Playtest: Arcanist 12


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So, Eyes of the Ten has a reputation as being a bit of a grinder, a shock to players used to the lighter touch of PFS scenarios (especially pre season 4 ones). What better environment to test our plucky Arcanist in. What's more, lets avoid the traditional heavy focus on save or suck and see how a far less optimised character manages to do.

Some things to note:

1. A Dwarf! Are you mad! No racial bonus to Int is a bit of a kicker but bonuses to the two key save stats and a feat that boosts the Racial save bonus against spells and spell like abilities.

2. Evocation, clearly I am a masochist. Widely regarded as the weakest of the schools of magic, even with the addition of Dazing spell. Well lets test that and see how it actually holds up.

3. Foresight School, would Admixture be better? In a word no, he would only be able to use the ability once per day. I was very tempted by Void for another +2 to saves.

4. Armour? What, are you some sort of fighter. Its a horrible choice I know, sinking four feats into what is, in effect, about 5 points of base AC. Ugh. Not something I would normally do but given he isn't using save or suck and therefore combat is likely to go on for longer he needs to combine better defences with his spell defences.

So, a very under optimised character using the weakest form of magic against the PFS retirement scenario. I will be running him against this later in the week. Feel free to poke holes in the idea until then.

Horden Hammerhand:

Horden has always been considered a strange one amongst his people. He spent much of his youth exploring far off caverns, delving into old ruins and scrabbling after bits of paper. Some whisper that he is a traitor to his race, that he has made bargains with the Orcs in the deep places of the world. Damn them all to hell, he cares nothing for the whispers of people too close minded to understand his work. He will show them all, yes one day they will all see!

Male Dwarf (Varisian) Arcanist 12
N Medium humanoid (dwarf)
Init +10; Senses darkvision 90 ft.; light sensitivity; Perception +20

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Defence
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AC 31, touch 17, flat-footed 28 (+9 armour, +3 shield, +3 Dex, +2 natural, +2 deflection, +1 insight, +1 luck)
HP 110 (12d6+60)

Fort +13, Ref +12, Will +16; +2 vs. poison, +4 vs. spells and spell-like abilities
+4 dodge bonus versus Giants

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Offense
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Speed 20 ft.
Melee masterwork cold iron warhammer +5/+0 (1d8-2/×3)
Special Attacks hatred (+1 versus Goblins and Orcs)

Arcanist Spells Prepared (CL 12th; concentration +19):

6th (3/day)—repulsion (DC 23)
5th (5/day)—overland flight, summon monster v, hungry pit (DC 22)
4th (5/day)—elemental body I, greater invisibility, emergency force sphere, enervation
3rd (6/day)—stinking cloud (DC 20), dispel magic, fireball (DC 20), suggestion (DC 20)
2nd (6/day)—resist energy, mirror image, glitterdust (DC 19), scorching ray, invisibility
1st (6/day)—shocking grasp, silent image (DC 18), protection from evil, grease (DC 18), snowball
0 (at will)—mage hand, open/close (DC 17), detect magic, detect poison, light, arcane mark, message, ghost sound (DC 17), prestidigitation (DC 17)

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Statistics
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Str 7, Dex 16, Con 18, Int 24, Wis 16, Cha 5
Base Atk +6; CMB +4; CMD 22 (26 vs. bull rush and trip while on the ground)

Feats: Arcane Armour Training, Armour Proficiency (Light), Armour Proficiency (Medium), Dazing Spell, Empower Spell, Improved Initiative, Intensified Spell, Steel Soul

Traits: magical lineage (fireball), reactionary

Skills: Appraise +11, Diplomacy +9, Disable Device +14, Escape Artist +12, Fly +10, Knowledge (arcana) +22, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +11, Knowledge (engineering) +11, Knowledge (geography) +11, Knowledge (history) +11 (+13 on checks that pertain to dwarves or their enemies), Knowledge (local) +11, Knowledge (nature) +11, Knowledge (nobility) +11, Knowledge (planes) +22, Knowledge (religion) +11, Linguistics +12, Perception +20 (+22 to notice unusual stonework, such as traps and hidden doors in stone walls or floors), Survival +8, Spellcraft +22, Use Magic Device +1; Racial Modifiers lorekeeper

