Is a tripping Bard feasible?


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I'm playing a Bard based somewhat on the Controller Bard from Treantmonk's Guide to Bards, which has a lot of interesting ideas, one of which is using your whip to trip.

However, today I found A Guide for Trip Builds, which insists that a trip build for Bards is not viable, and whips suck for tripping.

So which is right and which is wrong?

I do get the impression that the second guide assumes (but doesn't state explicitly) that tripping has to be done through AoOs, which definitely goes well with trip, but is it really so bad to stand behind the front-line fighters and trip one enemy per round, while boosting everybody's to-hit and damage?


It's not.

A tripping ANYTHING tends not to be viable because on the rare occasion something isn't flat out immune to it, CMD is horribly broken and makes it effectively immune.


It's fun at lower levels. I haven't gotten very far yet but I'm having a good time with it.

Now I fear higher levels, for a million reasons, but at least for now it seems like a fun thing to do.

At the very least, play it because you want to and it's fun! If you decide it's not fun, your character feels that emotion too and decides to cast it out. If you think it's screwed you over forever, ask your DM about possible changes, role-play a life-changing event and see if he'll let you make some changes, or, roll a new character! retire as the greatest bull-whipper in the area.


Is it that bad? I thought tripping was quite popular.

And for a Bard who also does buffs, debuffs, spells and maybe some regular sword work, tripping isn't going to be his one trick that everything is going to be centered around.

I guess my question boils down to: do you really truly need max BAB, high Strength and the full tripping feat tree in order to have any effect at all? Or can a trip with a trip weapon be effective too?

I guess the main effect of a successful trip is that the target needs to get up on his feet and thereby provoke an attack of opportunity from my allies. So effectively I'd be sacrificing my attack for a chance to give my allies an extra attack. That sounds bad, but consider that their attacks are going to be a lot better than mine. I might be trading my 1d8+2 damage for a good chance on their 1d10+6 (or whatever they have).

Hm... this sounds like something I might be able to calculate.


The nice thing about tripping is that when the victim stands up, it provokes an attack of opportunity, so you get to hit them again. And when someone runs toward you, it provokes an attack of opportunity, so you can trip them.

The terrible thing about whips is that you need to spend three feats (not counting EWP for non-bards) before you're actually able to make attacks of opportunity with them. Which, on top of other feat taxes like Combat Expertise and Weapon Finesse, make it way too expensive.

You could rely on others to make attacks of opportunity and instead use your whip's great reach with Whirlwind Attack to make several trip attempts at once - except, wait, Whirlwind Attack has Combat Expertise and three other bad feats as prereqs, so that's also too expensive.

And that's not even getting into the Bard's 3/4 BAB falling behind CMD, or how lategame most enemies are just immune to trips. So even if you were to wade through all the levels it would take to buy up one of those chains, it wouldn't help, since by the time you did that it would be too hard for your trips to succeed.

Remember that if you're standing behind the front-line fighters to trip with them protecting you, they're granting the opposition soft cover against your trip attempts, so you're at an additional -4 on top of the usual penalties.

If you want to make a tripping bard, your best bet might be to drop whips entirely and pick up a normal Reach weapon. You won't be amazing, but at least you'll actually be able to make attacks of opportunity to protect yourself and capitalize on your trips.


If you want to trip you have to specialize. You 1) dont really have the feats, 2) dont have the BAB and 3) dont have much class abilities that support such a build. Oracles, Fighters, even monks can make so much better trip builds while still doing good damage (especially oracle) - bard couldnt do that.
Go for full cha, play him as supportive caster, make use of intimidating feats and get wands for UMD.

OR go with Cleric (Evangelist)4/Cavalier (Gendarme/beastrider)1, Battle Herold, make use of good melee while keeping up inspire courage, get horse master for a mount at your char level, maybe even get the eldritch heritage feats (orc) for damage or pick power attack, furious focus and all the trip stuff (even though it will take a while til you can have all of the important trip feats).


I wonder if

Charm Person

"Can you lie down for a second? There's platinum pieces to be found!"


I still stick with:

Do whatever the heck you want. As long as you're having fun doing it.

You might not be able to level mountains with your heroic manliness of trip-dom, but you'll still remember the good times while you play in the tavern.


I do plan to focus first on Inspire Courage, spells, and intimidation. I'll probably work towards Dazzling Display, especially if tripping is going to take too many feats before it becomes meaningful.

But for Dazzling Display, I need Weapon Focus. And if tripping with my whip is at all feasible, I wouldn't mind doing my Dazzling Display with my whip. But if tripping just isn't going to work, I'm probably better off putting my weapon focus on my long sword. My Str is 14, so I can still do some damage.

I'm still tempted to give it a try, though. Next session, if we're facing a group of bandits, I might pull out my whip and try a trip on someone, just to see what happens. We're still level 1, nothing has been invested in tripping yet. Looking at my stats, CMB +2 and CMD 13, I'd have a 50% chance of successfully tripping my mirror image. My chance to hit with a sword is significantly less with my AC of 16. Are there many opponents where CMD is higher than AC?

As for having fun, my main focus is actually my sky-high social skills. We're playing Kingmaker, and I'm hoping for lots of political maneuvering, deal-making and alliance-forging later on. And on my first big fight, I already saved everybody's life with a well-placed Grease.

