Rounding out a caster-heavy party


Advice


Hey guys.

So, I'm in a bit of a conundrum. In an upcoming adventure, which was originally meant to feature six players, two have dropped out. The remaining four include myself, and the three other players have already settled on their characters. One is playing a sorcerer (bloodline as yet undisclosed), one is playing a melee-focused (though not melee-optimized) Animal Speaker bard and the last guy is going to play an illusionist (probably an illusion school wizard or, less likely, another sorcerer). So...

I had originally planned to play some kind of jack-of-all-trades-y odd guy, maybe an archaeologist or a rogue or something. Mostly because I was counting on the two players who dropped out to fill more mechanically vital roles like healer, main fighter, etc.. Now I'm stuck having to play something that can actually contribute to fights and such in a major way. Since we're obviously going to be a squishy party, with two d6 HD casters and one bard, what would my best bet be? I hate playing divine casters, but I suspect I've not much of a choice if this party's going to have any survivability. I also figure I need to be able to hit stuff and have some hp, since the other guys are sort of soft targets. What do people reckon would be a good option? Combat-heavy cleric, inquisitor, paladin? I'd really love to figure out a way to worm out of being a divine caster, but I'm worried about healing. Will the bard, coupled with the sorcerer nabbing a few CLW wands and maxing his UMD, be sufficient for our healing needs as a party?

I should probably mention the adventure starts at 5th level, we're 20-point buys, and all Paizo stuff is available, and also some 3rd party stuff if it's above board and not OP. The GM likes melee guys, and tends to be more lenient about 3rd party stuff that buffs them as opposed to casters. Sorry about the rambling post. Any help would be terribly appreciated!


Healing should be fine, buy some wands for after fight healing and make sure everyone has a potion or two for emergencies.

If you want a heavy hitter that can absorb some punishment then I would consider a Saurian Shaman Druid, high strength for melee capabilities combined with a tanky animal companion. If you are starting at 5th then you arent far from upgrading the Anylosaurus to Large. Give it an Int boost and medium armour proficiency and see its AC skyrocket.


Hmm. That's an idea, surely. Thanks! I hadn't pondered the Druid angle. I'd definitely rather do that than either pally, cleric or inquisitor. I might not be able to grab a dino druid due to story reasons, but I'll discuss it. Obviously an AC is a great idea, since it'll essentially give us half an extra party member, and a melee one at that. Cheers!


I would suggest a melee Ranger (trapper infiltrator) with a dip into rogue(thug) and possibly living monolith.

Use boon companion et al to have a full strength animal companion which will help the bard be useful. Coordinate with them so he can speak with your animal.

Use blade of mercy(trait) enforcer (feat) and the thug archetype to intimidate (augmented by intimidating prowess and skill focus as well as size) enemies you hit to frighten them. This can take pressure off the squishy other PCs and make you seem and be a threat.

Finally the trapper archetype will let you handle traps if no one else in the party can do so. But in all honesty by 10th plus levels it would be better if the bard or sorcerer had an archetype to allow them to do so. Talk w the DM to see if its something the party should have as it is a sacrifice

James

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

Play an Oracle with the Life mystery and the Seeker archetype, and you can cover divine casting, traps, and (if you build it right) melee.


Druid could handle some healing, could use wands of CLW, could summon for help, has some damage spells, and turn into animals to wade into melee. You wont be as good at any of the rolls as someone dedicated to them, but the sorcerer and the wizard are going to need people to cover their butts.


Hmm...well, the ranger idea could work. Thanks for pointing out the trap thing. It had utterly passed me by we've no one who can cover that. The adventure (it's a homebrew campaign in a homebrew setting) is very likely to be all over the place, environment-wise. We'll be doing urban quests, and dungeons and wilderness stuff and the lot. I do like Enforcer and the whole idea of focusing on non-lethal damage and scaring people might work with the character concept I have in mind.

I'm curious, though, about the Life Mystery oracle. How do you build one of those for melee? I was under the impression that an oracle needs a melee-focused mystery in order to become passable at it, and Life doesn't seem to come equipped with combat-y revelations. Am I missing something here?

