bit. And Fast Drinker, but it also costs a swift, so it will interrupt your koans. Can't go wrong with Drunken Brawler, too, if you have the room, but it doesn't sound like you do.
Don't worry about what is or isn't a "monk weapon", since the sensei loses flurry anyway. Whip it good.
Consider keeping Wholeness of Body; it sucks for pretty much any other monk, but a drunken sensei can heal his whole party to full health between fights with it.
I almost played a drunken sensei once, but decided in the end to ditch the sensei part because my team wasn't big enough to warrant someone who mostly just stands around buffing. Instead I kept my flurry and mostly spent my ki on bonus attacks and belching scorching rays. It worked out, but there were certainly times when it would have been awesome to dispense some drunken advice. The roleplaying aspect alone of slurring out mind-blowing wisdom between belches is well worth losing flurry. lol
I tend not to bother with stabilization rolls for unnamed NPCs (monsters, etc) unless there is a specific reason to. However, I don't auto-declare them dead at -1 HP, either. Instead, it's assumed around the table that some enemies will stabilize and some might even recover. The PCs know it's something they need to deal with, but I don't track it religiously, and tend to just make these decisions on my own. I will roll for named or otherwise important NPCs, however.
I once actually built an NPC antagonist out of a goblin that survived one of the first encounters one of my parties had. I decided he recovered, looted his dead friends of what gear and food the PCs left behind, and dedicated his life to getting revenge. Several levels later he showed up with a few ranger levels and a band of recruits and mercenaries to challenge the PCs. It was hilarious watching them try to figure out who the hell this goblin was and what beef he had with them.
Also, for what its worth, I don't always describe negative hitpoints as nice, clean unconsciousness, or swift death. I'll often describe downed enemies as moaning or screaming in pain, maybe lapsing in and out of consciousness, twitching or writhing around, or just doubled over trying to hold their guts in while they die. I don't necessarily make a big, gory show of it, but it is what it is. Combat is messy stuff, and death is rarely clean.
I've always felt that the system needs a larger "on death's door" buffer zone between 1 HP and fighting at 100% efficiency and -1 HP and unconscious. But that's another thread. ^__^
The greatsword. Honestly, I feel bad for the greataxe. They're both called "great" but one is clearly better. Even the earthbreaker is jealous.
Honourable mention to the composite longbow, not for the damage/crit values, but for the free reloads and the feat support it gets. Poor slings and crossbows just can't have nice things.
I played a human lore warden grappler once, and while I forget a lot of the details, it looked something like this:
F1 Improved Unarmed Strike, Improved Grapple, Weapon Focus*
* The Weapon Focus should be for unarmed strike, grapple, or armor spikes, depending on how your GM rules things. Ideally armor spikes, on the logic that you'll be using them to start the grapple via Hamatula Strike, and any bonuses with the weapon apply to the grapple. If your GM doesn't work that way, ask whether WF: unarmed strike or grapple applies. If all else fails, I don't know, maybe Belier's Bite for some bleed damage.
You can substitute cesti or spiked gauntlets instead of armor spikes if you like, but the spikes do the best damage and it's easier to picture the grapple.
As a human, put every Favored Class point into your CMD to Grapple and Trip. Between this, your Lore Warden bonuses, Str (and Dex with Fury's Fall), and all associated feats, your Trip and Grapple CMB and CMDs will be stupid.
While there are a number of ways to get into your grapple depending on circumstances, the main idea is to ground & pound:
You can pin in one turn if your opponent is trippable and within reach. The tripping isn't strictly necessary, but Fury's Fall might make it a little easier to pull off, and the prone penalties really help maintain those grapple checks - plus it's just fun to choke slam stuff.
I made, but never played a half-orc mounted barbarian build because it was too stupid for my not-really-optimized party. I didn't want to stand out so much.
So, half-orc. Obviously take the Mounted Fury archetype, and I tacked on Elemental Kin because to hell with trap stuff and any extra rounds of rage are welcome. To that end, I put every favoured class point into +1 rounds of rage/day.
