What Would You Do?


I'm going to level soon and am torn about my choices. I've never been very good at the optimization game and so consistently come out with a weak character, which makes me terrified of making a fatally bad choice each time I level. :(

I have a 5th level Ranger (jungle theme), two-handed weapon speciality (regular spear), and use a darkwood buckler. With Power Attack and Furious Focus, plus my 17 DEX and 16 STR I can attack pretty well and dish out 1d8 + 6 (Power attack w/ 2-handed spear) + 6 (STR + 2-handed damage). Not bad. Current hit points = 49 and I'm human.

For the next level I can't decide if I should take:
• Another Ranger level, though honestly I don't much care about the rest of the 2-handed weapon feats, and I've gotten everything out of Ranger I want at this point.
• Barbarian, which fits the character concept. Maybe even Savage Barbarian?
• Fighter, which is vanilla as hell but gives me a feat (I'm thinking of taking Shield Focus to bring up my low AC from only leather armor). Since I use a regular spear, I don't think I'd take the polearm master or any other archetype.

Any advice?

• Rogue, which I like for the sneak attack, though I could really use some Will save increases.

Actually, the sad fact is I don't like any of the classes. They just don't allow me to make the character I envision. I wish there was an a la carte method for character design, because being forced into one class or the other is way too limiting. :(

Honestly if you are looking for any kind of optimization at all it's best to do one class only, some classes allow for a dip for a level or two into something else, but for the most part going straight up ranger would probably be best for you to do. The reason being is that you lose out on the higher level and capstone abilities and gain lower level stuff from other classes which aren't as powerful.

If it were me and I wanted out of ranger that badly I would probably go with the barbarian or fighter depending on what flavor I wanted for the character.

Barbarian is good because you only need 12 levels of it to really take advantage of the best rage power in Come And Get Me, so that's a pretty nice choice to go with, just make sure you have combat reflexes to really take advantage of the power.

Fighter is a good choice because of how many feats you get and this allows you to become specialized in a couple of different fighting techniques such as trip, critical hits, spring attack chain (which could also be done through the pounce line of rage powers as a barbarian), whirlwind w/ lunge and a reach weapon (think hitting everything around you for 15 feet, 20 feet if enlarged with your reach weapon), and consistent damage from weapon specializations to name a few.

One other thing: I've not played the horizon walker prestige class, but I've heard that it could fit pretty well with a ranger too. So maybe look into that as a possibility.

What it boils down to is how much do you need to optimize to be viable in your GM's game. If you can keep the concept by staying in one class it is better to do so.

What is your concept, and what do you want your character to be able to do in the game?

Is the concept someone who was born and raised in a jungle? Is there a reason the natives would not have access to better weapons?

Barbarian and fighter would both work fine in terms of keeping your character viable. If you are worried about your WILL save take iron will at 7th (if you haven't done so already) and possibly even improved iron will. Going barbarian will mesh nicely with ranger, giving you faster movement, rage and some nice powers. Fighter would allow you to take the weapon specialization tree, which provides some really nice and consistent boosts to damage.

Also, as wraithstrike hinted at, you might want to consider picking up a martial weapon. Unless you really love being able to brace and throw your weapon, you can use a martial two-hander just as well. In fact, a halberd is a higher damage die, same crit multiplier, and has brace and trip, though it doesn't have the range increment. Or you could go for a greatsword, which is 2d6 with a 19-20/x2 crit. Throw lead blades on ther for a 3d6 weapon that does a nasty crit. Also, with a 17 DEX and 16 STR you can use a composite longbow fairly well and investing in some range feats (especially if you go fighter) would make you a decent switch-hitter.

The character concept is "Queen of the Jungle," and I envision a Frank Frazetta/Edgar Rice Burroughs-esque spear-fightin' bikini warrior woman. She's from the Mwangi, which is perfect because we're doing the Serpent's Skull AP, so she's basically in her back yard. She has a panther animal companion.

There are several abilities I covet: precision damage, uncanny dodge/evasion, damage reduction (I struggle with my AC because I don't want to wear much armor, as per the concept), AC increases (though I don't have a high INT so duelist, etc., are out), and higher Will save progression.

