I dont have the precise text in front of me but they do say that GrandMother Spider's worship isn't as common in the inner sea region.
I'm not certain however if that means her favored weapon is more common in the area where her worship is common. Personally if someone was investing the feat for unconventional weaponry I'd allow it, but that may not be what a PFS GM would say
The bola was added in the Gods book and you can get access through these rules in the CRB:
From Cleric: Deity
And from Champion:You zealously bear your deity’s favored weapon. If it’s uncommon, you gain access to it. If it’s an unarmed attack with a d4 damage die or a simple weapon, increase the damage die by one step (d4 to d6, d6 to d8, d8 to d10, d10 to d12).
The bola is the favored weapon of Grandmother Spider.
This is exactly what I'm talking about as far as a rigid ruling. Yes if you are taking things as literal as possible you can have a logically sound argument for it being abusable. Which if you follow the logic wormhole down deep enough could lead you to just preventing the rules from interacting all together.
The alternative is taking an approach that allows the rules to interact and just simply not allowing status bonus that ultimately affects speed to stack with another status bonus.
But let's say we wanted to go really strict and logical RAW. That would only allow Longstrider to apply to your flight speed and that new flight speed could then be modified by more spells. Since a status bonus to land speed is unquestionably in effect you'd have to rely on another status bonus that specifies to either ALL Speeds or just Fly speeds to further stack effects. With the exception of triple time the spells that would work this way would seem to be few.
I mentioned before I could see my opinion shifting if it became problematic. The closer I look at how interpretation #3 would pan out the less worried I am about it breaking the game. Once again a matter of opinion but if my players want to throw together a bunch of resources for a special speed situation then I'd be tempted to say go for it! Maybe it's just my play group but I think the odds of this happening frequently are either low and if it did happen could make for a potential heroic/epic moment of the team working together when the time is right.
Just to be clear not advocating for ruling #3 but I suppose when it comes down to it I'd still take it over #1.
It is a single instance in one spell which is fine but (in my opinion) shouldn't be the basis for every other spell.
While option 2 simply requires you observed that your speed is already being affected by a status bonus and apply the rules as normal. You could just as easily put +10 status bonus to speed in the notes as a temporary buff and just track your speeds as normal in the speed space.
Bypassing fundamental design principles? I would say on the other side you could be seen as throwing out design principles. I really don't see that as the simpler option but as you said earlier to each their own.
That's exactly what I said.
At any rate another point of view of why what you have labeled as Scenario #2 isn't that crazy. As a GM you have 3 rulings you can possibly make.
#1 Create a new sweeping rule that distinguishes between normal speeds and derived speeds and dictates which spells can be used along with which, this is a distinction not made in the CRB, one that would come up many times throughout the rules,and would make some feats and spells not do what they appear to say they do. A rather rigid ruling which gets rid of a lot in order to avoid a possible error.
#2 make a ruling that a status bonus is meant to be treated as a status bonus even though the spell entry doesn't spell out every scenario. I would even argue seeming to go along with the intention of the spells effect and rewarding players in a limited capacity for clever use. This reading I think really is the most "human" ruling and I think is the most common or easy to explain ruling and makes understanding spells simpler.
#3 Taking the vagueness of the rules and trying to push the limits. Taking a computer like reading and allowing multiple status bonuses that ultimately apply to fly speed to stack. The logic can be found to support this but only here do you run into too good to be true problems. That same logic that allows this is rigid and seem to disregard what I feel is the most likely intention, which would be to let status bonuses apply but not stack (as per normal). This may be the most mechanical way to rule this.
I can understand the line of thought behind all 3. Obviously my opinion is biased towards which is best. To state my opinion a different way: I don't think the abusable logic of 3 is a good reason to choose 1 over 2.
Just a note about some of the specifics here. Don't forget the text to Fly is an "or" statement.
"The target can soar through the air, gaining a fly Speed equal to its Speed or 20 feet, whichever is greater."
Even with a -10 penalty you'd be at a 10 fly speed minimum.
A loss of mobility is a trade off from using heavy armor.
I guess that's where we difer.
I don't see the frequency of the rule interaction or there being several options for combos as being inherently problematic by itself or too good to be true.
True, it will have an effect but that's only because of the difference in having a Swim speed you automatically perform and the option to take a check to swim based on a calculation.
