they are not constant because no developer ever thought that some crazy nerds would start such an argument! I would say this is totally gm decision because according to the rules you can interpret it in 2 different ways (reading this I can't say Seeker is wrong or it is so clear how it is wrote)...
It's tricky to have races like werewolves and vampires in the party, but in the end it could be easily houseruled to make them not too powerful or they could have some character level disadvantage compared to the others.
Assassin class needs an assassin guild? I don't think it's so strange to have a character 'working' alone and having some assassin levels...
About factions I don't know, if you like to do the story and stuff you could create your factions and character!
The most important things in being a DM, I speak from my personal experience, is to be fair and to do things with good sense. Don't get too lost in rules if you see the game is crippling, maintain the same meter of evaluation for every character and situations. Imagine when you describe things if there was in real life such a monster / device / view whatever how would it look like!
You could add something similar to the archetypes to the Fighter and other martial classes (I'm thinking of monk and rogue), so that they would gain some extra customization and extra small options: I would focus those "archetypes" more on extra class skills than sheer numbers (I don't like the derive that forces all the rpgs to produce new books always with better numbers: growth is not always possible! Let's face the future and stop that starting from pathfinder! :P
For example, a monk could choose between some particular weapon fighting styles (a monk that scales some weapon damage or somehow is not forced to use unarmed strikes all the time) or stances or particular martial schools (I'm thinking of Okuto no Ken and a monk able to strike as melee from afar like Nanto school - not that I did not put a NPC like that in one of my campaign); rogues would be about trapper assassin (who might eventually lead to the assassin death attack skill) or evasive skills (I know it's very cliche, just could not think of anything more original right now); fighter can have for example pit fighting (something to be effective also unarmed) chivalry (to gain bonuses with animal handling and riding skill/feats) or tactician (who could get the famous expertise without requirement?)...
It's not true that is less effective, if you multiply for every attack (first and second hand) the bonuses of weapon focus (later improved), weapon training, weapon spec (imp.), critical focus and various extra effects... Immagine doing it with a kukri, you have kind of a warmachine, that slice things like a mini pimer and crits on both hands with 15 blinding the target etc...
...Unfortunatly you have to invest like crazy into dexterity, which sucks! If I had to fix something, more than the fighter I would fix the dex requirements of two weapon fighting!
That being said I personally prefer to play ranger, because I like skills and all these cool stuff he has, and I prefer using two handed weapons because to be effective you only need power attack and few other things, and I can spend the feats I spear into useful things (like Iron Will and Improved iron will) and the bonus feats of ranger into the archery tree (so I can shoot, melee and ignore the dex requirments, investing instead in strength).
Just a fast digression on using more than one style, use weapon fighting:
The fighter using two weapons can use same weapons in each hand (let's say, short blade weapon training and short sword as weapon -the difference between using a long sword instead of a short is just 1 damage average), getting the bonuses of weapon training / weapon focus / spec / crit etc on both, putting together all the bonus and spearing some feats. The talents to be a dual wielder are nothing too impressive as numbers, but are a bit pain in the neck for ability score requirements (17 dex etc).
A human at 9 level he would have 11 feats! (3 feats for various two w.; 3 for w focus, w spec and improved crit; power attack and we are at 7. Still 4 feats aviable, if you want they might be point b shot, rapid shot and deadly aim and manyshot?).
I just used core book and just thought about it very rapidly, but it gives a scheme and for sure you can be effective in both melee and ranged with such a character, other than having a very good AC.
What I meant is that is a roleplay game and not a videogame. For what concernes me, dying is one of the way a character can go out of scene: they can retire, become a landlord or a merchant or whatever, or die... There is no cartoon style ghost walking from respawn point to claim the corpse, recovering gold and items; your group might want to resurrect you and keep your stuff for you, not that is easy to resurrect someone.
I think the point of augmenting all the time the numbers does not make things more balanced. I think numbers are balanced as they are. The risk of augmenting too much numbers on the fighter's side (because they can't cast fly etc) is that the scaling of numbers will lead to a slippery slope where they will be the only one able to fight. It's nice for them to be the best at it but not to be the only ones.
