You, in real life, gain 20 levels of Commoner, and a free Variant Multiclass (don't trade feats for it). Which VMC do you pick?
I had an idea a while back for a kirin style Duelist build (I like the concepts of those old corebook prestige classes).
So, what I ended up with was a Phantom Thief Rogue/duelist, using Skill Unlocks for Knowledge skills to complement the Kirin Style knowledge stuff. If you want the unlocks without going with the Phantom Thief archetype it's gonna take some feats to do so.
Don't know if it's good, but it's a combat-oriented use of Int at least.
I mean, it's part of the rules. And in my opinion, part of what would be interesting playing such a character. I tend to favour impactful character traits having a rules bound impact and not just a fluff one. They might not be incredibly realistic, but I think it's nice that there's at least something.
Besides, the bonuses/penalties is at most a +/-3 to each attribute, which I guess can contribute to a +/-2 bonus. even for optimization purposes that's not the worst thing ever, though I might be a bit sceptical to a full caster or a mostly-caster looking to min-max mental stats hard. (There's a point where a +2 to a mental bonus gives the enemy a third as high a chance to succeed their saves after all).
In the circles I play with though, I'd never really worry about it being a case of optimization over conceptualization.
If I was the GM and a player wanted to be old but not have to deal with the penalties I'd probably try andcompromise by building a youth-potion (or a wish-reward) into the campaign midway in.
I'm currently playing a homebrew paladin archetype that gives up spellcasting for bardic performance.
I could see Ki powers being a worthwhile trade.
I kind of want to say animal companion, but that's not really applicable to the paladin or the ranger now is it.
Prestige-class progression speed Deific Obedience could easily be worth or better.
I bet some of the vigilante's secret identity stuff could be a good trade in the right campaign.
Lay on Hands (including mercy) AND Paladin Auras might be good enough, but still kinda feels a bit weak at a glance to me.
Oracle's curse and mysteries could be cool.
Those are what I can think of without digging.
(I'm doing this for the sake of maths, not really for the sake of any argument, It's correct to say my statement's true to a point and that Operatives would generally have a few backups at reasonable rates. I just wanna write up the math.)
So firstly, let's present the context that the Trick Attack skill check is a form of miss chance since it affects a large part of your damage (the vast majority at higher levels) and hit chance. And it's the effective miss chance that's the biggest thing to evaluate.
So the general rule for Trick Attacks is you can use Stealth(Dex), Bluff(Cha) or Intimidate (Cha).
And then your specialization gives you another skill to Trick attack with (based on Dex, Int, Wis or Cha), and also one of your specialization skills gives a +4 bonus (but never more than +1 if your specialization skill is Dex based).
Let's assume you max Dex (starting 18) and go 14 Cha (best you can do as a human. We'll also assume we don't specialize in anything requiring Int or Wis, because that screws with our results.
So we end up with two Trick Attack Bonuses
Dex skills: 4(dex)+3(class skill bonus)+1(operative's edge)+lvl = 8+lvl
details:By level 7 it's about a ~45-55% miss chance for a non-specialization skill.
This is true for non-specialization skills. Your trick attack has a baseline ~55-65% miss chance, decreasing by 5% at levels 3,5,7,10,11,15,19 and 20, from ability score increases and higher Operative's edge.
As well as an extra 10% across levels 7-13 somehwhere probably from personal aguments. (Dex skills don't scale up at level 5, but they're getting the priority on ability score aguments which evens things out)
So the trick attack skill bonuses go up by about +1 every ~3 levels-ish on average.
That's still kind of a horrible penalty to have on every single attack you make. And given how much of an Operative's damage is rooted in trick attack being forced to use these sub-optimal skills would gimp you really hard.
The really big difference with being able to use your specialization skill's trick attack is of course the ability to take 10, unlocked at lvl 7. which turns that ~45% miss chance to an almost 0% effective miss chance.
Before level 7, the +2 and later +1 also really helps mitigate the miss chance, which is also less severe at lower levels when your Trick Attack damage is a less overwhelming majority of your damage.
