Path of War and Power level.


Product Discussion


Before I get on to asking what everyone thinks of the power level in Path of War I wanted to describe where I'm coming from. Now I was very skeptical about getting Dreamscarred Press' Path of War because as much as I wanted some now stuff for martials 'Vancian Fighting' was not on my list, but nothing wrong with being different as long as non-vancian martials was on the table so I went ahead and subscribed to the Work-in-progress pdfs. I was a little iffy on 'Per Encounter' durations. Inquisitor already drives me nuts and I don't like it when anything in Pathfinder isn't defined in actual time, however there are quantifiable methods of regaining maneuvers so it was a quick matter of defining the 'end of an encounter' as 'having ten minutes to rest'. The manuvers/stances themselves look okay. some of the look shocking on paper but a fighter can infinitely cast 'murder opponent' as a full round action at late levels so they're more versatile than strong. That said I'm still reading through them all so I haven't really dug for the broken gems so YMMV.

I did start finding problems when I read and re-read the classes, and I have to ask; Do the initiator classes seem too good to anyone else? Maneuvers seem like a significant boost but the classes seem to have a lot on top of them. Nothing is explicitly over powered, they just get a lot of things. I presume the design goal is to make better martials and nobody sheds a tear when Monk, Rogue or Fighter get overshadowed but over the years I learned how to make vanilla Fighter put on some serious hurt and be as valuable as casters despite not being able to rewrite reality so I'm a little concerned that these guys may be able to outstrip both martials and casters in the realm of disabling/murdering a guy/monster in a single round.

I guess what I'm asking are these questions:

1) Are the Path of War classes too strong and why?

2) How do you feel about the useability of Fighter/Monk/Rogue/Swashbuckler when PoW is on the table?

3) Considering that there are a number of third party 'fixes' for the above classes, including Path of War's maneuver feats, is it feasible to buff those classes to Initiator level and hope for the best.

4) Considering that I typically challenge resource management in my games (making fighters incredibly useful) will casters come off much weaker in my campaigns or should I not worry about it?


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First and foremost I want to address something about PoW. All of the PoW classes get few or no bonuses to hit and damage. I think Warlord gets a +3 bonus by level 20. What this means for the classes is that full attacking will generally not be in their best interests as missing is very possible and likely on iteratives. The Stalker in Particular prizes hit and run tactics. The warder uses a sword and board, so it's expected to have even less damage and thus supports its team exactly how it was intended, by getting in the way and protecting them.

In my play experience a Pouncing Barbarian is more dangerous than what we can find in PoW. Additionally with Monks and Brawlers getting pounce they will be very dangerous as well. A Bloodrager will have higher potential damage and spells, though less versatility in combat. What seems to have been the point from my experience is to reduce damage dealt to increase options and methods of combating foes.

For a lot of people the gameplay style of PoW classes is also more fun than the current "standing turret full attack" style we currently get in the game.

1. I think some of the PrCs are, but no the base classes.

2. They didn't belong at the table anyway. With the release of the Hunter, Barbarian, Brawler, Slayer, Paladin, Bloodrager, Magus, and Cavalier I had no reason to ever pick those classes again.

3. I believe archetypes are actually incoming for those classes.

4. Even if you challenge resource management the Barbarian, Brawler, Hunter, Paladin, and Cavalier all have huge staying power.

Shadow Lodge

Pretty much what Insain said, particularly #2. PoW was not made to be balanced against Monk, Fighter, and Rogue. It was deliberately compared with the stronger available martial classes - versatile and capable characters like the Barbarian, Paladin, Ranger, Magus, Inquisitor, and Alchemist.

If you're comparing those three classes with PoW, then yes PoW will appear far more powerful. But so will almost every other class in the game. The decision was made early in the development process that the developers would not hamstring themselves by trying to keep their classes from overshadowing the weakest links in the system's chain.


I noticed that the PoW classes rarely get bonuses to attack/damage (disregarding things like deadly strikes). Neither do Monk/Rogue but that's it's own problem. I was hoping that I'd hear that as a balancing factor but wondered how significant that was to people who have used the classes.