It will have no effect on an automatic swim speed and will have at most a +5 foot affect on the other (with the possibility of it having no effect). Kinda on the same note with flight. If you had a flight speed from using a broom of flying no effect, but those spells that use a calculation involving a land speed I don't see the need to alter, mostly because your burning more resources and not just receiving it for free.
Both involve spending more resources or taking a bit more risk. I'm sure you're familiar with the mechanics. I just wanted to highlight some of the ways in which it wouldn't always apply a bonus to other speeds or at the very least not a guaranteed bonus.
In my mind this is far from the too good to be true category but I could see reassessing that if it ever became a problem at the table. I will not deny that the combo can be strong especially with players who make the maximum use of their mobility.
I am not seeing what's confusing about those scenarios. Fly spell is very clear that it does one thing or another. If something like swim find has a negative item bonus to speed just factor that in once as you would do any other bonus or penalty.
Any weird interaction with special affects simultaneously buffing and nerfing a speed used in another speeds calculation could happen but would be a weird scenario I think a GM could probably reasonably navigate. I don't think longstrider + fly is a scenario I'd consider weird and unusual however.
Rule lawyers can be annoying but I understand what you mean.If I was in a game going as close to RAW as possible (PFS) I'd be very surprised if a GM informed me he was not allowing Longstrider and Fly rules to work together.
I would agree with Zapp that Longstrider would affect your Fly speed from the Fly spell. Mostly because that's the simplest ruling (to me) and it seems overly restrictive to not allow the expenditure of a spell slot to increase your land speed to not convey its benefit to a spell that takes your land speed into account.
Without an errata entry or something similar I think it would be a rare circumstance where a GM would take on a restrictive interpretation especially when weird circumstances like the use of Triple Time spell increasing two different speed can be easily resolved by simply realizing that Fly calculation is an "or" statement and that Status bonuses shouldn't stack.
Basically I see it as LongStrider adding 10 to your speed (assumed landspeed) which is used in the Fly Spell calculation. Triple Time adds 10 to your land speed and to your fly speed but since when comboing it with the Fly spell we are looking at it either being
A. Your land Speed +10 (so same benefit as casting Fly after Longstrider) Or....
Getting the same Status Bonus again from Triple Time would be double-dipping. I am sure there are those that disagree but this seems to be the most reasonable interpretation where each component is doing "something" but nothing is doing too much.
I appreciate the honesty!
Yeah if we assume competency it seems pretty clear (but as we all know everyone is capable of making mistakes).
With the wording that is there I think it gives strong clues that the intention is that at least with polymorph effects the intention is to have them counteract each other. I am wondering if there are any other examples the community can think of that may interact weirdly?
Interesting. I found the quote in the Alchemical Items section on Nethys.
A mutagen always conveys one or more beneficial effects (listed in the Benefit entry) paired with one or more detrimental effects (shown in the Drawback entry). Mutagens are polymorph effects, and a subsequent polymorph effect attempts to counteract an existing effect; the counteract check for a mutagen uses the item’s level and a modifier equal to the that level’s DC – 10, as found on Table 10–5: DCs by Level.
The fact that they specifically point out this rule interaction and also do not specify any method to end the effect early or avoid the counteract attempt (without the feat) makes me seem that this is an intended consequence/limitation to using abilities/spells/items with a polymorph effect.
Thats a pretty wild statement. I think anytime we have Magic Raging Barbarian Druids we are pretty far into the realm of "made up". Almost everything about the setting is made up or fictional. This game has more rules to make game play more in depth but that's far from saying the game and the world of Golarion isn't fantasy and requiring some suspension of disbelief.
Also to address your issues with hitting I am wondering what kind of equipment/runes (striking runes should be available around level 4) and stat builds you are running? Combat strategies? Team synergy?
I specifically addressed that and recommended dismissing the spell in my original text that you quoted.
Next time just use an easier example, like a cleric wanting to switch from Bless to Bane without dismissing bless first. Apart from that I would be equally interessted in the outcome of your question about mandatory or voluntary counteracting if both effects come from the same source.
Going with my gut on the core of Ravingdork question my instinct is that if it is a magical effect that just continues to happen until dismissed or until the duration runs out and it doesn't require you to maintain any kind of concentration or sustaining actions then it would still be competing magical effects that would try and counteract one another. Interested in what others opinions on this are.
For clarity Uberton_X could you put some context to the scenario? Like you had been emanating bless and you wanted to immediately start emanating bane? They both have different targets. It says one can counteract the other but not that they have to. I am not sure I am seeing a reason why both can't be going at once?