The wolf had better AC and was really useful in combat, hitting and tripping around while taking many foes attention on him and survived... the barbarian was a new player, had 16 strength and could not really make the difference. I'm not saying it's general experience, but on the other hand, something can be 'overpowered' but compared to what? Roleplay as my experience goes is more a matter of solving situations and adapt to what you encounter!
Death or Glory is really really bad. Why in hell you would like to not have all your attack but a single one with +4? That also costs you an extra attack from the monster? Is almost senseless, maybe in some very circumstancial situation... I think it qualifies for one of the worste talents ever.
I see a very good option in fighter / rogue multiclass. But if you put together the 5 AB, the weapon training, the weapon focuses and specializations, in the end the difference in numbers is pretty huge, even with an improbable same strength value. Also the rogue will have despite his probably high dex a much less AC, since the armor penalties would kill him (while the fighter can almost sleep in his full admantium platemail).
love this one: "Each +1 enhancement bonus on a weapon only overcomes 5 points of DR/magic, the all or nothing rule doesn't feel right to me."
Here are some house rules I use in my games:
-Character generator: I used 15 pb, and I am switching to 17 or 18 for next time have not decided yet.
-Alignment: the character chose a background according to campaign settings and an alignment. Dungeon Master has right to change it according to character behave (characters caring only for rewards, killing everything just caring for personal xp and coins... move towards evil!). The Dungeon Master should give some hints about the conduct of the player changing his alignment for him to be aware.
-2 consecutive 20 rolls mean threat for instant death: if the third roll is a successful hit, the enemy instantly dies.
-Power Attack can be used on thrown ranged weapon (such as javelins) to increase damage and viceversa Deadly Aim can be used with piercing weapons such as short swords and rapiers to increase damage (prerequisite for this last option is the weapon finesse feat).
-You can use Manyshot with a crossbow (you need to make a small modify on the crossbow).
-Create water creates only the amount wrote on the book in total per day, divided in how many casting the Character wants.
-I have a different point of view on richness of character according to level, and tend to have much poorer Characters and NPCs in my campaigns.
I would suggest a 12-16-12-10-7-14 build or a 12-14-12-10-7-16, depending if you want to be more an archer or more a 'caster'... Skill focus could go both in acrobatic (to get out of trouble), perform, perception (very solid choice always, also considering your -2 wisdom modifier)...
Knowing what are you going to encounter is in real game, as far as my experience goes, very unlikely. Druid can transform and fly / summon / crawl / climb / dig according to the situation without any spell prepared, they can prepare a variety of spells and spontaneously substitute them with a summon, choosing a different creature according to what is needed.
I think druids are a very good and adabtable class.
I just have ideas and concepts I want to try...
Speaking about balance...
Speaking about extra feats, I think is a very good bonus. I have never had a warrior or another martial class that I did not know where to put an extra feat in use (there are so many feats you will want, but you have to plan carefully which feats you want that are not warrior bonus feats -such as iron will and improved iw- to take them as your character level feats).
I personally find the Fighter a good option and a good dual class option, I see it combining very well with the Rogue class for example, as you can take advantage both of some extra d6 dmg during flanking and of all the class skills (with 3 levels you would get 2d6 SA, many class skill and SP, trap spotter and loose 1 BAB).
I played once a Fighter/Bard in one group, he was average effective into combat (Just enough CHA for spells, better physical stats, Dazzling Display) and Extremely useful in all other situations!
If you don't want your Fighter to be a boring character, don't make it boring!
I like the idea of limited number but very powerful spells. I don't think any wizard or sorcerer could complain about pathfinder being to harsh on them. Also at lower level, sleep kicks ass more than any rapid shot.
How can you say that CE is useless and that trading attack bonus for AC for a fighter is bad?
"I thought about making Use Magic Device a rogue-only auto-advancing class ability, which would create rogues that can use the funky stuff that the party loots but nobody can activate, granting them a mix of strange tricks and aces up their sleeves, giving them some of their situational control back via scrolls and wands."
