Of all the were's, Rats are pretty meh so the least likely to just bring in game inbalance. Weretigers and some of the other bigg'ens can really be 'wow, I went from a 16 to a 25 str. Woot!'
OldManAlexi gives a solid breakdown. Dex is the only one that is likely to skyrocket, and again that's only when they are in Direrat/hybrid form.
Direrat is...lackluster really at any level. The Hybrid can be nice, but if you're flipping out, getting the guards called on you, have church issues, mages wanting you for some cool spell components and a slew of other social/plot issues if you get 'outted' as a were, turning into your hybrid form every five seconds isn't wise.
Not counting the 'not fully in control of your character' bit.
DR 5/Silver is pretty meh in the grand scheme of things. 2 Natural armor is nice, but at the cost?
Truth to tell, I think the biggest perk of being a Lycanthrope is the Scent ability in all forms.
Really, the question comes down to 'Is this something that enhances the role playing potential or detracts from it.' Would these be PC's that won't try to abuse the form every chance they get, but would explore wrestling with the beast within and find they explore new solutions by using rats or some other social element the came comes up with. How do they handle being outcastes? That any children they have will be inherit this curse. Would they tell lovers of it before hand?
It easily could make from a stronger party as they rally to help a friend/companion deal with a life altering issue...or it becomes a few +'s on a character sheet and a detraction.
If it's going to just be a hassle, get them cured. Maybe flip out once or something, but then they eat the 'magic cookie crunch cereal' and life's good and plot rolls on. If you run a harsher game, maybe they have to retire their characters. But really, no reason to make it something unpleasant for the group as a whole that ruins the fun of the game.
And actually, some of us DID say the rolls were fine AND gave advice to them.
I agree that Cleave isn't the best route. To really make it worth while it takes several feats (if you get the 'drop a dude to 0 and get a free attack one' it could really shine, but that's 2-3 feats worth of investment above Power attack).
Since Barbarian's don't get a lot of feats and Extra Rage Power is a REALLY powerful choice for most builds (several times even!) need to keep a tight focus on feats.
Re: Bob on raging Vitality
That's a good point. Can you take feats you don't base line qualify for, even if situationially you can? Obviously you only get feats when you do situationially qualify for them (*shakes fist at ability damage*)
I hope the player has fun. This could be an awesome 'face' character for the party too (assuming interest in that kind of thing.)
Re: Totems/Rage powers
The beast line is probably the most solid overall line. Never unarmed, natural armor that scales with other natural armor buffs, and Pounce. It's almost too good as its hard to NOT chose that line.
A lot of the Rage power choices will also depend on the campaign style. (really, most choices are affected by this). The Spell Sunder/Superstition line can be great as there is a lot of powers that branch from it and depending on content can be very amazing...or underused. (If you don't fight a lot of touch armor class and/or incorporal beings, Ghost Rager isn't super useful. If he fighting against a nation of Gun-using imperial expansionists that are trying to tame his wild wilderness in a clash of civilized expansionism vs savage harmony, Ghost Rager would be awesome too as go-go touch AC.
It also depends what feel the player wants. Strength Surge/Smasher + Sunder Enchantment line really means the character is pretty uncontainable. There will come a point where tehy can snap out of adamantine manacles, kick open doors and just smash wards.
Or go the 'unkillable' route.
Lots of good ones. Armored Hulk is a little more than the heavy armor prof as it also ties in some solid movement within the armor. Invulnerable Rager is /really/ good. DR 2/- at 4th level /really/ helps. DR is one of those stats that really pays off at lower levels as you tend to have a bit more swarms of lower hitting stuff.
I like Superstitious as an archetype. The init bonus is nice, and getting uber-senses is cool. (Scent = win in my opinion). He'd lose DR, which could be bad depending on play style.
Again, depends on campaign style. If you are taking on thieve's guilds every other weekend, keeping Uncanny Dodge might be wise. If you don't see it very often, swapping it out for something else might get more mileage
Yeah, I agree with Glutton. You don't need a 18 con to live as a barbarian.
If you use Traits, there is one (Berserker of the society) that gives 3 more rage rounds. This still gives 1 more trait for whatever he wants to round out and now he's sporting 8 Rage rounds at 1st level. That should be plenty.
Depending on the story/build he wants to do for the character, he might want to go with Fast-Talker and get a +4 to Bluff checks (+1 Trait bonus and it becomes a class skill, being a +8 at level 1 with 1 skill point)
or world Traveler and go the diplomacy route. Either way, you have 2 of the 3 social skills, both with a VERY different flavor of how you handle things.
Also, Leadership would be something to consider too down the road as the Cha mod helps get you superior returns faster. (and if he isn't worried about the rage rounds trait, there is a leadership trait that helps with that.)
A shield might not be a bad call, maybe going for a Swift Shield so get can easily switch from 1 to 2 handed mode.
Power attack is, without a doubt, almost required to be in Ink on the character sheet.
Rage powers there are tons of awesome ones.
If he is willing, I'd also suggest Urban barbarian. The 12 con makes Raging Vitality hard to get (12th level if he rushes it) That feat /really/ becomes needed for a barbarian around 7/8th level as you reach the 'positive hp to unconsious and dead due to rage con drop off'.
their are some health rage powers that would be wise to go with if he doesn't go Urban Barbarian.
If the character plays to his strengths and really focuses on the 'savage nobility' side of being a barbarian and thus develops into a 'face' of sorts, I think the character will shine in amazing ways.
It helps overcome DR of monster's too, as it would make the weapon +3 and thus counts for Silver/Cold Iron. Assuming you level the blade, it gets you to +4 and 5 DR stuff that much faster as well. There is a lot of stuff with DR 10, even at the mid-range. (Heck, you could be fighting were's as CR 2-4 fairly easy and if they are true blood they have DR 10)
Barbarians, minus a few totems, have no real 'get around resistances/DR save by doing stupid amounts of damage.'
I agree withe sentiment of Archtypes over more base classes.
I like all the Base classes, but I also like that the last few books have had few new additions (really only 1 each in UM and UC)
I REALLY disliked the Prestige Class explosion of 3.X and hope Pathfinder doesn't really support PrC's. I got annoyed that anything even SLIGHTLY different requires a whole new class. Archtypes works so much better in my opinion. Stick with one (maybe 2) classes, swap out iconic abilities for other iconic abilities to customize. BAM.
