Water Snake (Ranger)


Round 2: Design an archetype

Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka DLandonCole

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Water Snake (Ranger)
In lake-edge reeds, beneath a lily-pad, hidden and ready to strike, some rangers imitate water snakes, hoping to match their abilities to hunt, to kill and to survive. Usually the masters of marsh and swamp, water snakes are also often found along rivers and coastlines, or even in sewers.

Class Skills: A water snake gains Acrobatics as a class skill and does not gain Knowledge (Dungeoneering) as a class skill.

Slither (Ex): At 1st level, a water snake becomes adept at moving silently through the water and hiding amongst aquatic flora, gaining +10 to Stealth while in the water. This replaces wild empathy.

Death from the Shallows (Ex): At 2nd level, a water snake is accustomed to using currents and tides to his advantage and gains the ability to make sneak attacks, as the rogue’s ability, as long as he is in the water. This extra precision damage is 1d6 at second level and increases by 1d6 at 6th, 10th, 14th and 18th levels. If the character already has sneak attack from another class, his effective rogue level is half his water snake level for stacking. This replaces all combat style feats.

Dive Down (Ex): At 3rd level, a water snake can hold his breath for longer, adding twice his water snake level to the number of rounds before making Constitution checks to avoid drowning. This replaces endurance.

Swim (Ex): At 4th level, a water snake gains a swim speed equal to half his normal movement. This replaces favoured terrain.

King Snake (Su): At 7th level, the water snake can summon a swarm of snakes; this otherwise functions as Summon Swarm. This replaces Summon Nature's Ally II as a spell he can prepare.

Breach (Ex): At 7th level, the water snake may charge through water, even though it is difficult terrain, so long as the charge starts in water. Each square of water still counts as 2 squares of movement. This replaces woodland stride.

Hold Under (Ex): At 9th level, a water snake can hold an enemy under the water until they fall unconscious or drown, squeezing the air from their lungs. While in control of a grapple when both he and his enemy are in water, a water snake can pull himself and his enemy underwater. The water snake can maintain the grapple without incurring the usual penalty for taking a standard action while holding breath; the penalty is doubled for any standard action his opponent takes. The water snake does not gain the +5 bonus to maintain his grapple. This has no effect beyond a standard grapple on creatures that do not breathe or can breathe underwater. This replaces evasion.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

This is suitable for the RK, though I would have preferred a stronger tie.

Class Skills: The specialty should be in lower case ("dungeoneering").

Death from the Shallows: Nice scaling and stacking of the sneak attack.

Swim: Paizo writes in American English, so you need to stamp out that "u" in "favoured." Or, as a certain publisher puts it, "We fought a war so we wouldn't have to spell words with an unneccessary 'u.'" ;)

Hold Under: This is a neat ability, but very specialized. I don't think most players would give up evasion so readily.

I DO recommend this archetype for advancement.

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

Initial Impression: Snake style ranger-fu! (or is it?)

Sean is correct to note it needs a stronger River Kingdoms tie in, but that said this archetype would work very well there. The keystone ability is a bit strange, most rangers don't decide to max their ability to grapple and none of the prior abilities, except for the ability to hold breath under water, really build to this so it seems a bit strange and a bit of a let down. It fits thematically. I think there are times this seems to fit better as a fighter archetype. Not sure you found your mark completely here. Some other mechanical issues here, too.

I am on the fence.

The Exchange Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

Landon, congrats on making the Top 32, and my commiseration on dropping right into the hotly-contested Ranger archetypes category.

I like your mechanics for these elements like a swim speed and some water attacks, though they also exist in other archetypes with closer River Kingdoms ties. The water snake title is a good bit of flavor, and this archetype has a more hardcore edge than some of the others: it's meaner and veers into assassin-style drowning.

Like Sean, I'm not sold on grapple for it, but I think this is one of the better-executed ranger archetypes, and I'd recommend to advance.

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

Landon, having reviewed all the submissions I don't think there are 16 clearly great ones. As a result, I think your submission should be in the top 16. Thus:

I DO Recommend this archetype for advancement, in view of all the submissions.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

A Ranger that mimics water snakes, Lets see how that shakes out.

