Pretty much the entire 1-shot I played a bit ago. Party of three. Barbarian. Bard. And my Fighter 1/Rogue 5. Who wore full plate and carried a falchion (He was a 1-hit wonder based on improved feint, power attack, and furious focus).
In the required initial meeting/bar fight he:
1. Threw a barstool roughly 25 feet to clobber one of the thugs assaulting our bard (nat 20!)
2. Punched a half-orc into a coma (improved feint + SA + plate gauntlet. Also why would you try to start a fist fight with a tin can?)
The pinnacle came with our final showdown against an evil necromancer and her town of minions. The rogue provides covering fire for the party by walking through a hail of crossbow bolts (full plate against commoners with light xbows) and with some stealth and a potion of invisibility managed to get around behind the necromancer.
Now, this necromancer had stoneskin up and was giving the bard fits (the barbarian was busy cleaving through a whole mess of zombies and ghouls), which is why it was so very perfect that my character had a secret weapon. Not his falchion. Not another potion.
A garrote. Not only did this shut down casting, but rendered something like half of the necromancer's unintelligent undead useless (have to use spoken commands with Animate Dead).
Still one of my favorite moments.
Silent Image has pretty much infinite use. Most of which are nefarious.
Not that I'd ever take it. Of course. Because I'm a good person. But wouldn't Magic Missile make you about the most dangerous person in a given room, assuming everyone is a 1HD NPC?
Runners up: Unseen Servant. Prior ideas as well as being a source of free energy forever (servant, turn this crank generator for the next hour).
Negative Reaction: Become the best political adviser ever by simply going to opponent's rallies and attending every debate. Or obliterate all competition for the job interview. Short duration, but it just takes one critical gaff.
My plate-wearing rogue (1 level fighter mix-in) that specialized in fighting dirty was knifed in his sleep by a crimson assassin who was told to infiltrate the party. As the rogue constantly wore plate it was an easy disguise to maintain.
The crimson assassin was actually my new character. So my old character was murdered by my desire to try something different (playing LE in a campaign).
The client wound up breaking the assassin's contract and shaming him in the eyes of the Mantis cult, so he teamed up (with appropriate caution on both sides) with the party to track him down.
Was a fun character and cool story arc.
All of these in the same game. Same session, because I did not come back to another.
Relatively high-level 3.5 campaign. I'm required to make a +2 LA race character because "nothing else is around." 10th level tanky cleric it is.
First combat, I roll a natural one on my second attack and out comes a fumble deck. No confirmation, nat 1 = something bad. Yes you still have to confirm crits. I wind up injuring a muscle and losing my mobility. I don't have a spell to fix it.
As a cleric.
Spot checks are called for. Other players look on in horror as I roll my high check (cleric). As it turns out this GM uses the roll as a modifier on a d100 table to see "what monster you get" from the perception check. At least three of these are rolled per session. You must fight your own monster.
Oh, and because I had rolled up a new character and used WBL I was the only martial character with a magic weapon. We had a fighter and a barbarian.
That about covers it.
After several games in which my character had Batman-levels of preparedness with gear from the mundane items books, I was given a handy haversack.
Not just any handy haversack, but the inexhaustible handy haversack of random bull****.
We created a d100 table for it to see what would come out. It got pretty absurd at about the mid-70s.
I wouldn't recommend the halfling because of the lower damage for using a small weapon, myself.
losing ~ 1 damage on a die roll in exchange to +1 to every attack, AC, and the unsung perks of size small is a pretty minor problem.
As with the barbarian, whether I roll a d12 + 75 or a d4 + 75 is kind of irrelevant in the long term.
Saying "sneak attack never works" tends to come from the same group that decries feint, or other options that can provide flanking, as a trap.
that seems silly to me.
A rogue is absurdly versatile, which is the perk and bane of the class. A str-based rogue can be a fantastic bruiser, but needs something to avoid squishing. Dex-based rogues sacrifice damage output, but can also do interesting things like loot the bad guy's place without being spotted by detect magic.
And tremorsense can absolutely be defeated by stealth. What are you doing on the ground when talents/skill points can allow you to climb virtually anything? Particularly by the time you're consistently dealing with things like that? Forget casting spiderclimb or eating a boot slot on the item, take 10 and make your 35 climb check to bypass the bad guy. Because rogues do that.
