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*** Venture-Agent, Australia—VIC—Gippsland 52 posts (53 including aliases). 1 review. No lists. No wishlists. 24 Organized Play characters.


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3/5 Venture-Agent, Australia—VIC—Gippsland aka nemophles

On later runnings, I gave my players masks to wear. I gave out the player handouts as well, but together with the name tents people clued in pretty quick to what each one was. It also made sure they remembered they had masks on, or at least on their forehead.

To bring the scenario to a close, I got them to write their report to the grand lodge with the prompt "What I learned from Wayangs is blankety blankety blank". Here is a random sample. I got varied responses, shuffled them up so they were anonymous, and then read them out for a laugh.

All my bits. Including my day schedule. I had Harjandi hand it over, and mention that she burned the edges so that it would look really old, because I like the absurdity, but also impress that Wayang are into old things, like silly traditions.

So there you go. That's how I made this my favourite scenario. Overall, the only thing actually taxing for the players was the RP during the debate, but that's something that might be true no matter what scenario for any newbie.

3/5 Venture-Agent, Australia—VIC—Gippsland aka nemophles

After reading other people's experiences, I decided to go another route. Hopefully someone else can use my ideas.

I found that doing up a
card for each debate tactic made things much easier. I never handed out the debating rules.

Admittedly, my designs could use a revision. As I put them out (and as Harjandi gave the players a crash course at a pre-debate mixer) I gave a quick description of what each one was. This was important, as I found that not every player actually knows what an allegory is or what 'presence' is actually supposed to entail. Also that some tactics work better/worse after others, such as how mocking someone after they deliver a logical statement makes you seem childish.

Then I set forth a number of other cards, representing the skills used. Since each card had a set of colours they could match to, the players very quickly figured out what goes where, and how they'd like it configured. People are much better at matching colours than words.

I made Flattery blue, so that it would match the mask of Bu Lo Dama, the charming pirate. These cards have had a lot of use, so they got a little beat up.

While technically each player is supposed to set their own skills, it was never once an issue as even on a six player table, they didn't fight for space. You end up with 2 skills left over. More often, I wasleft with one player without a relevant skill, even one that they could think to use for logic.

This does have the added benefit of allowing one player to match up the cards or they can work communally. Players that struggle with bookwork don't actually have to do any. I never asked them to recalculate their modifiers at this point.

I drew the Ante, and both teams' determination in thermometers. As the debate went on I 'upped the ante'. This all provides a concrete representation of the debate mechanics, so I didn't really need to explain much. I just said that you trade ideas back and forth, and that the stakes, or 'ante' get raised, and then if you lose a point you lose clout. The bias and seeding was done through narrative, through shenanigans at the mixer and spying on Eynemb doing his seeding.

In the end, even though I didn't take them through details, and certainly didn't bring up player handouts #2 and #3, the concrete representations allowed my players to catch on very quickly. Even if they didn't pick up the word determination, they already have a concept of 'health' so they'll just use that instead; they won't have to battle the confusion that a whole lot of new terms brings.

The fun of the debate, and I think it is very amusing, comes from using all the different tactics to say all sorts of silly things. If you get chased into making an emotional appeal, this provides a role-play prompt, a seed for an idea, so you come up with: "As a mother... think of the children!"
I know some GMs might hide all the mechanics and let the players say whatever they normally would, but in doing this you lose the scaffold. You lose the prompts that make players come up with wacky ideas.

The cards give you something to put an Eynemb token and a Pathfinders token next to, so that the players can keep track.

Since players don't really know the specifics of the history, coming up with debate topics can get difficult. So I framed the debate as being about a much larger, vague issue. This is good for any debate, really. I had the mayor introduce both teams, and the topic as: Should the Minatans help the Wayangs close the portal, and by extension should we aim for a Cosmopolitan or Isolationist society. This gave the players a lot more to go on.

I only got my players to recalculate their skill bonuses as they used the tactics. I would ask if they had any bonuses like skill focus or class features, but they usually didn't so I never had to worry. Otherwise when they were using a skill based on wisdom or intelligence, it would be the same difference each time to change it into a charisma skill, which made converting it easy to do on my end.

The debate also takes a fair while, given that people need to be given a bit of time to think on what to say, so players are able to either recalculate or think up arguments. Just so long as the debate topic is set before people are left waiting with downtime.

After the games, those players who saw the normal rules agreed that this all went very smoothly using cards, tokens, and meters. I should stress that I in no way reduce the debate to a card game. The point is to deliver an understanding of the system in an efficient way

You might consider that you can Sorcerer with 16 CHA quite comfortably if your offensive spells are the touch kind. Many touch spells don't require saving throws such as shocking grasp, frigid touch, Scorching ray, Polar ray, stricken heart, Vampiric Touch.

For the rest, buffs are fine. Haste, false life and enlarge person don't care about your CHA. You can be quite confident without that racial bonus. Later on you get a heap of headbands and buffs anyways so who cares about +1. Play whatever race/class combo seems fun. You can't let races be class locked over a +1 modifier bonus.

Also, touch spells aren't really hurt that much by low BAB. CR 8 Gorgon has touch AC 9. CR12 Green Dragon has 8. CR 17 Gristly Demodand has touch AC16. Sure, a quickling might be hard to hit but how many of those do you fight really?

Air0r wrote:

As a DM, I generally open the floodgates and tell my players "play whatever you want, even 3PP. Just let me see what you want to do first."

Asa DM, I generally just give the players Core Rulebook and whatever supplements I have on hand. They just get confused by optional, extraneous and cross referenced rules on d20pfsrd, and forget what their character can actually do. Do you not experience this and how do you avoid it?

A touch spell upgraded with reach will be lost if your attack misses, and subject to shooting into melee penalties. A melee touch which misses (very likely when dealing with concealment or blur) you can try again next round. Move actions are very useful for pulling out that metamagic rod you are using, so you either have to always have that rod in hand, or have planned ahead to next round; not every GM is happy to put rods in spring loaded wrist sheaths. Also you can move around with your move actions to get a better shot or step out of danger instead of standing there like a chump. Just some things to consider.

Orfamay Quest wrote:

As per the recent FAQs, people can still see you casting spells even if you cast them without materials, stilled, and silent. Apparently the sparkles and Disney Dust give it away anyway.

This is true.

When casting a spell that has only somatic components, Secret Signs allows you to roll sleight of hand, opposed by perception, to prevent others from noticing your spellcasting - with a -2 penalty.

