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How is your UMD looking? Maybe you've already thought of this, but a Heightened Awareness wand or two will duplicate Improved Initiative and even add a small bonus for Knowledge and Perception rolls, if you can make a UMD roll of 20 and avoid those 1s.


My Neutral wizard ("Willie") is going to cast "Shadow Projection" and share the spell with his improved familiar, a CG faerie dragon ("Farley"). What abilities of a familiar and/or dragon carry over to this undead manifestation, and which are replaced with a shadow's?

Q1: Will Shadow-Farley remain Tiny-sized, with the improved stealth and reduced attack (1d3 STR damage, not 1d6) that come with it? Or will he become Medium-sized in accordance with the standard shadow stats?

Q2: No breath weapon, of course, but will Shadow-Farley retain the telepathy and spell-like abilities that faerie dragons get? (According to James Jacob's unofficial errata, shadows can speak, so that should cover the Verbal and Somatic components of casting real spells.)

Q3: Can Shadow-Farley deliver touch spells, share (other) spells, get improved evasion, and communicate via empathic link, because he is a familiar?

Q4: Can an incorporeal shadow endowed with Mage Armor or Ablative Barrier still pass through solid objects?

Q5: Does Shadow-Farley keep his own class skills from being a faerie dragon and a familiar? Or does he switch them for an undead type's class skills? I assume he keeps his feats & mental stats but gets a shadow's physical stats.

Q6: Can an onlooker distinguish the shape of a shadow? "(Hmmm, that shadow is shaped & sized like a tiny dragon, so it must be a projected familiar.")

Q7: Would Farley (who is Chaotic Good) reject the spell because it's evil, or like it because it allows mischief?

Q8: I think that in PFS a (non-shadow) familiar can have only one magic-item slot. Or is it only one magic-item worn at a time? Can it wear mundane items (like a Beneficial Bandolier) on other item slots?

Thank you for your thoughts.

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avr wrote:
Vital Strike = Bad Idea; this does not stop being the case for feats that build on it.

I generally agree, but it is the best of a list of free bonus feats for my archetype (saurian shaman). 9th-level Stegosaurus = 4d6 x 2 (strongjaw spell) x 2 (Vital Strike) = 16d6 damage, plus 15 from strength & greater magic fang. That strikes me as pretty good for someone specializing in summoning.

Since Grasping Strike seems to need foliage, and I like using the frostbite spell anyway, I'm now considering Winter's Strike to make the target exhausted, although a Fortitude DC of 18 doesn't sound as formidable as I'd like for 8th level.

Grasping Strike reads: "Benefit: When you use Vital Strike (or Improved Vital Strike or Greater Vital Strike), you cause the foliage in the area to reach out and entangle your foe (as the condition) if it fails a Reflex save (DC = 10 + 1/2 your character level + your Wisdom modifier)."

What if there *is* no foliage, or if you're just on someone's maintained lawn? Does it materialize, or does this feat require as much natural plant life as the Entangle spell (e.g. tall grass or shrubbery)? If the latter, then it's rarely useful indoors or underground.

Scott Wilhelm wrote:

I had a Halfling Fighter/Rogue that had in his career been Swallowed Whole and cut his way out like 5 times. We started calling him Colonel Corn, the Bad Shrimp!

Memories like that are what we play the game for.

Now, see, after the second time that happened, if I couldn't get the Venom-Drenched trait then I would start wearing a barbed vest. Maybe I'd even stick real shrimp onto all the little hooks.

Firebug wrote:
Mark Hoover 330 wrote:

*Party arrives at the door to the dungeon*

Cleric: Ok gang, any long term buffs or special gear, better don it now!
Wizard: Mage Armor!
Rogue (through Major Magic Talent): Blend!
Cleric: Magic Stone!

*Sound of glass vials breaking and wretched stench begins to rise; party recoils in horror from glistening mess*

Fighter: I'm all greased up and covered in swarm proofing, let's DO this!


You forgot to pop the top off a couple cans of Antitoxin and Antiplague and crush them against your forehead.

I kinda want to make this character now.

Yes, the downside of my regimen of preparations is I've had to endure many jokes about being "lubed up & ready to go". And I didn't even mention the liquid traction or that my full-plated dwarf always applies armor ointment too. I'm just thankful none of that gunk is flammable.

I will add that you can't go wrong with Prayer or Blessing of Fervor, especially when you have nothing else you can do. I keep a Silence or Decompose Steve's Corpse in my other wrist sheath. Cast Marching Steve if traveling overland. Summon Minor Steve can bring skunks. A Sanctify Corpse scroll can be a lifestever if someone's killed by reproducing undead, and a Share Languages or Air Bubble scroll is convenient. Your scout might appreciate Hide from Undead/Animals or Muffle Sound. As you might guess, my casting cleric typically brings enough scrolls & consumables to almost require a stevedore.

If you have buffs for domain powers (as with Liberation), consider the Varistevian Pilgrim archetype. You lose some armor proficiency, but if you were planning on a mithril breastplate or just throwing in the towel with full plate, that doesn't matter. (If using full plate, get armor ointment. I always wear alchemical grease and Stevemin repellent too.) Eyes of the Stevle will help with Perception, which it's hard to have too much of.

It's too bad Stevomancy is off the table. In a campaign, Animate Steve would provide a Large(?) bodyguard you can hide behind. Giant Vermin (choosing a Stevpian) can do that too, but they are hard to control.