(Big note: I haven't tried these in play yet so talking about play experiences is very helpful.)

@Insain Dragoon: with #4 I was moreso talking about casters. I've found that Psionics work better than magic in my games purely because players more intuitively spread out their resources and I'm prone to have way more than 4 encounters in a day if I homebrew. I'm worried that casters may be outstripped by initiators.

Shadow Lodge

The edge casters will have is with limitations. They can drop status effects, alter the battlefield, and change things on a larger scale than initiators can. Most initiator abilities are either single-target or a very small area, and almost nothing they do - except damage - lasts for very long-term.

Your casters, if they're played well and don't focus strictly on doing damage, don't have anything to fear of being outdone by initiators. If you're worried about blaster-casters being outdone, well that's pretty much a given with the average Barbarian in the party.


@Malwing
I think the lack of bonuses also plays towards the style of character you build in PoW. Once I stopped trying to make PoW characters who built to full attack I had fun creations like a Slayer wielding a Rapier in one hand and throwing chakrams in the other. You don't need to focus as hard in pumping up STR since you aren't going for accurate iteratives and I found my other stats picking up the slack.

As for resource management the Stalker (who incidentally is the best at dmg) has to manage Ki points. Warlords don't have resources except for HP, so they are the best for long days. Warders Armiger Marks are limited daily and a lot of their kit keys off those marks.

@Orthos
Glad I'm not the only one who thinks that way!

Also want to apologize if I came off sounding rude at all. I didn't want to believe it, but it turns out that using the internet has turned me into a very rude person in message boards. I can see why SKR got so surly after all the years he spent here.


1) I've found none of the base classes too strong, but no one has used any of the prestige classes so use at your own risk.

2) Swashbuckler remains just as usable but figher/monk/rogue are all sort of outclassed. Though this was already evident before Path of War. Cavaliers and ninjas specifically already outclassed fighters and rogues. Ultimately it pulls up some roles that tend to get the short end of the stick in the d20 system to the level of bards, barbarians, and paladins. Which is something I see as very good.

3) I believe there are already some archetypes for fighters in this book and more are incoming.

4) Casters remain the most powerful class though the gap is much smaller. I tend to have a few caster nerfs built into my house rules, but the removal of fighters, rogues, and monks did establish a somewhat different paradigm with casters. All that was left of the melee classes was the premier damage dealers which I think cavaliers actually being the lowest even when using challenge, it meant that casters using damage dealing spells was a waste of time and resources. It rather firmly established casters as battlefield controllers, buffers, and disablers instead of damage dealers. In MOBA terms it moved casters from being carries to supports. That being said I view this as a mostly good thing and isn't insurmountable. With dedication one player was able to build a very efficient assassin wizard who could outdamage the melee characters, but only four total times per day.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

One of the ways I've described the power levels in Path of War before, is to think of them a bit like the Paladin, who comes almost pre-optimized.

While a monk might run the scale from 1-5, with 1 being the pregen iconic, and 5 being a Zen Archer/Qinggong built with high system mastery, the Path of War classes run more like 3-5. They're a lot more forgiving during character creation (and afterwards, to a certain extent), so if you have a player who maybe played his first character as a Fighter during your last adventure and then moved to a Warder, you might be like "OMG, OP!!!" because suddenly he's doing way more than he was before. The reality is, his low system mastery was just seriously downgraded as a factor in building his character.

So how powerful the classes are going to be really depends on your group's system mastery. For a bunch of experienced players with high system mastery, they'll be a lot of fun, but not dealing numbers or controlling a battlefield any more effectively than the group was already doing before. If your group is full of more low system mastery, casual players, it's going to feel really strong, because the baseline his higher. The cap is in pretty much the same place though.


Zen Archer/Qinggong is REALLY FUN, by the way >_> [/offtopic]


Do they have spells?

Then they're fine.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

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Zhayne wrote:

Do they have spells?

Then they're fine.

