Fan fighter - advice?


I have a concept of an oriental guy spezializing in using a fighting fan.
As this is a light weapon with a small damage die I tried to get lots of static bonuses.

My first build is a fighter (brawler) 3/ bard (geisha/archeologist) 1. Further levels will, most likely, go into fighter.


Musetouched Aasimar
fighter (brawler) 3/ bard (geisha/archeologist) 1

Str. 11
Dex: 18
Con: 14
Int: 12
Wis: 10
Cha: 16

Fate's favored, +1 free

Feats: (Lx= Level feat, FBx= Fighter Bonus feat, BB= Bard bonus feat)
L1: Flagbearer, FB1: Weapon finesse
BB: Scribe scroll
L3: Lingering performance, FB2: Weapon focus (fighting fan)

Archeologist's luck+ Fate's favored: +2 to hit, damage, saves, skills
Flagbearer: +1 to hit, damage, saves vs fear
Close combat: +1 to hit +3 to damage with close weapons

Fighting fan +1

Attack (with luck and flag) +13, 1d4+7

Spells: Feather fall, timely inspiration

Skills: main focus on social and linguistics

At level 5 I plan on taking weapon specialization and piranha strike as feats (L5 and FB4) changing my attack to: +12, 1d4+13
For spells I'll only use those that either lack a somatic component or are pure utility spells for out of combat.

Any advice to further improve this build?
Or any idea how else to build a high cha fan fighter that deals viable damage?

I thought about making him a kensai but that would make him really mad, rule out flagbearer and reduce his damage while not using spellstrike.
Sadly the blade bound archetype doesn't seem to work with light weapons.

For style reasons I'd like my pc to carry around a deisho (katana + wakizashi) but neither the above build nor the kensai (specializing in the fighting fan) could really use them.

concept origin:

The idea comes from our legend of the five rings game. A setting somewhat related to medieval japan.
More exactly I picture a crane clan courtier/bushi.

Ninja could make good use of this concept with feint/sneak attacks and cha to ki pool. Lots of customization with tricks and skills. Samurai would work with challenge and social skills

Scarab Sages

Arcane Strike could add some more static damage. Dipping a level or two of Monk for flurry could help you out with more attacks per round since the Fighting Fan is a monk weapon. Alternately, Master of Many Styles is always good for free style feats, and Crane Style would work well with this. Look to add a Jingasa of the Fortunate Soldier to take advantage of fates favored.

Thanks for the advice.

Arcane strike would only add a single point of damage and cost a swift action each turn. So I might take it some time but not too soon.

Flurry from monk or ki-pool from ninja could help but I'd stay away from another class with less than full bab.
Crane style doesn't work with flagbearer and I really want that as it doesn't only buff me but my allies, too.

I hope to get a jingasa of the fortunate soldier sone time but I don't know when I'll be able to afford one. We don't get a full WBL.

So in the end, what I could see me taking is a level of samurai. It would give me proficiency with the daisho, challenge and other nice goodies. But if I go that way I'll be using the sword saint, I guess.


Kensai can get easy proficiency+weapon focus with it for just a single dip.

Plus I think it'd be visually pretty appealing.

Scarab Sages

Freebooter Ranger could give you another static bonus to damage for you and your allies, give a free power attack or cleave, and wouldn't detract from bab. Although you would miss out on Favored class bonuses and delay close combatant growth, which is also a con to Samurai.

If you do go Samurai I would skip sword saint. You can never use the mount feature, but its thee if you need it. Iaijutsu Strike is just terrible because it takes a full-round action.

I'm looking at building a PFS legal Fan Fighter myself.

In a home game, one good path is 1 level of Fighter (Freehand) for fan proficiency, then all further levels in vivisectionist/internal alchemist. This gives you sneak attack damage, skills, and a way to buff yourself for the critical fights. This build is the only one I could find that's viable from level 1 onwards.

