By my count there are over 90 1st level inquisitor spells. Depending on the sources you have available to you, your count may be more or less than this number. The number of spells on the list goes down as the level rises. The list of 6th level spells is still over 30 spells. As a spontaneous caster you can learn a very limited number of these spells. The normal maximum number of spells known for an inquisitor maxes out at 6 per spell level. A couple of races can go slightly above them number by using their FCB to gain extra spells known. But even then you are limited to about 9. That means that as an inquisitor you can learn 7% -10% of the spells on the list. Inspired spell gives you access to the other 90% of your list.
You can use magic items to cast the spells you don’t know, but that takes resources. You also have to plan out what spells the items have in advance. Inspired spells uses mythic points which are a renewable resource that cost you nothing. Not only does it give you access to the spells it increases the number of spells you can cast per day. At tier 1 you get 7 mythic points that can be used to cast 7 extra spells per day. If nothing else that is 7 more times you can cast divine favor. Mythic power attack at your level would grant you the same increase to hit, by negating the penalty to attack, but would not increase your damage above what it is already doing. Divine favor would add an additional +2 damage. That makes mythic power attack a lot weaker. Using heroism instead of divine favor is going to be even stronger. Now you get a +2 bonus on all attack rolls, saves and skill checks and it lasts for 70 minutes at your level.
What makes the inquisitor so powerful is the ability to stack bonuses. Inspired spell gives you access to a lot more thing you can combine.
I would still go with dual path. Inspired spell is just too good for a spontaneous caster to ignore.
If you are going for the face role Persuasive Countenance is the obvious choice for path ability. Taking Hierophant will also allow you to pick up Divine Countenance. They should stack but check with your GM to make sure. If so you can get a shift of two categories on someone who is within one step or your alignment before you even use any social skills.
Keep in mind that you are not a full BAB class so your access to some combat feats will be delayed. Use your lower levels to boost other aspects of your character until you qualify for the combat feats.
You may want to consider dual path and take hierophant for your second path. Inspired spell allows you full access to your spell list which is a huge advantage for a spontaneous caster. Later the Hierophant can take enduring blessing to make a single spell last all day. Having a constant heroism gives you a nice boost on almost everything. If you pick up mythic heroism it becomes even better. Those two abilities alone are enough justification for taking dual path.
Without knowing your characters build giving advice on path abilities is a little difficult. If you are going for the typical intimidate focused inquisitor Menacing Presence is always good. Many inquisitor use their inquisition to use WIS for their social skills instead of CHA. The thing to be careful about if you are doing this is that many of the marshals path abilities are based on CHA. If your character is doing this you will want to avoid choosing these abilities
Way of Knowing is another universal path ability that works well for an inquisitor. It does not help with combat but getting a 6th level spell that is not on your list that allows you to more easily track down your opponent is always a good thing.
Mythic power attacks is kind of a waste since you are already using a two handed weapon. Spending a mythic point to gain a +2 bonus to hit on melee attacks is not really all that good. If you took dual path you could spend a mythic point and gain heroism for 70 minutes instead even if you don’t have heroism on your list of spells known.
The hunters best bet is just to accept the fact that sometimes he will waste the duration of some of his spells. Trying to solo an encounter because you don’t want to waste the duration of a spell is a good way to get your character killed. Most encounters are designed to challenge the whole party so a single character trying to do it will probably be overwhelmed. This is a good way for the hunter to get his character killed.
Chances are that even if he goes wandering off by himself he will not encounter anything else before the duration of the spell wears off. If anything were that close they would have probably heard the sound of the fight and been drawn into it. Even if he does manage to encounter something chances are there is not going to be much duration left on his spell anyways. What the hunter should be doing is standing guard in case something else was close by and shows up while the rest of the party is occupied.
From a rules standpoint the spell lasts a specific duration regardless of whether you are in combat or not. Nothing prevents the ranger from exploring on his own for the remaining duration of the spell. But as I pointed out it is a really bad idea to do so.
