Sound Striker - Wierd Words Ability questions


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It also provides a 10 x10 area of allied space, 85 points of soaking damage. Extra attacks of opportunity. For nine round s of usefulness. Please. Way more useful.


Titania, the Summer Queen wrote:
It also provides a 10 x10 area of allied space, 85 points of soaking damage. Extra attacks of opportunity. For nine round s of usefulness. Please. Way more useful.

It is also a 5th level spell which takes a "1 round" action to conjure in most cases meaning it can be interupted with an attack on the caster. The results are also subject to extermination by Dispel Magic (a 3rd level spell) which can be readied on the trigger "when that caster completes her summon spell" assuming that you were spellcrafted.

I agree that summons are one of the more powerful things casters can do, but the quantity of summons is much more limited than the amount of times a bard can use the wierd words ability. When it comes down to it though, on a "what you get" versus "what you give up" basis, the wierd words ability is a CLEAR winner. The comparisons to other abilities are decent at best, and I'd say that comparing Wierd Words to summoning is a bit far off.


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http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2l7ns&page=339?Ask-James-Jacobs-ALL-your-Qu estions-Here

A little past midway down, James Jacob says single target is kosher.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Cheapy wrote:
In my experience, that's not really the case. The posts I make for FAQs show both sides, and they tend to get answered pretty often.

Just to add to the "badly written" part, what is the ability DC?

The bards abilities don't have a standard DC, generally the DC is set by the single ability.

Similarly SU abilities don't have a specific DC (at least in the CRB).

AFAIK, the only general rule about special abilities DC is in the Monster Creation section of the Bestiary:

PRD wrote:
Most special abilities that cause damage, such as breath weapons, give a save (Fortitude, Reflex, or Will depending on the ability). The DC for almost all special abilities is equal to 10 + 1/2 the creature's Hit Dice + a relevant ability modifier (usually Constitution or Charisma depending on the ability). Special abilities that add to melee and ranged attacks generally do not allow a save, as they rely on the attacks hitting to be useful.

Between that "almost all" and this piece of the rules being in a very specific section of the rulebooks, using it as a general DC for all SU abilities is a bit questionable.

This thread is about the DC of supernatural abilities that say that they "allow the same saving throw" of spell X, but it can apply to other SU bard abilities that don't specify a Saving Throw DC.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
rayous brightblade wrote:

http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2l7ns&page=339?Ask-James-Jacobs-ALL-your-Qu estions-Here

A little past midway down, James Jacob says single target is kosher.

With an incipit of:

"First off... I'm not sure where the "Sound Striker" comes from."

it is not a RAW rule answer for sure.


Diego Rossi wrote:
rayous brightblade wrote:

http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2l7ns&page=339?Ask-James-Jacobs-ALL-your-Qu estions-Here

A little past midway down, James Jacob says single target is kosher.

With an incipit of:

"First off... I'm not sure where the "Sound Striker" comes from."

it is not a RAW rule answer for sure.

It's worth noting that in JJ's response, he did not specifically mention the + Charisma Modifier to damage and he was very thorough about the rest of the ability.

James Jacobs wrote:

First off... I'm not sure where the "Sound Striker" comes from.

But here goes:

1) You can "shoot" 1 sound per level. Effectively, you shoot 1/level d8s at the targets. Each single sound (each d8) affects only one target. You can split those d8s up however you want between as many targets as you want... kind of like how magic missile works. This means you CAN shoot them all at one target... but each one has to make its own touch attack, and each one allows for a Fort save for half damage.

2) Yes, the sounds do bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage, and are thus subject to normal damage reduction.

If the ability were 1d8 per caster level, required one ranged touch attack per target, allowed a single fortitude save per target, and allowed you to split the d8's up as you saw fit, then it would seem completely acceptable to me as well.

It is possible that JJ missed the + Charisma modifier part when he gave his response. That makes sense to me because it is that part about the ability that strikes my "not quite right" bone.

Edit: I was not implying that JJ CERTAINLY missed that part of the ability, simply that it was possible given how thorough he was with the rest of the ability. This makes sense from my perspective because the ability would seem to be much more in line (power wise) if the + Charisma modifier to damage on each hit was absent. ESPECIALLY given the abilities you surrender to get Weird Words.


MechE, that is a bit of a leap to suggest James Jacob did not pass his reading comprehension check and miss the quoted rules text. Its fine that you do not agree with his ruling and you are completely in your rights to proclaim his ruling as not raw, but don't put words in his mouth because you didn't like what he said.

I do agree though that the save dc needs to be FAQ'ed as it isn't listed and by raw could be argued to be based on hd instead of bard level. Actually, it really should be errata.


rayous brightblade wrote:

MechE, that is a bit of a leap to suggest James Jacob did not pass his reading comprehension check and miss the quoted rules text. Its fine that you do not agree with his ruling and you are completely in your rights to proclaim his ruling as not raw, but don't put words in his mouth because you didn't like what he said.

