Which Combat Role is the least represented in PFS? Hammer, Anvil or Arm?


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Dark Archive

As the title asks. If you have not yet read "the forge of combat" guide I suggest it as it's a good, useful read. If you have, then you know what my title is asking. If you haven't, well, let me enlighten you. "Hammer" "Anvil" and "Arm" refer to the three main combat roles in pathfinder. A "Hammer" is a character who's primary function is to deal damage to enemies, I.E most martial characters, blaster wizards etc... The "Anvil" is the character who's job it is to support the party by controlling the flow of the battle, manipulating the enemies and making their lives hell, I.E. the "god wizard" and similar characters. Finally, the "Arm" is the character who supports the party by enhancing their own abilities, I.E. "buffer" type characters such as bards, evangelist clerics etc...

My question to all you PFS gamers is what of these roles do you find is least represented in society play? I ask because I plan on joining PFS, and have several characters I want to try and am not sure which to use first. This thread is going to help me decide on a build. Knowing PFS is mostly combat focus, I assume Hammers are in no short supply, however, without PFS experience I can't say what role is most needed at PfS tables, so as a result I want to know from all you PFS players which role you find show up least, and which you all would like having most at the table? Share your observations and thoughts here!

Scarab Sages

It depends on your area. I'd say society-wide, it's an even mix, but local concentrations may vary. I see a lot of hammers, less arms, and fewer anvils, but I wouldn't say any role is exactly rare.

Lantern Lodge 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, South Dakota—Rapid City aka Black Powder Chocobo

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High level, most of my players perform mixed roles.

The glaive-wielding half-orc with a dog bodyguard companion uses the dog's AoOs to buff everyone's AC. A gnome druid who buffs allies while her giant cat bites, rends, and grapples foes. A magus who spends majority of her actions casting buff spells.

Usually, we have a Hammer/Anvil or Hammer/Arm mix. Albeit, this is also at higher levels where PCs have more resources and abilities to try and split roles. For example, my Seeker barbarian/monk was a 'Hammer' at first, but after a couple of feats is a possible 'Hammer' grappling a foe and holding the foe down.

Paizo Employee 5/5 Developer

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There's certainly a good amount of combat in Pathfinder Society Organized Play. In my experience, there's also a healthy amount that fits into the "Brain" category of non-combat skill checks of myriad types in addition to general puzzle-solving (only partly in-character there). From when I read The Forge of Combat article months ago, I recall it ending with a FAQ that dismissed/downplayed the existence of any role other than these three, but in the Society, it's helpful to remember that non-combat features are sometimes key to success.

I've found that Hammer types exist in fairly large quantities. Anvils in Society are often fairly versatile in dabbling in other roles, whereas the Arms I run into (and often play) tend to be very focused on buffing—to the occasional detriment of the group if that character is called upon to assist in another role.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

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Starfinder Superscriber

I agree with what John says (because he's John, after all!) that the non-combat stuff is important and is the thing I see the most neglected by PFS players. I've been in several parties where you have multiple people who are hammers able to deliver impressive amounts of damage, but when time comes and somebody with diplomacy or knowledge is needed, either the party is underskilled, or there's only one person who can do it.

(Also, from a story point of view, I'm always surprised that every group of six Pathfinders seems to include at least one that is illiterate and only good at hitting things on the head with a big stick. This is even played IC that way. Once I did see that played amusingly so that it fit well with somebody who wanted to join the Society (his "Confirmation" journal at the end was a hoot), but otherwise I always wonder what attracted this particular uninterested-in-lore type person to a group like the Pathfinder Society. OOC, of course, it's the Pathfinder organized play, so there you go, but IC it's a bit head-scratchy.)

Liberty's Edge

Not particularly impressed or enamored by that article and its very narrow and rigid views, however, going with those choices only I would say the Arm/Buffer seems the least represented in the PFS games I have observed.

