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I'd definitely ditch all the Cleave feats. As you're already finding out, they're very situational, and may rarely come into play for you.

Instead, absolutely go with Arcane Strike as soon as you can cast spells. (Level 4 for a Bloodrager, so take that as your Level 5 feat.) It's a must-have for all arcane casters who primarily focus on using traditional melee/ranged weapons. As noted, it's basically free damage.

Weapon Focus and/or Furious Focus is another good choice for a spare feat on a Power Attack build, to help offset the Power Attack penalty.

And if you want to go the Cornugan Smash Intimidate/Demoralize route, then Intimidating Prowess and Hurtful are both good choice as well.

So I'd recommend something like this:

1: Power Attack
1B: Furious Focus, or Weapon Focus (Greatsword)
3: Intimidating Prowess
5: Arcane Strike
7: Cornugan Smash
9: Hurtful

And max out your Intimidate skill with a point every level.

Angdril wrote:

Although now I need to figure out what the familiar should be.

A Celestial Protector Familiar will most likely remain with you most of the time. Especially during combat. The AC boosting, damage sharing, and Fast Healing doesn't do you any good unless it's touching you. But that doesn't mean it can't be used as a scout at times.

Note that in order for the Protector familiar to grant you that Aid Another AC bonus, they have to be able to reliably hit a 10 AC. So you don't want a familiar with a large negative to attack, like some of them have. That becomes less of an issue as your BAB increases, since your familiar shares your BAB, but you don't want to have to wait until mid/high levels to be able to make reliable use of that ability.

From a powergaming standpoint:

As a Paladin, your saves are already good, so I wouldn't worry about any of the familiars that boost saves. (Unless you want to boost one to even more ridiculous heights...)

And +3 HP, in the grand scheme of things, is pretty minimal.

Some of the skill bonuses from various familiars are useless to you, but if you're focusing on certain skills, you could get a familiar that boost one of those skills. With a Paladin, something like a Thrush might be a good choice. +3 to Diplomacy, plus the handy ability to speak 1 language (so they can speak Common), and the ability to fly for scouting purposes.

Something like a Hawk or a Bat makes for a nice flying scout too. The Hawk gives a nice boost to Perception, and has a high Perception of its own. The Bat's bonus to Fly is less useful to you, but it has Blindsense to help you ferret out invisible enemies.

Or one of the familiars that grants a +1 natural armor bonus could help offset your -2 AC while raging.

But honestly, I'd go with one of the familiars that grants +4 to Initiative. It's not only a very strong bonus ability, but it will be especially helpful for you since one of your Paladin's lowest ability scores is likely Dexterity. Something like a Greensting Scorpion makes for a nice ground-based scout as well, with its high Stealth, and it also has one of the higher attack bonuses among the standard familiars, to help with those Aid Another AC rolls. Or you could go with something like a Rhamphorhynchus for a flying scout that also boosts your initiative.

From a roleplaying standpoint:

Go with something fitting to your character's backstory, their personality, or to their deity. (Most of the deities have a handful of favored animals listed.)

As noted by wraithstrike, traditional Surprise, Stealth, or Flanking Sneak Attacks can sometimes be tough to set up, so you may want to build in some additional way to generate extra Sneak Attacks, whether that's some special attacks or abilities that make the enemy flat-footed, or some of the feat combos that let you Sneak Attack enemies with certain conditions.

An example would be something like maximizing Intimidate, taking the Blade of Mercy trait that allows you to deal nonlethal damage with slashing weapons at no penalty, then taking the Enforcer feat that allows you to Demoralize enemies that you hit with nonlethal damage and make them Shaken, followed by the Shadows of Fear feat that lets you sneak attack enemies suffering from fear effects (of which Shaken is one example). The Intimidating Prowess feat is a nice addition to an Intimidate/Demoralize build, since you're dumping Charisma and will have a high Strength score.

Having some way to turn yourself invisible, or make enemies blind, is another way to generate extra Sneak Attacks. (This can be through Use Magic Device and wands, using magic items or alchemical items, or coordinating tactics with your party's caster.) Attacking from invisibility or attacking a blind enemy renders your enemy flat-footed.

Maximizing Use Magic Device and picking up a wand of Grease is another option, although better for reach/ranged weapons. Grease the ground in front of you, and any enemies that move through it have to make Acrobatics checks and are considered Flat-Footed.

Another way is maximizing Bluff and picking up feats like Two Weapon Feint and Improved Two Weapon Feint. A successful feint renders your enemy flat-footed. But you would need to take the Combat Expertise feat and have Dex 15+ and Int 13+, so you'd need to move your ability points around a bit for a Feint build. (Something like Str 15+2, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 12, Ch 7.) The Slayer’s Feint feat lets you substitute Acrobatics for Bluff when it comes to feinting, which is handy since you'd already be taking Combat Expertise and you're dumping Charisma in favor of Dexterity.

If you're not wanting the Celestial Protector Bloodline Familiar as I mentioned in my earlier post, then another good option for your Bloodrager dip is a combo Urban Bloodrager/Id Rager. (Those two archetypes can stack.)

Kindness and Hatred have already been mentioned as emotional focus for the Id Rager, but I'd suggest Dedication instead.

Dedication gets you:
-Skill Focus Diplomacy or Sense Motive, which is useful for a Paladin, which tend to go for Face skills.
-Iron Will while raging, which brings back the Will bonus that you give up with the Urban Bloodrager's Controlled Rage.
-Dutiful Strike while raging, which is a nice bonus. Against the most recent enemy to attack you (just attack; doesn't necessarily have to hit you), this grants +2 to hit and you deal damage against that enemy as if one size category larger, which means increasing your base damage die similar to an Enlarge Person spell. This is usable an unlimited number of times per day.

