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My votes go to either Fighter or Sorcerer. Both pick a small number of abilities from a somewhat large pool and don't have too many skills to worry about.

The Fighter is simple because he relies heavily on passive abilities or simple math like power attack and combat maneuvers. While not incredible from a minmax perspective, it's easy to teach a newbie "roll the dice, these are your bonuses. You can hit harder but lose accuracy with power attack. That's your character. You are good at killing stuff and only need to roll the dice during combat." Even from a building perspective it is easy to understand that a Fighter needs Strength, Con, and maybe a little Dexterity. It just makes sense.

The sorcerer is very simple as well, especially if you help a newbie with spell selection. Since they know so few spells, they can just magic missile or scorching ray or whatever every round and still be effective until they run out of their daily spell allotment, which is easy to understand. Bloodlines aren't too complicated either and even if ignored don't impact the character enough to stop a newbie from playing one and feeling like he is contributing. Add this to only needing Charisma and Constitution and the character is hard to build wrong as well.

I haven't read much on the Slayer but it does sound pretty simple.

A lot of people say the Ranger is simple but between Favored Enemy and Terrain, more skills, spells, a potential animal companion, and dealing with persistent abilities like TWF/Rapid Shot (and potentially needing Precise shot to even be useful as an archer- classic mistake of rookies with archer characters) (TWF is also sub par but at least Rangers can pump Strength since they don't have to have 19 dex to qualify for greater TWF) and there is actually a bit to learn about the class. From a build perspective, balancing Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, and Wisdom is more difficult than just juggling Strength and Constitution, and archers in particular are very easy to screw up- without strength and access to weapon spec, even with deadly aim a bow can be very underwhelming. It's a breeze for experienced players, but for newbies a Ranger is very easy to screw up without proper guidance.

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I don't personally see a problem with the Effortless Lace since Ninjas are sort of underpowered anyway. I'm fine with him cranking out damage like he has been, because a third level Barbarian he fought hit him for like 21 with a Greataxe and brought him, a 5th level character, down to half health. The Ninja has also talked about picking up that Dex-based Power Attack (Prawna Strike?) and enchanting a weapon to deal damage with his Dex modifier, but these don't seem that overpowered still since a simpler build with a Barbarian or pretty much any spellcaster is probably just as, if not more effective. There's also the issue that since he's two-weapon fighting that his attack bonus will really start to lag behind later, as someone mentioned, especially if he's power attacking. As a side note, given that 3 out of the 4 party members use Dexterity as a primary stat, I wonder what throwing a Belt of Dexterity into the mix would do...

I also tend to design my final encounters to be rough but fair and challenging, going about 2 or 3 CRs above the party but with numerous monsters to make it more interesting. Since the Ninja and our Gunslinger are both veteran players, they quite enjoy these challenging combats, and as such I'm happy to give them the option to build well because even an intensify spell Magus would still find a decent challenge in my dungeons because of the encounter design (Free idea, by the way- a 30ft slick wooden fort wall that has to be climbed or approached by stairs inside the gate while 8 archers pepper the players with low cover from crenellations- where's your shocking grasp now?). I like to encourage good but open build types, though like most GMs would also prefer not to have stuff like the intensify spell Magus. However, this also sucks for the new guy because he isn't doing all the things that make his character great.

As a side note, I love Pathfinder's combats. They're more varied and intense thanks to the stronger character classes and additional feats. Our Gunslinger finally picked up Deadly Aim along with his 5th level Dex to damage from the class, and is a force to be reckoned with. I wish I could play more myself, but am perfectly happy to GM it as well. That being said I also really need to catch up on the new classes... like the Inquisitor, who now I at least have a decent understanding of.

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@Sundakan, I'm not sure why he bought a katana instead of another Wakizashi and I completely agree. Maybe he did it for flavor.

@Ravingdork, the shocking didn't get multiplied. The 2d6 is from the wakizashi hitting twice and the 9d6 is from his 3d6 sneak attack hitting 3 times.

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To answer everyone's question about the Ninja sneak attacking and doing so much damage, here's the math.