I have found the direct damage types to be most common for a variety of reasons, but you can't really nail down the support types and force them into a set role because most of the ones I have seen are more versatile and hybridized.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
Takhisis wrote:
Knowing PFS is mostly combat focus

Some scenarios are very dungeon-crawly, but I don't categorize PFS scenarios on the whole as being "mostly combat". If I had to ascribe a percentage, I'd say they're 50/50.

Having a versatile character is key. I've never read this particular article, though as someone who's been RPing for over 20 years I probably wouldn't give it much weight anyways. There really is more to roleplay than combat, though the MMORPG generation probably leans toward thinking that's all it's about.

Bring a character that is survivable, sociable, and interesting, and you'll find PFS an entertaining atmosphere.

If you instead bring a Hammer, Anvil, or whatever, you'll be missing out on a lot.


Virtually everyone I play with in the Boston area lodge has a core idea of what their character should be doing and the ability to assist in at least one of the others; even at low levels. Hammers are definitely the most prevalent at lower levels and I see that most everyone switches to anvils/ arms by the time they get to about 8. This may be because by then everyone realizes that one rounding every encounter isn't always so fun.


I see a lot of hammers, but not all of them are effective! I probably see the least anvils, and GMs tend to dislike any that are present.

Dark Archive

Thanks for all the advice everybody! What you said has helped a lot. As for what characters I was thinking about playing I was having issues choosing between a Kitsune Arcane Duelist Bard, a Kitsune Evangelist Cleric, a Kitsune Outer Rifts Oracle, a Kitsune Twilight Sage Arcanist, Kitsune School Savant Arcanist taking the Necromancy school or a Kitsune Undead Bloodline Sorcerer. Arcane Duelist Bard would be a hammer/arm hybrid that combines dex-based rapier swordplay with potent buffing abilities and the ability to dabble in with some anvil-type spells in enchantments. The evangelist cleric would be an anvil/arm hybrid that would be built as a summoner with a minor focus on enchantment spells as well.(Mostly from the race and archtype). The Oracle would be another anvil/arm using a combination of powerful controlling revelations from their mystery and some of the few battlefield control spells on the cleric list to anvil it up while access to cleric spells and wands makes them a natural arm. The arcanists and sorcerer, meanwhile, would be anvils primarily, though since they'd have quite a few debuffs at their command you could consider them a sort of anvil/arm hybrid in that they are a kind of "reverse arm," improving the player's abilities by debuffing those of the enemies. Oh..and they may even have the odd buff here and there as stuff like haste, fly and protection from evil are generally good spells to keep around for any fullcaster.

As far as out of combat stuff is concerned, the bard, oracle and arcanists are in the best place since the bard and oracle get a high number of base skill points and solid skill lists while the arcanist is an int caster with access to every knowledge skill in the game. John's assessment about arms lacking in out of combat specialties seems to be spot on, as out of all my character concepts the cleric ended up with the least skills, and the least out of combat utility while pretty much every other build ended up with at least one knowledge skill as well as both bluff and diplomacy in addition to the typical "caster" skills like spellcraft.

If your all saying that knowledge and social skills are in short supply then I'm thinking I may roll with one of the arcanist concepts since they usually can obtain decent modifiers in both knowledge and social skills without much build investment(Really, all you need is a single trait in Student of Philosophy, and possibly a second that makes diplomacy a class skill such as extremely fashionable or ease of faith.). I also feel most comfortable RPing a necromantically-inclined and, in general, "dark" fluffed character; I can do a good "typical dark spellcaster" voice over and actually played the part of a Necromancer(My by own accord, not as a hired employee of the fair.XD) at a local Ren fair on numerous occasions. Since I haven't done IRL RPing since middle school(my current non-PFS playgroup is an online group on Roll20.) going with a character I feel extremely comfortable with RP-wise and mechanically like a necromancer-type or general dark spellcaster would most certainly be a plus.

However, now I just have to decide...do I want to go with a school savant in necromancy or a twilight sage...decisions, decisions.