My DM is actually okay at working with me, but I think I've waffled too much and asked for too many favors by now. I'd love to find my way "by the rules" but since there aren't many options, I think I'm out of luck.

@Ub3r_n3rd: I hadn't looked at Horizon Walker, but I like it... Thanks for the heads up!

Ok, that makes sense. Well, going rogue would probably hurt you more than help you, and your animal companion is already 3 levels behind your character level, so any multiclassing is going to really hamper your panther. The only barbarian that provides an animal companion is the mounted fury archetype, and that is at a -4 effective druid level, and it has to be something that can serve as a mount, meaning even with the boon companion feat your mount would be somewhat weaker (and you probably couldn't use a panther). Looks like straight ranger really is your best bet. If you post your full build it would be easier to make some suggestions.

Sure thing, I do appreciate all the help!

Human Ranger 5
Str 16, Dex 17, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 10.
Saves: Fort 6, Ref 7, Will 2 (ouch)
Traits: Jungle Walker (+2 Survival in Jungle), Stowaway (+1 Stealth, Survival)
Feats: Power Attack, Dodge, Fleet, Diehard.
Class Ability Specifics: Favored Enemy 1 (Humanoid Reptilian, Favored Enemy 2 (Human), Favored Terrain 1 (Jungle), Hunter's Bond (Animal Companion).
Archetype: Trapper and Skirmisher. Both ditch the spells (I'm not good at playing spellcasters) in exchange for ranger's traps and for hunter's tricks.
Most Important Skills: Acrobatics (3 ranks), Handle Animal (3 ranks), Knowledge Nature (4 ranks), Knowledge Local (4 ranks), Perception (4 ranks), Stealth (3 ranks), Survival (3 ranks).
Armor: Leather, +1 darkwood buckler, amulet of nat. armor +1, ring of prot. +1 = 20
Attack: +1 Spear (when I use this with Power Attack, Furious Focus, the 2-handed bonus, plus my Strength I get d8+11 damage. Tempted to add Vital Strike to this!), Net, Dagger, Shortbow. CMB 8, CMD 21.

So... if I'm reading the Horizon Walker right, once I hit the 3rd level of that PrC, I'd be able to add +6 to every attack vs. Jungle critters?

+6 because I currently have Favored Terrain (Jungle) from the Ranger class, then with Horizon Walker each time it gives me a new terrain I increase the bonus for my other by +2, for a total of +6 by third level? It seems to, according to this passage in Favored Terrain, which Horizon Walker says it uses: "At 8th level and every five levels thereafter, the ranger may select an additional favored terrain. In addition, at each such interval, the skill bonus and initiative bonus in any one favored terrain (including the one just selected, if so desired), increases by +2."

Because that would be awesome, since we're doing Serpent's Skull and we're not leaving this jungle for the rest of the adventure path! That means almost every single thing we encounter I'd be at +6 to attack and damage...

You know that you don't get the buckler's AC bonus when using a weapon two-handed? AND you get -1 to attack.
Better get better & magic armor. In fantasy RPG you can make any armor look like you want it to look - ever heard of the chain bikini? ;)

Using that leather armor for role-playing reasons is like coming with a knife to a gunfight in the real world.
If you can use better equipment without any significant penalties, then do it.

For leveling, take the next ranger level for the feat and the will save, and prepare for horizon walker.

I guess (I don't know any adventure path) there will be some dungeons, so try to get that terrain too.

Urg, no I didn't know that. I've had a hard enough time getting AC, it sucks to lose it now.

As for better armor, yeah it would be smart, but unfortunately I'm pretty deep into roleplaying this character as opposed to advanced technology.

She also hates money, seeing it as a corrupting force, and won't take her share of party treasure, so I rely on what I can find or convince the DM to give me. So far I've talked the DM into letting me alternate increasing the bonus on my spear and my amulet of natural armor by +1 every other level. I turn down gold, but I'll take any relevant magic items we find, which is why I have the ring of prot.