I do agree though that the save dc needs to be FAQ'ed as it isn't listed and by raw could be argued to be based on hd instead of bard level. Actually, it really should be errata.

I edited my above comment as I can see how you read it the way you did. It was not my intention to "put words in his mouth", simply to point out that it was possible that JJ missed that part when reading and replying quickly.

Everyone rolls a 1 on a check every once in a while and his thread has to be the biggest one on the forums...
.
.
.
Side thoughts from me, only slightly relevant to the conversation at hand...
The more I look at and think about this ability, the more I think it is most likely an editing problem. I see one of two options being the most likely:

1) The person doing the edits read it as being restricted to targeting each creature no more than once, thought it seemed horribly weak, and thus added in the Charisma modifier to damage part.
2) There was a line in the ability restricting it such that each target could only be the target of a single Weird Word, and it got removed to save space/because it was deemed not necessary.
Note: I actually think number 1 is the more likely scenario.


dotting

Shadow Lodge

FAQ'd.

This isn't broken (though it is very powerful for what it gives up), and an invulnerable rager barbarian is almost as close to immune to this as you get (by 10th level, DR5/- and at least a +7 Fort, though almost definitely more than a 10 CON is on a barbarian). Still, this needs an FAQ about the save DC and the ability to let 30+ dice rolls in one round be caused by a PC.


Diego Rossi wrote:
rayous brightblade wrote:

http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2l7ns&page=339?Ask-James-Jacobs-ALL-your-Qu estions-Here

A little past midway down, James Jacob says single target is kosher.

With an incipit of:

"First off... I'm not sure where the "Sound Striker" comes from."

it is not a RAW rule answer for sure.

Nope. I may like his answer, but it's still not necessarily the RAW.

Liberty's Edge

JJ's answer may not be RAW, but I've no doubt that most of us would have more fun in one of his games than we'd have in any strict RAW game, regardless of the DM.


The problem with this ability is that it's either horribly underpowered, awful and useless if you limit it to 1 per target, or that it is extremely powerful.

It is true, you need seperate ranged touch attacks, and you can save against them. But let me share my experience with them:

Last week I ran my group through the Ruby Phoenix Tournament, where in one fight they face a band of 4 Sound Striker bards. I had buffed them a bit as I did all the enemies as my group is a bit higher and all, and on paper they seemed quite bad.

They ended up doing 10 1d8+6 attacks with a +16 or so ranged touch. I had not really min-maxed them, but they were buffed with Heroism, Haste, Cat's Grace and Inspire Courage for the attack roll, as well as Eagle's Splendor for damage. They're 11th level after all, and all of that are bard spells, so it would be stupid for them to not use that.

So 10 seperate ranged touch attacks turned out to be not really hard at all, considering touch AC is usually pitifully low. Against most players they hit on anything but a nat 1, the monk was the only one that would have been able to stand that. I thought it was higher on the Samurai as well but turned out it wasn't.

When the first of them oneshotted the Oracle (he hit with 9 of them, but the Oracle only saved against 4 I believe), I realised that that ability is far more powerful than I thought.

They managed to win, barely. The Zen Archer Monk was shooting them and usually taking out one per round, and damaging another, and the Samurai and Cavalier were working together and also managed to put one down.
The fight ended with the Oracle 2 HPs before death, the Samurai just saved by a Breath of Life in the last moment, because someone poured a Potion of CSW into the Oracle just in time, the Cavalier hanging on with 5 HPs or not much more.
The entire fight lasted two or three rounds only, but just one more round and three of the four would have been dead.

However, if they could just have hit each of them with a single attack? It would have been a slaughter. The bards being slaughtered, I mean.


You can say the same of a lot of things in the game, though...

A single mounted lance charge from a mildly optimized NPC could splatter most PCs of a similar level in a single hit, too.

A squad of volley archers with Rapid and Manyshot could likewise mince meat PCs.

And a Sorcerer with Havoc of the Society laying down some Dazing Spells? Ouchie.

It's kind of a major theme/problem in 3E that player classes especially are based much more heavily towards high offense than high defense / health / fast recovery. It's really just one step below the insanity of a game like Diablo, where the characters do four or even five digits of damage (and the monsters can soak it!) but only have like 800 or so health themselves.


I think the phrase "each sound affecting one target within 30 feet" clearly indicates that each sound affects one target, not 2 or 3 targets, some indeterminate number of targets, or all targets within 30 feet. It does not clearly indicate or in my mind even imply that multiple sounds can not affect the same target. I'm not making this argument based on opinions about how the ability "should" or "shouldn't" work, just my understanding of the rules text based on the rules of English grammar.