Paizo Employee 5/5 Developer

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Takhisis wrote:
As far as out of combat stuff is concerned, the bard, oracle and arcanists are in the best place since the bard gets 6+ int skills, the oracle gets 4+ int and the arcanist is an int caster with access to every knowledge skill in the game. John's assessment about arms lacking in out of combat specialties seems to be spot on, as out of all my character concepts the cleric ended up with the least skills, and the least out of combat utility while pretty much every other build ended up with at least one knowledge skill as well as both bluff and diplomacy in addition to the typical "caster" skills like spellcraft.

Either I miscommunicated, or you might be reading what I said in a different way. I was trying to observe that the buffing-crazy characters (e.g. a bard) can sometime focus so much on being an Arm that he is unable to do anything in combat other than Arm. If we take one of my bards, for example, he might be really good at making other PCs better, but he's really bad at doing things in combat by himself like making attacks, doing damage, or not dying when actually attacked. If the table happened to be full of Arm-style characters, he would be ill-equipped to try to fill any other role. Given that Pathfinder Society games often involve a random selection of characters that might overlap, this is something of a risk.

Role hyper-specialization can result in scenes where the character feels completely useless, whereas aiming to be quite good at one thing but sparing some of your resources to be competent in several other situations often results in a more consistently enjoyable experience. Of course, that's my personal opinion, and the nice thing about tabletop RPGs is that they are flexible in adapting to the players' actions, interests, and styles. Make something that you'll have fun playing, and most of the rest will sort itself out.

To paraphrase one venture-captain's approach—an approach that is increasingly pervasive in Society play—as long as you the player (not the character) aim to be awesome, the community you're a part of will be more awesome, and you'll have an awesome experience.

The Exchange 5/5 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Belafon

John Compton wrote:

Either I miscommunicated, or you might be reading what I said in a different way. I was trying to observe that the buffing-crazy characters (e.g. a bard) can sometime focus so much on being an Arm that he is unable to do anything in combat other than Arm. If we take one of my bards, for example, he might be really good at making other PCs better, but he's really bad at doing things in combat by himself like making attacks, doing damage, or not dying when actually attacked. If the table happened to be full of Arm-style characters, he would be ill-equipped to try to fill any other role. Given that Pathfinder Society games often involve a random selection of characters that might overlap, this is something of a risk.

Role hyper-specialization can result in scenes where the character feels completely useless, whereas aiming to be quite good at one thing but sparing some of your resources to be competent in several other situations often results in a more consistently enjoyable experience.

I definitely agree with John here. Far too often I have seen clerics and oracles with nothing to do but wait for someone to get hurt. Or a table chock-full of social/skill characters who are amazing in the role-play sections but all are using "aid" actions in combat. (No, really, I once saw an entire round of nothing but aid for AC actions by the PCs.) One alchemist passed out his entire stock of infused extracts in the morning then had nothing to do but throw some half-hearted bombs.

I've learned over time that as an Arm picking something that isn't "typical" of your class to make a secondary focus usually helps make the entire table more rounded. A bard with a mount (not an animal companion) who takes a few mounted combat feats. A wizard with a big con score and toughness who can step into the gap and take a couple of hits. Or - in my case - an evangelist cleric with a moderate Int score who poured tons of points into knowledge skills.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Starfinder Superscriber

My healer cleric who generally tries to stay back, support, and heal while avoiding the front lines once staved off a TPK with his morningstar. Things were grim, and people were going down, and it came down to the need to smack an enemy. Fortunately, he *had* the morningstar, and knew how to use it, although he was very far from optimized for it. And, fortunately, the attack dice were lucky when all other luck seemed to have run out.

(We still did lose one character in that combat. My cleric felt responsible for that.)

Grand Lodge 3/5

A bard that I have been working on has the characteristics of a hammer and anvil, more so than an arm. His specialty, when in melee, is to try and get Butterfly's Sting to hit, and have the next melee heavy hitter get an auto crit. If the party needs a heal, or have something get hampered, that's when his spells will come in handy. Hopefully all ends well with him.