Three of the last five characters I've built for PF have been rogues, and all have been bruisers.
A while ago was the Scout rogue with a 1-level unbreakable fighter mix-in that could both tank and do terrible terrible things with a charge.
After him was the rogue/red mantis assassin that used improved feint to go full on blender on dudes.
Then was the pure rogue who vowed never to take a life and instead used the sap master feats to grossly outdamage literally anything in the party. Yes, only subdual damage. There are a small number of things that can't be beaten into a coma, and other classes are equipped to deal with those things quickly already. Also SAing a great wyrm red dragon into a coma in one round is hilarious.
Currently I'm doing the rogue/vivisectionist internal alchemist. Yes, primarily alchemist with a dash of rogue, but still played very much as one. Doing just fine in combat-heavy encounters so far, and crushes anything that requires a skill-monkey.
Rogues are situational when built, and versatile in the variety of available builds. They also can benefit more from mix-ins and multiclassing than about any other core class in Pathfinder (giving up a talent and d6 SA to always SA is usually a win).
What is good in your game is dependent on your game. In games I have run and played in, rogues seem to be pretty ok.
I'm building into this with a rogue/vivisectionist alchemist. 2 levels of rogue for the bonus combat feat, evasion, and general skill stuff. Alchemist to just cast blur and call it good.
A ratfolk makes an interesting choice for this, as sharpclaw + a tailblade provides 3 attacks/round at level one, and the feral mutagen bumps that to four. Eventually an investment in multi-attack allows a full attack routine in the main hand with three additional attacks at -2, providing a lot more attack bonus for one less feat than TWF.
Current plan looks like this:
Rogue 1: sharpclaw
Admittedly I miss out on the level 10 auto-feint ability, but using the clever wordplay trait makes bluff int-dependent, which provides a healthy stat boost to the skill. This also allows for some really nice synergy, as moonlight feint kicks in right when blur shows up for the alchemist levels.
High end game where our 20th level characters are attempting to hold off the tides of evil to allow the last mortal survivors to escape. Everyone else builds their crazy geared-up paladin/sorceror/etc.
I make a rogue. Who's taken a vow to never take a life.
As we're beginning our defense the great wyrm red dragon approaches, scoffing from a distance at the mortals who prepare for battle. I dimension door on top of his head (cloak of the mountebank) and begin explaining how badly things may go if he decides to attack us.
Of course things go as expected. I managed to distract the dragon by standing (with an acrobatics check in the low 50s and in full defense) on his head while the paladin gets into a flanking position on his flying steed.
Then I full attack him.
My rogue won't take a life, but he will defend himself. With his two +5 merciful light clubs. And the sap master feats. As I was dual-wielding and hit five of 6 times, I wound up rolling 115d6 + 100 nonlethal damage. Plus strength and enchantments.
And 10 points of strength damage.
As the rest of the party blinked at me I maneuvered the (now very unconscious) red dragon into the recovery position and left instructions with my hirelings to place him with the other refugees.
The DM then wound up considering the quite humbled dragon's potential shift in his life's outlook, and he became a recurring NPC.
The last time I did this charisma was kind of vital.
I used a human v. half-orc, but built a 2h fighter 1/Rogue X that invested heavily in the vital strike tree and feint. The idea was that he's hitting only once, but that hit is gonna sting.
Feint with any charisma and a trait/feat focus is barely a roll against most humanoid opponents. You're trying to beat 10+BAB+wisdom or 10 + sense motive. Very few baddies have a lot invested in SM and even with full BAB characters your targets wind up being 20 or less early on. That becomes very easy to hit very quickly.
Using a falchion, vital strike, power attack (also furious focus because hey, I'm only hitting once) and the scout archetype I was hitting for 4d4+4d6+ str + PA by level 9. Add in the bleeding SA rogue talent and that gets ugly fast.
Downside is this was fairly feat-heavy for me. As a human it looked like this:
1: PA, Combat Expertise, Imp. Feint (Fighter level)
As far as AC problems? Full plate. Doesn't hinder bluff or disguise (I'd argue that platemail is going to HELP you pass as another race, in fact), and there are a TON of later options to mitigate AC penalty down the road (mithril full plate, armiger's panopoly, folding plate).
