What character options are underwhelming or underpowered?


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I speak of such things as feats, rage powers, class talents, archetypes, and so on. Especially interested in the flavorly cool but mechanically bleh options. I do ask that we discuss specific options, not generalities.


Soul Forger. I love it, but its a love that bites back. Early levels give up much (loss of spells, tied to a single weapon for all magus abilities, no knowledge pool or spell recall), and gains nothing (an arcane bond to a free masterwork weapon). It doesn't really compensate for any of those losses until you can start crafting magic weapons/armor. Then, it can help - some.

Really sucked when the Forgepriest was released, and It got Craft Magic Arms & Armor for free at 3rd level. This is really something the Soul Forger should have had all along.


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95% of them. You probably need to be more specific.


Crossbows. 'Nuff said.


The new Whirling Dervish Swashbuckler archetype is really cool, but it does this really odd thing:

You get finesse with scimitar if you don't use a shield, and then gives you free dex to damage... at level four. No level 1 characters can afford to wait 3 levels for this, so you're either awful at killing things for the first part of the campaign, or you're taking slashing grace anyways to retrain away at level four (if the DM allows it).

It's not super underpowered, but it's just... so... awkward.


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Teamwork feats often fall into this category. Yes, highly specific builds that hand out teamwork feat are powerful, but still situational enough to at least qualify as "too complicated". The ones in the APG are particularly bad. You need the feet and you need to be adjacent. The UC feats are better - less of those have adjacency requirements.

Of course, as bad guy feats, feats for hyperspecialized unrealistic I-exist-only-to-kill-heros, they are... Still only OK.


This is too broad of a category.
Even something more focused such as archetypes for any one class deserves its own thread.


Versatile Performance. Fine at level 2 but do you really want to wait until 6, 10 or later to get a skill and not "waste" points?
I don't see any pair of them as a that I would want but not until mid or late game.

The Infiltrator Investigators Voice Mimicry ability seems so be the only non magical way to impersonate peoples voices that I can find. Until it came out it was just ask your GM how it works but now there are rules for it but only for this one archetype.


Collycauseschaos wrote:

The new Whirling Dervish Swashbuckler archetype is really cool, but it does this really odd thing:

You get finesse with scimitar if you don't use a shield, and then gives you free dex to damage... at level four. No level 1 characters can afford to wait 3 levels for this, so you're either awful at killing things for the first part of the campaign, or you're taking slashing grace anyways to retrain away at level four (if the DM allows it).

It's not super underpowered, but it's just... so... awkward.

Eh lvl 4 is not that far off.

And you get dex to damage not only with the scimitar.

Dex to damage for all light and one handed piercing weapons and scimitar is too strong.

Whirlwind dance is also awesome.

Seeing as you still want like 13str for power attack (piranha doesn't work on one handed weapons) and you get close to 2 attacks from lvl1 and you are quite tanky vs physical, its not so bad.

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Slings. I have played a fighter dedicated exclusively to slings, so far to level 10. It is quite challenging and I have managed to avoid being dead weight, but I am regularly out-classed by other martials.

Ammo Drop, Juggle Load, Point Blank Master, and Clustered Shots have all been vital to his success so far. It is important to note that he is human, not the typical halfling warslinger.

Grand Lodge

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I second slings.

I want a real slingstaff halfling.

But sling feats dont apply to it, the sling feats they have are god awful, and there is no slingstaff feats.

Makes me a disappointed Kender. Like when you find a nice glowing rock and find out it is the wizard who was playing a joke on you.


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Character options that are underwhelming and underpowered?

Fighter and Rogue.

Most archetypes for every class.

In fact, most material published. While flavorful lacks ummph. Now this isn't necessarily a problem, but people see to think all options need to be good options. I'm okay with some options not being as strong as others. This does however make it difficult to new players who may not understand which options are effective and which are not.

I don't mind underpowered options, I really only worry about options that are overly powerful.

Yes this means in a group that hyperoptimizes that your dex based TWF will be behind in damage. So what? You made that choice knowing it. Not all options need be equal.


throwing weapons in general. one iconic character pathfinder keeps fumbling around is the sneaky knife thrower, tossing out dozens of knifes. The problem being a way to get dex to thrown weapon damage, range and feat requirements, alternate conditions for sneak attack would be good as well, not to mention the games reliance on "magical weapons" would need to be compensated for some how... its a patch only a new edition could solve at this point.


