Frontier Sentinel (Ranger)

Round 2: Design an archetype

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8

Frontier Sentinel (Ranger)
Many roads are perilous, but few more so than those that thread between disputed territories and untamed wilderness. Frontier sentinels recognize the danger of traversing these regions, and know the best protection against bandits and beasts alike is strong teamwork and a keen eye for trouble. Some frontier sentinels work as caravan guards and guides. Others dedicate themselves to serving those in need.

Traveler's Instinct (Ex): At 1st level, a frontier sentinel can sense the trustworthiness and hostility of a creature as a standard action. This ability functions like a Sense Motive check to get a hunch. The frontier sentinel can attempt the DC 20 check by rolling 1d20 and adding his ranger level and Wisdom modifier. If the check succeeds, the frontier sentinel can make an accurate prediction of the creature’s initial attitude towards the frontier sentinel and whether or not that creature is trustworthy. The frontier sentinel suffers a –4 penalty on the check if he does not share a creature type with the target. The target must be within 100 feet of the frontier sentinel and clearly visible. This ability replaces wild empathy.

Teamwork (Ex): At 2nd level, and every 4 levels thereafter, a frontier sentinel receives a teamwork feat as a bonus feat. He must meet the feat’s prerequisites. This ability replaces combat style feats.

Sentinel’s Bond (Ex): At 4th level, a frontier sentinel forms a bond with his traveling companions. This ability functions as the hunter’s bond ability, with the following changes.

If the frontier sentinel forms a bond with his companions, he grants them the use of the bonus teamwork feats he possesses from the teamwork style ability instead of his favored enemy bonus whenever he activates this ability. The frontier sentinel must be within 30 feet of a hostile favored enemy to use this ability.

Alternatively, if the frontier sentinel forms a bond with an animal companion, it gains the benefit of the frontier sentinel’s bonus teamwork feats so long as they remain bonded companions. The frontier sentinel shares only half his favored enemy and favored terrain bonuses with his animal companion. This ability replaces hunter’s bond.

Ambush Awareness (Ex): Starting at 9th level, a frontier sentinel can take a single move action during the surprise round even if he is surprised. This ability replaces evasion.

Improved Ambush Awareness (Ex): Starting at 16th level, if he is aware during the surprise round, a frontier sentinel can spend a standard action to grant each of his allies (including himself) within 30 feet who can see or hear him the ability to move up to their speed as an immediate action, even if they are surprised. This ability replaces improved evasion.

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

Well, Mike, you wowed everyone with the Gloves of Flame Command in Round 1, so let's see what you have for Round 2!

As one of the 7 ranger archetypes, you have a lot of competition. This is an archetype that doesn't make explicit mention of the River Kingdoms, but would fit in there fine, so you're good on that account.

I do love some of the powers here, in particular Ambush Awareness. Being caught surprised is something rangers *should* be able to avoid: this is one of those powers that seems obviously right and true in hindsight (but is actually not that easy to generate!). I'd say that's pretty awesome, and it even shows up at a time in a ranger's career when surprise and first actions are growing more important, at the higher levels.

I like the use of bonus Teamwork feats rather than Combat feats. Interesting twist. The teamwork bond strikes me as very good but worthy of some skepticism. Teamwork feats are meant to cost two feat slots, and suddenly he shares those bonuses just by the Frontier Sentinel taking one feat? Hmmmmmm.

Traveller's Instinct strikes me as a bit of a dud that might just as easily be a bonus to Sense Motive. And "whether or not that creature is trustworthy" kills a lot of roleplaying opportunities.

While the Frontier Sentinel is tentatively in my Top 3 Rangers list, in the end there's other ranger archetypes I prefer. I have to say Not Recommended to advance.

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

Initial Impression: The anti-ambush ranger. Bringing back a bit of the 1E ambush awareness to the Pathfinder ranger. OK, the grognard in me likes that. I really like all the ambush stuff. Those are strong. Here are my two problems: 1) not a good RK tie in, now I've let that slide with other entries but they had better core ideas and better overall execution, 2) I really think your first power falls flat and shows some bad design--the "trustworthy" angle is just not good. I think Wolfgang nailed it when he said it is a roleplay killer. I agree with that.

There are other better Ranger archetypes this round.

That puts me ON THE FENCE on this.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

Theme makes sense.

Traveler's Instinct (Ex): Wild empathy is a snoozer ability, and this is pretty snoozer too.

Teamwork: Replacing one kind of combat feat with another kind of combat feat isn't particularly exciting.

Sentinel’s Bond: So this is mixing the cavalier's ability to share teamwork feats.

Ambush Awareness: That's a decent ability, though you're swapping out evasion, which is really useful.

Improved Ambush Awareness: There's a cavalier ability similar to this one, and you're swapping out improved evasion, which is a very valuable ability.

There's nothing in this archetype that really excites me. The one power that's something new is okay, but not wowzers-great. If it had a little more flavor tying it to the RK, I'd be more inclined to like this. It is functional, but not exceptional.

