Eagle Knight

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*** Pathfinder Society GM. 495 posts (1,193 including aliases). 2 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 31 Organized Play characters. 12 aliases.


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Hey Jeff, I just wanted to thank you for this. Because after Mona and Bulmahn's decent responses I thought this might all blow over for a minute, but then I see this and my faith is restored that no one is going to let this slide.

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ClanPsi wrote:
And for the love of Aroden, DON'T make a gunslinger. Guns in fantasy games are super lame.

I think guns are fun and Aroden was awful, so bring on the gunslinger!

Black scuttles over to Teja and flails its claw in her general direction.

Initiative Order, Bold May Go!
Vengeant Thorn

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List Stuff: Ope, I'll fix that sometime soon. Thanks Atalius and Queaux.

Vali: No, none of my guides will include Adventure Path content except for the animal companion guide. This is in part because they're meant to be accessed through the AP and in part because I don't want to buy AP volumes to keep up with stuff.

Old_Man_Robot: Go right ahead, I'd be flattered if you did.

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Sorry for the delay, life is difficult. Gods and Magic patch notes are here, they'll point you to everything that was added or changed.

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At long last, the thrilling conclusion. With volume 8, we have all 10 levels of spells. I also edited True Target with a note about RAI.

That is unfortunately not my reading of the spell. It says the first attack roll made against the target during the spell's duration, not each creature's first attack roll against the target.

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So a funny thing happens when you're quarantined for two weeks and you don't have anything scheduled for 4 days: you lose track of time really fast. So I missed last week's updates, but that's fine because we've gotten to the point where the levels are short AF and they can easily be combined.

Anyway here's volume 6, consisting of 6th and 7th level. On Sunday we'll have volume 7, which will be 8th, 9th and 10th level, and next Wednesday will be the Gods and Magic updates to all existing guides. I'll be taking April off to build up a backlog of content and then we'll be back in March with a guide to the cloistered cleric.

Zapp wrote:
FedoraFerret wrote:
Second off, you would be surprised at how long combats have been lasting in most of the PFS scenarios and the Age of Ashes combats I've run/played in. You're right, 9 rounds is unrealistic, but 4-5 is about average in my experience so far.
But I did use 4 and 5 rounds for my calculations, didn't I? (You sound as if you disagree with me, when it seems you're actually saying the same thing)

I'm not so much disagreeing with your thought process as your conclusion, that it's not that great in and of itself. The way you phrased it also suggested that you thought 4-5 rounds was a relatively high, based on the "it's a good day" comment.

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Zapp, first off it's cleric and champion only, second off it's a focus spell so it auto-heightens.

Second off, you would be surprised at how long combats have been lasting in most of the PFS scenarios and the Age of Ashes combats I've run/played in. You're right, 9 rounds is unrealistic, but 4-5 is about average in my experience so far. It's basically "here's a domain power you can use to set up a solid third action ranged attack." Agreed that it's only worthwhile at high level, but I wouldn't call it unimpressive given that it's also a renewable resource used.

It's a pretty good domain power, yeah. Massive range, the damage makes shortbows look like chumps. It's borderline useless early game but late game it can become a really dependable source of damage in a big fight, particularly if you don't typically specialize in SAR spells so you're not dealing with MAP on that third action. I'm covering domain powers in April's cloistered cleric guide and it's probably getting a 3* blast rating (since it does require a lot of actions to get the full use out of it.)

Re: Shadow Blast, y'all have a point. The problem with my own system is that it can be hard for me to detach the versatility rating from the others, but it does only really warrant a 3* as a blast. I'll get that on the 1st when I update everything.

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Volume 5 is volume live!


I'm so sorry.

Anyway AoN updated a few days ago with Gods and Magic. On Wednesday, April 1st (which will be after Volume 9 releases, containing 9th and 10th level spells) I'll be doing a big update for all existing guides, including this one.

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Ghost Sound: Reasonable point, although as Kyrone says the range does go up and Reach Spell also helps with that.

Flanking at range: This is actually kind of a weird thing, but flanking is a status that applies to a target as a result of your positioning, rather than a status that applies to your attack. If you are, say, in flanking position with an enemy and cast ray of frost in melee range (or even if you're not in melee range, courtesy of a reach weapon), then the target is flatfooted to the attack, because you have a flank on them. That the attack you're using isn't melee has no bearing.

Zapp: You didn't even use quotes, you just made 6 separate posts. Mobile keyboards have an enter key.

Illusions: That's just it, though, it's not trying to accomplish more than other spells of the same level. The instance I'm referring to was in PF1 using major image, a third level spell, to create the appearance that a creature that our opponent specifically hated had entered the battlefield. If the GM had had the enemy react in the way he should have, logically, reacted, it would've burned a single turn for that monster. That's entirely on par for the combat usage of a third level spell, and while it doesn't require a save it does require foreknowledge of the enemy. Now, in this case, we're talking about PF2's illusory creature, which is, for all intents and purposes, a minion. A minion that is actually a threat, unlike one grabbed with bind undead, and that you can shape into something your opponent hates and actively wants to die.

SuperBidi: The glyph trick still requires two actions, unless you've already got it in your hand walking into combat, and it only targets one creature. I don't personally have a problem with being able to use a spell to make single-target spell grenades with a cap of your casting modifier during downtime.