Well, uncanny dodge will help. They still do sneak attack.
And Barbarian still has great will saves when raging. (really stupid awesome ones if take right rage powers)
At 10th level any class can get murdered given the right scenario. There is not 'certainly won't die' character.
Paladin. Self heals, high saves, even naked/ungeared, can smite for good damage even unarmed.
By party started, I mean 'the Barbarian beating anyone to death with Pounce and 1d8 20x3 claws he can grow while naked, have natural armor, and have about +7 to saves (In addition to class, stat, cloak, other junk) vs Su, Spell and spell like effects while raging.
Or go with the Superstitious archtype, get Init mods, AC bonus in surprise round and lowlight and darkvision on top of all the above stuff. You loss
The smoke bottle way is nice too.
Tons of ways to make it work with the barbarian. Uncanny dodge is just so usefully when taking sneak attack characters into consideration. (Ninja/RMA) as even the Ninja's Invis Shuriken hail of doom has no effect.
But I am biased. Barbarians just rock.
In the 10th level range, most of the martial classes are likely to do well. It does comes down to 'how stacked the deck is.' But that goes for anything. You could have a goblin that's '1st level' kill a 20th level party if you stack things so over the top.
Is it the 'RMA in a priest robe throws it open and leaps at target while he is talking diplomacy with a functionary in the hallway, so he's alert and awake but not in armor and carrying most of his weapons'
Or are you looking for the '12 RMA slip undetected into the room and attack while he's naked and asleep laying next to his SO/Mistress/the RMA that seduced him to get him into this position'
A Barbarian. High HP, DR, uncanny dodge, and good perception scores. High Fort saves for poisons. Good saves vs any magical effects once the party gets started.
Unlike Rogues, Barbarians don't care if THEIR opponents also have Uncanny Dodge.
Barbarians, naked, with the right rage powers can still do a crap ton of damage and other things so even being caught literally with their pants down they aren't screwed. (Beast totem line is nice for that)
Dominate Person is highly subjective. (James Jacobs even mentions that in a clarification he wrote on the spell).
Charm Monster is probably a better bet because then he's at least forced to like you and not spend every second trying to throw off your mental mind screwage. Sure, you probably shouldn't be try to loot him, but far easier to get him to do something in his nature to do for you.
Actually, he doesn't have an additional -4 to his will save. The Superstition bonus doesn't stack with the +4 Will bonus they normally get. So it would just be the -13 from Superstition down. And that will heavily effect their %'s you gave.
But because AM BARBARIAN had his hair pulled by mean girls when he was a kid, he took Strong Willed for +2 vs Charm/Compulsion
Arcane Sight will give you aura strength and schools (with a roll, but it's safe to assume you'd blow through that).
5 effects, starting at most powerful would mean 1 ring of spell turning is good.
Weapon: CL 15 (200k + MW cos)
He still has plenty of cash to build his belt of awesome, his boots of speed, etc. (Belt is CL 12) Even throw BATTY BAT a ring of ST maybe.
1 ring would survive.
Though the rings do take an action to activate. But with 2 rings he can have 7 hours of coverage which is a fairly hefty chunk of time for the work day. If it was on, it would add another effect (the Spell turning put upon him by the ring in addition to the ring itself)
But let's not worry about that.
On his action he would get a reroll with a +2 (oh, he can now rage) because your orders to Give his Loot he earned by stepping on the corpses of his enemies' is NOT really in the nature of a CN character.
Also, you gave 3 commands, not 1. So assuming it lands, AM BARBARIAN's turn rolls around and realizes he just got mind swizzled. Casting is obvious and he isn't prone to liking any unexplained casting. He can't rage for some reason. Well, that's against his Rage-tastic All Caps nature so BAM of how he rolls and smites CASTYS. Bam. New roll with +2.
But I have doubts it would matter. He charges, no rage, just a charge with his (Currently) MW Lance. He still has his strength belt because it wasn't hit by the dispel. He can output 90% likely about 90 damage (Don't flub the save or die from massive damage, which you should make) and has about a 5% chance to just outright kill you with a critical.
Or he could turn on the ring. His gear is is going to turn back up soon.
Also, you have a rod in hand and a sword. I didn't see Still spell to make that Dispel Magic not need the Somantic components.
That's also not taking into consideration the actions to draw said items. But we can assume I guess you just walk around with them in hand all the time because the above scenerio doesn't take the 'spotting people' into account. AM BARBARIAN can draw his lance as part of the charge action so he doesn't need a feat really for that. I mean, how weird is it to carry a sword all the time for the Init bonus you don't need?
To avoid the first round crit spike damage, just give the NPC (if it can wear armor/use shield) the feat from UC that lets you turn a crit into a normal hit and makes your armor broken.
I did the Magus at a high level switch and it was alright. Lotta little things that could add together. If you abused a trait to get a cheap 10d6 shocking grasp it would be nice with a reduced spell level meta magic feat that can be nasty.
But honestly, just show the GM a level 10-11 barbarian with Spell Sunder and Greater Beast totem. Throw in Strength surge and you are half way to the true strike for a combat manuever. (and Helaman is right, that's why Magus with truestrike can be scary.)
Overall I found teh Magic like I find most of the caster hyrbids. They can be amazingly awesome. But they require more steps and the stars to align and all these other factors when I could just be a swordsman dervish bard that uses Immediate action spells and battle dance or play a barbarian or fighter or something and get similar results without playing up circumstances.
But some people like setting up the moves and throwing together a serious of modifiers. For those people the Magus is good. But hardly OP.
I'm sure you could look at all the items you want in a spread sheet, figure out which craft skill saves you the most. Figure out how much that saving would be and then decide if it's worth it. Given the price of items at high tier, getting 2 or 3...which is easy peezy with Wonderous Items. Or a dual wielding fighter. A dual wielding fighter could buy two +10 weapons for the price of 1 if we go by the logic of craft save money on WBL table. Or even just 1 +10 weapon saves you 100k. Is it more limited? Yeah, but tell me you couldn't make 2 feats that give you 100k work into a build.
Heck, if AM had 2 +10 Lances to pick from with a different load out of abilities for the price of one, I bet he could come up with some stuff. And that was me spending less than a minute considering the cost savings of it. If I really wanted to get Min/Max and find out how far I could take 1 skill in savings I'm confident I could do much better than 100k.