Rather than think of it as a general rule on personal polymorph trait spells, my instinct is to look at the specific details for the spells in question.
Before we go any further I'd point you to a part lower in the Polymorph description:
Dragon form says you have hands and that you can take manipulate actions but not that you can cast a spell. That being said I could see a GM allowing this specifically for Dragon Form.
I think because you cannot control the duration of the spell Dragon Form (it just continues for a minute and does not have the concentrate trait) that yes directly casting pest form would be two separate spell effects counteracting one another.
You could still avoid this scenario all together by using an action to dismiss the Dragon Form spell since the spell's description specifically says you can do so.
Due to the restrictions normally on Polymorph, in most other scenarios another casting of a Polymorph spell on yourself by yourself won't be possible.
Great points and I can definitely understand these interpretations. Hammerjack brought up a great point about Skill Increases and Nefreet on different types of checks (I am used to most "checks" being shorthand for skill check but this may not be true in this game/edition). Only issue I see with these interpretation is that we run into things where the things that are actions but not skills are a bit inconsistent.
For instance even though Escape can use your Acrobatics modifier it does not seem to be a skill action. So does that mean you could never take Assurance Escape or would you rule that since you can use the skill modifiers it should then be counted as a skill check (even though it is mentioned in the skill section, it seems to be considered a basic action and not an untrained skill action)? And I would suppose Assurance Seek would not be a possibility either?
Besides... the lack of an associated skill to take assurance in? There are enough interpretations in a new system without bringing in ones that hold no water.
The skill would be the one you have the training proficiency in. So it would be something along the lines of "Assurance: Simple Weapons". I don't really see the argument of "this holds no water" it may not be something you like but I think it is at least worth considering.
So to clarify, the ability to "take 10" on an attack roll would likely be way overpowered. The ability to select "Assurance: Attacks" would likely be terrible. A 10 will hit enough, particularly for a fighter, that they're probably happy to have it on their first or second attack. Assurance does far less than this. While it lets you ignore penalties, you'd also be ignoring your stat bonus and item bonus, which is too big a penalty to matter for how tight AC math is.
I completely agree. Part of the reason it seems harmless to allow someone who really wanted it to take that feat is because of how bad it would be most of the time. To allow them to just take 10 on the roll with all the other bonuses would be very overpowered and would be a level 1 feat that is (in my opinion) way too close in power to the level 19 class feat.
The whole question "Should attack rolls be treated as skill checks?" would be wrong. There are attack rolls that are ALSO skill checks. That's a Venn Diagram kind of question.
I am not sure if my wording was off but the very point has been argued in this forum often before. With people frequently pointing to the line:
"Source Core Rulebook pg. 446
Which can lead to the interpretation that all attack rolls are in fact a special subset of Skill checks. If you follow that reasoning they should be fair game for Assurance unless you believe there are in fact implied exceptions that the designers haven't fully spelled out yet.
I think the essence of his questions is does the ability Assurance let you take 10 on attack rolls. If we look at Assurance we see:
Special You can select this feat multiple times. Each time, choose a different skill and gain the benefits for that skill."
So this kinda ties into a common topic we see here: "Should attack rolls be treated as a skill check and if so are there exceptions"
I personally don't see the harm of it because there is a big difference in treating the roll as if it were a 10 (the monk feature) and what assurance grants which is 10 + your proficiency without any other positive modifiers. High level I believe the chance to miss with just Assurance (10+Prof) will be wayyyyyy less than 55%. Also you do not get to roll and choose the better result you have to forego rolling entirely. I think these differences illustrate an appropriate power difference and only in weird special circumstances would you want to make an assurance strike.
I guess my thing is the clarification is there. We know how it works normally and are empowered to make changes if that template doesn't fit for narrative reasons. Like the shieldblocking silver shurikens (try saying that 5 times fast!) example. That's as deep as it needs to be for me to be satisfied but like I said that's just my humble opinion.
And the fallacy I mention wasn't anything specific to damage calculations. It is the mentality of being quick to call for dev clarification or errata entries when discussing a rule. There are times when it is warranted but there are a good deal of what I would consider "false alarms". Ubertron was not doing that this thread so that wasn't a commentary on him. Just a trend that I had noticed lately while browsing the forum.
Yeah we will have to agree to disagree there.