It gimps my character, but I like what it does for exploring the character's personality. The down side is that I have to work twice as hard to be viable. :(

By the way, it's been entertaining seeing how one character not taking money throws the whole system out of whack so easily. It gives the other characters more money than they should have, causing the DM to not be sure how much gold to allot in encounters, and it pushes them ahead in development, causing the DM to wonder why his monsters are dying so fast. Sad that the system would break down so quickly from such a small thing.

Just a heads up trapper and skirmisher cannot both be taken as they both replace spells.

Horizon Walker is pretty solid, but honestly I would stay straight ranger. Or, the advanced race guide has a tribute to the queen of the jungle in druid form, under the human section.

Your inference "we're not leaving this jungle for the rest of the adventure path"

may or may not be correct ;)

No trapper + skirmisher? Looks like I missed another one. Okay, I'll ditch the skirmisher. It was a recent addition anyway.

Based on the descriptions on the back of the AP modules, I thought we were going to be in the Mwangi the whole time (other than Smuggler's Shiv, which was jungle also)? Or are you referring to dungeons? Don't tell me -- I'll find out I guess.

To start off, you have good stats for a melee fighter, but you have got a really good DEX as well so you really should consider picking up that composite bow. Composite bows allow you to add your STR to damage, but they cost more for a higher STR rating; a composite shortbow for someone at your STR would cost 300 gp, a composite longbow would cost 400 gp, and obviously you can make either of those masterwork for an additional 300. A net requires exotic weapon proficiency to avoid an attack penalty, but since it attacks touch AC you might be ok with it.

As for archetypes, since they both ditch spells you should only be able to use one of them. Essentially, the traps can replace spells, or the tricks can, but you can't have both because each is supposed to be equivalent to spells.

I would say that your best bet for this character is to stay straight ranger so that your animal companion doesn't suffer. You could conceivably take one level of fighter for a bonus feat, which would help your FORT save as well (though it would hurt the WILL progression). Fighter and barbarian would both end up costing you skill points, and you would miss out on higher level favored enemy bonuses.

Pick up the iron will feats I mentioned above, as well as boon companion (+4 to your druid level for animal companion, but maxed at your HD). I wouldn't recommend vital strike unless you move around a lot, it only works with a single attack each round, so you can't use it on a full attack.

Everything else honestly looks fine. I mean, fleet might not be the absolute best choice you could have made, but otherwise the character is good for what it does.

Not all of Mwangi is jungle; urban, underground, and aquatic rear up quite often. Advancing ranger straight to me is your best bet, as you continue to get your ranger skills boosted every level, and the really nice woodland stride, as well as the level 6 combat style feat, which really should be great cleave.

HawaiianWarrior wrote:


As for better armor, yeah it would be smart, but unfortunately I'm pretty deep into roleplaying this character as opposed to advanced technology.

She also hates money...
Sad that the system would break down so quickly from such a small thing.

Combining all that with your not so optimized character (even with the wrong ruling concerning the buckler - and even worse the ranger archetypes!!!!): bad idea, friend.

2 major questions arise:
- do you contribute to your party's success or just barely surviv with using up too many resources from the other party members?
- do you have fun playing that character?

AkaKageWarrior wrote:

Combining all that with your not so optimized character (even with the wrong ruling concerning the buckler - and even worse the ranger archetypes!!!!): bad idea, friend.

2 major questions arise:
- do you contribute to your party's success or just barely surviv with using up too many resources from the other party members?
- do you have fun playing that character?

Yeah, I know. *sigh*

I do contribute to our success, and in fact am the front-line fighter. For a while the druid in our party was outshining me something fierce (in fact I ranted about it on these boards a few months ago, then just dealt with it and moved on), but now that only happens if he shapeshifts. I've been the party savior more than a few times, and have chased down escaping adversaries.

I do have fun playing the character overall. Where it isn't fun is when I'm dealing with the build itself.

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Two levels of Barb could be nice. You stay 'savage' get fast movement, rage, and uncanny dodge. You will lose out on some will saves, (+1 I think) but that is comped by the morale bonus while raging. It's not perfect, but it's thematically appropriate.

Ranger is also a good bet. imo it is really up to you how you want to run it.