But that's why it's silly and I am certainly not advocating that people should view it that way. Trinam just made two very good arguments for why it's set up the way it is in WBL, which I'm in firm agreement with.
(And why would I craft the MW item? That's the cheap but stupidly complicated and long part. I'd just buy that, then bang the enchant I want into the item, taking the same time as a caster to do so.)
Or the Martial takes Master Craftsman feat and make his own gear too. He'll be able to get high enough checks to not NEED spells for them. AM BARBARIAN might have to decide if freeing up 2 to 3 higher level feats to double his magic item budget would be worth while.
A fighter could swing it even easier.
But there is a reason why discussions like this use a standardized reference point. The WBL doesn't take into consideration all the Wish and Gate spells the Wizard cast between 17th and 20th level either.
In play in a normal, non-PFS game is there value to those feats? Sure. Cost saving or a way to get the items you want when you want them. Not every GM runs a 'magic mart' world where a character can just ask for X and it be delivered for market price.
The WBL table for a 20th level wizard doesn't take into account all those Gate spells the wizard cast to deal with a raging barbarian.
Money saved by crafting items
turns into a wash.
Barbarian just spends silver pieces of drinks. And maybe wenches.
Well, it's kinda murky.
Just because they are alive doesn't mean its apparent they are alive. Some characters might be 'efficient' and go to finish off downed characters. (either to prevent them from returning or to give them a merciful end)
But battle is ugly.
It also depends on 'how you want to train the group'
If the players don't check over every 'corpse' and make sure it's captured or dead and the character ALWAYS comes back...well, then Coup de Grace will be the dessert of ever battle.
if every character hauled into a local magistrate for sentencing escapes, they will stop doing that. But not every crime earns you a hanging. Work camps, prisons, stocks, all these things are viable and I personally think players should be rewarded when exploring non-death solutions to problems. Even an evil bandit doesn't need to be killed. 5 years in prison, loss of a hand, etc all are pretty severe.
As for surrendering foes, they can be a good sense of dynamic tension. Does the paladin (who accepts the surrender) risk the greater mission to make sure the pick pocket he captured doesn't escape and can be brought back for trail?
Again, it follows the same rules though. If accepting a surrender ALWAYS 'screws' the party, the party will try not to. If it always is a huge pain, drain on resources, game time to manage prisoners, etc it will get old fast. Like anything, if used in the correct doses with the right timing it can add to the tension of the game and make choices even more rewarding and complex.
Smasher should work with Sunder, Lab_Rat
Benefit: Once per rage, whenever the barbarian makes an attack against an unattended object or a sunder combat maneuver, she can ignore the object’s hardness. This ability must be used before the attack roll or sunder check is made.
But Lab's build reinforces my point. In 2 levels (14) he could have all the rage powers AM has used. At 20th level, AM could have Scent and
Prerequisite: Barbarian 8, scent rage power
Benefit: When using her scent rage power, the barbarian adds half her barbarian level on Survival checks made to track by scent and on Perception checks to pinpoint the location of creatures she cannot see. If she pinpoints the location of a creature that has total concealment, she treats it as having concealment.
Mind Blank? Invis? Bah, get a +Survival item and he's tracking falcons on a cloudy day.
Or you could switch from being an Invulnerable Rager to an Superstitious Urban Barbarian and focus on AC and have some AMAZING senses (BlindSIGHT at 20th, with Scent to boot) and some Init boosts if that's more the fitting for the play style of the group.
Or several other archetypes that work. But in the end, it's pretty much the same. Maybe he goes mounted, maybe he doesn't.
What makes the Barbarian cool is he's rock solid by himself. He doesn't NEED magic items, really. Sure, they help. But AM BARBARIAN's lance damage with just a normal lance and without his +Str bonus belt is STILL going to be QUITE notable. I would wager he could easily break 150 points of damage in one round with it. Power attack and his rage strength make even DR 15/Epic pretty hohum.
And Lab_Rat's build has several useful Know stuff skills and 'do stuff' skills. The barbarians being discussed are hardly 'well, if it's indoors or not against a caster I am useless, guys.'
And that's just the barbarians.
Rangers, Paladins, Fighters, Monks all have their own blend of awesome. Monks are one of the most resilient and self-reliant classes. And you can become Nightcrawler now and who the hell doesn't find that cool?
Paladins are walking fortresses of can't be killed. They can self heal as a swift action, remove damn near all status effects and even raise the dead. If they take an Oath against Fiends they can even Dimensional Anchor and plane shift. Are they as powerful at all that as a cleric? No, but they have stupid high saves, good AC and can have amazing DPR against evil creatures to boot. You can make a party where the healer/remover of suck-effects IS the paladin.
Fighters are killing machines that are more than a feat dip class.
Are 9th level spells great? Sure, I don't think anyone would argue that.
Are they misread and given too much leeway at times? Yeah, I'd say so. But they are still great.
Are they needed? No. I really would say they are not. I think you can roll out with parties that have no 1 to 9th spell level casters and make it work. The Hybrid casters (1 to 6) and the martial (even rogues) have great options.
'Mages and Mooks' doesn't really seem to fit any more and THAT really is what CMD seems to be about, to me at least. Are there scenarios we can come up with where you NEED that 9th level spell or the world ends. Sure. What if AM BARBARIAN's party needs to go on an adventure that requires plane shift and he's just rolling with his BARBs and FIGHTYS. Well, I guess he doesn't go on that adventure. He also isn't doing the 'delicately defuse the political tension between two kingdoms so war doesn't erupt' adventure either with that group.
but he could. 2 Traits to make UMD and Diplo class skills and not dumping Cha and AM BARBARIAN can be a diplomatic machine that can use an item that plane shifts him to whatever plane he needs to smite the big bad. (Or become an Urban Barbarian. They get Diplo as a class skill)
Can every 20th level character do everything. No. Some can fake it better. But I am finding in pathfinder that now the Martials at 10th+ level can still do a lot of somethings. And usually the somethings they do are more efficient then when casters use spells to cheat around them, especially when it comes to combat.
And if the GM throws an adventure that requires an 8th level spell to solve and provides no reasonable way to achieve it (and not every 15th level primary caster has all 8th level spells, even wizards) then the party files the adventure in 'some other group's problem' and goes about causing trouble somewhere else.
