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I think you're missing the point. There are a lot of character options in Pathfinder. For an individual party niche only a few of these options would be considered optimal. If the GM is setting challenges to the ability of the party, why not pull back from the most optimal character concepts and try for more varied options? You'll still end up with the same level of challenge but maybe more diverse characters from campaign to campaign.

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Given that a GM will be tailoring encounters to a difficulty level appropriate to the party, I agree. And if it's an AP you don't need to be that well optimized anyway. It is a difficult mentality to break though.

Devant wrote:

I was always bothered with the way d20 tied BaB with level. Why should the lvl20 Expert librarian old man that never touched a blade have a BaB comparable to a heroic lvl15 Fighter? He shouldn't be lvl20 you say, since he never fought anything tougher than boredom and bookworms. Then how would he have the +25 to Knowledge (history) so fit for his role? "Just give him what's needed and don't bother" you might say. Well, I prefer a systematic approach, and since I found one that works fine for me, here it is:

Instead of a BaB bonus, at each level a character can gain a number of extra skill points as follows:

+3 for a fast BaB progression.
+2 for a medium BaB progression.
+1 for a slow BaB progression.

Thus, a lvl20 expert can have +2 maxed skills and 0 BaB, a caster character can choose to give up physical combat potential and a score of aimed spells for additional skill options and basically a multitude of non-combat NPCs can receive far more representative stats with a very simple rule that as far as I understand, doesn't break anything at all. What do you think?

EDIT: Of course, this requires tracking decimals of BaB. So for example, a lvl1 wizard has a 0.5 BaB and a lvl1 cleric gets 0.75. As normal, only the integral part counts for all intents and purposes other than tracking.

For what it's worth I agree with you. In a fantasy setting where warriors and mages gain abilities that far outstrip those of real world humans, the bookworm/researcher equivalent should also exist. An entire campaign taking adventurers to level 20 could take place in much less than one year. So, an elf that lives to be 500 can't have spent that entire time researching enough (non-combat encounters) to reach level 20? If he does, should this mean that he has more hit points and weapon skill than a low level warrior?

My solution to this was to use the NPC classes but limit their hit dice as they progress. An expert only gains 1 HD for every 5 levels they possess, for example. That way you are keeping the maths of the skill system and just slowing the progression of the combat baggage.

What level will your party start at?

I've also taken a stab at a homebrew full class theurge (for NPCs) so I have a couple of suggestions for you (at least to think about).

The theurge gets a very large number of spell slots relative to other casters. To reel this in a little, I gave them the wizard's spells per day progression but bonus spells from both Int and Wis. The bonus spells are the only ones that are forced to be either arcane or divine.

As Ciaran Barnes said, 9th level spellcasting is quite important, especially because they are still a d6 HD half BAB class. Like you though I thought that access to 9th level arcane and divine spells is a bit much. I gave my theurges 9th level spell slots but their spell list progress as a 6th level spellcaster and to a maximum of 6th level spells. They get bonus metamagic feats as they level to take advantage of the higher spell slots.

All up they get more spells per day than clerics or wizards and more versatility than clerics or wizards but their individual spells are of lower level (but more similar DC, assuming Heighten Spell).

Similar to lemeres, the Primal Companion Hunter with a dead animal companion has a lot of potential. I'd pick up immunity to acid, cold, electricity, fire and sonic damage and play a blessed nature spirit or something in a similar vein. Not the strongest option but interesting at least.

If you don't mind using 3rd party products then Thunderscape: the World of Aden has a monk archetype called the Sanguine Monk that fits the bill (it gets rage).

I like the idea. Tying it solely to the Magic domain is a good move. You're giving up a domain ability to switch stats so there is some sacrifice for the change.

I'd remove the +2 bonus on Knowledge and Spellcraft, mostly because they will be better than a normal cleric with those skills (and have more skills available) anyway.

Waves Oracle + Marid Bloodline Sorcerer.

The Freezing spells revelation lets you slow enemies for a round (1d4 rounds at level 11) if they fail a save and take cold damage from one of your spells. The oracle list lacks any decent spells for this. The marid bloodline lets you make all of your spells deal cold damage and gives you access to all the blasting spells you need. Magical Lineage with Fireball and Rime Spell would be solid.

Not as outright powerful as some combinations, for example you don't get a lot out of saves, but thematically cool while being a solid debuffer.

Sorry for the long post, this is something I've been thinking about a bit lately.

I think the biggest problem with any feats that allow you to use Dex as your main combat ability score is that the Agile weapon enhancement exists. Once you have enough money for this, spending the gold is probably better than a feat (unless you open up the use of non-finessable weapons) which makes using feats to solve the Dex problem less attractive. However, magical dexterity weapon doesn't really evoke a nice flavour.

These are the modification i've been thinking about:

Agile Warrior: Weapon Finesse and Agile Manoeuvers bundled together.

Balanced Weapons: These function the same as compound bows (in cost and function) but allow you to apply Dex to damage up to the limit of the weapon, this doesn't stack with Weapon Finesse. You never get an extra half Dex to damage when using these weapons two-handed. The weapons must be finessable and cannot be bludgeoning weapons. You apply the ACP of any shield you are wielding to your attack rolls.

With the changes above I've tried to achieve the following:

- Have Str remain on top of damage.
- Make Dex an option that doesn't require multiple feats or a massive gold investment to pursue.
- The trade-offs between Str and Dex even out with a similar gold investment (armour versus balanced weapons)

Comparing Dexterity to Strength normally:

- Dex gets you a higher AC earlier. By the time a Str-based character can buy decent armour (early) this evens out. This effectively means Dex gets higher touch AC but lower flat-footed AC. This is a trade-off.
- Dex gets a lower ACP, point in its favour though this will even out at early mid levels unless you are moving around in full plate. In line with this Dex gets higher mobility, a significant upside but most people will end up with mithril breastplates.
- Dex gets higher Initiative and Reflex saves. This is this biggest upside of Dex as a main combat ability score. For most martials (how I would build them) this is likely a difference of a couple of points.
- Dex makes you better at hitting in ranged combat as well as melee (arguably, still a huge feat investment to make ranged work well and a Str build can get a massive compound bow).

Yep. Wondrous item called the Veiled Eye.

Bluff bonus would fit depending on how zealous your PCs are. How badly do they want an answer? It would be similar to the part of Bluff that suggests the character wants to believe you, it works both ways (PCs/NPCs). This would be similar to police desperately trying to find the person responsible for a high profile murder.

Maybe if someone takes a level headed approach and uses the torture aspect of heal over a few days they don't get the Bluff bonus.

So all these class abilities reference class additions to a character rather than the character's total stat?

I guess the part that confuses me is the difference in wording between the two abilities. It seems like one specifically is calling out monk only levels replacing BAB while the other specifies that the monk portion of the total is what gets modified.

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I see mention of people dipping Maneuver Master fairly often in order to get the flurry of maneuvers ability. I'm interested in doing this but the wording on the ability seems to suggest that it would be suboptimal, using only monk level in place of BAB for CMB and not adding monk level to BAB from other classes.

Flurry of Maneuvers:
"The maneuver master uses his monk level in place of his base attack bonus to determine his CMB for the bonus maneuvers."

This is in comparison to the wording for the normal monk Flurry of Blows:
"For the purpose of these attacks, the monk's base attack bonus from his monk class levels is equal to his monk level."

Is there some obscure ruling I'm missing that is making this dip worthwhile?