Playtest 11 / 21 -- Level 4


Round 1: Cavalier and Oracle

Shadow Lodge

This playtest is one encounter that involved two Cavaliers.

The group was a tiefling buffer wizard and a human paladin THF with a bastard sword, and a cavalier -- a typical knight on horse back, focused on mounted combat, lance, etc. Order of the Dragon. The caravan was ambushed by a group of bandits in the forest, consisting of low-level warriors and the bandit leader, another NPC Cavalier (order of the lion). This cavalier did not use mounted combat, and rather was a TWF halfling with a boar. All pcs/npcs were level 4.

The bandits emerged from the treeline on both sides of the caravan. It was actually the Cavalier's horse that first noticed the enemies (scent; high perception). The bandits were more of robin hood and his merry men, and as such were not evil. However, diplomacy was cut short by the PCs and they engaged the attackers.

Setup: On either side of the road was a slight embankment before the treeline. Various undergrowth (mostly light, one patch of heavy undergrowth) and two fallen logs provided the enemies with favorable positioning.

Round 1:

The wizard used enlarge person on the Paladin, since he could not cast it on the Cavalier and have him still be able to use his mount.

The Paladin easily made it up the embankment and closed on the bandit leader.

The Bandit Leader ducked into a briar patch (heavy undergrowth), while his boar charged the paladin (1d8+6). The Paladin got an AoO, but missed.

The Cavalier couldn't charge anyone (due to trees, light undergrowth, or, in the case of the boar, a Large ally being in the way). But his horse still has impressive movement so he was able to move to maxamize his Braggert ability on 4 bandits (+10 intimidate).

Various (demoralized) bandits took pot shots at the cavalier, his mount, the wizard, and others emerged to attempt to ransack the caravan wagons. Here we noticed our first glaring issue. With the AC penalty, the cavaliers Rider was only +1. The horse's AC was 24 (had scale barding). Until his ride skill could be greater than the mount's AC -20, it is an utterly worthless feat.

Round 2:

Paladin attacked the boar and 5ft towards the Bandit Leader.

Wizard delayed, cast scorching ray on the boar (paladin had moved, wasnt in melee) and moving closer.

Bandit leader drank a potion of bull's strength. Boar again attacked the Paladin.

Cavalier charged a bandit attacking the caravan, successfully impaling the fool on his lance (+14 to hit for 2d8+5).

Bandits again fired their shortbows and then moved to make sure trees were between them and the cavalier.

Round 3:

Paladin 5fts again and is able to attack the Bandit Leader with his reach. Smite fails (non-evil), but he hits the Bandit Leader.

Wizard sleep on some bandits.

Bandit Leader challenged the Paladin, gaining a bonus to his AC vs him (up to 22), moves further back into heavy underbrush.

Cavalier charged another warrior attacking the caravan. At this point he effectively resigned himself to running up and down the wagons charging whatever he could, since he didn't want to get off his horse, and the wizard and paladin had already engaged the main man he was left for clean up duties. Demoralized bandit flees. Others snore. The rest fire arrows.

Round 4:

Paladin 5fts forward to edge of underbrush and attacks Bandit Leader, misses.

Wizard cast protection from arrows.

Boar shifts behind Paladin. Bandit Leader 5fts closer (surprise! Nimble Moves), and proceeds to eviserate the Paladin (+9/+9 with flanking, short swords do 1d4+2+2d6/1d4+1+2d6).

Cavalier charges and slaughters a warrior, again. Yawn.

Round 5:

Paladin: Uses Lay on Hands. Attacks the Bandit Leader, missing due to Concealment miss chance.

Wizard moves to Paladin and casts Blur (able to touch him and not be in melee with boar due to Paladin being Large).

Bandit Leader still hits easily on the Paladin, but is doing way less damage now. Blur = Concealment = no precision-based damage. Boar misses.

Cavalier moves and attacks a bandit, mainly to position himself for charging while not wasting a turn.