I find it a bit odd that you drop knowledge(dungeoneering) when sewers are mentioned in your flavor text. I understand Dropping a skill to gain another, but those skills certainly arn't one for one. I don't think it would have been horrible to just give acrobatics.

Slither seems very potent as a starting ability. Maybe it should scale up as you increase in level, though it might be situational enough to be ok in the long run.

Sneak instead of a combat Style. Fits the flavor and is appropriately powered.

The other abilities fit on theme and look useful.

Hold Under might be better if you reduced the number of rounds your opponent could hold your breath. I don't get the squeezing the air out from the mechanics and I think that would make the ability a more appealing swap for evasion. Still situational, but a little more potent.

Good Luck


Interesting idea.

I think that Death From The Shallows should just grant the sneak attack, without "only in water" requirement. While sneak attack has great potential it replaces ranger's combat style feats that are also quite powerful (because they allow ignoring prerequisites - after the last session party ranger got Shield Master at 6th level while every other high BAB class can't get that before 11th level for example).

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9

While initially put off by the mental image of a ranger trying to literally hide under a lily-pad, the class is pretty good.

Not one I'd want to use, as personally I think the hide and wait (in the water) makes a lot more sense for one or two enemy encounters - but maybe a player could get use out of it.

Good luck this round!

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka GM_Solspiral

Good: PRomising name, entry delivers on promise, I like the mechanics and flavor.
Bad: Water theme in river lands is playing it too safe for me.
Ugly: you get lost in a sea of rangers with water themes.
Overall: If I have 16 votes you're in with 8 you might land just a little outside but you are a contender for my vote.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8 aka nate lange

good template use; well written (even if your union jack pants are showing).

i think most of your game balance is good. i'm not sure how acrobatics is related to snakes (though, i suppose its a requirement for the snake style combat feats...) but that's a small thing. slither is obviously broken: +10 is far to large for that type of static bonus, even if it has a situational limitation (it should probably scale- maybe +1/2 levels). swim probably is a bit weak, and i'm not a big fan of the drowning thing, but overall it seems pretty sound in terms of balance.


Landon, your Water Snake contains elements of another popular assassin called Snake which I find a bit worrying, but many of the actual elements of the archetype I do enjoy.
The sneak attack being restricted to the river is a massive disadvantage.
I feel the King Snake ability could be substituted for something grapple oriented as that would lead players down the mental path towards Hold Under. As others have stated there isn't a strong RK tie which means players are more likely to want to use it based on it's relative power level and it isn't powerful enough meaning it's likely to be shuffled in to a disused corner of the warehouse.

I am going to be voting for you, the deciding factor being your use of the word favoured. If you want to get beyond the 3rd round don't do it again but for now, on behalf of all those in the world who speak English I say Stick it to the man!

:D

Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Clouds Without Water

I will give general impressions, but with 3 areas of particular focus that suit my personal interests. Archetype and ability names: do they show flair? How closely tied to the River Kingdom is the archetype? And last but certainly not least, do I want to play this archetype?

Archetype and ability names: Archetype name is bland, but ability names are all above average. Thematically coherent and appropriate.

River Kingdom tie: Above average. The water tie is natural, but could be from another of other locations.

Desire to play: Average. Another archetype with cool abilities that are very environment dependent. Having said that, if a marsh based campaign came along, this would likely be the one I'd take for it.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka theheadkase

OK Water Snake! Yeah!! I like the name right off the bat as it just reeks of dangerous.

It's a ranger that is more grapple focused and is...in all honesty...bad *expletive deleted*.

You've got a strong theme and everything about the archetype works in harmony with that theme.

Stronger tie to the RK, but honestly, for this one case I'm fine with that because of how off the wall for the ranger this is.

The only, tiny complaint I have is that I wish I would have seen a poison proficiency ability. This ranger should also be trying to poison like a water moccasin or other aquatic snake.

Overall, I want to play a ranger now. A Water Snake ranger. I seriously like this archetype and I think that your creativity and solid writing overwhelm any little mistakes.

I DO recommend.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka surfbored

Landon Cole wrote:

Water Snake (Ranger)...