I'd rather be playing a game where the system is flexible and not so rigid as to make it just a giant overcomplicated game of chess. Or where everything is so granular it is just plain difficult to play or for curious new players to try. Obviously rules exist for a reason and I don't advocate for crazy deviations...but as a sometimes GM it is good to know that if certain things don't make sense or are an exception to a rule that will work just fine most of the time I'm not stuck playing it in a weird way, especially if there's an obvious alternative solution that makes sense.
That's a subjective opinion though. I have to admit too, I also like games where the rules are the rules and there's no exceptions or GM to interpret and adapt. For me those tend to be mostly video games and things like Warhammer 40,000.
Great find Rysky! I think a common fallacy I see often in this forum is where there isn't a clear cut answer there is a call for Dev clarification or for a Errata update when it seems like there are definitely some things that are intentionally left up to the GM, and that's a design decision.
I know some like clear cut black and white answers for every scenario but I for one am happy that Paizo attempts to empower their GMs (even to some extent for PFSociety play) to run the table in the way that makes sense for them and is consistent.
Yeah I probably could have phrased that better. What I was meaning to convey was that although you can still get 0 damage through shieldblock the damage otherwise should be a minimum of 1. I think gnoams hit the nail on the head with his order of operations here.
Thinking about it you could probably flip flop the first two steps without any real impact on the game though.
I believe you are correct Zaister. You would be unconscious and at 0 hp but stable and no longer dying.
If you’re unconscious because you’re dying, you can’t wake up while you have 0 Hit Points. If you are restored to 1 Hit Point or more via healing, you lose the dying and unconscious conditions and can act normally on your next turn.
If you are unconscious and at 0 Hit Points, but not dying, you naturally return to 1 Hit Point and awaken after sufficient time passes. The GM determines how long you remain unconscious, from a minimum of 10 minutes to several hours. If you receive healing during this time, you lose the unconscious condition and can act normally on your next turn.
Hero Points remove the dying condition but while you are at 0 hp it doesn't really look like there is any way you can be considered awake.
Just a small exception to that rule that was in the errata that I thought I should mention.
"CHAPTER 9: PLAYING THE GAME
So a 0 damage due to a Crit Success on a Save or Shield Block would not trigger a weakness. However if you achieve 0 damage due to other penalties you would still do 1 damage and potentially be able to trigger a weakness an enemy creature had.
I find that prospect a bit unlikely though, from what I can tell the staff usually only gets directly involved if there is a lot of reasonable confusion on something they wish they had laid out better in their published materials or if the community as a whole is really misinterpreting something.
This discussion seems to have a consensus across most but there is a very vocal minority that do not support the same ruling. Hopefully it has generated enough attention though for them to consider adding additional ways to access Hand of the Apprentice in the future.
In Nethys it is actually in the Arcane School section but regardless of where it is you're looking for it, if you're not getting the ruling based on the benefits granted by the Archetype feat itself then claiming you have that benefit seems wrong to me.
I believe you are correct in your understanding.
So with Distracting Feint some potential benefits are helping Hidden allies stay that way and setting up some of your blasters/big damage dealers for a better chance at having an enemy fail a reflex save against them.
This is in addition to being flat footed to you of course.
Since even while doing another action you can detect basic traps we know the PCs always have some basic awareness of their surroundings. I'd also imagine people actively digging would be pretty distracted.
I'd probably try running it like a hazard. Roll perception checks to see if the party notices the tunnelers before blundering into them and starting an encounter. Perhaps only letting the head of the marching order roll depending on the type of tunnel. If an encounter does start the avoid notice character could roll stealth as usual.
I will also say I know the Pathbuilder resource isn't official (not sure what level of affiliation they have with Paizo, if at all) but they do not count choosing not to make a Arcane School choice as selecting Universalist by default nor do they present it as an option from the Arcane School listing.
So in that highly rated and reviewed app doing as some have suggested and trying to become a Universalist by default through not selecting a school does not in fact grant you any ability to access Hand of the Apprentice.
I wouldn't say this is definitive evidence but it is worth considering in my opinion.
I personally favor the reading of the rules that since the Archetype tells you to pick a school and we all know what the "Schools of Magic" are (Abjuration, Conjuration, Divination, Enchantment, Evocation, Illusion, Necromancy, and Transmutation) the Main Wizard Class option Universalist really shouldn't be an option for someone who just has the Wizard Archetype feat.
I would also say the Wizard Archetype feat text itself is a bit at odds with the Universalist option.
Some could dismiss it a s flavor text but it doesn't really make a lot of sense of my mind to merely dabble in devoting yourself to the full breadth of the arcane arts.