In either case the typical +4 you get from your specialization helps push the estimated 50% miss chance for a specialization skill down to 30%, going down to a 15-20% miss chance with minmaxxing racial bonuses and/or investing your first personal augment into your specialization skill's ability score.
The +4 also pushes the take 10 effect into the range of actual 0% miss chance, instead of it failing against some very tough bosses.
So, at lower levels being denied your specialization-bonus trick attack skill is the difference between landing trick attack at an 8+(35% miss chance) and a 14+(65% miss chance). At higher levels it's the difference between being able to take 10 and landing it against everything that you can try to take on and having a ~20-50% miss chance.
If you have an Int or Wis based specialization skill for trick attack and you're forced to use bluff or intimidate it gets even worse (especially at mid-low levels). As on a typical build that's easily another -3 or -4 from a lower unaugmented Cha modifier.
Anyway, doing this math was fun. And I'd like to reiterate I did this for my own enjoyment and not for the sake of argument.
I think modding Trick attack to be a higher payoff ability that requires setup appropriate to the flavour in question sounds like a pretty sweet idea for homebrew. Though it sounds like a lot of work.
In the most limiting situation it could represent as much as a -6 or even a -8(at very low levels). That's a pretty significant increase in your failure rate and at higher levels it could deny you the ability to take 10 all together.
It's true that operatives have no real bad skills, but you still often need the +4 trick attack bonus from your specialization to be safe.
The only way I see it make sense to make situationality a thing if, as you suggested, you change Trick Attack to be more of a pivotal set-up pay-of ability.
More to the point, if you want rare hyperspecific deep details beyond what would reasonably be available in a generic "off-the-shelf" (or equivalent) tool kit for creating a wide variety of disguises limited only by the penalties you impose on your check, and specifically beateable by an unspecified (and therefore reasonably omnisensory) perception check, then you take those extra precautions and spend whatever effort is appropriate for the game in question to acquire such extra-effort ingredients or to set up fakes for things you're afraid of encountering in advance, not retroactively.
Personally, I find it fair that an Extraordinary Ability available to a single player class (is there a class graft for biohacker yet? if there is does it even get the scanning ability?) to counter some applications of a mundane ability. Just as I find it fair to let Supernatural, Spells or Spell-like abilities straight no-sell it most of the time.
As a GM, I have the ability to decide whether or not I want a Biohacker's ability to work on a disguised foe or not in advance and account for that in how their disguise is set up if I want to block their class ability.
As a player, I get to decide how paranoid or dedicated my character is, act in-character accordingly and notify the GM of any precautions I'm taking in making my disguise deeper than normal.
TBH it's a shame there's no interaction between the disguise rules and the identify creature rules to begin with, more so than the custom microlab scan being a bit nonspecific.
You can explicitly succeed the opposed check against security personell's Perception checks. Which is not the same as going through a security checkpoint.
I'd rule that getting specific deep details like matching DNA and other deep disguises (fooling medical scans for skeletal structure or specific internal organs, for example) requires more than a 20 Cr Disguise kit and 10-30 minutes.
If you specify you're getting a DNA source, and taking other countermeasures for fooling a scan, whether it be a scan from a biohackers custom microlab or a full body scanner at security checkpoint at a starport. Then depending on the scenario, the campaign and the group I'd require you have the time to acquire ingredients and maybe have you roll or make a scene or two out of it.
You wouldn't get to retroactively say "But if a challenge exists in-game of course the tools already account for it and I get to counter it for free" (which is a bit more agressive than what you actually said, sorry). But if you want to take that kind of precaution ahead of time I'm more than happy to oblige and make a story out of it.
P.S. The "but they would know they'd need to counter it!" argument can be extended to the other side as well, "the biohacker knows disguises are a thing and would account for that in how the scan is set up", and then back and forth ad nauseum. I don't think it's an entirely unfair thing to mention though
Disguise is inherently a set of rules governing how to conceal your identity. It is freely available to anyone willing to invest in it, compared to an ability available to one class.
My best comparison for how to consider the custom microlab is something like a medical tricorder from Star Trek, which most certainly can pierce even surgical disguises.
The ability of the Disguise skill to fool a scan from a medical scanner is depenent on several factors relevant to the nature of the disguise.
