crane ripose build for low wealth?


While I'm enjoying my current character and have (barely) managed to keep him alive, I've been toying with the idea of a crane riposte build for quite some time now.

The only hitch is we play with ultra low wealth (think NPC wealth tables), so relying on magic items to be fully functional isn't worth it.

We lose enough characters that a support character that doesn't add to combat will eventually face a situation where they can save the day if they could only deal some damage, but if they can't contribute to the hurt the party will wipe. (last session we were down to the cleric with her 1d6 rapier and no str bonus, her summons that wasn't much better, 2 downed and 1 dead character).

I'm enjoying my magus a lot right now but just couldn't fit in anything else for crane riposte. It generally works well (hexcrafter for extra curing, bladebound for a 'free' decent magic weapon, 57 average damage on a hit when I nova (weapon+shocking grasp) at level 9.

So I'm aiming for a build at level 10, 20 point buy, core races, any Pathfinder published material, and 10K gold. We already have a paladin and that class hasn't really appealed to me. Campaign is Carrion Crown.

I would recommend for Crane style a duelist build, focus on dexterity and intelligence (anything you can drop into wisdom is a bonus when you eventually lose the armour).

Fighter (free hand fighter) 5/Monk (master of many styles) 2/Duelist 3

Weapon Finesse, an agile rapier, and use MoMS to pick up Crane Style and Crane Wing early, then Crane Riposte later.

Dawn flower dervish bard 2/ MoMS 2/ Bard x. At lvl 3 take crane style and crane wing, then at lvl 4 take crane riposte. Or you can take one lvl at 3 with crane style and wing, and another lvl at 5 and take snake style and fang. Not only will you be hard to hit because of your dex focus, but you will have two riposte attempts/ round, every miss against you provokes an AoO, and you get double to hit and damage with inspire courage. One thing you certainly want to buy is light armor with the brawling property. With a 14 str and power attack, you will be putting out tons of damage as you go.

Liberty's Edge

Magus is the absolute winner for low wealth, especially if you enjoy the Magus (unfortunately I guess if you already have one you won't use another?)

Starting at lvl 10 is a dream for this build too because its biggest weakness is lvls 1-5. There is a way to get the Crane styles earlier than the way I am showing, but as you will be 10 it does not matter.

Human, lvl 7 Kensai Bladebound Magus/2 Sacred monk of the Mountain & Monk of Many Styles)

Str: 10 (or 13 if you want Power Atk)
Dex: 18
Con 12
Int: 17 (18 at lvl 4)
Wis: 14 (or if going with Str 13 likely drop this score down)
Cha: 7
+1 stat point at lvl 8 wherever you want.
You could take Wis to 13, Str to 12 then at lvl 8 raise one and at 12 raise the other in order to get the AC and Power Atk
(Lose bonus Feat and skill point to get 2 x +2 stats as Human alternative trait)

As Kensai you get Exotic Weapon Proficienct (Aldori Duelling Blade) and Weapon Focus.

Magical Lineage Shocking Grasp
Sword Scion: +1 To Hit with Aldori sword or Longsword


1) Weapon Finesse
3) Dodge
5) Dazzling Display, Power Atk/Intensify Spell/Whatever you fancy (lvl 5 Bonus Feat as Magus)
6) Aldori Sword Mastery (taking the Prestige Class)
7) Crane Style & Crane Wing (lvl of Monk of Many Styles)
8) Crane Riposte (lvl of MoMS again)(Toughness bonus Feat and +1 AC thanks to Sacred Mountain)
9) Intensify Spell/Whatever you want
11) Weapon Specialisation
Defensively this build gives you:

AC: 10+4(Dex)+4(Int)+2(Wis)+2(Aldori Duelling Mastery)+1(Dodge)+4(Fighting Defensively, 3 thanks to Crane, 1 for having 3 points in Acrobatics)

Total AC: 27, assuming someone is a Wizard with Mage Armour, that's 31 AC without spending a penny (well, maybe a Pearl of Poweer for the Kind Wizard)

In addition you can Parry an attack each round - which means casting in combat for your 2 attacks is a non-issue as you can Parry the AoO it would cause.

You also get an Initiative of +10 (4 Dex, 4 Int, 2 from Aldori Mastery)

Obviously, the cost of all this is less spell lvls and spell damage, but if you have a Wizard, then you aren't relied upon for fancy high lvl spells and are an effective frontline fighter. Certainly a fun kind of PC balanced between survival and damage.