Castilliano wrote:

Bind Undead: It doesn't just give you a minion, it takes away a minion, so it's better than summoning the same creature. It is perhaps too situational, but using a Ghoul vs. a Glabrezu is strawmanning.

I can think of three APs where I'd take it often until it needed to be heightened (when I'd stop) because it's an auto-success I'd be guaranteed to use. Plus undead are often pretty good against undead and friends of undead. I'd never take in the other APs.
(R.I.P. Mr. McPlaguey. And thank you for setting off that fiery sandstorm trap for us. *sniff, sniff* And we hadn't even known it was there.)
Note that was a scroll usage. Spell also improves if you haven't pumped your casting stat, like maybe if a Warpriest or Dwarf Battle-Bard.

Ghoul vs. glabrezu was merely the first example I thought of, but that is fairly extreme. I disagree that it's better than summoning a creature, because a) it's a lot less control over what you get and b) the things you're taking off the board just... aren't worth it. You get access to bind undead at level 5, and the highest level creature it can bind is level 3. Sure, that's not terrible if you know you're facing undead at that exact level. But by level 6, 7, 8, that level 3 creature stops being relevant, and even if you're heightening it, the higher level you as a character are the less relevant a creature of half your level is. It's theoretically relevant for about the level you get it at and pretty much no other time, because there's much better uses for a 4th level spell as a level 7 character than taking a level 4 enemy off the board, and better uses for a 3rd level than taking a level 3 enemy off for absolutely sure.


And speaking of not needing one's casting stat high...

Magic Missile: I'm a big proponent of Magic Missiles as boss killers, or vs. anything w/ exceptional defenses. But against Trolls, zombies, oozes, and other soft targets w/ lower defenses and disproportional h.p., Magic Missiles go mostly to waste. So there's a big swing on effectiveness, though I'd have it as a Signature Spell on (nearly) any caster I could. It contrasts well w/ a Reflex-based AoE or spell attack that can crit.

I'll concede that, but I think my main point was that even in those situations, magic missile is still good, even if it's not necessarily the best option. You can spend your turn using MM and guarantee you've contributed something to the fight. Which, as you say, is why it makes a great signature spell and a good option for prepared casters to stick in spare slots at various levels.

Air Bubble: I don't think it's "clearly", hence the disagreement. It's been tweaked hard since it's now a Reaction and has a minimal duration so I couldn't tell you what Paizo intended (especially since we lack the higher level spells that had been similar), and hope they'll inform us.

You know what that's fair. I felt it was clear but you're right, if others disagree then there's something I'm connecting that y'all aren't and there's no reason to assume I'm right.

And apologies, FF, as you're going to see the disagreements, right? Who comments to say "You really nailed Color Spray!"?

No worries, I wouldn't be paying attention to or responding to feedback if I didn't want it. I can get a little short about it but that's usually if I don't feel like the feedback is given in good faith or they're being disrespectful, rude or smug about it. You did make some fair points and honestly I am reconsidering bind undead because in responding to you I actually inserted the numbers into my head and remembered that hey, there are points of the game where it can do something effective and maybe that's worth an extra star.

Zapp: Please keep responses to one post, I am, in fact, capable of reading the entirety of the post and understanding that they are separate elements.

Indiscriminate control spells: I was actually a caster in the situation that made me think critically about these kinds of spells, although I wasn't the one who cast it. Regardless, I've seen firsthand repeatedly that spells like obscuring mist, stinking cloud and PF1's web are absolutely awful to place effectively in melee, especially compared to, say, fireball, which is one and done and which frankly most martials will accept to the chin if absolutely needed.

Illusions: That was a comment on a personal experience that I had in which the GM refused to acknowledge my spell or its use in its entirety, negating the entire principle idea of my character, and which I am incredibly salty about. It sounds like I would not like your game, as someone who enjoys illusions, because you render illusions worthless if you're willing to metagame against creative applications of them (where literally the entire point of the illusion school is creative applications). This is not a criticism of you as an individual, because there are no wrong ways to play, so please don't think I'm trying to attack you as a person. It is, however, a statement that you and I have very different views on this. If you disagree with my views, that's fine, but as my guides are written from my perspective, I'm uninterested in your opinions on this subject.

Bind Undead: I feel I covered the minion option with "won't be a threat to your enemies." It might soak an attack, maybe, if you had an undead of the appropriate level available to you while having the spell prepared and the attacker isn't intelligent enough to recognize that a ghoul is going to do jack all to a glabrezu. Summons at least scale up a bit faster than that and give you a wide variety of options, options which you control.

Glyph of Warding: You're absolutely right that it's ridiculous, and in fact I should probably put a disclaimer that some GMs might not go for it, but see above re: different playstyles and points of view.

Magic Missile: That's such an incredibly niche thing that no GM is going to waste an NPC's power budget on or else hand the party 30 gp when it turns out that the wizard doesn't end up casting MM on them at all because that's just my luck, isn't it, that I'm going to call it "so much of an edge case that it might as well not exist."

Rope Trick: This one I'll actually concede the point on, that's a fair use of the spell that should upgrade it to 2*.