What parts of your appearance did you disguise? I'd feel it reasonable that a scan won't map your discreet features, but pick up on what your actual race, creature type, size and such is.
As for a mundane disguise using a Disguise Kit or a Holoskin; their function is not to pass a detailed inspection or scan, but to prevent you from being recognized as your self at a glance.
If you want to keep your nature hidden in a fight the skill you're looking for is called Stealth. Which is inherently a set of rules for avoiding detection by others.
Jason Nelson wrote:
Let me put forward the suggestion of a 6-action system, to get the flexibility of the 3-action system but you have a greater span on what value actions can have
The idea I had in mind was something like Standard action costs 3, move action costs 2 Swift action costs 1.
I'd be prone to let it pierce mundane disguises but not magical ones or ones that are specified to be more thorough. (if the magic allows a save when interacting with an illusion or such obviously you'd get that)
If a plot relies on a disguise working and you have a biohacker on the team either adjust the plot accordingly or up the nature of the disguise to compensate.
Inherently, it's an ability that's supposed to let you know what you're fighting. If you're gonna counter that it should be costing the enemy something to do so. On the other hand, it's not supposed to be an ability to pierce disguises, so if you're using it out of combat (in general) without getting permission from the target first it seems like it would be a good way to turn a non-combat scenario into a combat one.
Having consumables replenish is my favoured solution.
Treasure is a non-renewable resource, there's a limited amount of it in the campaign, and unless you have more gold than you could ever need every consumable spent is either final, or limits you spending gold on lasting equipment.
There's a significant difference in how much it costs you (both actually and psychologically) to use a consumable depending on what you have access to: "1 potion" vs "1 potion, refreshes each adventure".
So whether narratively or arbitrarily I think arranging for consumables to have less of a lasting cost is a big deal.
There's an entire other layer to debate about turning money (a long term resource) into consumables (a short term benefit) feeling bad and whether or not that's really a bad thing.
You can dismiss Solar Flare, Shield and Weapon by just letting go of them though, no need to spend any action on actively dismiss them.
Armor is the only one that costs an action to dismiss.
Archives of Nethys wrote:
Regardless Switch hitting seems to me to be the option that works the best without full attunement, Though something like weapon/shield or flare/shield where you quick draw your shield when you want to spend time on activating sustained powers also seems reasonably useful.
Weapon creation rules is a must.
The game's overall quality would pretty much double if there was a solid set of rules or guidelines for statting up your own weapons.
I don't particularly care what format it comes in, book, player companion, official homebrew, I just want to be able to upgrade my tailblade at all.
A setting book on deities would be neat too though.
There's lots of ways to come up with to disable teleportations. I'd like to see a warding rune or something; "just paint this on your walls and floor and ceiling and those pesky adventurers can't teleport in" kind of stuff.
I would like to see a revamped action system, PF2E was on the right track with that idea I think, but I'd like to see the granularity of different value actions remain. Something like a 6-action system rather than a 3 action system, where what PF1 considers a Standard action takes 3 actions.
I disagree that being staggered is an auto-win against every enemy ever, not counting the ones with adds or Spells Resistance.
Besides, breaking the encounter by spamming a 2nd level spell is a trick that works once. And then the GM is sensible enough to include adds, Spell Resistance or immunity to stagger. Or enemies which just don't care all that much that they lose their move action. (If the GM doesn't do this kind of thing it's on you for breaking the game, not for the game to be breakable within certain parameters)
I've played through (most of) Rise of the Runelords with a slumber-witch, min-maxed to hell, their save was basically unbeatable, most enemies required a nat 20.
It was nowhere near as bad as nullifying every important fight ever, it didn't even dominate most fights.
Slumber is at will, no resource. Fire-and-forget.
You don't get [italics]that[/italics] many spell slots. Which you would have to keep spending each round.
Might still not be the most balanced thing ever, but personally I'd prefer it to another all-or-nothing spell. Plus as it is now it's just cheaper, earlier Slow. Which is kind of dull.
If your spell requires your team to build around it and succeed in their builds to be worthwhile, then it's kind of domineering the game though (this is a bit of a copout counterargument, the party should build to support eachother regardless, though asking for the other players to build towards reliable debuffs at chargen is still kind of out there to me).