No both half elves and half orc have a racial trait that says they count as both races. This is the reason they can take things requiring you to be of either race, as well as those for their own race. Humans do not have this racial trait so cannot take anything but human choices.
Humans can that the human feat Racial Heritage that allows them to count as another race. A human could take Racial Heritage half orc and qualify for half orc choices.
Once the players start combat I will flat out tell them how many HP the monster has. I don’t want to waste time dragging out the players actions. I have seen a situation where it took a player 5 minutes to decide his action because the GM would not give out the HP. Most people don’t have the narrative talent to adequately describe injuries on the fly. What ends up happening is they either fall into pattern like Balkoth uses, or waste a lot of time trying to come up with unique descriptions. If you use a pattern it is not hard to figure out how many HP the monster has and thereby figure out how many HP they have remaining.
Oracles unlike other divine casters don’t have to worship the source of their power. They can and often are opposed to what grants them their power. Exactly who or what is granting them their power is not always known even to the oracle themselves. A good oracle may be getting their power from an evil source without realizing it.
Also there may be more than one deity providing power to an oracle. Flame mystery lists both Asmodeous and Sarenrae as sources. A oracle of flame may be drawing on both those deities and more for their power.
The source of an oracles power has absolutely no control over the oracle. You don't have oracles of a deity, you simply have oracles.
An oracle is not something you decide to become. An oracle is someone who is chosen to by the powers of the mystery. Quite often they are chosen against their will. So while the player of the oracle can choose his class features the oracle themselves is not doing so. Unlike clerics you don’t have to worship the source of your power, or even like it. It is quite possible that the source of your power is something you are actively opposed to.
Working the mechanism for the crossbow faster will not result in more damage. Once a crossbow is cocked you can give it to another person and it still does exactly the same amount of damage. A higher STR should affect how fast the crossbow is loaded not how much damage it does.
I could see adding a STR min of 13 to rapid reload. But I would change the feat so that it applies to all crossbows not just a specific type. If you do that then change the prerequisite for crossbow mastery to a STR of 15, and have it that using a crossbow does not provoke an attack for using or reloading. If you follow my advice and eliminate point blank shot this would actually make a heavy crossbow a viable weapon. Sure it would take about 3 feats but that is not that bad. A human fighter could actually get this at 1st level. It would make the crossbow use a little MAD, but not all that much more than an archer. It would also make crossbow a viable weapon for close combat.
I never understood why the crossbow specific feats were so weapon specific. Multishot can be used with any bow not just a single bow. The crossbow feats should be the same.
I would make it so a crossbow only provokes an attack of opportunity when being loaded, not when being fired.
Crossbows do not add your strength bonus for a very good reason. You don’t cock a crossbow by pulling back the string. They have mechanical methods of cocking them instead of using brute force. Heavy crossbows in particular usually are usually wound with a wheel type device. Even light crossbows have a lever that multiplies the force used to draw back the string.
Deklord is right about the Morningstar. I probably over simplified what should be a simple weapon, by not including that a weapon that is used in an identical manner to another simple weapon should also be a simple weapon. A martial weapon should be a weapon that is fairly common that requires some training and practice. Like simple weapons they should include more exotic weapons that are used in an identical manner as another martial weapon. Exotic weapons should be weapons that require special training in order to fully utilize.
Temperans suggestion has some merit, but what I would do is make it a crossbow specific feat. Archery has some decent bow specific feats, but crossbows have relatively few. Sure it has some feats that get rid of some of the negative aspects of using a crossbow, but little in the way of giving them something unique. His suggestion sounds like a great feat for a crossbow specific feat.
Even a short bow requires a lot of training. Many of the same techniques are used with all bows. Both the long bow and short bow use similar if not identical stances, release and grips.
As to the feat tax a solution would be to eliminate point blank shot and replace it with bow proficiency. Have this be a special feat that gives you proficiency for all bows. Since point blank shot is pretty much a straight up feat tax simply eliminate it completely. Drop it as a prerequisite from all feats and feat chains.