If we go with the rule of "Specific overrides general" then I would say that you would ignore the normal rules for alignment damage as the spell explicitly tells you how it is intended to function.
Also from my reading of Divine Decree the only difference from the two spells is one line that reads "of the alignment you chose" but the end result is the same because both tell you exactly how to treat creatures of each alignment when you use the spell against them.
My guess is that the slight difference in wording is the result of editors not catching something precisely because the text tells you how the damage should interact with different alignment types. This may be something they errata just to make it more consistent but I think the intention is clear on how the spell would work in a game.
That's just not true in every situation. Yes they will choose to avoid negative consequences like having an item break when they are relatively safe or have alternatives available. But in a dire situation that is far from the worst set of circumstances that can happen (especially when character death is a possibility).
After frequently considering myself to be on the wrong side of this issue and needing to change my position I have given this one a lot of thought. The best and most consistent conclusion I can really come up with is something that can be inferred but is never explicitly stated in the rules (so I'm sure some will still disagree) which is this: Any animal that is trained to serve (allies or enemies) or fulfill a specific function should be granted the minion trait (by the GMs discretion).
Source Core Rulebook pg. 634
This makes having a horse animal companion a bit more consistent whether mounted or unmounted and also addresses the problem of how you should treat enemy or friendly mounts.
Minions don't automatically listen to animal commands so the Ride feat is still necessary for a guaranteed success, when commanding a non animal companion mount. There could be some weirdness if say a druid manages to talk a hostile/wild creature into allowing hin to mount it temporarily and that druid also had the ride feat (does it still gain the minion trait? Or does it get 3 actions to use) but that's an edge case that I would feel ok letting a DM handle situationally. The rest turns out pretty smoothe in my humble opinion.
(It still doesn't address the vagueness of the wording in mounted combat rules and in the example but that's a whole separate can of worms)
Is it possible that the existence of the shield divine ally for champions is distorting the design space somewhat? Because a lot of shields, even ones that seem weirdly designed like the forge warden, become much more usable for blocking against on-level enemies if you give them +2 Hardness and +50% HP/BT.
I was thinking of this too but didnt mention it because of how specific it was.
My biggest issue with all the proposed changes to Shield is yes it makes them usable more often and later into the game, so it solves that "problem". However, I am pretty concerned about the overall balance implications of being able to reliably mitigate damage as well as boost AC and gain some of these major benefits over and over. Especially since the enemy creature often has no opportunity to mitigate the effects.
Maybe it would not be a problem but perhaps it would make a level 1 General feat a lot stronger than intended. At any rate that is just a thought that keeps coming too mind.
How would this work if there was a curse that made it one degree worst. There is an item in a published adventure that makes saves against any sleep type spells one degree worst. The pc that has this curse is a cleric with resolve. This is coming up soon that I will need to know the interactions with the curse, resolve and possible incapacitation trait.
Would you mind giving us the details of the item (with spoiler tags if necessary) so we could take a look at the specific wording of the item?
It is a one off and I already talked about its unique advantages.
Also for the Forge Warden thats simply not true. I just went to a random level 10 enemy (I actually cherrypicked a bit because the first thing I picked was a brontosaurus which I though some might see as too much of a pushover compared to some other options)
So lets look at a T-Rex. Most would agree a scaryish foe. It's Foot attack is 2d10+12= So we're looking of average damage of 22. Shields hardness is 6= So on average we're looking at 16 damage getting through. With a HP of 24 and a BT of 12, it becomes broken but not destroyed. Still with no other Damage Reduction at play it is a losing gamble to block (especially if your GM does not allow you to raise a broken shield, but that's a matter that has been discussed in a different thread in depth) because you dont wanna lose that +2 AC. But say you know the instances where a GM has poor rolls and the total damage coming through. You would know exactly when a GM Rolls a 14-19 for damage and avoid it becoming Broken if you so choose while still getting to use the activated ability which the monster has no chance to avoid. It may not happen every battle but you have the choice of when to use it and when not to.
It's a first level general feat....so yes you can do exactly that! Only Champion, War Cleric, Druid, and Fighter get it by default and that's just a free benefit at level 1 when they would be most useful.
I would not assume all parties would make the same decision or have the same priorities. Different Adventuring groups will have different needs and capabilities. Different IRL Players will make very different choices on what they want to invest in for mechanical or RP reasons. It is fine to sell or not use it if it doesn't fit a particular parties makeup or playstyle.