I always keep Liberating Command (spell), Bless (wand), and Remove Fear & Remove Steveness (scroll) on tap. Resist Energy, Communal has saved lives; use Augury, Divination, or recon to figure which energy type. If belts are scant, Steve's Strength would be helpful for you or the fighter, but if you're a casting cleric I would forget the polearm in lieu of a buckler and stay in the back. How are you going to wield your holy Stevenal if both hands are full? Calm Steve's Emotions and Terrible Remorse (aka "Stop Hitting Yourself!") are fun Steve-or-suck spells but require high WIS. As soon as you can afford it, keep a Breath of Steve scroll in your spring-loaded wrist sheath regardless of your level, even if it means risking a mishap & getting Bad Breath of Steve.

If you can get even a small bonus in UMS, Longstever and Heighten Awareness of Steve are superb wands.

This probably wouldn't be the most efficient suggestion for a fight-to-the-death, and you ideally would want to build for it with feats & the vigilante talent that favor breaking objects & opening doors, but I would welcome this chance to use the Kool-Aid Man feat (Stunning Irruption). It can work well for hit-and-runs, and the sheer number of PCs just asks for an AoE.

The feat requires Power Attack and a solid object to break through, and it is most effective if the PCs are already engaging creatures immune to stun. Have the PCs fighting plants or the wizard's expendable zombies beside someone's rotted old wooden fence at an abandoned farm. Kitty makes his dramatic entrance, stuns half the party for two rounds, mauls someone for a round while the mooks get free shots (and grapple/trip attempts?), then retreats before anyone can react or even pick up their weapons (or safely disengage from the others).

I second Zotpox's suggestion of a tanglefoot bag. They even come in a burning variety. But it looks like the swarmsuit won't work against Tiny creatures, which this last swarm might consist of if it took any weapons damage.

This is also a job for the glue seal spell, negative channeling, or a summoned air/fire elemental. If you could summon a spider swarm and get past its DR, the poison's STR damage would shut the enemy swarm down quickly.

Barring those, if this intelligent swarm still counts as vermin instead of magic beast, vermin repellent is worth the 5 gp. It lasts for four hours, so the only reason *not* to wear it into a dungeon (along with alchemical grease) anyway is if you're trying to sneak and don't want the scent to give you away.

Golarion Wizard Express wrote:
It gets a free trip on its bite (if hasted it apparently gets two bits and therefore two trip attempts), Vengeance Strike... (which also gets a free trip attempt?).

"How does it get a Free Trip with its Bite Attack and with Vengeance Strike? I thought Tripping was done in place of a melee attack, not free on top of one. Is there a special ability or Feat I'm missing?"

Yes. In general, a combat maneuver is done in place of a melee attack. I don't know enough about Vengeance Strike and hunters to know whether ACs can use that trick for themselves. But, a number of Medium-sized members of Order Carnivora (e.g. wolves, hyenas, and small great cats like this one) get a free trip attempt with each bite attack, and without provoking AoOs. Some other critters (e.g. lions) get free grapple attempts with the grab ability. When applicable, such an extraordinary ability is listed under "damage" in the critter's stats. This is one reason why Wild-shaping is so potent.

We may have finally found a use for the Jump spell. Boots of Elvenkind (or, more expensively, Striding & Springing) would help with that too. Or would an insectoid mount need three pairs?

Stephen Ede wrote:

Also drop some melee mooks in behind the party, back where the Fighter and Alchemist are sitting.

That will keep them on their toes without overwhelming the Hunter+AC and other frontline PCs.


Also try using Nets occasionally.
You'll have to learn the Net rules, but that can seriously cramp the style of the Hunter/AC and force the back liners to get involved.

You could do both. Perhaps the commotion of battle attracts the local trip-resistant arachnoid predators at an awkward moment. A giant black widow(CR 3, webs DC 19) and her mate(CR 1) show up, shooting webs(nets). Or a giant scorpion(CR 3) arrives carrying her brood (treat as 6 green-sting/ghost scorpions aiding another or a scorpion swarm). Maybe Mama grabs the wizard and tries to carry him off (25' per round)? Cave scorpions' stealth is good enough(+12) that they could already be hiding in the cavern.

I concur that the best idea is to have melee mooks emerge to engage your back-row PCs from behind. Make them feel challenged, having to hold off the baddies until the hunter comes back to save the day by doing what he does best.

If your tripmaster's reputation precedes him (via a surviving mook, spy, or shadowy buffer), it is perfectly fair for forewarned foes to adjust their tactics accordingly. Casters can summon swarms, untrippable snakes or flyers, trip-resistant arthropods, or elementals. Fire elemental = have a mouthful of flame, kitty! Maybe a buffer/summoner knows to buy a Hide from Animals potion.

I suppose you could tailor adversaries, such as a channeler with the Command Animal feat or a Venom-Drenched halfling, but that feels like cheating. Given a day, enemies can have the right spells ready, though. Which are good defenses versus natural attacks? Can they find dead snakes to animate? Can a blight or swarmmonger druid bring one with Call Animal?

Difficult terrain can cut Kitty's mobility. Or fight from an unflankable position (pillar top or corner).

How is the hunter issuing orders? Can you block verbal and/or visual communication with silence or fog?