I do NOT recommend this archetype for advancement.

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

Mike, having read all the other submission there are not 16 great ones in my view. As a result, I think this submission is in the top 16 and thus:

I DO Recommend this archetype for advancement after consideration of all other submissions.

Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

From Sean's comment that evasion is better than Ambush Awareness: I disagree, evasion is one ring away - but always acting in the surprise round is exceedingly crucial.

What is not clear is whether the additional move action can be combined with the normal standard action (if not surprised) to get a full-round action during the surprise round. If so, then there's potentially a massive power-up from "mere" evasion. Especially when coupled with Improved Ambush Awareness.

I like the idea of Ranger who gets teamwork feats instead of combat style feat and can share them with allies or animal companion.

Traveler's instinct isn't exactly thrilling ability. Ambush Awareness is nice. I think that the move action gained should be in addition to the standard action normally gained during surprise round on a successful Perception check.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Locke1520

Unlike Sean I like the fact that this could fit in the River Kingdoms but is still broad enough to be found anywhere there are wilds and roads. I want to like this archetype more but other than that one point I have to mostly agree with Sean and I'm unfortunately underwhelmed. Congrats on making the Top 32 and good luck with your archetype!

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

good template use. well written.

i think this is a pretty well balanced archetype; unfortunately, no individual power is really exciting. travelers instinct should be reworked (perhaps +1/2 levels bonus to Sense Motive), and the animal companion version of sentinel's bond seems better than the base ability (it should maybe only change the first option), but if i was making a ranger i would consider using this.


Traveler's Sense puzzles me; doesn't the River Kingdoms book specifically say that people go out of their way to avoid trusting others and making binding promises because of the third River Freedom (Oathbreakers Die)? If I were GMing for a player with this archetype in its intended setting, I honestly feel like I would constantly be saying, "You succeed. He's not trustworthy."

Your interactions with Teamwork feats leaves a sour taste in my mouth, mostly because in my experience players do not want to take Teamwork feats unless they receive them for free as bonus feats; in a game where feats are a limited commodity most players don't plan room for combat feats in their builds. So when I look at your version of Hunter's Bond, I see either A) situational benefit to my allies, on-par with Inquisitor or Cavalier and B) GUARANTEE THAT SOMEONE IN MY PARTY WILL ALWAYS HAVE MY COMBAT FEATS ALL THE TIME! I honestly don't see why anyone would not take the animal bond with this ability when the flavor is clearly geared towards being a sort of guide.

Ambush Awareness are subpar at best, and you're giving up one of the most potent defense abilities in the game for them. Its hardly a fair trade and I honestly can't justify ever selecting this archetype.

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 feat names: do they show flare? 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 feat names: Primarily descriptive, not a lot of flare.

River Kingdom tie: Moderate. Certainly fits the untrustworthy roads of RK, but could very easily fit elsewhere.

Desire to play: Moderate. In a certain kind of River Kingdoms campaign, it would be fine. The Ambush Awareness is the highlight. A lot of words are spent on the least interesting ability, could probably have benefited from using those words to do something cooler.

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

Greetings, Mike. I remember you were one the alternates in 2011 when I was too. Let's see what you've done here...

I like the swaps. My personal opinion on teamwork feats is that they suck and they suck hard because they're basically useless unless you optimize your group for "teamworking" by taking the same feats. If your "teamwork buddy" dies or leaves the party, you've got a bunch of totally useless feats. So! With these harsh realities of the sucky teamwork feats in mind, I think this archetype helps the situation a little. As far as I recall, cavaliers and inquisitors also have some teamwork abilities, so it's not a completely new idea, but you've successfully made the ability available to both bond options.

The ambush avoidance abilities are the best part of this archetype. Very good!

This one is getting one of my votes.

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9

Not a very strong tie to the RK, but a passable one. Feels a little more western than the chaos this area is supposed to be. Still, that's pretty minor.

Most of your abilities are mechanically pretty sound, but flavorfully a little meh - on the flip side is travellers instinct, which has interesting flavor potentials, but all sorts of potential for abuse in RP.

So, I'm on the fence about it. Not bad, not great either. Good luck in this and future rounds, either way.

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

Good writing and great use of the template!

I had to read through this a 2nd time to try to get excited for it. That's a bad sign, and it was even worse when I realized I had to try to get excited for it. Flavor just isn't there by and large.

My big bone is with Sentinel's Bond. You've got some GLARING mechanical issues with it. What type of action is it to grant the teamwork feats? You are really going to allow this archetype to grant ALL teamwork feats possessed to the entire party? At level 20 you are granting 5 teamwork feats to every party member...regardless of how far you are from your teammates. Let me point this out, you say only the sentinel has to be within 30 ft. of a hostile favored enemy. You are allowing him to then grant up to 5 bonus teamwork feats with no specified action to allies infinite distance away from both the enemy and the sentinel? Cavaliers can only grant 1 teamwork bonus feat with Tactician, as a standard action with other restrictions. Then at 9th they can choose from a 2nd bonus teamwork feat to grant, but now as a swift action. It's not until 17th that the cavalier can grant 2 teamwork feats at once, and choose from any teamwork feats possessed...still as a swift action.