In regards to savage/primitive armor, look at hide (barb comps the speed disadvantage) or even dragonhide (if available!). As you do not take 'loot' the DM may make a •Shield• 3/day type item, too.

I don't think the game breaks down because one PC is 'outside the box'. In fact, it should expand the game. You already said the DM lets you 'level' your core gear, so you are accumulating wealth (by level). That sounds like a good fix to me. The loot found should be slightly less (one fair share less ;) ) so the rest of the party doesn't bloat.

You sound like you are playing a great character, I would be proud to run a game for you or just play next to you =).


Shadow Lodge

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... for a Klondike bar ?

HawaiianWarrior - This will sound very brutal and unkind, but I think you need to hear it:

You are creating all of your own problems by being directly contrary to the game. It sounds like your GM has been about as accommodating as possible short of writing an entire game system just for you. It is time to get somewhat on board with the game system, or at least try.

Sorry to say it, but like many other games, Pathfinder has its assumptions and "have to" actions. Characters taking loot, buying good equipment, and making good design choices are examples. If you don't want to do those things, that's fine - accept the consequences of your choices. Ranting is not accepting.

My suggestion is to start making some compromises. You have compromised the character build in several ways (no loot, armor choice, etc.) for the character concept. Now it's time to do the reverse. You are going to have to back off the character concept a little to make your character a viable member of your party going forward. Stick with Ranger, take your fair share of the loot, buy some AC items, and find a way to adjust your concept to fit those changes.

Shadow Lodge

I am going to politely disagree with Mike J. about this. You have a character that you enjoy and can still dish out the damage. If your GM is willing to work with you then keep playing. Story and role-play is what everything is about and if you and your group are enjoying the character and it isn't to much of a burden then just keep going.
If you are looking for ways to increase your AC I recommend wood armors (as a druid) and hide. Or take another PC aside OOC and ask them to help you role play getting better armor. perhaps the other character buy you +1 chain shirt and demand you wear the "clinking heavy monstrosity" perhaps even putting you in it while you sleep. Finally bracers of armor are a great choice.
As to leveling up, either keep in the ranger or go start planning for horizon walker. Only go horizon walker if you only want your animal for the look. If you want a serious animal companion then keep ranger and take boon companion. Horizon Walker is very powerful though and combined with the favored enemies you get as a ranger will give you a lot of options.
But in a nod to Mike, please, PLEASE make sure your GM and other players are enjoying this as much as you. If not, it just isn't fair to force it on them.


I'm surprised none of your team mates have decided to portion off your "share" of the loot (esp the gold), and keep it for you for later in case it is needed. They could easily purchase a chain shirt +1 and glamered to look like a fur-lined bikini top. Are they all *that* greedy?

As for optimizing, I trust the other board members to do a much better job than I would (I'm more of an RP-er, than an optimizer)

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber
Seriphim84 wrote:


If you are looking for ways to increase your AC I recommend wood armors (as a druid) and hide.

Leaf armour (from the Inner Sea World Guide) is even better; +3, No Armor Check penalty, weight 10lb.

You could also try and get your GM to give you something similar to the numerian leaf armor from the "gallery of evil"-adventure. It's essentially a light armor made out of specially treated leaves, so it should probably fit your theme. It Costs 500gp, has +3 AC, +8 max dex, 0 check penalty and weights 20 lbs. Or you could take Craft(armorer) as a skill and work with your GM to develop a better leather armor, maybe from the skin of some magical beast, thereby making it a +1 or +2 leather armor. I know this requires some houseruling but since you're already deep inside that territory, it shouldn't matter much.

Ninja'd on the leaf armor.

HawaiianWarrior wrote:
She also hates money, seeing it as a corrupting force, and won't take her share of party treasure, so I rely on what I can find or convince the DM to give me.

Vow of Poverty feat (from 3.5, if your campaign allows that) would be nice for such a character.

It's a bit dodgy for anyone but Monks. But it would be servicable for the kind of character you're running anyhow: it's less-worse than what you've got going. Especially if your DM lets you retcon into having taken it at 1st level (getting rid of the other leveling bonuses he gave you in exchange).

Reflavor it as a non-religious vow if you prefer.

