The Comprehensive Kensai Magus Guide


Advice

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Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

What about the Monkey Goblin?

That's a +4 bonus to Dexterity, but a –2 penalty to Wisdom and Charisma.

Still, no penalty to intelligence, or strength.

Lantern Lodge

Awesome, got some of the things mentioned added to the guide. Thank you everyone so far for contributing! Hopefully this continues to grow :)

@Veldrin Shadowbane

Looks good so far! Just so it's easier to read, I put it into a different format that doesn't have all of the class abilities attached:

1. Improved Initiative
3. Power Attack
5. ??
5. ??
6. -Wave of Mutilation
7. Weapon Specilization
9. ??
9. -Charge of the Magi (No Arcana Here! Kensai Replaces it)
11. Dimensional Agility
11. Dimensional Assault
12. -??
13. Dimensional Dervish
15. Greater Weapon Spec.
15. -Bane Blade
17. ??
17. ??
19. ??

Just a few initial notes: Charge of the Magi seems nice, but you don't really want to charge, it'd be better to use the spell force hook charge and get all of your iterative attacks. So consider dropping it entirely (especially if you plan on getting the Dimensional feats later). Greater Weapon Specialization requires Greater Weapon Focus, so don't forget to get that in your build.

Your 5th level feat slots are harder to fill, since you can't qualiy for magus arcana quite yet. But there's options! Consider preparing yourself to get Spell Perfection later on, or work on some combat maneuver (such as trip?)

As for Arcana, getting a familiar can fill in some of those blanks, and can add to the flavor of your character. If you grab Improved Familiar with it, you can have a PseudoDragon, which might mesh well with your character concept.

Grab Intensified Spell. Now that I think about it, that feat should be purple really, since it makes a low level spell do so much, consider it for your 7th slot (moving weapon specialization down) or putting it in as your 9th level feat slot.

If your character only uses his sword when he feels the challenge is worth it, then I'd focus in on that and forget Improved Natural Attack. Adds more insult if you beat your enemies with just normal claws :P. Fiend Sight can be interesting if you plan on creating magical darkness, but team mates typically don't appreciate that very much.

Does your character have a hatred for any specific kind of enemy? Such as spell casters, undead, BSF's (Big Stupid Fighters), etc...? This would be a nice thing to add in.

Hope all this helps!

Silver Crusade

FrodoOf9Fingers wrote:

@Velxir Thanks for the ideas! One more thing to add though, you can't use spells from another class' spell list (and in this case, spell slots) without the broad study arcana. Sad day :(

You are absolutely correct. I forgot about that.

Have you considered adding in a small Traits section to go over some options in terms of traits?

Dark Archive

@FrodoOf9Fingers

Thanks for the format upgrade! It does make it a ton easier to read! Also thank you for the suggestions.

Totally forgot that critical perfection that replaced my 9th level arcana! Need to fix that. We're all new players, I wasn't aware that I couldn't full attack at the end of a charge.

I don't think I can get the familiar arcana due to having a blackblade, please correct me if I'm wrong.

As for a hatred of enemies... Our DM actually had us roll randomly for 3 traits when we created our characters lol. I ended up with Cold and Calculating, Demon Hunter(Ironic lol) and Scorned by Magic(also a bit Ironic.) Actually, it was pretty insane how the random rolls lined up, I felt like they matched my character to the T. Also, one of the guys in the group hit the clumsy slave trait, was pretty funny.

What do you think of picking up the additional traits feat, I thought it might be kinda cool to get perception and stealth as class skills, how useful are those skills? I do want to get things that fit the flavor of the character, however I also want them to be useful, not necessarily optimal, but of some use. If that makes any sense.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Let's not forget the Android!

Lantern Lodge

@Velxir Yeah, I've considered a traits section. I'll probably add that after I finish the spells. I never liked guides that had more than one section under construction at a time.

Makes sense... Hmm, what else to do then...

Additional traits would be nice, but most of the traits you'd want you can't get anymore because of the traits you got (Can only have one trait per section, and you have combat, social, and magic taken up). You can still get the Stealth trait, but you can't get perception through traits (You have both social and religion filled). Of course, you can always talk with your GM about it, since it was rolled randomly.