And importantly, an emotion like Dedication is a better fit (roleplay-wise) for a Paladin than something like Hatred/Jealousy/Greed/Fear/Despair/etc.

Id Ragers give up their Bloodrager Bloodline, but from a damage-dealing point of view, those attack and damage benefits are potentially better than merely an extra 1d6 damage from a Bloodline like Celestial's basic 1st level ability. Increasing your base damage is especially good on critical hits, or for something like a Vital Strike build. And the Bloodline extra damages don't stack with weapon enhancements, so they will eventually be semi-obsolete as you gain levels.

However, the Id Rager's attack and damage benefits are not necessarily better than the Celestial Protector Bloodline Familiar's benefits of extra AC, 150% HP, and Fast Healing, as described earlier, especially if you're going for a Tank/Oradin damage-soaking/healing build.

For a 20 point buy, I'd go something like:

S 16+2
D 14
C 14
I 12
W 12
Ch 7

Or if you want to try to use a few of the CHA-based skills, I might do:

S 16+2
D 14
C 14
I 10
W 10
Ch 10

But even if you dump Charisma, if there's just one or two Charisma-based skills you're wanting to pick up, there are a various traits that would help offset the -2 penalty to that specific skill or skills.

LordKailas wrote:

unless I'm missing something, the book's damage advances as you level up

Correct. Just like a Warpriest's sacred weapon.

1st-4th 1d6
5th-9th 1d8
10th-14th 1d10
15th-19th 2d6
20th 2d8

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Don't forget the Decollate spell...

Lets them detach their head, with the body remaining ambulatory.

So it could be a headless and handless body, running around accompanied by an eye familiar, an eye ooze, two flying ears, two hand familiars, and a tumor. Plus it sometimes peels its skin off too.

(Well, we'd have to bend the rules a bit to make all that work together, but it would certainly make for an interesting NPC or BBEG.)

Danzibe1989 wrote:

I also planned on taking Prestigious Spellcaster to get my full array of spells.

Just be sure to keep an eye on your feats. Between all the other feats you're having to take for TWF, brewing, and tankard-boosting, it's probably getting tough to squeeze extras in. Especially since you're skipping the bonus feat at Warpriest 9 by going Brewkeeper after 8. (Or potentially skipping all the bonus feats by going with a different base class.)

With Divine Fighting Technique, Favored Prestige Class, and Prestigious Spellcaster, you're adding three required feats to the build...

You get 7 base feats from 1-15, and you'd need 8 just to cover all those basics and prerequisites:

-Divine Fighting Technique
-Catch Off Guard
-Two Weapon Drunkard
-Brew Potion
-Favored Prestige Class
-Prestigious Spellcaster

So you'd need to be a Human, or get at least one bonus feat from a class, just to cover those basics.

And that doesn't leave anything else for improving your tankards' combat utility, boosting your dirty tricks, increasing your spellcasting abilities, or the like.

Danzibe1989 wrote:

Well the thing with that is that it says Optional. meaning you don't have to be that to get that. you can take the feat and follow up with the required prereqs, which is what i planned on doing.

Gotcha. That's not an ideal path if playing from Level 1, since it would mean picking up the Divine Fighting Technique feat plus waiting all the way until Level 14 for that advanced ability to come online (due to the +10 BAB prerequisite).

But since you're jumping in at Level 15, it works just fine.

If you're wanting to use the Divine Fighting Technique advanced ability of the swift-action tankard refill, you'll have to take at least 10 levels in Warpriest. That ability isn't unlocked until Level 10, by giving up one of your Major Blessing Powers (which aren't available until 10).

Otherwise, if you have less than 10 levels in Warpriest, you're looking at using a Move/Standard Action* every time you need to put a potion/draught/booze into one of your tankards. Not ideal.

(*The type of action needed is up to your GM, since I can't find anywhere that it's specifically spelled out.)

You could go with Cailean Fighting Tankards to lessen that impact by having multiple liquids on tap at any given time, but then you run into the aforementioned potential pitfalls regarding enhancing a named magic item.

Those have some nifty abilities, and would be useful (and fitting) for the character to keep one or more of them on-hand. But they'd only be really useful as primary weapons if your GM allows you to upgrade named magical items. Not all do, and PFS doesn't.

If not, the Warpriest Sacred Weapon enhancement ability would help a bit with that, but they still wouldn't keep up with an already enchanted weapon with Sacred Weapon stacked on top. And since he'd be switching from Warpriest to Brewmaster at 10th level, the most he'd be able to achieve with Sacred Weapon is +2. He'd have to rely on spells like Greater Magic Weapon quite a bit. Doable, but probably not ideal.

A Tattoo Holy Symbol or Birthmark trait would remove the need for a separate Divine Focus, but you'd still have to drop one of the tankards to cast spells with Somatic components, since you'd still need a free hand for the casting.

But with the Two-Weapon Fighting Drunkard, the off-hand tankard acts as both a divine focus AND doesn't interfere with Somatic spells.

So it's still worth getting the Drunkard feat for that latter benefit, even though it's partially redundant with the Divine Fighting Technique, and Catch Off Guard is a wasted feat for this character (although fitting for someone with experience in a lot of barroom brawls involving improved weapons.)

But you're correct that Dirty Fighting would certainly help with reducing the entry tax for the Dirty Trick feat line. If he ends up with three feats to spare, Dirty Fighting>Improved Dirty Trick>Greater Dirty Trick is worth a look.

Edit: Removed. See my below post.

Cayden Cailean's "Blade and Tankard" Divine Fighting Style doesn't allow you to use a tankard as a buckler.

