Playtest: Swashbuckler level 4 in Rise of the Runelords


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Hi All,

I'm playing a human (Varisian) Swashbuckler in Gallo's RotRL game. I rebuilt Zoran from a rogue when the beta came out - thanks also to Hero Lab for supporting it.

So my testing starts from level 4, and I have just gone up to level 5. Here's the stat block for level 4, on which this feedback is based. Also, this is my first post, so be kind!

Stats:

Zoran Teskarova
Male Human (Varisian) Swashbuckler 4
CN Medium humanoid (human)
Init +6; Senses Perception +8
--------------------
Defense
--------------------
AC 21, touch 17, flat-footed 15 (+2 armor, +2 shield, +4 Dex, +1 deflection, +2 dodge)
hp 40 (4d10)
Fort +1, Ref +8, Will +1 (+1 vs. fear); +1 trait bonus vs. charm and compulsion
Defensive Abilities bravery +1
--------------------
Offense
--------------------
Speed 30 ft.
Melee +1 rapier +9 (1d6+1/18-20/×2+4 Precise Strike) and
. . dagger +8 (1d4/19-20/×2+4 Precise Strike) and
. . bladed scarf +4 (1d6/×2) and
. . starknife +8 (1d4/×3+4 Precise Strike) and
. . starknife +8 (1d4/×3+4 Precise Strike)
Ranged sling +8 (1d4/×2)
Special Attacks deed: menacing swordplay, deed: opportune parry, deed: precise strike, deed: riposte, panache
--------------------
Statistics
--------------------
Str 10, Dex 18, Con 10, Int 14, Wis 10, Cha 17
Base Atk +4; CMB +4; CMD 21 (21 vs. disarm, 21 vs. sunder)
Feats Combat Expertise, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Godless Healing
Traits goblin watcher, varisian tattoo
Skills Acrobatics +11, Appraise +4, Bluff +9, Climb +5, Diplomacy +8, Disable Device +3, Escape Artist +9, Intimidate +7, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +3, Knowledge (local) +8, Perception +8, Ride +8, Sense Motive +7, Sleight of Hand +8, Stealth +5, Swim +4;

Okay, so a kind a of Gypsy show-off was the aim, and I leapt at the chance to try him as a Swashbuckler. We've had three sessions since I converted him and although he's had his ups and downs, I'm having fun playing this class.

I should mention the party make-up: I'm joined on the front line by a Dwarven Paladin, and we have a Dwarven archer Ranger and two half-human spell-casters. We play what we like, so it's not necessarily the most optimised party.

Things I liked:

Panache is fun. We always want more of things we like, and this is no exception. I used Opportune Parry and Riposte against some (puny) human thugs. I felt more carefree with the Panache when the stakes were low. Luckily I rolled well, and those points were not wasted.

Delivering the killing blow restored one point of Panache (which we may start calling Mojo - it was late...).

Having Panache allowed the initiative bonus and helps with the Dodge AC, which was fun.

I think I used the swift Intimidate once, which is a nice bonus.

Thank heavens at least Precise Strike works against undead...

Things I disliked:

Naturally, I didn't want to go below one point of Panache, so I didn't want to spend more than two points in a battle (or day) unless it got refreshed.

I found that, due to the luck of the dice, early confirmed criticals in a battle could not be saved up until I had the opportunity to use the Swashbuckler deeds, as I was already at my maximum Panache.

And I didn't get the chance to use any Swashbuckling deeds against the ghouls that beset us over the last session, apart from Precise Strike.

Last night I learned the hard way that Swashbucklers have very bad fort saves. Got paralysed by a ghoul. Twice. When I was holding off three of them, they had 9 attacks per round in total - even Combat Expertise and fighting defensively let one hit through in the first round on a natural 20, and of course I failed the save most times. This was when I wished I could have used Opportune Parry in retrospect - but having to declare it before the die is rolled means you are just guessing when to use it, rather than it being of real defensive value.

The ghoul experience probably means I will have to take Great Fortitude feat at 5th level just to stay alive, when I'd rather be choosing something more fun like Improved Trip or Disarm.

Before I converted the character, I had Two Weapon Fighting, which I had to ditch. I think it's a shame one loses Precise Strike when holding a weapon in the off-hand, as that seems a Swashbuckling kind of thing to do.

I also realised that having Swashbuckler Finesse rather than a bonus Weapon Finesse feat takes away the Dex bonus to the Bladed Scarf, which is disappointing because the character is a Varisian Tattooed Gypsy guy. I just don't have enough feats to spend of Weapon Finesse again, considering that I got Combat Reflexes just to allow the main Parry/Riposte feature.