Your right about the familiar. I haven't worked with the blade bound magus as much as I need to :(.

As for flavor, your a really beefy Tiefling, and it seems you want to focus in on having fluid movements?

Here's an idea of a build you could go with, focusing in on that aspect (Along with dealing lots of weapon damage).
1. Improved Initiative
3. Power Attack
5. Intensify Spell
5. Quick Draw (Quickly switch from claws to weapon, or use disposable weapons that you may want. Could easily replace this with a feat relating to your character)
6. -Wave of Mutilation
7. Weapon Specialization
9. Weapon Focus Greater
9. Critical Focus
11. Dimensional Agility
11. Dimensional Assault
12. -Arcane Edge
13. Dimensional Dervish
15. Greater Weapon Spec.
15. -Bane Blade
17. Bleeding Critical
17. Dimensional Savant
18. -Quicken Spell
19. If you make it this far, get something related to what your facing a lot of.

Silver Crusade

Yeah, there's nothing for you in Barbarian sadly. Casting in a rage can only be done by the Rage Prophet, and taking the time to go into that really isn't worth it. So unless you're trying to burn some rounds with super strength, it's not worth. You'd be better off taking two levels of Alchemist to pick up Mutagen and a discovery like Tumor Familiar. I'd suggest checking my Alchemy guide's section for races, since Mad Bombers have the same stat requirements as most Kensai Magus.

Honestly when I read this guide, it reads more like an expanded guide on the Magus instead of one on the Kensei. A lot of the information is pretty universal (I'll be running the Frostforcer as a Hexblade), so the focus of the guide might be better suited as a general advanced tactic guide to the Magus.

Lantern Lodge

It probably is, since most information focused on the Kensai is applicable to most Magi. I *Might* Universalize it later, when it's completed.

Silver Crusade

Someone has been sharing the secret techniques of the School of the Undefeated of the East?!

There are techniques here that even the great Reiji Nakami had not thought of yet! Your battle intuition and training are truly superior, Frodo of Nine Fingers!

Though if it were I, I would cut out any mention of that ridiculous battle dancing I see everyone doing.

Lantern Lodge

Oh Wise Reiji!

Which Battle Dance do you make mention of? The Dance of the Sudden Shield, The Dance of Frozen Doom, or The Dance of Staying Still?

Silver Crusade

FrodoOf9Fingers wrote:

Oh Wise Reiji!

Which Battle Dance do you make mention of? The Dance of the Sudden Shield, The Dance of Frozen Doom, or The Dance of Staying Still?

Hail, wise Frodo of Nine Fingers!

I speak of this so-called "dervish dancing" I see with that qadiran weapon. It seems every time I am called by the society to cleave evil in twain, there is yet another selfish bard or dancing magus!

After a second look at the libram you have produced, I see that you might place it's value lower than that "agile" weapon enchant. I am pleased by this, especially as I have also noted the vast numbers of feats of strength and technique necessary to fight properly as a member of the School of the Undefeated of the East.


Thanks for your answers ;) By the way, hexcrafter magi don't loose spell combat ^^

Lantern Lodge

They don't, but they can't use hexes with spell combat either :P

Dark Archive

@Frodo Thanks man! Looks great!

Am I not allowed to choose extra arcana for my level 5 feat? I thought the blackblade counted as an arcana.

I was considering picking up Black Blade Riposte; if I'm to understand it correctly, it allows me to attack everytime I provoke an attack of opportunity? That seems really good coupled with combat reflexes and Iajutsu.. I could just run around the battlefield provoking attacks.

Lantern Lodge

The Black Blade is kinda like an Arcana because it's at around the same power level and it comes at 3rd level, but it's not an arcana, and replaces your third level arcana, so you don't have the arcana class feature until level 6.

Shadow Lodge

You mention Monkey Goblins from ISWG, but not Lashunta. Specifically, male Lashunta.