There fun thing about the Bard seems to me that no matter what situation you're in, there's always something useful you can contribute. I was just hoping that once my Inspire Courage is active and I'm out of spells (or unwilling to use them at this time), there'd be something more productive I can do than just hitting things with a sword. I don't want to tread on the BSF's territory if I can help it.

Edit: I also really like the idea of cracking that whip. Unfortunately it's a crappy weapon for anything other than tripping and disarming, since it does no damage. If it sucks for those things as well, I guess I'm just going to carry it around for show. Maybe use it in a Performance like the Blues Brothers. (Wait, is that why Bards are proficient in it?)

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Tripping can be useful sometimes. Against some enemies, it is very useful. One PFS scenario's big bad has such a high AC, the party needs him prone if there's no one with a good BAB. I ran it when the best offensive meleer was a monk, no fighters, barbarians, paladins or rangers. That fight, any penalties to AC was needed. Fortunately, the monk could trip well.


mcv wrote:
Unfortunately it's a crappy weapon for anything other than tripping and disarming, since it does no damage.

If you're often facing large groups of enemies instead of a few big opponents, whips can be really nice with Whirlwind Attack, making up for the abysmal damage die with two-handing, Strength, Power Attack, Weapon Specialization, etc. But you'd pretty much need to be a fighter to make that an option, and even then it's still pretty mediocre.

mcv wrote:
(Wait, is that why Bards are proficient in it?)

Bards get whips because Indiana Jones.


No trip bard is not viable. It's a trap that looks cool but will make you feel bad for taking it.

1) CMD outpaces CMB too quickly especially for 3/4 BAB classes
2) Whip is a very feat intense weapon, bards don't have the feats to spare
3) Tripping has only limited late game applicability


Specializing in a single combat maneuver is generally not a good idea; no one combat maneuver can do everything, and as soon as you come up against something that you can't trip, you're effectively polymorphed into a brick.

Dabbling in a combat maneuver can be okay, in order to whip it out (no pun intended) when it's convenient, but its hard to pull that off with a bard, for all the reasons listed above.

A point about the late-game applicability, though: it really depends on the campaign. If your GM is throwing flying and/or colossal creatures at you, then you're out of luck; however, if the campaign centers more around humanoid villains, you might continue to get good returns on a trip build in late levels.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

While not optimized you can still make a viable tripping bard but you will have to put a lot of your resources into it and play smartly. I would suggest making an Arcane Duelist.

Your weapon will need to have the Dueling property from the Pathfinder Society Field guide on your whip. By using this and your Bladethirst ability to up your enhancement bonus your weapon can give you up to +15 on trip attempts. Also buffs like haste and good hope will give you additional +hit that you will need.

You will need to use your spells to your advantage. Particularly rendering your opponent flat-footed so as to eliminate any dexterity and dodge bonus to CMD will help to overcome some of the larger CMDs. The +2 from being invisible will help as well.

As others have pointed out, once your game moves into the higher levels tripping is not always an option so you will need to find other ways to contribute. Spells like haste, good hope, dispel magic, and inspire courage will need to be your focus.

So is it the best option? No, but depending on your campaign you can make yourself not a waste of space.


mcv:

Here's the question you have to ask yourself:

Do I want to be an optimal build, or do I want a fun, role-play oriented "flavor" build?

If you REALLY want your bard to be Jack Tripper, then by all means go for it! To heck with all the naysayers!!! Gaming is supposed to be about having fun, and maybe a few laughs. Don't get discouraged just because your not gonna be the best of the best.

First off, you're playing a bard. My experience with them is that they are great for buffs and support, and can be mediocre at melee (lots of attacks, but little damage) with the right combination of feats. They are a total FLAIR class. They will never be optimal for anything directly combat oriented, and they require a heavy amount of focus just to be "adequate" at one thing. They're the jack-of-all-trades class. They are okay at a lot of things, but will not be awesome at much of anything.

Having said all of that, here's what I would do:

Be human (for the extra feat), or figure out a way to come up with the extra feat another way.

1* Agile Maneuvers - Use Dex instead of Str when calculating CMB.
Extra Feat* Weapon Finesse - Good for fancy sword work with the Rapier. Also good for...
3* Whip Mastery - Don't provoke AoO. Do lethal damage. Eliminate the whip's armor restriction.
5* Combat Expertise - You need this to get Improved Trip (sucks). Justify taking it by viewing your character as a defensive, fencing-style combatant (especially if you use a Rapier, too).
7* Improved Whip Mastery - Increase threat by 5' (generally putting it at 10'.) Grab small and tiny unattended objects within reach and pull them too you (I think this is just plain FUN, if nothing else). Use your whip to grab objects like a grappling hook! (This feat is totally Indiana Jones.)
9* Improved Trip - +2 to Trip. Bonus that trips no longer incur AoO.
11* Greater Trip - Another +2 to Trip (cumulative), and the tripped target provokes AoO. Which is fun, since they will also provoke AoO when they get up! Folks with Combat Reflexes are gonna love that!
13* Greater Whip Mastery - This one is optional. Never drop your whip on a failed trip or disarm attempt. Gain the ability to Grapple from a distance using your whip! Oh, and you can hog-tie an enemy with your whip!!