But I would wager that there is NONE of the published adventure paths or mini-adventures that AM BARBARIAN could not thrive in, especially if he dumped CHA and/or INT just a little less as Lab_rat's build seemed to.
I agree with the BardBarian Combo. A lot of awesome options. You can take Urban Barbarian and Dervish dancer. Build right for some amazing attack/skill/save rerolls with the Bard support spells. Get a different totem line over beast and still move and make full attacks. Skills, flavor, buffed ref and will saves. Truly epic.
I would like to contend that that AM BARBARIAN wins the CMD side of thing here.
Can combos be created to beat him? Sure, people (finally) seem to be coming up with some valid combos and some acceptable assumptions.
But what I find gives power to AM BARBARIAN is the simple fact that:
His tactics don't change, really. He might need to adapt, but for the most part he doesn't need to do anything different. He sees, he rages, he charges, it dies.
If it was a 1st level wizard or a 20th level wizard, he's going to treat it pretty much the same. When he uses what ability will of course go with the flow of the combat, but, honestly, Barbarian wakes up, grabs his stick and he's ready. He could be naked and it not really change the outcome against the CASTYS as either they aren't attacking his AC or they have some way TO attack his AC and are still going to hit even if armored.
Besides the limiting Beast totem line, the barbarian still has plenty of open feats and rage powers too. Even his Archtype is fairly flexible.
But the Wizards have several things they have to do.
And that's not even taking into consideration the likelihood of the wizard having the right spells memorized all the time, for sure. We conceed that you still have to wonder, really, you'd do all that just for one guy you see coming on the horizon on a bat...or a CR 10 dragon even?
If it was a GM gaming it (still ignoring the fluff but just running a Hackmaster set of encounters) and that is how the player wizard truly reacted he would be dead because 4th level characters would bleed his 9th level spell combos before anything interesting happened.
But the Barbarian...he just spends 1 to 5 rage rounds of his 50+ rounds, uses his CLW wand(s) and moves on to the next thing.
His tactics are viable. They are not part of some contrived scenerio.
AM BARBARIAN's build works against CASTYS and FIGHTYS. In group combat or Solo combat, he does pretty much the same time. On the first encounter or the 7th, he's ready to rock. That is a build that WOULD function in a high level party. Magicly locked door? Don't worry wizard, I spend 1 of my /50/ rage rounds and it's done.
There is no way to contain him. He CAN break out of Adamantine chains. He CAN chew through freaking bars. And he can do it in an Anti-magic field while drunk.
The wizard, sure, he's got options. Lots of them. But he has a greater margin of error. If he assumes AM BARBARIAN is not a 20th level mage killer he's toast. And even then, I'm not convinced that the Barbarian with a ring of Spell turning and the anti-negative levels broach is promised to die before his rage comes on.
But even then it doesn't matter. The barbarian is solid. He can be built without the dumped Int (or as Dumped) and have some skills, he can sunder magic, he can take hits, he can demolish most things in a round, he has more HP than a mountain, he can escape, naked, from most confinements. DR doesn't mean anything to him as he does enough damage to bypass it. He can, by the rules, even have a dragon freak'en cohort that really cuts down on transportation issues.
In short, he is a character that has SOLID options without needing spells. There are few realistic challenges he can't just brute force his way through and he doesn't require some well thought out plan or combo to do it. Magic items are really just gravy or protect against those really crappy 'hahah, gotya!' effects (like negative levels).
but you know, there are even rage powers that let you ignore ability damage and negative levels.
Does that mean he can do everything? No, of course not. But this is a character that scales. He starts bad ass. At 3rd level he can be doing +9 to hit with a MW weapon and PA and doing 2d8+12 with an Large Bastard Sword. At 6th level, he can dispell magic effects and if he can take 2 rounds between attempts, he can do it 15 to 20 times a DAY! Sorcerers and Oracles get it at the same level. Only wizards, witches and Clerics (Not even DRUIDS) get it sooner and then only by 1 level and sure as hell aren't doing it 15 times in a day, every day, any day.
There really is no sharp drop off of power gain for AM BARBARIAN. He levels, he gets cooler, gets more stuff and can still handle most things with reasonable gusto and unless there is some bizarre circumstance, he doesn't have the 'oooh, I prepared my 'puzzle solving spell list' not my 'world traveling' list today issues.
And if you don't agree with me, I would say just think on this.
If you hadn't read this thread and really considered what AM BARBARIAN could do and you saw him...would you take the steps people are just now after 20+ pages laying down that MAY (and I stress MAY) be able to beat him?
AM BARBARIAN didn't need to read this thread. He doesn't care WHAT caster build you go with. His tactics were the same before and after. Casters need to plan for him. He doesn't need to plan for them.
That does beg a question:
Do you HAVE to use all your rage powers every time you rage? Can you rage and not 'turn on' Supersitious and thus not get the save bonus but also not have to make saves?
If you have the Fiend Totem line do you always HAVE to grow spikes and other unpleasant things if you are just trying to get in a bar fight and don't think looking like a demon is a good way to make friends?
A rules question, but given its focused interest it seems like a good place to ask it.
Human Barbarians can use their favored class to raise 1/3 towards Supersitition. That is a staple use on the forums.
But what about the Trap Sense and abilties that replace Trap Sense. 1/2 to trap sense is...meh in most game groups.
But my Invulnerable Rager gets +1 to an Elemental DR every 3 levels (same rate of gain as Trap sense, which is the ability it replaces) Would my 1/2 favored class bonus bump that?
What about a Supersitious Rager (the Archtype, not the Rage Power)? Could I put the 1/2 FC bonus to raising my Initiative and Surprise Round AC. The AC is pretty 'meh' but the Init could be awesome.
The more I am looking at the archtype the more I think it has some merit. It loses the DR (which does suck) But you keep the Uncanny dodge which can be nice. And outside of Invulnerable Rager Archtype the DR gain is a late game gain. (DR 2/- in PFS is top without rage powers)
But Scent, blind sense? these are nice. Sure they are high level powers, but they can be made into some amazing abilities.
The +5 init at 18th level from just the class feature is nice. If the FC could be used you could have a +14 at 18th level before other factors. Dex and a trait and you're courting that +18 to +20 init. While the diviner wizard will still top that, that's about it.