It was a fun build when I did it, and gives you a nice tanky skill monkey type character to play with. By later levels I invested heavily in minor/major magic/familiar for rogue talents, took a bunch of UMD, and had fun passing myself off as a wizard until the big fighter stepped up and found himself facing a tin man with a big sword in the first round of the fight.
We've done the crafting wizard and healbot in a game (2 of the 5 party members took leadership). Half the rest of the party has a crafting feat as well, and we go shopping as often as using them.
Your NPC can make how much progress per day on a magic item? How much does a +3 acidic transformative longsword cost? How many party members who want equally expensive and absurd gear are there?
If your party has any sort of deadline ever this becomes a nonissue.
The build is weak because it runs counter to the core concept of D&D/Pathfinder; you are part of a team set out to accomplish a task, not the hero.
Characters have strengths and weaknesses because that's what gives elements of the party the option to shine. Should the fighter always have a terribad will save? Probably not, but at the end of the day the fighter's built to be good at hitting things, and less good at dealing with weird mystical nonsense.
I'm doing a similar character (fighter rogue). Some suggestions:
armor expert trait and sash of the war champion. With that you go to -1 ACP (an alchemical item can make that 0) and move full speed in mithril plate.
Power attack and furious focus will go a long way for you, as would an eventual headband of ninjitsu.
I'd suggest swapping the falchion for something with more direct damage. Crits aren't great for you as they'd be for the fighter, simply because you're going to be relying on stacking S.A. damage in.
The armiger's panoply or folding plate would be good options to let you armor up quickly and stay without when sneaking/acrobatics/roguey stuff needs to occur. Both let you equip full armor and a shield as a move action.
Unbreakable fighter archetype gives you end. and die hard early on, which is a small bank of extra hit points to go on if the fight goes bad.
In my build I went for a literal 1-hit wonder (usually only attacks once in combat, but that attack is gonna hurt).
By level 12 (fighter 1/rogue 10/sleepless detective 1) I use the scout archetype to S.A. with vital strike anytime I move for 2d8 + 15 + 8d6 (+2 vicious longsword and S.A.) + 6 bleed. Not a stunning DPR, but tie that in with all the skill points and an AC of 30 (+3 plate and +2 shield, 14 dex, and ring of prot +2) and the ability to still full round attack when position allows and it's fantastic.
Rest of the group is a party-buff focused bard (yay), archery-based fighter, beast totem pounce-barbarian with a falchion, and a witch.
So far I've been the scout and tank/wizard killer. I take the flanking buddy when I can get it, but with the bard and average damage I'm doing about 50-60 a hit with a single move S.A. or a feint.
I was thinking plain rogue would get me a few interesting things (I took the familiar talent for funsies, at 11 rogue the familiar gets to talk to all other animals of its type. I've done interesting things with characters that had that in the past).
Thought with the monk was a 1 level dip in MOMS for crane style (going up to 34 AC for -2 to hit when I always deny dex isn't bad...) and taking flyby attack (since overland flight is always active during the day).
That would mean perpetual flying S.A. with a retreat to relative safety each round
Scratch the full plate then, get an armored kilt with brawling on it, then put on a mithril breastplate. That way you can use your evasion as well.
The kilt makes the medium armor (breastplate) heavy. That goes back to medium with mithril, meaning no evasion.
I'm already using celestial plate with the shield (9 hours overland flight/day is totally worth it)
Interesting, though I can't do brawling armor (using full plate).
I like the crane style, at least the first feat (sword and board character means I don't get a free hand to fight with.
I do like the idea of fighting defensively and getting a persistent +4 to AC (or +7 if I kick on combat expertise with it) in fights. Might make the monk more worthwhile than more roguery.
I had been considering sleepless detective as well
So here's the deal. Character was made for a one-off which kind of..kept going. Now he's level 11 and I have no idea how to advance him. Here's what I got
Fighter 1/Rogue 10 (all stats are with magic stuff) (unbreakable and scout archetypes)
Str 23 (level up is going here)
HP 106 (I've rolled...well)
Feats: End, Die Hard, Power Attack, Furious Focus, Vital Strike, Combat Expertise, Improved Feint, Skill focus (bluff)
Attack (with move) (+2 vicious longsword) +18 (2d8 + 14 +2d6 vicious +5d6 S.A +5 bleed)
Current strategy is going unarmored/unarmed and activating armiger's bag (summon armor to self as standard action) and using a glove of storing to draw armor, shield, and a sword for ambushes. I use full plate and a shield.