But you're right, combining debuffs helps quite a lot,plus I forgot about spell focus/didn't think it made the cut so that makes a difference as well. (wouldn't you rather focus all of that on one of the 2nd level spells with a full shutdown on a failed save though)
Those reliable debuffs consists of mainly shaken and sickened though, unless it's actual specific class options or hybrid/magic items I haven't checked out. And those certainly don't come reliably online until 7th level, at which point you have access to Slow...
Speaking of Slow:
Looking at slow I think I've actually changed my mind.
Slice Reality is still somewhat broken. It's literally, a single target version of a 3rd level spell. I mean, that's not gamebreakingly op or anything, but it's still quite a bit more than what I expect from a 2nd level debuff, that it's just a 3rd level debuff you'd probably cast on a single target if it was a solo fight... restricted to one target.
So let me reiterate that on the "this is just more of the same" statement.
Could we just remove the useless damage from the spell and rename it "Slow, lesser"?
I'll admit implying it's useless as a spell is an exagerration, and I'm probably a bit too quick to dismiss those all-or-nothing save spells.
But I'll claim that the Witchwarper has much better spells to add to their spells known at 2nd level. And by the time this could make the cut I could just add slow instead.
In the end, I'm probably wrong to dismiss anything that does nothing more than 30% of the time (baseline), but I'm still disappointed they didn't make something more interesting, something more diverse to add to the Witchwarper's spell list than "and then it makes a save and if it fails they suffer massive penalties", 'cause we already have those spells aplenty.
(I really should try and play those kinds of spells sometime though, to get a better perspective)
It was the most broken thing I've seen so far.
But there's a lot of ways to change it other than making it just another save-or-suck spell.
The most obvious is to reduce the staggered duration to 1 round instead of rounds per level.
If you want that behind a save it should affect all the targets that were damaged. instead of just the single target you focus on. Making it more of a crowd control-ish spell than a high-impact coinflip.
If you want to highlight the damage portion of the spell then it could do triple damage to a single target, or just 3d6 area/6d6 single target.
Those are the options I consider obvious if you want the spell to be usable beyond level 6-7 targets.
Personally, I don't ever use save-or-incapacitated combat spells if I can avoid it (not in any balanced system anyway), and I don't find debuffs locked behind saves much more attractive either.
But when we get new and flavourful spells, I hope for them to also do something new and flavourful. So I find it a shame when the end result is just more of the same.
P.S. if a target needs to save vs a 2nd level spell for it to have more than 1d6 damage worth of effect, then don't count on having any kind of decent chance to do more than 1d6 damage worth of effect with it.
Generally speaking, a Witchwarper can use a 2nd level spell slot to cause 2d6(fort half) damage aoe in an area for rounds=to class level.
A spell that does 2d6 damage (fort half) once is an actual joke. Any enemy worth casting the single target version on succeeds more than half the time.
A spell that more than half the time is worse than an option that doesn't have an availability opportunity cost is not really very usable.
Though YMMV, I could see taking it and trading it out when you gain 3rd level spells. In bossfights, staggering on the 3rd turn can still be quite good depending on how the fight is going, just don't expect to land the stagger more than once per day, maybe 2 at level 6.
I really like tying some of the feat-tax stuff to skills or other metrics (like BAB, or attribute prereqs). Making them freebies that you can also take as a feat feels like the correct choice for me.
There's also probably some amount of cleanup that can be done with archetypes, the question is whether to retool it properly or to just adjust each set of archetypes. (Then you also have to ask how to adjust them, should they be the norm or a way to do something very specialized, should they be balanced compared to each other or the base class or should they be balanced with exectuting their concept foremost in mind, that kind of stuff).
Cleaning up swift actions is also gonna be important I think, either by reducing the bloat on them, or by switching to a more even action system like Unchained action economy or PF2 (though I'd like a bit more granularity than PF2, so you can actually put weaker and cheaper actions in the game). One of the biggest proof of powercreep in the system IMO, is the concern of whether or not allowing a move action to be degraded to a swift action would break game balance.
I love the idea, you should absolutely hammer out the details with your players though.