I can't say for sure that the person who wrote the ability intended, just what he or she actually wrote (or honestly what actually got published). I'd rather see the ability only allow one save per targeted foe just to make it quicker to resolve. It also might be nice if they reduced the number of attacks but possibly increased the damage to even it out. Honestly, stuff rarely fails the Fort save, so removing the save entirely but halving the number of attacks to one per two Bard levels, max 5 might be the best solution. In other words, a 6th level Bard with a 20 Charisma would get 3 attacks for 1d8+5 while a 12th level Bard with 26 Charisma would get 5 attacks for 1d8+8.

That would really be an errata rather than a FAQ I guess, but it would make the ability easier to play without increasing its power. It would also make the ability somewhat more useful against creatures with DR. Five attacks for 1d8+8 would average about 62 damage. That seems fairly reasonable to me. This suggestion might seem like a big nerf to those who feel the ability is weak, but honestly most foes will make nearly all of the Fort saves anyhow, so forcing them to roll is often more annoying than effective.

Paizo Employee Official Rules Response

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The design team and the developers have talked about this ability, and we agree that it is problematic, in that it isn't clear, and (depending on how it's interpreted) is either a very poor ability or a very powerful ability.

Problems include:
* text isn't clear whether you can shoot one target multiple times
* two rolls needed to resolve the effect (ranged touch attack and saving throw)
* damage is low if you can't shoot a particular target more than once, but high if you can
* ability starts with 6 shots when you first gain it, but caps out at 10 shots only 4 levels later

There's no easy or obvious fix for the ability as written.

Rather than quickly putting together an official FAQ or errata with a fix, having people find problems with it, and post revisions to that fix, what we're going to do is present a rough idea of what we think the ability should do, let people pick at it for a while, and revise the wording based on this feedback.

Here is the proposed new wording, parsed over several lines for easier reading:

Weird Words (Su): At 6th level, a sound striker can start a performance as a standard action, lashing out with up to 1 potent sound per bard level (maximum 10), each sound affecting one target within 30 feet. Note: "Up to" means you can choose to fire fewer than the maximum number.
No target can be struck more than once. Note: This makes the intent clear.
Each potent sound expends 1 round of bardic performance. Note: This is new, and keeps the cost from being trivial at higher levels for using the maximum number of sounds.
These are ranged touch attacks.
Each weird word deals 1d8 points of damage plus the bard's Charisma bonus. At 10th, 14th, and 18th level, the damage increases by 1d8. Note: Scaling damage is new. Fort saving throw removed.
The bard chooses what type of damage each word deals (bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing).
This performance replaces suggestion.


What type of damage are the words? Sonic damage, some sort of elemental damage, untyped damage? Is there any way to resist this damage? Is it affected by DR?


Thank you! That's one personal crusade down.

Paizo Employee Official Rules Response

Caedwyr wrote:
What type of damage are the words? Sonic damage, some sort of elemental damage, untyped damage? Is there any way to resist this damage? Is it affected by DR?

As posted above:

The bard chooses what type of damage each word deals (bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing).


Pathfinder Design Team wrote:
Caedwyr wrote:
What type of damage are the words? Sonic damage, some sort of elemental damage, untyped damage? Is there any way to resist this damage? Is it affected by DR?

As posted above:

The bard chooses what type of damage each word deals (bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing).

Thanks. Missed that originally.

Silver Crusade

First, thank you very much for doing this.

One obvious observation is that this has to be balanced against the thunder caller bard. Which has its own FAQ requests :-)

My immediate gut reaction is that this is too weak. 10 odd damage at level 6 (even to multiple targets) is almost never going to be worth the action. And if its done at multiple targets the round cost will start to become quite high.

But its in the ballpark. Maybe it should start at 2d8?


so at 18th level a bard could spend 10 out of his cha+36 bardic performances to do 4d8+cha damage to 10 foes that does not go through dr. Well, thats an ability that will never be used.


A big step in the right direction, but damage feels low enough to not make this option particularly interesting.

Edit: I'd personally prefer somewhat higher single target damage, hitting fewer targets.


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Caedwyr wrote:
What type of damage are the words? Sonic damage, some sort of elemental damage, untyped damage? Is there any way to resist this damage? Is it affected by DR?
Proposed Fix wrote:
The bard chooses what type of damage each word deals (bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing).

Edit: ninja'd by almost an hour on this, my bad for leaving a thread up for awhile before sending a response.