The Exchange 5/5 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Belafon

As to the original question, locally it depends on the experience level of the players.

New players tend to play a lot of Hammers and an occasional Arm. The complexity of controllers means you usually don't see grapple monks or enchantment wizards until people are on character XXXXX-3 or so.

At tables full of experienced players you see VERY few Hammers. Everyone wants to play the more complex characters who have more options. The profusion of Anvil-types means the combats are generally won in ways other than "base it and smack it into oblivion." But as has been noted this generally isn't fun for the GM and sometimes is annoying to the other players. (Seriously, Staff of the Master + Persistent Spell + 5th and 6th level wizard spells = no fun.)

If your local area has a lot of experienced players, a Hammer is generally going to be welcome. Especially if it's a frontliner. If it's mostly new players you may want to try a mixed class like Oracle of Battle or a control wizard (if you don't think it will spoil everyone else's time).

Amusing non-spoiler about Legacy of the Stonelords:
I was GMing a table at Tier 10-11. Behind me was another 10-11. The other table had almost all "Anvils" (enchantment wizard, grapple monk, witch, and a couple of other controllers to go with a life oracle) and were basically impossible to kill. My table had 4 "Hammers" (an archer, a paladin, a blaster wizard, a melee oracle), a grapple monk, and a buffing wizard. The table behind me had a total of 5 successes. The table I was GMing had over 20.

Mind you the table I was GMing came FAR closer to death (the paladin's mount died fairly early and three different characters spent time in the negatives) but they also were much more effective.

The Exchange 5/5 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Belafon

Auriea wrote:
A bard that I have been working on has the characteristics of a hammer and anvil, more so than an arm. His specialty, when in melee, is to try and get Butterfly's Sting to hit, and have the next melee heavy hitter get an auto crit. If the party needs a heal, or have something get hampered, that's when his spells will come in handy. Hopefully all ends well with him.

Actually that's pretty much exactly the definition (according to the original post) of an Arm with a splash of Anvil thrown in. You need someone else around to have that Butterfly's Sting matter and your healing spells are definitely support.

Dark Archive

Ahh. That makes more sense. Thanks for the clarification on your statements. I've still got a lot to think about, it seems. I don't play anything without spellcasting of some kind, but likewise having spells dose not preclude martial ability and vice-versa. I'm still not 100% decided on what character concept I want to play, at this point, but I'm definitely leading towards a character that can cover multiple roles and will have some degree of suitability...I'm leaning towards either an arcane duelist bard or Lunar Oracle...

Grand Lodge 3/5

Belafon wrote:
Auriea wrote:
A bard that I have been working on has the characteristics of a hammer and anvil, more so than an arm. His specialty, when in melee, is to try and get Butterfly's Sting to hit, and have the next melee heavy hitter get an auto crit. If the party needs a heal, or have something get hampered, that's when his spells will come in handy. Hopefully all ends well with him.
Actually that's pretty much exactly the definition (according to the original post) of an Arm with a splash of Anvil thrown in. You need someone else around to have that Butterfly's Sting matter and your healing spells are definitely support.

Ah, alrighty. I just figured that if I wasn't going to be a dr class, why not make things easier in the long run for my fellow Pathseachers.

Dark Archive

Yeah, a bard can certainly be a hammer, though. The Arcane Duelist and Dawnflower Dervish archtypes are particularly suited to turning the bard into a competent hammer though even a core bard can be made into a decent damage dealer if they focus on ranged combat/archery. Your build, however, falls squarly into arm territory because it's increasing everybody else's damage rather then dealing lots of damage itself. Either way, it sounds like a VERY fun character, though.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

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Sometimes I wonder if I've missed some important aspect of the game entirely: People love categorization, they do narrow taxonomies of roles and classes with zeal bordering on the obsessive. I assume this must help somehow when thinking about combat strategies and the like, but for my purposes it's overthinking the game a tad.