But it does allow you to wield a tankard as a weapon equivalent to a light mace, and you can drink potions or other liquids out of the tankard, as well as use the liquid in the tankard to perform a Dirty Trick with no AoO in place of one attack with your tankard. The advanced benefit of the Divine Fighting Technique allows you to refill the tankard with a liquid as a swift action, and gives you some nice bonuses to the tankard dirty tricks.

There's a bit of overlap with the previously posted "Two Weapon Drunkard" feat when it comes to using a tankard as a weapon, but the feat still has a handy secondary ability of being able to use the tankard as a divine focus, so it's worth getting both.

So I'd suggest a Chaotic Good Dwarven Warpriest of Cayden Cailean, dual-wielding tankards. Since you're starting at 15th level, I'd go 10 levels of Warpriest (to get your 10th level Blessing and bump your tankards to 1d10 each) and 5 levels of Brewmaster.

Trade out one of your two Blessing options for that Divine Fighting Technique, swapping both the 1st level Minor Power and 10th level Major Power benefits for both the standard and advanced Divine Fighting Techniques. (Doing so allows Warpriests to pick up the full benefit of the Divine Fighting Technique without spending any feats and without having to meet any of the prerequisites. But the trade-off is that you're down to just one Blessing in return.)

Take Weapon Focus: Tankard with your 1st level bonus so you can apply your Sacred Weapon bonuses to tankards, and then use two of your Bonus Feats to get Weapon Specialization: Tankard and Greater Weapon Focus: Tankard, since you can use your Warpriest level as Fighter levels for bonus feat prerequisites.

Pick up the prerequisite feats of Catch Off-Guard and Two Weapon Fighting to get the Two-Weapon Drunkard feat, to allow you to use a tankard as a Divine Focus, meaning you won't have to drop one of your tankards to cast a spell.

You'll also need Brew Potion before 10th level, for the prestige class. Improved Two Weapon Fighting is needed as well.

I'd definitely pick up the Accelerated Drinker feat, not only because it fits the character, but also because it allows you to drink liquids as Move Action. This means that with the advanced benefit of the Divine Fighting Technique you can fill the tankard with a potion or Brewmaster draught as a Swift Action, drink it as a Move Action, and still have your Standard Action left.

Even better, if you already have a draught waiting in one of your tankards, you can use your Warpriest Fervor ability to cast a spell on yourself as a Swift Action, drink another spell (draught) as a Move action, and cast a third spell as a Standard action. That's casting three buff spells on yourself in one round, which is awesome.

You could have one tankard staged with beneficial potion or spell draught to use for yourself, and the other tankard filled with booze to splash in the enemy's eyes (and also to drink between battles).

Since the various TWF feats require a high Dex, you may need to prioritize Dex over Strength and pick up the Weapon Finesse feat. (Tankards are Finessable, since they're treated like Light Maces due to both the Drunkard feat and Cayden's Divine Fighting Technique.)

Even though it's nifty and fits with the "throw beer in their eyes" dirty trick ability of the Divine Fighting Technique, I wouldn't bother with spending all the feats to get the Improved/Greater/Master Dirty Trick line. You already get nearly all the benefits of Improved Dirty Trick from the Divine Fighting Technique anyway, and you'll probably be using up all your feats already anyway just with all those Tankard-boosting/TWF/Drinking/Brewing feats.

But you might ask your GM if they'll allow you to use the Brewmaster's 3rd level ability "Harmful Homebrew" with the Divine Fighting Technique's "throw beer in their eyes" dirty trick. As written, the ability only applies to splash weapons and touch attacks, but it's flavorful, fits well with the character, and in my opinion a dirty trick involving literally splashing someone with booze should totally be considered a "splash weapon" for that purpose. ;)

Since neither a Divine Bond weapon nor a Mount would be ideal for this character mechanically/thematically, I'd suggest the
Angelic Divine Bond Variant from "Healer's Handbook" instead, which would grant him a shining halo with a boosted Protection from Evil aura.

As a melee cleric, Divine Focus will be your go-to 1st level spell for the entirety of your career. +1 luck bonus to attack and damage for 1 minute, bumping up to +2 at 6th level and +3 at 9th level.

You should go with the Fate's Favored trait for another +1 to all luck bonuses.

A 9th level cleric casting Divine Favor with Fate's Favored will have an easy +4 to attack and damage castable for basically every battle in a day. And since they're Luck bonuses, which are comparatively rare, it will stack with all of the more common attack/damage bonuses you'll have from other sources.

The Fate's Favored trait will not only boost Divine Favor, but the Prayer and Deadly Juggernaut spells as well. (Deadly Juggernaut is especially handy when fighting mobs of lower-level mooks.) And there are a few items that grant Luck bonuses as well. Plus, if you go with a Half-Orc with the Sacred Tattoo alternate racial trait, it will give you +2 luck bonus to your saves as well.

Half-Orc also has the added benefit of granting you racial proficiency with the Greataxe and Falchion (or Flail and Dire Flail proficiency with an alternate racial trait), which is handy if you can't find a deity with a combination of the domains you want plus a decent favored melee weapon.

Half-Orc Fate's Favored Melee Cleric FTW.

I'd drop Cleave and Cleaving Finish and go with Phalanx Formation and Pushing Assault instead.

As mentioned, Phalanx Formation is basically mandatory for dungeon crawling and fighting in narrow corridors with a reach weapon, unless you're the only melee fighter in your group.

Pushing Assault is nice with a reach weapon. When an enemy tries to approach you with a Move action, you get an Attack of Opportunity due to your reach. If the enemy is your size or smaller and you use Pushing Assault, you can then push them back with this AoO. They then try to approach again, which triggers another AoO. Rinse and repeat. The end result is multiple AoOs anytime anyone tries to close with you. You can also use it to push enemies at your 10' reach back to 15', preventing them from 5' stepping in to avoid AoOs and attack you on their turn. Basically, Pushing Assault means that similarly-sized melee attackers rarely get the opportunity to get close enough to attack you, unless they have Reach themselves, you run out of AoOs in a round (which is entirely likely), or they have high Acrobatics or some other spell/trick to avoid AoOs. It works nicely with Enlarge Person as well, since that increases your size category, allowing you not only extra damage and extra reach but the ability to use Pushing Assault against Large enemies too.