It sounds to me that it's the look of the armor, not the material that's important. So you might start looking for a mithral chain shirt. Notice that it is a chain shirt, not a shirt and pants. Making it mithral keeps it light and comfortable.

You are already taking dramatic license with the leather armor, which should cover your entire body to be effective, so there is no reason you can't do the same with armor that is supposed to cover less. Instead of a shirt, it could be reflavored as a halter top and skirt, complete with revealing slits on the side for "freedom of movement". Making the armor magic allows you to hand-wave the question of "why does it protect her when it barely covers her?" question. Maybe an admirer (PC?) can give it to your character as a gift?

If you really want to stick with leather you could at least get it enchanted. It's cheaper than rings and amulets by a long shot.

For class, what other before me have said is good advice. If you want your panther to remain viable you will need to stick with Ranger, which shouldn't compromise your character concept at all. I would also say that Druid would be a good choice, except that you already said you don't like spells. :-)

If the animal companion is not as important then Horizon Walker is good. Just to throw it out there, you could also look at dipping into the Shadow Dancer prestige class. Not sure if it fits your concept, but the first two levels give you a ton of abilities. Only thing is that there are some duplicates with Ranger on there.

All that said I would probably stick with Ranger myself.

If the real hold-up is the look of the armor, get Glammered armor and it can look like whatever you want.

If you like to stick with a spear weapon switch to a longspear. This way you have reach.

Next pick up combat reflexes as your next feat this will give you more AoOs a round.

If you do multiclass I would second the barbarian choice. You can also pick up some hide armor if you like to keep with the theme. This will help your AC a bit.

If you think armor spikes ruins your character concept pick up catch off guard after combat reflexes.

The advantages of these changes are you can attack from reach (you need less AC), higher AC but still wearing flavorful armor, and finally you have a way to attack enemies that moves within your reach.

Finally, if you keep playing this character I would recommned Big Game Hunter which fits thematically and is very good for optimization.

Read "Guns, Germs, and Steel"

I don't have a name for this syndrome -and HW, try not to be insulted here, I think everyone who's gamed has suffered from it at some point- where a gamer wants to use their character to illustrate some philosophical stance and demonstrate its value, even if the system really doesn't support that point.

Example: once for a bit of fun, some friends of mine played a one-off game where each player was allowed to choose some character of god-like power, something already established in fiction, to play.

One player chose Smaug.

One player chose Thor.

One player chose Darth Vader.

One player chose Shaft (need you ask? Yes, this player was a skinny white kid from the suburbs).

Guess which character didn't survive the game? No matter how cool you might suppose Shaft is, he isn't going to beat Darth Vader in a fight. The rules don't support it, reality doesn't support it, good gaming doesn't support it.

If you really want to keep these parts of the character as a flavor piece, re-skin your aversion to money. Gems aren't money, though they have value, and it wouldn't be unusual for there to be lots of gems in a jungle setting, so maybe your GM helps you out, and you start finding gems, or artifacts, or just barter and trade goods in hoards (that's more realistic anyway).
If this doesn't interest you, and you really want to commit to this ideal, then it has ceased to be a character quirk, and has become something you, personally, are exploring philosophically.
Respectfully, the gaming table probably isn't the place for that.

Back to "Guns, Germs, and Steel": better weapons defeat weaker weapons, however virtuous the wielders of either are. Choosing weaker weapons and armor for cultural reasons has always, without fail, historically been the death knell of a group. It's nothing personal, and it is an amoral judgement, but history is clear on this.

If you really want your character to work, look up the times where, at least temporarily, those using more primitive weapons took down more advanced invaders. King Shaka, the Apache Scouts, and King Lapu Lapu of the Philipines (he's the one who personally beheaded Magellan) are a good place to start.

One hint, all of them used the terrain against their opponents.

THe thing is, it's a fantasy game, and there's no reason why a spear-armed, light armored warrior, with the proper gear (or a substituting Feat, like Vow of Poverty), can't be successful.*

admittedly the player chose not one but several gimps (lightly armored and no money. IMO it's the deliberate refusal to keep up with wealth that will be the biggest problem).

Your barter idea is good, though. She can take her cut of the loot in gems and exchange those for gears.