Round 6:

Paladin delays until after Wizard.

Wizard casts Bull's Strength on Paladin.

When the Paladin heard the significantly less amount of damage the bandit leader did (I think it was 7 over two hits), he promptly turned around and devoted his attention to the low AC, higher damaging boar. Uses lay on hands again.

Bandit Leader attacks the Paladin, missing on one attack. Boar hits. Paladin staggered.

Cavalier, knows that the undergrowth gives concealment and negates his challenge ability, declares it on the boar instead and charges into flanking (with the wizard)... yeowch! Ferocity does not save the boar. It will make a fine meal for the adventurers. Huzzah.

After that, the Bandit Leader surrendered and was spared. He knew he couldn't take out the group alone. The Paladin was healing almost as much damage as he was dealing each round, and his beloved Boar lay dead. The combat would have likely continued for many more rounds, but it was only a matter of time, and nobody hates rolling lots of misses and percentile dice more than me.

Conclusion:
At the end of the combat, the Paladin was very low on HP, the wizard was about half (pesky archers), and the cavalier and his mount were relatively unharmed.

My thoughts on this were as follows: A cavalier that wants to be a cavalier is at a significant disadvantage, even outdoors. Too many things can hinder him, and I felt the non-standard TWF cavalier that used his animal companion to flank was much more effective.

The Cavalier ended up in a role that I see monks filling. His (mount's) speed allowed him for greater maneuverability around the combat, and that along with his desire to charge as much as possible to optimize his lance-centric build, he ended up fighting mooks a the fringes of the combat. His use of his Challenge was essentially a one-off uber-charge.

Even if he had declared his challenge earlier, the flanking issue would never have come up. Enemies attacked him at range, and died swiftly when in melee. No opportunities to flank for them. The Paladin had no smites due to non-evil, but the caveats to precision-based damage also kept the Challenge from truly shining, as it can be negated much like Sneak Attack by low-level spells, terrain, and lighting.

Edit: The mounted Cavalier only had a +1 to Ride. The most basic Ride DCs are 5, so those were not even guarenteed. He did roll a 4 once (to stay in saddle). It was quite terrifying that he could still fall off his saddle or not guide with his knees as a knightly manly man. Also, the mount was pretty strudy. It did not have the HP the cavalier did, but it had better AC with barding (24 vs 21) than its rider.

Dark Archive

I guess what I am most interested in is if the Cavalier player had fun? Obviously balance issues are important and the negation of the Cavalier's abilities in a relatively easy and common manner was important in the battle. However, did the Cavalier have fun despite most of his abilities being of no use against the big "bad" guy?

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Varthanna wrote:
Edit: The mounted Cavalier only had a +1 to Ride. The most basic Ride DCs are 5, so those were not even guarenteed. He did roll a 4 once (to stay in saddle). It was quite terrifying that he could still fall off his saddle or not guide with his knees as a knightly manly man. Also, the mount was pretty strudy. It did not have the HP the cavalier did, but it had better AC with barding (24 vs 21) than its rider.

That sounds like more the fault of the PC than the design of the cavalier. I'd hope that he'd be trained with at least 1 rank (which even using the unfortunate penalty of -1 DEX) would still provide a 3 in ride at level 1, and a 6 (preventing the problems you've noted) by level 4.

Dark Archive

MisterSlanky wrote:
Varthanna wrote:
Edit: The mounted Cavalier only had a +1 to Ride. The most basic Ride DCs are 5, so those were not even guarenteed. He did roll a 4 once (to stay in saddle). It was quite terrifying that he could still fall off his saddle or not guide with his knees as a knightly manly man. Also, the mount was pretty strudy. It did not have the HP the cavalier did, but it had better AC with barding (24 vs 21) than its rider.
That sounds like more the fault of the PC than the design of the cavalier. I'd hope that he'd be trained with at least 1 rank (which even using the unfortunate penalty of -1 DEX) would still provide a 3 in ride at level 1, and a 6 (preventing the problems you've noted) by level 4.