Interesting to see a proposed fix to this, I had nixed this archetype for a PC because of how wonky this ability seemed to be. I'll look this fix (and future changes to it) over with the player in question to see what we think about it. So far it seems weak against single enemies or those with DR (maybe making it sonic so DR doesn't reduce it could help?) and expensive in bardic performance rounds against multiple enemies, the worst of both worlds being multiple enemies with DR. Though as it isn't replacing that strong of an ability maybe it doesn't need to be super strong.


idilippy: exactly. That's something that needs to be kept in mind. It replaces an ability that is situationally very powerful and in all other cases...not so much. Weird Words should be modified to be somewhat similar, although perhaps just make it decent. Making it a lowcost high powered cannon is not the best idea :)


So they extra-nerfed it? Great...
Using one round of performance for inspire courage is going to work out better in many cases (especially when fighting small groups--where the bard can't fire all the sounds, and when working with a large group--where the only bound to inspire courage targets is their ability to perceive the performance) than using 6-10 rounds of it on this attack. 10 rounds of performance can be expensive if the party gets into multiple fights per day. And yes, eventually the bard can do this as a standard, then restart a different performance as a move (then swift), but that's an extra use of performance, and the bard doesn't even benefit from it! Or the bard can choose to launch fewer words to conserve performance, but then his damage output drops accordingly.

If they're going to eliminate the ability to stack shots on a single target, removing the save is a good start, but they should probably also just make it non-weapon based sonic damage. That would both prevent it from becoming useless at high level, and fit more with the concept of the sound striker. Sure it wouldn't affect certain targets, but any bard should know the defenses of his enemies.

Also, maybe add verbiage that indicates the bard can use this as a single shot performance while maintaining inspire courage, etc. In this case, it would help the sixth level bards use the power without losing inspire courage for a full round, and save the higher level bards a move/swift.

Can I retrain to get suggestion back?


No.


The limitations of always a standard action and one target per word are restrictive enough. Having to pay one round of performance PER WORD is just ridiculous over-nerfing. The damage may scale now, but it still pales in comparison to damage other classes can be doing at the respective levels, and using the ability means attacking multiple foes instead of focus firing on one guy, which is inherently a weak option already due to critical existence failure (until a foe is dead or incapacitated, he fights just as hard at 1 hp as at 100, so it's best to just pound one foe till he's down).

I don't particularly like having the music only be useful vs. hordes of foes, but if that is the direction the design team wants to take it...
I would suggest making it only cost 1 round of performance and otherwise leaving it as revised. That would be fairly balanced.

Paizo Employee Official Rules Response

A post has been removed. We are looking for helpful feedback to make this archetype clear and worth playing. "This is less cool and too weak, I'll ignore it" is not helpful feedback.


Thank you for this PDT.

I personally felt the ability was way too powerful previously, as I tried to display with my comparison to the disintegrate spell. That said, I do think this is a bit weak as now written.

Taking it as now written, my suggestion would be this:
• Remove the ranged touch attack portion and just make it automatically hit like magic missile.
• Also make it count as bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage.

These two things will speed up the ability in many ways (no attack rolls, no specific damage type called out) even when attacking 4 or 5 enemies in a round. It'll also slightly bump it up in power level.

Edit: Formatted to be more "focused" per Cheapy's suggestions.


What niche do you want this to fill? Mook-be-gone? Viable replacement for weapons?

One of the issues with the original ability is precisely that depending on how you interpret it, it could be either one of those. The proposed system at this point seems a lot like a mook-be-gone, primarily wiping away low level roadblocks (which has its uses. see all the recommendations to use summons precisely for that purpose).

With that in mind, more focused feedback could be given, I think.


Pathfinder Design Team wrote:

Here is the proposed new wording, parsed over several lines for easier reading:

Weird Words (Su): At 6th level, a sound striker can start a performance as a standard action, lashing out with up to 1 potent sound per bard level (maximum 10), each sound affecting one target within 30 feet. Note: "Up to" means you can choose to fire fewer than the maximum number.
No target can be struck more than once. Note: This makes the intent clear.
Each potent sound expends 1 round of bardic performance. Note: This is new, and keeps the cost from being trivial at higher levels for using the maximum number of sounds.
These are ranged touch attacks.
Each weird word deals 1d8 points of damage plus the bard's Charisma bonus. At 10th, 14th, and 18th level, the damage increases by 1d8. Note: Scaling damage is new. Fort saving throw removed.
The bard chooses what type of damage each word deals (bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing).
This performance replaces suggestion.

Y'know, how about only scaling the damage only once, but also allow a single target to be hit multiple times?

By 20th level, hitting a target with a total of 20d8 points of sonic damage is balanced, especially with ranged touch attacks and the fact that you spend 1 bardic performance per note.

Or... how about that you can "merge" up to five notes together to create a bigger note?


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

With the increase in cost of weird words I'm not seeing a need to limit how many times a target can be hit by it.

If a bard is going to use ten rounds of bardic performance every round to do one of these they are probably going to run out of uses in about two or three rounds.