Cornugan Smash is another good feat to consider, if you can spare the feat. It allows a free Intimidate check to Demoralize your opponent any time you hit with a Power Attack, which should be nearly all your attacks. If you max out Intimidate, that means an easy debuff against the majority of enemies you hit. (Demoralize causes the Shaken condition for 1 or more rounds, which gives a –2 penalty on attack rolls, saving throws, skill checks, and ability checks.)

If you want something a bit more defensive, you can go with something like Shield Brace or the Phalanx Fighter archetype, both of which allow you to wield a shield along with your reach weapon, albeit by sacrificing your 1.5x two-handed damage bonus from both your Strength and Power Attack. (Not a good trade, IMO... Unless you're really hurting for AC.)

TheApapalypse wrote:

Sorry, didn't see the single class option.....here is this....

An Arcane Duelist with two Rings of spell Knowledge (fireball/lightning bolt etc) and can become a Eldritch Knight at level 7 without multi-classing.
To qualify to become an Eldritch Knight, a character must fulfill all the following criteria.
Weapon Proficiency: Must be proficient with all martial weapons.
Spells: Able to cast 3rd-level arcane spells.

An Arcane Duelist can't become an Eldritch Knight without multiclassing.

Bards get a few Martial Weapon proficiencies, but not all.

Totally legal, but not necessarily optimal, especially for relatively new players, or when trying out a new concept.

The idea is you can tweak things over your first three adventures, as you figure out what works and what doesn't.

If you make a drastic change when you hit the Level 2 mark, and then discover that something doesn't work quite as well as you thought, you can't do anything about it since you're locked in at that point.

*Minor edit to the above: Swap the 3rd and 5th level feats. You can't take Arcane Strike until you can cast spells, which with a Bloodrager won't be until at least Level 4.

Remember that your bite and claw attacks from the Draconic bloodline only manifest while you're Bloodraging. With 5 levels of Bloodrager and a 14 CON, that's only 14 rounds per day. (Equivalent to just under a minute and a half per day.) What do you plan to use for combat during the remaining 23 hours and 58.5 minutes in a day? ;)

I'd consider dropping the Human/Kobold line and going Half-Orc instead. Get the Toothy alternate racial trait, the Tusked race trait, or the Razortusk feat, any of which gives a Half-Orc a full time bite attack, usable all day long, even when you're not Bloodraging. You can still take Noxious Bite as your Level 9 feat, once you get that Dragon Disciple breath weapon.

This way, you'll be able to bite all day long. Then when Bloodraging you can add claws for those rounds, as well as increasing your bite damage.

That will also free up several feats, which would allow you to focus on something else, like a melee weapon to use in addition to your bite during full attacks. A two-handed weapon would add quite a bit to your damage output, and the bite becomes just gravy. (Keep in mind that if you're using a melee weapon and a bite attack during a full attack round, your bite attack becomes a secondary attack at BAB-5.)

Whatever you choose, the Arcane Strike feat is a nice addition as well, to add extra damage to all your attacks (including your bite) and treat all attacks as Magic for purposes of overcoming DR/Magic.

I'd build it something like this:

Half Orc BR5/DD2, Same stats

Tusked Trait
Fate's Favored Trait

Sacred Tattoo Alternate Racial Trait (+2 to all saves, thanks to Fate's Favored)

1) Power Attack
3) Arcane Strike
5) Combat Reflexes
7) Cornugan Smash

Wield a two-handed reach weapon like a Bardiche or Lucerne Hammer. A reach weapon becomes quite handy with a bite attack, as it allows you to threaten at 10' with the reach weapon and 5' with your bite. You can also do fun stuff like take a full attack to bite an adjacent enemy at BAB-5, then 5' step back and finish your full attack with two attack with your reach weapon at BAB/BAB-5.

Get Enlarge Person as one of your Bloodrager spells for even more fun, not only upping your damage significantly (3d6 base damage with a Lucerne Hammer) but also allowing you to threaten at 15-20' with your reach weapon and 5-10' with your bite.

Or you can stick to a non-reach two handed weapon like a Falchion or Greatsword, if you don't care about reach, area denial, and AoOs, and you want to be able to use your bite attack more often.

Either way, when Bloodraging, you have the option to leave your weapon sheathed and wade in with Claw/Claw/Bite if you'd like. The claws would be slightly lower base damage than the melee weapon and the total number of attacks would remain the same at 3 per round, but your bite would increase in damage and all three attacks would be at full BAB so you'll hit more often.

Max skill points in Intimidate. Any time you damage someone with a Power Attack (which should be nearly every attack), Cornugan Smash gives you a free Intimidate check to Demoralize them.

Get Noxious Bite at 9th level, if you want the added damage and effect on your bite. Or take Intimidating Prowess at 9th if you want to be absolutely sure that you Demoralize everyone you hit.

Orc Bloodline doesn't allow a Bloodline Familiar, as written. Familiar Folio only includes Bloodline Familiars for the Aberrant, Abyssal, Arcane, Celestial, Destined, Draconic, Elemental, Fey, Infernal, and Undead bloodlines. However, it does mention that "GMs may use the following bloodline familiar abilities as written, or employ them as guidelines for devising bloodline familiar abilities for bloodlines not listed below", so your GM could allow an Orc Bloodline Familiar.