ChrisLKimball wrote:
throwing weapons in general. one iconic character pathfinder keeps fumbling around is the sneaky knife thrower, tossing out dozens of knifes. The problem being a way to get dex to thrown weapon damage, range and feat requirements, alternate conditions for sneak attack would be good as well, not to mention the games reliance on "magical weapons" would need to be compensated for some how... its a patch only a new edition could solve at this point.

Locks you into 'returning' weapons.

Liberty's Edge

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Nearly any Bard archetype that trades out Inspire Courage.


As others have said, the vast, vast, VAAAAAST majority of options in the game are mechanically terrible. Intentionally. To "train" you to avoid them. And then there's another percentage that are unintentionally terrible. So you have a double whammy of suck.

Vital Strike. Crossbows (sorry, I meant "water balloons"), Firearms if you're not a Gunslinger (they're like crossbows, but worse! Best of both worlds, really), Prone Shooter (almost useless), Elephant Stomp (ACTUALLY useless. As in, it has no use.), so on and so forth ad infinitum.

It would be far easier to list the good options, not the bad.


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In my experience it depends on the table you are at and the story being told.

Example: If I run a campaign extremely heavy on intrigue and political maneuvering, then Power Attack becomes less useful than Skill Focus.

Example #2: If I run a campaign set in Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover setting then all thrown weapons become superior to all missile weapons because mere ownership of a missile weapon carries a death penalty in every civilized region.


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About that only thing that comes to mind is inflict wounds spells, due to the saving throw.


Kelsey Arwen MacAilbert wrote:
What character options are underwhelming or underpowered?

- Classes gaining 2 Skill ranks per level

- spells that do the same but you must use have it in diferent levels (summon monster I - IX, Cure Wounds, form of the X [why don´t just let them scalate at higher levels])

Scarab Sages

CraziFuzzy wrote:
ChrisLKimball wrote:
throwing weapons in general. one iconic character pathfinder keeps fumbling around is the sneaky knife thrower, tossing out dozens of knifes. The problem being a way to get dex to thrown weapon damage, range and feat requirements, alternate conditions for sneak attack would be good as well, not to mention the games reliance on "magical weapons" would need to be compensated for some how... its a patch only a new edition could solve at this point.
Locks you into 'returning' weapons.

Actually, returning weapons are a trap. You need a blinkback belt, which locks out a stat belt.


CraziFuzzy wrote:
Locks you into 'returning' weapons.

Actually returning is underwhelming, using called instead.

Crossbows, holy crap crossbows. Let's let crossbows use touch AC and make the gunslingers use regular AC... just a thought

Inspired Blade Archetype. Lose the ability to get panache back when you down an enemy for your INT bonus to panache, which is usually 1 at lower levels, which never really works out. If you didn't have the archetype you'd have 1 less but you'd get it back twice as many ways. It does add a slight benefit at level 20, your rapier will crit on a 14 instead of a 15...whoopty doo

Liberty's Edge

The advantage of Inspired Blade is Fencing Grace at level 1 for non-humans.


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Angry Wiggles wrote:

Slings. I have played a fighter dedicated exclusively to slings, so far to level 10. It is quite challenging and I have managed to avoid being dead weight, but I am regularly out-classed by other martials.

Another vote for slings. Historically a very dangerous weapon; in PFRPG, pretty worthless. You have to burn a bunch of feats to be as good as a plain vanilla archer. Even halflings have trouble making this a good option, and for everyone else... bleh.

Doug M.


How is it possible that we've reached 25 posts and nobody has mentioned the Universalist wizard? Literally the only time I've seen someone play a Uniwiz was one time when an experienced player was bored and wanted to try a challenge.

Doug M.


To be fair to Paizo, they've done a pretty good job of balancing the game overall. In particular, none of the core races are painfully meh -- some are a bit better, but none are really weak. This is in sharp contrast to 3.0 and 3.5, where the half-orc was useless for anything but martials and the half-elf was useless, period.

The core classes as imagined back in 2009 were also IMO pretty balanced. I agree with those who say the rogue is currently underpowered, but I think that's at least in part because class-feat-spell-archetype-whatever bloat since then has tended to favor other classes at the rogue's expense.

That said, crossbows and thrown weapons. Thrown weapons! WTH, guys?

Doug M.


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Douglas Muir 406 wrote:

How is it possible that we've reached 25 posts and nobody has mentioned the Universalist wizard? Literally the only time I've seen someone play a Uniwiz was one time when an experienced player was bored and wanted to try a challenge.