EDIT: Yeah, still leaning towards Druid ATM as it seems the class most capable of handling what the party lacks. Save for the trap stuff.


I'm not familiar with your DM obviously, but traps are a mechanic that are non-existant in most games that I've played. In general traps are horrible mechanics because they are either detect and disabel (by the rogue or their stand-in) or they cause random non-life-threatening damage that the party will stop and heal before the next fight. So I would generally ignore traps unless they're something your DM really likes to throw at you.

Life Oracles would be terrible for what you want. They're great for healing, but your character needs to be okay at healing and okay at a lot of other stuff too (for this group). A Life Oracle can out heal anything else in the game (even a Cleric) but can't do much of anything else.

Scarab Sages

Oracles are still a d8 3/4 BAB class with all Simple Weapons, Medium Armor, and Shields regardless of mystery selected. If you build for combat ability, they can be decent fighters even if you take a non-melee focused mystery. Morning Star and Shield or Longspear can contribute quite well without wasting a proficiency in a Martial or Exotic weapon.


Yes, of course, that's quite true about oracles, and I sort of like them about as much as druids. But considering the makeup of this party, I think I might need to push a bit harder for melee capability. I'm not too worried about traps, though it would be nice to have some means of overcoming them in case we get thrown into a lot of dungeons. But in general this DM is not a big fan of puzzles and traps, inclining more towards social encounters/mysteries interspersed with a lot of combat. I do think an oracle with a combat-y mystery could work, though I'm still leaning more towards a druid for the utility of an animal companion. I know I could go Nature oracle for an AC, but I don't know. That mystery leaves me cold for some reason. I guess I could become pretty darn decent at hitting things with wooden weapons though, if I took the right revelations.

EDIT: Oops! That's the Wood Mystery. Forgot they were separate ones...


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Battle Oracle. Fights really well, and has most of the healing spells available.

Scarab Sages

Do you really need to make someone who can heal? The bard has access to cure spells of all levels and can use a wand of CLW without UMD. You are already caster heavy, why not make an actual melee character? Ranger works, but you could also go Paladin to off heal and the Mount companion can fight as well. Huntmaster Caviler also is very good for this, as they can bring multiple companions to the fight.

Scarab Sages

Fighter.

Fight. Er.

Your squishy caster friends will thank you. Look at 'em sitting there with d6 and d8 hit dice. Not one of 'em is gonna be able to go toe-to-toe with an angry giant for five rounds.

Be a weapon specialist. Or be a combat swiss-army knife. Or the king of combat maneuvers. Fight lightly armored, or be a tank. Death by a thousand cuts, or master of the mighty blow. Be a tactical genius. Be a reckless brawler. Whatever.

This is fantasy roleplay. Sooner or later, somebody is going to have to hit something, and that person should be you! :)


Fair enough on the ranger or fighter. Both could work. The only reason I've been leaning so heavily towards caster is the healing bit. I don't want to be a primary healer or anything, I just sort of want us not to die. But possibly we could get by with just the bard and some wands and potions. I'd mostly been hoping to be able to do a bit of both, packing a punch, having some hp, and maybe moonlight as a healer on the side. Still leaning towards combat-heavy druid/oracle, but will ponder ranger/fighter. Paladin I don't think so much. I'm leery of being LG+, which is how their Code of Conduct comes off to me. Our party's not evil or anything, not even predominantly neutral, but we tend to be a bit chaotic in our schemes.

Checking out Battle Oracle and comparing with a wildshape druid with animal companion. Seeing if it's enough of a melee punch or if I need to pick a full BAB class. Or maybe focus on archery. Agh! Too many choices...


Ethereal Gears wrote:
Fair enough on the ranger or fighter. Both could work. The only reason I've been leaning so heavily towards caster is the healing bit. I don't want to be a primary healer or anything, I just sort of want us not to die.

Why not a paladin? and hospitaler can channelr energy 3 + her Charisma modifier times at ay. He also is a FUll BAB with lots of hit points.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

If you dont like divine casters, play a summoner, maybe a synthesist summoner. You can heal yourself (though not as well as a cleric could) and you are a combat beast. You can also use the skilled evolution to cover lots of skills with the skilled evolution, and play a jack of all trades role if thats what you want.