It also gives you a +4 bonus on bluff checks to pass secret messages, and we all know how often GMs remember to ask for those. It is my favourite feat.

Extra thing to note: While it's all well and good to be saying Aram Zey'z focus or Sense Vitals give you roguish abilities, everyone can see you casting spells. Rogues don't cast spells. The feat Secret Signs (Inner Sea World Guide) offers a great way to utilize eschew materials and silent spells (Deaf oracle dip...?) into a very expensive secret spellcasting.

The Cyphermage prestige class (Inner Sea World Guide) gets 4+ skills a level, and Disable Device, Climb, Perception and UMD. That gets you more in the skillful rogue realm. Detect magic will help you see magic traps, right? I actually don't know the answer to that. You can always dispel magic on them.

Traits, you take Highlander for stealth and Canter for Bluff.

The enchantment school with give you a bluff bonus, so will a carnivalist rogue's pet viper, or the transmutation school helps you get free dex bonuses. Get good at at least one one these.

The spell Sense Vitals from Dirty Tactics Toolbox gives you a lesser sneak attack! Zounds!

Arcane Armor training, mock armor (UE) or glamers make it look like you are wearing armor as normal.

So you combine all this with the scrollmaster wizard archetype, and you can be a Highland speaking sneaking gentlemanly character, and old fellow who smacks people on the back of the head with a rolled up newspaper/scroll, then climbs up a fire escape and picks the lock on someone's door, disables the alarm, then lies about it. Any spellcasting can be done from a scroll, because as a charismatic rigue, you totally got the UMD, why, you're even chucking out a few cleric spells. That's all a rogue does, right?

Just gonna point out that Iron Will cannot be taken at level 2; it is not a combat feat.

Martin Weil wrote:

@nemophles: You do not need to have a 13 Int to Trip, you need the 13 Int to take the feats in the chain so you don't provoke when tripping.

Anyone can trip. Even creatures with animal intelligence can trip, see the Wolf, it is one of the benefits of a Wolf Animal Companion.

The reach weapon option was to avoid being in range of the AoO provoked by the trip attempt, without having to raise Int to 13.

Yes, I wasn't clear. Nonetheless, if you want tripping to be a useful combat trick, you should get 13 int and improved trip.

OP wanted to have a character who is carrying around a scythe in combat. Scythes are non-reach weapons. Answering the OPs question of "I want to use a scythe, how can I?" with "Use a guisarme" is silly. Answering "Should I maximise for tripping?" with "Here's how to do it in an ineffectual way" is just as silly.

An undersized reach polearm technically works for distanced tripping without dropping a scythe. It won't work reliably with a -2 penalty, lacking the feat and weapon training bonuses and has to constantly be drawn and dropped. At level 7, a scythe fighter can trip with the main attack, succeed, and strike with their extra attack with the target on the ground, and make their attack of opportunity with their main scythey weapon. That isn't feasible if you intend to use an undersized guisarme in one hand to do it. At best you will trip up an escaping mook, which is fun, but not crucial. If OP has time and desperate need to start pulling out little guisarmes and make feeble trip attempts, they'd be better off chucking a tanglefoot bag.

Wolves can trip without provoking because they have another special ability that allows them to. OP is not making a druid nor a ranger. If OP is going to make trip attacks, then OP will need to find a way for a fighter to do it.

Many enemies will have reach and will threaten 10ft away. A reach weapon will not help there. The feat chain has 2 +2 bonuses to make tripping much more reliable. Greater Trip will make enemies provoke AoOs, so that tripping becomes more powerful as an option. You can trip without having combat expertise and the feat tree. You can also do melee attacks with 10 Str and Dex, you can play a wizard with a starting intelligence of 12. you shouldn't plan your build around that. That's what you get down to when the plan has failed and the party is circling death. If want want to focus on getting feats, making it a main part of combat, and doing it competently, then you should make sure you get the feats required to do it well, and those require 13 int.

Headband of intellect with Stealth as the skill?

If you are actually intending to invest in it. Stealth is very much a matter of being either in or out. What it might be is a second thing you can do, that is, scouting and trapspotting (but not trap breaking). It is good to have a secondary thing you can do, stealth or diplomacy or intimidate or animal handling. Some players become annoyed that after making their fighter or barbarian that the only thing they actually do all game is hit things.

Feat listing

In core, the combat feat lists aren't so extensive, and "trap options" aren't really there. Mounted combat is probably out of the question with no handle animal. Shields, Improvised weaponry and unarmed strikes are not your focus. Other than that, any "combat" feat is an entirely reasonable option.

Also, no. A large scythe is unwieldable in CORE. You would need to take the Titan Fighter archetype to do that.

Becoming Enlarged, however, is always fun.

There really isn't a bad option with a core fighter. Just get whatever really. You already have Power Attack, which is the only thing obligatory.

Tripping is fun and useful, Particularly against a high AC enemy. You cannot trip without Combat Expertise, which requires 13 intelligence. If you need more, consider dropping dexterity to 14.

Craft (Traps) is an interesting choice.

What you could do is get Skill Focus Stealth and Stealthy as feats, and then capitalize on your armor training and high dex and become the World's Stealthiest fullplate wearing fighter, and blow people's minds. This does mean you might need the extra skill point. Can't stealth up without perception. Elixers of Hiding, Clock of Elven Kind. You will be a badass, so long as you are happy to scout ahead of the group. Won't work at level 1. At level 7 you could be at +17 or +22 stealth in ordinary full plate! And let's be honest, you picked scythes because you want to look cool.

What you should actually do to play it straight is get Step Up, which makes fighting casters a lot easier. They tend to 5-foot back so they can cast without provoking. Step Up prevents that.

Nimble Moves is also really cool, because it allows you charge through that one square of difficult terrain and 5-foot step up stairs. Its one of those feats where you don't realise how useful it is until you have it. There are Non-core spells and items that will replicate this. But Core, oh man, Nimble Moves is sweet.

Vital strike will get you +5 damage average on all those times you can't full attack. That is more often than theory crafters would like to admit. Lunge is also very useful at level 6.

At level 9 you take Improved Critical. Only exception is if you are using *keen* spells or enchantments.

Don't poohpooh weapon focus and weapon spec. You stretched for 18 Str over 16 Str because you wanted the +1 attack and +2 damage.

You are lacking a ranged weapon. Get some throwing weapons or a big composite bow. Get an antitoxin, a rope and a grapple, a potion of CLW. The clerics won't always be around.

Magic Splagic

Elixers of Vision are the best consumable item in a dungeon crawl, if you are the lookout. +10 bonus for an hour.