Stinking Cloud and Air Bubble: I actually agree with Unicore's interpretation here. The intention of air bubble is clearly to allow breathing where you would normally want/need to hold your breath, and stinking cloud or cloudkill is one such place. Consider this: if a 5th level spell does something powerful but with a drawback, and there's a 6th level version that does the same thing with less of a drawback, that seems reasonable, right? If you pair stinking cloud with air bubble, that's using 6 levels of spells (although admittedly a 1st level spell is worth less than the jump from 5th to 6th) to mitigate the drawbacks. It's much like combo'ing obscuring mist with faerie fire. That being said, as pointed out it only works on one target and you'll usually have two or three allies in melee at a time, not to mention the possibility of missing the spell (it would have to be cast after the stinking cloud came down, meaning the target has concealment from you), and overall I don't think the combo warrants a change in rating.

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Volume 4 has arrived (significantly late, I've been traveling a lot and I'm tired and forgetful so my apologies).

In response to some stuff:

Atalius wrote:
This is great stuff, looking forward to volume 3! Your missing some spells from God's and Magic, ie Ill Oman, Liberating Command etc. Any plans on adding those?

All of my guides will get content updates for new books after they're added to Archives of Nethys, so they can be properly hyperlinked as I'm adding them. When that happens I'll also do a big "patch notes" post that will include any major changes that have been made in response to feedback or new experiences on my part.

Re: Fireball, while fire resistance and immunity aren't the worst things they are still things, and by extension fire is still the worst damage type, it's just no longer a mostly bad one. Even though there are also a lot of creatures with fire weakness, I find that a more neutral damage type, like electric, is still going to be more reliable. That being said, there's a reason why despite my commentary, fireball and lightning bolt have the same rating. They're very equivalent spells in terms of their potential damage output and viability; the former has a better area type, the latter has a more reliable damage type. The wizard in my live Age of Ashes game prepares both, and bit more of fireball because there's a certain satisfaction from a well placed fireball that you can't get from any other spell, but he's gotten good mileage out of both.

Re: Blindness, I'll admit I missed the incapacitation trait before and it should probably be a 3* rating, but I stand by that even the success condition is pretty dang good.

Re: Fascinated, I'm going to disagree with y'all because Fascinate does actually do one very important thing: Creatures you Fascinate cannot use concentrate actions that don't include you. For enthrall specifically, that mostly applies to Seek and Sense Motive because it breaks so easily in combat, but in general (Fascinating Performance being imo the simplest way) it actually makes a fantastic tanking strategy because Cast a Spell has the concentrate tag, as do many offensive abilities. It doesn't stop enemies from attacking you, but it does stop them from casting spells at your friends (assuming you don't stand with them in Fireball Formation). That's why enthrall has a 2* rating, because it does have potential uses and those uses are viable and valid. 1*, the only rating below that, is reserved for things that have no actually viable use.

Whoops, accidentally copied the edit link. Here's the real link.

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We interrupt your regularly schedule discussion on the merits of ad blockers to bring you volume 3!

Unfortunately I don't get a say in the ads being there, and removing them would actually cost me money. Trust me if I had anything but the free plan y'all would never have to see another ad.

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Zapp wrote:
FedoraFerret wrote:
The key here is that there isn't actually a good answer.
You're right that it is absolutely a house rule
You say "there is no cost at all to nonlethal" but I question why you think it needs a cost to begin with. What's wrong with letting PCs take prisoners if they want to?

Absolutely a valid question - I don't disagree. Thank you.

All that's left for me to do is ask if you couldn't maybe tweak your language on Daze to make it less confusing for new PF2 GMs? :)

That is, if you instead said something to the effect of "if you run nonlethal like I do, Daze gets a higher grade than by the RAW".

Good luck with your project!

That's a very reasonable suggestion. It is done. Thanks for your input,

To pad out the downtime and keep my players from just rushing into the next adventure

Book 2/3 spoilers:
I didn't give them Eclipse at the end of Book 2. Instead, when the Scarlet Triad shows up in town in Book 3, I had them have it. Then I opened with a new Call for Heroes, this time with many people in town going missing instead of just the wainwright being kidnapped (and then only known to the PCs as they go to rescue him).

Zapp wrote:
FedoraFerret wrote:
As Krobrina said. I really hate the way RAW handles nonlethal, and most GMs I know do too, so I felt it was worth the note. RAW, a spell doing nonlethal is almost a footnote for how likely it is to knock out when you don't want to kill.

I'm thinking about how your alternative interpretation would work...

Do you mean a creature is knocked out (instead of killed) as long as even 1 point of damage was non-lethal?

Yeah, that basically means there is no cost at all to nonlethal. In the context of Pathfinder 2, that's a clear houserule.

I think it's contextual. 1 point of nonlethal, not relevant. If they've used a reasonable amount of nonlethal damage, such as multiple dazes over multiple rounds or a few turns of persistent damage from phantom pain, then I'm fine with saying they're unconscious rather than dead even if the blow that knocks them down is lethal damage.

The key here is that there isn't actually a good answer. You're right that it is absolutely a house rule, it's just an extremely common one in my experience because the way that the core rules handle nonlethal damage is, to put it frankly, bad. The rule as written makes knockouts incredibly difficult, requiring you to guess when the target is low enough to go down in one more blow and then hobble yourself by casting a lower damage spell like daze, use a lower damage weapon with nonlethal, or take a -2 penalty to your attack. Meanwhile those forms of attack are actually useless early in the fight compared to just attacking for lethal to whittle them down, which becomes a weird metagamey thing. If you were in a real duel and wanted to take someone alive, you would be using nonlethal "damage" from the beginning.

