Sound Striker - Wierd Words Ability questions


Rules Questions

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pibby wrote:

Weird Words does apply against DR

Weird Words must be applied against one or many creatures,

how Weird Words works with Conductive ranged weapons.

To be clear, let us agree on these points:

DR applies to Weird Words, because it does and it says it bypasses DR.

It can only hit one target, because it was designed and written to only hit one. Despite some players interpreting it as allowing multiple words on one target.

Conductive would be hard to determine how to handle Weird Words as originally written. The easiest model would be to say that Conductive would have used 2 rounds and deal only 1d8+CHA additional.

My last post with a new version of Weird Words would have DR apply, work against one target or multiple targets and would work with Conductive.


Bobson wrote:
Tels wrote:
I do think your ability is the way to go. But I would drop the 1 round per missile and maybe add a static damage bonus of +1 per 4 bard levels, to each missile. My biggest concern is that Sound Striker would be the go-to combat bard. An archer/Sound Striker bard would be a terrifying foe, full attacking and blasting people all in the same round.

This seems rather contradictory - you're worried about making the Sound Striker the go-to combat bard, yet you're also suggesting making the ability much more powerful than I was thinking. I do like the idea of adding a small scaling bonus, but don't want to make it too strong. I admit I haven't tried comparing it at high levels - just the 9th level I originally posted about. I'll figure out what it looks like after scaling and see if there's room for tweaking it.

MechE_ wrote:
Swift action results in this ability scaling too well into the late game. Comparing it to quickened magic missiles is not very fair, since quickening a magic missile gives up using a spell of FOUR levels higher to do so. Making this a swift action? It still only costs 1 round of bardic performance - That's too much benefit for the cost and I'm firmly against that idea.
Please re-read my idea before you reject it. I specifically made it one round per missile so that it was comparable to a quickened magic missile in resource usage.

If they were to adopt your proposal (1 missile per 2 levels at 1d8 damage, each missile costs 1 round of performance, swift action activation at level 6), yes, the class would be the go-to combat bard. Why? Because a melee or ranged bard could be full-attacking, while swift-action blasting at level 6.

Haven't really cranked out the feats or anything, but at level 6, an archer bard could roughly have a +10 to hit and deals 1d6+5 damage with a bow, in addition to the 3d8 sonic damage from the swift action missiles. At 6th level, a bard could easily have about 17 rounds of performance, so she can fire 3 missiles a round for 5 rounds before running out of performances. That's only a bard that didn't take extra performance or anything, so she very well could have more.

That is why I suggested letting the ability benefit from the decreased action time normal bards get. At 7th level, they can start a performance as a move action, at 13th level, a swift action. This prevents Bards being huge nova-classes with their performance, at least until higher levels.

But the damage is also sonic, which can be almost completely negated with a fairly low-level spell (resist energy). Modifying your proposal, I would say either a scaling damage bonus, or dropping the 1 round per missile would allow the ability to stay competitive (preferably both), especially when you look at the Thundercaller who does almost the same exact damage, and only costs him 1 round of performance for his Thunder Call ability.


James Risner wrote:


Let us calculate /day uses.
Sorcerers get 6 2nd level spells a day.

I think if you are going to make the analysis that you are making you needs to be more complete. Sorcerers also get 3rd level and 4th level etc slots that can also be used to cast that spell so that is not an accurate assessment not to mention bonus spells for high charisma. A sorcerer with 26 Charisma has 8 2nd level spells per day, 7 3rds and 5 4ths. So that is essentially 20 times per day at 8th level they can cast the spell not 6. Which indicates to me that is is 20 vs 26 times per day. Same charisma at level 12? Bard 34 rounds and Sorcerer 34 times as well. 18th level the sorcerer has pulled ahead.

You may say well that is unreasonable no one will spend all their slots on one ability.... but that is what you are indicating the bard is doing.

James your Math-Fu is much greater than mine I see a lot of comparisons some have buffs like good hope etc.. and some don't. Also people are not going to use an ability on a creature that is resistant to it. They will use a different ability. DPR of scorching ray on non resist creature is 40ish at level 12 and 26sh at level 8. To a single target because multiple rays hit the target.

Are your calculations only one ray because then you are not matching scorching ray at 8th level, you are matching it at 4th level ability.

With scaling abilities I think there needs to be a data point at various levels. If the ability scales which scorching ray does you need to see the point at 4th 7 and 11th caster levels. or 4 8 12 in this instance.

I like your reverse engineering idea.. I just feel like it does not completely match the ability as well as it could be matched. ie 1 ray, 2 rays and 3 rays that scorching ray is capable of. Even if sound striker is only 1 ray ever. It should be comparable dpr.

As a side note unless weird words are nearly as good as inspire courage it will not be a very useful ability unless you happen to be alone. It needs to be a viable option or you might as well not even bother. Inspire Courage transforms a team and will out shine so many abilities due to the bonus to hit alone.

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Golo wrote:

essentially 20 times per day at 8th level they can cast Scorching Ray

not going to use an ability on a creature that is resistant to it.

unless weird words are nearly as good as inspire courage

I intentionally ignored the higher level slots because you would be using higher level abilities. The Bard presumably would have other options too.

I modeled both DPR's to be normalized. So for Weird Words, I applied DR percentages of real world monsters. I applied Fire Resist/Immunity and Spell Resistance for Scorching Ray. That was for 2 bolts, if you examine the math you can see the work.

Mechanically Inspire Courage is very effective, but it goes against some people's brains. They don't get enough feedback of all the times that their allies hit due to the IC or that the extra damage from IC killed the monster 1 hit early. So it "feels" like a wasted action for many players.


James Risner wrote:


I intentionally ignored the higher level slots because you would be using higher level abilities. The Bard presumably would have other options too.

I modeled both DPR's to be normalized.

So it "feels" like a wasted action for many players.

If you presume they have other options then I think you would need to not use all of their rounds of bardic performance in a similar ratio.

Ignoring the higher spell levels creates a false comparison not to mention that 6 Slots at level 8 is assuming a charisma of 13 vs 26 for your damage computation for the bard. Which also is a comparison weighted against the striker. It is not a fair comparison.

If I was a game designer I would start with a standard ability array for a PC such as the elite array so that would be 15 charisma +2 for level 4 and 8 which is 17.

With a charisma modifier of +3 and using 21 rounds of music to = 18 spell slots as far as I'm concerned or 7 for you since you were ignoring the higher level abilities. Where does that put us?

Now non normalized super basic math (because it is easier for me to understand) we should be equaling 4d6 from two rays. Divide by 3 for you 7 vs 21 comparison and you are close to 1 round for 2d6+3.. now do the math not ignoring the extra slots and you get 1 round is = 24 damage which is 85.7% of 28 average non-normalized damage or something close anyway. So then for 1 round of music it is close to 2 attacks at 2d8+3 or 2d10+3 if you increase the miss chance for a second attack each. A single attack it is like 4d10+3. I do feel strongly that like scorching ray all of the rays or words can hit a single target.

Actually the more I look at the math the less it makes sense to me. However, do you see what I mean James about creating a fairer comparison? If you do the comparison that they both have 17 charisma it seems fairer to me and less unrealistic. Clearly your Math-fu is more advanced and maybe I'm way off base but I don't think I am, of course it is likely you'll prove me right or wrong one way or the other.

However, there does need to be a limit of the # of words or the damage will again skew highly due to buffs and high charisma. I think sending 1 to 4 attacks at one creature or multiple creatures is not too onerous, but more than that and it gets to where we are now where its "too many dice complaint." - Which as an aside I only understand from the DM and making all those saves... as a player a wizard using polar ray and disintegrate etc... are using a lot of dice. A ray or word at 6 8 10 12 or 6 9 12 15 seems appropriate. I included a 4th because at higher levels it will scale better since it is unlikely the sorcerer will still be using a 2nd level power frequently at that point. Heck at that point they are using Contagious Flame and that is way better use of a standard action.

People may feel like inspire courage is a wasted action but the math does not indicate that and you are justifying the changes by math. So I do not find that as compelling an argument as the rest of what you are saying.