In addition, you probably can't use Eldritch Heritage to gain a Bloodline Familiar anyway. RAW and likely RAI, Eldritch Heritage doesn't necessarily grant a bloodline, just an ability from said bloodline. But your GM may rule otherwise.

However, if you really want a higher level familiar than the Level 5 that Celestial Bloodline Familiar plus Boon Companion allows, then Eldritch Heritage: Arcane would get you a familiar at Character Level -2, (without relying on Bloodline Familiar). It just won't have the extra Fast Healing ability from the Celestial Bloodline, it would cost an additional feat, and it would somewhat lessens the value of that Bloodrager dip.

A Chosen One Paladin's familiar has to be an Emissary archetype, which isn't compatible with the Protector archetype.

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If you're going to dip 1 level into Bloodrager, consider swapping your 1st level Bloodline ability for a Bloodline Familiar (from "Familiar Folio"). This grants a familiar with an additional ability, based on your Bloodline.

For a Paladin, the Celestial bloodline seems like a natural fit, and has a useful Bloodline Familiar ability. You'll be giving up the 1st level Bloodline ability Angelic Attacks, but it's just an extra 1d6 damage against evil outsiders and the ability to overcome DR/Good, which is less useful to a Paladin who can do the same with things like a Holy Bonded Weapon, Smite Evil, or the 1st level Paladin spell Weapons Against Evil. Most importantly, Angelic Attacks only applies while raging, which with only one level of Bloodrager would be just a few rounds per day.

If you swap that out for a Celestial Bloodline Familiar, your familiar is around even when you're not raging, and a Celestial Bloodline Familiar has the added bonus of granting you Fast Healing 1 for CHA mod rounds at a time, usable 3+CHA Mod times per day. With a 20 CHA, that's 40 total HP of healing per day. It's only 1 HP per round, but it's useful for healing between battles without expending other resources.

This Fast Healing is in addition to the familiar's normal bonus, so the familiar can also boost your weakest save, or grant +1 to natural armor, or grant +4 to initiative, or grant +3 to a useful skill.

Next, you can also apply the Protector Familiar Archetype from the same Familiar Folio book. This allows your Familiar to provide you with a a +2 Aid Another bonus to your AC.

Then, if you have a feat to spare, taking the Boon Companion feat would put the Celestial Protector Familiar up to Level 5, which with a Protector allows for the familiar to also soak half your damage at will. This effectively grants you 50% more hit points (since you can share damage, and your familiar has half as many HP as you do).

Granted, the familiar wouldn't be able to progress past Level 5 for Natural Armor, Intelligence, or familiar abilities, but 5th level is enough for Speak with Master and the aforementioned Protector abilities (AC bonus and damage sharing). And the familiar would continue to gain BAB, HP, saves, and skills as the Paladin continues to level, since those attributes are not based on Bloodrager class level.

Basically, you're giving up Angelic Attacks' ~3.5 extra damage against evil outsiders for a few rounds per day, but gaining 40+ HP of Fast Healing, +2 AC, an additional bonus to save/AC/initiative/skill equivalent to a feat, and a pet/scout. That's a heck of a good deal.

Then spending the feat on Boon Companion grants you effectively 150% HP, which is well worth the feat.

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Is a dip into Empyreal Sorcerer worthwhile for a Zen Archer/Qinggong Monk? If so, how many levels? When would you recommend taking the dip?

I've been pondering this, and believe the most benefit comes from just one level of Sorcerer, taken at either 4th or 5th, which would get you over the "hump" for Zen Archery's WIS to Attack rolls.

One level of Sorcerer would allow for four cantrips and two 1st level spells known. Most likely something like Gravity Bow and Mage Armor, so the Monk can self-buff.

Gravity Bow - Zen Archers tend to lag behind in pure damage output compared to some of the other archer types, but jumping from 1d8 up to 2d6 damage will help with that. Only lasts for 10 rounds, but that should be sufficient for most fights.

Mage Armor - Saves the need for Bracers of Armor, allowing the use of Bracers of Archery instead. Lasts for an hour. Stacks with Qinggong Monk's Barkskin ability at 4th Monk level for even higher AC self-buffing.

The Magical Knack trait could be included to bump up these durations to 30 rounds/3 hours. Pages of Spell Knowledge and Runes of Power can be used to add additional 1st level spells known, or additional spells per day, if desired.

This one level dip would also open up the ability for the Monk to use scrolls and wands, granting access to other useful arcane utility spells like Expeditious Retreat, Shield, Spider Climb, Monkey Fish, Endure Elements, Infernal Healing, Invisiblity, Owl's Wisdom, etc.

Celestial/Empyreal Bloodline allows for Wisdom to be used for all Sorcerer class features and effects to Sorcerer class. And with the option for a Celestial Bloodline Familiar in Familiar Folio, you can swap out your weak Heavenly Fire 1st level bloodline power for a Celestial bloodline familiar that grants you Fast Healing 1 for WIS mod rounds at a time, usuable 3+WIS Mod times per day. Plus the familiar's normal bonus.

Then, going with a protector Familiar archetype and taking Boon Companion as the 5th level feat seems like a heck of a useful ability for a monk. That would put the familiar at Level 5, which with a Protector allows for the familiar to grant +2 to AC (1st level ability) and soak half your HP damage at will (5th level ability).

Granted, the familiar wouldn't be able to progress past Level 5 for Natural Armor, Intelligence, or familiar abilities, but that's enough for Speak with Master and the aforementioned Protector abilities, and the familiar would continue to gain BAB, HP, saves, and skills as the Monk continues to level.

It would also open up the ability to take levels in Arcane Archer at a later time, if so desired. Likely sometime after reaching at least 10th level (Monk9/Sorc1).