If you really want to try pushing AC higher, you could even take a lvl in Metal Wizard, you would lose a BAB, but Metal Wizard can give you 70 mins a day of +2 AC (+1 one more per 5 CASTER lvls, so a total of +3 which raises AC to 31 or 35 with Mage Armour which you can now cast yourself, in addition to having more Shocking Grasps)

If you really wanted to risk your To Hit you could get Combat Expertise for more AC boosting

So, with Kensai and Bladebound you need no money on gear. With you 10k you could look to buy:
+2 Dex (Improve AC, To Hit and Damage) 4k
Ring of Protection +1 2k
Amulet of Natural Armour +1 2k
Pearl of Power I x2

That's 3 more AC so 38 AC if adding Wizard, 35 if not. Alternatively you could get belt of Dex and Headband of Int then with 2k to spare buy Ring of Prot or Pearls of Power.

BAB is +7
To Hit: +7(BAB)+5(Dex)+2(Blackblade)+1(Weapon Focus)+1(Sword Scion)
Total +16/+11
Spellstrike: +14/+14/+9

Your general damage output will be:
1d8+7/1d8+7 (+5 Dex assuming Belt, +2 Blackblade) +7D6 Shocking Grasp (Spellstrike)/1d8+7 second attack.

If you went the Power Attack route that could be:
+12/+12/+7 To Hit
With Weapon Specialisation at lvl 11 that's an extra +2 per Hit.
And of course an extra attack per round if someone tries to attack when you cast your spell.

Finally, your saves:

Fort: +5(Magus)+3(Monk)+1(Con): +9
Will:+5(Magus)+3(Monk)+2(Wis): +10

So, not your orthodox Magus, and probably not the greatest around, but for low Magic campaign pretty tempting and fun. Nothing better than a butt naked dude not being hit

If you're going by RAW, Crane Style doesn't mesh well with Magus because the benefits of Crane Style only come into play when using the Fight Defensively option. Fight Defensively can only be used on a Standard action used to attack or a full-round Full-Attack action. Spell Combat is its own full-round Use Special Ability action, not Full-Attack; hence you can't fight defensively while using Spell Combat thus you can't benefit from Crane Style with Spell Combat either.

This also disqualifies you from benefiting from haste and the haste arcana. There is a spot where the developers comment this was unintentional, but I dont think we have gotten an errata on it yet. Since this isnt PFS most DM's would no go "rule nazi" and would allow this.

There is a FAQ on the haste issue. They say you don't get the bonus attack from Haste when doing Spell Combat. No mention of it being unintentional nor any planned change. Imagine that, when concentrating on both swinging a weapon and bending reality to suit your whims, you can't spare much thought to added defense. Verisimilitude-shattering, I'm sure.

Kazaan wrote:
There is a FAQ on the haste issue. They say you don't get the bonus attack from Haste when doing Spell Combat. No mention of it being unintentional nor any planned change. Imagine that, when concentrating on both swinging a weapon and bending reality to suit your whims, you can't spare much thought to added defense. Verisimilitude-shattering, I'm sure.

Link? I didn't see it on the FAQ I found.

Kerbouchard wrote:
Kazaan wrote:
There is a FAQ on the haste issue. They say you don't get the bonus attack from Haste when doing Spell Combat. No mention of it being unintentional nor any planned change. Imagine that, when concentrating on both swinging a weapon and bending reality to suit your whims, you can't spare much thought to added defense. Verisimilitude-shattering, I'm sure.
Link? I didn't see it on the FAQ I found.
Official FAQ wrote:

Magus: Does spell combat count as making a full attack action for the purpose of haste and other effects?

No. Spell combat is its own kind of full-round action, and is not a full attack action.


PRD wrote:

Fighting Defensively as a Full-Round Action: You can choose to fight defensively when taking a full-attack action. If you do so, you take a –4 penalty on all attacks in a round to gain a +2 dodge bonus to AC for until the start your next turn.

Fighting Defensively as a Standard Action: You can choose to fight defensively when attacking. If you do so, you take a –4 penalty on all attacks in a round to gain a +2 dodge bonus to AC until the start of your next turn.