Spell storing weapons are the best weapons. Not because you will cast spells, but because you will have a wizard friend who will.

That' how I read it as well, but I've only ever seen it done so that the rage just carries on through. I also would like to see it clarified.

That would also change the viability of rage powers that are supposed to help on the enemies turn, like spirit totem or superstitious. It does also mean that these other party members might maybe possibly be rage-cycling for free. As in, those powers can be used once per rage, but what they are actually getting is many recurrent one turn rages.

Double barrel muskets will enable two attacks, at least for the first round. Any gunslinger that isn't an archetype could use a musket as well as a quick reloading pepperbox. You are allowed to have more than one gun.

You don't need to full attack to have functionality. Frankly I think guns should never be swift or free action reload, and I agree that this archetype is the suck. When spending time crafting all that expensive ammo, you might want to make each shot count, and guns should be slow firing anyway, because that way they aren't Bows+.

Gunslingers at higher levels can take Vital Strike and Improved Vital Strike for extra damage if they can't full attack. The also get a deed Dead Shot, which is like vital strike but with crazy increased accuracy.

Laureth wrote:

just shut this one down with an answer? This comes up constantly and I'm sure it's already been answered...

I still want to know how to stand up to thug rogues and H'Orc barbarians with Terrifying Howl, and bugbears with that feat chain that gives free intimidations...

PCs are not immune to being given the shaken condition. I suppose this devil could intimidate the PC to lower their diplomacy skill checks by 2, by shouting and waving his clenched fists everywhere whenever they're asked for anything like that boss we've all had once. It's not a penalty that's really worth investing yourself in fighting. Just get skill focus diplomacy or bluff, and you're at a net bonus of +1 or +4!

Unless the NPC is a barbarian with terrifying howl, or has the disheartening display feat. That's the only time you'd need to worry. They probably won't.

nemophles wrote:

What kind of acts would make this Scion of Neutrality paladin fall?

Ok, I just decided what makes them fall. It's if the TN paladin ever does anything nice to anyone while some authority figure tells them to, because that's lawful good. But also if the do anything nice to someone while someone tells them not to, because that's chaotic good. If they do something nice, they need to do it specifically while nobody has any opinion on whether they should or not.

Or, they are doing something from an internal emotional state, which is chaotic. But if it helps anyone, then that's CG, so they fall. And if it hurts anyone, that's CE, so they fall. They need to only follow emotions that have no effect on anyone, or specifically hurts someone while helping someone. And of course, they need to include their own welfare in the equation, or else they could be acting self-interestedly, which is evil.

So, maybe they act emotionally, killing one person and saving another!
Oh, but you see, That is what adventurers do all the time anyways. Slay a dragon, get it's gold. Dragon loses, adventurers win. Rob a bank, get gold. Bank loses, PCs gain gold. Catch a bank robber. Robber loses, bank wins. Get into a bar fight. Win or lose, someone wins and someone loses.

Some things are not zero sum games. Trading for example. Everyone wins. That's good. But he can't smuggle, because that'd be chaotic. And if he doesn't smuggle, that'd be lawful. SO he has to smuggle sometimes. Just like every other opportunistic adventurer that ever existed in this game. Oh, what a strict and powerful code they must follow.

graystone wrote:

nemophles: Smite is easily done as those that have no neutral alignment component. That means LG, LE, CE, CG. Only 1 more than smite good.

As to the rest, a code of conduct is a code of conduct no matter the alignment. I fail to see why LG would be the only valid one.

What kind of acts would make this Scion of Neutrality paladin fall? Doing the same thing too many times on a row? Or doing anything ever with any effect? I wouldn't use these dual extremity smites because it doesn't actually lend the class or the player a position other than apathy or opportunism. The players have to come up with an actual ideal, and "I just love neutrality" does not make for a good paladin code; It doesn't actually lend itself to any position on any moral dilemmas, and leaves the players the freedom to just do whatever. Smiting specific opposing ideologies is an effort to maintain actual flavour for a potentially deflavoured class.

Of course there are codes of conduct that aren't LG. I provided instances of codes that aren't LG in my post. It is a challenge to come up with a neutral paladin code that is worth having in your game. Go on, come up with some, like I did, and contribute the thread.

I reckon the value of the class, and the paladins code, is that it should be difficult and require sacrifice and vigilance and trials. My entire post was saying that you could come up with some, but most of the worthwhile TN codes you come up with are codes that could be called LG or CE if you adjust the setting slightly.

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Does the game really need another class for people who just want to hit monsters and not think to hard about right or wrong? Not really. Morals can mean a lot of things, but without needing to adhere to a code of morals, what is the point of a paladin? Any worthwhile paladin code can be conceptualized as LG.

The worst thing that might happen is that players are going to make apathetic paladins, who just go around being shameless opportunists, doing jobs for tyrants and then saving orphanages all the while getting paid and paying lip service to "Balance", and of course they are contributing to 'balance' by not fighting consistently for one side. Or even worse saying "I'm TN, I just don't care. Oh look, monsters! I smite them!" This takes out the entire fun and point of the paladin class, which is to be zealous and moralistic, and the challenge of playing a paladin is to have a harder road to walk, and have deep convictions that aren't easy to live up to. Example, you are obliged to accept a surrender, even though killing will benefit you more. You are obliged to not steal, even though it would be so easy and profitable. That is what makes the class engaging to play. The paladin should not gain extra smiting powers and saves because they took the easy option of accepting payment for mercenary work and running away when it got too hard.

If a player came to my game asking to make a TN paladin, I would assume they want to be able to smite good and law and chaos as well, and have no actual moral restrictions or imperatives, which is a recipe for a s~$* character, both for storytelling purposes and for mechanical balance. They could have just as easily made a cavalier or a fighter, or a warpriest, but then chosen Paladin because it seems more powerful.

My stipulation for making such a TN paladin, which I would do very hesitantly, is that they need to pick a deity or ideology with a very strong, demanding and specific ideology, and that ideology must be relevant to the campaign at hand. Then the smiting only be opposed to that deity's specific portfolio. For example, a Paladin of Pharasma would get smite undead / Smite fateless. If we aren't playing a campaign about undead and or people who time travel to alter history and the future, where people create undead a lot and it is accepted and useful, then clearly your character isn't going to be relevant to the story. A paladin of the Green Faith should have "Smite Civilized", and being in town should be disgusting.