Lantern Lodge

@Ninjaxenomorph Thanks! added


FrodoOf9Fingers wrote:
They don't, but they can't use hexes with spell combat either :P

But they do add all curse spells to their spell list making them eligible for spellcombat. Most commonly used is Brand aka arcane mark that does damage.


I just read your guide... and there's something that puzzles me a bit: if you need a free hand to use Spell Combat, then why are you recommending two-handed weapons like the bardiche and fauchard?

Is there something I missed?


JiCi wrote:

I just read your guide... and there's something that puzzles me a bit: if you need a free hand to use Spell Combat, then why are you recommending two-handed weapons like the bardiche and fauchard?

Is there something I missed?

You can wield them with one hand if you dip two lvls of Titan MAuler barbarian.

Or you just don't use spell combat.


FrodoOf9Fingers wrote:
They don't, but they can't use hexes with spell combat either :P

Well I only need to use the flight hex once which is by the way COMPLETELY overpowered :p

Silver Crusade

Taking one hand off a two-handed weapon and putting it back are both free actions. A magus could take a hand off the weapon, cast a spell, then put it back on the weapon for his attack. It should be totally fine according to the official FAQs.

I would personally make sure to note that player's free action usage if he's doing stuff like that. I do it myself (though with a katana that I can use 1-handed or 2-handed), and I take care to avoid being cheesy with the free actions.

I have a strength magus, so the damage boost is nice, but the main reason I do it is to copy a certain Domon Kasshu finishing move....


You absolutely cannot use Spell combat with a two handed weapon. What's more, you need to have one hand free during the whole full round action, so you could not even use this trick to get 1.5 Str modifier on your weapon while using SC.

Lantern Lodge

Yeah, two handed weapons don't work with spell combat unless your able to wield them in one hand. The take your hand off of the weapon, cast a spell, and then put it back on your weapon doesn't work. This argument is very similar to the two handed weapon with a spiked gauntlet. The reasoning was that, with TWF, you could free action take your hand off your weapon, hit them with the spiked gauntlet, put your hand back on, and then proceed to attack with your two handed weapon. Here's the Dev's response:

FAQ wrote:

Armor Spikes: Can I use two-weapon fighting to make an "off-hand" attack with my armor spikes in the same round I use a two-handed weapon?

No.
Likewise, you couldn't use an armored gauntlet to do so, as you are using both of your hands to wield your two-handed weapon, therefore your off-hand is unavailable to make any attacks.

Flight is over powered, true :).

Scarab Sages

And yet, if you have the natural weapons, you can make a Claw/Bite/Tentacle/Wing/Wing attack with spell combat, as long as you keep one of your hands free for casting the spell.

Also, what about Blade Boots or the Dwarven Boulder Helmet? Or the Sea Knife that specifically allows you to use two weapon fighting while using a two-handed weapon?

Shadow Lodge

Nope. Spell Combat specifically allows you to make all your attacks with one weapon, in addition to casting a spell that may be channeled through that weapon.

You have to take a magus Arcana to be allowed to also use all your natural attacks during spell combat, and that won't work for boot blades etc.

Silver Crusade

Faskill wrote:
You absolutely cannot use Spell combat with a two handed weapon. What's more, you need to have one hand free during the whole full round action, so you could not even use this trick to get 1.5 Str modifier on your weapon while using SC.

Source please.


Ever read Spell Combat?

Silver Crusade

Faskill wrote:
Ever read Spell Combat?

Oh, doh. *facepalm*

I knew the part about not doing it with two-handed weapons, but I didn't see the free hand thing.

Spellstrike while two-handing is okay though, right?

Grand Lodge

FrodoOf9Fingers wrote:
@Gisher hehe, I completely forgot about the rapier to be honest :P. As you said, it's identical to the wakishazi except it's not a light weapon, so it doesn't qualify for piranha strike as ArmouredMonk said. But I think the main reason I didn't have it in the guide is because I never use one. I personally don't like it's flavor (I know, such a great sin!) But I'll throw it in with the relevant notes :)

Rapier not yet added :)

Lantern Lodge

Helaman wrote:
FrodoOf9Fingers wrote:
@Gisher hehe, I completely forgot about the rapier to be honest :P. As you said, it's identical to the wakishazi except it's not a light weapon, so it doesn't qualify for piranha strike as ArmouredMonk said. But I think the main reason I didn't have it in the guide is because I never use one. I personally don't like it's flavor (I know, such a great sin!) But I'll throw it in with the relevant notes :)
Rapier not yet added :)

Hehe, I've been caught! Added in now :P

Hrothdane wrote:
Spellstrike while two-handing is okay though, right?