He was flanking an opponent with the NPC cleric, so he gets his sneak attack. He two-weapon fights with a Katana (He uses something called like an effortless ribbon(ultimate equipment I think) to make it a light weapon) and +1 Shocking Wakizashi (I rolled random loot for an impromptu session to save time and ended up getting a random minor loot roll--two consecutive 100's, and then rolled the shocking property from the loot generation in the core rulebook; I thought it would be a nice reward, if a bit powerful for the level), both of which have an 18-20 crit range. I don't remember if he crit or not, but he did hit his two attacks from two-weapon fighting and then used his swift action to get another swing.

As a 5th level Ninja, since all three flanking attacks hit, with the Shocking Wakizashi, he dealt a base of about 1d8+2d6+2+2d6+9d6, or 16-70 damage. Without the shocking, that's still 14-56 damage without a critical hit, though since his strength is a whopping 10 (as a Kitsune), a crit is only an extra d6 of damage anyway.

As for sneak attacking, invisibility does technically proc a sneak attack on the first attack if the opponent doesn't see you (as I ruled it), and midway through the session resolved that only one such sneak attack counts. Given that he can only use about 6-7 ki points a day, I don't see this as being overpowered or anything--by both of the final combats for each dungeon of the day, I asked if he went back to stealth at one point, only to hear "I'm out of points," which is a lovely thing to hear as a GM, honestly.

As for the Inquisitor, if he wants to rebuild I will suggest to him to play a Ranger or Slayer instead if he doesn't want to learn the class. I will also stop penalizing him for not showing up in terms of experience. Thanks to everyone for all the good input. I admit that it was my fault for not taking a larger part in helping him build his character and leaving it to one of my players instead.

@Sundakan, I recognize these things about the Inquisitor after reading about it and made a guide with recommendations on spells to choose, which abilities to use, and how to use them, including mentioning that now at 5th level he can do like 2d8+12+4d6 damage in a round if both his shots connect with rapid shot and he has the right buffs on with Bane. My concern is that the Inquisitor is very complicated even though I realize it is quite strong. It's ironic that a strong character sees a weaker character doing decent damage without realizing that he himself is already that strong.

As for the level, while he is a new player, it's also an incentive to keep him showing up. If everyone is the same level regardless, it seems less fair to everyone who always shows up. But maybe I'll bump him up or give him some bonus exp so he's not so behind.

But anyway, my concern is that the problem will continue because, as a newer player, he won't take the time to actually learn the class to play it. Which means he'll still just be a second class archer because he's not using his immense repertoire of abilities, and if he doesn't want to learn magic, he might as well play a Fighter, I guess. Which, I know, from a minmaxing perspective isn't fantastic, but it would be better for how he's playing the class.

I mean, the new guy didn't bother to read about the class at all. He only knew how to do Cure Light Wounds and make attack rolls. And that is really, really bad for an Inquisitor. I probably wouldn't have let him play the class if I had had a more active hand in him making his character (just like I probably would have restricted him to core races as well). I didn't know much about the class and figured he and the Ninja could handle learning the character. Clearly this was a mistake on my part. I understand the class now, but that just makes me worried more that he will basically just be a second class archer for the rest of the campaign. I gave him the option to rebuild, but I guess we'll see what happens.

As a side note, can anyone tell me classes apart from like Fighters and Sorcerers that are good for newer players? It seems like in Pathfinder most classes have a bigger learning curve from before and I'm not sure what to recommend to people.

Kileanna wrote:

I aggree with ChessPwn. Let him choose how many changes he wants to do to his character, if any. His race might be suboptimal, but that doesn't mean he cannot make it work.

Even if he is a bit unexperienced you can help him to understand his character better. Give him a list of good spells to start so he is not overwhelmed and let him know the basics before getting into more complicated stuff. Give him a list of good feats instead of a full list so he doesn't lfeel confused between too many options.
I have a new player in my game who is playing a druid, I'm doing this and it's working.
Also, make sure that he understand that damage is not everything. Inquisitors can buff, heal, etc. In combat, ninjas just deal damage. Even if the ninja's damage imput is high (and, having played a ninja I can say that it has a very variable damage imput) the Inquisitor has a lot of resources that he can enjoy using both in combat and out of combat.
Let him understand that the game is not a competition against other player but a team game.