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Golo wrote:

game designer I would start with a standard ability array for a PC such as the elite array

Now non normalized super basic math

Ignoring the higher spell levels creates a false comparison

So I do not find that as compelling an argument as the rest of what you are saying.

If you used unoptimized characters for the rules design, you are not aware of the pitfalls that could happen when a player heavily optimizes his character. My view is limit the best optimization results is a better tactic.

Non-normalized basic math suggests Scorching Ray is better than it is. So I think we should concern ourselves with the real world data (in the form of the defenses of CR 8 to 12 monsters when evaluating Level 8 powers.) I think this power should be evaluated only in level 6 to 10 range, as it is only increasing in power during those ranges. How well it works (or doesn't work) at level 20 isn't important.

Ok, how about instead of ignoring higher level spells we just make sure the Bard can't use this ability more than 6 or 8 times a day regardless of how many rounds of performance he has. Fair?

I'm with you on the Inspire Courage. I stare in bewilderment at people that claim it is a wasted action.

Good story:
I play a game at Dragon Con called Cheese Grinder. It is all about "build the most broken legal Pathfinder at 11th level and go Player vs Environment.

Each room is very hard, so dying in a room is the norm. Dying means you jump out and someone else takes your place.

A new guy came along to play with his friends. They joked "take the Bard pregen, it is the most useless thing you could take."

He did, and the table went on a 7 hour "no death" run. With the whole table point at the bard for their success. He sang with Lingering Performance nearly every important encounter. He facinated an encounter with 20 low CR "save or die" monsters. He freedom of movement ever melee and the cleric. Essentially winning many rooms for us. The whole time roleplaying the character.

He got nominated and won for Role Play (one of the 6 special awards they give) and he got the most points for a neutral character and into the finals.

Could we done so well if he picked a Sorcerer? Barbarian? Rogue? no.


I didn't have much time to post over the past day or two, so now I must cast Wall of Text...

@Revan - I think the desire for the Sound Striker to be able to participate effectively in combat using Weird Words instead of a weapon is actually pretty common. Some folks seem to feel that players were intentionally "misreading" the ability to allow this, but I think actually the original rules text was just unclear. PDT has stated that the intent was 1 sound per target, but the rules text actually said 1 target per sound. I think it was natural that there would be confusion and disagreement since the RAW interpretation was very powerful but the RAI interpretation is rather unappealing.

I’m guessing that a lot of players who chose the archetype, probably even most, likely did so under the impression that they’d be able to inflict meaningful ranged attack damage with it. An archetype which does that is apparently one that a lot of people are interested in. One which does minor damage against large groups of nearby foes at a high cost of bardic performance rounds might not be.

@Tels - Doing 4d6 (average 14) damage per word instead of 1d8+8 (average 12.5) doesn't seem like a big difference to me, but I kind of like keeping the Charisma modifier in the damage. If nothing else it requires a little more investment in the ability to get optimal results. Some people will worry about abuse, but it is probably pretty tough to get your Cha mod over +10. Overall I think 1d8+Cha will tend to produce lower damage.

I think that giving Weird Words a set number of words per level (say 1 at levels 6, 9, and 12) is simpler than basing the number of words off of BAB and including a bunch of language to restrict or allow various methods of increasing the number of attacks. Keeping the ability at 6th level instead of 3rd and basing the number of words on Bard level could also help prevent multiclass dippers from running away with the ability (and maybe an Extra Performance feat or two)

@James Risner - I notice that you’ve begun to propose modeling Weird Words off of Scorching Ray. Since that’s close to what I’ve been trying to do I feel like maybe we can compromise somehow. I’ve noticed what I think could be a critical error in your math though. It appears to me that you claimed an 8th level Sorcerer will beat SR only 40% of the time based on an average SR of 21 for all monsters in the database at CR 8-12. It seemed reasonable to me that 21 might be the average SR of monsters CR 8-12 which have SR, but it seemed unlikely that it would be the average SR for all monsters in that CR range once you factor in those which don’t have any SR. I think that maybe you forgot to factor them in. When I did an “average” of the SR for database monsters in that CR range just now I got 7.45.

Even if we round that up to 8 that means that “on average” the Sorcerer never fails to overcome SR since 1d20+8 is never less than 8. Sticking to your math that means the 29.4 average damage for 2 rays remains 29.4 even after “average SR”. It looks like your Sorcerer lost about 5.6% of his damage to your fire resistance formula with 11.76 damage going in. I figure that the 29.4 damage should fare at least as well. If so that’s 27.7536, but let’s just round down to 27.

So, if an 8th level Sorcerer’s Scorching Ray has an expected DPR of 27 across all known encounters CR8-12 and you're modeling Weird Words on Scorching Ray, shouldn’t the Sound Striker’s Weird Words have a similar chance for success? My version would get a 2nd word at 8th or 9th level (you choose), allowing 2d8+16 damage with a 26 Cha, maybe 2d8+18 with Point Blank Shot. That’s an average of 27, so by your math my version seems spot on - and that’s before applying DR!

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Devilkiller wrote:

begun to propose modeling Weird Words off of Scorching Ray.

8th level Sorcerer will beat SR only 40% of the time based on an average SR of 21 for all monsters in the database at CR 8-12.

I started modeling WW off SR as a comparison, but I don't like being close to Sound Striker's 3rd level ability.

We all learn when the formulas are available publicly. I did indeed miss a step I prepared to perform, but didn't.

Scorching Ray is 22.01 and Fiery Shuriken is 14.11:

Scorching Ray
(.95*4*3.5+0.05*4*3.5*2)*2
29.400
Fiery Shuriken
(.95*4.5*4+.05*4.5*2*4)
18.900

34.83146067 have SR, and the average of CR 8 to CR 12 is SR 21.2903225806 Need a 13 on 1d20

I needed to factor the number of people with SR into the equation, and didn't. So below I consider that only 34.83 percent have SR.

Applying SR
Scorching Ray
29.4 * .40 * .3483 + 29.4 * .6517 = 23.2559880
Fiery Shuriken
18.9 * .40 * .3483 + 18.9 * .6517 = 14.9502780

Fire Resist/Immunity:
14 Have Fire Immunity
2 have Fire 5, 9 have Fire 10, 4 have Fire 20, 1 has Fire 30

Applying Fire Resist
Scorching Ray
23.26*0 * (14+4+1)/534 + (23.26/2-5) * 2/534 + (23.26/2-10) * 9/534 + 23.26 * (504/534) = 22.0055617972

Fiery Shuriken
14.95*0 * (14+2+9+4+1)/534 + 14.95 * (504/534) = 14.1101123592


James Risner wrote:


My view is limit the best optimization results is a better tactic.

Non-normalized basic math suggests Scorching Ray is better than it is.How well it works (or doesn't work) at level 20 isn't important.

Ok, how about instead of ignoring higher level spells we just make sure the Bard can't use this ability more than 6 or 8 times a day regardless of how many rounds of performance he has. Fair?

James-

Okay I can go with optimization if you optimize the scorching ray. I think that would be fair. Keeping it more of a realistic comparison. So that would be a orc/draconic (gold) sorcerer with point blank, weapon focus ray, flagbearer, precise shot. Hmm maybe only a +2 charisma item since charisma does not help damage in this case. Then I have enough money to get Banner of the ancient kings. Now each ray does 4d6+11 without any rounds spent buffing. If the target is in point blank range. I still have it 8 times per day. (if we spend rounds buffing there is no end to where this could go)

Sure we can do normalized damage as long as the weird words normalized damage is about equal to Scorching Rays at 6 9 and 12 data points. Since we are re-writing the power its balance could scale past level 10 to 11/12 like scorching ray. Which in general I think would make it more palatable to people. Also Devilkin also seems to be pointing in that direction as well getting us all more or less lined up. I also agree what it does at level 20 is likely not so important.