Or what about using the FC to raise the bonus of Elemental Kin. So the question really comes down to can the FC Race bonus affect the replaced class feature?
Superstition is specifically mentioned because it's NOT a normal class feature.
There are a lot of valid views expressed by above posters.
I do have to say I am enjoying Pathfinder as my gear feels...less needed than it did in 3.X to survive, especially for a melee martial character. A Barbarian with the World Serpant totem line and a non-magical adamantine sword he found in the cave of some dead king can cut through the DR of most things (besides Cold Iron, Magic and Silver).
And even then, DR is something a dedicated character can power through. (level 1 barbarian with power attack and just an 18 str that rages does 2d8+9. You can get through even dr 15 with that fairly reliably.)
So it's nice that gear is more of the assessory than the nessessity.
On the dump stat specifically...well, a player will either build a character the is Balanced or has a dump stat. You can have a 14, 16, 16, 16, 16, 18 Array and wherever you put that 14 you are dumping.
In a point buy unless you build even across the board (or close to) something gets dumped, again even if the low stat is the 12 while the rest are 13 and 14's.
So it's all relevative.
Sure, 10 is the 'expected average' of a the NPC folk, but would you be surprised if the Gm had the woodcutter NPC possess a 13 str and a 12 con?
It really comes down to the 'World expectations'. It's good to know what the DM sees as the 'baseline' stat on things just so the players can play off the right (or dramatically wrong) asumptions.
Offer to be a Teacher Assistant (TA) for him.
Some great games I've played in have been where the GM just wants to tell the story. When it comes to the Krunch a player steps up and helps manage things, keeping the numbers rolling out and combat flowing. Sometimes even help put together NPCs and the like so they are a challenge.
Can the PCs get away with a lot more and 'pull the wool' over his eyes? Sure. But if the PC's are mature and if the groups having fun, it works out.
Can he overextend things and might the 8 level monk PC somehow also have the Pounce ability as he charges and flurries? Sure. Is it a big deal? 9 times out of 10 it won't be. Pathfinder is pretty adaptable. 'Make a save' can cover a lot of random 'hmm' scenerios that pop up.
As long as everyone is on the same page for expectations it should work out fine.
I agree with Selgard. Like more alignment based questions, the WHY plays heavily into it.
Eating the AC to see Wolf tastes like chicken is fairly uncool. But eating said wolf to feed you and your starving friends I'd say isn't. It doesn't warrant a medal, but odds are if you starved and the AC outlived you...he'd eat YOUR corpse for food.
Also depends on if the players are gaming the system or if the sacrifice has merit and is powerful to the story.
Are they using the AC to go ahead and find all the traps so no one needs to put points in those trap skills?
Or do they sacrifice their AC as the seriously wounded PC limps off carrying the dying PC and the AC remains behind to delay the BBEG long enough for them to escape?
People are trying to handle AM BARBARIAN all wrong.
The fact that the 'Bad People' all snubbed you when you were trying to apply for their wizard's guild and told you to come back when you wanted to learn 'real' magic is just a minor side note and has nothing really to do with your concern about BATTY BAT. Nothing at all.
And really, you can probably drop Calm Emotions. Just a judicious use of suggestive diplomacy and oceans of booze and you should be able to wield AM BARBARIAN like a club in a similar vein as Barbarians use Body Bludgeon to kill people with their own teammates.
Power to the Skill Monkies
I think the 'Play the Room' advice is probably the best when it comes to Fudging.
Sometimes letting rolls stand even if it means PC death is the way to go. But if you just wrote 5 pages of notes and had 2 killer previous sessions where the party finally start to gel IC'ly and have a solid, personal motivated direction only to off them because someone biffs a roll and it slides into a wipe...well, would killing the players make it more fun for everyone?
I agree with the DM is a person and needs to adjuicate when such things might be needed. But if the DM doesn't let any rule stand, lets every poor or risky decision be hand waved so no harm befalls the PC and if there are no set backs, it will really any sense of accomplishment.
I find I personally fudge in two circumstnaces:
1: When a player comes up with a novel amazing idea that was unexpected and would be awesome if it worked. Not just in combat, but usually in an RP/social/what if we made X happen and got the Duke to come down and dance with Y kinda moment.
Inevitablly, a die roll will pop up, some social check or something and, of course, that's when then the player rolls a 2. And the GM is then forced to make it happen anyway, which kinda kills the flavor or have the awesome idea fail. So I usually don't have them roll for those things any more. Or if I do, it's not a 'success/fail' but a 'it will succeed, but there are degrees of awesome that will come from it.'
the second is player death. You can defeat players without killing them. I am not a fan of Resurection. I find it is a solid thing for major plot moments when the return can be epic and fitting, but because the Fighter got a double crit from the Frost Gaint....eh. Death shouldn't be a revolving door (in my opinion) but killing off characters willy-nilly can make players deinvest. So has to be a fine balance there.
AEG did one for 3.5 called 'The World's Largest Dungeon'
it's fairly epic. It takes you from 1 to 20 (easily) given it's pathing you most likely will skip entire maps of the dungeon. It even is designed so you can insert your own areas.
But it's got a nice over arching meta plot with smaller 'zone plots' for 'what it was' and 'what it is now' stuff going on.
At 20th level (17th really) the barbarian can end and start a new rage every round, so his Once a rage powers become once a round powers as long as he is not living by the grace of his Rage HP alone (where ending the rage would kill him before he can turn it back on)
Before that, there are ways to rage cycle before that. And If nothing else the barbarian can rage 1 round, end rage and be defensive for 2 rounds until fatigue ends, then rerage and smash it.
There is a Rage power that makes the armor's hardness 0 regardless of its material so just need to do 140 HP....which really isn't that hard with a double damage mounted lance charge with the 0 hardness. A few hits and BAM. The fighter obviously isn't a ranged damage machine otherwise he wouldn't be the shield turtle of doom so the barbarian can survive a few rounds to do the charges needed.
Outside the realm of who can beat whom (which really doesn't reflect CMD in its entirety) I think it mostly crops up with group Playstyles and how much leeway they give to spells.
Several above posters have commented/pointed out/called people misreading the intent and full extent of what certain spells can do.