... Armor check penalty applies to Ride checks.


MisterSlanky wrote:
Varthanna wrote:
Edit: The mounted Cavalier only had a +1 to Ride. The most basic Ride DCs are 5, so those were not even guarenteed. He did roll a 4 once (to stay in saddle). It was quite terrifying that he could still fall off his saddle or not guide with his knees as a knightly manly man. Also, the mount was pretty strudy. It did not have the HP the cavalier did, but it had better AC with barding (24 vs 21) than its rider.
That sounds like more the fault of the PC than the design of the cavalier. I'd hope that he'd be trained with at least 1 rank (which even using the unfortunate penalty of -1 DEX) would still provide a 3 in ride at level 1, and a 6 (preventing the problems you've noted) by level 4.

He probably had an armor check penalty though, luckily this is something Jason has said he's going to address.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
vagrant-poet wrote:
He probably had an armor check penalty though, luckily this is something Jason has said he's going to address.

And yes, that would make sense...

Good to know that Jason's already aware of this rather significant potential problem. I wonder what the solution will be (I can think of several different ways to handle it).


I gathered something like armor training but for the Ride Skill, or maybe simply no ACP for Ride for cavaliers.


Varthanna wrote:
The Cavalier ended up in a role that I see monks filling. His (mount's) speed allowed him for greater maneuverability around the combat, and that along with his desire to charge as much as possible to optimize his lance-centric build, he ended up fighting mooks a the fringes of the combat. His use of his Challenge was essentially a one-off uber-charge.

Monks can't do the bulk of their damage on the turn that they're moving. They have to wait for a full attack action to deal serious damage. Yeah, you can stunning fist on the movement turn, but stunning fist is unreliable. Taking out a bad guy is better than stunning him and dealing with him in the next round.

The cavalier dumps a big part of his damage on the same round that he moves. If he's hitting, killing, and picking a new charge target on the same turn, he's doing better than a monk typically would.

Shadow Lodge

Yep, armor check penalty. Also didnt mention that was why the horse didnt attack, it had terrible to-hit due to ACP (barding). The Cavalier, I believe, was wearing banded mail -- he spent the bulk of his money on his lance to qualify for the Oath of Greed.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Varthanna wrote:
Yep, armor check penalty. Also didnt mention that was why the horse didnt attack, it had terrible to-hit due to ACP (barding). The Cavalier, I believe, was wearing banded mail -- he spent the bulk of his money on his lance to qualify for the Oath of Greed.

If he was planning on using barding, why didnt he give the mount armor profieciency feats? That is one recomendation i would give. At level 4 the mount has 2 feats, if i was going to use medium barding I probably would have given him both light and medium armor prof to negate the armor check penalty to attacks.

Dark Archive

Kolokotroni wrote:
Varthanna wrote:
Yep, armor check penalty. Also didnt mention that was why the horse didnt attack, it had terrible to-hit due to ACP (barding). The Cavalier, I believe, was wearing banded mail -- he spent the bulk of his money on his lance to qualify for the Oath of Greed.
If he was planning on using barding, why didnt he give the mount armor profieciency feats? That is one recomendation i would give. At level 4 the mount has 2 feats, if i was going to use medium barding I probably would have given him both light and medium armor prof to negate the armor check penalty to attacks.

+1

Shadow Lodge

Kolokotroni wrote:
Varthanna wrote:
Yep, armor check penalty. Also didnt mention that was why the horse didnt attack, it had terrible to-hit due to ACP (barding). The Cavalier, I believe, was wearing banded mail -- he spent the bulk of his money on his lance to qualify for the Oath of Greed.
If he was planning on using barding, why didnt he give the mount armor profieciency feats? That is one recomendation i would give. At level 4 the mount has 2 feats, if i was going to use medium barding I probably would have given him both light and medium armor prof to negate the armor check penalty to attacks.