I think that it must use rounds of bardic performance. I'm willing to say that using the ability uses up to 3 rounds of bardic performance. This goes with your analysis of 2nd level slots vs rounds of performance (using either 17 charisma or 26 charisma for both). I still think this is an apples and oranges comparison but, I can compromise on that issue I don't think 3 rounds is unreasonable for a scorching ray like effect.

It is still a standard action... There are only so many standard actions in a fight. Most bards I know (even heavy damage ones) are spending at least one round casting haste or good hope or something control oriented before they do damage.

Golo


If there’s something overpowered in my proposal I can’t really see it. I’m getting a lot of math from James, but I think it all works out to what we’re looking for being somewhat less powerful than Scorching Ray, which is a 2nd level spell. The Thunder Caller gets to use Sound Burst, another 2nd level spell, and even scale it up a bit at higher levels. I guess some might say Scorching Ray is a better spell since it does more damage, but I’d say the Thunder Caller’s enhanced Sound Burst can be pretty nice too since it can damage multiple enemies and might even stun them.

I’m not saying that a 3 word version of Weird Words wouldn’t be a powerful ability. I’m just saying that any Bard can go pick up a wand of Scorching Ray and do similar or better damage on average. The math James and I have been doing doesn’t even include the bonuses a wand Bard would get for Inspire Courage. Sure, the wand might not be ideal against stuff with high SR or fire resistance, but you don’t have to take an archetype to get it either. The wand is a little expensive but not much more so than a decent ranged weapon, 10,500gp for CL7 and 16,500gp for CL11. Either one could potentially be crafted for half price with some help from another PC (though that’s true of weapons as well)

@Golo - I'm not really trying to optimize Weird Words to hit as hard as an optimized Sorcerer's Scorching Ray, but there are some bonuses you could stack on top of my version of the ability. Most of them are things which would help Scorching Ray too though, and with the same number of "shots" I figure that the abilities would benefit about the same amount from those buffs. I'm hoping that this would help prevent unintended consequences where multiplying a bonus "too many" times might result in a game balance problem.

@James - Since it turns out that Scorching Ray is about twice as good as you originally thought when modeling Weird Words wouldn’t that mean Weird Words should be twice as good too? If you multiply the damage from your Weird Words proposal by 2 I think you’ll find that it begins to look more similar to mine in terms of total damage. Anyhow, I thought you were just modeling the Sorcerer’s chances against the “average” SR at CR8-12. If you’re going to average the SR then I guess I should average the DR too.

Of the 534 creatures in CR8-12 it looks like 258 have DR which can’t be overcome by piercing, slashing, or bludgeoning. That’s 48% of the creatures listed at those CRs. The average DR of those creatures is 9.127906976744186. That’s a pretty annoying number, so let’s be conservative and just call it 9. My version of Weird Words hits twice around levels 8 or 9 for 1d8+9 each time using your fairly optimistic Bard stats. Taking away the +9 for DR leaves 4.5 per shot, or 9 damage 48% of the time. Since 48% of 9 is 4.32 and 52% of 27 is 14.04 I guess that means my version of Weird Words has an expected damage of 18.36 against the CR range you said we should test against.

That’s a little worse than Scorching Ray even assuming that the Sorcerer doesn’t use metamagic feats (which he might) or rods (which he probably should). With those the Sorcerer would presumably gain about 50% damage for 33 total, leaving the Sound Striker at about half as much. This reminds me of your earlier concerns about limiting the Bard to 6-8 uses per day since a Sorcerer only has that many 2nd level spell slots. A Sorcerer could certainly burn up higher level slots to keep on casting Scorching Ray. By 8th level a Sorcerer with Cha26 could cast it literally 20 times, and many of those castings could benefit from metamagic feats. Heck, 5 of them could be empowered even without the nearly ubiquitous lesser metamagic rod of empower spell.


Devilkiller wrote:

@Golo - I'm not really trying to optimize Weird Words to hit as hard as an optimized Sorcerer's Scorching Ray

I'm not really either. I'm just trying to create parity between the examples. If you look back I suggested using a non optimized way of calculating the data. James indicated that it was not a valid way to him to calculate that way. So I said fine then both need to be optimized or it is not a fair comparison.

I'm just looking for a fair comparison.

It would be nice if the ability could do decent single target damage to do that it would need to be limited to 3 or 4 words that could hit the same target.

At this point take the proposed change but instead of 1 word per level max 10 put 2 words at 6th and an additional word every 6 levels max 4 at 18th, remove the only one per target limitation. So the damage and the number of bolts grow.

Hitting lots of targets each once is less useful than hitting one Several times in my opinion. There are AOE spells that do a much better job of it.

Golo


James Risner wrote:
Golo wrote:
appropriate that Damage is similar to Scorching Ray

I had a thought, so I

** spoiler omitted **

Weird Words (Su): At 6th level, a sound striker can start a performance as a standard action, lashing out with up to 1d4 per two levels plus the bard’s Charisma bonus (maximum 5d4) This damage may be divided evenly between any number of targets within 30 feet. These are ranged touch attacks. The attack deals bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage. Each 1d4 used expends 1 round of your performance.

This is an example of an ability that models Scorching Ray (Fire Resist, SR, and spell slots) with Weird Words (Rounds and DR.)

There are several problems with this ability, as written. First of all, if falls into the same category of the original in that you gain at 6th, cap at 10th. Second of all, the damage is abysmal, and it costs 1 round of performance per d4 of damage. No one in their right mind would ever take this archetype, as the ability is next to useless. I also suffers from lack of clarity like the original Weird Words.

You used 26 Charisma in your post, so I will use that same number here.

At 10th level, when the ability caps (1d4/2 levels , max 5d4), you have 5d4+8 damage you can deal. First of all, your ability stats 1d4 per 2 bard levels, plus charisma mod in damage. Does that mean Charisma mod per d4, or charisma mod added on top of the d4? How does this then translate into spreading the damage about?

Do you roll the damage, total it up, and then assign the damage to targets? (4 for the orc, 6 for the troll, 5 for the kobold) Or do you separate the d4s and then split up the charisma mod in damage? If it's charisma mod per d4, then it's easier as you just say 2d4+16 on the orc, 2d4+16 on the troll, 1d4+8 on the kobold.

However, your damage calculations state you using 3d4+8 damage, as opposed to 3d4+24 damage if it's charisma per d4.

So lets look at the average damage of a 10th level Sound Striker as per your ability. That's 5d4+8 damage. 2.5*5=12.5 [] 12.5+8 = 20.5

Now this doesn't take into account crits or DR, which will help or hinder the damage. It also costs the Bard 5 rounds of performance and a standard action, because it is still bound by the original Sound Striker text of neither Wordstrike or Weird Words having the ability to start quicker performances.

A Thundercaller at 7th level deals 3d8 sonic damage in a 10 ft. radius spread, and has a chance to stun every person in that 10 ft. radius. 4.5*3 = 13.5 damage, plus the chance for stun. So, at 10th level you are out damaging the Thundercaller, who's last Thunder Call damage increase was at 7th level. However, his next damage increase is at 11th level, increasing his damage to 5d8+stun. This turns his average damage into 4.5*5=22.5 damage plus stun. At 11th level, the Thundercaller does more damage than your Sound Striker, can activate his ability as a move action (allowing him to cast and damage at the same time), an it costs him only 1 round of performance.

At 13th level, he completely destroys your Sound Striker as he can activate Thunder Call as a swift action, letting him move and cast, move and attack, or full attack.

Now, certainly, your Sound Striker could have boosted his charisma between 8th and 11th level, but the Sound Striker is still expending 5 times as many rounds, and a standard action, for what amounts to roughly the same average damage without any chance to stun.

So no, I do not think this is a very good proposal.


Devilkiller wrote:

If there’s something overpowered in my proposal I can’t really see it. I’m getting a lot of math from James, but I think it all works out to what we’re looking for being somewhat less powerful than Scorching Ray, which is a 2nd level spell. The Thunder Caller gets to use Sound Burst, another 2nd level spell, and even scale it up a bit at higher levels. I guess some might say Scorching Ray is a better spell since it does more damage, but I’d say the Thunder Caller’s enhanced Sound Burst can be pretty nice too since it can damage multiple enemies and might even stun them.