Yes, and one thing we did try to explain is that the Ninja is also quite squishy with their d8 hit die; of course, this only went so far because the Inquisitor's Con is 12, and he also has a d8 hit die and chose skill points instead of HP each level.

I did attempt in the guide I sent him to explain that he has quite a repertoire of abilities available to him as an Inquisitor, as well as recommending spells, feats, and abilities to use to make himself better in and out of combat. He also picked up rapid shot this level, which will certainly help even if he just wants to do nothing but shoot things with his bow.

Chess Pwn wrote:

I say you're giving him the option to change stuff and explain why you'd think he'd want to. Then let him choose. If he wants to be useless, he can be useless.

Also, I wouldn't have the levels of the party be different. Have a level the party is at, so that missing a game isn't a permanent setback. had he been level 5 like the others he'd have had significantly more to work with because of bane.

Well, I like to use experience, but I agree that as a low level player, being a level behind can be difficult in a campaign designed for veteran players. While having bane would be great, part of the problem is that as a new player all he really knows how to do is shoot his bow every round- something better suited to a ranger or, even better, just a plain Fighter. The spells and abilities are overwhelming him, I think, whether or not he wants to admit it.

Prof. Löwenzahn wrote:

I usually only have minmaxing Players in my Group (I do it too I admit) so I appreciate flavor builds.

This however seems more like a mixture of bad decisions than flavor, so I would just tell him everything that is suboptimal and offer him to rebuild.

When you take the 2 vs. >40 damage gap into account, I think he will gladly take that offer and might be grateful for advice. If he doesn't want, you can't make him. He will regret it rather soon, when he starts falling behind even more. Maybe renew the advice then :P

I wouldn't say we minmax, but we build characters that make sense, like archers with the appropriate ranged feats. It's not his fault for not realizing that crossbows are pretty bad in the hands of anything other than the Bolt Ace archetype for Gunslingers (they add their Dexterity to damage), but I guess I should have taken a more active role in helping him build his character. I don't want to take his character away from him, but the way he's played so far would be better suited to a Fighter, since all he does is shoot arrows at things and use his racial Burning Hands spell.

I've been running my first Pathfinder campaign for the first time in a while, and I ran into an interesting issue with a new player a few days ago that I didn't really know how to address. I've been a DM for about 8 years of 3.5e, and 3 for Pathfinder. I'm not as familiar with Pathfinder yet as I was when 3.5 ended, and so I'm not as familiar with the wide range of classes available, especially since Pathfinder is so much more focused on base classes than prestige classes compared to 3.5e. My other two players are both long-time veterans of D&D, especially 3.5e, and I myself am running an NPC cleric of Gorum, while the two veterans are running a Gunslinger and a Ninja. The new guy is running an Inquisitor. The player of the Ninja invited the Inquisitor to play, and I told him that any class was fine so long as the Ninja helped him learn his character. This didn't go as well as planned.

So the players are assaulting this bandit fort because a double agent of a crime syndicate tipped them off that the bandits were working with the syndicate, and may have information about the syndicate. The characters are 5th level, except for the Inquisitor, who was 4th level because he missed a session. They get past the first group of archers on the wall by tanking shots on the approach, blasting open the gate's lock with the Gunslinger's grit ability, and then climbed the stairs on the other side. They clean them up and then proceed to fight these mercenary longspearmen. During this fight, the Ninja uses his invisibility trick (not a fan of this ability--very powerful for what it costs, since it essentially gives him a free sneak attack) to get around the flanks of one of the spearmen and uses that flank. Thanks to his sneak attack and some good rolls, he deals about 40+ points of damage in one round.

The Inquisitor, who is using a Repeating Crossbow, then fires one shot, and hits for 2 points of damage.
"He did about 42 points of damage that last round," he then says about the Ninja. To help him out, they gave him a Strength 2 Masterwork Composite Longbow to use instead, but even so, without rapid shot he was only doing about 1d8+2 (+3 with point blank shot) on a successful hit, which, given his 16 Dexterity, wasn't as often as he had hoped.

