Guide to the Stalwart Defender


Sovereign Court

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While I got pretty far on this on my own it's still far from complete and I'd like some input from our wonderful forumites.

Realsorceror’s Immovable Guide to the Stalwart Defender

Completely missing at the moment is a magic items section and I'm sure the Feats section could use some expansion.

I certainly wouldn't mind someone reviewing what I've already got going and see if I'm misjudging the usefulness of certain archtypes and classes.

And of course if anyone has any cool strategies for playing a Stalwart Defender I'd love to hear them!

Without reading your guide first, the only suggestion I can really make is that reach melee weapons and a method to be constantly be enlarged are superimportant as your role as a Stalwart Defender is to basically be a roadblock to physically weak casters (or others) in the party.

Something I would also mention is the dwarven dorn-dergar weapon. With the appropriate feats it can be a reach weapon that you can wield one handed or wield two handed and change from a reach weapon to non-reach weapon. It's very useful weapon for this type of build to allow you to threaten at all ranges and use your main weapon instead of a backup. The feats are Dorn Dergar Master and something else.

Sovereign Court

My thoughts exactly on the first part. Those are most of the major points I stress in the guide.

I had actually completely forgotten about the Dorn-dergar. I'd been reading about it a few days ago and thought it looked neat. Thanks for reminding me!

I'll read the entire thing later, but I think you can make a great ranger - (TWF) shield bashing stalwart defender. You can ignore the high dex requirements for the TWF feats (though you may need it for double slice).

I've got someone doing it as a Guide in a campaign I'm running and it actually works well- he took guide as a template and is a dwarf (though a human would be better)

L1- Dodge, L3- Toughness, L5- Improved shield block. He's not as defensive as some stalwart defenders, but he's got a good mix of skills, abilities and decent DPS.

I'd also mention that it's probably useful to be able to disarm/sunder/trip. Well one of them anyways. Trip gives great battlefield control, though you will come up against enemies who can't be tripped. However, greater trip allows for AoO from anyone who threatens the tripped enemy which is a pretty awesome. For the Stalwart Defender they may not care about the AoO (as it wont hit) associated with using maneuvers without the feat so it's something to be mindful of anyways. Combined with the Dueling enchant from the Pathfinder SOciety Field Guide that gives you double your enhancment bonus on your weapon as a bonus to Combat Maeuvers which use your weapon disarm, sunder, and trip. With a +5 weapon this means a +15 bonus to the mauever (5 from weapon enhancement, 10 from Dueling) and is great synergy.

Shadow Lodge

I think that the Armoured Hulk archetype might be worth a mention. It gives bonuses to AC against crititcal hits, bonuses to speed so you can get to enemies before you stop moving. Also, tower shields and dwarven longaxes might be worth mentioning in equipment. As for magical items, I think that Mithral Full Plate of Speed is good for the extra attack that you can get. Just my .02$.

Sovereign Court

Thanks for the input so far! I'll keep adding and working on things over the course of the next few weeks.

One minor critique, the Stonelord Paladin; they work together poorly. Rather, the Stonelord does not multiclass well, as most of his abilities scale to level.

Not to mention a Stonelord already has Defensive Stance, and a power by level 8, so the first level of Stalwart Defender won't give him anything. Gaining DR 5 from Stalwart defender comes at the cost of giving up the DR 5 he would have gained from his own class. If you go Stonelord 7/Defender 10, you're giving up 3 Defensive stances to pick up 5 of them. You're gain 4 dodge AC at the cost of 2.5 Natural Armor. Stonestrike doesn't scale anymore and your Stone Servant never gets to be useful in combat. (He's a handy scout who I would probably not risk sending into combat until at least Large; double the HP of a medium elemental, DR 5 kicks in...)

If I were to play a Defensive Stance character, I would either play a Stalwart Defender OR just go 20 levels of Stonelord Paladin. Stonelord Paladin is sort of the Stalwart Defender as a base class.

Leading into Stalwart Defender with classes like the traditional paladin, fighter, ranger and other classes you mention seem like a better starting point. But thematically, Stonelord and Stalward Defender are a perfect fit, so maybe that's enough for someone to want to do it.

Anyway, I hope I wasn't being too discouraging. I absolutely love the guide and thanks so much for putting the time in to make it! These guides truly are a service to the community.

Sovereign Court

Thank you for reminding me of that, Chort. I'd meant to look into ways of letting those two mesh better. Do you think a feat like Boon Companion would work with the Stonelord's elemental?

Shadow Lodge

Another Couple of feats you may want to add, Intimidating Prowess and Cleave feat tree.

Intimidating Prowess lets you have a lower Charisma and still use antagonize

Cleave is good because you can use your highest BAB attack so you hit more because, as a tank, you aren't incredible at hitting things and become more capable of hitting things with your first attack 2x than with 2 attacks. Also, the Dwarven Cleave feats are remarkable with removing some of the limitations.