You say "there is no cost at all to nonlethal" but I question why you think it needs a cost to begin with. What's wrong with letting PCs take prisoners if they want to?

Re: Flaming Sphere, what's funny is that my memory might be deceiving me but I could've sworn it was a comment from Mark specifically that said the other way. That was an informal thing and I don't recall when it was from, though, so it may pre-date that post anyway. Either way, I've updated the review to accurately reflect things. Thank you for the correction, b8620271.

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Wait no longer, Chibi! Presenting volume 2. (you can also follow the blog, but I understand folks might not want a WordPress account).

Zapp wrote:
FedoraFerret wrote:
RAW, a spell doing nonlethal is almost a footnote for how likely it is to knock out when you don't want to kill.

Not sure what that means.

I don't think anyone expects a single application of Daze will knock out a foe. You need to deplete its hit points first just like normal, after all.

In fact, you can be pretty sure you don't need Daze right away. Killing a foe outright (from max hp) is a rare occurrence, and for an NPC important enough that you want him or her alive, rarer still.

My point is that the fact that it's nonlethal is pretty irrelevant otherwise. You use it because it targets Will, or because of the increased range, and the nonlethal is a niche thing that only applies when you accurately predict that the target is close enough to death that it will KO.

As Krobrina said. I really hate the way RAW handles nonlethal, and most GMs I know do too, so I felt it was worth the note. RAW, a spell doing nonlethal is almost a footnote for how likely it is to knock out when you don't want to kill.

Re: Acid splash, the intention is clearly, to me, that "splash damage" is intended to be 1 point to the target and everyone around them. Maybe this is iffy on the RAW, but the RAI doesn't make sense otherwise, because otherwise it would be a legitimately and completely useless spell.

Re: Heal compared to soothe, heal is definitely better, but also they don't share a spell list, so they can't be compared. There are other options for healing on the divine list, but they really don't compare to heal, particularly the cleric's free divine font ones, which are so damn good that in the cleric guide I'm currently working on it's my only five star review thusfar.

Re: Shillelagh vs. magic weapon, as Henro pointed out they're not on the same list. Magic weapon is generally better, but if we're getting into the nitty gritty and discussing it by class, a druid is more likely to be willing to mix it up in melee than a wizard so it being self-only doesn't matter as much, and the extra d8 on your staff against not one but two very common enemy types (and a third, less common) basically saves you a ton of gold. It's a really good back pocket option for the wild shape druid when they get caught without focus.

Lemeres wrote:
That is an out of battle option, of course... but we also have to consider the debate about in combat healing in the first place.

I have only my own experience to go on. That experience is that without in-combat healing, I would've had multiple wipes in multiple games by now, and those players were going into those fights at full hp. PF2 is a deadly game now, and while I wouldn't go so far as to say that a dedicated healer is necessary it goes a long way, and someone should have at least some in-combat healing ready to go (preferably multiple people).

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SuperBidi wrote:
I have a question: Why Heal is just 4 stars in healing when there are no equivalent spell in terms of healing?

That is an excellent question. Me-from-a-month-and-a-half-ago probably remembers, but he's generally dumber than I am so I won't trust him.

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Behold, volume 1 of my magnum opus. New volumes, each representing one level of spells (except vol. 9, which is levels 9 and 10) will be posted on Wednesdays and Sundays. MAGIC MARCH Y'ALL. I'll also collect them into a handy Table of Contents post once the full thing is done.

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Samurai: The difference is Wizard Dedication takes up a class feat, which are generally the most valuable type of feat in the game. Plus, as was pointed out, it has an Int prerequisite, making it only really useful if you're going Outwit Monster Hunter.

Ludovicus: In order, I prefer to look at feats in a vacuum and not based on what they're a prerequisite for

I don't include options from module adventure toolboxes, save for the animal companion options from Age of Ashes, for a variety of different reasons most of which boil down to "I don't want to buy module books I'm not going to run and I don't want to rate them outside of the context in which they were given."

You make a good point about the numbers, but that doesn't make it a 1 star option in my estimation, because it still has value. If I don't expect my second attack to hit, I would rather take a -2 to my first to increase the damage output, trying to put down as much damage as I can possibly get in that one hit.

And lastly, the main problem I had with Second Sting was that I was operating under an assumption of a fairly low static damage modifier. Taking into account a Strength based build, it's far more worth a feat slot, particularly as it has no opportunity cost to use. Going in the patch notes.

Speaking of patch notes, I'll be doing an update for the Sunday after Gods and Magic is added to Archives of Nethys, so that new content can be added and hyperlinked immediately (also so I can fix the lack of hyperlinking on class feats, because I forgot to do that.)

Rooneg: As I said on Reddit, this is what happens when Ferret keeps working too late because he wants to justify taking the next day off. I assume. Or it's possible that I'm an idiot.

Squiggit: Fair point about Vengeful, the reason I don't like it is because I value the healing resource on a martial more than a damage resource. Using your LoH for damage means you're not using it to heal, and you already have a source of damage that doesn't cost resources. Even if you're concerned about MAP, I would consider Assurance->Athletics for a maneuver on the third action first.

Nocte and King in Yellow: D'oh. When I was going through classes monk slipped my mind and I forgot the extra point that Leaf and Storm get because I was looking at points from leveling. Thanks for the reminder.