Languages: Abyssal, Celestial, Common, Dwarven, Giant, Goblin, Ignan, Infernal, Orc, Terran, Undercommon, Varisian

Special Qualities: arcane reservoir (7, 24 maximum), arcanist exploits (dimensional slide [120'], greater metamagic knowledge, metamagic knowledge, potent magic, school knowledge (Foresight - cannot be surprised, +1initiative, prescience 1/day) blood line development (Orc - +1 damage/die of damage with spells, touch of rage 1/day), consume spells, hardy, slow and steady, stability, stonecunning

Gear: Jingasa of the fortunate soldier (1/day), Scroll of Touch of the Sea, Detect Secret Doors, Air Bubble, Disguise Self, Endure Elements, Mount, Expeditious Retreat, Obscuring Mist, Protection from Good, Reduce Person. Unseen Servant, Alter Self, Arcane Lock, Command Undead, Knock, See Invisibility, Magic Circle against Evil, Teleport, Wand of Infernal Healing, +4 Mithral Kikko armor, +2 Mithral Buckler, Masterwork Cold Iron Warhammer, Amulet of natural armor +2, Belt of physical might (Dex & Con +2), Cloak of resistance +5, Eyes of the eagle, Headband of vast intelligence +4 (Disable Device, , Ioun stone (dusty rose prism), Ring of protection +2, Wayfinder, Thieves' tools, masterwork

Dark Archive

Out of curiosity - why not just use Mage Armor? It's not like everything you face is going to be able to dispel you, or automatically succeed even if they try, especially if you focus your buffs. Or at the very least wear Masterwork Leather/Quilted Cloth and enhance the crap out of it.

Burning that many feats to wear armor when it's not a gish build just doesn't seem relevant to the way the class would be played in practice.


I think it will be interesting to see how he can do at a much lower level of optimisation. I am hesitant to assume how most players are likely to build an Arcanist. I think you see a far greater variety of builds out in the real world than the board or handbook culture might suggest. Also it isn't as if he has taken a bunch of Skill Focus: (basket weaving) feats.

Anyway, onwards to the entertainment.

Encounter 1:
Horden has been invited to the Woodsegde Lodge to partake in a highly secretive ceremony with one of his old mentors. He gathers in the great ceremonial hall to listen to speeches and accolades when the floor begins to rumble and shake. Great flagstones buckle, earth and mud are scattered about and huge monsters burst into the chamber upsetting the port. This simply will not do!

Initiative: 19, 4, 20, 18, 3

Horden 29
Worm 1 3
Golem 1 3
Worm 2 19
Golem 2 19
Raven 22
Minions 6

Round 1:

Horden: Less than keen on being within reach of two enormous worms he dimensionally steps out of their reach onto the balcony next to his mentor and casts potent Hungry Pit at the closest worm (number 1, DC24) which it fails. Given it is carrying the Golem it falls in automatically. Both take 36 damage from the fall and the crushing walls. Neither is capable of climbing out of the pit and so will continue to take damage each round. The Golems DR will help it but the fight will be over by the time the spell ends (13 rounds). The worm cannot burrow out as it is an extra dimensional space.

Raven: Teleports into position and his arrival is noticed automatically (DC18 perception versus skill of 20.

Worm 2: Vomits forth Golem

Golem 2: Strides towards Horden to smash him to pieces. As it is large and has 10' reach it can easily reach him. Sadly the room is only 20' high or he would be flying up in the rafters out of reach. Casts emergency force sphere which covers himself, his mentor and the Raven. With Hardness 30 and 220hp it will take the Golem a long time to batter it down.

Minions: Move into position, their presence is noticed automatically (DC20)

Worm and Golem 1: Flail ineffectually inside their pit. They will now be ignored.

Round 2:

Horden: Faced with Golems and worse and trapped inside a bubble with an unknown enemy he ponders his options. He casts potent Glitterdust which will only affect those inside the bubble as it blocks line of effect. DC 21 will save, he saves but the Raven fails with his pathetic 4 will save. He is blinded and now also targetable.

Raven: Blind he will still try and murder his target but he now has a 50% miss chance to deal with (1-50 he will miss). He hits and assassinates his enemy. He fails to clear the glitterdust blindness.