*This is different from saying "optimal" - "successful" I mean fun to play and contributes something - which is a necessary condition of "fun to play" after all. Most PCs in most campaigns aren't CharOpd to the 9s. A concept that is fun to play is important, too.

That said. . .nothing says the character in question cannot learn and adapt, some. I'm not saying this player is doing this, but a common thing among players is little if any "character development story arc" - they start with a character concept and personality at L.1, and stick with it throughout 20 levels (if the campaign goes that long), with little or no "growth" or "arc." An example here *could* be that perhaps the Jungle Queen learns that not all of "civilization and its arts" are inherently evil, not all of them are to be rejected. Of course, taken too far, that might drift her very far away from the "jungle queen" concept, and the player wouldn't want to do that, necessarily. But she could change some things as a result of experience (by which I mean here not just "EXP") and personality development.

FireberdGNOME wrote:
You sound like you are playing a great character, I would be proud to run a game for you or just play next to you =)


Mike J wrote:
You are creating all of your own problems by being directly contrary to the game.

Funny thing is, I actually completely agree with you. Over the years I've formulated a theory that D&D (in all its incarnations, including Pathfinder) is, at its heart, a game about Imperialism. It is built on the notion of acquiring wealth by taking it, by force or by duplicity, from minorities, other cultures, or from the remains of people from the past. In the deepest part of the game, it is about taking s%!! that ain't yours. For me to refuse to participate is to violate the fundamental essence of D&D. Actually, my character does take wealth from vanquished foes if they are evil or are her favored enemies, but even that in itself is a form of rationalization of violence in the pursuit of profit!

Seriphim84 wrote:
PLEASE make sure your GM and other players are enjoying this as much as you. If not, it just isn't fair to force it on them.

As far as I can tell, they're totally fine with my character. Honestly, I probably dislike her more than the others, because of the struggle to make her reach her potential without violating concept.

Brox RedGloves wrote:
I'm surprised none of your team mates have decided to portion off your "share" of the loot (esp the gold), and keep it for you for later in case it is needed.

They've said they'll do this, but it has never come up. The Serpent's Skull AP takes characters far away from civilization, and thus any opportunity to spend that ill-gotten gold. After Smuggler's Shiv, there is a brief time when the party passes through a town, but alas I was out for a few weeks and missed that time! As far as I know, we won't make it back to civilization for the rest of the AP, or at least if the back copy of each adventure is any indication.

JohnF wrote:
Leaf armour (from the Inner Sea World Guide) is even better; +3, No Armor Check penalty, weight 10lb.

I'll look into that!

Porphyrogenitus wrote:
... Vow of Poverty feat... glamered armor...

I looked into the 3.5 version of Vow of Poverty and really like it, but it's a no-go for my DM. The Pathfinder version was too weak to bother. It would be nice if they came up with something more middle-of-the-road.

Glamered armor is a good idea, though I think it's more for people who are trying to fool others into thinking they are unarmored, no? It seems like a waste of a +1 to just make flavor "official."

Gignere wrote:
Longspear... Big game hunter

I'll consider longspear. I originally went with regular spear because I started off throwing the spear, but have since decided to stick to using it in hand-to-hand.

I couldn't find Big Game Hunter. Is it an archetype?

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Some things....

  • Armor - You're queen of the jungle needs to go into her jungle kill some large creature, skin it, and tan its hide into some armor pronto. It's a quick armor upgrade and fits will with your ethos. If it ever becomes available, a dragonhide breastplate (preferable from a dragon she killed herself) would probably be your best bet in the long run. As for enchantments, jungle people have clerics who can enchant things by praying to their crazy Quetzacoal or whatever. D&D + Pathfinder has some ways that more primitive cultures can compete with more modern tech. A witch doctor (read: cleric levels) can give a +5 bonus to a stick of wood (read: club) and make it more dangerous than any finely crafted metal weapon. From the way you describe it, it doesn't seem your character is anathema to stuff just the common ways of collecting it. You and your GM can probably find a good solution.