I'm sure there are a plethora of other feats that would be useful. If you don't want to be a one-trick pony, but like the flair of combat maneuvers, throw in disarm feats, as well. If you aren't averse to it, maybe dip a couple levels in Fighter for the bonus feats. 2 levels give you 2 bonus feats, 3 gives you armor training reducing ACP (which impacts Weapon Finesse, and probably Agile Maneuvers), 4 gives you a 3rd feat, and 5 gives you Weapon Training (+1 to hit and damage with a weapon group - Choose Flails, it includes Whip). I wouldn't really dip more than 5, and would probably only dip 2 if it were me. Bonus that dipping Fighter gives you high BAB and d10 HP/lvl.

I hope this is helpful!


@Jaryn Wildmane: The game has already started, so switching to Arcane Duelist is not an option I'm afraid. (A shame; I'd looked at it before, and it does look like an attractive archetype for this character.)

I also think I'm heading for Dazzling Display first, so that means I won't be able to spend feats on tripping until level 7, which is probably too late to make it worth. So I'm just going to keep the whip around for the occasional trip attempt against a humanoid opponent when the situation seems ideal for it, but without feats, and I'm not going to put any special effort in it. If it works, cool, and if there's something better I can do, I'll just do that first.

...

So how does everybody feel about Net? Treantmonk also recommends that, and I just read in Ashiel's Adventuring Guidebook that Net is one of the best weapon in the game. Sounds useful against heavily armoured opponents. Worth a feat? Worth postponing Dazzling Display for two levels?

The main downside of Net is that I can't experiment with it until I spend a feat on it.


@Belefauntes: I'm not really looking to be Jack the Tripper. If anything, I'd prefer to be Jack the Battlefield Controller. Trip would merely be one tool of many. But if it's that feat intensive, it's not going to be worth it.

I do suddenly really want to play a Bard Archaeologist for some reason. Next campaign, I guess.

For this campaign, I don't need to be super optimized, but I don't want to suck either. Many other players are already of the opinion that Bards suck, and I'd like to prove them wrong. (I already saved their asses once with a well-placed Grease.) And I'm a bit afraid that with my handful of spells, after activating Inspire Courage, I won't have much to do except stab stuff with my longsword. I was hoping tripping would provide me with another option, but that option sounds too cumbersome to work. Maybe using a net might be more effective? Touch attacks are often easy.

I also have my doubts about the effectiveness of some of the other characters, though. The halfling rogue may be a crack shot with his bow, but his Str and Con of 7 make him very vulnerable in my opinion (the rest of his points are in Cha; we're playing Kingmaker, and I'm clearly not the only player who expects Charisma to be important). The Aasimar Paladin with Str 15 and Cha 20 seems more eager to tread on my turf than to fight effectively. (So far he's gone unconscious almost every fight.) The two-handed fighter and the ranged Travel cleric seem quite effective, though.


Yea, its so much fun to have spent all your feats on your whip but still cant trip anything (because your CMB is to low or their CMB is to high, they are flying or just super big.

Because in that case you can still do something else with that whip... like dealing... umm... well... mh... you can use dzzling display.

One: Optimizing is roleplaying.
Two: Being useless is not always fun.

Sure, completly focussing on trip you actually can trip something. But other than most better trip builds you cant dish out damage at the same time. Its to much specialization on something that is actually pretty circumstancial.

Net is actually something really cool! You can use it without proficiency pretty well though.

Shadow Lodge

I've got a build specifically for this, although it's not "tripping-only".

It's an Archaeologist (bard archetype)/ Mysterious Stranger (gunslinger archetype, cha-friendly) / Lore Warden (fighter archetype, skills-friendly).

I took Heirloom Weapon for +2 CMB with a meteor hammer (reach). I have a whip as well, although I haven't had much use of it yet considering the higher CMB bonus with the meteor hammer (I'm currently level 3, planning on majoring in Archaeology).

Feats:
(Human) Agile Maneuvers
(1st) Combat Reflexes
(3rd) Combat Expertise
(Bonus) Improved Trip

This build is really designed to be the ultimate support character with some flair. The gunslinger level is simply because he lacks quite a bit in attacks, which a ranged weapon (pistol) to touch AC should make up for. The archetype doesn't let him use the Quick Clear deed, which means if he misfires, he doesn't use the gun for the rest of the encounter (clearing takes an hour). That's fine, because he can trip. If he can't trip, that's fine, because he can use bard spells.

I seriously considered the whip mastery chain of feats, but it simply isn't viable. Spending the 3 feats, getting there at about level 5 or 7? Just isn't worth it.

There's another feat called Fury's Fall that lets me add my dex bonus to CMB (not to be confused with Agile Manuevers which lets you exchange str with dex), which I'll be taking soon/next, which makes the whip argument even worse.


mcv wrote:

I'm playing a Bard based somewhat on the Controller Bard from Treantmonk's Guide to Bards, which has a lot of interesting ideas, one of which is using your whip to trip.

However, today I found A Guide for Trip Builds, which insists that a trip build for Bards is not viable, and whips suck for tripping.

So which is right and which is wrong?