Regarding Blade Ally, I think it definitely depends on your weapon. Brawling is pretty blah, but sword and spear are free debuffs without having to do anything extra, axe is a really sizeable amount of extra damage if you have an applicable target, and club, flail, hammer and shield are all really good control.

Red Griffyn wrote:

Personal Opinion on a few items:

Paladin Reaction: Combine a reach weapon with Ranged Reprisal and you now have one of the most consistent and GM frustrating reactions. Does he attack the PC with the highest AC (i.e., you) or one of your allies? Unless the gm is following a brutal tactic of only attacking you with a mob (which is great for your team/tanking role) then you're almost guaranteed to use this every combat for nearly every round (except for weird situations like flying creatures or what not). That attack has no MAP on it, so it really frees up your main turn to get into position and gives you the freedom to not take a second attack if other actions take priority (e.g., smite evil/raise shield/lay on hands). Its powerful enough a reaction to consider a MC paladin just to pick it up on a fighter chassis that gets extra reaction feats.

While I won't deny that an extra full bonus attack is good, I still think the other two are better because it's unreliable. Sure, the clutch moment where you Retributive Strike and it kills the target feels great, but as you pointed out with Liberating Step, a roll isn't guaranteed, and even if you hit it doesn't necessarily mean anything other than that guy having fewer hit points to chew through. Comparatively...

Other Reactions: I think you are overvaluing these. The liberating step can be great for the free step, but the free escape attempt will vary tremendously. I haven't seen a lot of grappling yet, but usually the things that grab are very strong big creatures and they're grabbing your caster or secondary front-liner. The free escape attempt is by no means a guaranteed escape.

Liberating Step doesn't get the rating it does because of the potential escape attempt, that's a lovely cherry. Liberating Step's rating is because of the free Step, which will either burn an action from the attacker Stepping again to follow, or cause them to change targets, ideally to you unless you have three front liners for some reason.

By the same token, the enfeebled condition can be bad for STR based monsters, but there are lots of dex based creatures that will absolutely take enfeebled or are on the verge of death where it isn't a big choice. It'll be good for bosses to bring their attack bonus down, but not as effective on grunts. Compare that to another no MAP attack that could kill said monster or debuff it via crit specializations and I think the Paladin action is equivalent if not better.

You're right about the verge of death thing, which does balance it out with Retributive Strike, but my experience thusfar has been that dex-based, finesse-focused creatures are far less common than beefy dudes, and even for the ones who aren't, that enfeebled is still a guaranteed nerf to their damage. That's not accounting for the upgrade, which allows you to absolutely wreck a spellcaster who triggers it. The main thing is that ultimately in this game damage is just damage, control is king, and debuffing enemy stats and getting allies out of enemy reach is, in my estimation, better than a single extra attack.

L2 Feat: The available L2 feats are all pretty bad. I'd say that a MC dedication is almost always better here then any of the options.

I wouldn't call them bad. Divine Grace and Vengeful Oath I was probably too generous too, but in a game where you can expect to encounter a lot of fiends or a lot of undead, and both types of campaign were plentiful in PF1, or a lot of dragons (the first PF2 AP is literally dragon themed,

although dragon enemies aren't that common as standard enemies, but they do appear frequently as bosses and minibosses
) the oaths are actually good choices.
Sorcerer Dedication: I don't think the divine sorcerer is the best here. You're not dipping for offensive spells, you're dipping for buffs (e.g., fly, true strike) or various one action spells to proc bespell weapon (i.e., 'true strike', 'jump'). I think the arcane line has more diverse buff options and if you want to be offensive it opens up electric arc as a cantrip. As well the arcane sorcerer gives you access to the ring of wizardry to increase spell slots via WBL instead of class feats which are tighter on a MC build. As well, there is the ongoing meta of blade ally (shifting rune) + a Staff of Divination makes for true striking build.

I see your argument here. I'm personally of the mind that divine giving you access to offensive options, buffs and healing makes it interesting, particularly given that it sits with the monk as one of the only classes that can take offensive options, but arcane is also worth considering. Thank you for the input.

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This month we tackle one of the most controversial classes, and also I think one of the strongest: the champion. Next month, I do spells. All the spells. Every single spell across every single hardcover. And I'm going to have to commit to that for the rest of PF2's publishing life. Just end me now.

They don't in the books themselves, they're more there for hooks. The backmatter mostly is there to set up a lot of roleplaying opportunities, but very much optional.

Hey what a coincidence, I also allowed my party's half-orc champion to take a warg cub as his animal companion (paladin though, of Ragathiel, the #1 proponent of "take this thing that comes from an evil background and raise to to be a LG hero"). I pretty much made it "wolf but smarter."

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I took my own stab at an annotated history of Breachill by Voz, although purely in text form.

Breachill: History of Secrets:
The cover clearly originally read Breachill, Outpost of Liberty, but the word Liberty had been scratched out and replaced with Secrets. It's a detailed account of the history of the town, opening with a summary that has been scribbled upon, marked up, and heavily edited with an ink pen in the same handwriting as the note pointing to Alseta's Ring.