To "fight defensively", you must either be using the full-attack action (a specific full-round action) or using a standard action to make an attack, which would, presumably, include both the standard Attack action as well as Use Special Ability actions that take a standard action (ie. Cleave). As per both RAW and the FAQ, Spell Combat is a full-round Use Special Ability action; neither the Full-Attack action nor a standard Attack or standard Use Special Ability that involves attacking. So no Haste extra attack (though, you get all other benefits from Haste), no fighting defensively (thus, no Crane Style), no Pounce, nor anything else that relies specifically on the Full-Attack action.

Thanks. Interesting. Ah, well, just one more thing I have to houserule.

Liberty's Edge

So you can use specific abilities like Cleave but not specific abilities like Spell Combat.

But Spell Combat works like TWF except a spell is being cast, but TWF can be used defensively yet Spell Combat cannot.

However, Spellstrike involves attacking via spell through your blade, at which point Spellstrike is essentially having you make a full round attack - the spell cast is part of your attack, as a full round you are attacking multiple times as if TWF, yet are we saying this does not count? WIth Spell Combat I accept casting Grease then attacking is not a Full Attack, but to me Spellstrike is as the the spell you cast is offensive and delivered via an attack.

Pathfinder/D&D become more and more absurd the indepth you get with the rules.

Thank god for houserules to actually give players some semblence of freedom to build a char

"Essentially" and "Basically" and "Works Like", as I've said before, are very bad terms to use when analyzing a system like this. Spell Combat is a full-round Use Special Ability action. Spellstrike, on the other hand, is a non-action Use Special Ability action that you can trigger in specific circumstances (delivering certain touch spells) but the actual act of delivering the spell is a free-action Melee Attack (also not a standard action so also not valid for Fight Defensive as Standard). Cleave is a standard Use Special Ability action which involves at least 1 attack, hence it qualifies. The standard Attack action also qualifies. These terms, standard action, full attack action, full-round action, attack action, attack, etc. are mechanically significant terms. "Works like TWF" is not a mechanically significant term; it's merely descriptive. Would you claim that, since Spell Combat "works like TWF", that I can cast two spells if I had Improved TWF? Or 3 spells if I had Greater TWF? If not, then claiming that you should be able to use Fight Defensively as Full-Round, which requires you to perform the Full-Attack action because TWF normally also requires the Full-Attack action is ridiculous. It's a logical fallacy referred to as the Misplaced Middle Term when making a syllogism. Instead of A->B, B->C: ergo A->C, you're doing A->B, A->C: ergo B->C which isn't necessarily true.

Liberty's Edge

No because there is no ability to enhance the Combat Casting. If later on there was 'Improved Combat Casting' which works like ITWF but except your offhand is used for casting spells, then yes you can cast 2 spells.

The text states it works as TWF except with a spell as offhand attack but does not offer a way of improving this.

Spell Combat is a Full Round action.
Spellstrike is a Full Round action.
Multiple Attacks is a Full Round action.

But in addition to this the rules decide that multiple attacks will also be a Full attack action while the others are not. It is an absurd extra differentiation that is entirely unnecessary.

As part of a Full Round action I can attack multiple times via Spellstrike, but this cannot be a Full attack action even though my actions involve doing so albeit via a spell. Heck, if I stab someone and cast Fireball using Spell Combat, that is two attacks, one via weapon, one via spell, but both offensive, both attacks, however this cannot be considered a full attack action, only a full round one.

If a spell has a cast time of a round is that a Full Round action or is it classed as a Full casting action? Is there a differentiation here? Does there need to be?

All to often it seems the game comes up with rules for the sake of rules, most of which strangle the freedom of creation and imagination which is rather ironic for a Roleplaying game.

Don't get me wrong, the fact the build is not viable is no big deal, I make all sorts of silly characters, many of which aren't even close to a min/max but instead more of an abstract idea, so this not being viable is just another build to be binned, my issue is the reasons why it is not viable: excessive mechanical pedantic rules which do very little to actually enhance the game but instead seem to be designed to constrict.

Spellstrike is not a full-round action. It's a passive, non-action ability that affects your options for delivering a touch spell. In other words, you don't "use" Spellstrike; it just automatically functions when you cast a Touch spell (standard Cast a Spell action, typically) from the Magus spell list. You are then granted by the Cast a Spell action a free-action touch attack to deliver said charge. Not another standard action to deliver the charge, a free action touch attack to deliver the charge. Via Spellstrike, you can, at your option, replace this free-action touch attack with a free-action melee attack that can deliver the charge because of the effect of Spellstrike.