I do get the impression that the second guide assumes (but doesn't state explicitly) that tripping has to be done through AoOs, which definitely goes well with trip, but is it really so bad to stand behind the front-line fighters and trip one enemy per round, while boosting everybody's to-hit and damage?

A tripping bard seems to make perfect role play sense to me. You should be able to have the character get a steady supply of pesh or something similar. I'd say a must would be smoke goggles so that you look mysterious when speaking to people instead of just showing them your bloodshot eyes. A while is not such a great choice as you might want something sturdier to lean on if you get a bit wobbly.

I could not help but reply this way. I'll leave the mechanics to people that want to answer the actual question. Now why do I have Pink Floyd stuck in my head?


I would *never* take dazzling display as a bard and probably not as anyone else.

Dazzling display is a full round action, which means you have to have multiple targets in range at the start of your turn because you can't move more than 5' and get the effect off.

Against single targets intimidate is a standard action with no feat requirement. For debuffing the boss all you need are skill points.

Against multiple targets you can, by level 8, switch performances for a round to dirge of doom using a move action and still have a standard for a mass save or suck to take advantage of the -2 to saves.

Against multiple targets when you're doing it for the -2 to attacks rather than the -2 to saves cast blistering invective. It's dazzling display plus burn damage as a standard action. It costs a second level spell known instead of a scarcer feat (or two if you didn't want that weapon focus anyways), and you have a move action to get as many targets into range as possible.

Dazzling display loses on action economy before you even look at the feat cost.

On whips, they're very good for one thing: hitting casters. If your strength is reasonable and you're enchanting your whip and using arcane strike you can expect to do enough damage that the concentration DC will not be trivial. If they cast defensively they're looking at a DC 15 + 2x spell level check followed by about a DC 16±1 + ~0.65x your level + spell level check. Even if they're in the back the readied action is usually going to be worse than a cast defensively check would normally be and combat casting doesn't help. 1d3 is lame, but bards can add ~level/5 in inspire courage and ~level/5+1 in arcane strike on top of the usual 1.5x strength and ~level/4 in enhancement bonuses.

Have a buddy enlarge you and you can swat spellcasters 30' away with a readied action.


@Atarlost: Dazzling Display's range is 30 feet, though. That's 6 squares. If you're in combat at all, chances are quite a number of enemies are within range. Particularly all the enemies that are in melee with your allies (who definitely want to stay within 30 feet of the Bard.

The advantage of Dazzling Display over Dirge of Doom is that you can combine it with Inspire Courage.

There are many Bard builds where Dazzling Display wouldn't be worth it, but I'm going specifically for battlefield control, buffing and debuffing, and I think that makes Dazzling Display a really good choice, despite the seeming overlap with Dirge.

Blistering Invective is a cool idea, but it does take up one of my rare spell slots. Dazzling Display can be used as often as I like.

You're right about the action economy, but debuffing everyone, possibly for multiple rounds, makes it worth it, I think.

Using the whip against casters is an good idea, but it would require me to stand near the caster, potentially vulnerable, and he can still move out of reach (unless he wants to cast something short range). Wouldn't this be a better job for one of our archers? (We have two.)


Throw with nets whenever its possible. Nets rock.

Dirge of doom is actually not that cool because you could instead just run IC:P

Thats why DDis is really good in such a build as you mentioned.


You don't need agile maneuvers if you're planning to go with whip (and that continues if you plan to have a light weapon off hand).

My bard was doomed to literally never do damage. So I took Weapon Finesse, slapped on a whip and a spiked gauntlet. You don't get the threat range of the whip until much much later, but you still get to threaten the area around you and that feels pretty fun.

Shadow Lodge

KHShadowrunner wrote:

You don't need agile maneuvers if you're planning to go with whip (and that continues if you plan to have a light weapon off hand).

My bard was doomed to literally never do damage. So I took Weapon Finesse, slapped on a whip and a spiked gauntlet. You don't get the threat range of the whip until much much later, but you still get to threaten the area around you and that feels pretty fun.

Not sure where you get that you don't need agile manuevers if you're using a whip. If you have a low str, a high dex and you're planning to use combat maneuvers, you need agile manuevers (regardless of weapon). Whip's no exception.

Not sure if the rest of your quote explains it, but if it does, I don't see it?


mcv wrote:

Is it that bad? I thought tripping was quite popular.

In 3.5 and relative to other combat maneuvers which are even worse (which are less penalizing AND apply to fewer things)


Avatar-1 wrote:
KHShadowrunner wrote:

You don't need agile maneuvers if you're planning to go with whip (and that continues if you plan to have a light weapon off hand).

My bard was doomed to literally never do damage. So I took Weapon Finesse, slapped on a whip and a spiked gauntlet. You don't get the threat range of the whip until much much later, but you still get to threaten the area around you and that feels pretty fun.

Not sure where you get that you don't need agile manuevers if you're using a whip. If you have a low str, a high dex and you're planning to use combat maneuvers, you need agile manuevers (regardless of weapon). Whip's no exception.

Not sure if the rest of your quote explains it, but if it does, I don't see it?