If you're going to take the cleave feats, I would only recommend doing it as a dwarf and by taking the dwarven feats that let you do it to anything smaller than (even if not adjacent) and then anything your size and larger (even if not adjacent). Otherwise, cleave is still in general a very s%+%ty feat tree. It's always better to do concentrated damage against one opponent that a little damage to every opponent, especially when you're so defensive that you damage is <10% of a enemy's health. Trip is much better at battlefield control than cleave, which would be what you're attempting wiht cleaving. Don't forget that you're a full BAB class and really only need strength and con, so you should have fairly high scores in both and be able to hit without too much issue.

Silver Crusade

I'd also mention for Fighters that the Unbreakable archetype gives Endurance and Diehard at first level instead of your first level feat. Yeah, you're losing Tower Shields, but unflinching is far better than Bravery, and the entire archetype is an amazing dip for you if you're doing something other than a Fighter.

Aside from that, I don't think you really need pink as a color, red really does well enough to dissuade someone from selecting an option. The guide seems solid so far, I'll give more insight when I read into it a bit more though.

Find a way to gain fatigue immunity and you can move around by turning your defensive stance on and off as a free action. Lots of ways to do this - just do a search for rage cycling or barbarians.

You mention needing Diehard for getting into the class a few times, but the only feat requirements are: Dodge, Endurance and Toughness. Another thing to point out is if you're enlarged and using the lunge feat with a reach weapon, you can actually hit people that are up to 5 squares away, since being enlarged with a reach weapon lets you hit someone from 15-20 ft away in the first place.

Sovereign Court

Martiln wrote:
You mention needing Diehard for getting into the class a few times, but the only feat requirements are: Dodge, Endurance and Toughness. Another thing to point out is if you're enlarged and using the lunge feat with a reach weapon, you can actually hit people that are up to 5 squares away, since being enlarged with a reach weapon lets you hit someone from 15-20 ft away in the first place.

Whoa, how did I miss that? Thanks, that's a major error on my part.

And yes, I talk about Enlarge Person in a few places but I may add a Spells/Buffs section to make it more obvious.

I wouldn't make lunge so highly rated personally. It can be useful, but the major problem is that it's only active during your turn, so it wont apply to attacks of oppurtunity (which is when you really want it). If you can afford the Cord of Stubborn resolve (it trades fatigue for non-lethal damage) so it will allow you to drop your Defensive Stance, Move, and reactivate Defensive Stance which reduces the need for extra range. It's nice, but depending on overall build there may be something better that can go into that feat slot. Just my opinion.

There is a feat - Combat Patrol? - that allows attacks of opportunity in that extended range, I believe. I will have to verify, just posting off the top of my head.

EDIT: Hmm, having checked it, I think there might be a need to discuss with the GM how he would rule on its use.

Combat Patrol

AinvarG wrote:

There is a feat - Combat Patrol? - that allows attacks of opportunity in that extended range, I believe. I will have to verify, just posting off the top of my head.

EDIT: Hmm, having checked it, I think there might be a need to discuss with the GM how he would rule on its use.

Combat Patrol

Combat Patrol wouldn't mesh well with Defensive Stance. Attacks of Oppurtunity don't happen during your turn so you would have to loose your stance to move and take the AoO and wouldn't be able to reactivate it until your turn.

Shadow Lodge

You might want to mention a 1 level monk dip. It can give you dodge, Improved Unarmed Strike and a 1d6 damage unarmed strike, for Stalwart defenders that use a reach weapon, and then make an AoO with either it or unarmed strike, you also get stunning fist with your unarmed strike, which can, probably won't, but can be a fight-ender, and you get a +2 to all your saves. And all that I mentioned above can be used in Full-Plate. Unfortunately you can't flurry in armor, otherwise it would be much better. Not necessarily optimal, but monk is one of the best dips in the game IMHO.

Shadow Lodge

The Spire Defender archetype for Magus gives you combat expertise (so you can dump Int) and dodge (a pre-req) at the cost of 1 BAB point.

This may not be the right forum, but it's worth a shot. What's up with Smash?

Smash (Ex): While in a defensive stance, the stalwart defender may make an extra attack per round that is either a shield bash or a slam (even if he doesn’t normally have a slam attack). If used as part of a full attack action, the extra attack is made at the stalwart defender’s full base attack bonus –5. The smash deals 1d4 points of damage (if the stalwart defender is Medium, or 1d3 if he is Small) plus half the character’s Strength modifier. The character can make this attack as part of the action to maintain or break free from a grapple; this attack is resolved before the grapple check is made. If the attack hits, any grapple checks made by the stalwart defender against the target this round are at a +2 bonus.