If a GM/Group is willing to do a lot of hand waving and let the 8 Charisma Wizard cast Charm Person and get away with murder then it will favor casters. Even though Charm Person requires a charisma roll EVERY time you try to get the person to do something they normally wouldn't do, which means the 10 Charisma guard has the EDGE
And odds are if you are Charming them, they are NOT inclined to take bribes and let you into the keep's dungeon to 'talk' to a prisoner without approval of the guard captain.
But depending on how the GM handles that kind of social power with spells can really influence how useful the social rogue/paladin/intimidating fighter/etc can be.
The same goes for Utility spells. If the adventure requires you to get around the world ten times in 12 days, then yeah, the wizard with Teleport is probably going to be rock tastic. But if the group isn't on a time crunch like that, riding a flight of Dire Bats from place to place and then catching a boat probably works just fine. And frankly, having the dire bats (or some other form of reliable transportation) is probably better in most circumstances as Teleport is frankly overkill and carries some heavy restrictions on where you can wind up.
I've always seen magic as the quick fix bandage solution to most problem. With a little money and a little more time, skill and labor can build a solid lasting one. Then if you REALLY want to throw time and money at it, Magic builds the most solid ones as you get those enchanted items/protections whatever.
On paper the casters seem rather powerful, but in practice, I really have to agree with the AM BARBARIAN FINANCIAL INSTITUTE'S VIEW ON THE ECONOMY OF ACTION.
Sometimes the best solution to a problem is being able to charge 60 feet while drawing your weapon and making 4 high damage attacks at whatever you stop next to rather than dinking around with buffs and other set up effects for a few rounds.
I know! It's pretty hard to create a scenerio where Touch is greater, and I agree that he is attacking my normal ac, not touch so I would rule the same.
But it's kinda a head scratcher when you think of AC as 'Difficulty class to solidly connect and do damage' where touch 'They barely touch you with no appreciable force'
My question is: If I have a higher Touch AC than my normal AC, would I use my Touch AC vs all (non flat foot) attacks or would I use my lower normal AC over my touch.
I am a 6th level Barbarian. My relevant stats are Dex 13 (+1 Normal and Touch AC) a Chain shirt +1 (5 points normal AC) and a Armored Kilt (+1 Normal AC, make me effectively in Medium armor) for a total of:
Well, I take off my chain shirt to show off my bizillon ab muscules (or am showering, or insert other reason why I'm not wearing it) but I do have my armored Kilt on.
So now I'd be
I get into a fight. Grr! I rage. Both my Touch and AC drops by 2 (per normal)
But wait, I have the Ghost Rager Rage power. Beyond letting me smite incorporeal things, it also adds my Supersitition bonus (We'll say it's the base +3, not using the Human favored class option to raise it) to my Touch AC.
So that would make my new numbers
So Roguey McDrunkenStien tries to shank me and gets an end attack roll number of 11. That hits my AC, but misses my touch. Did I just get shanked?
Encourage the traits that make Perform a class skill (or give it a buff even if its already a class skill). Or just give that to everyone as a campaign background trait for the shared origin.
Though an all bard party is fairly viable given their archtypes tend to be the most unique from each other. (Traps and no songs for luck and rogue abilities in one to a speedy dervish of death to the ultimate speed talker)
If the party works together on their spell selections and archtypes they really can cover most things. ANd you'd probably see a lot more variance in the bardic music being used as Player A is handling INspire Courage so I can do Y song instead.
I'd say start with the 'I'd like to try the all Bard thing' If you get push back, don't force it. Or say 'let's try the bard thing and after 2-4 sessions if it's not working, I'll allow a character 'reroll' to retool into another class/build/whatever'
THe big 'use' (besides the RP flavor which really isn't worth discussing. Either you find it cool or your don't) could be to use it against Counter Attack foes.
Monks in UC got a few, Barbarians with Come and Get Me, etc. So having that 1 Uber attack tricked out with Vital Strike Power attack goodness might save your bacon.
And maybe it could help because you get the foe to blow their next Swift action on using the Immediate action retaliation attack, thus preventing them from doing something horrible to someone else on their next turn. Maybe if you can rider a status effect onto your swing they don't get no back talk.
In a Performance Combat fighting it might also have some value there, but that kinda touches on the RP Flavor side of the discussion, which boils down to group style, etc.
But at the end of the day, I think this feat would be awesome on some themed NPC builds. As the Feat pool grows, there are many feats that look cool, but just under perform compared to other choices. And when you only have 5 to 14 feats to choose from in most campaigns, it's hard to spend them on sub optimal choices. NPCs don't have the building concerns as a PC as they only need to look cool for a scene rather than be able to handle all the varied stuff you encounter over the 5 to 20 levels a PC adventures.
The anti-sunder was answered on the other thread as well. but the Phalanx Soldier is only has immunity for his shield. That is powerful, but not all powerful. So his armor, weapon, and loved ones are all fair game.
And with the +20 to sunder with Strength surge the numbers still favor the barbarian for the sunder.
As for initiative, a Barbarian might take the 'poor man's improved init' trait for a +2 which could help there. Not really sure if there are any 'must have' traits for Barbarians. (Dangerous Curious is cute.)
AM BARBARIAN at 20 (which is when the PS would have those defenses) would have a +mid 60 to his sunder check...which means he has over 50-50 to do it and can try it every round.
Also, the PS's SHIELD is immune to sunder. The armor or his weapon is not. Removing the armor still is a serious hit to the PS's AC to bring him back into hitable range and then sundering his weapon will also ding his AC down some more.
The Duelist PrC offers some fun tankiness.
You can get there by many, many roads. Heck, you could even be a Musketeer cavalier (not bad skills, good BBEG focus abilities), have a gun and a rapier and Buckle Your Swash.
You can Parry, which is an active defense, for you or an Ally and you can be doing that at 8th level.
An Elf for the Dex and Int, which would be the key stats. Int raises your skills for out of combat goodness and Defense with Duelist.
Your HP might not be hot (-2 Con, also depending on what path you take to get there.) but you have some defense options.
Heck, a Monk (or a Monk/Duelist using Bich'wa or Fighting fan or something) would have great saves, good mobilities, good skills, some awesome feat options from Ultimate Combat for doing tanky things.