Hmm... it seems like such a long time ago now :D

Actually, IIRC the issue was again the Ride check. Its a DC 10 to have the mount attack alongside you. So, it came back to his OWN ACP. Only being able to successfully attack with his mount about half the time due to the +1 Ride, vs reducing its attack from +7 to +1, and it gaining +6 armor, while giving the mount two feats to spend on other things (and I believe the feats were toughness and dodge, which certainly boosted its survivability)

Dark Archive

Varthanna wrote:
Kolokotroni wrote:
Varthanna wrote:
Yep, armor check penalty. Also didnt mention that was why the horse didnt attack, it had terrible to-hit due to ACP (barding). The Cavalier, I believe, was wearing banded mail -- he spent the bulk of his money on his lance to qualify for the Oath of Greed.
If he was planning on using barding, why didnt he give the mount armor profieciency feats? That is one recomendation i would give. At level 4 the mount has 2 feats, if i was going to use medium barding I probably would have given him both light and medium armor prof to negate the armor check penalty to attacks.

Hmm... it seems like such a long time ago now :D

Actually, IIRC the issue was again the Ride check. Its a DC 10 to have the mount attack alongside you. So, it came back to his OWN ACP. Only being able to successfully attack with his mount about half the time due to the +1 Ride, vs reducing its attack from +7 to +1, and it gaining +6 armor, while giving the mount two feats to spend on other things (and I believe the feats were toughness and dodge, which certainly boosted its survivability)

I always like spending the first ability score point on my animal companion for intelligence 3 and then giving them linguistics( common ) as a skill. That way I can just ask them to do what I want them to.

Sovereign Court

Draeke Raefel wrote:
I always like spending the first ability score point on my animal companion for intelligence 3 and then giving them linguistics( common ) as a skill. That way I can just ask them to do what I want them to.

Except for the fact that no matter how smart the horse is it can't speak as it has no vocal abilities. As noted explicitly in the Druid section:

Wild Shape excerpt wrote:
A druid loses her ability to speak while in animal form because she is limited to the sounds that a normal, untrained animal can make, but she can communicate normally with other animals of the same general grouping as her new form. (The normal sound a wild parrot makes is a squawk, so changing to this form does not permit speech.)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
King of Vrock wrote:
Draeke Raefel wrote:
I always like spending the first ability score point on my animal companion for intelligence 3 and then giving them linguistics( common ) as a skill. That way I can just ask them to do what I want them to.

Except for the fact that no matter how smart the horse is it can't speak as it has no vocal abilities. As noted explicitly in the Druid section:

Wild Shape excerpt wrote:
A druid loses her ability to speak while in animal form because she is limited to the sounds that a normal, untrained animal can make, but she can communicate normally with other animals of the same general grouping as her new form. (The normal sound a wild parrot makes is a squawk, so changing to this form does not permit speech.)

He means that the animal companion, with its new linguistics skill, can understand common. This is so he doesn't have to make vague handle animal checks to coerce his furry friend and can instead just express his wishes verbally.

Read before replying, internet buddy.

Dark Archive

SecSiebzehn wrote:
King of Vrock wrote:
Draeke Raefel wrote:
I always like spending the first ability score point on my animal companion for intelligence 3 and then giving them linguistics( common ) as a skill. That way I can just ask them to do what I want them to.

Except for the fact that no matter how smart the horse is it can't speak as it has no vocal abilities. As noted explicitly in the Druid section:

Wild Shape excerpt wrote:
A druid loses her ability to speak while in animal form because she is limited to the sounds that a normal, untrained animal can make, but she can communicate normally with other animals of the same general grouping as her new form. (The normal sound a wild parrot makes is a squawk, so changing to this form does not permit speech.)

He means that the animal companion, with its new linguistics skill, can understand common. This is so he doesn't have to make vague handle animal checks to coerce his furry friend and can instead just express his wishes verbally.

Read before replying, internet buddy.

Correct.