Synthesist did cross my mind. It would be a lot of utility and, as mentioned, the combat prowess is frickin' scary. I'm not against divine casters as such. I just don't like playing a god-botherer or a holy knight type of a guy. I'd be okay with druid, ranger or possibly oracle, if it's done right. As much as I'd like to play a straight fighter, I think ranger's the only full BAB class under consideration right now, as at least then I'll get a few spells, a companion and can use CLW wands. Synthesists are brutal, of course, and I do like the customizability of an eidolon. I could always get a high UMD if I want to use healing wands and such. I'll look into it!


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Normally I would advise against synthesists because they can be contraversial at alot of tables. But if you are trying to cover a bunch of gaps in your party and plan to diversify your abilities they are actually ideal. The problems with summoners and synthesist specifically occur when you focus all of their abilities on one area (especially combat).


Kolokotroni wrote:
Normally I would advise against synthesists because they can be contraversial at alot of tables. But if you are trying to cover a bunch of gaps in your party and plan to diversify your abilities they are actually ideal. The problems with summoners and synthesist specifically occur when you focus all of their abilities on one area (especially combat).

The problem more comes in when the summoner gains access to spells that allow him to redistribute the eidolon's evolution points at casting and turning it into whatever it needs to be at the time of casting (combat, skill, big, small, whatever...)


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Given the cost of transmogrophy, though it is really good, i dont think its a problem. If a summoner does it often, he isnt going to have much in the way of gear.


Scrolls of bloodmoney or a wand will get around that pretty easily. It's a first level sorcerer/wizard spell that will essentially allow you to take 2 strength damage to get a 1000 gp material component cost. But strength damage isn't permanent and heals at the normal rate. And for a Synthesist summoner that doesn't care about their strength score, only their eidilon's strength they can afford to take a -2, or a -4 to pull this off a couple times a day. And it's nothing that a little lesser restoration can't take care of right quick.

Scarab Sages

Claxon wrote:
Scrolls of bloodmoney or a wand will get around that pretty easily. It's a first level sorcerer/wizard spell that will essentially allow you to take 2 strength damage to get a 1000 gp material component cost. But strength damage isn't permanent and heals at the normal rate. And for a Synthesist summoner that doesn't care about their strength score, only their eidilon's strength they can afford to take a -2, or a -4 to pull this off a couple times a day. And it's nothing that a little lesser restoration can't take care of right quick.

So your issue is with the Blood Money spell, not the Synthesist or the Transmorgify spell.


There are some good recent threads on playing hoplite-type characters, a la Achilles in Troy, using shield and spear/reach tactics to control an area. Fighter & Oracle were mentioned for multi-classing.

I've fooled with it some and dipped into Rogue as well as Fighter and Oracle in the first 10 levels and it looks like a lot of fun to play, and just what this party may need.

I wouldn't worry too much about healing if it does not appeal to you. The GM knows the other players have dropped out and cannot expect you to cover all their bases. Play what you like and I expect the GM will make it possible for your party to have some healing one way or another ;)


Yeah, I mean, I'm not actually worried the GM is going to TPK us out of malice just because we're short two players. We're all really old friends in the gaming group, and it's a super-relaxed home game. It's more like I want to do the GM a favor, since the party set-up is sort of odd for a 4-man group, so he doesn't have to change too much around in the adventure he's planned.

I think I've scrapped druid and oracle. I just don't think I want another 9-level caster in the party. Just a feeling I have. Right now it's between either a switch-hitter ranger (might use the awesome spell-less ranger from Kobold Press, or at least use their archetype that lets you get two combat styles in exchange for only ever getting a single favored enemy) or a synthesist/regular summoner. If I do go with summoner, I might actually lean more towards a regular one, since it'll give the party a bit more action economy, and also it would suit my character concept far more to have a wacky extradimensional sidekick whom I can actually be friends/allies with than to wear a sort of creepy monster suit.

Scarab Sages

CrazyTrain wrote:
There are some good recent threads on playing hoplite-type characters, a la Achilles in Troy, using shield and spear/reach tactics to control an area. Fighter & Oracle were mentioned for multi-classing.