You've got worrisome mechanical issues, and you are taking another classes ability, making it better upfront than it is at the end of that classes ability.

You've got good technical writing. Flavor and rules-fu/mechanics need work.

I do NOT recommend.

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

i think sentinels bond was supposed to end "This ability modifies, and in all other ways functions as hunter’s bond." (instead of "replaces")- that is a clear mistake though.

Star Voter Season 6

I really like this archtype. It fits in the region without being tied down by it, and I think that is much better than region specific.
Traveler's Instinct is an ability I would love to have. I think the mechanics should be re-worked -why not just make it a Sense Motive check. Build off of the rules that are there. But overall it is really useful but not overpowering ability.

Sentinel's Bond makes the ranger's teamwork ability actually worth using. I like it.

Ambush Awarenes is a worthwhile trade I think is even. Some players I know will hate it, while others will take it gladly. That is kinda what I want to see in an archtype.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka motteditor

I think some of the initial wording on sentinel's bond is also awkward. The way it's worded is I form a bond with my party. THEN it says what happens if I form a bond with an animal companion instead. When I read the first part, I was annoyed it was taking away my choices, then I realized what it was meant to do.

I actually really like the idea of giving my animal companion my teamwork feats. That makes sense to me and I could see wanting to do that with a character; I think doing that with your party, though, does raise some issues as theheadkase indicates.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6 aka Evil Paul

I like the idea that theheadkase proposes. Basically, if I am going to adventure, what I will do is leave a Frontier Sentinel in my home with a goblin tied to a chair. The Frontier Sentinel can then initiate combat with the goblin, dance around him in my kitchen, and grant me a bunch of teamwork feats as me (and the real party) enter the Dungeon of the Lich-Lord.

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: Mechanically I like this allot, the first power is nifty and balanced, I like the TW feats and how you played with the hunter's bond feature.
Bad: While well designed I'm not seeing a great tie to the RLs.
Ugly: You're up against allot of talent this is upper middling for me.
Overall: I've committed five votes but you are in contention with 6 others for my last three votes it will be a tough call. Good luck.

Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7

Evil Paul wrote:

I like the idea that theheadkase proposes. Basically, if I am going to adventure, what I will do is leave a Frontier Sentinel in my home with a goblin tied to a chair. The Frontier Sentinel can then initiate combat with the goblin, dance around him in my kitchen, and grant me a bunch of teamwork feats as me (and the real party) enter the Dungeon of the Lich-Lord.

Except that the ability functions "as Hunter's bond" with only those specific changes. Which means that it only works on allies within 30 feet who can see or hear him, and the bonus lasts for a number of rounds equal to the ranger's Wisdom modifier. The specific change the ability calls out is that instead of granting half the ranger's favored enemy bonus, it grants the teamwork feats. And it only lasts a few rounds.

So yeah, the Frontier Sentinel may be having a fun time dancing around the goblin, but the party's going to be unpleasantly surprised in that Lich-Lord's dungeon.

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

While this archetype can fit the RKs, as they're a pretty frontier area, it doesn't have any other ties to it. Furthermore, the core concept - getting and sharing teamwork feats seems at odds with a frontiersman - in places where people are few and far between, relying on abilities that require others seems off.

As for the mechanics, the DC 20 sense motive to see if someone's trustworthy is not good design - it breaks RP opportunities, and more importantly, a 20th level rogue with maxed out bluff is just as easy to see through as a commoner looking to sell you rotten eggs. A bonus to sense motive would have worked better here.

The whole teamwork feats thing just didn't excite me - we already have inquisitors using them with solo tactics, and cavaliers using them by sharing, so a ranger wanting to do that could just multi-class, and then teamwork feats are one of the least interesting aspects of the game I feel - they're VERY hard to pull off without actualy designing characters who plan to use them together - even when others get them "free" from a power, they're not going to flank with you (or whatever you need to activate them) if they're archers, spellcasters, or worrying about their own tactical posistion for their schtick, whatever that is.

Ambush awareness not only replaces evasion which is a very powerful ability, but it's an ability that really works when you fail to detect an ambush. Rangers should be really good at not being ambushed, with high wisdom and perception scores, so most of the time they're the ones who aren't surprized, and therefore this ability never really kicks in often. Also, in my experience, ambushes tend to work more often at lower levels, when characters travel by land primarily. By the time you're 9th level, they're not as likely to happen, and when they do, there's lots more ways characters can avoid them (eyes of the eagle to boost perception, divination, etc.)

Finally, the theme of frontier sentinel really doesn't seem all too different from a baseline ranger - isn't that what they already do? Do we need an archetype that's "a ranger but he's even more focused on being off on the edge of society in the wilderness"?

Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8

It's not as flashy as some, but has its subtle attractions.

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