Overall:

Despite the focus here on what didn't quite feel right, the overall experience is going ok. Hopefully the character survives the middle levels on the low saves! We'd probably feel like implementing house rules to correct some of these things, but for the moment as a beta play test, we'll stick with what's on the page.

Dark Archive

Swashbucklers don't have poor fort saves in fairness; any character with a 10 con has a poor fort save :).

Switch your Con and Int and suddenly you have more hp and better saves (albeit without 8 skill points). You'll have a lot of issues in with the saving throws in both Will and Fort being poor AND front-lining with suboptimal HP. This is a holdover of the standard "easily dominated front-line" that is sadly created by the lack of a reason to have a high wisdom coupled with a "low" save in a place.


Thanks for your comment, Thalin. I should have mentioned, our GM has given us max hit points so he can pummel us into oblivion. :)

I take your point about the stats, but without an Int of 13+ I won't be able to save up for the cool Improved Whatever feats that need Combat Expertise as a pre-req, like Improved Trip or Disarm.

I agree with you that I am in for a world of hurt! :)

Any other class designed to be at the front has a higher Fort save at this level. Swashbuckler has the same saves as a Rogue at his level, but plays a more exposed role (the way I'm playing anyway...).

Perhaps I could have eased off the Charisma, but for the kind of Derring-Do personality, it fits. I guess I could use a feat to get the Panache rather than a high CHR, but that seems counter to the spirit of the class.

I think Swashbucklers should be smarter than the average - also want to be good at all those fancy skills.


After levelling up to 5th, this week's adventure had my character dying of ghoul fever from failing fort saves last time...

I used Charmed Life to bolster some saves, and was eventually cured.

I switched Con and Int as suggested, which helped a bit with fort saves.

However this week's adventure had us going through a haunted house, with a stack of will and fort saves for the unsuspecting brave adventurer.

I failed a will save despite using Charmed Life, and a fort save was triggered that same round as a result, meaning I couldn't used Charmed Life again. Needless to say the result was nasty when I failed that too - reduced to -1 HP and dying straight away - thankfully the party saved me.


You can use your charisma for the prequisite for combat expertise

Swashbuckler Finesse (Ex): At 1st level, a swashbuckler
gains the benefits of the Weapon Finesse feat with light
or one-handed piercing melee weapons, and she can
use her Charisma score in place of Intelligence as a
prerequisite for Combat Expertise. This ability counts as
having the Weapon Finesse feat for purposes of meeting
feat prerequisites.


Hey Zoran, do you recall what your rolls were for those saves?


Vehas wrote:

You can use your charisma for the prequisite for combat expertise

Swashbuckler Finesse (Ex): At 1st level, a swashbuckler gains the benefits of the Weapon Finesse feat with light or one-handed piercing melee weapons, and she can use her Charisma score in place of Intelligence as a
prerequisite for Combat Expertise. This ability counts as having the Weapon Finesse feat for purposes of meeting feat prerequisites.

Combat expertise, yes.

The manoeuvres' feats, no. As written, Swashbuckler finesse doesn't let you substitute CHA for INT for Improved Trip or Improved Disarm, which also have it as a prerrequisite.


Sushewakka wrote:
Vehas wrote:

You can use your charisma for the prequisite for combat expertise

Swashbuckler Finesse (Ex): At 1st level, a swashbuckler gains the benefits of the Weapon Finesse feat with light or one-handed piercing melee weapons, and she can use her Charisma score in place of Intelligence as a
prerequisite for Combat Expertise. This ability counts as having the Weapon Finesse feat for purposes of meeting feat prerequisites.

Combat expertise, yes.

The manoeuvres' feats, no. As written, Swashbuckler finesse doesn't let you substitute CHA for INT for Improved Trip or Improved Disarm, which also have it as a prerrequisite.

Pretty sure that's what's known as a 'slipup' :)


He did mention they were going to play it 'as written' instead of houseruling some of the issues.


Tels wrote:
He did mention they were going to play it 'as written' instead of houseruling some of the issues.

And they then gave the PCs full HP each level...they already passed over the point of 'running as written' :)


Cheapy wrote:
Tels wrote:
He did mention they were going to play it 'as written' instead of houseruling some of the issues.
And they then gave the PCs full HP each level...they already passed over the point of 'running as written' :)

That's a houserule that applies to everyone, where as changing the slipup is a houserule that applies to the Swashbuckler. He mentioned they were going to playtest the Swash as it was written in the packet, one houserule that changes the HP of everyone is different than houseruling changes to the playtest packet.