This is a very nice idea I think the staff should take it into consideration. Bravo! Something like wild empathy, so it would save skill points to the rogue to spend in other skills (as if it needs lol).
Anyway, it's hard to make perfectly balanced classes leaving complete freedom to players. In a video game is easier, because you have restrictions that make rules easier, it's just a matter of maths to make balanced classes. Here is different, how much can be valuated the ability to have high stealth, perception, bluff, diplomacy and disguise? Using these skills could allow you to avoid completely a fight, that could have been deadly. Than you are better than a warrior that would have to fight and die there?
Also, spell casting IS AWESOME. It's hard to make balanced 'fighter' classes (or 'not caster' if you prefore the term) in comparison with spell casters, because with levels they will be basically able to do whatever they want with spells. And I think this is pretty a fact. I also think that Pathfinder has done a lot to make non-casters classes more competitive (the ranger example comes to mind).
As for bards... Honestly I don't see why bards should be so much better than rogues. First of all, no multiclass with bards (otherwise you just split powers with no synergies). They rock in out of combat, more than rogues, but they don't have high perception (or are you making a bard with high WIS, almost the only dumpable ability for bards?), in a 1v1 he would probably be surprised, stabbed and sneaked by a rogue, before starting the combat and be able to cast out a modest spell (given that he passes his concentration check).
So, assuming your 10° level rogue out damaged... Let's look at him this way: 15 point buy: 18 15 12 10 10 7 at 10°: 19 16 12 10 10 7
With these abilities you can try to use the intimidate feats (weapon focus, dazzling display etc, there is no need for intimidating prowess) maybe with a weapon with reach to stay a little bit out of troubles?
I try to avoid the division of roles in the party as if we were in a video-game like WOW (the tank, the healer, the damage dealer...). Role play is about playing a character, trying to successfully complete an adventure or what goals your character has (it also depends on the campaign of course).
Traps can be nasty, and yeah a Rogue (or an Archeologist or whatever it is, never played or seen one in my whole experience or roleplayer) is the best class to deal with them, but it's not that is necessary to have a Rogue just for that (as it's not necessary to have any particular class to reach a specific goal,it's enough that the party's competences vary), there are many ways to get past a particular devastating trap also if it has infinite 'resets' (thus a little crit activating it would not be enough): you can hire a rogue to disarm it, you can pass through the walls with a spell, maybe it would be enough a spell to reveal traps to know where they are and walk past them, or it might be a fly spell used to reach the other side of the room avoiding that particular area, and so on.
I would use a ranger on a 2man group, maybe with a rogue level (skills, animal companion, and almost a fighter).
Wow, there is a lot of nasty ideas!
The party (4°) is in a ancient tomb / ruin. At this point crosses a narrow (acrobatics dc 10) metal footbridge over a pit full of spikes. A couple of traps activate passing on specific points of the bridge, casting gust of wind (that potentially throws the character in the pit) [my group tied ropes around the bridge and themselves at this point]. At the end of the footbridge, there is a narrow ceremonial room with an altar in the end and on top of it an item that the party needed. The room is designed with paintings etc, and strange black holes are scattered among the walls to melt with the background drawings unseen. As the weight of the item is removed from the altar (like Indiana Jones!) a poisonous gas starts to flow out, and two previously sealed secret doors that were looking like corridor's walls start to rise, just on the other side of the footbridge. Behind these doors there are large skeleton champions, two archers (with large composite bows, 1d10 + str) and two armored ones with tower shields that stay on front.
The challenge was tough but the group managed.
It's late, but more to come!
Does he sleep in a cabin on the boat? Does this cabin have a kind of opening / glass / window? Slip into his room during night, coup de grace him, throw the corpse out of the window (the sea will take care) than go back to sleep. The next morning, you have no freaking Idea of what happened to mr turtle. You were just sleeping.
The role of the rogue is an archer / melee support, with a lot of skills to cover relevant aspects of the game (acrobatics, bluff, sleight of hand, perception, disable devise, stealth, use magic device etc.) and with the opportunity to strike for considerable damage in given circumstances.