I’m not saying that a 3 word version of Weird Words wouldn’t be a powerful ability. I’m just saying that any Bard can go pick up a wand of Scorching Ray and do similar or better damage on average. The math James and I have been doing doesn’t even include the bonuses a wand Bard would get for Inspire Courage. Sure, the wand might not be ideal against stuff with high SR or fire resistance, but you don’t have to take an archetype to get it either. The wand is a little expensive but not much more so than a decent ranged weapon, 10,500gp for CL7 and 16,500gp for CL11. Either one could potentially be crafted for half price with some help from another PC (though that’s true of weapons as well)

Devilkiller's Proposal:
Devilkiller wrote:

I like the removal of the Fort save since it should cut down the number of mostly useless d20 rolls to confirm that most enemies will make the save on most Words. I'm not sure if I like the 1 Word per target limit. Stacking up 10 Words on one target was probably excessive, but it seems like limiting the number of Words might be better than making the Bard split up the Words between multiple enemies who may or may not be there in a particular combat. That seems more like an AoE ability to me, which is more like what the Thunder Caller does.

Like Trogdar and mplindustries, I was thinking of basing the number of words on BAB. I'd want to carefully spell out that Weird Words doesn't work with Haste, Rapid Shot, or especially TWF though. I also suspect that GMs might really hate it when somebody took 6 levels of Bard "just to get iterative touch attacks". Maybe it would be better to just allow one Weird Word per 4 levels, capped at 3. That way you'd get your Words at about the same speed as Scorching Rays, which are already a known quantity in terms of power level and interactions with various buffs.

I'd say that a 12th level Bard blasting somebody for about 3d8+24 is pretty big damage, but I don't think it is crazy, game breaking damage. I can imagine various ways to increase that, but most of them would apply to other touch attack powers too.

Spoiled to save space.

You proposal can be summed up as:
1d8+Charisma for damage;
1 attack per 4 bard levels, max 3;
Standard action blast (because it's still bound by the original Weird Words text of can't be quickened);
Single target, or multiple target blasts;
Unclear damage type (though I suspect it's sonic);
Unclear as to whether or not normal buffs apply to damage.

If you remove the cap of 3 words, and clarified the damage and whether or not buffs applied, this is honestly one of the better abilities.

Something that is very important, is that the Bards are very much so a MAD-class when it comes to stats. They need the Dex for AC, the Con for HP, Cha for their spells and performance, and some strength for damage. If they choose to be a melee Bard, they are even more MAD (unless they focus dexterity and use Dervish Dance or Agile weapon). The upside is that the Bard has class abilities that helps alleviate some of his MADness. Versatile Performance lets him not require a large Intelligence, and the Bard can go almost his whole career without casting a single spell with a saving throw, and still do fabulously, so neither Charisma nor Intelligence need to be super high (though Charisma needs to be at least a 16 at some point), and Wisdom really only benefits the Will save for the Bard, for which they have a good save bonus.

The point being, is that a Bard is unlikely to be sporting a super high Charisma, so his damage is likely to be 1d8+5 at 12th level, as opposed to 1d8+8. This drops his average damage from 37.5 to 28.5 which is about 75% of the damage a Scorching Ray does at 12th level (which your proposal is slightly based on).

An archer Bard could do roughly the same damage, with a single arrow at that level, let alone a full attack. This means the only time a Bard would ever be using this ability, is if they've been stripped of their weapons, or their weapons are completely useless.

I hate to be the guy that keeps bringing up the Thundercaller, but I think it's very important I do so as that is the only other Bard that deals damage with his Bardic Performance. A question hat needs to be answered with every proposal is 'Would a player pick this archetype over that of the Thundercaller if they wanted to deal damage with their Bardic Performance?'

If a Bard has a really high Charisma, then your proposal is a better choice than the Thundercaller, but it also takes longer to deal the damage that makes it better. Bump the level 1 more (from 12 to 13) and the Thundercaller is able to use his performances as a swift action, while full-attacking. In that aspect, he's supplementing his melee or ranged damage with Sonic Bombs and generally being a badass while doing it.


Pathfinder Design Team wrote:

The role of the sound striker archetype is a bard who can supplement his spellcasting, support, and weapon damage roles with a direct-damage use of his bardic performance currency (rounds of bardic performance). It is not intended to make the bard as ranged-effective as an archer. In other words, it is intended to augment the bard's melee abilities (just as its 3rd-level ability replaces inspire competence with a more martial use of performance rounds), but not replace them. If you're a bard who never uses inspire competence or suggestion, and at the end of the adventuring day you still have many rounds of performance left over, you could consider the sound striker archetype as an option that lets you use those "wasted" (meaning they went unused during the day) performance rounds to deal direct damage to opponents.

With that in mind, we'd like to hear more feedback.

I decided to go back and look at the intentions of the Sound Striker class, and the more I look at it, the more I think the Thundercaller does everything that the Sound Strike was intended to do.

With the exception of the Call Lightning/Storm abilities that replace the Dirge of Doom and Frightening Tune abilities, the Thundercaller effectively replaces everything the Sound Striker does (Sound Striker looses Mass Suggestion since it doesn't have Suggestion, but has nothing to replace it).

When it comes to augmenting melee damage, by using bardic performance, there is only a few ways this can be done.

1) High damage alternative. Make it deal enough damage that the Bard can choose to switch between melee damage and Performance without 1 favoring the other.
2) In addition to melee. This is accomplished by giving the bard a method of dealing performance damage, in addition to his normal melee attacks.
3) Buff melee.

Now, #1 kind of goes against the idea of not replacing melee, as that is what it could, theoretically, do. However, it's still a possibility.

#2 is kind of what the Thundercaller already does with his Thunder Call ability. To differentiate, you have to make the abilities different. This means that the ability has to be able to be used in addition to melee attacks, but has to have something that makes it different than an augmented sound burst. This could be done by either making it have a higher raw damage, or give it versatility.

By versatility, I mean the performance needs to be able to do more than just damage people. Some ways it could do this is:
-Add major conditions (such as stunned, dazed, deafened etc.)
-Perform combat maneuvers, similar to Telekinesis
-Add penalties (straight penalties, in stead of conditions)

Possibly even a combination of the above.

As for #3, think of it as similar to the Magus' arcana pool. Now this is the 'least cool' or original application. The bard trades performance for melee benefits (probably more benefits than Inspire Courage does), or abilities. Such as bonus static damage, weapon accuracy (speed of sound etc.), change the damage type (all melee damage this round is sonic damage), bonus variable damage (1d6 sonic for example, possibly scaling).

I did think of a 4th application while typing this, so I'll add it here. An interesting possibility, is allowing the bard to make small ranged attacks that deal his melee damage. Kind of swinging his weapons so hard, it creates sonic waves. So a bard that deals 1d6+12 with his scimitar and 3 attacks, could use his performance to generate 3 waves of sonic damage that deal 1d6+12 sonic damage each (bonus damage dice from things like flaming, frost, sneak attack etc. are not transferred by this ability). Maybe a scaling range such as 10 ft per 5 bard levels for example.

Addendum Ugh, I was going to make a point with these posts, but I forget what it was. I've typing these over a period of some 4+ hours while watching my nephews (3 yrs old and 16 months old).

I think the point was, any change to the Weird Words needs to be able to augment melee damage in some way.


I honestly prefer the idea of the sound striker functioning as a coked up inspire courage for double the cost.

If you want the sound striker to work to augment melee, then let it augment melee.

I think there is a precedent for archetypes that get more out of feats or ignore prerequisites(monk archetypes that deal with stunning fist and its cousins) so why not take discordant voice and make it scale up instead of giving the class weird(no pun intended) rays that aren't rays that have a whole bunch of special rules associated to it.

So for the cost of fascinate, suggestion, and mass suggestion you give the sound striker discordant voice at first and add an extra 1d6 sonic damage per inspire courage bonus. This doubles the cost of inspire courage.


I know people keep bringing up Scorching Ray as what to model the ability off of, so why not just copy it almost directly?