"Breachill traces its founding to 4520 ar. That fall, 50 humans Exactly 50? Really? No one thought that was suspicious? found themselves mired in a threadbare outpost in a valley at the foot of the Five Kings Mountains. They had little shelter, provisions to survive for just a few weeks, few skills among them, and almost no defenses against the area’s dangers. Even stranger, they had no idea how they ended up in their hovels, nor why they were there in the first place. Most barely remembered their own names. Clearly they didn't remember enough to ever ask how this happened either As winter encroached, the flimsy outpost’s vulnerabilities were clear, and the desperate survivors felt hope fading.

"And then an act of [strike]serendipity[/strike] If this was "serendipity" then I'm an idiot halfling saved their lives. Lord of what? Lamond Breachton, a wandering adventurer, scholar, and wizard, was returning from a lucrative trading trip to Druma when he stumbled upon the amnesiacs’ meager outpost Druma keeps extensive records of trading, double check later for more evidence. Even with his powerful magic, kindly Lord Breachton couldn’t solve the mystery of the humans’ origins or restore their missing memories. Ridiculous. I may not be capable of such magics but I know they're more than possible for a wizard of the caliber Breachton is proclaimed to be He took pity upon the villagers, and spent much of his recently acquired wealth on building proper shelters along the banks of what became known as Breach CreekThey really liked naming things after the old bastard didn't they?. Further, Breachton helped the amnesiacs acquire food and establish farms, brought in experts to teach them trades, and used his magic and know-how to aid their day-to-day affairs while the townspeople became self-sufficient. And isn't it convenient that an adventuring merchant wizard happened to have all of the spells needed to sustain a town in his spellbook In less than a year, the outpost was thriving, and the leaders of the burgeoning hamlet named their settlement Breachton’s Hill. This name was soon shortened to Breachill.

"Despite his monumental place in the town’s history, very little is known about Lamond Breachton himself. Of course. You would've had to actually ask questions to learn such things The wizard’s origins are a mystery, and details of his life before arriving in town are conspicuously I mostly find it impressive they realise how conspicuous this is. missing from the extensive local texts written about the town’s founding. The townspeople know only that Breachton had distinctive, golden-colored eyes not natural human colour, the rich voice of an angel likely hyperbolic, but maybe not, and flowing white hair that reached past the magnificent robes he always wore it's like a bloody parody of a wizard from a children's story. Curiously, the wizard made it clear to those early town pioneers that he was indeed a human, as opposed to an aasimar or other celestial-touched being. I find that highly doubtful. No clue what he really was, but no wizard will go that far to assure people they aren't special History books describe Breachton’s demeanor as exceedingly paternal; he treated each of the town’s pioneers as wayward children regardless of an individual’s actual ages. Of course he did, they were mentally reduced to children and he was obviously responsibleHis [strike]kindness[/strike] cunningand willingness to [strike]expend his own resources to help the outpost[/strike] invest in whatever scheme he was running seemed without limit, however—he made the humans’ survival and well-being his entire focus for an entire year. As one does with an experiment, or a pet. Then one day, as quickly as he had arrived, Breachton disappeared. Most confusing part. He cultivated a town of worshippers and vanished. Got what he wanted? Research complete? Bored? Gods know they bore me. The townspeople never heard from him again, but they understood the wanderer’s need to move on. As a final tribute to the wizard, the townspeople erected a statue of him that stands in the center of town to this day. I still cannot believe these idiot humans built an actual statue of this charlatan.

"Breachill’s population swelled and came to include dwarves, half-elves, half-orcs, and even goblins. What drew them in? Breach River leads nowhere, it's too remote for trade, the only import or export they have is half-decen wood and gullible morons with delusions of grandeur Though it remains a comparatively small settlement, Breachill quickly became known as a perfect place for adventurers in the region to stop for a hearty meal, a decent inn, and an enthusiastic audience for their tales from the road. Early on, the town established a tradition of formally employing adventurers for duties that concerned its citizens but fell outside the purview of the town’s guard. Peculiar how many such incidents occur compared to other towns, even for Isger. And in time, the town caught the eyes of the Hellknights, a strictly lawful mercenary group dedicated to protecting order at all costs. WHY? There. Is. Nothing. Out. Here.

"In 4638 ar, the newly formed Hellknight Order of the Nail pledged themselves to fighting lawlessness in the untamed wilds. Breachill, for all my hatred of this dismally rural place, is not untamed. Why settle somewhere that is neither cosmopolitan enough to truly sustain them nor wild enough to justify their presence? Impressed with Breachill’s peaceful and efficient functionality, they chose a spot outside Breachill for their inaugural home, Citadel Altaerein. B!!$!&%~. More to this. The order built its single-tower I can literally look out the window and see four towers, you idiot keep high on a low-rising hill about 10 miles northeast of town Considering he can't count to four I'm not surprised he somehow cut the distance to the keep in half.. For decades, Breachill served as a supply juncture for the Hellknights, and many townspeople took jobs as laborers or staff members attending to the keep’s needs. But then, in 4682 ar, only 44 years after building Citadel Altaerein, the Order of the Nail pulled up stakes from what had become known as Hellknight Hill. You would think a knightly order dedicated to absolute lawfulness would be less fickle. Something changed? Same thing as Lamond??? Lured to the west by Queen Domina, then ruler of Korvosa, the Order of the Nail relocated to a far more expansive home in Citadel Vraid. For many years, it maintained a skeleton crew of Hellknights to watch over the essentially empty citadel atop Hellknight Hill, but in 4711, the Hellknights abandoned Citadel Altaerein entirely. Forgot about the deed. Need to claim it for self.