The focus of the character has been getting one big hit pretty much every time (it's extremely rare that I don't sneak attack and vital strike in one go).
Clearly this isn't optimized for anything but that big single hit (it was a level 5 1-off...so yeah). I've beefed up bluff to get around most conversation bits, as well as sense motive. UMD is high enough to cover wands and level 5 and under scrolls with no worry. AC is 30 with armor and a shield, 36 fighting defensively with C.E.
Continuing with Rogue keeps some of my damage going and allows for more talents. Any other interesting options?
Seems easy enough.
Nothing happens for a couple days. It's ignored. Maybe he gets cocky about this, maybe not.
Then the PC gets called off for a solo assignment (something silly, cleaning/sorting supplies/etc) during a quiet period. The commander happens to be nearby.
The PC falls down some stairs. Headfirst. five to ten times.
The commander remains in a very good mood for the next few days.
I love incredibly condescending nonsense!
you know 4d6+3 x3 (you know, because we established this character has several attacks) is an average of 51, right? That would be...just under half a CR 9's hit points? And that's with a fantastic debuff (blinding, which means those attacks will stick, and so will everyone else's) and a skill-monkey character? Yup, clearly that's awful.
The last rogue I built got a lot of mileage off of the climb speed trick. It's amazing how often you can get out of trouble just by going 20' up in a room. The natural +8 coupled with any ranks in climb means you can also autosucceed on just about any tough climb (9 ranks in climb +3 class skill +8 for climb speed = 30 when taking 10, so you climb..everything).
Stat damage is pretty rad, though.
I'd suggest staying rogue as the better S.A. damage and mountain of skill points work nicely with what you already have. If you're set on having some sort of magic for flavor just go for the minor and major magic talents and a bunch of UMD. If nothing else major magic gives you things like shield, which can be useful for you.
Longspears are cheap, simple, and easily distributed to the guards and a militia composed of miners (read level 1 experts with a str bonus)
A commoner with a 12 str, a (dirt cheap) longspear, and the highground advantage obtained from standing on a wall has a 50% to hit a normal orc each round for an average of 6 damage. As in all of that orc's hit points. Being high up on a wall can also provide partial cover against archers, meaning bowman or thrown javelins won't be as big of a threat.
Split the miners into shifts as militiamen and have them support your guardsmen after drilling with longspears.
If you have 50 guardsmen with good equipment (say basic chainmail armor, longspears, and crossbows) they can run the walls in shifts of 15 (with 5 floaters to cover illness/etc) and repel any number of invaders. Chain + high ground on its own puts your guards to the point where orcs need absurdly good rolls to make hits count. Issue each a heavy woooden shield. In the event of a raid/breach the frontrunners form up and go total defense with shields and short spears (AC 21 without a dex bonus) while the rear line (militia) spears everything to death.
The cleric can (with some expense) maintain a glyph of warding on the main gates. This has enough AOE damage to obliterate a squad approaching the gates themselves.
Considering you have a mine and (potentially) ample time to fortify, have the cleric use stoneshape to bolster wooden walls with stone. As the walls are magically shaped they'll be absurdly difficult to climb.
Depending on the terrain and how kind your DM is the ranger and druid might be able to pair up to bring in some domesticated animals. Bears are pretty good at wreaking havoc on an enemy. The big prize would be getting a Gray Render to consider the village its protected "pet."
I think with a wall and spearmen/archers alone you'll prove to be too annoyingly difficult for an average band of raiders to take. Even warmongers won't attack a fortification if it means losing 50% or more of their troops with only a small chance of success.
Not a halfling, but in an old 3.5 game a tribe of kobolds was guarding the MaGuffin the party needed. The fighter was a bit of a bruiser and figured he could obtain leadership through a single combat challenge.
Out comes the leader and most powerful warrior in the village, the kobold barbarian.