Weird Words (Su): At 6th level, a sound striker can unleash potent sounds to attack his foes. He may unleash 1 sound for every 4 bard levels he posses as a ranged touch attack that deals 4d6 points of sonic damage. The bard may unleash all the sounds at a single opponent, or multiple opponents, but all sounds are unleashed at the same time. These sounds have a range of 20 ft. increasing by 10 ft. every 4 bard levels. Each sound costs 1 round of bardic performance to unleash.

While I personally don't like the 1 round of performance per ray, dealing an average of 70 damage of an energy type not commonly protected against at 20th level for a single round of performance is perhaps too strong for Paizo's tastes.

It lets melee bards have a ranged attack that is at least viable instead of having to split between ranged and melee. At 7th level, the Thundercaller deals an average of 13.5 damage, while the Weird Words deals an average of 14 damage. At 8th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the average damage jumps up by 14 points (as another ray is added). The Thundercaller caps at an average of 40.5 damage, while the Sound Striker caps at an average of 70 damage (across 5 attacks).

The only real concern for me, at with this ability, is that the Thundercaller can still deal his damage as a swift action, while the Sound Striker is stuck using his ability as a Standard action.

I, personally, would like to see an errata that removes the "Neither performance can be performed more quickly than a standard action." language from the Sound Striker archetype, however, I don't think this will happen as it lets the Bard possibly blow all of his performance to nova and possibly out damage the full-BAB martials.


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.

If this becomes official, I would ask that PSOP players be allowed to rebuild their Sound Strikers. Sound Strikers still don't hold a candle to the insane Barbarian, Fighter, Dragon Disciple, Zen Archer, etc. builds you see running around at conventions.

Also, perhaps remove the fact that it's affected by DR, and giving it the Sonic damage descriptor, so that the ability isn't overly nerfed once it's only able to be used once per target. Having it be affected by DR when Sean K. Reynolds ruled on it in the past nerfed the Sound Striker really harshly, to the point where it was balanced when it was able to hit one creature multiple times, since there's no easy way to give it material or alignment properties. I tried to help take down a Succubus with a Sound Striker, and it was such a joke, that just Inspriing Courage while the already powerful warrior types pulled out their cold-iron arrows would have been better... had the warriors been wise enough to spend the extra 1 gp to have cold-iron arrows....

One performance per word is a HUGE nerf on top of what's already been proposed. It makes it so that the Sound Striker can use it less times per day than an Alchemist can toss a bomb, and meanwhile Gunslingers are shooting multiple times at one target's Touch AC with x4 criticals with Holy and Cold-Iron/Silver damage all day.

Nerfing the Sound Striker to the extent of what's being proposed with the addition of SKR's ruling on it being affected by DR, will destroy the Sound Striker into being irrelevant and taking away an option to have a "offense themed" Bard, and putting them back to being "support only."


I wonder if PDT is still considering what to do with the Sound Striker. Anyhow...

@Tels - I mostly agree with your latest proposal. I still prefer 1d8+Cha, but the effective difference with a 26 Charisma is minimal (4d6~14 and 1d8+8~12.5). We could almost flip a coin for it. However, I think that limiting Weird Words to 3 attacks might be an important part of ensuring that nothing crazy happens when it is combined with buffs which could affect attack roll based powers (Inspire Courage, Aura of Justice, etc). As evidenced by the various Gunslinger debates, ranged touch attacks can be very powerful.

I’d definitely keep WW as a standard action. I’d argue that Thunder Call should probably be one too, but I guess that’s really a debate for another thread. I think we’re close enough to a consensus that Paizo should be able to sort out the fine details of whether the words are gained at 6/8/12, 6/9/12, 3/7/11, 3/8/13/18, etc. I’d mostly just hope to see at least two words by somewhere around levels 7-9 since otherwise the ability really starts to fall behind other options and would probably rarely see use. 8 seems nice since that’s when archers get an extra attack. 9th might provide a smoother progression and is when archers get Many Shot.

I know that PDT said Weird Words shouldn’t be better than an archer. I think our proposed versions would just be different. The archer would do higher damage against low AC foes while helping his buddies with Inspire Courage. The Sound Striker would crack higher AC nuts with ranged touch attacks. They could both be the same PC at different times. I'm not sure if Paizo will go for the sonic damage, but if not then I guess the PC would just need to invest in Clustered Shots. I kind of like the sonic damage since it seems thematic. They might be concerned it is powerful although the Thunder Caller can already do sonic damage.

@Millefune - What do you think of the sort of ability Tels and I are discussing? Paizo indicated that they'd like to see a consensus from the players. Obviously we'll never get everybody to agree, but if we could get a majority to mostly agree maybe PDT would go for it. Otherwise I think you're right that many players might want to rebuild or abandon their Sound Strikers. Perhaps that's being a little melodramatic, but I think 1d8+Cha is rarely worth using and even 2d8+Cha isn't that great by the time you get it, especially if DR applies. The ability to use WW on multiple targets for higher total damage isn't that helpful since the cost in the PDT version can become quite high and more importantly it is tough to know how many encounters will feature lots of foes within 30 feet. Stacking the damage against a single foe means the ability could be useful in more encounters.

@Trogdar - I'm not really sure what PDT meant by the Sound Striker augmenting melee since it has always been based on ranged attacks. I'm guessing that maybe they meant a melee Bard could augment his melee abilities with some ranged attack capabilities via Weird Words. I'm really not sure, so I've just tried to aim for a toned down version of something close to the way people who took the archetype often read the original and somewhat unclear ability.

Silver Crusade

I'm one of the proponents of leaving the ability alone because I don't think it's overpowered even if every word targets the same creature, they all hit, and none of the saves are made. However, I also realize that the ability is going to get nerfed, so I'd like to make a suggestion that won't completely kill the ability. How does this sound:

Weird Words (Su): Starting at level 3, a bard can lash out with potent sounds to damage all enemies within 30 ft. The bard can use either a standard action or a full-round action to use this ability. If using a standard action, the bard can lash out with 1 sound that does 1d8 force damage (Fortitude save for half) to every enemy in range. If using a full-round action, the bard can make as many attacks as her BAB would allow her to make. For the purposes of determining the number of attacks ONLY, use the bard's class level as her BAB. For every 3 levels beyond level 3, the damage is increased by one size increment and the range is increased by 10 ft. Using Weird Words expends 2 rounds of Bardic Performance per attack made.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies, Representative - D20 Hobbies

I'm still not sure or happy with much of any proposals, including my own.

I'm out for the weekend at a Grand Prix, so I'll try to get time to respond to some interesting things here or dive back in on Monday.

Bigdaddyjub wrote:
I'm one of the proponents of leaving the ability alone because I don't think it's overpowered

The original ability isn't something that can be left alone.

Silver Crusade

Says you. Others obviously disagree.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies, Representative - D20 Hobbies

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Bigdaddyjug wrote:
Says you. Others obviously disagree.

The ability is getting changed, so keeping the old ability isn't going to happen no matter how much you want it to happen.

Your choice is either to disrupt the process or to jump in and help. Which would you like to do?


Devilkiller, I like the "Sonic Rays" idea you and Tels are throwing around a lot better than what the PDT is planning. It gives decent damage, allows multiple hits against big bad bosses, can have weapon-feats added to its hit/damage abiity, etc.

I would change what the PDT is planning by removing the "B, P, or S" damage types out of it and switching it to sonic, and not let DR apply, since it's a supernatural ability, then allow the bard to use more than one word per target for every six or eight levels (two at 6 or 8, three at 12 or 16, and so on). It would make it more powerful that way, but with the huge nerfs of one round of performance use, and limit of one word per target, it's way tamer than the insanity of Dragon Disciple Amiri, Zen Archers, Gunslingers, etc.


Devilkiller wrote:

I wonder if PDT is still considering what to do with the Sound Striker. Anyhow...