I am not saying your points are totally invalid about these shield being easier to break at high levels but I will say that these items do grant options and benefits that are the easiest to take advantage of if you know the incoming damage.
I believe what you are referring to is the Glimpse of Redemption. But that puts a debuff on the enemy and grants some DR to an ally. What it does not do is redirect the attack in its entirety to you. The benefit the feat grants is very different from forcing an attack to target you and your AC.
Additionally, just because a specific class choice can do something better than an item, does not mean that the item isn't a valid option for another class (or the same class that does not want to take that feat/feat combination). Just because it is not the all around best option does not mean no one could benefit from the option or incorporate it into the gear they want for their character. This game seems to put a lot of emphasis on granting options and it seems (in my mind) more restrictive to say "If you want to do x then be y class" rather than saying "If you can already do x then your character probably doesn't need y item". One requires intricate planning from the moment of character creation, the other can be decided during any downtime or shopping trip that your group manages to get.
Because there is risk involved there is the possibility it breaks and it is not worth it but at the same time it could be utterly game changing. Especially considering that even if it hits and the shield happens to be broken or destroyed, none of that damage is going to that ally. What if they were a squishy caster with 10 hp left? What if it was an unconscious ally already at dying 3? You could always enjoy the AC bonus to this shield fairly safety while having that Ace in the Hole for the right moment.
I am not puffing up anything, after all nothing is requiring you to take the shield, but it seems clear by the way it is designed that blocking is not the only benefit of this shield if you choose to use its trigger.
I think you are misinterpreting the main benefit of this shield.
What is nice about this shield in particular is not the fact that you want to block with it but that you want to use it's trigger. This trigger is worded a very specific way.
"Trigger: A ranged weapon Strike targets a creature within 15 feet of you when you have this shield raised, and the attacker has not yet rolled their attack; Effect The triggering Strike targets you instead of its normal target. If it hits, you gain the effects of the Shield Block reaction."
So first and foremost it is different from every other shield in the fact that you decide to use its ability before the attack roll is even made. You then get to redirect attacks towards you that may not even hit your AC, no save it just happens. Imagine a tanky paladin using this to help protect a squishy caster especially with his enhanced AC if he chooses to raise the shield.
The Shield Block is the risk you take by using this shield. However with that risk comes some big potential benefits.
Draco maybe I am being dense but I am really not sure of the point you are trying to make when you bring up Forge Warden.
Is it that it is an expensive level 10 shield that requires to be damaged for it's activated ability to work? Because it still serves as a shield to raise AC and grants you and your allies fire resistance without putting it at risk. It also is a religious symbol for Torag Clerics.
Yes it has to take damage to be used but if you do want to use it (which in order to use it intelligently you'd need to know the incoming damage) that is guaranteed fire damage. Their is no hit roll or ability to save from it.
It does not seem to me as if the Shield itself represents some huge unnoticed flaw.
GM Doug H wrote:
Gotcha! Well I think that since there is two sets of conflicting information, we are at the mercy of the GM you get. But I think if you present your reasoning most would agree with us? At least until we get some official clarification, I'd recommend posting to an Errata thread because this (to me) seems like a definite candidate for clarification.
There are several points I disagree with you on:
1.) The "Combat RolePlay" has always been an abstraction of the dice you roll. No sane system could truly replicate the chaos of combat in a turned base game. Having different outcomes result in different role play interpretations or narrative entertainment isn't a flaw in my eyes. An attack being too overwhelming (dealing too much damage) to block is certainly a concept a creative DM could narrate.
2.) In most games the GM always has the ability to change the outcome in one way or another. Pathfinder Society GMs are bound a bit more by the rules that home game GMs but there is always a way for them to influence outcomes if they want to or feel it is merited.
3.)Sturdy shields are a great option if you want to block often but that is just one option for your reaction. It is up to the player which options they want to use and how often. Even a basic shield can be far from useless if it is the difference between dropping due to a lucky crit or not (Dying 2 is no joke).
4.) I think almost every rule discussed on this section of the site falls into the category of "If Paizo didn't put it in their game, the game Rules forum would probably not like it" :-D
5.) Later levels you also have access to more gold and more options for crafting interesting things.
Lastly if your primary concerns are altering a rule set that we know is functional but you don't like it, the Homebrew/House Rule discussion forum may be a great resource for you. Just from the standpoint of putting you in contact with like minded individuals who would have similar end goals in altering the play-style of the game.