Nope, the same thing that applies to two handed weapons applies to using a weapon two handed, which sucks I know. It comes from the debate and FAQ I quoted above, the consensus being that a hand needed to be free the entire round to use it for TWF with some exceptions (Such as using quick draw). Since Spell Combat is like TWF, your unable to use that hand for anything else.

Imagine it like you are swinging your weapon AND casting the spell at the same time, rather than doing one or the other first. It is coupled into a full round action after all.


There is nothing (Afaik) in spellstrike that doesn't allow you to deliver a touch spell (cast in a previous round and held) with a two-handed weapon.

Silver Crusade

FrodoOf9Fingers wrote:
Helaman wrote:
FrodoOf9Fingers wrote:
@Gisher hehe, I completely forgot about the rapier to be honest :P. As you said, it's identical to the wakishazi except it's not a light weapon, so it doesn't qualify for piranha strike as ArmouredMonk said. But I think the main reason I didn't have it in the guide is because I never use one. I personally don't like it's flavor (I know, such a great sin!) But I'll throw it in with the relevant notes :)
Rapier not yet added :)

Hehe, I've been caught! Added in now :P

Hrothdane wrote:
Spellstrike while two-handing is okay though, right?

Nope, the same thing that applies to two handed weapons applies to using a weapon two handed, which sucks I know. It comes from the debate and FAQ I quoted above, the consensus being that a hand needed to be free the entire round to use it for TWF with some exceptions (Such as using quick draw). Since Spell Combat is like TWF, your unable to use that hand for anything else.

Imagine it like you are swinging your weapon AND casting the spell at the same time, rather than doing one or the other first. It is coupled into a full round action after all.

Spellstrike =/= spell combat. Spellstrike takes the place of the free touch attack allowed in a touch spell. It can be USED with spell combat.

Honestly, if you can find where it says that spellstrike must be a full round action, I would be happy. It would mean that one of my characters shouldnt have died in

spoiler:
Dalsine Affair
last weekend.

Shadow Lodge

One of my gaming friends wants to run a Ponyfinder campaign; if I join that, my character will be a Unicorn Kensai.

Now. You may be laughing. I'm not really a fan of they show, but this character is practically SAD.

Ponyfinder Unicorns can take a feat that allows them to telekinetically wield a one handed weapon, using their Int as a replacement for Str.

Yeah.

Pump Intelligence to an insane degree, and have an average Dex and Con. That leaves Str for dumping. Are there any traits that let Intelligence stand in for skills?

Silver Crusade

Hi, playing a Kensai myself and will read this over - thanks!

Can someone link me to "Bladed Dash" - I searched PRD and cannot find this spell anywhere/

Game on!
- Corey

Scarab Sages

Bladed Dash It's from Inner Sea Magic, so it's not on the PRD.

Lantern Lodge

Dang it, I read that too fast. You are correct, I got confused and thought you were talking about spell combat. Sorry about that, my bad >.<.


I actually wasnt aware of Bladed Dash which could be used for getting out of grapples !
Do you know when you'll be done with color coding the whole spell list?
That'd be great !

Silver Crusade

FrodoOf9Fingers wrote:
Dang it, I read that too fast. You are correct, I got confused and thought you were talking about spell combat. Sorry about that, my bad >.<.

Hey, no worries! You guys let me know I've been misreading spell combat, so it's all good.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Faskill wrote:

I actually wasnt aware of Bladed Dash which could be used for getting out of grapples !

I'm not too sure about that. The spell was not designed for such use and I'd rule any such attempt a failure. Even if it did work your spellcasting check has to meet or beat grappler's CMD plus twice the spell level. Which is a considerable problem if whatever is munching you has a CMD of 40 plus.