In summary:

With a 20 Wisdom, a Zen Archer Monk with one level of Empyreal Sorcerer would basically end up with two 1st level arcane spells castable 5 times per day to boost AC and damage, four cantrips, 1.5x hitpoints (effectively), +2 AC, Fast Healing for a total of 40 HP per day, +2 to Will saves, +2 to Heal and Knowledge Religion, dual rolls or Aid Anothers on various skills, and a scout/pet.

In exchange, the Monk would end up 1 level behind on gaining class abilities, and would be -1 BAB, -1 HP, -1 Fortitude save and -1 Reflex save, compared to a Monk without a dip. The free effective feat from the Familiar's bonus could cancel out the feat spent on Boon Companion. (Depending on the bonus... I'm thinking Greensting Scorpion for Improved Initiative.)

That, to me, seems like a worthwhile trade. What are your thoughts?

Good catch on Recharge Innate Magic and Vital Strike. Should have double-checked before posting.

I had part of the wording of Vital Strike confused in my memory with Arcane Strike, which involves using a swift action to add extra damage. In that light, it does make Vital Strike iffy, especially since I'll be picking up a second attack at 7th level.

I'll probably ditch Vital Strike and go with something else like Toughness.

The PFSRD doesn't list Recharge Innate Magic as Gnome, but I just checked the ARG and you're right. I might have a weak argument that Gnomes are semi-Fey, and I'm Fey-touched, with my Oracle powers and curse stemming from the Fey, so I could I pretty please be granted access. But it's a stretch.

If Recharge is nixed by the GM, I'll likely go with the Ifrit "Mostly Human" Alternate Racial Trait, which makes him a Humanoid as well as an Outsider, and therefore eligible to be Enlarged by normal means. Then I could pony up for some Enlarge scrolls/wands or Pearls of Power for the party arcane caster, and/or Enlarge wondrous items, for those times when I need it more than 1/day.

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I'm working up a new character. Any suggestions for improvement?

This character will be an Ifrit Paladin/Life Oracle of Ragathiel. I envision him as a holy warrior who struggles to overcome his Evil Outsider (half-Efreeti) heritage, much like his patron demigod Ragathiel. He was abandoned in the wild as a child when his human mother was slain by his Efreeti father, and rescued by good-aligned Fey who cared for him and brought him to the doorstep of a local Paladin order. He was raised and trained by these Paladins, and now has taken an oath himself to heal and defend the weak and defeat Evil Outsiders. The Fey who cared for him as a baby continue to track his progress, with a few sprites/pixies accompanying him and playing good-natured (in their minds) pranks on him to ensure that he doesn't get too serious, stuffy, or boring.

Race: Ifrit
-Fire in the Blood Alternate Racial Trait: Fast Healing 2 when subjected to fire damage
-Efreeti Magic Alternate Racial Trait: Enlarge/Reduce Person (including Ifrits) 1/day
-Wildfire Heart Alternate Racial Trait: +4 to Initiative
-Darkvision 60'
-Outsider (Native)

STR 16
DEX 14 (Includes +2 Racial)
CON 14
WIS 8 (Includes -2 Racial)
CHA 17 (Includes +2 Racial)

Blessed Touch Faith Trait: +1 HP healed with Lay On Hands, Channel, and Cure spells
Magical Lineage Magic Trait: +2 Caster Level (Oracle)

Level 1: Paladin 1 - Oathbound (Oath Against Fiends) and Hospitaler archetypes
Level 2: Pal2
Level 3: Pal2/Oracle 1 - Life Oracle, Life Link Revelation, Pranked Curse
Level 4: Pal3/Ora1 - +1 to CHA
Level 5: Pal4/Ora1
Level 6: Pal4/Ora2
Level 7: Pal4/Ora3 - Channel Revelation
Level 8: Pal4/Ora4 - +1 to CON
Level 9: Pal5/Ora4 - Agathion Divine Bond for CHA bonus to healing for a few mins/day
Level 10+ (if needed) will be all Paladin.

1st - Fey Foundling
3rd - Power Attack
5th - Greater Mercy
7th - Vital Strike
9th - Furious Focus

Favored Class: Paladin for +1 HP at levels 1-2, 4-5, and 9+.

1 skill point for Paladin levels and 2 skill points for Oracle Levels will go primarily into Diplomacy and Sense Motive.

The Pranked curse seems to mesh really well with the backstory regarding the Fey Foundling feat, and will allow for some interesting roleplaying opportunities when I'm distracted or embarrassed by my pixie friends. The -4 to Initiative hurts, but is offset by the +4 to Initiative from his Wildfire Heart racial trait, and he'll still have +2 to Initiative from DEX. The 25% miss chance when retrieving stored gear is less troublesome, since it doesn't apply to drawing weapons or wands, and I won't be relying on scrolls, potions, or alchemical items in combat very often. But when it does come into play, it'll allow me to roleplay it as his scatterbrained pixies companions trying (and failing miserably) to help him locate the items, and merely serving to distract him in the process. The curse also grants access to a couple extremely useful spells that aren't on the Oracle or Paladin lists, like Faerie Fire and Glitterdust.

By Oracle 4, I'll have the following spells:

0 Level: Guidance, Detect Magic, Read Magic, Mending, Grasp, Create Water, Ghost Sound* (Pranked Curse Bonus)

1st Level 7/day: Recharge Innate Magic, Protection from Evil, Divine Favor, Cure Light Wounds* (Oracle Bonus), Detect Undead* (Life Mystery Bonus), Faerie Fire* (Pranked Curse Bonus)

2nd Level 4/day: Bear's Endurance, Cure Moderate Wounds* (Oracle Bonus), Lesser Restoration* (Life Mystery Bonus), Glitterdust* (Pranked Curse Bonus), Minor Image* (Pranked Curse Bonus)

Spells known and Spells Per Day can be improved with further CHA boosting items, Pages of Spell Knowledge, and Runestones of Power.