  • Weapon - the spear is fine. I actually think throwing it isn't a bad idea, and is probably the best reason to get the vital strike chain. Moreover, at level ten, your trapper can load a trap on the spear before you throw it which could make for some interesting synergy with vital strike. If you are going to keep the spear, take weapon focus in it. If you are going to be vital strike throwing it, give it the returning property when you can.

  • Feats - Take boon companion. It pimps your panther. Take it as soon as possible. I recommend sticking with ranger through at least level 6 to get Great Cleave for free (it's pretty useful in a crowd). Iron Will is obviously a great choice, but I would take it after boon companion.

  • Classes - I would stick with ranger to at least ten to load up my traps on my spear. After that, I can get more ranger toys from feats. If you are going to cross class, well let me break it down by class options.

  • Fighter - The thunderstriker archetype could remove that penalty for using a buckler at level 3. The weapon master archetype is also a viable option if you are truly committed to just the spear. Polearm master is pretty great if you are willing to swap to longspear. Interstingly enough, phalanx fighter would also be a pretty nice archetype that could really work well for this character. It might seem weird given the name, but the abilities benefit spear users with shields and would provide some bonuses to defense. Taryn would eventually be using a larger wooden shield, but there is nothing really wrong with that.

  • Barbarian - Lost of good option here. Savage barbarian honestly feels like too much investment time for too little bonus. I would go with invulnerable rager for quick damage reduction. For the spear use, I would consider hurler while grabbing some extra spears and the hurling charge rage power.

  • Rogue - Danger! This is going to make you less effective in melee. However, there are a few archetypes you could dip into quickly and out before your BAB suffers too much. Thug comes to mind, which helps you frighten and sicken your opponents. This will help you survive in melee by debuffing your opponent (your panther also provides a reliable flank partner). Survivalist provides an array of non-combat buffs and helps compensate for a lack of magical gear. Useful talents include: befuddling strike, offensive defense, resiliency.

That concludes all the valuable(?) options I can see for Taryn.

Some nice advice, pobbes. Boon companion does look good, but for me the jury is still out on the whole animal companion thing. They're a lot weaker than they used to be, mainly in that they only know command words and are hard to work with. My panther only knows attack, defend, and stop. Been working on other commands but it takes a long time. Our DM won't let an animal tactically position itself so it basically just goes in wildly and does its thing. Getting it to do something outside the known commands is dicey at best. Are we doing something wrong?

Not to mention how hard it is to maneuver an animal in a dungeon, even something as agile as a cat...

PFSRD wrote:

Link (Ex)

A druid can handle her animal companion as a free action, or push it as a move action, even if she doesn’t have any ranks in the Handle Animal skill. The druid gains a +4 circumstance bonus on all wild empathy checks and Handle Animal checks made regarding an animal companion.

This should cover controling your cat. You can teach it more tricks using the handle animal skill, and the bonus tricks companions learn DO NOT count against the tricks the animal knows. I hope this helps since it seems like your DM is nerfing several types of character by downgrading animal companions to dumb attack machines...

It can be tricky to maneuver an animal companion, but that is why your character has acrobatics. You need to maneuver yourself into the flank. As for animal companion strength, you are basically explaining why you need boon companion. It helps make your animal companion viable in combat. Essentially, it is a feat tax for rangers at this point. However, you will only get out what you put in. If you don't put in the time to train, equip, and invest in your animal companion it will not be able to contribute effectively. However, if you weren't sold on the animal companion you should have chosen the ally hunter bond instead.

So, some notes on your animal companion. It should have a 2 intelligence and at this point should be rocking 7 skills if you've had time for training. You can command it as a free action so that definitely helps. Some important tricks: heel (to go into places kitty doesn't like), the second attack trick (kitty kills all!), seek (kitty find friends), come (kitty come here), stay (kitty, just play).
The important tricks for flanking are actually seek and stay. You can use those to position kitty before combat begins so she can pounce from a separate angle (preferably the flanking one). It also keeps kitty from eating the first flight of arrows.

A quick example, you see enemies ahead. You send kitty to seek to the right. You advance to the left. You emerge from hiding and begin the fight from the left then command kitty to attack who comes from where she was seeking. A second example, you command kitty to stay then try to move yourself into flanking. In the first round, you command kitty to attack who comes into the flank. It's not the easiest thing to do, but easier than trying to outrun kitty into melee.