In these campaigns, we might as well have rearranged our morality so that being a good person meant acting in accordance with your fate, or tearing down civilization, no matter how enticing it might be go renegade. We can do this with many ideologies. Does a paladin need to be chaste? In some settings chastity is virtuous. You might conceptualize chastity as being denying of humanity and evil. It doesn't matter, but the campaign should have an idea of something to call "good", that should be difficult to live up to completely, and can be made up of enforceable edicts and ethics that can be turned into a code.

If paladin players aren't required to live up to a code, one which doesn't benefit them (and therefore can't really be called 'good' at a stretch), then you haven't added anything to the game, you've only taken away the thing that makes the paladin it's own thing. What good is that?

The is a forum called "Advice".

Multiclassing isn't always necessary to do what you are trying to do. Traits will get you class skills, and you can always just build you character in one class with a few unorthodox options thrown in.
What are you trying to make? A sneaky archer? An raging wilderness expert?

Necro_y2k wrote:

Thank youuuuu! im taking notes.


Karmic Sorcerer Bloodline:

Bloodline Arcana: If you are casting defensively because a creature is threatening you and you fail your concentration check, one of the creatures that is threatening you provokes an attack of opportunity from you or from one ally who is adjacent to the enemy. You decide which creature provokes this attack and which of its adjacent opponents may make the attack.
Run up to your enemy, fail to cast Arcane Mark, give the others free attacks. If you accidentally succeed, your can draw something on your enemies face. Have 11 Charisma so you don't accidentally succeed.

thats really cool, using quicken spell metamagic feat + magical lineage trait can i generate 3 atacks of oportunity per round??? O_0

i still have to fail the checks but I can use alcohol or another drugs to get more penalties.(can i choose to fail?)

I know a psychic spellcaster take a massive penalty, I think -10, to cast psychic spells defensively. 1 level of karmic sorcerer, 1 level of psychic, you only need cantrips anyway. Or be a psychic with eldritch heritage, GM permitting.

Sounds like a tonal mismatch. The players wan't to play a lighthearted romp, while you the GM wan't to play a serious gritty story. A silly campaign with a silly story can be every bit as engaging. Example, the BBEG could be a childhood TV character. It's humorous, but the players can easily recognize what is what. They notice it, have a laugh. Then they start dropping and then they get concerned. But since it is a silly campaign, they try to do creative things like try riding Thomas the Tank Engine, and disabling him by pulling his breaks. Let them do this. Laughs are had and everyone is engaged with the game.

I have in the past had 'problem' players who just get distracted easily and start extra-game conversations. This is easily rectified by telling the player to roll a perception check, addressing them directly. If they fail, tell them they don't see it. If the roll high, tell them, and them specifically, that they notice something interesting about the room or enemy. Either way, addressing the directly commands and regains their attention. This is a good solution when it's just one player, if it is the whole group then adjust to the group's speed.

The Fire Shield spell, or Chill shield alternative.
You immolate yourself in fire. Creatures that attack you with their body or a handheld weapon take 1d6+caster level in either cold or fire damage. (sorc/wizard)

Karmic Sorcerer Bloodline:
Bloodline Arcana: If you are casting defensively because a creature is threatening you and you fail your concentration check, one of the creatures that is threatening you provokes an attack of opportunity from you or from one ally who is adjacent to the enemy. You decide which creature provokes this attack and which of its adjacent opponents may make the attack.
Run up to your enemy, fail to cast Arcane Mark, give the others free attacks. If you accidentally succeed, your can draw something on your enemies face. Have 11 Charisma so you don't accidentally succeed.

Bloodline Powers: Your blood responds angrily when you are attacked.
Fate's Retribution (Su): Starting at 1st level, when you are hit by a melee attack, as an immediate action, you can curse the creature that struck you. The target takes a –2 penalty on all attack and damage rolls for 1d4 rounds. A Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 your sorcerer level + your Charisma modifier) negates this effect. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Charisma modifier. This bloodline power replaces touch of destiny.

A black blooded oracle can spurt blood at people after getting stabbed. It deals 1d8+ 1/2 level in cold damage - 1/2 level times per day. Immediate action touch attack.

A flame kineticist deals 1/4 level in fire damage to anyone who attacks with a natural or unarmed strike, with options to increase. Also dishes out extra fire damage on when grappling. Melee weapons are also affected, but hardness saves most of them. Maybe useful against that wizard archetype that hits people with scrolls.

A karmic monk gets bonus to attack and damage against things that strike them first. Not exactly free, but thematically congruent.

Barbarians can take Spirit totems. It isn't specifically tied to taking damage, but it is a free charisma based attack on foes around you. You could just stand there Antagonizing people or Howling Terrifyingly, chugging potions you waving a wand of CLW, or even going fetal, and just let the spirits dish out free damage.

When players start rolling sense motive checks, then that is the time you start rolling bluff checks, not before. Or you never roll anything and have NPCs take 10 on their bluffing, or use a mixture of these two methods. Either way, you don't need to roll bluff checks before a sense motive because it will either never get challenged or tell the players to start rolling sense motive.

You should also roll "bluff checks" if the NPCs are telling the truth, since if you usually roll a bluff chck when they are lying, the lack of rolling will indicate truth through metagaming.

I think that you should actually ask for a sense motive checks in those same situations that you specifically afford the players a perception check: To avoid a sneak attack, or when when the situation is super friendly, or if you have a new player who doesn't realize they can do a thing. In this case, to intercept a secret message "attack out guests", or "McClardy is clearly smitten with Grognar". But not to see hidden compartments or traps, and not to get extra nuggets of information.

Having the guards react to the player's incredulity can give you material to work off for improvised dialogue, but doesn't actually need to hurt the party. You can have the guards say things like "Look, I know everyone is on edge, but..." or "I know you have little reason to trust us, but hear us out." NPCs don't actually need to suddenly hate the party for that, and don't need to drop down a diplomacy level, but can be narratively valuable.

If I am barding it up, and in full detective mode, I don't want to be told when to make Sense Motive Checks, because then I know I am missing something. It is very fun to go through the rollercoaster of being betrayed and thinking "Old Man McClardy?! I never suspected! But it makes so much sense..." but even if I am given the metagame knowledge and told something is up, and even if I am a mature person who separates in game and out of game knowledge, it sort of takes something out of the experience. It also makes me, nemophles the detective, feel more engaged when I need to do some actual puzzle solving and if I am the one to think 'this guy might be lying', then I the player feel more reward for getting the extra information.