@Tels - I mostly agree with your latest proposal. I still prefer 1d8+Cha, but the effective difference with a 26 Charisma is minimal (4d6~14 and 1d8+8~12.5). We could almost flip a coin for it. However, I think that limiting Weird Words to 3 attacks might be an important part of ensuring that nothing crazy happens when it is combined with buffs which could affect attack roll based powers (Inspire Courage, Aura of Justice, etc). As evidenced by the various Gunslinger debates, ranged touch attacks can be very powerful.

Well, the difference between the two, is that you are unlikely to see many Bards with a 26 Charisma before level 10, and even then, I'd expect a higher level (more like 13th). The reason being, is that in order for a Bard to get a 26 Charisma at level 6, they have to have a starting Charisma of 20 (18+racial), put their level 4 ability into Charisma, read a +1 Charisma book, and then purchase a +4 headband of Charisma; or they could purchase a +6 headband of Charisma instead of the book, and have a 27 Charisma. Both situations are highly unlikely.

At level 8, it's easier, as they could be Charisma Prime, ability scores in Charisma at 4 and 8, and a +4 belt.

Either way, you're talking a Bard that bumps Charisma above all other stats, meaning they aren't likely to have very high physical stats, and they're playing a Caster Bard, which is amongst the worst kinds of Bard. A Sound Striker Caster Bard could, potentially work, but I don't think they're going to be nearly as a effective as an Archer or Dervish Dance Bard who can both do more damage per hit, while buffing all their allies via Inspire Courage.


Pathfinder Design Team wrote:
The role of the sound striker archetype is a bard who can supplement his spellcasting, support, and weapon damage roles with a direct-damage use of his bardic performance currency (rounds of bardic performance). It is not intended to make the bard as ranged-effective as an archer. In other words, it is intended to augment the bard's melee abilities (just as its 3rd-level ability replaces inspire competence with a more martial use of performance rounds), but not replace them...

I'd like to hear to what degree the PDT is willing to revise the class feature. I get the feeling the intent is to keep the core ability intact, for ease of errata. On the other hand, I don't see this as likely arriving at the stated design goal.

Under the present proposal, it's an AoE blast spell with negligible damage. If damage is all the ability has to offer, and the damage isn't competitive, it will never compliment a melee bard. It's not worth the action cost, much less performance rounds.

Since we already have a solid bard archetype that offers a superior AoE sonic blast and debuff (thundercaller), would the PDT consider allowing Weird Words the potential to rival archery, in terms of damage? Even allowing multiple words to target a single creature, with a range of only 30ft it's hardly a replacement for bows.

We can discuss what we feel is balanced in terms of a single target blast all day long, but if the PDT has no intention of making it viable in that respect, then there isn't much point.


James Risner wrote:

I'm still not sure or happy with much of any proposals, including my own.

I agree, the more I look at it in different situations the more I am seeing issues with the various designs. I'm sure the developers are accustomed to that issue frequently. Gaining a bit of empathy for designers is never a bad thing.

For me the ambiguities revolve around what is a "weapon-like" spell or effect. Rays are obvious... everything else is ambiguous. If things like Arcane Strike, Good Hope, Inspire Courage etc work with the ability then the base damage can't be too high or the bonuses will make the ability overpowered. If they do not then for the ability to be meaningful or useful the base damage needs to be much higher than the stated power to be worthwhile.

Also if it does not have the ability to do decent single target damage then it will rarely if ever have a worthwhile use.

I'm still in the boat with 2d8+cha "rays" at 6,9,12,15. Susceptible to DR (Slashing/Blunt/Piercing) Ranged touch. It would be great if the range increased by 10ft with each additional ray but life will go on without it. "Rays" aka words can be fired at single or multiple targets.

I don't love that answer but I'm okay with it.

Golo

Silver Crusade

James Risner wrote:
Bigdaddyjug wrote:
Says you. Others obviously disagree.

The ability is getting changed, so keeping the old ability isn't going to happen no matter how much you want it to happen.

Your choice is either to disrupt the process or to jump in and help. Which would you like to do?

I believe I have made a couple of suggestions in the thread. All I am trying to do is not get the ability nerfed into the ground. It's not overpowered as it is and I'm sorry you and others can't see that just because you believe only certain classes should be doing big damage. I guess the next thing you're going to do is nerf my ninja that regularly tops the group in damage dealt.


Bigdaddyjug wrote:
I believe I have made a couple of suggestions in the thread. All I am trying to do is not get the ability nerfed into the ground. It's not overpowered as it is and I'm sorry you and others can't see that just because you believe only certain classes should be doing big damage. I guess the next thing you're going to do is nerf my ninja that regularly tops the group in damage dealt.

This is starting to get a little heated, so might I suggest nobody over react and derail the thread.

Don't think you're alone though in not wanting it nerfed into the ground, I don't want this ability to be nerfed that hard either. I think a core component of how it currently exists is that it can be interpreted to hit a single target with significant damage.

Cleaning up the language to minimize the amount of rolls needed and make the ability more expensive just makes sense tho for the purposes of clarity and balance. However, I feel whatever changes are made required shouldn't reduce their ability to do damage to a single target.


Hope we get something soon, have a campaign coming up soon and I am highly considering a bard, possibly a sound striker.


I think Tels' "just like scorching ray" version is the best I've seen so far, mine included. I like mine better (although I never followed up on it), but I think his is simpler and more useful. If we were voting, I'd vote for it.

-----------------------

That being said, let me throw another random idea out there to see if it sticks:

Number of sounds per day equal to bardic music rounds (but tracked separately).
Limit of sounds per turn equal to your bard level.
Minor damage per sound (1d4? Damage equal to charisma mod?)

So when you got it at 6th level, you'd have 17-20 sounds (Cha 16-22) per day, in increments of up-to-six. If you went with damage equal to Cha mod, that'd be 3-6 damage per sound. 18-36 damage per round if you used it full-blast, which you'd only be able to do twice a day (with 5-8 sounds left over) due to the interrelatedness of the formulas involved. Up to 120 damage over the course of a whole day, doled out in little 6-damage packages.

At 12th level, with a Cha range of 16-26, you'd have 29-34 sounds, in increments of up-to-twelve, for 3-8 damage per sound. You'd again only be able to use it at full strength twice a day (with 5-10 spare sounds), but you'd do 36-96 damage when you did. That's comparable to a chain lightning spell from a similarly leveled wizard, but much more flexible.

Lets say it tops out at 20th level with a Cha of 30. 52 sounds per day, 10 damage per sound, unleashing up to 20 sounds at once. That's comparable to Wail of the Banshee for raw damage against a single target, but Wail is an AoE. The bard still can't do that more than twice a day (without some Extra Performance feats), but he can also dole it out in smaller amounts. Maybe only 50 damage this turn, using 5 sounds, then 150 the next, then a full 200, for a total usage of 40/52 sounds.

-----

It wouldn't matter too much to the power level this version of the ability if it were a ranged touch attack or a Fort save. My preference would be Fort save for half, vs total damage dealt to you by all the sounds of each use. Likewise, it doesn't matter whether it's single target or multi-target, provided you have the option to direct it all against one foe. In that, it's just like the aformentioned scorching ray (or magic missile) which can but does not have to be split.

There's also a greatly reduced amount of dice rolling, especially if going with the constant-damage-per-sound option. At most, one touch attack or one save per target, which is similar to how most spells would do it.

Finally, it's up to the bard whether it's a really strong but limited-use ability, or a more common but weaker one, which suits the flexibility of bards as a group. In both cases, it's strong enough to be worth a standard action. It might be feasible to allow a bard to use a small subset swifter (something like: one sound as a swift action, or 2+ as a standard; or one sound per 6 levels as swift, one per 4 levels as a move, and more than that as a standard)

Thoughts?

-----------------------

If people like this, it makes an interesting contrast to the scorching ray option. That one is "just like the spell, except..." and this would be written nothing like spells, put produces a similar end. I'll try to write it up as an actual ability in the morning, when I'm not so tired. Or maybe over the weekend...