I recently build a mwangi spearman flavored sohei monk using a longspear as his primary weapon.


Maybe someone could provide a link or two to these hopliticious threads? It might not be what I'll be going for, but it sounds like really cool build ideas.

Liberty's Edge

A personal favorite is the Crusader Cleric. Decent damage output, and wands of CLW can supplement the probably low spells per day you want to save for when divine magic is necessary.

Dark Archive

My vote is for the spell-less ranger from Kobold Press. I absolutely love that class.

Full BAB, 6 skill points, d10 HD, and you'll have enough feats to be effective with whatever combat style (or styles) you choose. The loss of the ability to use cure wands hurts a bit but is easily made up for by the classes utility.

Plus, Rangers are just cool.


Artanthos wrote:
Claxon wrote:
Scrolls of bloodmoney or a wand will get around that pretty easily. It's a first level sorcerer/wizard spell that will essentially allow you to take 2 strength damage to get a 1000 gp material component cost. But strength damage isn't permanent and heals at the normal rate. And for a Synthesist summoner that doesn't care about their strength score, only their eidilon's strength they can afford to take a -2, or a -4 to pull this off a couple times a day. And it's nothing that a little lesser restoration can't take care of right quick.
So your issue is with the Blood Money spell, not the Synthesist or the Transmorgify spell.

No, I really don't like the brokenness that eidolons can be made into. More so that they can be remade (almost at will) to be broken for any situation the Summoner likes. The fact that he can then roll himself up into that little armored package is just icing on the cake for him.

Of course, there are good ways to to get rid of eidolons too (or at least severly limit their ability to inflict damage).


Oh, heh, I was going to suggest taking levels of Ranger and druid and making use of the feat that lets your druid levels count for favoured enemy and ranger levels count for wildshape, but now that I've gotten to the end of the thread it sounds like you're more interested in a pure fighter type, which I have less experience with (I can't seem to do without spells/abilities for too long)

As an aside, god-botherer is a perfect phrase.


You need a healer and a Tank. Thus a Hospitaler Paladin with 2-3 Channel feats.


Ethereal Gears wrote:
Maybe someone could provide a link or two to these hopliticious threads? It might not be what I'll be going for, but it sounds like really cool build ideas.

'Ere you go, mate!:

http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2nrjl?Greek-Citizen-hoplite-build#1

http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2ngf6?Help-with-an-Achilles-build#7

http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2pwyr?I-need-some-advice-for-my-SpearShield-fig hter#13

I just started a character with a different concept in a homebrew campaign, but I'm anxious to play a similar character to the above at the next opportunity.


Ethereal Gears wrote:
Right now it's between either a switch-hitter ranger (might use the awesome spell-less ranger from Kobold Press

My suggestions:

1. Get the sorcerer to go with False Priest (Razimiran Priest) archetype to help offset the divine casting. Could be a real blast to play as well.

2. Have the bard team up with your animal companion, between the two of them they will feel like a full strength fighter. The fact that he will be able to speak to the animal companion directly will let the bard further shine.

3. Be a full strength melee combatant, and cause enemies to disengage. This will be the best safeguard for the 'squishy' other PCs. A melee oracle won't deliver the same punch, then you'll wind up in combat healing.. which would leave the melee bard... not a good plan.

4. Skillwise:

1. Wizard covers the 5 monster knowledges fully, the 5 other knowledges partially, spellcraft fully, and linguistics partially. He does this with a 20INT.. and then can have the headband skills go to perception, etc.

2. Sorcerer covers bluff and UMD, then dips.

3. Bard covers diplomacy/sense motive (via performance), and should have plenty of skills to round things out here and have assists. He should be raised by halflings with the helpful halfling trait to increase his aid others, as he's given up inspire competence via his archetype.

4. Your ranger covers Perception, Disable, Stealth, Survival, and Intimidate, with a dip into handle animal and something else. Favored enemy: Dragons+2, Evil outsiders+4 (maxing this). The infiltrator archetype gives you lunge when you need it. The trapper archetype will have you handle traps. By the time you hit 10th and would want instant enemy, get a spellstoring ioun stone, and have the False priest sorcerer charge it for you (investing in a 3rd level scroll, and burning a 4th level spell slot).