You could even do the Monk/Duelist with the right style that turns your Unarmed damage into Piercing, which would let it apply for the Percision duelist damage and all that good stuff. And then you can use one of your several billion flurry attacks to parry.
I'd rule in favor of the readied action.
The charge is a Move then a Swing.
If I readied an action 'Stab the charger in the face with my Large Bastard Sword of Beat Down' he would close to me, I would cut him and if I downed him he wouldn't get to 'swing back', he'd just crumple in a neat (or not so neat) pile at my feet.
Why would the moving be any different?
Charing Barbie does Move part of charge, ends next to me. Procs my 'tumble 3 squares away from threat' readied action. Barbie has finished the move part of the dance and unless he can grow 20' reach, he has no target.
If I ready an action to counter spell the person casting doesn't get to change their spell once they learn they are being countered. Reading an action, especially in this case, is a very specific and reactive use of your turn. It's a good stall tactic, and maybe in the right battle field it could be tactically useful, but overall it doesn't change much save for maybe force a character to adapt their tactics.
Oh, I agree, Haste is amazing. When the bard ding's 4th he should take heroism and when he hits 7th he should take Haste.
While it doesn't stack with everything, it gives enough and has the duration (which can be made ridiculous as others have pointed out) that if someone throws another morale bonus on, odds are you're still getting SOMETHING out of your heroism.
And since you aren't casting heroism in combat, given its duration, it doesn't waste actions...so you can spend your first round casting Haste and then round 2 you get to the stabbing.
Like anything, some buffs work better with some parties than others.
And on the Inspire Courage thing, it's a specific bonus to saves rather than a blanket +2 and the damage/attack portion stack. So as you level, Heroism gives a nice +2 and I run Inspire Courage for additional hit/damage. And if someone gets slammed with a fear save, they get a small increase over their Heroism bonus. So it's hardly a loss.
A lot of the Were's bonuses are situational too (IE, have to be in Hybrid form)
If he gives up the DR, that's a huge cut in an were's power. Also, shifting every fight might not be the best move, if you have NPC's play up a fear of Weres.
Also, what were does he want to be? A Weretiger is WAAY more powerful then a Wererat. The rat might give him a dex boost, depending on what he plays, but his con and str probably won't increase from the Hybrid forms baseline stats.
It also comes down to the maturity of the group and the player specifically. In some Star Wars games I've run in the past I've had one player play the Jedi Knight/Master while others have played a Padawan character with several levels difference between them. But the players understood and the Master took to the mentor role and didn't always power through a situation and deny a 'learning opportunity' to his charges.
That could be something you could do here (I have no idea about your group specifics). You could either just go whole hog and make the Were PC a higher level that is 'shepherding' the new set of adventures.
Or you go the other way and make the other adventurers more 'senior' characters, bump them up and have them take on the new recruit that has potential, but is still green. The Were abilities could give him could survivability so he doesn't get smoked by accident.
Both options can play off solid fantasy tropes and if the lower level characters have 2 Hero Points they even have a free 'whoops, nope, I didn't just die' avoidance mechanic.
And a more subtle way to potentially balance things if you want to keep the group at the same level would be to give the Non-weres more traits and/or some of the Hero point feats for free so they can earn more per level and/or have a chance to not lose them when they are used. While Hero points don't quite match to the raw stat boosts you can get with some templates, they tend to come into play when everything is on the line so its a solid boost when the chips are down.
Heroism is my favorite level 2-3 Buff (go bards)
+2 to hit, regardless of dex or str character and doesn't conflict with enhancement bonuses
+2 to saves (barbarians don't get full value of this, but still, +2 to 2 of their saves, unless they are superstitious, but they still get 2 of the 3 perks)
+2 to skills. I play in skill heavy games and it can really make a difference. Make a good check better make a poor check more viable.
And best of all...the duration. 10 min/level is so much better than 1 min/level.
If you are looking for some quick and dirty stuff too, might want to look at some other rule set.
Central Castings: Hero of Legends (a very out of print, yet pretty amusing character gen backstory book) has a fun combat section.
I don't know about the most recent printing of Legend of the 5 Rings (L5R), but previous editions have had some solid mass combat tables that can allow for individual player moments to shine too.
Something else that might be useful in the guide is:
The ideal teammates for the Barbarians.
Some groups are 'bring your character and we'll figure it out' while others are 'build together.'
I've become a huge fan of the Bard of late (playing and having one in party) Their Saving Finale (immediate action, level 1 spell that ends their bardic music (or its equivalent) to give an ally in Close range a Reroll on a save is just...epic.
Cool mounts might also be useful.
As for the posts about Fast Move and Uncanny Dodge, I think they both come down to group style.
Fast Move is amazing if you have wide areas to worry about (and aren't on BATTY WTIH UR LANCE).
Uncanny dodge is useful if your GM likes Invisible shuriken chucking ninja that like to start fights with 30d6 of sneak attack damage or not.
But if you consider that your DR 1 to 10/-, Which scales as the sneak attack damage of the opponents do will apply to each hit, the sneak attack isn't adding as much on you as it would...the wizard or even the fighter.
My GM doesn't use Sneak attack opponents much and the small loss from Normal AC to Flat foot is hardly an issue in the games I play in. I'm sure if you were running the Council of Thieves Adventure Path, it'd probably come up a lot more.
But that really comes down to game and group style. I would love to play a Barbarian in Kingmaker, not dump Charisma and take a trait to give Diplomacy a Class skill. And then with Diplomacy and Intimidate can stroll the Stolen Lands under my sanded feet and sit on a throne with a jeweled crown on my not-troubled brow.
The DD is pretty solid.
I'd go with a Glove of Storing (as it's a solid idea) and get a 2 handed weapon. (Large Bastard Sword)
That + Power Attack gives a solid damage base. With Glove of Storing you can put weapon away, cast, recall weapon. Though the DD is really designed to just cast 1 or 2 spells at start then get rollings.
Add in Arcane Strike
Start with round 1 Dance of a Hundred Cuts. At 13th level that is +4 Hit, Damage, +AC, and Acrobatics for that Tumble check you will be making a ton of. (It's Morale, but that means you don't have to worry about Heroism or the like)
Swift action to get your Rain of Blows Dance going for another +3 Hit, +AC and Reflex (So +7 Hit, +4 Damage, +7 AC, + 7 Reflex) You also are now Hasted so have 3 Attacks. With Fleet you're at +25 speed so you can tumble for 25 feet a turn which is usually plenty.