Make crossbows marital weapons instead of simple. The crossbow is a pure military weapon anyways so should not be a simple weapon. Simple weapons should be something that is either so common that everyone has one, or something that anyone can make a reasonable replica of. Clubs and staves are basically branches of a tree, spears are a sharpened stick, and everybody has access to knives.
Eliminating point blank shot also improves the crossbow because many of the crossbow feats also have it as a prerequisite. By shortening the feat chains you make crossbows a more viable weapon. This would make the crossbow the default weapon for most militaries that can build them.
Elves would still be proficient with bow. This would give elven archers a bit of an advantage, but in all honesty they are supposed to be some of the best archers.
In real life the biggest difference between a bow and a crossbow is the amount of training it took to learn how to use it properly. To effectively use a bow requires a lot of training. As the saying goes to train a archer you start with his grandfather. The crossbow on the other hand can be learned very quickly. Probably takes about a week to get someone up to speed with a crossbow.
The game tries to simulate this by making bows marital weapons and crossbows simple weapons. The problem is that means that almost any full marital character can use a bow. What they should have done is to make bows exotic weapons, and crossbows martial weapons. The way it is now just about anyone can use a crossbow and most characters can use bows.
In reality a fully trained archer is a lot more effective than a person using a crossbow. The difference is that the fully trained archer is an elite trop, where the crossbowman is a common trop. If I am building an army I can have a very small troop of archers, or I can equip a large portion of my troops with crossbows. When crossbows came out they changed the face of warfare not so much because they were better than the bow, but because now it was possible to have a large number of fairly competent ranged attacks.
The wording on Divine Source is somewhat ambiguous. It uses the term spell domain instead of just domain. To me that suggest that you can change out the domain spells, but the domain powers are not affected. It also uses the word may which makes it an optional ability not something you are required to do. This is further supported by the last line of the ability where it mentions adding their spells t the list of those you can cast.
It sounds like you want your mother as your familiar instead of it being a link to your mother. It makes more sense for the familiar to be less powerful than your mother. Take any familiar and the backstory is that it was sent by your mother. If you are starting high enough level take the feat improved familiar and get a fey themed familiar. The backstory is that when you take the feat it reveals its true form.
Fey are notorious for being tricksters so it is also possible that your familiar is actually something more powerful, but pretending to be something less powerful. In game terms your familiar grants you what it should, but in reality it is holding back its full power. This will allow you any backstory you want without giving you an unfair game advantage.
Alternative solutions are what good players use on the GM, not a GM tactic. While this is something to be encouraged it does not address how to challenge the players.
Make sure you vary the threat level of your encounters. Don’t make all encounters extremely challenging. Throwing some easy encounters at the players give them a chance to feel superior. It can also lure them into a false sense of security so when you do pull out the big encounter is more memorable. A good story usually has gradual build up instead of starting out fast and furious. It is also a good way to bleed off some of the players resources. This especially true if the players use their strongest weapons as soon as they can. When your casters have used their high level spells and the paladin has no smites left what would have been a cake walk suddenly becomes a challenge.
My question is can a rogue who is grappled even make a sneak attack.
Grappled: A grappled creature is restrained by a creature, trap, or effect. This to me seems to indicate that a rogue may have trouble reaching the vital spot in order to even get a sneak attack. The first line of the grapple maneuver states “As a standard action, you can attempt to grapple a foe, hindering his combat options.” This also implies that the person in the grapple does may not be able to get a sneak attack.
When you attack with a one handed weapon you may not be able to pick out the specific spot to hit. You are probably attack whatever you can reach.
Another good way to challenge your players is to add conditions to the encounter. Generally speaking there are two main ways to add conditions to an encounter. The first and most common is altering the battle field. This is pretty straight forward and most GM’s are familiar with this. Adding in difficult terrain or other adverse situations are examples of this. The second is to alter the rules for victory. This is more difficult but can also be a lot more challenging.