If we talk about 'balance' of the rogue in the game, I would say keep it 8 hd and 3/4 BAB and focus the game more on skills. This is an aspect subject to the DM approach to the role play but... Skills are a relevant part of the game, not a miscellaneous aspect. When you have fighters firing 7 arrows in 6 seconds, and wizards teleporting around, is unfair to leave physic law restrictions only regarding skills!
@Crimson Sirius: Here are my suggestions: half orc / human, focused on str, falchion (or two handed sword) + PA, most probably weapon focus, later on you will be looking for improved critical and a mithral breastplate for defense (count as light for movement, keeps until +5 dex, which is more or less the dex you are aiming at with bonus included). The 15point buy as I wrote above might be 18-15-12-10-10-7. Toughness and dodge would be appreciated; Vital strike could be effectively used. A middle game rogue, with a +2 breast plate, a +2 ring and dodge feat would have 8a+5dex+2r+1d= 26 AC plus natural armor bonus... It's pretty decent, considering that you will be able to avoid some thanks to acrobatics and that you are almost taking zero damage from fireballs and the alike.
imagine the same Rogue hitting while flanking after an acrobatics check (done with at least +19) for 10d6+21+6 bleed damage. It's not a spell, it's just a standard action with standard equipment: 22 strength (+4 from a belt of physical might), a [+3] two-handed sword, power attack, vital strike, 6d6 sneak attack, bleeding attack.
So, just to give some input to the rogue role... Take a half orc. Your attributes are Str and Dex (8 sp is enough without int bonus), Cha is your low ability (18-15-12-10-10-7 might be a good 15 point buy start). Get a falchion, get power attack, get at some point toughness, dodge, medium armor proficency -with a mithral brestplate?-, improved critical (you could also think about a fighter level); make them bleed with your snakes attacks and hit when they don't expect with a two handed!
You have a lot of skills anyway, you sacrifice charisma and related skills (this kind of character would be probably best in a party where there is a paladin / sorcerer another 'face' of the party), but you can still cover a lot of situations and you hit HARD. You can acrobatically jump in position, deliver one massive snake attack (maybe with vital strike later on) with a nice dmg output: your buddy will be flanking on his round, you can deliver another snake attack on your next turn and acrobatically find your way out of trouble if needed.
Completely agree with Samuel.
The key is to chose spells that cover various types of enemies, if you face a demon, well black, tentacles could be a valid spell to cast on him (of course depends on the demon etc.). With a talent you can also change the kind of elemental damage your spell does, and anyway you better not focus on a single element theme or you will be often in trouble!
You lose your spell due to the sneak damage, next round you are aware of the danger and you can move behind a barrel (it's just an example, imagine being in a dead end, in the slum district of the city, cornered by robbers) and cast a spell that otherwise would be forfait: that was the point.
Of course you have to built a proper sorcerer, with for example black tentacles lightning bolt and fireball you can damage on area, change element, control the battlefield, as much as you have spells, and you have plenty. A wizard could prepare one of those, 2, than just watch.
As the oracle, ok maybe he knows just 4 2° spell, but he does not have to learn any restoration, and doesn't have to rely on spontaneous healing. I gave a Half Orc oracle (6° now) as an npc to my group, he's a tough melee character with 18 strength (15point built), he has at the moment those spells
what I'm getting at is: why the ranger does not cast like a druid? He does not transform into a huge elemental, he has just 1/4 BAB less and 1pf per level, so let's give him the same spell capability as a Druid. Sounds as crazy to me as giving the same spell progression to sorcererr
@abraham: wizard: cast d. door - prepared arrow on him from a hidden archer, concentration check failed, no more d. door.
If you ask me, there could be a "war crossbow" for martial weapon users, it might be just like a light cross bow, with the opportunity to make it "mighty", it costs a lot and it needs ONE talent to be used effectively (to reload it as a free action. The talent could be a custom "war crossbow mastery" for example).
The flexibility that the wizard has?