Doug M.

I would guess it's because the Universalist Wizard is still a wizard. They are the worst wizard, but the worst wizard is still better than every other option in this thread by a mile. Hell, the worst wizard build is still probably better than the best build of several classes.

Scarab Sages

mplindustries wrote:
Douglas Muir 406 wrote:

How is it possible that we've reached 25 posts and nobody has mentioned the Universalist wizard? Literally the only time I've seen someone play a Uniwiz was one time when an experienced player was bored and wanted to try a challenge.

Doug M.

I would guess it's because the Universalist Wizard is still a wizard. They are the worst wizard, but the worst wizard is still better than every other option in this thread by a mile. Hell, the worst wizard build is still probably better than the best build of several classes.

Depends. If you make a ray specialist with a dex of 8, you're gonna have a bad time.


Poison. Like a few other options, slings and crossbows for example, poison is very difficult to make an effective tactic even with significant investment.

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Some feats and archetypes are not just underwhelming or underpowered. They're flatout broken*. They're poorly designed, obviously not playtested, and overcomplicated. I wrote a small essay explaining why the Eldritch Scion is terrible. Some archetypes, like the myrmidarch, have abilities that simply don't work. I long suspected that many of the archetype designer don't understand how the class mechanics work. Sean K Reynolds also explained in a video explaining why prestige classes are kind of a dead end, design-wise.

*I refer to "broken" meaning it doesn't work as intended and/or breaks the mechanics of the game or the class in some way.


If we're keeping it Original Core Hardcover, I nominate the Barbarian rage powers that gave you bonuses to Str skills -- Raging Swimmer, Raging Climb, and the like. Later they tried to fix these by making them gateways to better powers (Raging Swimmer is now a prerequisite for another power that lets you swim at your walking speed) but... no.

Doug M.

Shadow Lodge

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Anything that is not a two-handed weapon.

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LeesusFreak wrote:
Crossbows. 'Nuff said.

The 8th level fighter in my party with Crossbow Mastery and Bracers of Falcon's Aim would disagree. Two crits and a hit on a mummy in Legacy of Fire did over 100 points of damage before the mummy got a turn. Which we retconned out because as he rolled the last damage die, I realized that he 5'stepped before firing to within 30' of the mummy which put him in the fear aura, but if he'd made his save I would have let it happen.

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My underwhelming options: All Feats that give +2/+4 to two skills, all feats that give +2 to a save, and First World Summoner.


Christopher Dudley wrote:
LeesusFreak wrote:
Crossbows. 'Nuff said.
The 8th level fighter in my party with Crossbow Mastery and Bracers of Falcon's Aim would disagree. Two crits and a hit on a mummy in Legacy of Fire did over 100 points of damage before the mummy got a turn. Which we retconned out because as he rolled the last damage die, I realized that he 5'stepped before firing to within 30' of the mummy which put him in the fear aura, but if he'd made his save I would have let it happen.

I'd like to see that build. It is extremely difficult to add damage to a crossbow, and next to impossible as a full attack.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Jodokai wrote:
I'd like to see that build. It is extremely difficult to add damage to a crossbow, and next to impossible as a full attack.

Crossbow Mastery allowing you to reload as a free action is a big part of it.


Jodokai wrote:
CraziFuzzy wrote:
Locks you into 'returning' weapons.
Actually returning is underwhelming, using called instead.

The downside of called is that it requires swift action to bring it back, meaning only a single throw per round. Catchin a returning weapon is a free action. That said, the barbarian in my group loves having a +1 called frost earthbreaker, throw anything, and two-handed thrower.


Douglas Muir 406 wrote:

If we're keeping it Original Core Hardcover, I nominate the Barbarian rage powers that gave you bonuses to Str skills -- Raging Swimmer, Raging Climb, and the like. Later they tried to fix these by making them gateways to better powers (Raging Swimmer is now a prerequisite for another power that lets you swim at your walking speed) but... no.

Doug M.

or why you just don´t put all that bonusesin the same rage power? even in the same rage ability?

Rage
bla bla bla
plus if your swimming, climbing and so you gain...

Greater Rage
bla bla bla
plus if your swimming, climbing abilities increase to...