Now, Spell Combat is an action of its own. It doesn't grant you a use of the Cast a Spell action in addition to a use of the Full-Attack action. It allows you to, as a single, integrated action, cast a spell and also make all iterative attacks with a single, hand-associated melee weapon. Now, the casting of a spell grants you a free touch/melee attack to deliver the charge; this delivery attack is not tethered to the full-round action Spell Combat. It isn't "part of" the Spell Combat action and can be done as a segregated free action regardless of Spell Combat. And like I said, "Works as TWF" is descriptive, not mechanical. You seem to understand that just because it "works as TWF" doesn't mean it qualifies for ITWF or GTWF so I don't understand why it's so hard to wrap your mind around the concept that it is a full-round Use Special Ability action rather than a Full-Attack action. Two-Weapon Warrior's Doubleslice ability (a standard Use Special Ability action) also grants you the ability to TWF; that doesn't mean that the Doubleslice ability is a Full-Attack action and gets no benefit thereof (ie. doesn't qualify for Haste bonus attack). In other words, just saying "Works like TWF" isn't mechanically significant. Now, if it had the wording as in Fast Bombs, "This ability functions as a full-attack action.", then it would be different. It'd be a full-round Use Special Ability action, but also have a specific and explicit allowance to qualify as a Full-Attack action so you could use Haste bonus attack, Fight Defensively, etc.

You have to remember that PFS stands for Pathfinder System. For it to qualify as a system, it must have a degree of parity; what's true for one part of the system needs to be congruent with other parts. Moreover, when using Spell Combat, you're already splitting your focus between melee combat and spellcasting. It doesn't "strangle the freedom of creation" to say that you can't, in addition to swinging a sword competently and bending the fabric of reality to your whims, also put significant thought into extra defense while fighting. There's got to be some give and take. Otherwise, it isn't a system and it isn't a game; just a bunch of kids playing ninjas with weapons they bought from Ren-Fest and constantly trying to one-up each other by making up progressively more broken ninja superpowers. And then someone gets a shuriken in their eye and a fat kid ends up naked in front of a crowd because he's "invisible". And nobody wants that.

Liberty's Edge

Double slice allows you to move and attack twice - it is a standard action. Special use...or whatever is just a sideline of additional complexities that are unnecessary.

Free Action
Move Action
Standard Action (anything that allows you to still have a move action)
Full Action (something that prevents you from making a move action)
Swift Action
Immediate Action

Why things are additionally broken down into Full attack action, full special use action or whatever else they have thrown names to, it is excessive complexity without cause. Now I am aware it is my opinion and others disagree, I just think there is a fine line between a System and a suffocating excess of rules

Full Attack is a specific action. Use Special ability is a specific action. Attack is a specific action. By default, Full Attack uses your full-round action. Use Special Ability uses an action determined by the special ability; in the case of Spell Combat, it uses a full-round while Cleave or Doubleslice use your standard Action, and other abilities might use your move, swift/immediate, or a free action. Attack uses your standard action. Full-Attack allows you to do certain things, outlined under the description of the action. One of those things is make an off-hand attack. That doesn't mean that any ability that allows you to make an off-hand attack is a Full-Attack. It's incredibly simple. There may be a fine line between a system and a suffocating excess of rules... but this doesn't even come close to that line; it's clearly well in the bounds of a System because of the way the actions are organized and systematized.

Liberty's Edge

This is a debate that would never end. You are entirely right in your understanding of the rules and so any arguement I have is purely my own opinion which is based on my feeling of the rules in general. These feelings aren't wrong anymore than they can be considered right, they simply are. But my feelings towards the game are my issue which cannot be resolved. The issue with these particular rules are just one of the many I have, perhaps after so many years of dnd and pathfinder I have just become jaded. What started as minor issues that are simply part of any game (nothing is ever perfect) have now grown to feel like an overwhelming weight. We find households becoming more and more necessary within our games to try and iron out flaws or broken skills/abilities.

Well, whatever the reason it is not one anyone else can solve. I give my thanks to you kazaan for taking the time to explain the finer details of the rules. Funny, after all these years only now did this differentiation even come up as before any more details than standard or full round were not relevant to our games. Always something new to learn.

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