After the requisite laughter and taunting the fight begins. Kobold wins initiative (dex bonus and imp. init, fighter had neither), rhino charges the fighter (he had that hide armor, because who needs AC?), and put him into a small crater with his monkey-gripped greatsword.
The party found a diplomatic approach to the kobolds instead.
So instead of 1-2 characters a bard now buffs everyone with haste and inspire in round 1?
And everyone can do solid damage, magic or not?
And everyone has a big hefty hit point bank?
Yeah, I've done that game. 2 battle clerics (16 wis and str focus on both), fighter, rogue, and me as the bard. AOE wasn't an issue because we put out something like 400 DPR as a group. Before I dropped a round to buff everyone. Phantom steeded everywhere after a while.
Limiting magic is going to essentially make a combat monkey game, and if the party has a whole avenue of defense they have to worry about far less that party becomes FAR more powerful.
Unless every single villain is a primary caster, in which case it's a "the party can't have nice things" campaign, and those tend to be less fun.
My fault for not being clear. My caster in question has the feat "quickened om nom nom" and keeps a gyro in his glove of storing.
Barbarian at 10th gets the ability to charge 80 feet (read, anywhere on the map in most fights) and full attack something. Add in greater trip and the Barbarian will likely 1-shot most bad guys.
Hard to end the fight with a spell if the giant horrible rage monster won initiative and murdered you.
That's the first thing that comes to mind. Every class had a challenge to overcome at the mid level. For casters that's defense. For martial that's maneuverability.
I might suggest a fighter 1/rogue 6 (scout archetype) mix. Here's why:
Access to all martial weapons/armor etc. You are now a rogue in full plate. What? You weren't stealthy, anyway.
Improved feint via fightery feats (max bluff. Skill focus, traits, etc. You want all the bluff, more on that later).
When you can invest in vital strike. Buy boots of striding and springing to offset plate movement penalties. Power attack and furious focus for other feats, anything else you want. (with a human doing this you have 3 feats at level one, 3rd level feat, 5th, 7th, and a few rogue talents to spend)
You now charge and sneak attack things with a falchion. As you use power attack and furious focus your to-hit never drops and the damage becomes nice, and uses your SA dice at every opportunity. Every other round you feint and sneak attack the bad guy (using vital strike later as available).
The rogue talent for perception offsets your wisdom and allows for trapfinding/general roguery. Offensive Defense means you have a constant bonus to your AC all fight long. If you're allowed multiple archetypes take the unbreakable fighter to stay on your feat longer in a fight (gogo gadget die hard).
It isn't optimal damage, as you're focused around always hitting once, but it is fun. Your feint check will let you virtually always SA humanoids, but the DC is far more difficult against animals, etc.
If a 20th level caster (pit is 10ft deep/2 levels) drops something nasty on a CR 10 bad guy I hope it puts him down. I mean, you have what, 12 more where that came from for the encounter, right?
On top of that you have a 10x10 monster with a 15 foot reach falling into a 10x10 pit. At minimum I'd give him a climb check to catch the slope on the way down and bypass the spell entirely.
Also any other giant can make an acrobatics check (significant bonus to jumping with a movement speed above 30) to simply bypass it entirely. To clear the pit with a +5 (the gug) he needs a...6? 11 if you're concerned about the slope?
You want a worse option? Black tentacles on top of the freedom of movemented fighter who sits in the radius. Doesn't matter if the grapple fails later, bad guy eats a full round attack.
Summon weapon-immune swarm and fly out of reach of ground-bound bad guys. They die.
For a single target Plane shift is far more dangerous. It can hit a single creature touched, willing or not. Send Gug to elemental plane of fire, use rest of round to have a sandwich.
Cue several rounds of the BBEG making flatulence sounds at the GS with his mouth until the GS closes to get a full attack in the face.
Lots of permanenced silent images of walls in the area. BBEG knows about them and doesn't need to make a save. party does.
Mirror images is always nice.
Fight defensively with acrobatics (+3 dodge bonus to AC) and use combat expertise. Most BBEGs have absurd to hit bonuses, turn that into dodge to AC.
Also, the bane of the GS/archer? Significant DR and elemental immunity. They have classes based around doing huge damage through multiple hits. Each hit multiplies that DR.