Ninjaxenomorph wrote:

One of my gaming friends wants to run a Ponyfinder campaign; if I join that, my character will be a Unicorn Kensai.

Now. You may be laughing. I'm not really a fan of they show, but this character is practically SAD.

Ponyfinder Unicorns can take a feat that allows them to telekinetically wield a one handed weapon, using their Int as a replacement for Str.

Yeah.

Pump Intelligence to an insane degree, and have an average Dex and Con. That leaves Str for dumping. Are there any traits that let Intelligence stand in for skills?

Pragmatic Activator for UMD, Bruising Intellect for Intimidate, Student of Philosophy for Diplomacy and Bluff (excluding Feint and Gather Information), and Clever Wordplay for any one Charisma based skill.

They really have it out for Charisma, don't they?


LazarX wrote:
Faskill wrote:

I actually wasnt aware of Bladed Dash which could be used for getting out of grapples !

I'm not too sure about that. The spell was not designed for such use and I'd rule any such attempt a failure. Even if it did work your spellcasting check has to meet or beat grappler's CMD plus twice the spell level. Which is a considerable problem if whatever is munching you has a CMD of 40 plus.

I am pretty sure that this is a legal use of the spell. You just need to beat the concentration check.

Shadow Lodge

I was just looking at the Kirin Style feat chain. Expensive, both in skills, feats, and swift actions, but... DAMN. Could be worth it.

Oh, and one thing I would add to the guide is that using Weapon Wand to put a wand of True Strike leaves your extra hand free, as long as you can spend a round to power up.

Silver Crusade

Ninjaxenomorph wrote:


Oh, and one thing I would add to the guide is that using Weapon Wand to put a wand of True Strike leaves your extra hand free, as long as you can spend a round to power up.

You can do that, yes, but I don't believe you can cast a touch spell (such as shocking grasp), hold the charge, then true strike on the next turn. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the newer spell supersedes the older one, which is lost.

The main advantage of weaponwanding the true strike wand would be versatility, as it would let you cast other spells without having to drop the wand.

Lantern Lodge

Well, you only lose a held charge when you cast a spell, and since using a wand doesn't count as casting a spell...

I think that is how it goes at least. Could be wrong.

Silver Crusade

FrodoOf9Fingers wrote:

Well, you only lose a held charge when you cast a spell, and since using a wand doesn't count as casting a spell...

I think that is how it goes at least. Could be wrong.

That MAY be a loophole, but unless there's an official FAQ on it, it's on rather shaky ground, especially since it feels against RAI.

In PFS, I would expect a LOT of table variation on it.


You forgot the best critical feat, Destroy Identity. Sure you gotta be evil, but what's that? Staggered and 2 charisma damage with no save? How many babies do I need to sacrifice to qualify or can I just sign over my soul now?


I don't know about casting two touch spells, but I wouldn't think it would be against RAI to use a wand of bladed dash for example while holding a shimocking grasp or frostbite charge.

Scarab Sages

Ninjaxenomorph wrote:

I was just looking at the Kirin Style feat chain. Expensive, both in skills, feats, and swift actions, but... DAMN. Could be worth it.

It's really, really not. You could be using those swift actions for so much better things: pool strike, weapon enchantment, quickened spells, even arcane strike is better than the garbage that is Kirin style.

Shadow Lodge

Imbicatus wrote:
Ninjaxenomorph wrote:

I was just looking at the Kirin Style feat chain. Expensive, both in skills, feats, and swift actions, but... DAMN. Could be worth it.

It's really, really not. You could be using those swift actions for so much better things: pool strike, weapon enchantment, quickened spells, even arcane strike is better than the garbage that is Kirin style.

With the exception of Arcane Strike, which I don't like taking, all of those use resources. Once you have the feats, Kirin style is free. Not governed by your arcane pool. Also, I'm talking for my SAD Kensai, whose intelligence is their primary stat, meaning there is a minimum +5 modifier at 1st level.

Also, Spell Combat is a full attack action.

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