I'll also have a small handful of 1st level Paladin spells, starting at Paladin 4, useful for things like Bless Weapon, Hero's Defiance, and Resist Energy* (Oath against Fiends bonus spell - equivalent to a domain spell).

I will rely heavily on a Divine Favor wand for the first many levels, using it before almost every fight for an easy +1 to Attack and Damage. Eventually, once I hit Oracle 4, my caster level combined with Magical Knack trait will grant me +2 to Attack and Damage when I cast the spell myself.

During fights, I will do the typical Oradin thing, with Life Link and Lay on Hands. I'll focus on two-handed melee combat with a Greatsword or Earthbreaker. I can Vital Strike as a swift action for double base damage on turns when I'm not using my swift action for LoH. Smite Evil 1/day helps with lone big baddies.

In large/tough fights, I can Enlarge myself to gain 10' reach and bump up to 3d6 base damage. I'll roleplay that as tapping into both my Efreeti heritage and Ragathiel's righteous rage, growing into a devoutly angry Large-sized version of myself with reddish skin, fiery orange hair, and angelic glow, then dishing out some divine wrath. (Like a saintly red/orange Incredible Hulk.)

By Level 7, with Enlarge Person combined with Divine Favor, Vital Strike, and Power Attack, I can be doing something like 6d6+13 damage per round on normal hits, not counting STR-improving items, weapon enchantments, and Smite Evil bonuses.

In between-fights, I can "recharge" two of my abilities, which allows me to be useful for more than just one fight per day. The Recharge Innate Magic spell allows me to expend 1st Level Oracle spells to regain uses of the Enlarge/Reduce racial spell-like ability on a 1:1 basis. And a Meditation Crystal Channel Foci allows me to expend my weak Hospitaler Channel Energy charges (1d6+3 self and 1d6+1 other) to regain powerful Lay on Hands charges (3d6+7 self or 3d6+1 other) on a 1:1 basis. This practically doubles the number of LoH charges I get each day, provided I have a few minutes between fights to meditate.

I'll also have the separate Life Oracle Channel Energy pool (2d6+5 self and 2d6+1 other) for additional group healing in/out of combat, but I don't believe those can be used with a Meditation Crystal Channel Foci for regain LoH charges, since an Oracle doesn't necessarily draw their power from a deity and don't use a Divine Focus or holy symbol. I could be wrong about that, though.

Thoughts? Anywhere that you see any obvious improvements or interesting opportunities?

FFM does make a bit more sense in that context. Basically always purposely positioning the small cat directly in front of my archer's line of fire, when possible, to act as a screen.

And it looks like I could potentially have my cake and eat it too, thanks to the Inquisitor's "floating" teamwork feats. You can swap out the most recently gained bonus Teamwork feat multiple times per day, until you gain another bonus Teamwork feat, which "locks in" the previous bonus Teamwork feat.

So that would let me take Friendly Fire Maneuvers as my 3rd level bonus feat at first. Then at the Cat's Level 4, go +1 INT for 3 total, allowing it to take any feat for which it qualifies. Just before leveling up to 6th level, I swap and "lock in" Coordinated Shot as my final choice for 3rd level Teamwork feat, and choose FFM as my 6th level bonus Teamwork feat at first. Finally, at Cat's Level 8, I have my Cat take Small Frame as its feat, and swap my 6th level Teamwork feat over to Improved Spell Sharing.

This way, I get the benefit of FFM from Archer's Level 3 up until Cat's Level 8 for "free". And after that point, I now have the benefit of both Coordinated Shot and Improved Spell Sharing, as well as Low Profile negating all soft cover from my Cat from then on, just like FFM did (with the added bonus of a +1 to the Cat's armor class).

On the other hand, I could just say "forget it" with regard to Coordinated Shot's +1/+2 bonus to hit altogether, go FFM at 3rd and call it good, and just have the Cat take Combat Reflexes and put the +1 to DEX.

I'm thinking that by 8th level, the extra bonus to hit may potentially not be a make it/break it deal (in light of magic item bonuses, spells, Animal Focus, increased BAB, etc.), and may not be worth the cost of my Cat's first ability score bonus as well as one of its feats.

Grandlounge wrote:
Huntmaster is a pretty bad feat. There are a ton of items and options to help with animal handling if you need it.

Granting my AC an instant extra level is pretty bad? I disagree...

The bonus to Handle Animal isn't the point. It's just gravy to the +1 AC level:

You gain a +2 bonus on Handle Animal and Knowledge (nature) checks with creatures of that type of animal. Furthermore, you are treated as one level higher when determining the abilities of your animal companion or mount, as long as it is of the chosen type.

So if I abandon the 1 level dip (which I was dubious about anyway), then ditch Spirit's Guide (which means losing that DR 5 for 1 min/day :( ) and move all the archery feats up, that would look like:

1st: Feat: Point Blank Shot. Bonus Feat: Precise Shot.
3rd: Feat: Huntsmaster/Rapid Shot. Teamwork Feat: Coordinated Shot.
5th: Feat: Rapid Shot/Huntsmaster.
6th: Teamwork Feat: Improved Spell Sharing.
7th: Feat: Bullseye Shot/Deadly Aim
9th: Feat: Manyshot Teamwork Feat: ????

I'm not sure I see the usefulness of Friendly Fire Maneuvers over Coordinated Shot or Improved Spell Sharing. It only negates soft cover for my AC, since unlike a standard Inquisitor, Sacred Huntsmasters only share teamwork feats with their AC.

And I think the likelihood of my AC being the sole one in the way AND my character and/or AC is unable to maneuver around to eliminate that is probably much less likely than situations in which my AC is threatening an enemy for the Coordinated Shot bonus.