In PFS, you WILL be in pain for quite a few levels. Fan Fighter builds seem to rely on weapon finesse and agile weapons. Two +1 agile fans will cost you 16,000 gold. If you want DR (I was looking at Cold Iron and Silversheen) it's a little under 20,000. That is a LOT of gold. Your static damage is going to suffer until you can make those purchases. I have a bunch of GM credit, so it's less of an issue for me. I was looking at Fighter (Brawler) with a 1 or 2 level dip in Urban Barbarian (with controlled rage going into Dex). At level 6 (Barbarian 1/Fighter 5) the static damage is NICE. Agil Fans with Pirahna Strike, Weapon Specialization, and the Close Weapons boost from Fighter (Brawler) makes for what is probably the best damage possible on a Fan Fighter build.

There were two issues. First, the build has potential to have very good AC but suffers from lack of equipment. It really needs Celestial Armor, as it's already at a +7 dex bonus when raging. But Celestial Armor is another 22,500 gold on top of the near 20,000 for the fans alone. That's not doable for a while, and I'm not sure the character would have enough AC to last as a front line fighter until it was able to bank the amount of money it needs. Combine that with a low will save (though level 7 is likely another level of Barbarian for Superstitious) and you have a front line glass cannon for quite a while.

The second issue is flavor. Mechanically, Fighter/Barbarian works. Flavor wise, I see the character as a dancer. None of the stats or class skills really lend themselves to that concept. In my sample build, I maxed Perform (Dance) but it wasn't very satisfying. I ended up with an extremely dexterous character that couldn't dance very well, and (thanks to the fighter levels) didn't have many other skills either.

Instead, I realized the best way to go was the Brawler class (with the Urban Barbarian dip). Brawlers get proficiency with all close weapons, and can flurry with a single fan. That means you're effectively two hand fighting without the cost pentalty of having two fans. You run into some negatives- improved two weapon fighting is delayed, and you don't get the static damage boosts that the fighter gets. But the Brawler's manuevers can be used to get improved two weapon fighting (while flurrying) for those levels, so that should be minimized. There was also the nuisance of getting it to look right in Hero Labs, but presumably that will get fixed when the book comes out.

Overall, the Brawler/Barbarian build had 3 or 5 less static damage, but more skills, unarmed attacks as a fall back, a bit more of a dancer feel, and more money to focus on other things. It felt like the better way to go, if only because the Fighter build doesn't look viable. (If anyone has a way to make it viable, I am all ears.) It's a much more flavorful build, and slightly more well rounded, but the DPR falls from Great to Okay (or Respectable, depending on the table).

At the moment I'm holding for the release of the APG. I'm hoping there's a Brawler archetype in there that works with close weapons. If so, it will likely be a better choice than straight Brawler.

Scarab Sages

I actually think Warpriest or Swashbuckler will be better than Brawler for fan fighting if you are looking at APG classes. Warpriest has the sacred damage bonus boosting it, and Swashbuckler gets all of their tools since the fan is a light piercing weapon.

The freebooter would not fit fluff wise and their buff costs a move action. For me those are bigger drawbacks than the increase of close combatant.

In our playtest the swashbuckler didn't work that well and had issues getting panache back, even with a high threat weapon. With a 20x3 weapon like the fighting fan this would be even worse.
The warpriest could work but give the guy a completely different flavor. With 4 levels (what I'm aiming for with the brawler) he would get an increase in damage die from 1d4 to 1d6 but miss out on the +1/+3 from close combatant. And I don't think he qualifies for weapon spec so he'd miss out on those +2 damage, too.

Warpriest was actually the first thing I looked at. I dismissed it after working through how feat intensive the build is. Plus, I didn't want to start a Warpriest build only for it to get cut off at the knees when the nerfs came out in the APG. (At this point in time, I had not decided to wait for the APG regardless.) Now that I'm waiting for the APG, I think the Warpriest deserves another look. It still runs into the feat problem though. Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Fighting Fans), Weapon Focus, Weapon Finesse, Two Weapon Fighting... I don't think I can fit everything in before level 5. This build has some nice stuff to offer (SPELLS!) but runs into the same cash problems as the Fighter (Brawler)/Barbarian build.