Maybe a half-dozen first-level witches are using ill-omens wands from cover or concealment? Or rangers with Calm Animal wands?

Alchemical grease is a cheap, long-lasting aid against grapples. Is there an equivalent against trips?

*On a physical level: The Bestiary states swarms are unable to grapple, which implies they *can* perform other combat maneuvers. Unfortunately, most other maneuvers either replace standard melee attacks (which swarms don't & presumably can't make) or work only on creatures a maximum of one size larger. Since swarms have the effective size of each component creature, the latter type can work only upon Small or smaller opponents (or other swarms).

This leaves steals and dirty tricks, which I would allow as standard actions. If a swarm has already provoked AOs from entering the foes' squares and has used only one move action, it may as well try a steal or dirty trick. I note that some online entries (as opposed to printed books) for various swarms list CMBs and CMDs as nonexistent, though I don't know if that came from the game designers or just from website writers trying to make sense of this.

Tiny or smaller creatures use Dex instead of Str when determining CMB, but they still take a size penalty.

*On a mental level: I judge combat maneuvers to require far more intelligence and coordination than a vermin swarm is ordinarily capable of, and I don't think Vomit Swarm provides anywhere close to the necessary control. Even animals have Intelligences of no more than 2.

A steal or dirty trick also must be in keeping with the creature's motivations. Real-world crows like shiny objects (as do rats) and aim for the eyes, but a wild swarm hungry/angry enough to attack people isn't likely to bother with stealing trinkets or even weapons, especially if doing so triggers an AO.

*Two special exceptions of interest: 1) The "mad monkeys" spell tells how to conduct and receive steals & disarms. 2) A swarm-monger druid's fecund familiar has a starting Int of 6 (even in swarm form), speaks with its master, and can get Improved Steal/Dirty Trick from familiar archetypes. I think in this instance those maneuvers could work.

avr wrote:

Magic missile does no-save force damage. Not a lot though.

Admonishing ray does force damage with no save. Extra downsides: You need to make touch attacks, it's often less than 1d6/level, it does nonlethal damage which some things are immune to.

Battering blast, admonishing ray's big brother, does normal force damage. It responds well enough to metamagic that it's a top spell to specialise in, but it's less impressive without that specialisation.

And if the opposing CMDs are crummy, you can add the Toppling metamagic feat (or rod) to these force-effect spells. If you use magic missile, you can make a trip check for each & every missile (if they beat SR)!

There are a number of druid archetypes (including my favorite, saurian shaman) that let you add temporary hit points equal to your level when summoning your specialty critters with standard actions. As near as I can figure, that number of hp goes to *each* critter, not divided amongst them.

So, if you are a 9th-level druid who casts SNA V to bring in 5 crocodiles, that's a total of 45 temporary hp you're adding to the mix, not just 9 hp.

Also note that a few critters (boars, dire boars, and the styracosaurus if you're a dinosaur druid) have ferocity already without the Diehard feat.

A crypt sounds like a natural roost for bats in daytime, which is when your PCs will most likely arrive, and bats do well in total darkness. Perhaps you could have a trap that drops a rock with Eclipsed continual "deeper darkness" cast upon it, after which giant bats or bat swarms attack.

Besides what everyone else has said, you could be someone who summons critters. You know about the summoner class & standard Summon Monster casters, but are you familiar with the saurian shaman druid?

As a saurian shaman, you don't just get to be a dino & have a dino; you can also summon reptiles (with extra hp!) as a standard action. If your GM deems them compatible, add the dinosaur druid archetype too to expand your options. Starting next level (13), and assuming you get Augment & Superior Summoning, SM VII will be able to call in an average of 3 allosaurs or tylosaurs (each of whom has 13 extra hp) each round. An augmented tylosaur does 30 hp in one blow, plus grab, plus swallow whole, with a reach of 15'. Not enough dinos? Take a standard action next round to cast SM VI and bring in 3 styracosaurs (charging & ferocity) or ankylosaurs (stunning)!

The swarm is not affected by spells & items that affect only a single creature, so your buffing options are limited. The "pernicious poison" spell would help, but even then a scarlet spider's poison doesn't do much. Casting "Magic Circle vs. Evil" on your spider should work. You could get her a Belt of Tumbling, but she would have to enter the foe's square _before_ bursting into a swarm if she wanted to benefit from it. Maybe a "feather fall" ring so she can climb on the ceiling & then drop upon a foe before swarm-bursting? Since swarm damage is independent of natural attack damage, I rule that improving the latter won't help the former.

Anything that raises your hp (Con or the Toughness feat) raises your swarm's hp by the same amount, and the same goes for skill points, so Int is more useful for swarm-mongers than for most druids. Area effects are a weakness that can be overcome by the Resistance evolution (see below) and the Concordance faction boons.

Where are you getting "diminutive size" from? All fecund familiars are Tiny.

Improved Familiar is perhaps the most obvious help. It's doubtful you could get away with an entirely different sort of critter, but applying the celestial, fiendish, etc. template should work.

Evolved Familiar provides three useful evolutions: Improved Natural Armor (more than once?), Resistance (probably against fire, which the celestial template doesn't cover), and Magic Attacks. The catch is that you have to raise your Int & Charisma, which might otherwise be dump stats, to 13. Skilled might be worth it for Acrobatics, Stealth, and/or Perception.