Worm 2: Eats Osprey, eew.

Golem 2: Batters uselessly at the bubble.

Minions: Open fire on Horden to no effect due to EFS.

Round 3:

Horden: With his enemy now visible he strikes with an intensified empowered snowball. He hits for 64 damage and the raven saves against stagger.

Raven: Dimension Doors away and staggers towards the woods while still blind. He fails the glitterdust save.

Worm 2: Joins the Golem in attacking the bubble. No realistic effect.

Golem 2: Rather than continue to batter the bubble it begins to dismantle the balcony. Instead of looking to work out how many HP a target balcony has I decide that if Horden is still there by the end of the next turn it will collapse taking him with it.

Minions: Cant do anything effective.

Round 4:

Horden: Dimensionally steps outside to look for the Raven who is stumbling away from the building. Directs an intensified snowball at him using one point to use metamixing. He hits for 52 damage which kills him.

Worm 2: Smashes through the wall and bears down on Horden. Its movement is too low (20') to allow it to realistically reach this round.

Golem 2: Follows the Worm but has the same speed issue.

Minions: Pile outside and take a shot. 8 of them shooting at +11 means they need a 20 to hit. All of them miss.

Round 5:

Horden: Drops a second potent Hungry Pit catching the Golem and the Worm. The Golem Saves! but the worm is dropped into the pit and is taken out of the fight. Dimensionally Steps back into the main room and takes cover.

Golem 2: Tromps back into the main chamber.

Minions: Follow Golem to obtain line of sight and fire. All of them miss.

Round 6:

Horden: Directs a potent Empowered Fireball at the hole in the door which will catch all of the Minions. DC 22 versus their reflex save of 9 means 3 fail taking 74 damage and dying. Evasion keeps the others alive.

Golem: Moves up and attacks, missing. It uses its slow ability and he saves easily.

Minions: 5 remain. They can now full attack but Horden will have cover from the Golem. They use manyshot and rapid shot, they still need a 20 to hit. The first 5 rolls will be the initial manyshot attacks (5 attacks at +9 with 2 arrows, 5 at +9 then 5 at +4). They all miss.

Round 7:

Horden: Potent Glitterdust on the Golem (DC21). It is potentially affected as it is SR: No. It fails

Golem: Tries to smash with full attack but suffering 50% miss chance, One attack hits for 22 damage. Fails its save against glitterdust.

Minions: Fire! All miss

Round 8: Moves from the Golem putting the first pit between him and it. Its opportunity attack misses. Directs a potent empowered fireball at the archers. Not ideal due to the reflex save but he doesn't have another aoe. Only two save and it deals 73 damage killing three of them.

Golem: Advances in his direction while blind, must save or fall into the pit (albeit at +2). Fails. I am not sure what sort of damage having a stone golem fall on you causes but I imagine it is significant. I may have neglected an attack here as it technically only falls in at the end of its turn but it wouldn't make any difference.

Minions: At this point the only sensible option seems to be to flee.

Mop up:

The worms are not likely to survive with much health in the pit. Each takes least 58d6 damage (6d6 fall plus 4d6/round for 13 rounds). The first Golem takes 58d6-130 and the second takes 30d6-60 (assuming DR protects it) but both are liable to be Lantern Archoned or Itensified Snowballed to death before they can escape.

Resources Remaining:

Spells: 6 3 4 2 3 3
Reserve Points: 1

To be honest this encounter is more an example of poor encounter design than the Arcanists strength. It has various scripted events which it assumes will come to pass without really accounting for the impact mid level players with access to level 5-6 spells might have. However, given the number of opponents it has left Horden rather short on resources. He certainly couldn't continue a whole day of encounters like this. Dimensional Steps continues to demonstrate just how awesome it is and metamixing got some use as well.


After posting this it occurs to me that the pits deal and extra +4 damage per round due to the Orc arcana. That equates to an extra 52 damage per pit which pretty much guarantees the worms are paste.


*The first round should have been a surprise round, not that Horden wouldn't act on it anyway, but he could slide or attack but not both, which would have changed things by a bit, though not too much if at all.

*So far, Horden has done a particularly bad job at being a good Pathfinder and has made it unlikely that he will be able to get the "good" ending in Pt IV.