I think it would be appropriate to either limit the number of times a target can be hit, or make each individual "Potent Sound" cost a bardic performance. Doing both makes the ability very very unattractive.


My 2 cents:

I think the big breaker on this ability is adding Charisma to every hit. That is a form of static damage scaling that is rarely seen in this sort of ability.

Raising the performance cost up to 10 rounds, to me, is unnecessary and a little high.

I think that hitting the same target is more than fine if the damage stays at 1d8 (with no charisma). These are touch attacks that can miss. And keeping the fort save is ALSO fine, but I would change the wording to something like: "Any creature that is hit by one or more words can make a single fortitude save to reduce the damage from this ability by half."

If everything hits at level 10, you are looking at 45 damage on average to a single target, 22.5 damage if the target makes its (now single) saving throw. If a few words miss you are in the 15-20 damage department, maybe a little higher if you can get some crits. The ability would still be useless against high DR monsters.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I find the inability to target a single target more than once too weakening of the ability.

Perhaps limiting the charisma bonus to damage to once per target as a limiter?


blackbloodtroll wrote:

I find the inability to target a single target more than once too weakening of the ability.

Perhaps limiting the charisma bonus to damage to once per target as a limiter?

At this point it is too weak an attack for too much of a cost.

Taking this archetype not only replaces suggestion, but denies other archetypes that also do so.

What is the end goal of this archetype?

-James

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Well, I was going to suggest the scaling dice be increased as well.


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Problems that have been pointed out:

At 1 round of performance per word, it's too expensive.
If it stays B/P/S, it has to deal with DR, which Supernatural abilities normally don't, so becomes an exception to the normal rules.
If you can't fire multiple words at a single target, it becomes useless for most aspects of combat in many games, since single target encounters are many of the written modules (that i've played), and it would do next to nothing in those cases. (Not wanting to get into the debate on that being poor challenge selection, that's a whole other thread)
The +Cha to each word is balanced as written, since that helps it to actually do something against enemies with DR which normally supernatural abilities dont have to deal with, but it looks like a really big number to some people.
It has a hit roll, a fort save, and a damage roll, all of which have to be tracked separately in the case of DR, making it unwieldy in play.

Proposals to balance:

Get less words, with better scaling damage, if you want to still apply DR, and want to limit the words to one hit per use of the ability.
Get rid of the DR, and do +Cha only once per target, but still let multiple strikes hit.
Change it to sonic, to avoid the DR issue.
Make it one word/2 levels, to make it more in line with other abilities.
Make the damage scale at 6, 10, 14, 18, to make it useful after level 12.
Get rid of either the Fort save or the Range Touch attack, to cut down on dice rolling.
Make it Cha to damage once per target, only necessary if mult words still hit the same target.

So, bringing it in line with most other abilities would be something like: (italics are things in the proposed rewrite, bolds are my suggestions)

Weird Words (Su): At 6th level, a sound striker can start a performance as a standard action, lashing out with up to 1 potent sound per two bard levels (maximum 10), each sound affecting one target within 30 feet. Note: "Up to" means you can choose to fire fewer than the maximum number.
No target can be struck more than once. Note: This makes the intent clear.(remove this, otherwise it's too low power based on other abilities at this level, replace with)Each word can be fired at a single target, or different targets
Each potent sound expends 1 round of bardic performance. Note: This is new, and keeps the cost from being trivial at higher levels for using the maximum number of sounds.
These are ranged touch attacks. (I would remove this, and leave in the Fort save for half, since it's hard to miss higher level touch attacks, and because I believe that changing it to sonic damage a save makes more sense. I believe that multiple word stacking will be limited because of the extra cost of 1 round/word.)
Each weird word deals 1d8 points of damage plus the bard's Charisma bonus. At 10th, 14th, and 18th level, the damage increases by 1d8. Note: Scaling damage is new. Fort saving throw removed. (add this back in, and the following line)If multiple words target a single enemy, only a single Fort save is needed, but the bonus Charisma damage is only added once.
The bard chooses what type of damage each word deals (bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing). (remove this, unnecessary with the lower number of words and loss of stacking charisma damage, replace with)This is a sonic damage effect.
This performance replaces suggestion.

Now, you have a scaling damage (1d8+Cha) at 6th, +1d8 at 10th, 14th, and 18th. Total only adds Charisma once. Costs multiple rounds to make multiple hits, can be used single target but without the massive 10xCharisma bonus, scales slower at 1 word/2 levels, saves on bookkeeping by only making a fort save, and still has the balance between useless at high levels, and overkill at level 10.

Even at level 20, 10 rounds per use, at maximum will be 4 nova strikes a day, which is on par for other characters at that level.(ignoring favored class options and feats, if that's what you spend your bonuses on it means you don't have other things, so still balanced.)