Player - "Using my Wishslicer maneuver, I swing my sword so hard I get to grant myself one wish."

GM - "Huh, so that's where the line is."

:P

Sczarni

Stronger than fighter, monk, and rogue? Definetly Yes
Stronger than Paladin, Ranger, or Slayer? No
More funa dn versatyle than most other martials? Yes, leading me to make up a small bard style maneuver progression to give all non optimized martial builts. The result is quite interesting as all the martials do feel as if they were functioning properly for the first time.


Malwing wrote:


I guess what I'm asking are these questions:

1) Are the Path of War classes too strong and why?

I don't think so. I just took my first look at them last night (now hoping my GM will let me play a Stalker for Skull and Shackles), and they seem firmly middle ground in power level.

They seem to be balanced around the 6 level casters, like the Inquisitor. They have less raw numbers and nova capability, but they're on all day and have a pretty consistent power level, with some unique abilities.

Malwing wrote:
2) How do you feel about the useability of Fighter/Monk/Rogue/Swashbuckler when PoW is on the table?

They're as usable as they already are with classes like Slayer, Magus, Inquisitor, Bard, Alchemist, etc. in play.

Malwing wrote:
3) Considering that there are a number of third party 'fixes' for the above classes, including Path of War's maneuver feats, is it feasible to buff those classes to Initiator level and hope for the best.

Can't really comment since I don't know those options.

Malwing wrote:
4) Considering that I typically challenge resource management in my games (making fighters incredibly useful) will casters come off much weaker in my campaigns or should I not worry about it?

Unless you have 20 encounters a day and your casters are casting a spell every round, you're probably not going to challenge a smart caster in resource management.


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Insain Dragoon wrote:


3. I believe archetypes are actually incoming for those classes.

That is actually really nice to hear. Not being familiar with Book of 9 Swords (I did not play much 3.5) I was hoping that Path of War would be the 'Nice Things for Martials' product and was concerned that it and it's design goals would end up being 'Replace ALL the Martials' product.

Shadow Lodge

I don't think you have anything to worry about there. There's cool stuff a Warder can do that a Paladin can't, and vice versa. Ditto for a Stalker versus a Slayer, or a Warlord and a Cavalier. They offer some new options, but nothing to the point of rendering all other martial classes obsolete, save perhaps those already overshadowed by everything else in the game.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Orthos wrote:
I don't think you have anything to worry about there. There's cool stuff a Warder can do that a Paladin can't, and vice versa. Ditto for a Stalker versus a Slayer, or a Warlord and a Cavalier. They offer some new options, but nothing to the point of rendering all other martial classes obsolete, save perhaps those already overshadowed by everything else in the game.

I know that in the playtesting I and Yuengling Dragon did, the only classes that really came up short were the Fighter and Rogue. Monks had enough going for them even then that a little archetyping and system mastery could get them on par. There's not a lot to be done on the Rogue front, but the Fighter's biggest issue was "lack of options". It wasn't that he couldn't hit harder (he could), but that getting said hit to an enemy repeatedly and without dying was something he just wasn't as successful at. Grabbing a few of the feats presented in Path of War can at least shore up his deficiencies enough to get him somewhat viable though. Ideally, you'd grab some good maneuvers for either piercing defenses or keeping your damage up while moving into melee reach of an enemy and then do your normal Fighter thing.


Ssalarn wrote:
Orthos wrote:
I don't think you have anything to worry about there. There's cool stuff a Warder can do that a Paladin can't, and vice versa. Ditto for a Stalker versus a Slayer, or a Warlord and a Cavalier. They offer some new options, but nothing to the point of rendering all other martial classes obsolete, save perhaps those already overshadowed by everything else in the game.
I know that in the playtesting I and Yuengling Dragon did, the only classes that really came up short were the Fighter and Rogue. Monks had enough going for them even then that a little archetyping and system mastery could get them on par. There's not a lot to be done on the Rogue front, but the Fighter's biggest issue was "lack of options". It wasn't that he couldn't hit harder (he could), but that getting said hit to an enemy repeatedly and without dying was something he just wasn't as successful at. Grabbing a few of the feats presented in Path of War can at least shore up his deficiencies enough to get him somewhat viable though. Ideally, you'd grab some good maneuvers for either piercing defenses or keeping your damage up while moving into melee reach of an enemy and then do your normal Fighter thing.