I picked up Power Attack at 1st, then Amplified Rage, then boon Companion at 5th when the mount shows up. The idea is to ride a regular horse or buy some other mount until 5th, then settle for a horse for a while, and then at 7th level take Beast Rider and take your pick. I went with elephant, as it fit the setting. Next stop was Sympathetic Rage.
Regular rage is +4 Str/Con. Amplified is another +4. Sympathetic Rage is another +2. By the time you hit Greater Rage you're looking at +12 Str/Con. Because this is a pure Barbrian build, you'll even hit Mighty for +14.
Meanwhile, your mount can't take Sympathetic Rage, but it does get +2 str whenever you rage, so it gets the same bonuses as you just shy 2 Con.
When you pick up Greater Ferocious Mount, the thing also gets your friggin' rage powers. By now you've taken the entire Beast Totem line, so your mount is rockin' pounce, a natural armor bonus, and two claw attacks. Yeah, an elephant with claw attacks. I don't know how to picture that either, but I'll happily add them to the gore and slam, thank you very much.
I'm sure it can get a lot more optimized than that, but that's where I stopped working on the concept and opted for something a little less silly.
The Morphling wrote:
There are a few ways to get some small natural attacks. Half-orcs have two ways to get a bite attack: the "Toothy" alternate racial feature, or the "Tusked" race trait from Orcs of Golarion. Tieflings can swap their darkness spell-like ability for either a d6 bite or a pair of d4 claws. Dipping 2 levels into Ranger and choosing the Natural Attack style gets you access to the Aspect of the Beast feat, from which you can choose a pair of d4 claws.
Seems an easy way might be to go tiefling, take the Adopted trait and then "Tusked" to get a bite, then swap out your darkness ability for the two claws. d4 bite, d4 claw, d4 claw at level 1. They make fine rogues, too.
I can see the concept of there even being an "opposite" gender for every person offending people. However, the line about how "The character's abilities, mind, and spirit remain unaffected; only the character's sex changes" is actually refreshingly progressive. ^__^
At any rate, the description for cursed items specifically says:
"Cursed items are any magic items with some sort of potentially negative impact on the user. Occasionally they mix bad with good, forcing characters to make difficult choices. Cursed items are almost never made intentionally."
That's a pretty fair, and non-judgmental description of the effect, I think.
This looks pretty easy, I think.
Improved Turning doesn't exist in Pathfinder, but its equivalent is probably Improved Channel. You might want to take a peek at the list of Channeling Feats to see if there's one that's more thematically appropriate. I think either Improved Channel or Turn Undead would be fine.
Just to be safe, you should probably put in a line about requiring the Channel Energy class feature. It's sort of implied with Improved Channel, but it should be specifically positive energy.
The spellcasting requirement seems fine as it is.
Hit Dice, BAB, and Skills
Weapon and Armor Proficiencies
Bane of the Restless
Blessing of Dawn
Rejuvination of the Morn
Aura of Radiance
I think that about covers it! Balance-wise, it's actually pretty good at first glance.
I'm pretty sure you can TWF with thrown weapons; at least it's a common thing that players do do. (heh heh, doodoo. ^__^) I'm not even clear if you actually need a second weapon if you have a blink back belt, as you're drawing and throwing, drawing and throwing, just using both hands instead of one.
I was going to suggest using chakra, but I checked and they aren't melee weapons either.
Mostly, I just want to voice my displeasure at how hard it is to get a good throwing build going. The blink-back belt helps, but it limits you to a pretty pure throwing build. If you pause to melee for more than a single round, the blinkback cycle is interrupted and you have to pause to put your weapons back on your belt.
It's only slightly less frustrating than trying to get serious use out of a crossbow or sling or really anything that isn't a composite longbow.
Concerning Dirty Trick, a 1-level dip into Maneuver Master Monk gets you the Improved Dirty Trick feat, plus you can toss in a free maneuver (at a -2, though) during a full attack.
I don't recommend this route, though, unless you're open to some serious min/maxing. Keeping up with monster CMDs is pretty challenging, and don't forget that you have to be able to justify/explain how you're blinding the creature. The GM isn't going to let you throw sand in a giant's face over and over again.
When it comes to darkness, smoke, or similar methods, keep in mind that you'll probably be getting sneak damage from flanking if you're near your allies. If you're away from them and can't flank, you probably have less to worry about when it comes to laying down area effects.