*The scenario assumes that the PCs can continue that day. If you rest, presumably you'll miss the execution, losing more CP.

*Dimensional Slide is definitely ridiculous, you're right. I wonder if they should clarify it to Cheapy's interpretation of the ability that only the dimensional movement doesn't provoke and the initial movement into the rift does, since it's part of a move action.


Why can't that move action be one that doesn't require you to actually move you position? There are many non-moving move actions, it doesn't state that the move action required can't be retrieving a potion.


Rogue Eidolon wrote:
*The first round should have been a surprise round, not that Horden wouldn't act on it anyway, but he could slide or attack but not both, which would have changed things by a bit, though not too much if at all.

That doesn't seem to be true. The module doesn't specify a surprise round, the set up doesn't require it (you get a warning of their arrival) and the module gives a specific round by round breakdown of actions with no mention of surprise. Even if it were true I wouldn't not really have changed anything. One worm and golem would have been dropped into a pit and he would have used EFS on the ground then dimensionally stepped out of the way. He may have had to use a second EFS but that is about it.

Quote:
*So far, Horden has done a particularly bad job at being a good Pathfinder and has made it unlikely that he will be able to get the "good" ending in Pt IV.

Not really relevant, I am using the scenario as something which is potentially appropriate for a character of his level.

Quote:
*The scenario assumes that the PCs can continue that day. If you rest, presumably you'll miss the execution, losing more CP.

He will be pressing on so we will see how he does in the rest of the module.

Lantern Lodge

How did a huge creature (scarlet worms) fit in a large pit?


stuart haffenden wrote:
Why can't that move action be one that doesn't require you to actually move you position? There are many non-moving move actions, it doesn't state that the move action required can't be retrieving a potion.

You have to use it in place of 5' of actual movement. Of course now Arcanists can poach Shift from the Teleportation School but you will have to spend a point to get it at full level to make much use and not aggressively dump Charisma so I am not sure it is worth it.


twells wrote:
How did a huge creature (scarlet worms) fit in a large pit?

An excellent question. For some reason I had it in my head that they were large as they are young worms. That does rather change things a lot. I may have to rerun.

Edit: Hmm, re-reading the spell description it says that ANY creature standing in the area or ending its turn adjacent to the edge of the Pit can fall in so I think I am just going to let it fly. Maybe a question for the rules forum.


andreww

How do you roleplay Horden's Charisma of 5?

Just curious.

Thanks.


OK, on to encounter two. At the end of the first encounter he is running with the following resources:

Spells: 6 3 4 2 3 3
Reserve Points: 1

He will burn another level 3 spell slot for some extra points and head to the armoury. Finding it locked he easily picks it open (DC20, Disable Device 14) and neither side gets a surprise round. Finding more enemies he prepares for battle.

Encounter 2:
Initiative: 13, 19, 16, 20, 9
Marcus 23 (Dex 16)
Cale 23 (Dex 18)
Dwale 18
Rhis 22
Minions 12

Cale: His tactics have him start off by webbing the door. It is an extremely poor tactic but he doesn't have many other options as unfortunately his spell list is pretty awful as are his feats (somehow he has Greater Spell Penetration without the normal version). DC15 Web and Horden passes with a 5 (his starting Ref save versus a spell is 16). Cales DC's are also appallingly bad for this level.

Horden: We all know that geek the Mage is pretty much the standard tactic but he cannot really afford to hurl aoe damage dealing spells as they have servants here as prisoners. He drops a potent Stinking Cloud (DC22) which hits pretty much the entire room. Rhis and one minion save (I assume the servants fail) and then walks out of the web, easily beating its DC15 with his 12 Escape Artist.

Rhis: Trapped in the room by his own sorcerers web spell. However he is easily able to navigate it due to the low DC. He slips out of the building and hurls a bead of force at Horden (having moved he cannot throw two). He hits causing 23 damage but Horden easily makes his save (DC16).

Dwale: Nauseated, limited to a single move action which, with his speed of 20', is not enough to get him out of the room or the cloud. He continues to retch.

Minions: Three of them are nauseated, they stagger out of the cloud but have insufficient movement to clear the web. At least they don't get caught due to its terrible DC. One does make it outside and takes a shot at Horden, missing. The other three will remain nauseated for4, 4 and 5 rounds.