+1 for mad monkeys completely shutting down spellcasting
Vanish is very short-term, but amazing as a first-level spell. Particularly for a bard. 5 rounds to buff if we're ambushed? yes please.
Threefold aspect is one of the best witch spells available. Huge potential stat buffs and free disguise with a 24 hour duration.
Arrow eruption can be a fireball for rangers. Seen it used to great effect.
Seek Thoughts lets the no-charisma caster be useful during the information gathering session
Share language is a great scroll to have handy for diplomacy with unusual creatures
Vengeful outrages is a fantastic buff to hit the fighter/barbarian/etc. with right before you fight the BBEG. Yes, it's not meant as a buff, but it works nicely that way.
I'd give the barb 2-3 combat options instead of TWF/S&B feats. Maybe PA and TWF so he can open up with a longspear and close in with 2 spiked gauntlets (also gives the guy some more flavor with odd weapon choices). Give him the DR archetype to make the rogue feel good about backstabbing.
You can actually drop the CR of the elite bodyguards if they act intelligently. Maybe a 3rd-4th level shaman (witch or oracle) that buffs the boss?
The BBEG needs minions and/or an advantageous encounter. Remember, intelligent undead have decades, even centuries to plan. They're going to have an escape plan, a whole host of nasty tricks, and know when to avoid a fair fight if at all possible. A few ghoul minions and a 3rd-level minion that keeps desecrate running when the traps on the way to his chambers warn of impending adventurers. Or dump one of his knowledges for UMD and get a whole host of useful scrolls.
My witch for a campaign a while ago wound up being named "The Artificer." Not his original name, I just wound up with a LOT of crafting feats.
He didn't sign a pact or anything else, he had magical parents who acquired a fey protector (yes, Dresdenish, was before I read the books).
'Art' spent fifteen of his first twenty-five years as a raven, in the protection of a flock. The queen of them was his protector, and over time he came to know and befriend the one that would become his familiar.
Most of his abilities were tied into this. His protector had the power to kill with a thought, he learned its lesser form (slumber hex). He had the flight hex (naturally), and had max ranks in appraise (an...unhealthy attraction to baubles and shiny objects from his prior years). And while he was good at mingling with the flock (crowd) and getting his way, he had very little sense of the way the world worked.
That was how the party found the odd 'wizard' who traveled with a number of magical baubles and wore a patchwork cloak composed of seven different materials, dozens of different thread, and had all manner of trinkets sewn into it.
So, I'm putting together some ideas for this and thought I'd crowdsource:
Say you're a reasonably high-level mystic theurge (CL 16 or 17). Your adventuring party has largely disbanded, and being the knower of all things you've been entrusted with a number of powerful (and potentially very dangerous) artifacts.
Time passes and your grow older. In your twilight years you come to two realizations:
1. You will have no heirs
How do you go about it?
Ah, you're right, I did misread that.
Well, figuring 20 str while raging and power attack, by level 4 that bite would do d4+4 damage. By 8 it's doing d4+5.
Your main atack is at +10 to hit, the bite is +5. Multi-attack puts you at +8, which takes the chance to hit with that from 25% to 40% (ish).
Weapon focus (claw) takes your main attacks from 50% to 55%, and those are doing double damage and rend.
Rending claws + rending fury = 2d6 extra damage a hit, which isn't shabby.
It isn't as good as two weapon rend because it doesn't cost 3 feats, 17 dex, and is available long before level 11.
Raging vitality is a poor use of a standard action for a character meant to do a ton of damage fast.
I'd honestly drop Dex to 12, or 14 at least. 16 strength benefits your hit and damage both and your barbarian doesn't need AC; he has hit points and DR. On that note more Con gives you a better fort save, more hit points, and more rage. All of these you want.
Ideally I'd say go for this:
Half-Orc (we'll get to that) Barbarian
One of your traits can be Toothy, which opens up a rage power. This also gives you a non-raging natural attack.
The 13 int lets you take combat expertise and a trip ability.
Alternately 13 wisdom and half-orc opens up Keen Scent as a feat, which gives your Barbarian scent (extremely nice and fits with the were-creature theme).
Regarding rage powers I'd ditch strength surge unless you're going for combat maneuvers. Superstitious opens up a possible path to witch hunter (you want witch hunter) and offers some really nice bonuses during combats.