I hadn't looked at Swashbuckler at all. I didn't realize it could use fans. I'd really prefer a two weapon build just because my concept involves two fans, but at this point I'm not sure a TWF fan build is viable in terms of wealth. As a single weapon build it doesn't have the feat or cash problems that the others do, but I don't know what kind of static damage a swashbuckler can get. Can anyone provide a sample swashbuckler build?

Umbranus, one thing I really like about your proposed build is the bard dip. So far most of the builds I've been tossing around wouldn't be very good dancers, and that bothers me. If I were doing this for a home game, I'd ask the GM if I could change the Dawnflower Dervish archetype to apply to Fighting Fans. I think that'd make for a perfect fit for the concept.

I've been more focussed on individual survivability and DPR, while your bard build is more focussed on supporting the group. Hopefully some of my ideas have helped, and I'll definitely be keeping an eye on your build if you continue to go with the concept.

The only thing my build does in the form of group support is flagbearer.

True. I fell into the trap of making an unwarranted assumption there. I figured Flagbearer + bard meant at least a minor focus on buffing the party.

An easy to make assumption.
I always wanted to make a pc with flagbearer but I never got around to. This time I just figured that I have a hand free and my cha is high enough so it is an easy to come by static damage bonus.

I'm still arguing with myself whether I should take zest for battle* or mindlessly cruel* via adopted despite neither fitting the pc really. But because of flagbearer it would always be active, giving me a semi-permanent +1 damage bonus.

*both these traits give you a +1 trait bonus to weapon damage while you have a moral bonus to attack.

If I manage to get an agile weapon (little money and not sure about magic mart) going urban barbarian might be an option. At least that would give more skillpoints than continuing fighter and coherent rage gives a dex bonus. Most full bab classes would benefit this build in one way or the other. And most would be better than staying fighter after 4th level, I guess.

- Emissiary cavalier for normal speed in medium armor (not sure if I WANT to wear medium)
- Samurai for weapon proficiencies and other goodies
- Ranger/slayer for more skillpoints
- Paladin for divine grace
- Barbarian: See above

The ones I don't consider are bloodrager (no real benefit of strength rage) and gunslinger.

A nice about about Urban Barbarian is that you can apply Rage to multiple things as the situation demands. That means you can apply it to strength until you get agile weapons, then apply it to dexterity.

I notice that you seem to have a single fan in mind for your build. If that's the case, you may want to look into more strength based builds. I started my character concept with flavor purposes. I knew I wanted the character to be dancing dervish with two fans on the battlefield, so I knew I wanted Dex all the way. (On a side note, being able to care only about Dex and Con is incredibly freeing for a martial build.) One of my biggest issues so far (aside from money/feats) is the build mechanics are conflicting with the flavor of the concept for me. I wish there was a trait that allowed Perform (Dance) to be based off Dex.

Since you don't seem worried about TWF, your character could probably benefit from a heavier armor and more focus on strength. Dex builds are nice for flavor and relatively easy AC, but Str builds are usually more effective and easier to build. Do you have a problem with a character that wears heavy armor?

And again, the Freehand Fighter/Vivisectionist is a pretty solid choice as well.

I'd rather not wear heavy armor. Probably stick with light. And the dex focus fits better with the pc flavor than a high strength.
He should look charming but harmless, hiding the little armor he wears beneath his kimono.
And I'm not sure I want to worry about sneak attack.

Works for me!

It's moments like this that I *really* wish Dervish Dance applied to more than the scimitar though. :/

Scarab Sages

Mystically Inclined wrote:

Works for me!