A reading of the various combat maneuvers reveals that most are prohibited and/or useless (how often can a swarm of Tiny critters use the push maneuver?). However, I see nothing that precludes the "steal" and "dirty trick" maneuvers. So, if/when your foe gets an AoO against your swarm (despite the spider's high Acrobatics bonus), you may as well try a steal or dirty trick. Better yet, the pilferer archetype gives Improved Steal, so the swarm can steal from multiple targets at once.

My own question is, how much should I invest into my fecund familiar, as opposed to focusing on being a caster druid? If I want to go all in, I will have to sacrifice Strength & other stats to qualify for Evolved Familiar, and that means reducing the swarm's (and my!) hp. And, what feat should the familiar take? Dodge looks good, or am I overlooking something better? Lightning Reflexes or Iron Will?

Human ***** Dwarf
Str 7 versus Str 8
Dex 12 ***** Dex 14
Con 15 ***** Con 15 (+2)
Int 14 ***** Int 14
Wis 15 (+2) ***** Wis 15 (+2)
Cha 13 ***** Cha 8 (-2)

Sniping is a full-round action that (normally) yields one attack. If you make your Stealth check while doing so, you remain hidden.

If you have Hide in Plain Sight (e.g. from being a Shadowdancer or Ranger), you can make a Stealth check as part of a 5-foot step after sniping or making a full-round attack, but if the enemy saw you before that (e.g. because you failed your Stealth check while sniping or because attacking revealed your position), he knows what square you 5-foot-stepped into.

For that matter, if you have Hide in Plain Sight, you can make a standard attack (revealing your position) and then make a Stealth check as you use your move action.

Standard procedure for most of my PCs is to go in wearing vermin repellent and alchemical grease (5 gp each). They address uncommon situations (swarm attacks/vermin and grapples) but are cheap, last for 4 to 8 hours, and can make a big difference.

If you have UMD, a scroll of longstrider (25 gp) will improve your speed for an hour. If you don't, a scroll of Cure Light Wounds is also 25 gp, but usually someone else has a wand to contribute. A scroll of Heighten Awareness improves your perception & initiative, but for only 10 minutes.

The spell "Arcane Eye" would do the trick, though without darkvision (unless the caster already has it via race, spell, etc.). So would an onyx owl figurine, but those are pricey. There is also a contingency spell (in Ultimate Wilderness or Animal Archive?) that will teleport your familiar back to you if a condition is met (like taking damage).

A problem I've experienced with scouting is, how do I get info without tipping anyone off that I'm scouting (and, thus, that a party is close behind) if the enemy Perceives the scout? Summoned critters don't last long and evaporate when killed, losing our element of surprise.

My solution is to buy a half-dozen expendable critters (rats or bats) and keep them in a familiar satchel bag. I also get scrolls/wands of "Charm Animal" and "Speak with Animal". When I need recon, I send a critter to check things out (often with Message and sometimes with Mage Armor). A rat or bat can squeeze its way into almost anywhere, it has scent, and it won't look very conspicuous even if it fails its Stealth check. Disadvantages are that one trivial hit will kill one, they don't have darkvision unless I provide it (though bats have echolocation), and an animal with an Int of 2 can't report all the details I want.

Gummy Bear wrote:

1) As absurd as it seems to me, I don't see anything that prevents your swarm from rolling acrobatics to avoid an AoO. Your familiar has an int score and doesn't lose it when it gains the swarm subtype.

2) Swarms don't make attack rolls to attack, at least to me it seems like they aren't able to do anything besides move around and engage in their swarm attack.

3) The familiar doesn't lose the poison it has and the swarm is composed of identical multiples of itself, so yes it keeps the poison.

I agree. The swarm would also retain the familiar's bonuses for other skills (e.g. Stealth).

3b) This is the rub IMO. Familiars don't technically gain HD, using their master's HD as their effective HD for spells and stuff (so a cloudkill and other HD dependent spells don't obliterate them) and half of their master's HP as their own value. If this is a home game, IMO it is reasonable to have the poison be based off of your master's HD and allow items that boost con to boost the poison DC. In PFS, you'll have to see if your familiar has the appropriate item slot for a belt of con and by RAW the HD of the master will not increase the DC of the poison. I have no idea how else to increase the poison DC.

I am uncertain about whether the master's druid HD are a factor, since they're used for other things (including damage increase), and the CRB says for regular familiars, "For the purpose of effects related to number of Hit Dice, use the master’s character level or the familiar’s normal HD total, whichever is higher." But, a belt on the familiar wouldn't help the swarm's poison. The swarm subtype reads, "A swarm is immune to any spell or effect that targets a specific number of creatures ...", and a belt targets only one creature.

The druid may have to settle for pernicious poison. If you cast that on Round 1, hold the charge, and then (on Round 2) have your familiar move in & deliver the touch spell for its standard action, right before you activate the swarm on Round 2 for your own standard action so it can bite, it could work. (Or could it? A swarm damages anyone whose space it occupies at the end of its move, not at the end of its turn, so maybe the familiar couldn't move, deliver, and swarm-attack in the same round.)

Don't forget that even a swarm can benefit from eating garbage for temporary hit points ("child of pollution"), though it would make more sense to have the familiar do that first in singular form.