I'd also ditch multi-attack, as the bite attack simply doesn't do the damage output the claw attacks do. Eldritch claws would fit well for 8th (claw attacks considered magic and silver, take that DR!).
Improved Sunder + the Smasher rage power can open up some really, really mean options in melee, as you're always going to win the fight when the other guy's unarmed.
Finally, your character may be swimming in cash by later levels, as you're not buying weapons. I'd definitely keep a masterwork something around for emergencies (a scimitar or other 1h weapon you can 2h opens up options). Rhino Hide armor could be fun for the character, particularly later when you get pounce.
Just some thoughts. For traits I'd look for bonuses to knowledge (nature) and survival, as those both kind of fit your theme.
Geas. Lesser geas for the low-level guys (meaning you have a 7th-level warden on staff with an 11th level court wizard, etc. for the big guys).
"You may not use magic or leave this place"
if you don't like geas for this hit the offender with Mark of Justice. Spellcasting triggers the mark and either drops the caster's primary stat by 6 points or makes him babble incessantly every other round.
Mark of Justice requires a 9th level caster on hand.
Or bestow curse works from a 5th level cleric or witch. Dropping the sorceror's charisma by 6 and taking away his magic doodads essentially removes the majority of his power. His new CHA is 12? 14? That effectively cripples any sorceror who'd be imprisoned by 5th level characters who don't call in backup from the 7th or 9th level folk.
Good to see you getting enough confidence after a couple online games to become arbiter of what's fun/broken and not :)
You're missing the point. How many posts do you see complaining about black tentacles? Feeblemind? Summoning swarms immune to weapon damage against low-level mobs?
Those powers are largely considered fine. They are also substantially stronger than slumber in a variety of ways. This is a thing you should ponder before calling something broken, cheesy, etc.
Theorycrafting abilities in isolation isn't useful without considering the context of said ability. The above example does so, and is why I consider slumber totally fine. I also don't become dismissive or insulting when doing so.
Bluff skills works well with disguise self, alter self, and what other folks have said. It also offers some interesting potential synergy with suggestion...
At later levels things like dominate person, feeblemind, bestow curse, baleful polymorph, etc. can be useful.
As in "oh serving girl, the (dignitary I want to kill and had arranged to visit) seems to not be in his office, could you summon him after you dispatch of this nasty little mouse that seems to be in his chair?"
A combat option for the noncombatant might be to go with the summoning route. Summon/vomit swarm, summon monster #, etc. Sending forth your minions to do the dirty work and all.
This has gone round and round the same reason 2h weapon + armor spikes, double weapons, trip, etc. have gone round and round. People want to keep talking about it.
I'll leave you with this. You say Slumber is overpowered because it's an unlimited (no it isn't) win the fight.
Black tentacles: No save, no SR, just a grapple check v. every thing in the area. This will beat virtually any medium-sized opposition. A wizard with the int stats you described earlier has 5 or six of these a day. Lasts as long as slumber, hits a MUCH larger area, and can be done from a safe distance (or while invisible)
Feeblemind: Allows SR because it's permanent. Will end the fight immediately. Wizard gets up to four of these a day. Can hit from 200 feet out (almost 3x the range of slumber).
When a similar-level primary spellcasters can have 9 or more options per day (please, please try to tell me all your PFS games run 10+ encounters a day) to immediately end a combat with a single spell at 200 feet away, often while flying and invisible, I find it baffling that you pick on a substantially weaker at-will ability to call broken.
I swiped this from something but I'm more than happy to use it for my own purposes.
Big locked door to magic doodab/plot/etc. To the side of the door is a statue of a hooded, skeletal figure. One hand is outstretched to a game board, on which eleven discs sit. The inscription reads:
"Take one, two or three, but be left with none at the end. Fail and you shall come to great harm."
The players must take one, two or three discs. The magical effect makes one, two, or three vanish each time they select. The goal is to force the gatekeeper to take the last piece, otherwise the player is hit with a harm spell cast by a 20th level cleric.
This is basically a glorified combination lock, as only one move set will allow a good player to lose when going second. The players must start by taking 2 pieces, leaving 9. After the other side takes a number, the players must take a number of pieces that leaves the total remaining at five. At this point the other side cannot win.