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It feels really good to see my name here. A big thanks to Eleanor and Luis for the opportunity, and for these Meet the Author things.

Siegfried: I am a big fan of the mounted bear build, but the highest damage that I've seen out of a ranger wasn't small, it was a human ranger riding a horse and dual-wielding lances. His plan was to eventually specialize in hit and run where he would take the feat to spend 2 actions giving his horse 3, first action support, second action move, flurry in the middle of his horse's move, third action move away again to set up the jousting again for the next round.

Lemeres: I think for most companions I would suggest precision, the bear being the big exception since its special ability wants it to hit twice and it needs all the help it can get there. Even then, though, stacking precision on your attack with the bear's support benefit is hella tempting.

Hsui wrote:
Thus, the key choices are what evolutions do I take bearing in mind that dex is almost idiotic to take after you hit +5 (+6 gives you +1 attack and NO AC advantage since you are of course using +2 light barding). Notice there is no soft cap on strength and especially con, so those stats are slightly more valuable

You are not, in fact, using +2 light barding because +2 light barding doesn't exist.

PossibleCabbage: In addition to what siegfriedliner said, ranger companion has a more limited free action, since it has to move towards your hunted target and can't attack anyone else, making them less good for a mount while ranged, and druids also get the ability to heal their companion. These are considerations I'll be including in champion guide coming out this Sunday and the druid guide coming out Soon(tm).

siegfriedliner wrote:
If you start with a finesse creature and take agile and daredevil for master Unarmoured AC and +8 Dex your AC isn't bad.it best in the game but not bad.

At level 16 with Nimble and either Daredevil or Ambusher your companion is looking at 26+6 (proficiency)+2/3 (starting Dex)+5 (Dex boosts)=39/40 AC (depending on if you took a Dex companion type or not). A standard fighter at the same level will have 26+4 (expert armor)+5 (Medium Armor's AC cap, could go up or down 1 but that would be average)+2 (armor potency)=37 AC, 39 with a shield or parry. So your companion can have a good armor class, although it's still sitting there with literal wizard hp in melee and that AC makes no guarantees; an equivalent level creature is swinging at you for +32-33, which hits the highest AC you can have for this creature on a 7 and crits on a 17.

That's why I rate Nimble and the two Dex specializations so highly, because the next step down for AC is Indomitable and a non-Dex specialization which only comes out to 26+4 (proificency)+6 (barding cap)=36, and now you're suddenly getting hit on a 3 and crit on a 13 with your slightly higher wizard hp, and if you went savage you're looking at 2 lower than that and even less hp. All of this is ignoring that your party will fight a fair amount of creatures that are higher level, which will have sharp spikes in attack bonus that turn your companion to tissue paper.

Of course, this all applies to PCs too, since as we've seen the Nimble guy is actually ahead of the fighter (now, at level 15 it was actually still behind), but the difference is that our fighter has about 64 more hp than the companion does (plus or minus depending on if they've been maxing Constitution and if they took Toughness, but the answer to at least one of those questions should be "yes" anyway so I'm inclined to go with plus more than minus).

Companion damage keeps up really well with PCs if they hit (which is another issue that deserves its own post to break the numbers down if someone wants to hear it) and their tactical and support benefits are pretty solid, but my own experience with companions as well as the numbers point to them being very difficult to keep alive.

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Hsui wrote:
In PF2, the ACs are meant to be secondary/tertiary combatants (minion killing, bodyguard, etc). PCs are the stars and should never be overshadowed in design. Thinking they are bad because they would die horribly as frontliners is a little odd.

The issue is that they're designed to be frontliners. All three of the roles I laid out in this guide require the companion to be moving into melee combat unless they're serving as a mount for an archer or mage. There are no other roles, they're either going into melee or they're doing nothing. I completely agree that they needed to be nerfed from PF1's standards, but I think this level of squishiness is an overcorrection.

Gortle wrote:

Nice. I'd probably rate the snake a little lower because it is slower to move around. The GM could freak out when you put barding on it - simply not allowed in PF1.

Many wasted actions getting it into place or even slowing the party down.

I did consider that, but I think their constrict is sufficiently good to counterbalance that.

Have you done the numbers on animal companions at high levels. It's not good.

I have. There is a reason why I value AC on them so highly, given that a savage bully bear is almost not missable by an equal level creature.

Hsui wrote:

Two, quick notes/questions

1) Indomitable Companion is only allowed for Megafauna (might want to note that)

I didn't distinguish because as far as I can tell, the only difference between a regular and megafauna companion is you have to declare it one or the other, given that all of the companion types can theoretically be a form of megafauna and no rules are actually given for what can be a megafauna and what can't be.

2) If you are playing a medium race and want a mount, you will need to take Savage since Nimble does not increase size. Given that you rate secondary DPR at 2 stars and mount at 3 stars, would you suggest medium size races take Savage everytime?

I wouldn't, I would suggest they take Indomitable every time because Indomitable creatures also go to Large.

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Personally I do really value Dex based skills and a higher Reflex save, but for a two-weapon fighting ranger that extra static damage will add up and it's worth counting.

As promised, the animal companions mini-guide.

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Fresh off the presses, we dive into the world of animal companions, everyone's favorite murder-fluffs.