Second turn you are all set, can use Swift for Arcane strike. Make 3 power attacks.
That's 2d8 + 4 for DoHC + 3 for AS + 9 for Power Attack before counting str and enhancement. If those are even moderately competent you can do 75 + 6d8 damage a turn if you hit three times. Given you have a new +4 to hit After the power attack before you worry about things like flanking, weapon focus, etc you should have at least 2 solid attacks in a turn.
Take Gallant Inspiration (2nd level, Verbal only, Immediate action spell that adds +2d4 to failed attack and skill. Great for you AND allies) and Saving Finale (1st level spell, reroll save if under Bardic Performance. Less usefully as only applies to you. Also has Somantics, so need to use Glove of Storing to put sword away at times)
While this is certainly not the highest DPR build you could dream up, it only takes 3 feats (EWP, Arcane Strike, and Power Attack) and 3 spells, (1st, 2nd, and a 4th) with just 1 round of prep. Gallant Inspiration does cut into your next round Arcane Strike, but Hitting vs 3 to 9 points of damage is a solid trade off.
Given you can have all the feats this requires by 5th level and tons of spells still to chose you can eek a lot more into the build. Discordant Voice is another solid choice. If you want to be super nice you can spend 1st round casting Haste for the party (won't help you) and then buff self 2nd turn and then get to the whomping. But if they can get haste from other source I wouldn't worry about it.
The Magus is probably one of the best suited for it.
At 11th they take Dimensional Agility and unless you REALLY want to flank with yourself, you don't need any of the others. Honestly, Dimensional Assault and Dervish are fairly situational for the Magus at that point compared to the Monk who can grow the chain into a full attack action.
With spell combat you can Cast Dimensional Agility next to someone and do a full attack and then 5 foot step as needed. Or Full attack then BAMF away.
With spell recall (which costs 2 Arcane points to reload DD at those levels) it's even easier to keep you from just making it a once/twice a day investment for the move too.
With Force Hook Charge you can cover the 'charge' flavor of quick movement (still not a true teleport, but between the two you can get your BAMF action on)
The other thing about saves (and really, most aspects of combat) is it's easy to fall into the mindset of everyone but the active character being static.
It's the Dragon's turn and he breath's fire on the Paladin. The paladin attempts a save and succeeds, taking half damage. He doesn't 'move' from the square.
But earlier in the turn (or perhaps later) the paladin does advance forward. So when the fire happens, if it was all put into a streaming action scene, the paladin probably way hustling forward, head down shield/cloak up as the fire either engulfed him or breezed by him. (failed or made save).
Like attacks in combat. it's hardly 'I stand still and you swing, then you stand still and I swing' in the 'reality' of the action.
If a mage cast a pit trap and the PC saved to avoid falling in, they might have seen the spell being cast and navigated away from it, or the wizard might have misjudged where the person was/was going to be and placed it wrong. It's doubtful that most casters have 'in game' a convenient gird square and template tool layout.
The rules are intentionally abstract as well. (What exactly is a Hit point? Can a 20th level fighter be stabbed in the gut more times than a 1st? When does the 20th level fighter actually /get/ stabbed and how many times before that are just jarring parries that make his wrist sore or a swollen knee as he slams hard against the wall?) The above posters have listed several great 'reasons' why a save could be succeeded at 'in reality.'
Of course in the OP's scenerio, Rule 0 (the Gm can do what the GM wills until the players rebel) does mean situations can be created when no saves are allowed. Hopefully the group has a good trust level with the GM and understand that when such moments occur it's with the intent to build a more dynamic story and not punish players. ('The Guard Captain smashes the basket hilt of his sword against your temple and you fall like a sack of stones.' for the capture scene rather than rolling out a combat where you might get just outright killed or some other adventure derailing outcome.)
There are always ways to spin this into actually creating party unity too. If the Sword and Board Fighter reports to Evil Person X so he can basically become Evil Person X's 'Trusted Guy' it could lead to a few things.
Yeah, it can easily go down the 'split the party' route.
But it also could be handled to give the Sword and Board Fighter an 'in' to see storms on the horizon when Evil Person X starts his BBEG plot to remove the Bastard from the throne (or do his ritual so all the leaves turn pink. Whatever the plot may be!)
A good series to watch is Burn Notice. While it's a modern spy series, most of the characters inform on each other to other people at various times. But since they're all kinda 'spies' they just kinda roll with it.
And it comes up often in a light of 'I'd rather have a friend informing on me, because a FRIEND would only share what they need to' (and again, it is an in to actually turn the situation around for the whole group's advantage. And court politics can go in similiar veins. We all may be friends, but we all might be representing slightly different agendas.
Really, who the S&B Fighter reports to it probably the biggest factor in how it'll play out down the road. If the S&B F just wants to feel mildly rebellious and involve in some courtly intrigue while in the long run being willing to turn that to the party's advantage, you could probably turn it into a fairly solid move.
I'd just make to have that talk with the S&B guy early on and lay some ground work and not try to 'wing it' as a last minute save to prevent a party explosion.
I think the Inquisitor is a great fit for a witcher style character. Monster Lore is a class feature, as is being a loner, intimidating and very adaptable to all kinds of circumstances with both the flexibility of Judgement and their pretty solid divine spell list.
Adding Brew Potion allows them to 'over prepare' some buff spells and you can take a Domain (Rage?) to give you an 'overdrive' / mutagen feel.
But with just cosmetic description of the judgements and using Divine Favor/Divine Power/Bull Str/Etc you can get a nice buff chain going.
Also, the Bane Ability and the ability to change your judgements mid-combat can give a good sense of "Stance" switching, and just the feeling of being utterly prepared at all points in time.
THe Mutagens of the Alchemist are kinda cool, but really I think the Inquistor is more 'in theme' as it's just a Feat for Brew Potion where Alchemist adds in the bombs and bizare spell casting style.
It also isn't hard to image the Witcher order as some splinter Divine group of some Diety who has lost contact with the 'mother church' and hasn't seen a Cleric or other real 'divine' leader so the hands of the chruch (the Witchers) just recruit and train with the 'understood mission' (Protecting Humanity from monsters) while not really having a 'deeper' theology.