Tactical Rush can help there too :D


On the "nice things for martials" front, Path of War offers some really nice fears for martial characters of all kinds, and not just initiators.

On the power level front, there are some maneuvers (one from broken blade who's name I forget in particular) that have worked discussion because of their large bonuses to damage, so maybe watch out for those.


Ssalarn wrote:
Orthos wrote:
I don't think you have anything to worry about there. There's cool stuff a Warder can do that a Paladin can't, and vice versa. Ditto for a Stalker versus a Slayer, or a Warlord and a Cavalier. They offer some new options, but nothing to the point of rendering all other martial classes obsolete, save perhaps those already overshadowed by everything else in the game.
I know that in the playtesting I and Yuengling Dragon did, the only classes that really came up short were the Fighter and Rogue. Monks had enough going for them even then that a little archetyping and system mastery could get them on par. There's not a lot to be done on the Rogue front, but the Fighter's biggest issue was "lack of options". It wasn't that he couldn't hit harder (he could), but that getting said hit to an enemy repeatedly and without dying was something he just wasn't as successful at. Grabbing a few of the feats presented in Path of War can at least shore up his deficiencies enough to get him somewhat viable though. Ideally, you'd grab some good maneuvers for either piercing defenses or keeping your damage up while moving into melee reach of an enemy and then do your normal Fighter thing.

I've actually been tinkering with turn the PoW characters into Talented Classes (like the RGG line). Then finding nice ways to cross breed them with classic martials - bascially archtypes but with "Talented" flexibilty.

It's really shown me how much thought went into these and how tightly structured they are.


As an aside, the book does define what an encounter is. From Path of War, page 28:

Per Encounter Abilities wrote:
An encounter is a period of time from when initiative begins (starting with the surprise round, if any) to the last initiative has ended and after a total time amount of one minute has elapsed without combat resuming. This means that martial disciples have had time to recover all expended maneuvers and abilities that are used and depleted within the span of an encounter.

"Per encounter" abilities recover one minute after combat ends, so long as battle doesn't resume again. You've got nothing to worry about on that front. :)


When the ToB came out, I promptly banned fighters, rogues, paladins, monks ... and a couple other things, I'm sure, and said 'use these, they're better'. I eventually relented *solely* because some players only wanted to 'move, attack, full attack, full attack'.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Have to say, especially on the lower levels some of these are quite strong.
Hitting touch AC with extra damage is nothing to be laughed at.
Hitting it with an acrobatics roll even more so.
Doing that as a ranged thing gets you something like a gunslinger that can do a lot of other stuff.

Zealot seems pretty strong too.

Guess it´s still a good thing because it mepowers martials to do some other stuff as only hitting and the damage is probably in range, only seems more, but many things are only 1 attack per round i think.


I wen over some of my 3pp material and unless Rogue Glory is as good at the table as everyone says rogues may be the only ones out of the loop. Fighters have greater access to maneuver-like feats that use a stamina pool from this one product, and Monks seem more helped by ki feats than I originally thought.(Kiwi ups their attack or damage.

Shadow Lodge

Rogue Glory is pretty good according to the couple of players in my group who play Rogues. I am not personally all that fond of them so I can't quite offer a firsthand opinion.


Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Looking forward to hearing more discussion. I haven't played or given more than a brief read, so dot. Would love comparisons to non-3rd party optimized characters.


Looking at the maneuvers and not the classes... no, it's not even slightly balanced. It's ridiculously broken.
The classes as a baseline aren't that bad, as others say, they're about the same as an inquisitor or swashbuckler or paladin.