Ok, so let me start by saying that I appreciate that this is being addressed. It's problematic for all of the reasons stated in the Design Team post, except that I actually think it's still weak if it hits one target with all the sounds because it deals physical damage subject to DR, but, it not being a weapon, there are zero ways for it to bypass said DR.

That said, my thoughts on the changes:

Hitting anyone for 1d8+Cha at level 6+ is ridiculously weak. 2d8+Cha at 10th and all the other increases are similarly pointless. Damage that low does not matter, and definitely does not warrant a cost.

Someone upthread said it put it on the same playing field as Thundercaller, but I don't think it is.

1) Thundercaller can unleash their damage ability as a move and swift action later, whereas Sound Striker still requires a standard.

2) Thundercaller's ability ignores DR, and Sonic Resistance is practically nonexistant. And Weird Words is still not a weapon, so there's still no way to bypass any kind of DR with it.

3) The main attraction of the Thundercaller's ability is the AoE stun, not the damage. The damage is mostly irrelevant.

In my opinion, Sound Striker should be the archetype of choice for the weaponless bard, and that's exactly how I've used it in the past. I like playing full support bards and Sound Striker gives me the ability to contribute some damage sometimes when I've run out of supporting actions to take, especially since around the same time the ability is acquired, I basically don't have to spend real actions on Inspire Courage anymore.

If I were to rewrite the ability, my preferred way would be to make Weird Words into a legitimate weapon. It could just be a ranged weapon that deals 1d8+Cha damage (so, you'd have to get precise shot to shoot into melee, but Arcane Strike would buff it and you could make your full iterative attacks with it). If you had to make it cost something (I think it'd be fine without any performance round cost), then let it mimic the Watersinger ability where you just spend rounds of performance to maintain the ability to attack with it.

The key in my mind is that it should be a viable alternative to wielding a weapon. In this updated form, I can't ever see using it unless you were facing lots of CR 1s at level 6+ (which is obviously unlikely).

The alternative, I think, would be to make the damage scale a lot faster and let it deal sonic damage, rather than physical damage that is incapable of bypassing material, alignment, or magical DR.


Ok guys, I myself have had a PFS Sound Striker bard for a very very long time (she is my -1 character).

I decided to take this proposal to the test against some comparable numbers. See if this sounds underpowered or not. I wrote a whole spreadsheet to calculate this.

I compared 3 different items:
Old weird words
New weird words
Thundercaller Bard (the OTHER "damage dealing" bard)

Massive Math in here:

My bard:
Level 10
CHA mod +7
DEX mod +3
Relevant Feats: Point Blank Shot (can't remember if PBS can apply to WW, so put both in there)

Assumptions on target:
Touch AC 15
Fort save +12
DR = 0

DPR Results (damage per target):
Old WW (base) - 8.6
Old WW (PBS) - 9.4
New WW (base) - 16.0
New WW (PBS) - 17.0
Thundercaller - 12.8

Now, lets check at the next breakpoint, with a level 14 bard (Same stats for simplicity)

DPR Results (damage per target):
Old WW (base) - 9.2
Old WW (PBS) - 10.0
New WW (base) - 20.4
New WW (PBS) - 21.4
Thundercaller - 21.4

Now, lets check at the final breakpoint, with a level 18 bard (Same stats for simplicity)

DPR Results (damage per target):
Old WW (base) - 9.8
Old WW (PBS) - 10.6
New WW (base) - 24.9
New WW (PBS) - 25.9
Thundercaller - 29.9

So, the new Weird Words pretty much only deals more damage as a Thundercaller bard only at levels 6 and 10 (of course this could change by REALLY stacking charisma)

Of course, there are a LOT of contingencies that apply here... any little DR will pretty much defeat a sound striker bard... Thundercaller can hit multiple people with just 1 round of bardic performance, while Sound Striker can only hit one per performance. Thundercallers have a chance for a stun, while weird words gets nothing.

However, the new rule does make Weird Words more resistant to DR:

level 10 example, with enemy with DR 5:

DPR Results (damage per target):
Old WW (base) - 4.8
Old WW (PBS) - 5.6
New WW (base) - 11.0
New WW (PBS) - 12.0
Thundercaller - 12.8

Of course DR only gets worse as levels go up, even with bigger words.

level 14 example, with enemy with DR 10:

DPR Results (damage per target):
Old WW (base) - 0.3
Old WW (PBS) - 1.2
New WW (base) - 10.4
New WW (PBS) - 11.4
Thundercaller - 21.4

As you see, the new weird words barely keeps up with some scaling DR, but this is an improvement over the current model (where DR 10+ basically neuters it!)