However, now that I think about it, the linguistics skill implies knowledge of both verbal and written forms of the language. So technically my animal companion can write grammatically incorrect common into the dirt and tell me whatever it wants.

Paizo Employee Director of Game Design

Interesting report... thanks for the feedback.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber
Draeke Raefel wrote:
SecSiebzehn wrote:
King of Vrock wrote:
Draeke Raefel wrote:
I always like spending the first ability score point on my animal companion for intelligence 3 and then giving them linguistics( common ) as a skill. That way I can just ask them to do what I want them to.

Except for the fact that no matter how smart the horse is it can't speak as it has no vocal abilities. As noted explicitly in the Druid section:

Wild Shape excerpt wrote:
A druid loses her ability to speak while in animal form because she is limited to the sounds that a normal, untrained animal can make, but she can communicate normally with other animals of the same general grouping as her new form. (The normal sound a wild parrot makes is a squawk, so changing to this form does not permit speech.)

He means that the animal companion, with its new linguistics skill, can understand common. This is so he doesn't have to make vague handle animal checks to coerce his furry friend and can instead just express his wishes verbally.

Read before replying, internet buddy.

Correct.

However, now that I think about it, the linguistics skill implies knowledge of both verbal and written forms of the language. So technically my animal companion can write grammatically incorrect common into the dirt and tell me whatever it wants.

I thought a creature needed an Int of 6 to understand and speak a language?

EDIT: the PRPG "intelligence" section at the beginning of the book says Int 3 allows you to read and speak (no word on writing though... I would rule Int 6 for writing basic horribly spelled stuff, and Int 10 to read/write like a regular person...)

Dark Archive

Purple Dragon Knight wrote:
Draeke Raefel wrote:
SecSiebzehn wrote:
King of Vrock wrote:
Draeke Raefel wrote:
I always like spending the first ability score point on my animal companion for intelligence 3 and then giving them linguistics( common ) as a skill. That way I can just ask them to do what I want them to.

Except for the fact that no matter how smart the horse is it can't speak as it has no vocal abilities. As noted explicitly in the Druid section:

Wild Shape excerpt wrote:
A druid loses her ability to speak while in animal form because she is limited to the sounds that a normal, untrained animal can make, but she can communicate normally with other animals of the same general grouping as her new form. (The normal sound a wild parrot makes is a squawk, so changing to this form does not permit speech.)

He means that the animal companion, with its new linguistics skill, can understand common. This is so he doesn't have to make vague handle animal checks to coerce his furry friend and can instead just express his wishes verbally.

Read before replying, internet buddy.

Correct.

However, now that I think about it, the linguistics skill implies knowledge of both verbal and written forms of the language. So technically my animal companion can write grammatically incorrect common into the dirt and tell me whatever it wants.

I thought a creature needed an Int of 6 to understand and speak a language?

EDIT: the PRPG "intelligence" section at the beginning of the book says Int 3 allows you to read and speak (no word on writing though... I would rule Int 6 for writing basic horribly spelled stuff, and Int 10 to read/write like a regular person...)

Like 3.5, Paizo doesn't make a distinction between the written and verbal forms of a language. If you know one you know the other. There are not any intelligence cut offs for it RAW.


Any Mr. Ed tricks would be a no go in any games I run. Animal companion or not, he can't write what he wants in the dirt. I don't care how smart he is. ;)

Maybe RAW it's allowed, but I wouldn't run it as such. Or ok if you really want to argue that it can write in the dirt with it's hooves fine... but your animal companion has the worst penmanship this side of the Mississippi. You've heard of chicken scratch, this will be horse scratch. ;)

And if you still want to argue that it can write long elaborate letters, than congratulations, you've discovered a way to min/max even animal companion linguistics skill. ;)


vagrant-poet wrote:
He probably had an armor check penalty though, luckily this is something Jason has said he's going to address.

Oh? Any details? I have been somewhat adamant about the armor check penalty killing paladins (and this new cav class moreso) being mounted.

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