At a con 4th Ed delves were being run, I was looking to introduce a couple friends to dice rolling and shenanigans, but lines were present. After discussing the issue (5 of the volunteer GMs had run way too long at lunch) I wound up with a kit, six people, and a game to run.
One delve later everyone had tokens, we all had a good time, and I got a GM screen for my trouble. It was good times.
More recently I got e-mails from some of the players in my bi-weekly hack n' slash game. I had started running for the group, though my games tend to be a bit more story-focused and less about lots and lots of combat. I've since gotten e-mails from half the group happy about the options they have in a game and interest in elements of the story and crazy subplots (that I largely make up on the spot). It's pleasing.
Nathan the Bloody
Nathan the Bloody, Human Unbreakable Fighter 1, Scout Rogue 4, CR 5 (given wealth as a PC)
Str 16 (14, +2 human)
fort +7, ref +6, will +3
HP 12 + 4d8 + 12 (42, doesn't drop until -14)
Skills of note: Bluff +12, Perception +12, Acrobatics +9*, Stealth +9*, Disable Device +9, Ride +9* (AC penalty -5)
Equipment: Full plate +1, Falchion +1, MW armored coat, Heavy Warhorse, Cloak of Resistance +1, 1 potion of invisibility, 2 potions of bulls strength, 1 potion of heroism, 1 potion cure moderate wounds 900 GP in gems (pay)
Nathan's a mercenary who works with a small band (4-6 Goons, the NPC database has a nice entry for this). He knows he's slow but quite dangerous on his single hits (Nathan either charges for sneak attack damage or uses his improved feint to get a sneak attack). When reduced to 10 HP or less he'll down his potion of invisibility and either sneak attack the toughest remaining target after healing, or flee.
I'd call this about a CR 7?
Only if I get to paraphrase your argument by saying you don't like the slumber hex because you don't understand the game system?
You've had alternatives to this pointed out to you over and over that you simply don't want to address. Slumber IS limited, in both range, type of target, number of targets, and duration. There are significantly more powerful combat control abilities that virtually every primary spellcaster has access to, as that is the spellcaster's job.
And yes, as your ENTIRE argument has been based on "PFS bad guys don't have will omg!" I think you should leave your point to that. The second we discuss a freeform game your argument becomes moot, as you've been given a dozen options to build a challenging encounter that bypasses slumber or makes it a power, not a game-ender.
Pathfinder combat isn't 4E D&D. You don't all pile in your special moves on the bad guy until he drops. The system is deadlier, for NPCs and PCs alike.
The fighter can choose to eat a charge from an enemy that will do minimal damage, then full attack. The Barbarian can full attack anyone within 80 feet, the archer can full attack anyone within 120 feet.
Slumber, again, has a range of 30 feet.
Yes, damage has a downside. The upside is it outright KILLS the opponent, instead of disabling him for a short number of rounds.
The slumber hex is rendered moot by a variety of racial options, a will save, or a nearby friend. It also doesn't actually kill the opponent.
It's not apples v. oranges. Its using other available abilities to point out that far more often than not slumber is outshined by a whole host of other spells available to the witch, regardless of level. This will continue to be true whether you want to debate it or not.
So no specific examples, then? Allow me to provide a few.
At level 3 the party encountered a half-dozen undead. The witch had..burning hands, I think? Beyond that it was levitating and dropping alchemical items.
At 4th the slumber hex went off successfully against the midboss fighter/anti-paladin. He missed the save by about 2. And almost made the upcoming fort save. Mild success, enabled because the party was smart and managed to get around a number of mooks.
At 8th the party encountered a mixed group of humanoid archers, casters, and fighters. Slumber was never used, because things like vomit swarm and black tentacles were FAR more effective at crowd control.
at 12th level we encounter the BBEG wizard. Feeblemind. One of his minions got slumbered the next round. Its damage output would have easily 1-shotted the witch.
These were the four of the several dozen encounters I can recall in a campaign where the witch really shined. Only one of those was due to the slumber hex.
And if everyone is taking a trait and feat to get a +6 to an initiative rolls, there should be a benefit. Again, the witch is feat poor and likely not high on dex.