Well, if the flavor of the ability is just being jettisoned to make a blastum bard, why not just model it after something that exists? Perhaps replace the lower level ability with the shatter spell at a cost of 1 round each, and replace the weird words with Shout at a cost of 1 round bardic music per target in the cone, either as a standard action. This would also differentiate it from a thundercaller.


not to be nitpicky but classifying the proposed multiple version an AoE is a bit off, if it was it would be a good compliment to use against swarms, which can be quite a pain for a non-blaster caster.

and i dont think those who are asking it to remain closer to idea of a all on one foe attack is derailing the thread at all. everyone's input is valuable, even the ones that may run counter to semi-popular belief.


If they make it just an AoE (single word per target of any kind) and leave it a standard action, but don't add debuffs, and make it cost more than one perform round per use, then it's a waste of ink, just reprint the Thundercaller in it's place.

That is already an AoE, that benefits from higher levels of quicker than standard performances, comes with a debuff to boot, and scales faster than their proposed direct damage performance bard.

Make it a fort save once per target, remove the attack roll, make it sonic to get rid of the DR issue, keep the damage the same, cost 1 round/word, give it single target or multiple target ability, and 1 word/2 levels, max 10, increase distance 10ft at 9th, 12th, 15th for a final 60ft range.

Even then, single target, you have a realistic damage of 5d8+35 damage(+7Cha), 40-75 damage with a Fort save of 22 for half, for a single blow out about 5 times a day. At 10th level, an average of 58 damage for a limited resource is fair, and comparable to another damage caster, which is what the soundstriker is fluffed to line up with.

If you cut it to single Cha damage/target, then you're looking at 12-47 damage, fort half, and I wouldn't increase the cost in rounds. Extra round/word used is only fair if you get the bonus stat damage, since that's not really standard for this level of ability.

Even the Scorching Ray comparison is worse than the thundercaller, and is a waste of space to print, since the same damage plus a debuff is a better choice. Especially with being to do it as a move at 7 and a swift at 13 in addition to normal actions.

Grand Lodge

Ok I understand wanting a little clarification on the ability, but c'mon a total re-write?
I've been to major cons and minor cons and I have yet to even see one of these being played.
The only things needing absolute rulings (in my humble opinion) are that it CAN in fact be targeted all against the same target (1 attack roll per target), it IS affected by DR, it should require one save per target not per word, they are NOT weapons and cannot be affected by anything modifying weapons, and maybe JUST maybe it should only get the charisma bonus to damage once per target and not per word.

Just my 2 cents.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies, Representative - D20 Hobbies

The two schools of thought on the meaning of this ability boil down to multiple on one or not.

Some Common Way of Thinking:

Darth Grall wrote:
shouldn't reduce their ability to do damage to a single target.
john ralls wrote:
idea of a all on one foe attack ... semi-popular belief.
Jaeru wrote:
CAN in fact be targeted all against the same target
Bigdaddyjug wrote:
It's not overpowered as it is and I'm sorry you and others can't see that just because you believe only certain classes should be doing big damage.
Rhatahema wrote:
would the PDT consider allowing Weird Words the potential to rival archery, in terms of damage?
Millefune wrote:
Sound Striker into being irrelevant and taking away an option to have a "offense themed" Bard, and putting them back to being "support only."
Tels wrote:
the damage is abysmal ... as the ability is next to useless.

Pathfinder Design Team proposed change:
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.

original ability rules as written:
* one per target explicitly because unlike every other ability in the game that can hit the same target multiple times, this ability didn’t say it could.
* 1 round of performance to hit multiple targets as a standard.
* required Bard level (max 10) in targets to hit.
* Versatile choice for DR allows you to practically ignore DR issues.

optimized player’s interpretation:

* multiple words per target because it didn’t say I couldn’t.
* 1 round of performance to hit multiple targets as a standard.
* ignores DR because it isn’t a weapon but had useless text about damage type.

PDT reworded upgrade:

* one per target clarified.
* 1 round of performance per word clarified.
* from 1 to Bard level (max 10) targets clarified.
* Versatile suite for DR allows you to practically ignore DR issues.
* Damage upgrade and saving throw removed.

Folks, this ability was hard to adjudicate (due to too many rolls.) So they seem to have decided to clean up a lot of the flaws and upgrade it at the same time.

If we keep demanding the original in the form of “player’s interpretation”, we may just get this ability:

Weird Words 2.0:

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.
No target can be struck more than once.
Each weird word deals 1d8 points of damage plus the bard's Charisma bonus with a Fortitude save for half.
The bard chooses what type of damage each word deals (bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing).
This performance replaces suggestion.

This is the closest to the original ability with the desired to reduce dice required to adjudicate.

The more I think on this the more I believe we shouldn’t be continuing to ask for the “multiple on one” player interpretation to be the final one. You might end up getting something that pales in comparison to what you desired.

So can we start talking about how to make it better (if possible) while maintaining balance to the PDT reworded upgrade version? If we add things, we need to take other things away to "pay" for it.


James you quoted a lot of stuff, but did you read any of the posts? PDT's proposed changes are awful. One word per target, multiple round cost, and crap damage. At it's best, the Words do 4d8+Cha mod for damage. At 20th level, let's just say a Bard opted to max Charisma above all else and bought every item it could and even took some obscure bonuses to hit a Charisma of 40. This gives the Bard a Charisma mod of +15. That means the Bard is dealing 4d8+15 damage, which averages to 33 points of damage.

At 19th level, a Thundercaller is dealing 9d8 damage, average 40.5, plus a chance for stun. It costs only 1 round of performance, and is an area effect ability. In every way, the Thundercaller is superior to the PDT's proposed changes except that the PDT proposal could possibly hit more people.

Now you seem to forget that dealing bludgeoning, piercing or slashing damage means it's susceptible to almost all damage reduction. Weird Words are not Adamentine, or Silver, or Cold Iron, or Aligned, or even Magical, so they do not overcome any damage reduction, other than bludgeoning, piercing or slashing, and that's only if you choose that damage type when you activate it.

So no, PDT's proposal needs to be disregarded. It's an awful change, that basically destroys the Sound Striker's usefulness. Word Strike is a trash ability, and can barely damage a common 2x4 at maximum level and the Weird Words would be so bad as to never be used expect for when a Bard has been stripped naked and thrown in a cell and has literally nothing else he could possibly do at that point in time.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies, Representative - D20 Hobbies

Tels, I promise I've read every post in this thread. We are just on different sides.

I don't think this ability should allow multiple words on the same target, that it shouldn't challenge or even get close to making itself look attractive compared to melee or archer or even Scorching Ray.

The more I think about it, the worse that idea sounds.

I'm not forgetting about DR, look at my math in previous posts. DR is practically irrelevant as all the relevant forms of DR are bypassed. The upgraded PDT version were all 3 damage types (B/P/S)

The Sound Striker "usefulness" as you put it comes from mis-reading the ability to allow multiple targets on one target and ignoring that DR reduces the damage done.


James Risner wrote:

I'm not forgetting about DR, look at my math in previous posts. DR is practically irrelevant as all the relevant forms of DR are bypassed. The upgraded PDT version were all 3 damage types (B/P/S)

The Sound Striker "usefulness" as you put it comes from mis-reading the ability to allow multiple targets on one target and ignoring that DR reduces the damage done.

You're reading comprehension has failed you.

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

Each time the Bard uses the ability, he CHOOSES what type of damage it deals. If he chooses Slashing, it doesn't deal Piercing or Bludgeoning damage. So if he choose Slashing and the enemy is a Skeleton, it doesn't bypass the DR 5/Bludeoning that Skeletons have.

Also, the DR of the enemies is not 'bypassed'. If a Wizard casts Stoneskin he gains DR 10/Adamantine. This DR needs an adamantine or a +4 weapon to bypass.

Weird Words is neither Adamantine, nor a +4 weapon. It's not even treated as magical for the purposes of overcoming damage reduction like a weapon that has the spell magic weapon cast on it. Hell, in this one situation, it'd be good to be a Monk because his fists are treated as magic for the purposes of overcoming damage reduction.

So no, damage reduction is not bypassed. It is always a problem. Why do you think so many people in this thread have advocated changing the damage to Sonic? Because then it bypasses DR.