It's moments like this that I *really* wish Dervish Dance applied to more than the scimitar though. :/

If only. But it has already been said that dervish dance was made just for Sarenrae followers to do their thing, and the dev team is on record saying it is probably too powerful. I don't expect there will ever be a non-mythic feat that lets you do the same thing with another weapon, and it wouldn't surprise me if they nerf it.

Actually, it was mentioned in the ACG Duelist discussion that there probably will be a feat like Dervish dance for other weapons.

I... uh... what?:
Shakes head I'm sorry, I could have sworn I just 'heard' you say that Paizo will release more Dex-to-damage support. That can't be right. Next you'll say Paizo will come out with a full BAB unarmed combat class.



Seriously though, that is really good news to hear. :)

Dark Archive

While someone can take both Geisha and Archaeologist legally, the benefits of the Tea Ceremony ability of the Geisha would be nonexistent since the Archaeologist has no "Bardic Performance" rounds.

Scarab Sages

Dieben wrote:
While someone can take both Geisha and Archaeologist legally, the benefits of the Tea Ceremony ability of the Geisha would be nonexistent since the Archaeologist has no "Bardic Performance" rounds.

geisha is there for the proficiency in one monk weapon, which is the entire point of the build. Otherwise to get fighting fan you would need to take unarmed fighter instead of brawler, or waste a feat on it. You could also use the half elf ancestral arms trait, but I'm sue that the fighting fan wasn't what they intended for that trait.

Yes, that's the point.
The geisha doesn't loose anything important and gives me the weapon prof, scribe scroll and changes bardic knowledge into more fitting skills.

With 10 minutes tea ceremony for 10 minutes effect duration it's hardly usable in the first place. Which is sad. Because the idea is quite nice.

So can anyone think of any alternatives for the build?

Alternative build ideas:

Less static damage leads to main damage output through spells. Stylish but vastly inferior to high threat weapon builds.

Little base damage but viable during challenge.

Boosts the base damage and uses full BAB for sacred weapons. Best for pure builds.

Feint builds
I got no experience with feint builds at all but I could see a build using a katana in the main hand and a fighting fan in the offhand, using the fan to faint.
That way you get the style, the feint bonus and the good primary weapon.

Fan feinter:

Half elf
Unarmed fighter 2/ninja x

You need a lot of feats but the bonus feat from fighter 2 and the first ninja talent will help with that.

I think weapon finesse, combat expertise, two-weapon fighting,improved feint and two-weapon feint are top priority. But I might miss something.
Taking a non exotic main hand weapon would allow to take another race or another fighter variant.

On my build from the first posting:

I will try several ways to continue this build before I decide which to use. One Idea I have right now is the urban barbarian with the spirit totem line.

I'll stick to my +1 weapon and will not include other magic items as I don't know how much of what I get I can plan.

Advanced Courtier level 10 v1:

Musetouched Aasimar
fighter (brawler) 4/ bard (geisha/archeologist) 2/Invulnerable urban barbarian 4

Str. 11
Dex: 19
Con: 14
Int: 12
Wis: 10
Cha: 16

Fate's favored, +1 free

Feats: (Lx= Level feat, FBx= Fighter Bonus feat, BB= Bard bonus feat)
L1: Flagbearer, FB1: Weapon finesse
BB: Scribe scroll
L3: Lingering performance, FB2: Weapon focus (fighting fan)
L5: Piranha strike, FB4: Weapon specialization

Archeologist's luck+ Fate's favored: +2 to hit, damage, saves, skills
Flagbearer: +1 to hit, damage, saves vs fear
Close combat: +1 to hit +3 to damage with close weapons
Uncanny dodge
Clever explorer
Controlled Rage +4 dex
Crowd control
Extreme endurance

Rage powers:
Spirit totem, lesser
Guarded life

Fighting fan +1

Attack (with luck and flag, raging) +18/+13, 1d4+15
Spirit attack: +12, 1d4+3 negative energy

Spells: Feather fall, timely inspiration, liberating command

Skills: main focus on social and linguistics

Dark Archive

I am currently running a Palabardanger who wields a fighting fan. Granted, due to the limitations of the weapon, it borders on impossible to become a primary damage dealer. However, the following build would allow even the most meager of allies to become valuable assets in combat.