Other things that sense motive can be used to get that aren't specifically anti-bluff:

  • The person's primary or underlying emotional motivation. This comes up a lot more when the GM isn't a budding Thespian. Is the NPC look jealous, envious or covetous? Disguisted, afraid or peturbed? Loving, or Lustful? There are subtleties that rolling a sense motive check allows you to get clearer info on, and can be fun or useful knowledge to have
  • Specific avenues that a NPC might find more compelling, such as "Willing to listen to a religious argument" or "Clearly cares a lot about displays of personal wealth" or "Is irate and will listen more to intimidation that argumentation". Often it is good to roll prior to bluffing so you can come up with something that doesn't make the table go why...
  • What does the NPC seem to really want out of the situation, safety, money, prestige, a warm bed?
  • How do these NPCs really feel about me. Are they suspicious, are they relieved, or are they opportunistic?.

I suppose in many ways sense motive is used to get plain language descriptions in those times when the GM doesn't have the full acting range and the player is not a mind reader.

Dammit, I jsut realized you can't furious focus on your bonus hits. THat reduces your bonus by an extra 2 at level 7. That's another -10% chance to hit on the dice. SO the adjustment should be 65%. That puts standard Barb dmg output at 39.6. And of course, you can always just NOT vital strike during those rounds that you don't need the extra move action, if that suits you.

And an enlarged Full-Round Attacking Barbarian, who had the time for someone to cast it on him, or quaffed or whatever, 3d6+19+.65*3d6+19, average (48.68). Without Vital Strike,but quaffing this is 3d6+19, This 29.5. is 7.5 damage higher, but cannot be used at any time the barb has to move, including the first round they are waiting for the enlarge.

"I have to move around, Draw a weapon, ready an action..etc"
Vital: 35 dmg, Non-Vital: 24.
+11 in favour of Vital Strike

"I have to move action to quaff Enlarge Person. Then maybe readied for a spellcaster or charge"
Vital: 44, Non-Vital: 29.5
+10.5 in favour of Vital Strike

"I can just sit here and full attack, I'm regular size"
Vital: 35, Non-Vital: 39.6
+4.6 in favour of not using vital strike.

"I can just sit here and full attack, I'm Enlarged"
Vital: 44 Non-Vital: 48.68
+4 in favour of Non-Vital Strike.

Extra consideration: when readying against an attack coming to you, you will likely recieve an AoO as they move through your giant reach. This is an extra 19.18 damage after accounting for accuracy, vs the 0 extra damage from the no AoOs you get from charging a monk. Extra Bonus, you can vital strike alongside the 'Ready action to attack and then 5ft away so I never get hit in combat" routine, if you are into that.

Overall, doesn't it seem like this build should take vital strike, but then just not use it when it's better to full attack, and use it for all those times it is? If I had a feat called "Any time you are not able to get a full-attack, you get plus a +10 damage bonus" people would be all over it.

You can move to your enemy with a move action. I would say that being able to actually use your melee abilities against an enemy rather than swinging at air is an excellent bonus, a valuable trade off against a -5 attack, and a good use of Vital Strike.

A drunken rager can consume potions or alcoholic beverages, giving free rages or spell effects, as a move action. They can also intimidate, and Antagonize as a rage power as a move action. I would say this is a good time for V.S, as well as a good trade of against a -5 attack.

A musket using gunslinger will often get one attack in a round, with reload times being a move at minimum. I would say that having a loaded gun and firing is worth a vital strike, and a good trade off against going into melee to get that sweet sweet -5 attack with your bayonet.

While not a common move among players, if you have excellent acrobatic skills (and a fighter can do this in full-plate), you can tumble away from an enemy with multiple attacks such as a monk or an octopus, dishing out a vital strike and then preventing the enemy from getting their full-attack. Changing the fight from "My full attack vs. Monk Flurry" into "My Vital strike vs. this monk's one unarmed strike" is an excellent payoff, and totally worth giving up your extra -5 attack. Even if you aren't an excellent tumbler, moving away from a monk is often worth then AoO.

Sometimes you want to ready an action. You might be waiting for someone to charge you, instead of doing the untactical thing of charging them. Bonus if you are using a polarm with brace, and are standing protecting squishies. Sometimes you just can't reach your enemies in a turn, but know they will come to you. Sometimes you really want to disrupt a spell, so you ready to get your attack for when they start casting, (and use the step up chain for this). Preventing the lich form casting is a valuable thing. All these are times when you could use Vital Strike, because you are only getting a standard. Not every table would find these things valuable, but I have played on many tables where they are. This is a no-loss use of Vital Strike, and the benefits of actually tanking while covering, disrupting spells, are certainly worth a -5 attack.

A Two-Handed Fighter can add double his strength bonus when making a single attack. This stacks with Vital Strike. SO a Drunken Brute 2 THF 3 Ulfen Guard 2, starting at 20STR w/ +1 Greatsword and Belt can:

    1. Get enough feats for Combat Reflexes, Bodyguard, and In Harm's Way, Step Up, Power Attack, Furious Focus.
  • 2. Use a move action to either approach the enemy OR move to cover the guarded target, OR quaff a held potion of Enlarge Personor whatever
  • 3. Dish out a single raging Furious Focus Overhand Chop Vital Strike, at 4d6+21 Damage (avg 35), while covering and soaking damage for the targets. With Enlarge Person, this gets to 6d6+23 (avg 44).
  • If nothing is in reach, they can toss a chakram, which is vital striked as opposed to nothing at all, or ready/brace if they know something is coming.
  • A nonvital striking barbarian would first dish out 2d6+17 (avg 24), or , then on later turns if they are lucky and get to full attack with both hits successful 2d6+17+2d6+17 (avg 48). For the most part a -5 penalty to hit results being less accurate. Enemies aren't getting hit on a 2. So if we say that a -5 attack will hit 3/4 of the time (with 5 on a d20 being 1/4), and reducing the damage output accordingly: 2d6+17+.75x(1d6+17), an average damage output of 42. Now of course a full attacking is more effective when toe-to-toe with a squishy easily hit target, but clearly the vital striker is more effective against a mobile target, as well as on the first round, and can use this move action otherwise to cover and support a squishier target like a rogue/magus, or move action quaff to increase damage to a superior level.

This build actually has greater mileage against creatures with annoying DR or hardness. Sure, we'd all like to imagine that our Addy Scimitar works against all things, but some things are Bludgeoning and Magic, or DR/Good. If all the damage is on one hit instead of split among two, the DR is less effective.