I had a lengthy discussion to confirm this, so I'll refer to the FAQ on it:

http://www.d20pfsrd.com/feats/combat-feats/weapon-finesse-combat---final

But, the quick and easy is - since you are using your weapon to do the trip/disarm (or sunder? but that's not gonna happen, for me at least), you apply your DEX mod instead of your STR. If you were to somehow wind up disarmed (the spiked gauntlet would rather difficult to pull that off with, but possible), then you would be in trouble. But otherwise it'd be a wasted feat.


Avatar-1 wrote:
Not sure where you get that you don't need agile manuevers if you're using a whip. If you have a low str, a high dex and you're planning to use combat maneuvers, you need agile manuevers (regardless of weapon). Whip's no exception.

When you have Weapon Finesse and use a finessable weapon to make a combat maneuver, you use Dex for CMB instead of Str. This only applies to combat maneuvers that you make with weapons, which generally means trip, disarm, and sunder - but with the right feats, it can also mean reposition and grapple for whip-users.

Belefauntes's build should replace it with Weapon Focus (Whip), which is a prerequisite for Whip Mastery.


I don't see why not.

I've heard stories of entire parties of Bards addicted to drugs and they seemed to turn out okay.


So I (until recently) was playing a tripping bard in our Kingmaker campaign, so I'll share my experiences with how the character actually performs on the tabletop.

The rest of the party is melee-focused so I decided to take my character in another level and build him very RP-heavy, with a focus on skills and non-combat utility. Combat was an afterthought, and with that free whip proficiency I thought "why not?" Here's a quick rundown of the character:

Lord Griffith Theodore Hawkens, Professor of Archaeology and Ancient History.
Halfling Bard 6 (Archivist archetype), STR (8), DEX (16), CON (12), INT (14), WIS (8), CHA (17).
At level 6 he's got 17 rounds of bardic performance, four 2nd and five 1st level daily spell uses, and 10 skill ranks per level (with favoured class bonus going to HP). AC 17 and 38 HP he can survive a hit or two, but much more than that and he's looking in rough shape.

Non-Combat
Out of combat he's a beast. Between bardic knowledge (+1/2 level to knowledge checks) and lore master (can always take 10 on knowledge checks, can take 20 once per day), trait bonuses, and old fashioned skill ranks, my character is an invaluable font of knowledge on every subject. +9 to Knowledge (nobility) with a single rank in it, +12 to Knowledge (geography) for the same. He's the party face with +12 Diplomacy, and with Heroism, Honeyed-Tongue, and Gallant inspiration he's pretty much never failing any of those either. He can also pick locks, use any skill untrained (Jack-of-all-Trades), decipher ancient scripts, use magic devices, and on and on the list goes.

I know this has nothing to do with combat viability, but my point is merely that for a skills and RP-heavy campaign such as Kingmaker he's making huge contributions to the party even without ever stepping a foot into combat. If you are playing a campaign where you will also have such an opportunity your fellow players won't resent your character if you choose to go whip-focused for entirely fluff/RP reasons.

In-Combat
Unfortunately, combat is an area where Hawkens really doesn't shine, but he's still a very useful addition to the party. His archivist performance ability is great, giving +2 to hit/+2 AC/+2 save vs. spell-like abilities against monsters that he's identified at level 6. That right there is nothing to shake a stick at. The entire rest of the party is doing more damage merely by virtue of standing within 30 feet of him, and +2 AC all around is huge for survivability. Combine that with Heroism on your two main melee characters and you're laughing.

Spellcasting...this one really depends. Since we play Kingmaker, Hawkens will very frequently burn every single one of his spells in a single combat encounter. That means he's not actually trying to trip all that often. He's usually glitterdusting enemies, greasing their weapons or his grappled allies, or whatever other spells might work in the circumstances. If you're doing more than 1-2 encounters per day this is likely not a viable strategy for you.

Again, I make this point to show that - depending on the game - your actual combat focus might not be all that important. All of your contributions come from elsewhere, and what you actually do in combat is largely superfluous. No matter what you do you won't be putting out the damage numbers of the fighter or ranger, nor will you have the casting abilities of a wizard or cleric. You're the swiss-army-knife, doing whatever the party needs, and you should view your tripping capabilities in that light. I typically only get one ore two trip attempts into a combat, and spend the rest of my time casting spells or pulling crap out of my handy haversack.

Because when you can get your trip attacks in, it can be hugely effective. We fought a werewolf and the only thing that saved us from a TPK was Hawkens tripping the bastard every round and preventing those nasty full-round attacks. 15' of reach is huge too, and not only does Improved Whip Mastery increase it by 5' but it also lets you use your whip as a grappling hook or to grab small or tiny unattended objects. How f%$%ing cool is that? Plus once you can threaten with your whip you can trip as an opportunity attack. Greater Trip makes opponents provoke AoOs both when they stand up, AND when they fall. Trip a target a couple of your allies are threatening and suddenly he's provoking four AoOs in addition to your own. Not too shabby.

Yeah, you won't always be able to trip. Some enemies are immune, and if you're an idiot like me and choose a small race you won't be able to trip large creatures either (though my DM houseruled that I can by taking a penalty). However, given the other utilities of your class you can always find other ways to contribute. Personally I gave my character a handy haversack and filled it with every useful item I could come up with. Can't attack the plant creature because it's immune to trip? Hit it with an alchemist's fire. Trolls won't stay down? Notch some fire/acid arrows into your crossbow. Can't think of anything else to do? Bust out your wand of CLW and use it on whoever's hurting the most.