It's not a cleric, but the Ancient Lorekeeper Oracle archetype (available to elves) allows you to choose Arcane spells to replace your bonus spells from whatever mystery you choose. You treat them as one spell level higher than usual, so you wouldn't get Haste until 8th and you'd be casting it as a 4th level spell.
Best I got. Good luck!
My suggestion is that your character leads and inspires by action and by deed more than words or manipulation. He's physically imposing and obviously competent: lots of people would follow a man who is not only well educated, but able to bench press a horse.
He may be a man of few words, but when he does choose to speak you can be that what he has to say is powerful and cuts to the point. He may be brutally honest, but ultimately fair, and people can respect that.
A guy like that probably doesn't have many close friends, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have devout followers who are ready to listen to him and confident enough in his ability to follow him into battle.
I don't have much to add, except concurrence. A crossbow shot can be worth it at low levels, though I'd then resort to cantrips rather than spending time reloading. Try to pick off severely weakened opponents, so that the big guns in the party can focus on meatier targets.
Also, know the initiative order. I've been in situations where it was worth it to move up into melee just to provide flanking bonuses and Aid Another when I'm confident the ally I'm flanking with is going to act long before the enemy and should be able to finish them off (with a +4 to hit thanks to me). Measure the risk and gauge whether or not you can safely take at lest one hit. Even the wizard should be ready to take one for the team every now and then. There's always fighting defensively, too.
Carrying some caltrops or an alchemical item couldn't hurt, either.
For Sorcerers, or the occasionally charismatic Wizard, consider demoralizing via Intimidation.
Any answer I could give would more or less be repeating ^this.
A game I'm running has an NPC with a capybara valet familiar along these same lines (using the donkey rat stats). His bite does garbage damage, but he has a decent Acrobatics and is used to deliver touch spells, flank, and use aid another in combat. Laying caltrops, retrieving dropped items, aiding another, etc, are all good uses. I've even tried intimidation to demoralize when desperate, though at Cha 4 and size small, you can imagine how that turned out.
If injured, he just withdraws and hides. Getting killed is always a risk, but if enemies want to waste attacks on the giant rodent, then go for it, man. Spells like Mirror Image can go a long way to keeping your buddy alive. A goat has a decent Strength and can easily wear barding, too, if you want to have some made. They won't be bothered by it as long as the armor check penalty is 0, even without proficiency. CRY "HAVOC!" AND LET SLIP THE GOATS OF WAR.
Note that there are some feats for familiars that can be swapped out for the feats they start with. In this case, Peaches (that's the capybara's name) started with Critical Conduit instead of Skill Focus.
Abusing the Valet's ability to copy your teamwork feats is fun. Allied Spellcaster, Escape Route, Lookout, etc, are all pretty great.
As for making cheese - which, let's face it, is the most important part - a cheesemaking kit should be easy to buy and carry around; basically a bottle of culture, some cloths, and a wooden press or two.
With 1 rank of Craft (Cheesemaking), which is a class skill for +3, plus let's say a +4 Int bonus, and your goat uses Aid Another to add +2 (or buy a Masterwork cheesemaking kit), you're looking at a +10 bonus on your roll out of the gate. Taking 10 that's a total result of 20.
A "superior" item has a DC of 20, which we know you can make automatically as long as you're allowed to take 10. A result of 20 x a DC of 20 means 400 sp of work per week, or about 57 sp of work per day.
According to the rule book, a 1/2 lb of cheese costs 1 sp, so that's about 28.5 lb of cheese per day of work. Obviously your goat isn't pumping out a quarter of her weight in cheese ever day, so this is ridiculous.
However, you aren't making any mere typical cheese, the sort that gets listed in common adventuring gear tables. No sirree, you're making TOP QUALITY "superior" cheese here, which is obviously worth a lot more. Essentially what this means is that you can set your own price, up to the limits of what you can achieve via your craft roll, and adjust the volume produced accordingly.
Note that goat cheese usually takes at least a couple weeks to age, preferably more for the stinky stuff, but spending a day off making a check could represent cracking open a wheel of cheese that you already had on the go, and starting the next batch.