Philo Pharynx wrote:

And in PFS you don't know who's going to show up and the modules are prewritten. A lot of GM's simply don't have the time to come up with a whole homebrew campaign from scratch. They pick up AP's and other adventures and season them to taste.

While your advice is good, it only applies to a subset of gamers.

The initial topic makes a generalization. It doesn't apply to some groups, so it needs to be ammended. Much the same as if you said "All mammals live on the land", and someone says "Not whales", you don't turn around and say "Shush, they're only a subset".

And if you are intent on discounting subsets, then perhaps PFS only applies to a subset of gamers.

Snowblind wrote:
Everything you listed there is either a slight variant on power attack or ****y compared to power attack (unless maybe you are a Hippo).

So here is what you have established. Some people think there are some mandatory feats. When an alternative feat is very much like one of theses suspect feats, it doesn't count. The fact that they have different prerequisites, or for risky striker a different cost is no matter. So clearly an alternative feat must be very different, with a different result.

And yet.. Weapon Specialization is discounted, because it doesn't accomplish the exact same thing. Because it is a lesser damage bonus without an accuracy penalty. I don't care if you think it is sub-optimal, we've already had a conversation about optimization in this context. If you are desperate for a time when it is a good choice, consider weapon specialization for a dual dagger wielding Pharasman warpriest, who doesn't want to further drop accuracy but wants a damage boost.
So what would an alternative feat look like to you? Would it be very similar, like risky striker to power attack, or a little different like weapon specialization, arcane strike or vital strike is to power attack, or perhaps very different, like step up and strike is to power attack?

Snowblind wrote:
Weapon Finesse

For Weapon Finesse, If you can accomplish the same thing with a different load of feats, isn't that the exact opposite of what the thread topic claims? That is exactly what I was trying to show.

Sure, with an Unchained Rogue it looks worse. Again, the only thing here is that you have had your expectations increased.

Snowblind wrote:
Gauntlets aren't unarmed strikes, don't allow for style feats

Yep, I am so annoyed that my Monk, Brawler or Unarmed Fighter needs that feat they get for free.

Gauntlets do allow you to punch things, which is exactly the intent.
Snowblind wrote:
Speaking of skipping prerequisites, many classes have options to skip prerequisites. Rogues can take combat steal without needing C.E. Monks and Mesmerists can take Improved Feint, monks can Trip, Disarm. there's lots of options like this.
Snowblind wrote:
You only save 1 feat by not spending 4 feats on archery. Can't keep up at level 6. I think Elf Rangers have a hard time getting INT. Vital Strike is better

Great Maths right there. You might be saving 4 feats. And so what if you are only saving 1 feat, many in this thread are operating under the idea that low level characters suffer from opportunity cost. Optimization optimization, doesn't read the thread.. Vital Strike is a 6+ BAB feat, you might as well say burning hands is bad because detonate is better.

On further consideration, I did not answer the question. Some characters roles ARE combat based, and pretending that no character wants to fill that role is silly. So, if the character DOES want to excel in various combat roles, what feats are necessary.

Power Attack. Let's say you want to hit things harder than characters who aren't inclined to hit things. You could also Piranha Strike, or if you are a halfling, Risky Striker. These are very much like power attack for different circumstances. But you could also increase melee power using Weapon Specialization, Vital Strike, Elemental Fist.

Weapon Finesse. So you are a rogue, who wants to be able to hit things properly? Consider this, you could make a Str 10 Dex 18 human rogue with weapon finesse, or for the same point buy cost make a Str 16 Dex 14 Character. That's only a difference of +1 to hit, but you also gain 3 or 4 damage, roughly equivalent to an entire sneak attack dice. Sure that wouldn't help you be as sneaky, but with that extra feat space, you could take Stealthy, gaining you +2 Stealth and Escape Artist, and +4 later on. Plus, you can climb and swim better, and carry more loot. Role Saved. Did you want to be high dex AND be able to hit stuff using that high DEX? If a different feat did that exact same thing, it'd be called a redundant waste of space. We're talking roles, not builds. If you had 14 STR and 16 DEX, Weapon Focus will cover that distance early on, you have an extra feat now. Later on, try invisibility. Minor Magic Acid Splash from unchained rogue is a pretty sweet deal.

Combat Expertise, until recently, yes. Much maligned, often houseruled out. But now you could take Dirty Fighting from Dirty Tactics Toolbox, which incidentally covers pre-requisites like unarmed strike, combat expertise, int 13, dex 13. That feat is bananas and PFS legal. A real game changer.

Improved Unarmed Strike. - So, you want to be able to punch things while also not being a monk. Introducing the spiked gauntlet. It's a Core Rulebook Simple Weapon, so any character can use it! It dishes out a healthy 1d4 damage (for a punch), is considered an ARMED attack and is within the price range for a 1st level character at 5gp, rogues can even climb around while wearing one, and still be armed when they hit the top rung! Want to dish out non-lethal damage but a spiked gauntlet can't get you there? Martials and Rogues can take a SAP! I dishes out just as much damage as 1st level monk would!

Rapid Shot / Many Shot
Sure, if you want your archer to shoot rapid fire. That's good if you intend to stand in one place. You could also take FOCUS SHOT. This amazing feat allows you to add you Intelligence to damage, so long as it is a standard action shot. Plus, you can also get the bonuses of having high intelligence. A 14str, 16dex, 12 con, 16int Elven ranger can dish out 1d8+5 damage with a shot using this baby, or 1d8+7 with deadly aim. Plus, Highly intelligent rangers have skill points coming out their ears. Plus, you can hit thing in melee if you get desperate. Your GM might even let you combine it with Vital Strike. Maybe.

Precise Shot, Point Blank - So you want to shoot at an enemy, but there is too much melee in the way? Now, I'll admit it's a handy feat to have, and I'll admit it is a prerequisite for many other feats. But with planning, a ranger doesn't worry about that as much. But let's say you are a dextrous Fighter who didn't have the feat space to dip in archery. What are you to do? Some awkward careful planning may save the day! Many players do not know or utilize this, but Shooting or Throwing into melee penalties can avoided if the enemy, or part of the enemy, is at least ten feet away from the melee-ing. That's right! If The the Throg barbarian uses a reach weapon, you can delay/ready until Throg steps back and then fire! Or you can shoot the Back half of a large bear, by standing perpendicular to the melee, or even shooting at the top 1/3 of a huge creature. Ideal, no, but helpful to those without the feats to spend, absolutely! Are you not able to get any maneuverability to use this? Chances are your shooting through cover anyway and or getting swarmed, switch to melee.