Round 2:

Cale: Nauseated and trapped behind his own Web. He heads out of the cloud but ends up grappled by his own web spell. Well done him. Out of the cloud he will also be nauseated for 4 rounds.

Horden: having everyone clumped up in or outside the door and away from the servants he can finally put some direct damage to use. He directs a potent empowered intensified fireball at the lot of them, DC22 for 18d6+18. If only this whole section wasn't infested with rogues life might be a little easier.

Saves! only one minion fails. The remainder pass meaning they take no damage although Cale takes half which is 41. The minion is toast and the web is cleared.

Rhis: Moves into position and attacks but misses, he needs a 17.

Dwale: Nauseated, staggers out of the cloud, remains affected for another 2 rounds.

Minions: One moves to flank with Rhis. Stabs and misses. Needs an 18. The rest scatter looking for cover with their single move action.

Round 3:

Cale: Remains nauseated. Heads towards the back of the house and potential escape, retching.

Horden: Not wanting to be flanked by a pair of Rogues he Dimensionally Steps on to the roof of the Lodge and directs a Scorching Ray at Cale. All three hit and he takes 96 damage, slightly more than his remaining 8HP. His charred corpse collapses to the ground. As per his tactics he does have Displacement up however two of them still hit which is enough to automatically kill him. Given its 1 round/level duration I am not sure how he knows to have it active right then but it hasn't really helped him in any event. I also overlooked that Cale should have taken another 2d4 damage from the burning webs which could have brought him to 0.

With the death of their leader the rogues surrender. Horden sacrifices a level 6 slot for extra points but is going to need to be more careful with them. He also heals himself with his wand.

Resources Remaining:

Spells: 6 2 2 2 2 2
Reserve Points: 6


scary harpy wrote:

andreww

How do you roleplay Horden's Charisma of 5?

Just curious.

Thanks.

By nature he is reserved, bookish, introspective and a quite atypical Dwarf. He prefers port to ale, knows how to use a fish knife and appreciates opera although he prefers to go alone. He has never sung a Gold song in his life and never will. He carries a Hammer around only out of a sort of lingering sense of family guilt that he should although he has never swung it in anger. Quite outrageous behaviour for a Dwarf. When he must he can of course deal with people, he does have a Diplomacy modifier of +9. Not huge but enough to get by.


andreww wrote:
twells wrote:
How did a huge creature (scarlet worms) fit in a large pit?

An excellent question. For some reason I had it in my head that they were large as they are young worms. That does rather change things a lot. I may have to rerun.

Edit: Hmm, re-reading the spell description it says that ANY creature standing in the area or ending its turn adjacent to the edge of the Pit can fall in so I think I am just going to let it fly. Maybe a question for the rules forum.

I've never seen the pit allowed to fit huge creatures or larger creatures. At the least, the worm (and golem) can brace against both walls and receive +10 to Climb, which allows escape to be a possibility (needs a 15 on the dice I believe), but pretty unlikely.

As I said when I mentioned it, I agree that little would have changed if it started with a surprise round.


Fair point, If I reran it I would almost certainly end up using Repulsion (DC23) which they need a 20 to save against and then blinding the golems with potent Glitterdust (needs an 18). Then there should be enough time to hit the Raven at least once and to pursue him while they remain out of action. Actually with his will save of 4 you can pretty much prevent him from being able to flee by getting in front of him. The archers cant hit the broad side of a barn so are little threat.

Lantern Lodge

Quick search found the following:

James Jacobs on Pits

There might be a better FAQ, but my search foo needs work.


Cheers for that, it looks like Repulsion would have been the way to go which actually might have been more effective. Far less need to go running away from things with Dimensional Steps.

I do think it is interesting that, as a highly unoptimised Arcanist, he has still been able to take on a CR15 and CR14 encounter on his own. Now largely this is because of poor encounter design but it suggests the Arcanist can happily operate alone from the mid levels to some extent.


I love these solo module stories. Thanks again, Andrew.

Does Horden have Arcane Armor Mastery? You mention 4 armor-related feats, but I only see three. And with your armor choices a 10% reduction is sufficient.

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