TL;DR Trip is far from the optimal bard build, and if you're doing long adventuring days where your per-encounter spellcasting abilities are limited you may want to look elsewhere. However if you're considering trip as merely one tool in your overall arsenal, it's certainly one to consider. I may suck in combat, but nobody begrudges my character's membership in the party and when I do get a trip off I feel like a f&*$ing champion.

((For full disclosure I did recently retire the professor to a quiet life of academia as Magister of our budding realm. We had some party changes that left us short a decent tanking character, so I swapped out the squishy professor for the beefier, full BAB cavalier. With a full-blown support character like that you really need some melee characters dishing out the hurt, otherwise he's a luxury the party is unable to afford.))

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm in a melee heavy party, so tripping is a great tool in the arsenal.

That said its true that tripping isn't always the best choice, against quadrupeds, and foes with impossible CMDs I use the other tools, the buffs and control spells.


At low and medium levels, tripping is fantastic. Once you get to the higher levels, you find tons of stuff that's immune to trip. And those things that aren't immune have ridiculous CMD.

Viable, yes, but you put your Bard into MAD by requiring high STR.


Or DEX! But Bard is already MAD.


Bards wear light armor, they already want Dex.


Well yeah, but I try to take Super-MAD and make it just MAD. It turned out to be a very ... 'interesting' character.

Sczarni

@OP
Don't know if you have True Strike on the list, but... True Strike + Whip will net you trip every second round.

I used this, but only as last resort tho. It's also somewhat viable vs things that are immune to your magic.


People say that tripping is viable at lower levels, but there are many things you could be doing with all of those feats and attribute points you're losing to feed your one knack pony trick. So in the regard I don't think it's worthwhile unless your DM scales CMB to match CMD and makes tripping less feat intensive.


Black_Lantern wrote:
People say that tripping is viable at lower levels, but there are many things you could be doing with all of those feats and attribute points you're losing to feed your one knack pony trick. So in the regard I don't think it's worthwhile unless your DM scales CMB to match CMD and makes tripping less feat intensive.

Actually tripping is plenty useful. And a bard is NEVER a one-trick pony. I have a tripping bard, and she has plenty of tricks up her sleeve for flying creatures, creatures that are immune to trip, etc...

Yes, it's true, they will never be the front-line fighter without using those feats for different purposes, but the OP just wanted to know if you could or should build around a single combat maneuver such as trip. The answer is, yes, you certainly can, but you shouldn't.


@Pirate Robot Ninja: That is very similar to what I'm looking at. I'm in a starting Kingmaker campaign (we're still level 1, killed some bandits and some wolves, didn't travel far from the trading post yet), and I'm looking for versatility rather than specialization. The rest of the group is two melee types and two archers, so it's up to me to do the interesting stuff here.

My specialization is definitely in social skills. I've got the Focused Study alternate racial trait, which is going to give me 2 Skill Focus feats over time, and I'm going to put those on my Perform skills, combined with Versatile Performance, so I'm going to rock at all those skills.

My character concept is that of a very Machiavellian politician. He has the Bastard campaign trait, and he's been trained for a life of scheming, backstabbing politics, but he lacks a power base. He's willing to do anything for power and influence, including even being a good guy, if that's what it takes. His words should be his strongest weapon. He should be contributing mostly by influencing people, and Bard fits that better than anything else.

I'd love him to be completely non-combat, but it's a pretty combat-oriented system, and in a wilderness hex-crawl, combat will be unavoidable, so I need stuff to contribute there. As a Bard, I can simply give him a sword, shield and light armor, but I'd like him to do something more original than that. Let the BSFs do the damage while I get to do the smart crazy tactical stuff, or something.

In-combat use of social skills like Intimidate and Bluff would be absolutely great. Trip is really just something for when I'm already inspiring confidence in my allies, the enemy is properly debuffed (shaken, preferably), and I need something else to do, so maybe let's trip someone, or something.

But I don't think I want to spend 5 feats on tripping. Like you say, it's nice to get a trip off occasionally when the circumstances are right for it, but it's probably going to be less of a staple in my arsenal than Dazzling Display, regular Intimidate, spells, and of course bardic performance.

So should I spend any feats on it at all? 6 feats is definitely a bit much. I don't need Weapon Finesse or Agile Maneuvers, because my Strength (14) is higher than my Dex (12). Should I go for Whip Mastery? Should I go for Combat Expertise? I do have the required Int 13 for Combat Expertise, so I think I was originally planning to go the Trip route, but I don't really care about Combat Expertise. 3 feats for a +4 to trip? Or Whip Mastery and Imp. Whip Mastery? The latter sounds really cool, also for the ability to grab objects. But it's a lot of feats to turn something that's barely a weapon (doesn't threaten) into something cool.


mcv wrote:
The latter sounds really cool, also for the ability to grab objects. But it's a lot of feats to turn something that's barely a weapon (doesn't threaten) into something cool.

Whips do threaten if you go down the Whip Mastery feat chain.


I see it as an all or nothing deal when it comes to investment. As others have mentioned, further on even with the "all" aspect of tripping, your likelihood of actually doing so is slim. Which means if you don't have the "all", you're dipping from slim to none.