It looks like I might be in the minority at the moment, but I really don't like the name "Water Snake". It's too mundane and it's clear by the rest of your writing that you can do better.

The opening paragraph is unusual and at first I didn't care for it. But its uniqueness grew on me.

Landon Cole wrote:

Class Skills: A water snake gains Acrobatics...

Not an even swap, but, okay, I guess.

Landon Cole wrote:

Slither (Ex): At 1st level, a water snake becomes adept...

Slither? Kind of a weak name for such a strong bonus. As others mentioned, this should scale (no pun intended) instead. The writing is very nice though.

("Amongst", another UK word. In the US, we say "among". No ding though as who's to say what they would say in the RK?)

Landon Cole wrote:

Death from the Shallows (Ex): At 2nd level, a water snake is accustomed to using currents and tides...

The names are getting better! It reads well, is a good trade and is obviously useful.

Landon Cole wrote:

Dive Down (Ex): At 3rd level, a water snake can hold his breath for longer, adding twice his water snake level to the number of rounds before making Constitution checks to avoid drowning. This replaces endurance.

Creative ability addition here. Others (me included) would've given something more obvious, like water breathing at a higher level. It's a logical swap for Endurance too. Of course, Endurance would help with holding your breath too.

Landon Cole wrote:

Swim (Ex): At 4th level, a water snake gains a swim speed equal to half his normal movement. This replaces favoured terrain.

Another logical swap. "Swim" is a strong ability, but it makes sense for this archetype and probably appropriate at this level.

Landon Cole wrote:

King Snake (Su): At 7th level, the water snake can summon a swarm of snakes...

Another name that doesn't do it for me. Either it's a pun (playing off the name of the real snake), or it makes me think of a snake with a little crown. I'm a little conflicted because you reduce the variability for more power. Still it reads nice and is balanced.

This should probably be "(Sp)" not "(Su)".

Landon Cole wrote:

Breach (Ex): At 7th level, the water snake may charge through water...

Breach? So you're bursting out of the water? I guess I'm just not on the same wavelength (again, pun not intended) with the names, but that's okay. The real issue here, I'm not sure you need this. With a swim speed you can move your normal speed through water, including running, so I think charging is already allowed and it doesn't take 2 squares of movement. (Perhaps someone with more clout can rule on this?)

Landon Cole wrote:

Hold Under (Ex): At 9th level, a water snake can hold an enemy under...

Drowning is such a scary death, you could've laid it on thick with the name here (Watery Grave, Death Roll, Last Gasp, etc.), but again you were reserved. I sense our styles don't match! ;)

This is a weak trade. You already hold your breath for a long time (28+ rounds), can take a 10 while swimming endangered and can move your grappled foe half your speed (into deeper water). All without this ability. A shame to lose evasion just for "insurance" on a special attack.

OVERALL: This is a highly specialized archetype and I'm surprised the judges/voters haven't given you as much grief as they have given other specialized archetypes. Perhaps that's a testament to your good writing, or just that your archetype was surprising and original feeling?

I find it easy to forgive the small mistakes I perceive in your write-up, but I'm not sure why. I want to vote for this archetype, and unless I come across stronger entries (I have a few left to read), I will.

Good Luck!

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

"If the character already has sneak attack from another class, his effective rogue level is half his water snake level for stacking." <-- Why make it complicated like this -- you could just say the sneak attack dice you get from this archetype stack with those from other classes.

ANYWAY, I like the flavor of this archetype and the abilities really fit the theme well, so I'll probably vote for this even though it isn't one of the strongest archetypes this round.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka JoelF847

This is pretty good - nice tight theme, that fits well in the RK, even if it's not a specific RK tie-in, and useful blend of abilities. I agree that the slither ability should be scaling, not a flat +10 bonus, and it should also probably replace track, since a) tracking doesn't really work in the water, and b) a water based ranger would still want to use animal empathy with acquatic and marine animals.

I thought King Snake was very clunkily worded - it should have been more along the lines of add summon swarm to your spell list, replacing summon nature's ally II. This can only be used to summon a swarm of snakes.