I think it might be more natural to start at a higher level, and then coordinate the dropping off of power with the rise of a new generation that the players can gain real investment in.
The gaining during 1-10 and waning during 11-20 also sounds compelling.
There's lots of ways of doing it though, depending on how long a campaign you want and what kind of campaign your players want to play out. And exactly what flavour of waning power you want (is it passing the torch, is it myths growing weaker over time, is it a personal tradegy, etc.). Figuring out which ones you and your players want to do will do a lot for figuring out what to do.
If you're using shot on the run or spring attack or whatever, and you're making them flat-footed with debilitating trick, then after you hit them with the trick attack and apply flat-footed to them they can no longer make AoOs and you can dance around them as much as you want.
The base trick attack only makes them flat footed against the accompanying attack itself however.
Artistry (Illustration) is what I'd consider appropriate there.
A total bonus of +10 makes you a pretty good artist, so if you want to be good enough to have a mechanical foundation for your art being good for gifting then that should suffice. If you want to be a great artist you'll want at least a +15.
The Artistry skill's rules of creating commissions are the closest you'll get to a good framework for actually creating works of art. Though it needs some alterations for creating personal projects, 'cause the penalty for not succeeding the checks don't really line up with working on your own time.
These seem really good.
The wall of fire and wall of force like effects could probably use a way to avoid damage/force through the barrier with some sort of piloting roll and be balanced around that.
Overall I'd be excited to try them out if I got the opportunity though. The spaceship combat is sorely lacking in any form of terrain or obstacles to maneuver around.
It needs houseruling to work with at least some trick attack enhancing options and badly needs to fix the scaling of non-dex skills so they're useable before level 7.
But it's a pretty neat to be able to build effectively for sniper rifles for instance.
It also needs to have at least two stunts for all skills.
If the operative levels are the most recent you can use a Mnemonic Editor for 500 credits to redo your last 2 levels completely.
Slice Reality actually seems actually kind of broken as it's currently written.
Slice Reality wrote:
Succeeding the fortitude save does not prevent getting the staggered condition. If you cast this at a single target they're staggered for rounds equal to your caster level. (aka the rest of the fight)
It's not precicely spider climb, but there's the feat that gives you a climb speed equal to your land speed, and the operative exploit that gives you both a climb and a swim speed.
Full HP for all Characters seems pretty high powered.
For skills; in our current campaign we're running with the background skill system from unchained, free perception for everyone, and a min of 3+int skill ranks per level (except for int casters). And that works pretty well. Especially the background skills lets you get some real amount of flavour customization in terms of skills without it giving any extra real power or becoming an optimization game.
Extended Telepathy isn't a multiplier though, it's a static addition. It doesn't double your range, it just extends it by 30ft.
I'd also assume you add static bonuses before multipliers as well in cases like this.
And yeah, 30ft. range increase on limited telepthy is rarely gonna matter. And when it does i'd be very surprised if it breaks the game.
I'd assume you apply the feat first and then the booster since the feat is a permanent effect that changes your range.
So they do stack and your range is 120ft.
the Psychic Booster also calls out all telepathy, whereas the feat calls out Limited Telepathy specifically. So my instinct is to apply the specific one first.
Fun fact: GMs who don't allow flavor-only reskins are missing the point of the game, and usually don't remain GMs for very long.
Funner Fact: The limits of what kind of reflavour is appropriate often vary from game to game, system to system and campaign to campaign. And is also often accepted or not on a case-by-case basis, for instance, you might be allowed to flavour your Masterwork Bastard Sword as a Katana (let's pretend eastern weapons haven't been introduced yet). But not your studded leather to full plate (though gambeson would likely be fine).
More starfinder specific, if you want your lazer pistol to fire physical bullets, then suck it up and buy an auto-pistol. If you want it to shoot schorching rays that's fine.
And you can even GM like this for over half your life!
Anyway, back to topic: I wanna see
Actual support in the rules for dual wielding.
More weapon fusions that are actually useful.
More magic/hybrid items.
Custom weapon&armor rules.
Weapon/armor upgrade rules (including scaling up items without pre-existing upgrades and otherwise just increasing item level).