4) While your familiar gains the "swarm attack" ability that houses the swarm's "distraction" ability (where the nauseate condition comes from for swarm attacks), at level 12 you gain the distraction ability in everything but name (the text is identical). I think it was sloppy writing, but I do believe the intention is to not get the full distraction ability until 12th (despite the way it was written saying you get it at 1st). In a home game, talk to your GM about it. In PFS, expect table variation or play with the most restrictive interpretation.

That is one of my questions too. And if the normal distraction ability still works, does it use the swarm's HD or the druid's? If it doesn't work, what about the swarm ability to force spellcasters to make caster-level checks, which isn't duplicated in the "swarm monger" description?

My related question is, what is the best choice of fecund familiar? The swarming makes the house centipede's daze poison and the scarlet spider's Acrobatics skill (for entering opponents' squares) more relevant. (The latter's poison effect of 1 STR seems pretty weak compared to "daze".)

Another is, can any Improved Familiar spawn a swarm? I assume that creatures resembling the normal choices (e.g. a cat sith or dire rat) are stretching the rules? Or can I even choose a brownie or something? What about just adding a celestial template and applying that to the whole swarm?

Johann Kaltgeboren- Dire Bear! wrote:

Order of actions on a full round attack:
1. Swing and hit with a claw.
2. Free CMB check to grapple due to grab ability. (let's assume success)
3. Swing the claw again, the target has -2 AC because it is grappled.

Another caveat is-- if I fail the first grapple, do I get a second chance to grapple with the second claw?

I believe you get a second chance if you fail the first time. What's more, I believe you may attempt a grapple on #3 even (and especially) if you succeeded the first time. Grappling with 2 claws gives a firmer grip than using only one.

My own question is, if I grab Bert with my first claw, may I also grab Ernie with my second claw, so that I'll be grappling both at the same time?

The book reads, "While in swarm form, the familiar loses the improved evasion, share spells, deliver touch attack, and scry on familiar special abilities. It uses its normal AC, saving throws, and skill bonuses, and it gains the swarm subtype and the ability to make swarm attacks ..."

1) If I use "share spells" to cast longstrider upon my cat familiar, Felix, and Felix then bursts into a swarm, does the spell still work for the cat swarm? If not, does Felix still have the spell active after reverting back into a single cat?

2) If I cast "mage armor" (not a self-only spell) onto Felix, will the subsequent swarm benefit from the AC bonus?

3) What happens after a foe reduces the swarm to 0 hit points? Does the swarm dissipate, leaving a single unconscious cat familiar? Or is Felix dead, or conscious?

4) If I instead use Shelob the scarlet spider familiar, does the swarm gain the familiar's poison ability in its swarm ability?

5) If Felix is standing next to a foe, and he then bursts into a swarm that encompasses the foe's square, does the foe get an AoO?

Thank you!

A player in my group repeatedly uses "stinking druid" as an epithet, and it inspires me to build such a character for a laugh, but I have no experience with druids. What could I do around that theme, and what should I keep in mind when incorporating those ideas?

I imagine it would be a dwarf, with Wisdom (for spells), Constitution (for combat & to improve a wildshape giant skunk's DC), and Charisma penalty (for flavor). I see there is a Swamp archetype and Decay & Jungle subdomains, but they don't look especially strong. A giant slug looks interesting for an animal companion, but I see that giant skunks aren't available for that (though one can be purchased as a mount).

Suggested spells, besides Nauseating Trail? Better races? Feats/traits, archetypes, anything else?

The ooze pit could also help the bandits for finding hidden jewelry, coins, and other metal objects, since they would be left by certain oozes as indigestible.

I recall an AD&D module ("Cult of the Earth Dragon" or something) in which a clan of kobolds had fed & trained a shrieker to recognize kobolds (and only kobolds) as friends rather than threats.

In real life, criminal hideouts are often in the back of legitimate businesses (especially ethnic restaurants) so that comings & goings of varied people and deliveries aren't noticed. These bandits are going to have to fence their goods, so a pawn shop would fit well too. Perhaps you could have a social encounter?

I have a Rogue 8/Shadowdancer 3, and the best buy she ever made was a pair of Deliquescent Gloves (8k from "Ultimate Equipment"). They add 1d6 acid damage to any melee (or range) weapon, but more importantly they allow a melee touch attack. There is also a version of these gloves that do fire damage, as well as an ice rod.

I agree with Sander that a good UMD bonus allows plenty of ways to help when she can't get sneak-attack damage. There are so many 1st- and 2nd-level scrolls that can be pivotal at the right moment (Remove Fear, for instance), and you can always pack a Bless wand too. One caveat, though, is that Ray of Frost allows SR but Acid Splash doesn't.

Each of these is an undead creature listed in Bestiary 4 with complete instructions for creating one. An isotoq is an intelligent floating eyeball, and a necrocraft is a custom-made amalgamation of undead bodies stitched together. (Beheadeds & their creation are in this book, too, though I barely care about them.)

The list of approved Additional Resources(see below) omits isotoqs as permitted familiars but makes no other statements or implications about either creature. As a PC, can I make them, with them vanishing at the end of an adventure like any other animated dead?

Whether they *should* be PFS-legal is a different question. On the pro side,

a) isotoqs cost 2 more spells and serve a different function (spy) than standard meatshields, having nothing for combat but the equivalent of a weak 1st-level wand.

b) necrocrafts cost 1 more spell and allow originality in their options, and

c) beheadeds are also customizeable and cost 200 gp & 1 additional spell, probably too much for their limited worth.