The standard encounter usually involves the party facing a variety of opponents and they achieve victory by simply killing them. The party is usually free to use any method to achieve victory. By altering either the condition or the allowable methods you can significantly increase the challenge to the party from the same foes. Just be sure that the party actually does have a way to achieve victory. This is why knowing what your players can actually do is critical.
One of the most difficult encounters I ran was one where the party had to avoid killing the BBEG. They did not find out about the condition until after the battle started which made it a lot more difficult. His dying by violence was the last step for him to gain a template. His power level was such that if he had gained the template he would have easily been able to kill the entire party.
Limiting the methods the players can use often requires more work, but can still be done. If you wanted to limit the use of fire spells you could have the battle take place in an area where there are a lot of valuable combustible items. Using a fireball in the library where you are trying to research the weakness of the BBEG is going to be costly. Having innocent people around the opponents that would be killed by powerful area of effect attacks is a classic plot device. Another classic plot device is having to take down the opponents without alerting anyone. In one encounter it meant that wizard had to avoid most of his usual spells, and the cleric had to waste the first round casting silence.
Any fighter can pick up power attack and toughness at first level. ;)
Actually martials are generally more powerful than casters at first level. Around third level that changes.
Toughness is only good as a fighter’s first bonus feat. If you take it you will probably end up retraining it as soon as you can.
The best way to create a challenging adventure is to write it specifically to the party. When you know what you player’s characters are able to do you can challenge them. Trying to create an adventure that any party can accomplish means writing to the lowest common denominator. Equally important is knowing your players. Some players have a good grasp of tactics, while other are less inclined towards strategy. By tailoring your adventures to the party you can create a much more challenging adventure.
In reality some types of armor are simply better than others. Those types of armor tend to be more expensive but player characters have the cash to afford them. The other types of armor are often significantly cheaper so are used by those that cannot afford them.
The less expensive armor is also popular when equipping an army. When you need to purchase a hundred suits of armor for you troops scale mail looks pretty good. Almost no other armor can equal is protection per gp.
My advice would be not to try and play a character form a movie or book. Instead play a character based on the source material. The problem with trying to play a specific character is that you can never get it quite right. You end up not having all the things the character can do, and also have things the character can’t do.
I don’t really see Groot as a martial character. To me he is more of a spell caster that uses a lot of touch attacks. A Verdant bloodline Ghoran sorcerer would actually work quite well for a Groot inspired character. Tanglevine would actually cover a lot of what Groot does in the movies.
Another import difference between most martials and casters is the fact it is easier to cripple a martial with a poor choice in character creation.
Casters primary class ability is their spells. Prepared casters have to choose what spells to memorize every day. That means that their effectiveness can vary greatly depending on their spell choices. But it also means that each day you can pretty much reconfigure your character by altering your spell selection. Divine prepared casters have the advantage of knowing their entire spell list. Arcane casters have are limited to the spells they know, but that is usually a pretty good amount of spells. Also many spells have different options that can be chosen when the spell is cast. This gives the caster incredible versatility and allows them to adjust to the circumstance. As long as they survive the day they can alter their spell selection so they are not permanently crippled by a poor choice.
Spontaneous casters don’t have the ability to completely alter their character the way the prepared caster does. But they still have greater flexibility than most martials. Each spell slot can be used to cast any spell that you know of appropriate level. So if you are facing a incorporeal creature you cast magic missile instead of shocking grasp. They can also use wands, scrolls and staves to further expand their choices. Because they have can choose which spell to cast as needed they still have a lot of options on what they are going to do.
Compare this to a marital class. One of the most important aspects of a marital is their feats. While casters get feats they are less reliant on them. A fighter’s major class feature is feats and all martials rely on them to some extent. The problem is that once a feat is chosen you are pretty much stuck with it. This means a poor choice of feats can permanently cripple your martial. A caster who chose a bad spell can still use his spell slot to caster other spells, but a martial who chose a poor feat wasted an important resource. While retraining rules do allow feats to be altered they take time and resources and are not always available.