I admit that I didn't know much about the Inquisitor, and figured it to be sort of a divine Rogue. After the session, I read into the class and began to understand why the new guy was having some issues. Inquisitors have a lot to keep track of: Bard spell progression, Judgments, and at 5th level, Bane, as well as Teamwork Feats and a slew of other abilities. This is all on top of him trying to play a ranged character, which are difficult to pull off in the first place without the right stats and feats. Also unbeknownst to me until last session was that he was playing an Ifrit, but because I trusted my Ninja, I didn't catch this until he had already made the character and ran a session with it. Bad GMing on my part, I suppose. Alongside my research into the Inquisitor I discovered that Ifrits get a +2 Dexterity, -2 Wisdom, and +2 to Charisma, which is.. sub-optimal for an Inquisitor.

In response, I decided to send the Inquisitor a guide through email on his abilities to help him understand the class better. This is basically just a band-aid to the overall problem, though, if he even bothers to read it. I am contemplating allowing him a complete rebuild if he isn't enjoying his character because, being new, I want him to have fun instead of being locked into a character which will always seem or feel inferior.

So here's my question: Is it out of line for me as a GM to ask a player to retcon his character's race and class after he's played it for two sessions? Is it too strict of me to ask him to do these things if he's sort of attached to the idea? What do you GMs typically do when you have players who want to do weird things?

To me it sounds like they handled a difficult encounter poorly, and perhaps deserved to lose some people. However, a CR 8 encounter for a party level average of 6.5 should be difficult. This is a problem with single monster encounters of a CR higher than the players, though. Most of the time, the single monster will get nuked by the party. However, sometimes a single higher CR monster will nuke the party instead with its higher attacks and abilities.

I once ran a 1st level dungeon where the final monster was a wounded Barghest with 5HP remaining. It had 17 AC, so I figured perhaps between a Monk, Magus, an Alchemist, and an NPC (I can't remember what class it was), that they could handle it.

The barghest TPK'd them. I was stunned.

In general, the best encounters are ones with multiple enemies that wear a party down rather than ones that can take down a mostly healed Barbarian in one lucky critical hit. Giants of any kind, be they Ogres, Cyclopes, or actual Giants, kind of suck to fight against because of that potential for a one-shot critical hit kill on a player. Some people enjoy the risk, while most will be frustrated that their character got shut down by such a foe.

This happened to a fellow player in Rise of the Runelords. Some Ogre boss with a Human-bane Pick scored a critical hit against our Alchemist, the only Human in the room. He took the Alchemist down from full health to -30 or so, because of the x3 critical hit modifier on a power attack. He almost didn't want to continue the campaign because of how unfair it was, basically. And I can't say as I blame him. Now, our party didn't have an arcane caster, which could probably easily control the ogres, but because we didn't every fight against a giant was tough.

I am, however, confused as to how the Cyclops Ranger managed to pull her bow, shoot, and then drop and switch in one round. I guess if she already had it drawn, it could have been a standard action if she only shot once, I guess.

The multiclassed Druid/Ranger sounds like a sub-optimal character, and with a low constitution score and no toughness I could easily see him/her getting nuked by a cyclops with a greataxe. The Barbarian was just a victim of bad luck, I suppose, but then Barbarians don't typically have AC, so something with really high damage like that is a threat. Perhaps he shouldn't have charged.

At the end of it, your party did survive and it was a tough encounter (I'm still not sure if the druid lived or not, though). However, you may have not considered that large creatures get like a -4 to Stealth, and lower Dexterity on average as well, so the +17 may have felt a bit unfair to them given their target.

Hello everyone! I'm a college student and GM looking to expand my party of 2 to a party of 3 or 4. I'm running a Pathfinder campaign lightly simulating a Middle Eastern campaign, rife with deserts and men wearing turbans. At the moment, we're 7th level. We try to play weekly, usually on Friday evenings. In the party, we have the rogue and wizard role covered, with the fighter role covered by an NPC.
We mostly go for semi-character driven experiences, with a heavier emphasis on story rather than combat. Dungeon crawls are sparse, so if that's all you like to do, I don't recommend contacting me.
Contact me at ishihunter@gmail.com if you're interested. I will expect a Skype call and potentially a meeting before we actually start playing.