Big Game Hunter is a feat it gets you +1 to hit and +2 to damage for anything that is large size. The fluff is that you are skilled at taking down large animals. So perfect fit.

I second the dragonhide breastplate idea. But first thing first get the hide armor asap.

HawaiianWarrior wrote:
Our DM won't let an animal tactically position itself so it basically just goes in wildly and does its thing. Getting it to do something outside the known commands is dicey at best. Are we doing something wrong?

He's the DM so it's his game but predator animals IRL are capable of tactically positioning themselves. Think wolfpack tactics.

You're right about animal companions being weaker but that's not the same thing as weak. Still it may not be an investment in character resources you want to make.

The big barrier remains the character's refusal to participate in the wealth-by-level thing, I think. Even if you allowed your character to use all the non-magic gear in the book, if she won't take her cut she will lag moar and moar behind as the levels go up.

Now that I see where you're coming from, I think that this bit is based on a misreading of history; it's not that traditional "barbarian" societies didn't take swag, loot, and the like. It's only that they were less successful at it (over time, that is). That said, like I said in my reply to BlueEyedDevil (who seems more impressed with Jarred Diamond's thesis than I am, but even with whatever caviates I might have, there is *something* to it), fantasy is fantasy and if your Jungle Queen is based on the fictional "Noble Savage" trope and wants to avoid partaking in not only the fruits of civilization but the fruits and behavior of most of the groups around her (perhaps she's Queen of an especially unique group), then that's fine. If it works.

However, and here I will be a bit blunt: It will be difficult for any of us to give better advice than we already have on how to improve the character's ability to function as her levels increase, at least not without writing special rules for her. For the same reason as mentioned in the occasional "we're in a low magic/low wealth campaign, help give tips on how to beat the monsters we face" - the problem is the game is built not necessarily around "a certain amount of loot" but really it's mechanical byproduct: having a certain amount of total armor and attack bonuses at a given level. Now, there are ways to get those without a lot of wealth: some are through spells, but she doesn't cast them and apparently the party isn't into casting them on her gear (or she avoids accepting their benefit, as fruits of civilization). Or there are Feats like the (3.5E) Vow of Poverty. Or there are the rules, again from 3.5E (and in 4E), on how to keep Characters "current" in a low-or-no-magic campaign, so they're not gimped.

There's also swashbucklery/duelist-like fighting styles: in a way I'm with you because even when I play a melee combat oriented character, I tend to prefer to be lightly armored rather than clad in full plate (the later, not very adaptive for jungles, btw; for those who are interested in "IRL comparisons," there are good reasons people didn't wear heavy armor in jungle environments. But I digress).

But if you go that route you have to accept the work-arounds; look for classes/characters that give AC bonuses, especially from another stat (when the 3.5E swashbuckler was published, I was ecstatic - in addition to liking light-or-no-armor, I tend to like INT chars, and the one i was using was also an arcane caster; +INT to AC? sign me up!); spear-using duelist paragon class might help (if you re-imagine it), but I dk (it would have to be reflavored, certainly; as described it's more of an urban/civilized combatant than a wilderness skirmisher).

I almost think your char would have been better being a spear-using Monk. Anyhow I'm extremely long-winded here, for which I apologize. Perhaps more later if I think of anything truly useful.

You've been super helpful! Thank you.

There were lots of good suggestions by folks and I'm looking into those. I'm torn right now between ranger and horizon walker. I'll most likely spend level 6 beefing up "kitty" with boom companion, then spend some time in horizon walker. Those crazy bonuses are hard to resist!

Also I'll get a long spear and hide armor for sure, as soon as I can.

I'm also toying with the feats Diehard, Vital Strike, Iron Will, Toughness, and Weapon Focus. Tough choice.

looks like you got it well in hand, good luck!

Shadow Lodge

I think the more important question is this...

What Would Jesus Do ?

...for a Klondike bar?

Funny, I hear CityHigh in my head every time I read my own thread title.

Glad we could help! Hope it goes well for you, and have fun.

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