Greater Battle Herald, without the prestige class:

1-3: Paladin (Holy Tactician)
4-7: Bard
8: Ranger (Freebooter & Trapper)
9+: TBD probably either fighter or bard

The Paladin levels give you access to a 30' aura that grants all of your allies a teamwork feat (this doesn't cost you a feat since the archetype grants one bonus teamwork feat). The aura lasts all day, can be turned on/off as a standard action as often as desired, and can be switched between feats as a swift action. For the fighting fan, the best choice would be Feint Partner. This would cause every single one of your successful feints to make the foe flat-footed to all of your allies for one melee strike each. Your less melee inclined allies could also try to feint with similar results. Additionally, you would have Divine Grace for absolutely ridiculous saves.

With the Bard levels, you could get inspire courage +2 a level early via the aasimar favored class bonus. Just purchase a cracked opalescent white pyramid ioun stone (1,500gp) to get weapon familiarity with the fighting fan thereby treat the fighting fan as a martial weapon. Versatile Performance could, depending upon your choice of performance type, make you a social-combat beast.

The Ranger level and its archetypes would earn you trapfinding and Freebooter's Bane (an untyped bonus to all allies against one foe at a time, usable all day). The Freebooter archetype is actually quite thematically appropriate given the historical usages in Japan of the fighting fan/war fan/tessen as a signalling device between troop formations and ships.

Flagbearer does not stack with bardic performance unfortunately. However, Improved Feint is likely a much better feat to work towards so as to allow for more versatile usages of feint in terms of the action economy. Getting Greater Feint would make all of your allies' melee strikes be against the foe's flat footed AC for a whole round whenever you successfully feint a foe.

Speaking of the action economy, the build allows you to have all of your party buffs active by the end of your first full round. Your standard action would begin bardic performance (probably perform oratory or dance/marching), the move action would be freebooter's bane, and the swift action would shift to your most desirable teamwork feat if that one is not already active.

Out of the build, only for the first two levels would you be highly vulnerable/ineffective. This is true though for the vast majority of builds out there, so this is a minor inconvenience. You primary weaknesses would be foes who cannot be feinted and areas of deeper darkness/silence.

Ultimately, you would be an amplifier of effectiveness in almost any of your party's combats.

Wow, I really like this. It shifts the concept from dancing dervish to stylish distractor, but it's much closer to the flavor of the concept than any builds I've been able to come up with. I'll have to whip up a sample build if I get some free time.

Mystically Inclined wrote:
Wow, I really like this. It shifts the concept from dancing dervish to stylish distractor, but it's much closer to the flavor of the concept than any builds I've been able to come up with. I'll have to whip up a sample build if I get some free time.

If you find the time feel free to post it here. I'm looking forward to seeing it.

For my build the katana + fighting fan will not work because I see him as someone who looks harmless/defenceless, who is just carrying his deisho around as a status symbol (which is true).
You know the type, they look good, know to talk but once swords are drawn the are in for trouble. That's what he pretends to be. In fact he looks good, knows how to talk and once swords are drawn enemies are in for a surprise when the tessen (fighting fan) hits them.

Scarab Sages

I just thought of another way to get "proficiency" in fighting fan without the need for a bard level. Monk of the empty hand using it as an improvised weapon. You treat all light weapons as a light hammer and can flurry with it. Combined with improvised weapon mastery, the fan becomes a d6 19-20/x2 weapon. If you have sneak attack catch off guard lets all of your attack against unarmed opponents treat them as flat footed, and ninja is appropriate to the concept.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I expected to see Mai Shiranui, I'm disappointed.

As the bard is not only for the proficiency but is giving me archaeologist's luck, too this idea doesn't help for this build but I will keep it in mind.

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