What this means is that when building a marital character you need to be very careful and plan out everything in advance. You need to consider what works and what doesn’t before making the choice. Because of feat chains you often have to take useless feats to gain what you really want. To build a marital character that can compare to a caster means you cannot make mistakes in character creation. It also often means that your build does not come online immediately. Most martial builds don’t become truly effective until around 5th to 8th level.
Keep in mind that if you are using ABP you get ½ the normal wealthy by level because you don’t need many of the items. I am not familiar with the AP as always write my own adventures, but I imagine you can simply ignore the items that are no longer relevant. If doing so puts the characters below the recommended wealthy add a little non-magical treasure.
The most important thing is to realize that all classes have both strong points and weak points. Understanding what class’s strong and weak points are is the most important aspect of building a decent character. Trying to compete against a class’s strong point where you are weak is never going to work. What you want to do is to focus on where you are strong, but also shore up glaring weaknesses.
As a marital you need to make sure you can dish out damage. Your monk was DEX based which means unless you have some way to get DEX to damage your damage is going to be low. Generally speaking there are two main philosophies on martial damage. The first is slow and steady the second is going nova. Slow and steady is when you have bonuses to hit and damage that are almost always available. Going nova is where your normal damage is ok, but under certain conditions it goes through the roof. A fighter specializing as an archer is a good example of the first strategy. As long as he has his bow his damage output is going to be good. A paladin’s smite evil, or a ranger’s favored enemy are examples of going nova.
Next become very familiar with all your class abilities. Too many players neglect the lesser aspects of their characters and complain that their characters are useless. I had a player whose paladin often forgot to memorize spells, and even when he memorized them almost never cast them. This same player completely forgot about his divine bond (weapon), but b$&!#ed and complained when fighting trolls that he had no way to deal fire damage. He was so focused on smite evil that he ignored almost all the other abilities of the character. If you want to come even close to matching a caster you need to be playing your character to his fullest potential.
One area where a lot of martials have an advantage is in defenses. Rangers for example have evasion and two good saves. Paladins are about the toughest class to take down in the game. Most full casters don’t have much in the way of defenses. This is particularly true of arcane casters. While this may not bring down the enemy faster it does give you a major advantage in survivability.
The last thing to consider is that you are part of a team. In the end it does not really matter who kills the enemy as long as he is dead. Protecting the wizard while he gets off the spell that ends the combat is just as important as casting the spell.
There are not rules for this because it is something that should never be done. AS a GM you can do anything you want, but there are somethings you should not do and this is one of them. Danger is part of the game and in sometimes that means that the characters die or even experience a TPK (Total Party Kill). By stepping in like this you cheapen the game and make the players less important.
Pathfinder specifically has not rules for what gods can do because they are beyond what the rules can define.
You will want at least a moderate AC. If you want to play the classic unarmored do the opposite of what has been recommended. Don’t get armor but spend a little more for amulet of natural armor and rings of protection. Also pick up feats that give you AC without needing armor. Dodge and Ironhide would both seem to fit.
An unchained barbarian would probably be for this because of things like guarded stance and Protect Vitals. You don’t need to get a high AC, just one high enough to avoid some of the damage.
Another reason is that an earth elemental already has better STR than the other elementals, so has a better chance to hit and does more damage. An air elemental get weapon finesse so has the same chance to hit as an earth elemental, but does less damage. The earth elemental also has cleave and power attack so can actually do a lot more damage than the other elements. If you think earth mastery is bad take a look at the water elemental.
Comparing all the elements earth still comes out ahead in combat. In most cases the medium earth elemental comes out ahead of other similar elementals. The air elemental is the only one who is stronger. An air elemental will be +9 to hit and doing 1d6+3 damage, while the earth elemental is +5 to hit and does 1d8+3 damage. Vs a fire elemental the earth comes out ahead the fire elemental is +7 to hit and does 1d6+1 damage plus burn, while the earth elemental is +10 to hit doing 1d8+8 damage. The water elemental is the one who really gets the shaft. The water elemental is +3 to hit and does 1d8 for damage, while the earth elemental is again at +5 to hit and does 1d8+3 damage. This is without factoring in power attack.