But maybe it's not what you want your character to be about. Personally, from a RP perspective, I don't see a person who has more raw power (STR) over agility (DEX) favoring a whip over, say, a sword of some type. Rapier even if you want. But that's me. Also don't know race, as it would make more sense for an Orc or Dwarf to grapple and such over say, a halfling or gnome.


@Malag: Good point about True Strike, although that does cost a spell, and if I'm going to use a spell for it, shouldn't I just go straight for Grease instead? I suppose there are situations where trip is better than grease, but how often do those really occur?

@Black_Lantern: Exactly. I don't want to spend too many feats on this, and my attributes are already set at Str 14 and Dex 12. So how much is worth spending on this? Is it worth trying every now and then without a feat?

On the other hand, what else should I spend my feats on? Dazzling Display is high on my wish list, but beyond that? I noticed some Performance combat feats in Ultimate Combat, one of which seems to do a Dazzling Display as a swift action, but I've got the feeling this isn't about regular combat, but only for gladiatorial matches with big crowds.


EDIT: just saw the phys stats you used, removed the weapon finesse argument.

Pick up a scorpion whip, normal damage even vs armor, if you can use a whip you can use a scorpion whip for all the same things.

Also, you can drag/reposition with any weapon that has the "trip" quality, that's in a faq/errata somewhere since there are no weapons with the drag/reposition/dirty trick/steal listings.

The feat isn't needed, since you won't (probably) be in reach for the AoO if you do it from 15ft away.

At the GM's discretion, dirty trick could also be performed with a whip, snap it into the eyes to blind (1 round, move action to clear head) or sicken by snapping to the groin (same thing), crack near the head to deafen, all kinds of fun tricks eating into those full attacks. Check the modifier options for dirty trick vs trip, you'll be pleasantly surprised, blind is especially useful if you can train any rogues to go after you once the surprise round is over.

This maneuver would more fit the underhanded backstabbing tactical "anything to win" style of the character you described, so check it out in the APG.

plus, nothing in the beastiary is immune to the dirty trick maneuver, altho some things might not work, blind is better than prone for hit bonuses, doesn't generate the AoOs for standing tho.


@Barry Armstrong: It's not that I want to build entirely around Trip. It's going to be my third or fourth option after Inspire Courage, battlefield control spells and Dazzling Display. What I really want to know is: can I do it without spending feats on it? And how many feats are worth spending on it if it's not going to be my primary trick?

How many feats did your tripping bard spend on this?

And I can definitely go down the Whip Mastery chain, but that's 3 more feats, and is that really worth it to threaten with a whip?

@KHShadowrunner: My race is human. Is there any reason why STR for a whip is bad? I thought I needed Weapon Finesse and Agile Maneuvers to use it with Dex, which suggests STR is better.

It being an all or nothing deal is good advice. That means if I don't want to spend 6 feats on it, I'd better spend none on it. Maybe try the occasional lucky unenhanced trip against a suitable target when circumstances are right or there's really nothing else for me to do, and just stick to my longsword in the majority of combats? Or just drop the entire idea completely?

I do need Weapon Focus for Dazzling Display. I could put that on whip to help me a little bit, but if tripping is so unlikely anyway, it's probably better on my longsword.

Sczarni

@mcv
It doesn't cost a spell if you have wand. My wizard uses it to add around +15 to CMB, without any weapon proficiency or anything with a whip. It's cheap and effective, but slow since you can trip target 90% of time on second round.

It might also be problem if you don't have True Strike on the list, meaning you would have to use UMD(which isn't bad skill to have).

It's maybe good idea, but as a last resort as I said. It's better to be sure that you are gonna actually trip someone, then blindly throwing the dice hoping you receive high number.

There is quite possibility to completely avoid feat chain. You could focus completely on buffing and while you are doing it, you are raising your CMB along. Lotus Geisha add's +1 to hit/damage on 2nd level on Bardic Performance for example. A 14 DEX lv2 bard, would have +2 from DEX (considering you have weapon finesse), +2 to hit, +1 BaB = +5 to CMB while using Bardic Performance plus any additional bonuses from buffs.

+5 CMB without feat chain seems good to me at low levels without using up anything besides bardic performance.


mcv wrote:

@KHShadowrunner: My race is human. Is there any reason why STR for a whip is bad? I thought I needed Weapon Finesse and Agile Maneuvers to use it with Dex, which suggests STR is better.

It being an all or nothing deal is good advice. That means if I don't want to spend 6 feats on it, I'd better spend none on it. Maybe try the occasional lucky unenhanced trip against a suitable target when circumstances are right or there's really nothing else for me to do, and just stick to my longsword in the majority of combats? Or just drop the entire idea completely?

I do need Weapon Focus for Dazzling Display. I could put that on whip to help me a little bit, but if tripping is so unlikely anyway, it's probably better on my longsword.

Human's a good race, and if your DEX score is lower than your STR, there's literally no reason to bother with Agile/Finesse. If it were higher, you still wouldn't need Agile to be a whip-master.