Tels wrote:
Cheapy wrote:
Tels wrote:
He did mention they were going to play it 'as written' instead of houseruling some of the issues.
And they then gave the PCs full HP each level...they already passed over the point of 'running as written' :)
That's a houserule that applies to everyone, where as changing the slipup is a houserule that applies to the Swashbuckler. He mentioned they were going to playtest the Swash as it was written in the packet, one houserule that changes the HP of everyone is different than houseruling changes to the playtest packet.

Hi folks,

This is the stat block I played this time, after the revised beta came out:

Stats:

Zoran Teskarova
Male Human (Varisian) Swashbuckler 5
CN Medium humanoid (human)
Init +6; Senses Perception +8
--------------------
Defense
--------------------
AC 21, touch 17, flat-footed 15 (+2 armor, +2 shield, +4 Dex, +1 deflection, +2 dodge)
hp 55 (5d10+5)
Fort +2, Ref +8, Will +1; +1 trait bonus vs. charm and compulsion

Offense
--------------------
Speed 30 ft.
Melee +1 rapier +10 (1d6+2/15-20/×2+5 Precise Strike)
--------------------
Statistics
--------------------
Str 10, Dex 18, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 16
Base Atk +5; CMB +5; CMD 22 (22 vs. disarm, 22 vs. sunder)
Feats Combat Expertise, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Extra Panache, Godless Healing
Traits goblin watcher, varisian tattoo
Skills Acrobatics +12, Appraise +2, Bluff +8, Climb +5, Diplomacy +7, Disable Device +5, Escape Artist +8, Intimidate +9, Linguistics (Goblin), Knowledge (local) +5, Perception +8, Ride +8, Sense Motive +5, Sleight of Hand +8, Stealth +6, Swim +4;

I used Charisma as the pre req for Combat Expertise which let me reduce Strength.. Sorry I don't remember the rolls but they were pretty low. I used action points for the haunted bits and draughts of anti plague for the ghoul fever, knowing I needed all the help I could get. From then on I let the Paladin poke all the haunted bits.

On the full HP, that's the whole party and a lot of the monsters - DM's call. I don't think it has affected any of the mechanics of what we are testing with the Swashbuckler abilities, as I haven't been whittled down to dead yet. It's an existing campaign in which I am testing, rather than isolated encounter testing.

On the 'slip-up' of the feats leading on from Combat Expertise, I think they made a mistake and should fix it. It's academic to me so far, as I haven't got another feat to spend yet.


Cheapy wrote:
Sushewakka wrote:
Vehas wrote:

You can use your charisma for the prequisite for combat expertise

Swashbuckler Finesse (Ex): At 1st level, a swashbuckler gains the benefits of the Weapon Finesse feat with light or one-handed piercing melee weapons, and she can use her Charisma score in place of Intelligence as a prerequisite for Combat Expertise. This ability counts as having the weapon Finesse feat for purposes of meeting feat prerequisites.

Combat expertise, yes.

The manoeuvres' feats, no. As written, Swashbuckler finesse doesn't let you substitute CHA for INT for Improved Trip or Improved Disarm, which also have it as a prerrequisite.
Pretty sure that's what's known as a 'slipup' :)

Oh, don't get me wrong. I'm all for Cha replacing Int as a prerrequisite in the entire feat tree. However, part of playtesting it catching stuff where the rules as written don't match the intention behind the mechanic, and find a way to word it that fits.


On the other hand, a responsible playtester who finds an obvious oversight that will clearly be changed in the final version should first make note of it and then fix it so it doesn't stilt the playtest. For instance, if a d12 hit dice class is typoed to say "d2", it is a waste of time to playtest the class with a d2 hit dice and constantly get results of "This class always dies from low hp". Similarly with the arcanist when you used to be able to give yourself an infinite amount of buffs that last for the length of the universe because an ability needed to be limited to once per spell, and it was obvious the PDT was going to add that limitation, but people kept performing less-useful playtests with arbitrarily long prebuffs.


Cheapy wrote:
Tels wrote:
He did mention they were going to play it 'as written' instead of houseruling some of the issues.
And they then gave the PCs full HP each level...they already passed over the point of 'running as written' :)

I'm the DM of the group. We started the campaign with the full HP rule before the play test came out so I was not going to reverse that just so the play test could be done with standard rules.

Monsters also get full HP. The HP issue has not had not an impact on how Zoran has been swashbuckling.

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