Also, hold under is pretty underwhelming - it takes a LOT of rounds to get someone to start drowning, since it's not too hard to hold your breath. This might have been better modled on the crocidile death roll special ability - letting the water snake grapple a foe in water and get a free trip and make an attack with either a natural slashing weapon or light slashing weapon in addition to the grapple check to hold them in the water.

That being said, interesting concept that is fairly well balanced and a good fit with the RK since there's so much rivers and acquatic terrain there.

Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka DLandonCole

Thankyou to everyone for the comments - the criticism is really helpful - and thankyou to everyone for voting, whether you plumped for the Water Snake or not!

Some thoughts in general and from the criticisms people made are below the fold.

Thoughts:

I went for a ranger because I was knocking around different animal styles; the druid just becomes them, and while other classes could take them, I felt that a ranger, out in the wilds, tracking them down, would be most likely to try to imitate them. A variant on this could be a rhino-type ranger that charges people and bull rushes them, and so on.

Regarding the Hold Under ability: as I understand it, if you're underwater, you can hold your breath for twice your constitution score. If you take a standard or a full-round action, this decreases by one (so, if you're underwater and do something, it costs two rounds of held breath). Maintaining a grapple is a standard action, so if you're trying to drown your opponent, they can effectively just sit there while you use up your rounds. The Hold Under ability means that maintaining the grapple doesn't cost you extra rounds, but your opponent, if they try to get out of the grapple, is going to start burning through their rounds. The penalty is doubled, so a standard action effectively takes three rounds' worth of held breath. To give an idea, a Con score of ten would give twenty rounds of held breath. With this ability in play, it's down to seven. That's still quite a long time in game terms (but not impossibly so, IMHO) and seems reasonable if we allow six seconds per round; that gives forty-two seconds before you fall unconscious. I thought the usual +5 bonus to maintain a grapple was too much, so I just killed it. Bear in mind that the idea is that the Water Snake is basically squeezing the air out of your lungs while you struggle to break free.

Hopefully, I've understood the mechanics properly!

I've added English (US) to my word processor. Hopefully, the extraneous 'u's and so on will disappear.

A few people, including the judges, were looking for a stronger tie to the River Kingdoms, rather than just something that would play there. That's something I've taken on board (I hope) for the next round.

Going through people's comments individually in reverse order:

Joel - I spent hours trying to come up with a better wording. If you can think of one, you're doing better than me; what's there is a bit clunky, I agree.

Mikko - I was basing it off the phrasing for the Vivisectionist archetype for the Alchemist.

Jerry - I swapped in Acrobatics just because it seemed like they should have it. It just 'fit' in my mind. I was going to go for 'death roll', but that's what crocodiles do (assuming Crocodile Dundee is accurate). Perhaps just adding it as a freebie would've been better.

Headkase - Poison would've been a good addition, you're absolutely right.

Clouds - I hope that the archetype would work for any aquatic campaign, like Skull and Shackles or Razor Coast.

Paldasan - I'm afraid I don't know the reference!

Edward - yes, a few people have said that the static bonus isn't right, and on reflection I think I agree. The image I had in my head, when originally sketching this up, was of a soldier in a swamp with just the top of their head visible that suddenly bursts out of the water, hence the high stealth.

Solspiral and Ronars - thanks for your thoughts.

Drejk - I think I disagree; the combat feats are powerful, but I'm not sure they add up to 10d6 damage at 20th level. Somehow, giving a ranger the full sneak attack progression seemed too much, and there were five combat feats forming a combat style, and it seemed like a good switch.

Jason - on drowning, see my thoughts above. I agree that the static stealth bonus was probably too much.

Clark, Wolfang and Sean - thankyou for doing the judging! I get a real kick out of knowing that you guys are reading what I've submitted and I'm flattered that you thought there were some worthwhile ideas here.

Anyway, thankyou all again. If you'll excuse me, I have to work on my monster :)

Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka DLandonCole

I've just stumbled across the Coastal Pirate prestige class - it has a lot of similarities to the Water Snake.

Community / Forums / Archive / Paizo / RPG Superstar™ / Previous Contests / RPG Superstar™ 2013 / Round 2: Design an archetype / Water Snake (Ranger) All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.
Recent threads in Round 2: Design an archetype
Arsonist (Rogue)