Geas functions similarly to lesser geas, except that it affects a creature of any HD and allows no saving throw. The example you give would be considered an open-ended task that the recipient cannot complete through his own actions, so would be subject to the maximum duration of 1 day per caster level.
The spell is also language dependent which means two things. First it cannot be cast on an unconscious person as they cannot understand the instructions. You could however restrain them. Second and most importantly the language dependent means you have to be very clean on what your instructions are. The spell even mentions that the instructions can be subverted. Expect any flaws in the instructions to be exploited.
If the instructions are fairly simply and do not require the cooperation of others it works pretty well. If your instructions are to kill the king that will work fairly well. If the instructions are to help us overthrow the king, that is not going to work as well. In the first instance the person will immediately try and kill the king. In the second instance the spell is only going to last a maximum of 1 day per caster level and they can twist things around so that they may be able to avoid doing what you intended. For example they may help the party, but betray allies of the party who are working with the party. “You said to help our overthrow the king, you did not mention helping the duke”.
If you are worried about taking damage there are usually better ways to protect yourself than boosting your reflex save. Many things requiring fortitude and will saves are all or nothing, so making the save means you avoid the affect. Reflex saves usually only reduce the effect of the ability not avoid it. If you have evasion than boosting your reflex save becomes a lot more viable of a strategy, but without it don’t waste a lot of resources on trying to boost it. I would not even bother with Lighting Reflexes. Steel Soul and Glory of old affect all saves so are definitely worth taking.
From the sound of it you are playing a wisdom based divine caster. If this is the case you have a much better way to protect yourself vs damage. Divine casters have some of the best defensive spells in the game. Resist Energy is only a second level spell, and has a duration of 10 minutes per level. Against numerous attacks this is going to reduce the damage a lot more than boosting your saving throws. If you are facing a single powerful ability, then use protection from energy. Freedom of Movement will handle most of the other affects requiring a reflex save.
It all comes down to how you word it. In the example of the wizard and the rogue there are ways to get the rogue to give him his spell book back.
If the wizard said give me back my spell book and I will forget about you stealing it sounds reasonable to me.
If the mind flayers had said drop your weapons and you will not be harmed that also sounds reasonable.
The First World Minstrel seems like it would fit, but honestly the core bard would work equally well. Just because the class does not say Fey does not mean your character is not Fey. The Bards abilities pretty much match the legends of the Fey. Just describe your character as have a couple of unusual physical features that have no game effect. Maybe you have an unusual color of eyes, and or hair.
There are also a couple of feats and traits you could take to give you a bit more fey like abilities. Fey Foundling or Fey Performance would work well. There are also a couple of traits that deal with fey. Either Fey Protection or Friends of the Fey would work well for traits.
If Variant Multiclassing is available you could play a bard and gain some of Fey bloodline powers. You could also achieve similar results with the eldritch heritage feats.
Put some points into knowledge nature and role play the character as being fey touched. Don’t worry about your class having the word fey in it.
The most significant difference is the druid is a prepared caster, vs the sorcerer being a spontaneous caster. The druid has access to his entire spell list, but need to pick which spells he will be able to cast each day. The sorcerer has a very limited number of spells, but can cast any they know as long as they have the appropriate spell slot available.
The second difference is in the spell list. The druid spell list is one of the more versatile spell lists, but often lacks the sheer power of a more focused spell list. They have more damaging spells than a cleric, but their damaging spells are usually less powerful than a sorcerer. Unlike a sorcerer they get healing and condition removal spells, but their healing spells are less effective than a cleric. The only area where they are supreme is dealing with nature.