On the con side, isotoqs & beheadeds have intelligence (perhaps creating ethical questions), and necrocrafts may be overpowered in their strength & special abilities.

As long as I'm on the subject, the wording for isotoqs' sensor link is ambiguous. I can see things that are within 60' of the isotoq, or I can see things if the isotoq is within 60' of me? The fluff about necromancers using them for patrol duty suggests the former.

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary 4
Animal Companions (p. 311): dimorphodon, giant seahorse, giant tortoise, giant weasel, giraffe, stag, styracosaurus, trumpeter swan, velociraptor, and walrus are legal for play; Familiars: all familiars listed on pages 96-97 and the almirajes, giant flea, greensting scorpion, nosoi psychopomp, nycar, pooka, and scarlet spider are legal for play; Feats: none of the feats are legal for play for PCs, animal companions, or familiars unless specifically granted by another legal source; Other: all creatures in this book are legal for polymorph effects (including a druid's wild shape ability) within the boundaries of each spell or ability's parameters. All languages found in this book are available for a character to learn with the linguistics skill.

My PFS character is a human 3rd-level cleric of Calistria; his feats are Selective Channeling, Command Undead, and Improved Channel, as well as the trait "Sacred Conduit" to raise channeling's DC.

Future feats planned are:

5 Versatile Channeling
7 Extra Channels?
9 Quick Channeling?
11 Divine Interference

As a cleric who specializes in negative channeling, both Wisdom(currently 14) and Charisma(18) are important here. His domains of Luck and Trickery (which include Bit of Luck and the invisibility spell) mean he tries to remain far out of melee.

My intention is to put my 4th- and 8th-level ability points into Wisdom so that he can eventually cast 6th-level spells, but that is flexible. Which headband option is best?

a) Phylactery of Negative Channeling (11,000 gp),

b) Headband of +4 Charisma (16,000 gp, I think), or

c) Headband of +2 Charisma and +2 Wisdom (10,000 gp?), or

d) some other headband?

I would suppose c) gets me the same results as b) more cheaply if I instead put my ability points into Cha.

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If I had been GM, the jerk who murdered you would've fulfilled his own prophecy. The next round, you would've come back as a shadow or ghast to avenge yourself, and pitching you over the edge wouldn't help against the former.

Scavenger1977 wrote:

Marcella>> A hag coven with mook follower-cult wannabes in the style of Tuckers Kobolds but then with Ill Omen wands... Hrrrmmm.

Nasty. Anything else on the suggestions of spells with saving throw none and still partial conditions or effects if a save is made?

Yes. Each of said mooks could also hold a scroll with 5 "Litany of Weakness" spells on it, since they allow no saving throws and are cast as swift actions. (I suggest scrolls instead of wands, since I believe the latter require standard actions at a minimum, even for swift-action spells. Please correct me if I'm mistaken on that.) That spell requires an anti-paladin/inquisitor level (or a lucky UMD roll), which seems an odd combination with a witch level, but it does mean each mook can hit a PC with two saving-throw-less spells in just one round. "Litany of Sloth" is swift, too, but allows a Will roll.

As Plausible Pseudonym points out, a target can mitigate an Ill Omen spell with a move action, so you'd want to have at least twice (or thrice?) as many mooks as PCs. The description is unclear about whether a PC can use a 2nd move action to nullify a 2nd Ill Omen in the same round. I am assuming that Ill Omen's effects don't stack.

Perhaps a whole bunch of mooks, all equipped with Wands of Ill Omen, but spread out or hidden so they can't all be neutralized at once?

I forgot to mention that holy weapon balm (from Ult. Equipment) and the Magic Stone spell are splendid. You can even apply the former to the latter!

The balm turns ordinary weapons into magical ones and magical weapons into ghost-touch ones (when fighting incorporeal undead or evil outsiders).However, it lasts only one minute and for one successful blow, so it's better to use on 10 ammo pieces than on one melee weapon. 2d4 when it hits, and a chance at 1d4 more on the next round.

Others have mentioned Bless Weapon & Magic Weapon in scroll/oil form, and Command Undead and CLW in wand form. For this particular hazard, a Sanctify Corpse scroll/oil can be a lifesaver: not for the poor schmuck taken down by a shadow, but for his fellow schmucks he'd otherwise attack.

Also, apply Mage Armor (even if you're already armored) and Veil of Positive Energy beforehand if possible, as both work against touch attacks. I imagine Shield does too.

Additional info:

As an elf, she has a +2 bonus for Will saves against enchantments.

Touch AC is 18, Initiative bonus is +8, BAB + Dex bonus = +14 to hit.

The glove and Acid Splash allow +5d6 sneak attack damage on touch attacks, and she has Hide in Plain Sight (within 10' of dim light). She also already has a +2 dexterity belt.

An advantage of Toughness (or a belt of Con) is that the shadow gets half of the gained hp.

One possibility is to pick both Spring Attack and Circling Mongoose, hoping to get Canny Tumble as well at level 13, though that seems more expensive than it's worth.

I have unexpectedly gained a bonus feat (via a cursed ioun stone) and have another coming up at level 11.