Can I smash with a buckler or a tower shield using this? That would be cool, but the damage doesn't change no matter the size, which is odd.

Do I do more damage with a spike? How about if I have a bashing shield?

What strength bonus do I add? Full? 1/2? None?

I like offensive shields, but they confuse me.

I suspect they failed to mention "assuming a light shield". I would rule RAI is this is a standard bash with all the bonuses and restrictions therein. Basically I would delete the problem sentence in it's entirety: "The smash deals 1d4 points of damage (if the stalwart defender is Medium, or 1d3 if he is Small) plus half the character’s Strength modifier."

Internal Fortitude is actually a decent way to achieve Defensive Stance cycling, so you probably shouldn't rate it as red. Combined with a Flawed Scarlet and Green Cabochon you're effectively immune to fatigued, exhausted, sickened, and nauseated while you've still got rounds of Defensive Stance left, plus you can use your 1/stance abilities 1/round and no longer have to worry about being stuck in one place.

Thanks for the guide, it inspired me to play the stonelord. Just wanted to post some advice.

1) If you can get your gm to allow this feat: Quick Stow and you take it with quickdraw its pretty amazing. I used a stalwart defender enemy in the game, and the party realized he couldn't move so backed off, when he busted out the bow and arrow and then went back to a reach weapon after full attacking it was pretty amazing. Its a totally reasonable feat, so if your gm allows any third party material he should allow that.

2) You may want to consider a 1 level dip into Living Monolith. You already have to meet the endurance prerequisite, and you may want iron will anyway depending on your class combo. It doesn't even interfere with Stalwart Defender levels. The swift action enlarge is excellent, especially for you with your lack of mobility!

Ok, next is Stonelord going into Stalwart. I am highly against this and I'll explain here why. I am going to assume a standard AP that ends about level 17.

So, what you gain from Stonelord 7/Stalwart 10:
*+4 dodge vs +2 Natural Armor: Dodge is a clear winner here IMO. Each effects either touch or flat footed, but adding to touch is more valuable IMO.
*2 Defensive Powers: More powers is a good thing!
*Improved Uncanny Dodge: This doesn't suck, especially for you since you can't move.
*Mobile Defense: The stonelord still doesn't have this.
*Last Word: Its extremely meh, especially for a capstone.
* Tower Shield Proficiency: Ya, this one may hurt depending on your build plan.

So Stalwart obviously has some value, but lets see where straight Stonelord 17 edges out:
* 3 FEATS. count them yes three. You may have wanted to take one or maybe even two of those anyway, but its doubtful, especially as feat starved as you are, and dwarves basically have built in toughness anyway:)
* 10 more uses of stone strike and its at +4/instead of +2. It now ignores 34 points of hardness, much better than even mithril. As a small bonus it adds bane vs constructs and earth elementals. Constructs start to become a pretty common enemy at higher levels just because of the lack of things that can challenge PC's.
* All attacks count as good aligned. A good chance you have holy on your main weapon anyway, but its nice to have.
* DR 8/Adamantine & 5/evil vs DR 5/-: Some may argue Dr/- is better, and they'd be right. But in a standard AP (and consequently, likely most games) you could count on both hands the amount of time someones overcoming your DR/Adamantine, and if it does, they also need to overcome your Dr 5/evil. Making this one go to the stonelord 99% of the time, maybe even more!
* 75% Fortification vs 25%: Saves you some cash, nice!
* Immune to bleed, blood drain, petrification, Charm and compulsion
* A greater earth elemental you can summon 4 times per day vs a small earth elemental you can summon once per day. Is the greater earth elemental still pretty squishy, YA. Is he still gonna die, ya. Do you have 4 a day though, ya. Does he have greater bull rush to push things back to you when they get out of range...ya! Its not the greatest ability, but an expendable pet is an expendable pet!
* 5 extra lay on hands, all of which heal an extra 5d6. This is 5 more times per day you can exit defensive stance, find a new position, and effectively ignore the fatigue. The healing is a nice benefit, doubly so if you took fey foundling!
* Phase Strike - pretty circumstantial, but it will come in handy a few times. Could potnetially be knocking off over 30 AC altogether (highly unlikely) but its nice to have a few.

Anyway, thats just my two cents! You can pretty easily compare for yourself in the above chart and make your own decisions, just wanted to put it out there. The stonelord is an awesome archetype that is ALSO full of flavor, which is just so rare for PF(usually its flavorful or powerful, not both) that I love that class!

So I was looking around at random PRC to help add to my idea of a launching cross bow/crossbow weird thought experiment. This is a pretty cool way to make turret man.

Are there many ways to increase the utility of 5ft steps? or any other ways to cause some movement without needing to fatigue yourself?

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