Plus, if I do find myself in a situation where both myself and my AC can't maneuver for a clear shot, then I can eliminate that soft cover penalty by taking Bullseye Shot as my 7th level feat, spending my move action for +4 to hit, thus offsetting the -4 from soft cover. In addition, that would also serve to offset the penalty if *anyone* was providing soft over, not just my AC alone as with FFM. Plus, it would further serve as help against high AC opponents with no cover.

I guess if I really wanted to replicate Friendly Fire Maneuvers' mechanic, I guess I could use my AC's 4th level ability bump to move its INT to 3, and then have it take the Low Profile feat, which means that as a Small creature it wouldn't grant soft cover.

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I'm creating a new Level 1 Pathfinder character, and have decided to go with a Ranged Inquisitor. I'm planning for a Sacred Huntsmaster of Pharasma. Sort of an ultra orthodox ranger/hunter, focusing on Parasma's role in the "circle of life" in nature, as well as a zealous investigator of necromancy and destroyer of undead. In addition to the ranged combat, he will also excel as a Knowledge monkey and Face.

It's a 20 point buy. Unknown party members. I don't expect this campaign to get to Level 10+, but it might.

Here's what I've come up with so far, for the first 8 levels:

STR 14
DEX 17
CON 14
INT 12
WIS 14

Savannah Child Trait: +1 to Handle Animal and becomes Class Skill.
Deft Dodger: +1 to Reflex save.

Domain: Conversion Inquisition, which lets me use my WIS modifier in place of CHA for Bluff/Diplomacy/Intimidate. (I'm thinking the low CHA but high social skills means he's somewhat creepy and off-putting in appearance, yet very well-spoken and emphatic.)

1st: Feat: Spirit’s Gift. Bonus Feat: Point Blank Shot.
2nd: Favored Class Bonus: Extra 0 level spell known.
3rd: Feat: Precise Shot. Teamwork Feat: Coordinated Shot. Favored Class Bonus: Extra 0 level spell known.
4th: +1 DEX. Favored Class Bonus: Extra 1st level spell known.
5th: Feat: Huntsmaster. Favored Class Bonus: Extra 1st level spell known.
6th: Teamwork Feat: Improved Spell Sharing. Favored Class Bonus: Extra 1st level spell known
7th: Feat: Rapid Shot. Favored Class Bonus: Extra 2nd level spell known.
8th: +1 WIS. Favored Class Bonus: Extra 2nd level spell known.

Skills: Smattering of points in the various Knowledge skills, occasionally useful physical skills (climb, acrobatics, swim, etc.), and secondary social skills (Sense Motive, Bluff). Focus on Perception, Survival, Stealth, Handle Animal, Intimidate, Diplomacy.

Will be using Light Armor, Buckler, and a Composite Longbow (+2 DMG from STR). Buckler and Morningstar as backup melee, but I plan to avoid melee when possible.

I'll be going with the Small Cat (Lynx/Bobcat) for my Animal Companion, with a focus on maximizing DEX. That way, no matter what the rest of the party looks like, I have a built-in off-tank with high AC and DR 5/Adamantium thanks to Spirit's Gift. It'll have high mobility for screening, and high to-hit (albeit with relatively low damage) for precision strikes with effects like Trip as well as Shaken and Entangled, once I teach it a few of the alternate Skirmisher tricks.
1st: Weapon Finesse.
2nd: Toughness.
4th: Skip size increase. +2 to DEX and CON. +1 to DEX
5th: Power Attack.
8th: ???? Feat

What are your thoughts on this build? Any suggestions?

I also had the (admittedly sorta crazy) idea of a 1 level dip into Divine Marksman Ranger from the Weapon Master's Handbook. Most likely at Level 2. My Huntsmaster human racial feat will offset the loss of the 1 animal companion level. BAB will be unaffected. HP and Skills won't suffer. I'll be a level behind in caster level, but since I'm focusing mostly on buffs, caster level isn't as imperative. I'll also be a level behind in Teamwork feats, but that's also less important since there's a dearth of decent ranged Teamwork feats. The one level delay in spells per day, Animal Focus, and Bane could hurt more...

I'll be mainly taking it for the free Bullseye Shot feat, for which you don't have to meet the prerequisites. That feat otherwise wouldn't be available until level 7. Granted, it will see less use once I pick up Rapid Shot at level 7, but seems like it would be very useful for levels 2-6, and still occasionally useful against higher AC enemies in levels 7+. With the build being rather feat-starved, this early extra feat could be worth it. In addition, I also like it from a roleplaying standpoint, further emphasizing that I'm a divinely-inspired archer, as well as allowing me to take Undead as a Favored Enemy to further highlight my role as an Undead Hunter for the Church.

If I decide to go that route, the Animal Companion progression would remain the same, but I'm thinking the character progression would likely look like:
1st SH1: Feat: Spirit’s Gift. Bonus Feat: Huntsmaster.
2nd DM1: Free Feat: Bullseye Shot.
3rd SH2: Feat: Point Blank Shot. Favored Class Bonus: Extra 0 level spell known.
4th SH3: +1 DEX. Teamwork Feat: Coordinated Shot. Favored Class Bonus: Extra 0 level spell known.
5th SH4: Feat: Precise Shot. Favored Class Bonus: Extra 1st level spell known.
6th SH5: Favored Class Bonus: Extra 1st level spell known
7th SH6: Feat: Rapid Shot. Teamwork Feat: Improved Spell Sharing. Favored Class Bonus: Extra 1st level spell known.
8th SH7: +1 WIS. Favored Class Bonus: Extra 2nd level spell known.

Do you think this alternate plan would be a waste for just an extra feat and some RP value, or is potentially it a valid addition?

Thanks for the thoughts and advice!