Should they be allowed to hit more than one target?
With the new ruling, I would say "maybe". Depends on the answer to the next question.

level 10 example, with PBS:

No DR
Old Weird Words - 93.5
New Weird Words - 170.0

DR 5
Old Weird Words - 43.5
New Weird Words - 120.0

DR 10
Old Weird Words - 0.0
New Weird Words - 70.0

What is a Sound Striker's Role?

I think this is the one question I would like to hear from the design team about first.

Is Weird Words meant to be a primary form of attack for a Sound Striker? Is it meant to even compare to a Bard doing archery instead?

Actually, how would it compare to archery, probably the most common damage dealing bard build? Well, as it happens, that same Sound Striker bard I have went for archery because of the table variance with Weird Words. Some quick stats:

more pseudo math!:

Same bard, but
Relevant Feats: Point Blank Shot, Arcane Strike, manyshot, deadly aim, rapid shot

Assumptions on target:
Regular AC 22

Buffs:
haste, good hope, bard song (+2)

Gear: +1 holy longbow

Old WW (PBS) - 9.4
New WW (PBS) - 17.0
Thundercaller - 12.8
Single shot - 19.82
Full attack - 70.0

Honestly, I think this new proposal is WAY better than the old Weird Words (assuming original's intent was not to stack words on same enemy).

But, if the final goal is to make a Sound Striker a viable DPS option for bard, there is no way still it can compare with a plain old archery build, or even a Thundercaller bard right now.

Even for just the damage, Thundercaller is just plain better.


Cheapy wrote:

What niche do you want this to fill? Mook-be-gone? Viable replacement for weapons?

One of the issues with the original ability is precisely that depending on how you interpret it, it could be either one of those. The proposed system at this point seems a lot like a mook-be-gone, primarily wiping away low level roadblocks (which has its uses. see all the recommendations to use summons precisely for that purpose).

With that in mind, more focused feedback could be given, I think.

Just noticed that Cheapy hit what I was trying to get at earlier.

+1 to this.


Here's a thought:

Keep it as proposed (or possibly even scale it back slightly), but convert it to a swift action.

This does affect the action economy of the bard (replacing a standard action with a swift), but it is a significant power boost, without being an oddly scaling damage boost.

Possibly, restrict it to being something you can only do while you're already maintaining a bardic performance. Something like Chord of Shards, which is a very similarly-themed ability. Also along the lines of the suggestion it replaces, which has to be done during an ongoing fascination.

----

It's also worth noting that the Wordstrike power is described as a standard action, but Wierd Words is described as "starting a performance" But it's only an instant effect (as written and as revised), so there's no ongoing performance to start...


Pathfinder Design Team wrote:

The design team and the developers have talked about this ability, and we agree that it is problematic, in that it isn't clear, and (depending on how it's interpreted) is either a very poor ability or a very powerful ability.

Problems include:
* text isn't clear whether you can shoot one target multiple times
* two rolls needed to resolve the effect (ranged touch attack and saving throw)
* damage is low if you can't shoot a particular target more than once, but high if you can
* ability starts with 6 shots when you first gain it, but caps out at 10 shots only 4 levels later

There's no easy or obvious fix for the ability as written.

Rather than quickly putting together an official FAQ or errata with a fix, having people find problems with it, and post revisions to that fix, what we're going to do is present a rough idea of what we think the ability should do, let people pick at it for a while, and revise the wording based on this feedback.

Here is the proposed new wording, parsed over several lines for easier reading:

Weird Words (Su): At 6th level, a sound striker can start a performance as a standard action, lashing out with up to 1 potent sound per bard level (maximum 10), each sound affecting one target within 30 feet. Note: "Up to" means you can choose to fire fewer than the maximum number.
No target can be struck more than once. Note: This makes the intent clear.
Each potent sound expends 1 round of bardic performance. Note: This is new, and keeps the cost from being trivial at higher levels for using the maximum number of sounds.
These are ranged touch attacks.
Each weird word deals 1d8 points of damage plus the bard's Charisma bonus. At 10th, 14th, and 18th level, the damage increases by 1d8. Note: Scaling damage is new. Fort saving throw removed.
The bard chooses what type of damage each word deals (bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing).
This performance replaces suggestion.

Very cool of the Design team to ask the community for help.

My gut feeling tells me this new fix is too week, but it also seems that a lot of people have unrealistic expectations on how good this ability should be.

  • I actually think that “Each potent sound expends 1 round of bardic performance” isn’t necessarily a bad idea (if the ability itself gets a minor boost?). It stops the bard from abusing this ability.

  • Also, I’m not sure I agree with DR being a big problem. Suggestion doesn’t work when dealing with creatures that are mindless or doesn’t talk your languages or whatever. So why should Weird Words be balanced vs. all creatures? So what if it is useless vs. creatures with DR. I hope the Design team will take this into consideration and don’t bow for the pressure and make the Sound striker a nova class like the magus or alchemist.