And so. with this you even improve the barbarian vanilla ability, and the justification for this could be that when your raging, the anger boost your abilities with a burst of adrenaline and alike

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Jodokai wrote:
Christopher Dudley wrote:
LeesusFreak wrote:
Crossbows. 'Nuff said.
The 8th level fighter in my party with Crossbow Mastery and Bracers of Falcon's Aim would disagree. Two crits and a hit on a mummy in Legacy of Fire did over 100 points of damage before the mummy got a turn. Which we retconned out because as he rolled the last damage die, I realized that he 5'stepped before firing to within 30' of the mummy which put him in the fear aura, but if he'd made his save I would have let it happen.
I'd like to see that build. It is extremely difficult to add damage to a crossbow, and next to impossible as a full attack.

That's what the feat's for. link

He meets the prereqs. Personally I think it's ludicrous that someone could reload one of these as a free action. What does that look like when he does it?

Anyway, add weapon spec (+2), weapon training(+1), +2 crossbow, Deadly Aim (+4). He had another +1 I'm forgetting. Maybe he got +2 for weapon training. I just remember he was doing d10+10 with a x3 multiplier. Two crits out of three shots in a round and he did 7d10+70.

Scarab Sages

Bracer's of falcon's aim is seriously underpriced for what it does, and that was a big part of the anecdotal crit damage.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
CraziFuzzy wrote:
The downside of called is that it requires swift action to bring it back, meaning only a single throw per round. Catchin a returning weapon is a free action.

But you can't move after throwing, you don't have it until the beginning of your next turn (unarmed and no AoOs), and thus can't make multiple attacks with it either. You need multiple returning weapons to make throwing them viable once you have more than one attack.

Shadow Lodge

Christopher Dudley wrote:
I just remember he was doing d10+10 with a x3 multiplier.

Did he have an archetype? Because crossbows are normally 19-20 x2 crit weapons.


Christopher Dudley wrote:
LeesusFreak wrote:
Crossbows. 'Nuff said.
The 8th level fighter in my party with Crossbow Mastery and Bracers of Falcon's Aim would disagree. Two crits and a hit on a mummy in Legacy of Fire did over 100 points of damage before the mummy got a turn. Which we retconned out because as he rolled the last damage die, I realized that he 5'stepped before firing to within 30' of the mummy which put him in the fear aura, but if he'd made his save I would have let it happen.

he could have done more damage with a bow without expending feat taxes.


TOZ wrote:
Christopher Dudley wrote:
I just remember he was doing d10+10 with a x3 multiplier.
Did he have an archetype? Because crossbows are normally 19-20 x2 crit weapons.

bracers of falcon aim put him in 19-20/x3.

Shadow Lodge

Nicos wrote:
bracers of falcon aim put him in 19-20/x3.

Oh right, those broken things. :)


Yeah I know the feat, it's just +10 is pretty good for a crossbow... How sad is that?

Scarab Sages

+10 damage with a crossbow is trivial for a Bolt Ace.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
CraziFuzzy wrote:
The downside of called is that it requires swift action to bring it back, meaning only a single throw per round. Catchin a returning weapon is a free action.
But you can't move after throwing, you don't have it until the beginning of your next turn (unarmed and no AoOs), and thus can't make multiple attacks with it either. You need multiple returning weapons to make throwing them viable once you have more than one attack.

just get a blinkback belt.

it blows all other means of throwing away.

in a homebrew campaign, usually a dm allows combining of utility belts/headbands/cloaks with stat ones, at least i know i do.


Imbicatus wrote:
+10 damage with a crossbow is trivial for a Bolt Ace.

Bolt Ace is indeed a very good (if somewhat unpolished) archetype, and is as far as I know the only way to make crossbows remotely comparable to bows. That said, bows work out of the box for any class in the game, while crossbows become decent after taking five levels in a single class-unique archetype.

I love that the Bolt Ace is a thing, but I can't help but think that it'd be cool if some of the Bolt Ace abilities were feats instead so you could also make decent crossbow rogues, rangers, fighters etc.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
shroudb wrote:
just get a blinkback belt.

I think my wife's rogue uses that. I really wish it had been out when I started my halfling rogue. But he's one scenario from retiring anyway.


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Christopher Dudley wrote:
My underwhelming options: All Feats that give +2/+4 to two skills, all feats that give +2 to a save, and First World Summoner.

First Worlder gets to summon Pugwampis. Half-Orc First Worlders with Sacred Tattoo get to summon Pugwampis with Ferocity, and watch the entire battlefield devolve into a blooper reel.

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