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Order of the Nail are pretty much colonialists most than anything, and that's something I tried to play up. One of my parties actively decided to bring him along to try and redeem him. They're failing to do so, but they at least made friends with him and have given him some perspective on "not murdering goblins and warg puppies."

I believe geniekin is the general term Pathfinder uses. Are you writing these for professional publication? Because if you aren't and it's just for a home game then you can call them whatever you please.

Strill wrote:
So you don't value Additional Lore because you assume there won't be any downtime opportunities? Where is this assumption coming from?

There's no assumption here. The value of something like Additional Lore scales with the amount of downtime you have. That's a 2 star rating. It's not an awful trap choice, but it doesn't have general "anyone in any campaign can probably benefit from this" value, which is the mark required to reach 3 stars.

Castilliano: I like where you're head is at, but the point is trying to keep it simple. I try to include clarifications or notes of "hey if you're doing this it's more worth it than not" in the commentary but the purpose of the stars is meant to be something quick and easy to reference.

Castilliano wrote:

I agree with your interpretation of Battle Medicine re: hands, but would also score it higher (especially since Medicine is also a solid way for a Fighter to contribute out of combat since Wisdom is likely being boosted). Or, as you infer, give Battle Medicine two ratings: one for builds that have difficulty getting a free hand and a higher one for builds that have a free hand or get one easily.

Arguably, many of the ratings should have multiple scores depending on one's primary build.

I'll reconsider a three star rating. At the end of the day if I try to rate everything for all the different builds and how they apply it'll start getting to be too much imo, but I should keep in mind that two stars is "it's not a great idea but don't let me stop you" or "this is incredibly dependent on the campaign and situations you're in," while three star fits "depends on your build" a lot better.

Strill wrote:
You only have enough skill increases to max out 3 skills. Are you assuming that everyone is just gonna max out Craft? Spending one skill feat to bring a lore skill to legendary is a much, much, much smaller cost than investing your skill ranks to bring Craft to legendary.

No, I'm assuming that boosting the rank of a lore skill is highly situational and subjective. If you have a lot of downtime, sure, you're increasing the likelihood of a critical success which is more money in your pocket. That puts it in the same category as Legendary Professional and Legendary Performer, which are also two star because it's campaign dependent. Or, as Castilliano said, there's plenty of situations where Sailing Lore or Mountain Lore or [City] Lore would be really helpful, but those are all, again, campaign dependent, and honestly I would consider something along the lines of Untrained Improvisation or another "level to untrained" feat a more generally valuable use of your feats, because that's a lot of Lores you can roll at a decent bonus instead of just the one at a really good bonus.

Once again, Additional Lore is two stars, not one. I'm not saying it's worthless, I'm saying that it's very situational, narrow and dependent on the kind of campaign you're in.

Re: the Snare discussion, my understanding, at least, regarding snares is that anything that applies to your snares also applies to your free daily snares. As far as Quick Snares, I rate it two stars because for someone who wants to make deploying combat snares a core part of their build and who is willing to spend the gold, they are going to run out of their prepared snares every day so having the option to spend gold for more is better. I do wish that the cost reduction for snare crafting was a bit more forgiving, but hey, what're ya gonna do, am I right?

Re: Main-gauche, I'll freely admit I slept on this one until the ranger in my Age of Ashes game picked it up, and you're right Artorin, unless you're a dwarf it's the superior off-hand weapon. Expect a mention in the next patch.

Re: flurry vs. precision, I hadn't done the DPR calculations on it myself, although it does check out, and I will also agree that precision is better for most companions because you effectively get to proc it twice per turn. Going on the "reevaluate for the patch" list.

UnArcane Election: Ope, thanks friend.

First World Bard: I gave very little consideration to STR-based TWF but I like where you're coming from. My intention was a more general recommendation and generally a ranger wants Dex more than Str, but I'll make a note of your thoughts later on.

Winkie_Phace: Next week's post will be the Companion mini-guide, it'll be posted in this forum and linked in this guide on release.

Strill wrote:
You're underestimating Additional Lore. For a skill feat, it can make a huge impact on your ability to generate money, and it's great flavorwise too. Did you miss the part where the lore skill's proficiency advances automatically?

I did not. I don't consider spending a feat on a bump to your Earn Income checks worth more than two stars, particularly not when Crafting is a more broadly useful skill for investment and will do the same.

Also, you're seriously underrating Battle Medicine. Did you miss the part where it's a 1-action heal that you can use on yourself, in combat, even with your hands full? It's basically a mini version of Untwisting Iron Buffer.

"Even with your hands full" is contested as to whether that's RAI or not, and personally I fall under "it is not RAI and not how it runs at my table" because how exactly are you meant to be bandaging yourself up with your hands full. As such, unlike Untwisting Iron Buffer, it is useless for basically everyone except archers (who need it less, given they try to live outside of the fray) and einhanders, and gets 2 stars.

TheGentlemanDM wrote:

One thing I'd note: Savage Critical is still really good for attacks after the first.

Yes, you'll crit with a 19 on the first attack anyway, but critting on a 19 on the second or third attack should be better than one star.

It's also a nice boost for when you're debuffed.

Y'know, I hadn't considered that, but you're right. I'll reevaluate it for the Gods and Magic patch.

Presenting the sulgist, an isolationist woodland ancestry of intelligent physical powerhouses.

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