Caster wants to duel with weapons?


Homebrew and House Rules

Dark Archive

I'm starting a Kingmaker campaign soon and had my players send in a detailed background to me in preparation. My most experienced player is testing out the Arcanist, and as part of his backstory he's related to one of the houses in Brevoy. As a child his education included instruction on formal duels, and it wasn't until later in life that he discovered an aptitude for magic. This player has expressed interest to participate in duels during the campaign, both spell duels regular duels. I think the flavor fits nicely given the new country's proximity with the River Kingdoms and Brevoy.

Unfortunately, I'm certain a straight-up sword duel could kill him considering his low health and BAB. I'd like to find a way to even the playing field and give him a sporting chance here, and since he's a 9-level caster I figured something that allows him to utilize his magic while not putting his blade on the back-burner would be neat. Does anyone have a suggestion for a swords-and-magic duel format?

Shadow Lodge

If he's not immediately locked into the Arcanist class, Magus might be a better alternative, since the magic-and-sword-user comes baked right in. An option you could allow would be to allow Arcanist-style casting (he prepares his spells at the beginning of the day, then can burn his available slots spontaneously) off the Magus list, if he's really interested particularly in that kind of casting format. Another you could do would be allow him to take Arcanist Exploits in place of Magus Arcana when those become available to him.

Otherwise, my recommendation would be a multiclass of one or two levels into Fighter or Cavalier or something, then go into Eldritch Knight.

Dark Archive

The player has already locked into the Arcanist class, and though they said they'd considered and decided against prestiging into EK I might be able to convince him. I've talked about the Magus with him and he really doesn't like the class - besides that, one of the others was considering the Magus already (they've been indecisive, but I digress).

Though that does make me wonder if I could do the opposite - have him play an Arcanist but allow him to use some of the Magus options instead. Maybe something like a limited Arcane Pool that can only be used during a duel?

Shadow Lodge

The Magus options won't do an Arcanist much good at all. Most of the Magus's non-spell options still require him to be able to hit the opponent to be effective. Things like adding enhancements to a weapon or TWFing with a weapon in one hand and a touch spell in the other are great tricks for a medium-BAB character like a Magus but pretty much useless for a low-BAB caster like an Arcanist.

I speak here from recent experience - one of the players in my current game became very frustrated with his Magus because his dice simply would not cooperate with a melee character. He eventually rebuilt into a Warmage from 3.5 - his luck demanded that he play a class that didn't require rolling successful attack rolls to contribute to combat, and Magus does.

Unfortunately, by removing those two options, your player has really locked himself into a mechanical situation where he cannot achieve the goal he wants. An Arcanist with a sword will be, more often than not, whiffing at air simply because his BAB is just never going to be good enough (unless he's spamming true strike from a wand every other turn or something) to hit an opponent with anything resembling a decent AC. And his own AC is going to be wretched in turn, and while that normally wouldn't matter for a full caster (since they have other ways - DR, Miss Chance, mirror image, invisibility, etc. - to avoid taking damage) it will in a duel because I imagine a non-caster opponent will want a "fair swordfight" and not allow him to buff up before the duel begins (or, likely, make too much use of magic while IN said duel, which nukes the true strike trick as well).

The only options I can think of to get around this would be to either switch to a class like Magus or Psychic Warrior or something else that combines magic and swordplay as a core part of the class itself, or multiclass into something like EK that improves his melee combat ability while not leaving his casting behind. Otherwise the game just does not provide what he wants out of it.

Dark Archive

I know the Arcanist isn't built well for physical combat on its own, but the concept is intriguing and I'd like to help him make it work. I'll talk to him more about his options and post his input later (hopefully tonight).

As for the other issues, namely non-casters wanting a fair fight, it's also not fair to the caster (who isn't as strong physically) if he can't use the magic he's known for in a duel. Perhaps we could ban certain spells or limit them in some way to help level the playing field? Maybe the king doesn't fight non-casters himself, but has one of his trusted friends (the party Brawler, perhaps?) fight in his stead?

Edit: I'll try getting him to consider EK, but he's definitely against playing a Magus. He really doesn't like the class flavor or mechanics - understandable, really.

Shadow Lodge

Quote:
As for the other issues, namely non-casters wanting a fair fight, it's also not fair to the caster (who isn't as strong physically) if he can't use the magic he's known for in a duel.

Hence why there are magic duels =) Non-casters have weapons duels, testing their strength against one another. Magic-users have magic duels, testing their arcane skill against one another. Someone who tries to bring one to the other tends to break the rules of the duel, more likely than not.

I don't have the game rules on dueling or the slightly-more complex rules on spell-duels (from 3.5's Faerun stuff, there's a really nice section in one of the books on mage duels that I've used just fine in PF games) on hand, so I can't say that for 100% of the time, but it's generally assumed that if a challenger can't use magic, the duel doesn't use magic at all, and using it is typically considered a breach of etiquette and a penalty or forfeit. (And likewise in a mage-duel, someone drawing a weapon [that isn't magically created or summoned] is typically considered a taboo; and I do recall this much of the mage-duel rules, if you can't cast at all, you get physically shoved out of the duel arena as it's created!)