Spell Penetration Conjuration magic is the king of all schools! Many spells do not allow SR. Summoned monsters can attack anything in melee, even those pesky golems. Did you want to focus entirely on evocation, only using a few specific spells? Well why not just take burning hands and intesified burning hands through a jaunt through the worldwound. Level 9 wizards are nothing if not versatile. Conjuration magic or Party Buffs for anything with SR, Intensified Heightened Maximised Shocking Grasp for everything else.

Matthew Downie wrote:

Around 50% do, I'd guess? Some GMs are inexperienced and don't have the skills to do that, so just pick CR-appropriate enemies. Some run PFS. Some run Adventure Paths and don't have much time to rewrite things.

When you're not optimizing to meet the challenges of the CR system, you still might want to optimize to match the rest of the group. If half the group make optimized combat characters because that's what they enjoy, while you refuse to take the 'non-optional' feats, and the GM plans encounters with the strongest PCs in mind, you could end up spending half the time during the game playing, say, an archer who can't hit anything. Most people don't like that.

Ideally, that character would have some other strength, which means that in some other situation, be it it diplomacy or Survival or stealth or whatever, their character shines. The games is after all one of specialization and teamwork, that's why a fighter has distinct abilities that a rogue doesn't. If you get into an arms race with the other players, that's on you.

I realise that I'm saying Ideally, and I acknowledge it isn't always the case. Ideally the GM has time and effort to make a campaign relevant to the players. Ideally the GM won't just throw out random CR appropriate monsters (Or, CR+1 or 2 encounters because the party dominates combat repeatedly). Ideally a GM allows players to find alternate ways of dealing with encounters. But here's a thought, why should everyone make characters assuming their GM is inexperienced? Or uninspired? And if that is your assumption, then this whole discussion should accompanied an extra conditional statement:

topic wrote:
While the GM is new and mostly runs straightforward combat encounters, or the party is very focused on making combative characters...What feats are necessary for a class to keep up?

Which is a fine topic, but we should be clear that that is what is being talked about. For certain groups, for PFS, for a rigidly run AP. And of course those are fine ways to play. I like playing in PFS.

Rynjin wrote:

Roll with an entire party where nobody takea any combat related Feats or options. Run them through a Paizo AP.

See how long they survive.

That seems like a great idea! That actually seems very funny to me.

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I'm not suggesting combat isn't a big part of the game. The question being asked and the rhetoric being used is about characters "staying competitive in combat". Are you going to deny that GMs plan encounters with the PCs combat capacities in mind? Or are you only going to deny that in doing so, there's no relative power.

Pathfinder is already a game which gives the players lots of toys and abilities. D&D5e has little character strength growth. That doesn't make it a harder game, because the enemies only increase in strength as fitting for the PCs. In 3.5D&D, races only got one racial stat bonus. Of course, in Pathfinder people would complain if their race only had one racial stat bonus, they'd call it sub-optimal. What has changed is not any absolute, the game need not be any harder. The only thing that has changed is players expectations. Overcome this, and this percieved need for mandatory feats ceases to be a problem.

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Many of you have entered into an unwitting arms race with your GM. When you make characters who are entirely optimized for combat, you are communicating to your GM that you are after a game with a combat focus. When designing encounters, the GM is keeping track of how much the party can take in a combat, and sets the difficulty accordingly, so as to avoid having boring unchallenging encounters.

I recently had some players roll up characters and 3/4 decided they wanted to play highly charismatic tricksters. Am I going to make a campaign centered around bashing zombies? Of course not! It will be filled with silly people who are prone to being tricked!

If you rocked up with a character with Deceitful and Stealthy as feats, you are saying to your GM that you are after encounters that can be solved by guile and subterfuge. If you show up with a half-orc ranger with Scent, and favoured enemy (Elf) you are saying that you want your character to sniff out and chop some elves. If you take Skill Focus (Barrister), you character will end up in courtroom, and finding evidence to defend their client. And after the first session or two your GM will stop increasing the CR of each encounter, and we can all go back to accidentally typing Skill Focus (Barista) and having quests involving finding the most aromatic coffee in the land, without being made to feel like idiots.

Probably yes.

Some abilities end when you go unconscious, like a rage, or bardic performance, or a concentration spell. These are things the character needs actively maintain, and since an unconscious character can't maintain them, they end.
Other effects don't automatically end. Spells with durations that do not depend on concentration go until they run out, or until they are dismissed as a standard action.

Dark-Half continues to happen unless the character makes a concentration check. Since an unconscious character cannot make this concentration check, there is no reason to say that it would end prematurely.

No no. Antagonize works by having the enemy try and then not be able to hit you. It also calls them over to you, so you don't have to. You cause them to not hit the wizard, who is made of paper mache.

Alric wrote:
Feat Tax

I support this. Thunder and Fang, Whip Mastery..

You mean like Antagonize? Or saving shield, or shield wall, or shielded caster? I do actually think these are pretty naff, and also designed for the cavalier, which usuped the role.

"Armor Expert" is a concept. Shield bearers, guys whose job it is is to have a big old shield, were a real thing. To be honest, it's one that has fallen by the wayside, and a lack of good options in supplements have left it as a less exciting option, and the fighter class has suffered less from power inflation/bloat. But if you go back to Core, the fighter is the only class that moves at full speed in full-plate with an armor check of 0, and is the only one to get automatic Tower Shields, whether or not you particularly like using these things.

The question was "What does a fighter do, what is its concept, what makes it unique?" Well, that's it. It moves at full speed with high AC.
Complaining about things they can't do is like saying that wizards have no point because they can't do anything in an anti-magic field. Technically correct, but it doesn't answer the original question.

If they go for a grapple, then fine. Not every enemy is a grappler, just like how not every enemy is a spellcaster. One thing you could do, is utilize the tower shield a gain total cover on one side, forcing your enemies to move around you (potentially provoking, if that is even an option given the terrain). Furthermore, if the enemy grapples using grab, it can't start if it cant hit AC, and if it is a monk, well monks are a great class then aren't they? And stopping enemies from moving past is something this build can do well, with combat relexes(4), lunge and stand still.

HP boosts are a trap, a surefire way to become dead. Especially if you resist all friendly spells.

Snowblind wrote:

And yet the thing the fighter does just plain easier than the barbarian is have higher AC. Which is exactly what I have been suggesting is the Fighter's point, or theme. It doesn't matter if barbarians can dish out a little more damage, because that was not what I was trying to show.

I you don't like Antagonize, sub in furious focus. that would provide a more Two-Handed capable character. Lets go with that since is more in your taste.