  • One problem that does remain is that using the ability is still very time-consuming at the table. The player has to roll 10 times to attack, and the player also has to roll the damage dice 10 times since each attack is unique. Removing the fortitude save is an improvement in that respect.

    I will follow this thread closely.

    Edit:

    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

    One fix could be:
    - remove “Each potent sound expends 1 round of bardic performance”
    - boost the damage
    - remove the attack rolls
    - add save
    - add “If a creature's saving throw succeeds the bard cannot use Weird Words on that creature again for 24 hours.”

    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

    Or

    - Let bard shoot a particular target more than once in a round.
    - Keep “Each potent sound expends 1 round of bardic performance” but use something like Cheapy’s fix. (less sound more damage per sound).
    - Make the attack a ray so the bard can use cluster shoot.

    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

    Or

    edit:

    - remove “Each potent sound expends 1 round of bardic performance”
    - Let bard shoot a particular target more than once in a round.
    - add “once the bard hits a creature with Weird Words, the bard cannot use Weird Words on that creature again for 24 hours.” [I know the last part is messy since you have to roll moe than one attack roll in that round, but you get the idea.) Or something like: "Once per encounter the bard may direct all the attacks vs one and the same creature.


  • Zark wrote:
    Also, I’m not sure I agree with DR being a big problem. Suggestion doesn’t work when dealing with creatures that are mindless or doesn’t talk your languages or whatever. So why should Weird Words be balanced vs. all creatures? So what if it is useless vs. creatures with DR. I hope the Design team will take this into consideration and don’t bow for the pressure and make the Sound striker a nova class like the magus or alchemist.

    I think you need to revisit the Bestiaries and see just how many mid to high level enemies have DR. Most players never notice because everyone has magic weapons by level 5 (and the ability to bypass material DR from sheer "plus" by the time those things become common), but practically every challenging enemy has some kind of DR by CR 10+.

    It's not a question of making them a Nova class--that'd only happen if they went with the 10 shots means 10xCha damage thing. The goal, I think, should be to make the ability worth using. The rewrite is already too weak, but making it subject to DR that it can't bypass is even worse. Since the earlier Sound Striker ability whose name I forget (probably blocked it out of my memories) is so useless and bad that nobody ever uses it, making Weird Words weak in this fashion will ensure nobody plays Sound Strikers.


    a) It replaces a situational ability.
    b) Humaniods seldom has DR.


    Zark wrote:
    a) It replaces a situational ability.

    It replaces a situational ability that is useful in some situations with, as it currently stands, an ability that is useful in no situations except possibly contrived ones where you really need to eliminate a horde of enemies with extremely low HP quickly and can burn through all of your bardic music rounds in a very short time without fear.

    Zark wrote:
    b) Humaniods seldom has DR.

    While humanoids with class levels are the most common foes in the games I run, I fully recognize that my games are a-typical. In most campaigns, you're going to see far more outsiders than humanoids, especially by the end, not to mention undead and other notoriously DR-having monsters.

    Liberty's Edge

    Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
    Pathfinder Design Team wrote:
    Caedwyr wrote:
    What type of damage are the words? Sonic damage, some sort of elemental damage, untyped damage? Is there any way to resist this damage? Is it affected by DR?

    As posted above:

    The bard chooses what type of damage each word deals (bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing).

    Maybe you could add a "magical" descriptor to that, to allow it to bypass the most common form of DR.

    The bard chooses what type of damage each word deals (bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing), and it is treated as magic for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.

    - * -

    It is possible to use Arcane strike with it? I don't think so, as it is not a weapon, but it could be a way to increase it power a bit, making it a magic attack and adding some extra damage.


    First, thanks to the Pathfinder Design Team to opening up this discussion!

    Here are my suggestions, some of which have been mentioned:

    1. Make the damage sonic. First, because there's no way of overcoming DR with a supernatural ability. Second, you're attacking with a sound. If dealing damage with a sound isn't sonic damage, what is?

    2. Clarify if the ability does or does not have an audible component. All performances have an audible and/or visual component, and if weird words has an audible component, it means it is language dependent (likewise mind-effecting) and deaf creatures are immune, which I don't think is the intent.

    3. Make the ability a Ray with no Fort save. It's nice to have weapon rules attached to an ability, otherwise the rules become inconsistent. For instance, you only take a penalty for firing into melee with a ranged weapon, but concealment affects all ranged attacks. You'd have to keep checking the books to keep track of what does and doesn't apply. The Fort save is just excessive; You're already making an attack roll, and there are no conditions riding on the result (like deafness).

    4. Make it a viable weapon. That's what makes the archetype appealing in the first place. There are plenty of bard spells for area of effect crowd control. It the weird words doesn't deal damage competitive with weapons or spells, it isn't going to be used.

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