If you're a Magus, bard or other 2/3 spellcaster you can generally expect access to some form of defensive support spell, whether it be shield, mirror image, blur/displacement, invisibility(or vanish, I could see a magus/rogue arcane trickster build going with vanish spam via spell recall) or offensive-defensive tools such as Vampiric Touch.
For a Rogue or (chained)Monk or other semi-martial, look toward either specc less squishy or find ways you can turn the surroundings to your advantage (it's also partially on the GM to make engageable environments for such purposes).
In particular, if you're not very martial or control caster heavy as group, make sure the players feel like they can control the fight in other ways than simply rushing the enemy down, retreating or luring the enemy into less favourable positions and circumstances or outflanking and separating the enemy.
As a GM, such semi-martials also fare better against several slightly weaker opponents than they do against huge monsters and solo bosses. So take scope of your group's composition and make encounters that fit them.
Matthew Downie wrote:
You can only take 5-foot steps if you have a listed movement speed with that kind of movement. So you can't 5-foot while using the Spider Climb or Fly spells. But if you're a race with a climb or fly speed you can.
Don't know if that's the one referred to but it's the one I know of.
I mean, they also do it to add their weapon damage to the attack.
It may not seem like a big deal at higher levels, but some 6-8 damage can make a pretty significant difference well up in the single digit levels.
On the topic of visualization: My own dex-based Magus I envisioned as doing a lot of fancy twirling motions, passing the sword from hand to hand throughout the attack sequence.
As for Spellstrike, I feel like you can probably describe the spell effect as having some form of energy that you can push out of your hand and into the target, which explains why you only need to make contact with an outer layer of steel and padding to deliver deadly chills or whatnot.
I imagine that the energy doesn't so much surround your weapon as flow into it, still being pushed out towards the enemy, still having those interesting secondary effects like the electricity jolting towards metal and guiding the rest of it, but it's not external any more in the same way, so you actually have to make real contact (AC) and not just get close enough for the energy to make contact (TAC)
Firstly, 2 things.
1) Keep in mind that Variant Multiclassing and regular multiclassing aren't really intended to be used together by default, so it would be very much up to the GM or the group whether that would fly at all.
2) Going Kensai only for Canny defence seems a bit... ehh.. I'd rather stay a regular magus and just... wear armor if I wasn't looking to go for the full package of abilities and/or flavour.
Other than that...
I kinda like the idea of using Magus as a caster base for a more martially focused Arcane Trickster, limiting arcana and pool points by ~10 levels or more is a bit iffy to me unless I'm going specifically Eldritch Knight as a more straight martially focused character. Or using the Magus as more of a dip class or something.
I'm not sure if I'm understanding this correctly, but if you think the base magus has a problem with keeping it going I think you have some to learn about the game's pace.
Most combats I've ever been in hardly lasted 5 rounds, and going more than 10 is a rare occasion. And for spells, like most caster classes, once you get out of the early levels you most often have enough to last you the day, especially with recall shenanigans and the focus on lower gaining value out of lower spell slots you usually can get.
Of course Kensai have fewer spells to go around than the regular Magus, and I have no idea how their unique pool abilities pace themselves. But I wouldn't really be too worried as a Magus about running out of steam being a frequent issue.
Make a customed up continous version of Mage's Decree (you can just make a custom magic item for it. Alternatively use several scrolls or a wand of the standard spell if you prefer comedy), and hold the monologue via speaker system while the PCs are approaching, maybe even during combat with the couple of last pre-boss encounters.
This isn't quite where the conversation is right, now but I still felt like commenting on this micropoint.
Firstly, Trick Attack is a full-round action, which denies you doing anything else with your entire turn outside of free actions. You can't draw weapons, you can't use your move action for anything else, you can't do swift actions.
Get 'em is a MOVE action.
Secondly, Debilitating trick requires your Trick Attack to actually hit to take effect. Get 'em just takes effect without condition. Trick attack fails to land a minimum of 5% of the time, and in reality it's got a much higher failure rate than that.
Debilitating Trick has merits of it's own that balance the fact that it's not as good as Get 'em, and there's other minor advantages/disadvantages they have over eachother, such as Get 'em's opportunity cost.