Your idea about the occasional lucky trip sounds spot on. You can even role play it up a bit. Some sneaky guy trying to flank your partner while your back is turned? Screw that, whip around and flail him to the ground with X

and I say X, because you can save a lot of time by simply using a reach weapon rather than the whip if that's what you're after. The whip gives you benefits, but as you can see to really reap those benefits you have to invest, and investing means it's going to come much later in the game.

I mean, why try to trip from 15ft away when you could move next to the person (no AoO), Trip him, and provide a flanking bonus to your partner as well? you won't provide this for a while with your whip until the feats start trickling in. And by then you'll start running into issues with what you're facing.

Don't get me wrong, whips are great. My character uses a whip. But my character has a strength score of a wimp, so I can't wield a trusty longsword or rapier and actually hope to do some serious damage to the do-dopper. If I had the opporutnity to, I would have saved myself a feat (Finesse), and stuck to longsword (my original goal was to dual wield rapiers, but.. dreams were dashed that day)

Scarab Sages

I've got a trip-focused bard and he's one of my (and my gaming group's) favorite characters of all time. He's an archaeologist bard carrying a whip and of course styles himself as the Indiana Jones of the halflings. My feats are all leading along the trip-progression and although he's not quite an *idealized* build numbers-wise, he is super fun to role play and everyone loves when I start playing the Raider's March on my iPod after making a successful trip. And despite not being the most idealized build, he has still been very effective. BBEG with heavy armor and a high AC that no one can hit? Allow me to put him on the ground for you. Now go at it.

So what I'm saying is: if it's fun to play, just do it and don't worry about the numbers. You don't have to be absolutely idealized to be effective.

Related Story:
Since my bard is a halfling, his whip does 1d2 damage and I assumed early on that he would never get the opportunity to use it for damage (also considering that whips can not get through armor or natural armor). During one game, we had a beast on the ground pretty beat up and it was my turn. I thought about just shooting an arrow into it and putting it out of it's misery but my GM whispered to me "use your whip". CRACK. A whole 1 damage later and the thing is unconscious. It had no natural armor.


mcv wrote:


My specialization is definitely in social skills.

...

My character concept is that of a very Machiavellian politician. He has the Bastard campaign trait, and he's been trained for a life of scheming, backstabbing politics, but he lacks a power base. He's willing to do anything for power and influence, including even being a good guy, if that's what it takes. His words should be his strongest weapon. He should be contributing mostly by influencing people, and Bard fits that better than anything else.

Honestly, if you're playing Kingmaker as a bard you basically don't need to worry about combat. Your non-combat contributions will be so huge that you'll hardly miss it. Not to mention that Kingmaker's single-combat days mean you can, as I said, literally just dump all your spells into a single combat. Suddenly you might as well be a primary-caster class.

I also can't stress enough how awesome the Archivist is. I have skills coming out my ass, and pretty much never fail a skill check. I bought Pathfinder Chronicles at 50gp a pop for +2 on every single one of my knowledge skills. Combine that with Heroism and Loremaster and I rarely even find the need to roll for them. If I'm unhappy with the result I can always gallant inspiration after the fact. For diplomacy checks I have Honeyed Tongue (roll 2d20 and pick the highest) plus Heroism, and Gallant Inspiration after the fact if I fail. Combine that with Skilled as a human and a decent INT score and you're laughing.

Yeah it gets annoying when you're in combat, but if you're really concerned about it then that's what Leadership is for. It's pretty much a must-have feat in Kingmaker, since the party often ends up very starved for allies to fill government roles after a few deaths. Burn that 7th level feat on Leadership and you can get a melee character (I strongly suggest a Cavalier for pathfinder) to lay the hurt on.

More importantly though, ask yourself "what else would I be doing with those feats?" You're probably too squishy to really wade into combat yourself, and how much damage are you *really* doing with that crossbow? When your THF fighter is on the front lines dishing out serious hurt, what's your piddling dNothing+f~**all damage contributing? Pull that mofo down with a whip, though, and suddenly EVERYONE gets an AoO when he stands up. Greater Whip Mastery and they're doing it twice.

Sure you could take feats to boost your other abilities. Skills, for instance, if you really want to forsake combat. The performance feats are a waste though, since you'll very, VERY rarely run out of performance rounds in Kingmaker. Between levels 4 and 6 I literally haven't done it once. I can count on one hand the number of times I've even exhausted all my spell slots.

If you want to round your character out, tripping is honestly a pretty sweet way to do it. And at those later levels when it stops being viable in combat you'll either be so strong at other things you won't care, or you can retire your bard to a permanent role on the council and start playing someone else instead.


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Pirate Robot Ninja wrote:
dNothing+f*+*all damage

New favorite term.


I think everyone knows by now that bards can trip some stuff at low levels. But please do not claim roleplaying and out-of-combat stuff make up for in fight viability because those two are not connected in any way - you can have both and this thread is not about how to play pathfinder, how to play bard or how to build characters that can be nice outside combats. Its about wether a tripping bard is feasible and - no, not really because 1) your CMB will be too low at higher levels and you will have spent tons of feats in something you wont profit from later on and 2) you can build bards that actually can provide a lot of stuff in combats - more versatile stuff - less one-trick-pony'ish stuff and stuff thats effective through out all levels. Trip bard is - no doubts - not the optimal way for a bard to perform in combat - not at all.

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