Quote:
Maybe the king doesn't fight non-casters himself, but has one of his trusted friends (the party Brawler, perhaps?) fight in his stead?

This would be the way it would typically go - the caster has a proxy or champion to fight in his stead against opponents who can't cast, therefore ensuring a more fair fight.

However, that seems to be the exact opposite of what your player wants.

Quote:
I know the Arcanist isn't built well for physical combat on its own, but the concept is intriguing and I'd like to help him make it work.

Just off the top of my head, the main thing you're going to need to do to bring him up to par is up his BAB. Doing so will practically demand that you reduce his spellcasting somehow - either knocking him down to a 6th-level half-caster (so, essentially, a Magus) or greatly reducing his spells-per-day allotment to justify still having 9th-level spells while also being a medium-BAB character.

If you decide to go that route, then your earlier idea of giving him some Magus abilities as options in place of Arcanist Exploits would be more reasonable, as he'd have the BAB to make use of them.

The EK route is easily the simplest of the batch, though, since it doesn't have to deal with homebrewing and shooting around for a proper balance.

Dark Archive

Orthos wrote:
I don't have the game rules on dueling or the slightly-more complex rules on spell-duels (from 3.5's Faerun stuff, there's a really nice section in one of the books on mage duels that I've used just fine in PF games) on hand, so I can't say that for 100% of the time, but it's generally assumed that if a challenger can't use magic, the duel doesn't use magic at all, and using it is typically considered a breach of etiquette and a penalty or forfeit. (And likewise in a mage-duel, someone drawing a weapon [that isn't magically created or summoned] is typically considered a taboo; and I do recall this much of the mage-duel rules, if you can't cast at all, you get physically shoved out of the duel arena as it's created!)

Hm, I hadn't thought of that. It would certainly make things more difficult, wouldn't it?

Looking over his background again I found the following statement:

Player wrote:
While I am aware that there are several combinations of feats and classes that would allow [this character] to be an effective Arcanist while also becoming a decent duelist (swordplay) ... I have no intention on exploring these options. It is not the purpose of the character ... I would really like to see [him] have some success in the realm of dueling. While dueling with magic is something that exists and spell duels are quite popular in some parts of the world, Brevoy is an area where swordplay is romanticized and at times fanatical. It would be cool to see [him] gain some renown through dueling or even help popularize spell duels.

As stated in his "goals" section, he'd rather not spend resources (aka feats, equipment, etc) to do this since it's not the purpose of his character but merely a secondary objective.

Dark Archive

I just looked up the rules for Duels in Ultimate Combat after getting home from work and apparently there are already a couple guidelines in place for determining the conditions of a duel - one such line calls out duels exclusively among warriors and says that most duels of this type forbid magic completely, though some may allow spells that only enhance the caster.

Oh hey, there's an idea. Perhaps I could give him a bonus to attack rolls made with a weapon during duels based on the number of wins he has to his name to reflect his growing experience?

Sovereign Court

Step 1. Have him take heirloom weapon trait or half-elf alternate class feature to get proficiency in bastard sword, falcata, or other dueling type weapon of his choice.
Step 2. Take a decent strength (say 14 or so). This doesn't have to be incredible, and with a decent point buy, you can still have perfectly acceptable casting stat (just not an 18).
Step 3. Cast long lasting (hours/level) subtle buffs like mage armor, greater magic weapon, and false life well before the duel begins.
Step 4. He is now a mediocre duelist. At level, say 12, he will attack at +10/+5 (6 BAB, 2 str, 3 GMW), do 1d10+5 damage, have an AC of around 20 (mage armor +4, dex +2, amulet +1, ring +1, +1 mithral shield), and somewhere around 66 HP (+1d10+10 temp) (con 12, favored class).
This is roughly what a mildly optimized level 6 duelist fighter type would have. He's not great, but he's not terrible either. Has a bit better HP, roughly the same AC, and a bit worse attack and damage.

He's only spent one trait (or alternate class feature), and a few points of point buy for a class that's not terribly MAD, and magic items and spells known that would be useful anyways. He's not an expert champion duelist, but he can beat the typical non-master duelist(level 1-3 warriors, level 1-2 fighters). He won't beat level appropriate duelists in a 1 on 1 melee fight, but he shouldn't, his shtick is magic. But he can beat amateurs without resorting to any obviously magical tricks pretty easily.

If allowed to magically buff up right before the duel (maybe with silent+still spell to make it non-obvious), he can add things like haste, unerring weapon, bull's strength, cat's grace, bull's stamina, alter self (stronger but otherwise identical human) locate weakness, keen edge, etc) and he could probably take on someone around 3/4 his level, rather than 1/2 his level.
All that would give +15/+15/+10, 1d10+8 17-20/x2 crit, AC 23, 80+~15 HP, with +5 to confirm criticals, and rolling the d10 twice and taking the higher.

None of the spells I mentioned have to be flavored as obvious overt magic, but could instead be his own magic subtly enhancing his body at his command.


The Transformation spell: or, how to cast a single spell and turn into a fighter wanna be.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Homebrew and House Rules / Caster wants to duel with weapons? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.