But the issue is the actual maneuvers. There's lvl 1 maneuvers that just straight up give you two full BAB attacks with a 2h weapon (and each deal 2 additional damage), a maneuver that gives your ally an immediate AoO plus your own attack, and more. Just for free hits. There's one that staggers the enemy with no save, just auto staggers.

Those are just the lvl 1 ones. The high level ones make 9th lvl spells look like ass. The Veiled Moon one deals bonus damage, and plane shifts them to the astral if they fail a save, but if they make the save, they take 50 bonus damage and are astrally projected for 1 minute instead... which means their body is unconscious on the ground in front of you so you just coup de grace and murder them. For making your save.
Then there's the one that deals +12d6 damage and gives you two attacks (on top of the weapon damage for doing two full BAB attacks), and forces a save or die... twice. Yep, you read that right. You hit them twice, and they must make TWO saves, or instantly die.
Those are not 'outliers'. All of the maneuvers are that ridiculous.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Myrryr wrote:
Looking at the maneuvers and not the classes... no, it's not even slightly balanced. It's ridiculously broken.

And yet... I'd still reach for a Paizo-published caster to win the game every day of the week.

Quote:
The classes as a baseline aren't that bad, as others say, they're about the same as an inquisitor or swashbuckler or paladin.

True enough.

Quote:
But the issue is the actual maneuvers. There's lvl 1 maneuvers that just straight up give you two full BAB attacks with a 2h weapon (and each deal 2 additional damage), a maneuver that gives your ally an immediate AoO plus your own attack, and more. Just for free hits. There's one that staggers the enemy with no save, just auto staggers.

Know that you're replying to a five-year-old thread and you're bringing up material published two years after the thread went inactive.

Unless I'm mis-remembering, I'm pretty sure that the goalpost shifted somewhat between PoW and PoW:Expanded. Calibrating the classes against Core martials was realized to be somewhat pointless and Dreamscarred aimed more for magic-users.

Yes, Path of War is somewhat higher-powered than typical material. But you won't find it more so than an all-magic-user game.

Certainly it's more interesting to play PoW classes than typical fighter slug-fest classes. It's nice to be able to impact the narrative of a fight in more ways than "deal damage".

Quote:

Those are just the lvl 1 ones. The high level ones make 9th lvl spells look like ass. The Veiled Moon one deals bonus damage, and plane shifts them to the astral if they fail a save, but if they make the save, they take 50 bonus damage and are astrally projected for 1 minute instead... which means their body is unconscious on the ground in front of you so you just coup de grace and murder them. For making your save.

Then there's the one that deals +12d6 damage and gives you two attacks (on top of the weapon damage for doing two full BAB attacks), and forces a save or die... twice. Yep, you read that right. You hit them twice, and they must make TWO saves, or instantly die.
Those are not 'outliers'. All of the maneuvers are that ridiculous.


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Nah. They're fine when run properly. Seen the classes run for years. Played alongside them. Gm'd for them. Nothing more broken than the rest of the game.


Okay - so a player of mine is playing a warder amongst a party of casual non-optimized players. He’s an admitted min/maxer, and even HE is saying it’s OP. And I’m the one who pushed him to buy PoW...but the consensus here (albeit dated) is that it is not a problem?

PS - we have no standard fighters, rogues, or monks.

PPS - I allow Power Attack for all for free to try give martials the chance to get more and cooler feats...


So you are saying your Warder is OP AND you gave it power attack for free? Got it.

Paizo Employee

SunKing wrote:


PPS - I allow Power Attack for all for free to try give martials the chance to get more and cooler feats...

You don't want to give free stuff to PW characters because they're already boosted up; you're basically double-boosting at that point.


Yes - sorry - I confused things. PA has been free for non-PoW martials. The warder was played only once, and he didn’t use PA. Notably we’ll keep it away from him.

I mentioned that only to suggest we’ve attempted to increase fighters’ power in campaign generally, and so that perhaps reduces the concern about the warder being OP (a concern shared by the player and by me the GM).

But we’re all keen to see some of the flavour and variety the warder can bring to the table generally...

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