James Risner wrote:
I don't think this ability should allow multiple words on the same target, that it shouldn't challenge or even get close to making itself look attractive compared to melee or archer or even Scorching Ray.

If it's not attractive compared to melee, archery, or a weak spell like Scorching Ray, what do you want out of it?

If it's worse than those things, why would I ever:
1) Spend an archetype on gaining the ability to use it
2) Stop using Inspire Courage (denying the entire party a hefty buff) and waste a performance round on it
3) Heck, even just spend a standard action on this rather than pulling out a bow or something?

If it's not attractive compared to anything, who will use it? Do you just think the archetype should be removed completely? Is that it? Scorching Ray is a pretty weak spell on its own--if this can't compete with that, I just don't see the point at all.


Well, if they do change it up, I really hope they allow PSOPers the chance to freely rebuild it. My only issue with the ability is the number of rolls needed to resolve everything. After chatting with my groups, we have have come up with two ways to have it balanced to make it appealing, but not broken. This way, there's a Bard option to not just be "party buffer" and can have the choice to maybe do some fighting... without outshining the blasters, sneakers, and strikers. We let Clerics and Oracles opt out of being their primary traditional role (healers), why not let the Bard have a chance... without having to be a dirty Archeologist?

1 Weird Word per two Bard levels.
Sonic Damage
No DR
No save (Scorching Ray, Acid Splash, and other Ranged Touch magical effects don't allow saves.)
1d8 + CHA modifier

OR

1 Weird Word per two Bard levels.
Weapon Damage (B, P, or S)
Becomes a "ray" in order to allow weapon feats, as it does weapon damage.
Allow DR (can be brute force bypassed the same way archers do, by applying Clustered or Deadly Aim... but hurts Bard's limited feat selection)
No save (it's a weapon)
1d8 + CHA modifier

First option makes it more thematic to "Bard-iness," but it can be shut down by sonic resistance, or a simple Resist Energy.

Second option keeps it closer to the original ability, but makes it so that the Bard is able to have a chance at getting through DR if they're willing to spend the feats.

There is no way the SS can replace an archer-type either. 30' may be good for dungeon crawls, but anywhere else, it's trash.


It's nice that the PDT is seeking player input, but a full consensus is not something that will be attained. At least conversation and feedback in this thread has been mostly civil, which is a welcome break from the normal vitriol filled threads about the monk, the rogue, and bastard swords.

At this point, I feel most view points have been expressed and the conversation is slowly dwindling while we wait for something official from the PDT.


It'd be nice if the PDT could comment on which abilities they like best, from a designer standpoint, so we could narrow it down and discuss those proposals and what they like and don't like about each one.


@Tels - I’m aware that many Bards seen in actual play won’t have the +8 Charisma modifier that James has proposed. I’ve included the Charisma modifier in the damage more as a control than as a straight up benefit. That said, 4d6 damage per word is in the same ballpark, so I wouldn’t be too upset either way.

@mplindustries - I notice that you referred to Scorching Ray as a weak spell. I personally consider it a fairly strong spell, but I hope we can all agree that it is within the power spectrum generally considered acceptable.

@Millefune - Based on PDT's feedback I think that halving the number of attacks but removing the Fort saves doesn't nerf the potential single target damage output enough. Many foes would have made most or all of the saves anyhow.

Your point about sonic damage and Resist Energy is interesting though. I guess that doing sonic damage vs physical damage is kind of a mixed bag at least in games where the DM puts buff spells on a lot of the monsters. I don't think Clustered Shots would work on Weird Words since CS requires you to use a full-attack action.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies, Representative - D20 Hobbies

Tels wrote:

You're reading comprehension has failed you.

damage reduction is not bypassed. It is always a problem.

Point, you do have to choose. But most players should be able to make the proper choice and if so the reduction in damage is only 5%. This is why it is all but bypassed.

mplindustries wrote:
attractive compared to anything, who will use it? Do you just think the archetype should be removed completely?
Not all things are written to be the best at something. I don't think it should be removed completely. ... we wait for something official from the PDT.

It seems very certain we won't reach concensus. If anything is close to concensus, there are more people on the "errata it to be the be 80% as effective as a full attack archer" bandwagon.

I hope they don't go that way, it just seems wrong to be taking a bard thing to have the best dpr possible since it is a touch attack and therefore nearly always stay in "don't roll a 1" world.


MechE_ wrote:
At this point, I feel most view points have been expressed and the conversation is slowly dwindling while we wait for something official from the PDT.
Tels wrote:
It'd be nice if the PDT could comment on which abilities they like best, from a designer standpoint, so we could narrow it down and discuss those proposals and what they like and don't like about each one.

Agreed. We need guidance of some sort - are we going down a reasonable track? Too strong? Too weak? Some of the other random plans have appeal?


James Risner wrote:
Not all things are written to be the best at something. I don't think it should be removed completely. ... we wait for something official from the PDT.

I think you dodged the question. What purpose should it serve? If it's weaker than other options that all Bards have access to (i.e. melee and archey), then why should it even exist?

James Risner wrote:
It seems very certain we won't reach concensus.

Obviously, if some people think the ability should be pointlessly weak and other people want it to be useful enough to justify building around there won't be consensus.

And don't pretend there are other choices here. It either has some advantages over archery, or a bard will just use a bow (or be a thundercaller). It has to be competitive in some facet or there is no reason to take it.

James Risner wrote:
I hope they don't go that way, it just seems wrong to be taking a bard thing to have the best dpr possible since it is a touch attack and therefore nearly always stay in "don't roll a 1" world.

Nobody has suggested "best dpr ever." 80% of archery, for example, is 80% of an option all Bards have access to. In that case, I'd be turning down a high DPR option I already had in order to use a lower DPR option that, uh, offers no benefit since all it offers is DPR.

If you want it to do less damage than archery, it has to do something else.

It could do less dpr and offer some kind of debuff. It could deal damage equal to what a Bard archer could do (rather than an optimized Fighter archer or whatever). It could supplement attacks, rather than replacing them (the swift action suggestion above). It could just flat out replace a shortbow and function identically for those support Bards that like to dump physical stats. It could do more dpr than a bow that you have not invested feats/stats/items into, but less than someone that has invested into it. There's lots of options.

But it can't just do less dpr than another option that very same Bard would have.

Silver Crusade

James Risner wrote:

Tels, I promise I've read every post in this thread. We are just on different sides.

I don't think this ability should allow multiple words on the same target, that it shouldn't challenge or even get close to making itself look attractive compared to melee or archer or even Scorching Ray.

The more I think about it, the worse that idea sounds.

I'm not forgetting about DR, look at my math in previous posts. DR is practically irrelevant as all the relevant forms of DR are bypassed. The upgraded PDT version were all 3 damage types (B/P/S)

The Sound Striker "usefulness" as you put it comes from mis-reading the ability to allow multiple targets on one target and ignoring that DR reduces the damage done.

If you don't think the current Weird Words can have more than one word hit a single target, then you are the one mis-reading. I understand the revs may claim it is RAI that no target gets hit more than once, but that's now what the ability says. The ability says, "Each word strikes a single target." To me, that is not implying that a particular target can only be hit once, but that it's not an AOE effect like a lot of other "sonic" effects are.


It has to have some kind of function other than damage if it is not allowed to be competitive in that arena.

What about making it an effect that functions in conjunction with weapons? I think it would be neat if you could add a stunning effect to your weapon for rounds equal to investment. I would much rather see this kind of thing be usable with inspire courage though or your not going to use it because you'll miss too much.

Grand Lodge

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.

I'm OK with this but there are additional clarifications needed. My PFS group has several players who play this and the following are continually contested during games.

Can we clarify whether these are weapons and affected by things like point blank shot, cluster shot, etc?

Also can we clarify if these are magical?

Other than that, can please allow a free rebuild in PFS for those who have this build. This was a go-to build for players looking for a high DPR build for bard and this change (specifically not being able to target one target) makes this build less effective than other options.

Outside of that, this looks good for what it is intended to do.

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