The sorcerer generally has more powerful combat spells. They also have access to a lot of utility spells, but as a spontaneous caster you will need to be very careful of what spells you learn. A poor choice of spells can cripple your character.
Another option you may want to consider is playing a bard. While they are not a full caster they often get early access to some spells. Their spell list includes pretty much most of the enchantment and illusion spells that you will want. Bards seems to be more fey like than just about any class in the game.
One thing limiting these types of tactics is that even in the real world explosives are not always cumulative. Fire for example does damage by burning things. The amount of damage done by fire is based on the temperature of the flame. Adding more fuel to a fire may not increase the temperature of the fire. There is a point of diminishing return on fire and fuel. When large amount of fuel catches fire it usually increases the size and duration of the burn. Basically there is a diminishing return on the amount of damage more fuel when it comes to fire damage.
Sorry I meant Hero Labs. I have and use both so got them mixed up.
Hero Designer has most of what you need for keeping track of stats. I would suggest you create portfolios for encounters ahead of time. Also add any adjustments that are likely to come up, but uncheck them so they are not active. Have another portfolio with the players in it and also add frequently used adjustments to them. When you have a combat simply import the player into the encounter portfolio. This will allow you to quickly determine most stats.
It also could be for balance reasons. Dragons are a powerful race and all dragons that are not killed become powerful creatures. A black dragon wyrmling may only be a CR 3 encounter, but a black dragon wyrm is a CR 17 encounter. The plane touched races are playable races that are for the most part about equivalent to the standard races. While you could easily write up a dragon based race similarly it would probably seem like a letdown.
There is one race if pathfinder that does claim to be descendant from dragons. But I don’t think playing a kobold is what you had in mind. I believe they even have some racial feats that give them some draconic abilities.
Last but not least there is the prestige class Dragon Disciple. It may be fairly limited on who can qualify for it, but in all honestly it fits the dragon blood idea fairly well. In addition to dragon being power they are also very similar. It makes sense that someone descendant from a dragon would be pretty similar to another person who is descendant from another dragon type. The plane touched have a much wider selection of ancestors with a huge amount of variance.
One thing that needs to be taken into account, does the rest of the party have a clear view of what is going on in the room? The original post states that the rest party is hidden. If they do not have clear sight of the people involved in the combat how can they react to what goes on?
If the rest of the party is standing behind the wall next to the door with no line of sight to the encounter are they even part of the encounter yet? They may be aware of that the guards are there, but unable to perceive what is going on. If that is the case they should not get a surprise round.
If the party gets a surprise round this sets a bad precedent. Now the players can guarantee a surprise round by having one of the characters hide. No matter what happens the whole party will be able to act before their opponents. This could be what we have been missing about the rogue for years. Now every party will want stealth focused rogue. Just have the rogue hiding around the corner in every encounter to grant the party a surprise round.
From a mathematical stand point getting 2 smites for the whole party or 8 smites for yourself is about equal. This assumes a party of 4 with now pets, and 8 lay on hands. If the party has more combatants than the whole party smites become more effective. On the other hand if the paladin has more lay on hands available the personal smites gain the advantage.
The other thing to consider is how tough is the creature you are fighting. Sure if you are fighting a power full dragon or demon the whole party smite is great. If on the other hand you are fighting number of strong foes that are not overwhelming they become a lot less useful.
The oath of vengeance archetype should definitely not be included in the list of worst archetypes
Since one of the people who are surprised has already gone the surprise round is over. Your party gave up the surprise round in order to let person bluffing have a chance to deal with the guards. Basically once a combat starts you cannot get a retroactive surprise round.
What should have happened is that when the guard went to attack the hidden party members should have gotten perception roll to notice it especially if he had to draw a weapon. If they noticed it then they could have acted. At that point the guards should get a perception roll to notice them. If the guards fail the perception roll you get a surprise round. The character making the bluff roll also needs to make a perception roll to act in the surprise round. While he is aware of everyone he may not be aware that things have gotten out of hand.