Your feats:

1. Enforcer, Human alternate (giving skill focus: intimidate at 1st, then stealth at 7th)
2. Power Attack (twohanded combat style)
3. Intimidating Prowess
4. (Rogue level, thug archetype)
5. Boon companion (maxed animal companion)
7. Hellcat stealth (to scout when needed, etc) and Furious Focus via combat style (or great cleave if you think it will be useful.. speak with your GM)
9. Look Out (also get animal companion to take it)
11. Improved and Greater Sunder.

The animal companion should look at the bodyguard archetype.

Honestly this would feel like a fairly well-rounded party. You'd have 3 creatures on the front lines and two in the back. The skills are fairly well spread out (especially the social skills with 3 out of 4 PCs having non-overlaping skills- bluff, diplomacy, and intimidate) and there is plenty of room for backup (via the bard).

Now you don't have in-combat healing, but you do have solid melee damage, solid spell damage, and solid spellcasting.

-James


Here's a couple of thoughts:

If your party needs a divine caster then you could try the Inquisitor. The inquisitor's judgement ability basically compensates for him not being full BAB but is actually a bit more flexible. The spells are a bit limited but you also have a bard who can contribute to healing. Finally the Inquisitor gets lots of skill ranks, just like the bard.

Oracle of Battle is definitely another way to go. Their mysteries can get you pretty close to what you need to be a mainline fighter.

Of course, maybe you might want to avoid casters entirely. With this party I wouldn't blame you. Essentially playing a Fighter probably is your best bet; a Barbarian would require too much healing which this party cannot provide. Essentially you want to be able to soak up hits and prevent enemies from reaching your casters. The stand still feat is a must for that type of character. With such a character I might be inclined to take a level dip in cleric to get the travel domain and the ability to use healing wands, though obviously spellcasting isn't going to be your main focus. Or be a cleric of Ragathiel and get bastard sword proficiency for free.

Paladin is also a great choice for a party tank and he gets better saves, some immunities, and healing as well. However the lower number of feats make the roadblock paladin harder to build.


I played a PF paladin in a one-off a couple weeks and I had a blast, which I recommend for you. Lay on Hands is pretty awesome. In the past my front-line go-to class would have fighter, barbarian, or ranger but I think I have a new favorite.


I'd suggest looking over the Urban Ranger archtype. It is a more rogue-ish Ranger with the very important ability to disarm magical traps as well as a few interesting class ability swap outs. If you're in a wilderness campaign though it might not be worth it.

Shadow Lodge

Play a small race as a mounted warrior. With a bard in the party, you and the critter will both be buffed. You take archery or charge feats; the mount takes overrun feats.

Set aside 5th level for a dip into fighter[dragoon], and take the Boon Companion in the general feat slot.

Sovereign Court

If you want a fighty-style character that can heal, take a War Oracle. War Oracles at level 1 can take a mystery that gives them proficiency with all martial weapons and has another mystery that gives them weapon focus (And numerous other feats as you advance level). Even if you're not playing a human, the Extra Revelation feat is a must have for any 1st level Oracle as most mysteries are better than any feats you can purchase. Indeed I had a character like this in one of my games and he was a very efficient fighter who also could heal as well.

Sovereign Court

Whatever you do, with two full arcane casters and a bard, you're going to be responsible for doing a lot of damage, and likely soaking hits as well. I would go with Fighter or Barbarian - switch hitter ranger is good and versatile, but in this party you don't need versatility as much as you need a melee monster.

Show them squishies how it's done! (And see if you can convince the sorcerer to be a blaster.)


Try reading TarTX guide The Forge of Combat

Look at what your party has:

Wizard: Anvil

Bard: Arm/Secondary Hammer

Sorcerer: Anvil

I think your team needs a Hammer here. The best hammer is probably a barbarian, because they are one of the few martials who can deal with magic on their own, but there are plenty that will work. Inquisitor, Ranger, Magus, Cleric, Druid, are all viable choices for a hammer, especially at level 5 when some class abilities turn on.

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