What I have so far is:

Unchained Rogue 7 / Shadowdancer 3

Str 14, Dex 22, Con 12, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 10

AC 28
Fort +8
Ref +16
Will +7

Hit points: 70

CMB 9, CMD 27

Acrobatics +24, Climb +7, Dipl. +8, Escape Artist +26, Perception +21, Sleight of Hand +11, Stealth +19, UMD +16, others at less.

Feats: Dodge, Mobility, Combat Reflexes, Point-Blank Shot, Twist Away.

Rogue talents: Trapspotting, Minor Magic (Acid Splash), Feat: Precise Shot, Ninja Trick: Pressure Points.

Rogue's Edge: Stealth. Racial trait: Silent Hunter (reducing sniping penalty to -5).

Notable weaponry: Masterwork rapier, Masterwork composite longbow, deliquescent glove, SLA: acid splash.

Armor: +2 mithral chain shirt, +2 buckler, +1 ring of protection.


Shadow companion: hp 35, AC 14, Ft +4, Refl + 8, Will +4, +8 to hit. Otherwise typical of shadows.


She switches a lot between the four different weapons, so Weapon Focus seems a poor choice. My GM suggests Toughness to give her more hit points, but my own instinct is that her low Will save is most worrisome (since Twist Away helps with Fort saves).

Spring Attack seems redundant, since she can already sneak-attack from a distance from darkness. Fortified Armor Training looks helpful against critical hits. Canny Tumble would be good for offense, but is defense needed more badly?

Note that one feat could be given to the shadow (Skill Focus: Stealth?) instead of the PC, though that seems something of a waste.

My notion is to take Major Magic: Enfeebling Ray for the upcoming rogue talent, and then to take either Crippling Strike or Opportunist if/when she reaches Level 13. (Crippling Strike would necessitate retraining Pressure Points into Resiliency, to avoid an overlap.)

Suggestions? Thoughts?

When I play a cleric who has used "Animate Dead", I often assign some of the resulting creatures to be directed by my fellow players. This makes it more fun for them, and it can be more effective too (since a rogue might need a flanking partner, for instance).

Perhaps you could cede control of some followers in a similar manner?

Theconiel wrote:
Rub-Eta wrote:
"Useless"? I think you're missing something vital here.

It seems as though the blaster sorceress and kineticist usually dispatch our foes before the summoned critter gets here. Or, specializing primarily in archery, I am too far away from the action for the summon to be much use.

I guess I need to do the summoning right at the beginning of combat.

Or, you could summon something (such as an eagle or air elemental) that is fast enough to reach your target in its first round.

Richard McGuffin wrote:

Ok, they don't stack. Thank you.

Also the only advantage of Canny Tumble over Disorienting Maneuver is that you can use it through a threatened area not necessarily through the opponent's space right?

Update: A new advantage of Canny Tumble is that the target loses its Dexterity bonus to AC, making this feat especially handy to anyone who sneak attacks.

As my shadowdancer has darkvision and "Hide in Plain Sight", she would like to be able to carry something that would lower the light level to dim light (or darkness) instead of having to dig out & use a "darkness" scroll.

Is there any counterpart out there to "continual flame"?

And what is the range for the sneak attack damage? Is it the same range as the spectral hand spell (since the hand is delivering it point-blank)? Or is it the usual 30' (because I have to be able to perceive the target well enough to guide it)?

As a rogue 6/shadowdancer 3, I have just acquired a shadow. What are some creative tactics or capabilities I haven't thought of?

1) Naturally, it can fly up to someone and do Strength damage.

2) And, it's good for recon, including looking inside containers.

3) I assume I can cast Mage Armor and Inflict Light Wounds upon it, though I think the former prevents it from going through objects. But, can I cast Silence, Darkness, Magic Fang, and/or Reduce Person? The last 3 list "object", "living creature", and "humanoid creature" as what can be targeted. What other spells are handy to cast upon it?

4) If I do cast Silence upon my shadow, can it lurk inside the floor and still silence spellcasters, or does the magic radius require line-of-sight? If it "can communicate intelligibly" with me, is that verbally? I assume it can't eavesdrop & understand any languages.

5) How do I make it better than useless when our opponents are immune to ability damage? If I give it a Ghost Touch Amulet of Mighty Fists, would it be able to influence normal objects? If so, would having Str: -- mean it still couldn't actually lift or move anything? (I assume that said normal object could not then pass through doors.) Could it punch monsters with that amulet?

6) If against a creature it can't hurt, and I want the shadow to flank, what counts as "threatening"? Can it just hover there and miss on purpose so the opponent thinks it's a threat?

7) If I give it a Ghost Touch longspear, can it lurk inside the floor and try to stab up at people with the weapon's reach ability, not emerging even one bit?

8) Can I supplement or change its skills & feats? (My impression is, no.)

9) When choosing a rogue trick, is it worth it to get Ninja Trick: Pressure Points to synchronize with the shadow's STR damage? How about a Lesser Poisoner's Jacket (and perhaps the talent Lasting Poison) to do so via the poisoning route? Or do too many enemies typically make the Fort saves? (I might otherwise be taking Precise Shot, Toughness, and/or Resilience.)

10) Other suggested tasks or tactics? If it matters, my shadowdancer is something of a switch-hitter who is recently shy of going toe-to-toe against Strong opponents.