An attack bonus of +11 is 1 less than twelve, I'd hardly call that a huge difference.

+11/+4 vs +12/+5
2d6+12 vs 2d6+14
AC 25 vs AC 25 (or 26)

note:it is a move action to drop a shield. In a melee, this can be done and with Quick Draw, Also do a standard action +11 2d6+12 hit with a greatsword.

One Handed
+11/+6 vs. +9/+4
1d8+5 vs. 1d6+9
AC 30 vs. 25


2 Chakrams
+7/+7+2 vs. +11/+6
1d8+4 1d8+5
AC 30 AC 25

So for normal non-wizard enemies, the fighter has significantly higher AC, unless he should decide to drop his shield and do almost as much damage as the barbarian does. It should be noted that if the barbarian were confused and attacked this fighter, the fighter could make the barbarian only hit on a natural 20. If you are concerned with getting high touch AC, well that's the level 9 ability.

When not raging
8 vs. 8
6 8
4 3
This is for all those times outside of rage, like diseased sewer water, surprise rounds, hazards and traps. They are about the same.

When raging you go up to +11,+11,+6 (isn't it +3 from superstition at level 6?) and you give up the ability to accept other spells, like haste, or fly, or heal. So great, you've made a trade off. Well done.

Skills, take what you like. They seem close enough. It's not hard to just take UMD instead if you value it.

oh, good catch. Thanks necromental

Ok, at level 6, when the Barbarian gets Beast Totem. A fighter build in which I don't know what I'm trying to beat:

Human Fighter (Tower Shield Specialist)/6.

Str 18 (+2 belt)
Dex 16
Con 14
Int 10
Wis 10
Cha 10

1. Power Attack, Quick Draw, Point Blank
2. Rapid Shot
3. Antagonize
4. Combat Reflexes
5. Stand Still
6. Lunge

Traits: Reckless, Indomitable Faith

Class Features:
Burst Barrier: +1 reflex saves vs burst spells and effects
Tower Shield Training: While using a Tower Shield, -3 Armour Check and maximum dex +2
Tower Shield: While using a tower shield, he does not take -2 on attack rolls due to shields encumbrance.

Fort 8
Ref 6 (+7 Bursts)
Will 4

HP: 47

or when fighting defensively
or when using total defense
CMD: 23

+1 Trident +11, 1d8+5 (for stand still)
+1 Trident +9, 1d8+9 (Power Attack)
2-Handed Trident +9 1d8+12
2 Chakrams +7each 1d8+4

Can increase range to 10ft
Can make 4 attacks of opportunity
can intimidate enemies into attacking

Level 6 Wealth by Level: 16000

Full-Plate+1 2500
Tower Shield+1 1180
Armor Spikes 50
Charkrams, 10 10
+1 Trident 2315
+1 Strength Belt 4000
+1 Amulet of Nat Armor 2000
+1 Ring of Protection 2000
+1 Cloak of Resistance 1000
Potion of Invisibility 300
Greatsword 50
Composite Bow-3 400

Total Gold 115805

Skill:(ranks): Without Tower: Total
Handle Animal(1):4

A chakram is a d8. A bow is a d8. how are you going to get all this extra damage out of a bow without spending feats?
Extra feats which are, incidentally, what a fighter has in spades?

The theme of the impenetrable fortress! The Iron Man!

With a starknife or chakram or pilum if he needs to hit something far away. It's not that hard.

Relegated nothing. I've just provided one thing you might do in response to all the 'but what if they cast spell!'.
Even if you don't think that it is statistically worth it, do you at least aknowledge that it shows the theme of the class, that it has all it's own?

The fact that it requires investment doesn't stop it from being the fighter's domain. If every single one of the enemies your GM comes up with is an enchanter with nothing but sleep spells and combat casting, High AC is still the fighters domain. They are still the only ones who get automatic proficiency with tower shields, even if you don't like using them.

If you say "I ready to attack and disrupt if he casts spells!" and your GM turns around and says "Nu-uh!he pulls out a scrolls and casts off that! Doesn't Count" your GM is bad. If you prevent the enemy wizard from blasting a high level spell and make them shot of some school power, then that is a big success. If the enemy moves away, that's why you have step up and strike. Or a throwing axe. If they might just make the concentration check, well then maybe you might just crit, and maybe the paladin might just roll a 1.

The reason you ready to shoot instead of just shooting is that you'll shoot either way. Except in one instance you also stop them from casting a spell.

Nobody is saying that.

And the key difference between a barbarian and a fighter is AC. Barbarians have low AC.

And if other classes can get into fighter feats, like the Swashbuckler and Warpriest do, then isn't that because they are stepping into Fighterness?.

Well, try addressing the other thing that fighters do, armoured mobility.

Or consider feats such as Covering Defence, Antagonize, Ray Shield, Pin Down which all aid in accomplishing defensive play.

Part 2, enemies tend not to be able to cast spells, launch arrows and swing a big stick. Some enemies are wizards, some enemies are trolls, and you can change what you do based on what you fight. If you want to ignore spells, be a monk, sure it won't save your friends. If you want to stand up to a gorilla, be a fighter. If you want to CONTROL an enemy casting spells, you ready an attack. Incidentally, there is are feats only fighters can get, Disrupting Shot, Disruptive and Spell Breaker, which are specifically designed to do this.

A tower shield allows you to get total cover, so you can stand in the doorway without fear of being hit, because nobody can touch you, nor even see you.

Bonus if you are the Tower Shield Specialist, and you end up getting your shield bonus to touch attacks, negate the attack penalty, and again prance around in all the encumbrance like it was nothing.

They get TOWER SHIELDS and prance around in Full-Plate as if it were a tutu. They stand in doors and let NOBODY through.

Not that anybody utilizes these things in practice, what with people being afraid of tower shield's -2 attack and that Armor Expert is usually traded out for some archetype.

Then why is the barbarian so powerful, johnnythexxxiv, WHY IS THE BARBARIAN SO POWERFUL?

You don't like PFS, and yet here you are trying to recreate a casual-entry pathfinder group at your local library... which is what PFS tries to do. That's fine, but you should probably consider what it is that you dislike, and what you can take from it. That is why people study history; so they can learn from mistakes.

Would the pre-existing pregens work, or should you just modify them to your liking?

Should you use modular scenarios, self-contained stories?

Is there a group dynamic, or a play style that you are trying to avoid?

Or maybe you would prefer more freedom in the scenarios. Who knows? Certainly not me.

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