But without a doubt, Get 'em is the better ability of those two.
Hm. Personally, if I were to run a Room of Swords campaign I'd probably look to something other than Pathfinder to run it in, probably FATE or Hero System.
Both those systems have decent support for stuff like limit breaks.
To implement it in Pathfinder, you'd have to create a system for counting up the ruin energy, and the drawbacks for being at your max.
And then make sure that's at the right pace. Too slow and it never comes into play, too fast and everyone gets crippled before they can get to a sword.
For the limit breaks themselves, you need some degree of player creativity, but set some guideline for power level.
So far we've only seen rather powerful limit breaks from higher level characters. So it's not unreasonable to scale it down for lower level ones.
Treating it as a spell like ability emulating a spell of your choice (with modifications as allowed by the GM) with a level up to half your character level (rounding up) would probably work decently, and then if someone wants to stack multiple lower level effects together instead that's probably fine but needs more looking at directly by the GM.
You could probably look to making the limit break design point-based, with gaining more points per level, but that takes a bit more work.
It's fine if they're a bit OP because they require a plot coupon to activate (a sword) and you suffer penalties for not using them when you're able.
My Operative Priest of Eloritu has a modest patreon-like extra income from:
The Art and Adventure of Secrets and Mystery
Created by the entertainment branch of the Church of Eloritu, this (and other more narrative based titles utilizing the same engine) have little mainstream appeal, but has a solid cult following. It's key features are solid level creation tools and a strong, ever growing, library of user created levels, and incredible immersive presentation.
It's rumored that arcane secrets can be found in the filler gibberish (justified in game as "secret arcane writings") found in random terrain books that are often scattered around the game. And one player claimed to have learned real spells from such a spellbook found ingame.
Of Times Before Times Past
Editions are usually slightly different from region to region, incorporating some local stories and dropping some superfluous or culturally inappropriate ones.
Typically comes in holographic still and animated image books, often with an audio narrator for younger readers. Though it's also usually not hard to find a good text-only copy. Editions are usually not heavily edited or censored to reduce inherently darker stories, but are sometimes simplified for easier digestion by a young audience.
For historians or others with a deeper interest, it's also possible to track down a comprehensive omnibus with essays and commentaries by Vercite historian Raishen Kuwomo. Which offers a more in-depth take on the possible origins of each story (and how likely that a version of events actually happened), how much it's likely they've diverged from their original incarnations and when they were likely actively told before the current era.
If the Paladin in question can't (or won't) atone to regain their abilities and status, and you want to not just have them be super gimped then retraining seems to be the way to go.
You don't have to give them all at once of course, if you don't want to just make it a straight up downtime activity I could also see solutions such as whenever you level up you also retrain one paladin level into whatever class you take a level in.
This solution is more punishing at higher levels of course, but in a way that's fine, if it's early in the story then it becomes a backstory deal more than a lasting punishment by the time you reach the middle. If it happens at the midpoint or later then it has a lasting impact up until the end.
Even if you just straight up let them switch to Fighter, that still is a downgrade since they (ought to) have a charisma score that now does very little for their build (no amount of bonus feats really makes up for losing +CHA to all saves when you don't get the base Charisma score refunded in any way).
The alternate skills for initiative system has some promise, but needs more definition.
It's pretty clear about how it works when you're doing something relevant to the immediate combat like keeping a lookout or sneaking around, or maybe even looking for tracks.
Yesterday we were playing through the Mirrored Moon, and encountered the Red Dragon, we managed to talk to her Fire Giant bodyguard while she was away, and convinced him she might be deceiving him about attacking the nearby cyclops village. We hid in her lair while they argued and my character (A Paladin of Shelyn) Decided to make a sketch of the scene to capture the majesty of the dragon we would surely have to slay.
When fighting broke out, the GM allowed me to roll crafting for initiative, because that was what I was doing when combat broke out, on the condition that my weapon was not ready and I'd have to draw it (My hands would've been busy with drawing implements after all).
There's a lot of interesting applications in the concept, but it needs a lot stronger outlining of how permissive it's supposed to be. And if it's supposed to be restrictive, it then needs a list of what is definitively approved.