I started a cleric but have no experience with spellcasters in PF. To my untrained eye, getting the Magical Knack trait & dipping into an arcane class for one level to then go Mystical Theurge looks like a good deal. Is it? (If it matters, I'm in PFS and thus won't progress farther than 11th level. And, part of my motivation is to just try out the various arcane spells.)

Specifically, do the levels gained from MT apply to:

1) Spells that wizards learn with each new level? (An FAQ at ge says "no".)

2) Cleric domain powers that they get at certain levels? (E.g. acid resistance at 6th cleric level of the Earth domain.)

3) Spells from a cleric domain and their potency? (E.g. getting "spike stones" at 4th level that then last 1 hour per cleric level)

4) The two previous questions for wizard schools & sorcerer bloodlines?

5) Level-based benefits to a wizard's familiar?

6) "Channel energy" and other feats gained via a component class's levels? (I assume "no".)

And what about the +2 "trait bonus" to caster level that can be gained from Magical Knack?


"Magical Knack: Pick a class when you gain this trait—your caster level in that class gains a +2 trait bonus as long as this bonus doesn't raise your caster level above your current Hit Dice."


"When a new mystic theurge level is gained, the character gains new spells per day as if he had also gained a level in any one arcane spellcasting class he belonged to before he added the prestige class and any one divine spellcasting class he belonged to previously. He does not, however, gain other benefits a character of that class would have gained. This essentially means that he adds the level of mystic theurge to the level of whatever other arcane spellcasting class and divine spellcasting class the character has, then determines spells per day, spells known, and caster level accordingly."

kinevon wrote:

Of course, they almost forgot to deal with the tin can, but that was almost another story....

We detached the can from the gate after neutralizing her, but we didn't know to destroy it (since nobody could read the notes upstairs), instead taking it back to the Society to be cataloged.

What I'm wondering is, does the Canned Brain open the gate and influence Ms. Blackrose by having flipped an "on" switch (which can only be switched to "off" by killing it)? Or must it continually exert effort to do so?

If it's the latter, just taking C.B. out of telepathic range (60'?) or sticking it in a lead container should be enough to shut down the gate & possession.

Also of note: the Lute of Discord, an intelligent Wondrous Item stated to be a masterwork instrument. It gives a +2 competence bonus to the relevant Perform check, which you must make each time you try to cast a spell with it.

See: elligentItems.html#lute-of-discord

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I was about to ask a similar question: "_Can_ I buy/craft a masterwork Wondrous Item musical instrument, provided I'm willing to pay the extra 95 gp?"

Reasons for various answers to my own question:

1) Wondrous Items are well-made enough to do something special, and that's consistent with being high-quality in general.
2) D&D 3.5 says the Pipes of the Sewers "appear ordinary" (i.e. not masterwork?), but the Core Rulebook based upon it omits that descriptor.

1) The FAQ state: "Magic items or spellcasting services must be purchased as listed in the Core Rulebook, including wands and scrolls." in answer to a question about applying metamagic. I don't know whether that applies to non-magical properties like masterwork-ness.
2) The FAQ also state, "Named magic items—including specific armor and specific weapons—are not upgradeable. Non-magic specific armor and specific weapons may be upgraded normally." I suppose I'd interpret that as saying you can upgrade a masterwork item to a Wondrous Item, so again, I doubt it applies to our questions.
3) Music is a delicate art, and perhaps physically designing an instrument for a particular purpose (e.g. attracting & controlling rat swarms) precludes it from others (i.e. making good music)?

"All Wondrous Items are masterwork."
1) This is the rule for magical weapons and armor, as you say.
2) Perhaps only the best-crafted items can be given magical properties.
--) However, being a masterwork item makes important differences for a minimal additional cost, so it should be stated if true, but there is nothing in the CRB to directly support that answer.
--) And unlike weapons & armor, playing music for entertainment is distinct from playing it for a magical effect, even though both depend upon the precision that comes with a high Performance roll.

If I were writing the rules without bias, I would say that the magical property is different from a masterwork property, and that a Wondrous Item can be masterwork (but doesn't have to be), but that the +2 performance bonus shouldn't apply to the magical property's DC. For instance, rat swarms can't appreciate good music like sentients can, and neither can a structure you're building with Lyre of Building. Maybe I'd make an exception for magical effects that depend upon playing beautifully for sentient ears.

However, I have my eye on Pipes of the Sewers, so I greatly hope I can buy a +2 bonus for just 95 gp in order to avoid having the rodents turn upon me!


Paladin of Baha-who? wrote:
How are you getting the ECB? Are you taking a feat to get proficiency? If so, it's not worth the increase in damage. Use that feat to get weapon focus or something instead.

My thought was to take a level in ranger, which would give a lot of proficiencies (and enabling me to pick "Shield Focus" for 1 more AC) and also help with saving throws and the "favored enemy" bit (towards humans, I suppose), though I'm not experienced enough to know whether such a dip is worth it. Sorry, I should have mentioned that.

So, it seems unanimous that +2 AC is better than +2 melee damage. But, what about +2 AC versus +6 melee damage (at 8th level, as described above)?

Lobukia wrote:

What's your AC? Making a jump from 19-21 is not the same as 14-16

Do you have plans for a prestige class? If you wanted to a duelist, this kinda matters.

Without the buckler, my AC is 20.

There's a slim chance I'll take 3 classes in shadowdancer, but as this is my first time playing, I probably won't with this character.

Incidentally, I am one of Miersiel's many identical cousins.

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