Instead, I've found that you'll be good to go as long as everyone can cause a bit of damage, somebody takes care of smoothtalking and you've got someone with remedial magics in tow. And often that's the most one can hope for in an open campaign with dozens or hundreds of local players and accordingly very little preplanned parties.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

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Starfinder Superscriber

I agree with Muser. Categorizations and such can be useful, and they are one way of thinking about the game, but they're not the be all and end all. And, while they're useful, thinking too much about them can be actively harmful, I believe. (For an alternate way of thinking about approaching a PFS adventure, see a lot of the posts in the "You are your race and class, that's it" thread, or whatever it's called.)

Shadow Lodge 4/5

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I feel like categorizing like that is useful for home games with set parties, but not so much for pfs play. To me to be a pathfinder is to be something of a renaissance-man. To be specialized is, by definition, to be able to handle a limited role. A pathfinder doesn't know what role they are going to be sent to perform and so must be prepared for anything. I build my pfs chararafters to be self sufficient. I still will make a character intended mainly to support, but when the chips are down, they all have some means of dispatching foes. I still build heavy damage dealers, but when they are sent to attend social gatherings, they have the skills to represent themselves well. I never go below 4 skill pointer level. I always carry whatever tools I may need to bypass typical hazards of dungeon exploration (at least some rope and a travelers' anytool). And I can get a 10 by taking 10 on climbing, balancing and swimming.

5/5 5/55/55/5

THe anvil is the rarest and for good reason: it doesn't work. Without an aggro mechanic there's no reason to swing at the heavily armored turtle doing 1d8+4 damage when you can swing at the much easier to hi glass cannon.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
THe anvil is the rarest and for good reason: it doesn't work. Without an aggro mechanic there's no reason to swing at the heavily armored turtle doing 1d8+4 damage when you can swing at the much easier to hi glass cannon.

That's a misunderstanding on your part. The anvil's job is to pin an enemy into position for a hammer to wail at. This in no way implies a "tank" to be needed. A conjuration wizard using Create Pit or Grease to limit enemy mobility so that the hammer can reliably get off their highest-damaging options (Full attacks for martials, AoE spells for blaster casters, etc.) on enemies each round is as much an anvil as a tank or a combat maneuver user.

Now to the OP:

I would say for my area, there's a rarity of arms. Anvils and hammers are plentiful, but someone to position the two together to smack down an encounter in two/three rounds is a rarity.

We also tend to have a severe lack of face characters. We all know to invest in some kind of Knowledge skill however.

Sovereign Court 5/5

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Hammer, Anvil, or Arm? How dare you imply my nobility can be so easily regulated?


I'd say PFS rewards players who can mix it up a bit. Majoring in hammer, but minoring in Anvil if needed.

I see hammers n my area, everywhere i look. Half of each table, sometimes more.

Arms are rare, and brains are almost non-existent. Pathfinders are supposed to explore, but i see character after character who has dumped their skill points entirely, and spend two hours waiting for a fight while i play half the mod by myself.

I don't understand how that's fun.


My alchemist, for example, has quite a wide range of skills, and buffs the party with infusions. However, i'm also capable of direct bomb damage.

And if no one else can do it, i can go feral, enlarge myself, and wade into melee, though it means i'm only helping myself at this point. I only do that when surrounded by archers, blasters, and support clerics.

Shadow Lodge

I've got to tell you, Hammer Anvil and Arm are the least intuitive names for those roles I've ever heard.

5/5 5/55/55/5

Westphalian_Musketeer wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
THe anvil is the rarest and for good reason: it doesn't work. Without an aggro mechanic there's no reason to swing at the heavily armored turtle doing 1d8+4 damage when you can swing at the much easier to hi glass cannon.

That's a misunderstanding on your part. The anvil's job is to pin an enemy into position for a hammer to wail at. This in no way implies a "tank" to be needed. A conjuration wizard using Create Pit or Grease to limit enemy mobility so that the hammer can reliably get off their highest-damaging options (Full attacks for martials, AoE spells for blaster casters, etc.) on enemies each round is as much an anvil as a tank or a combat maneuver user.

The only way thats remotely anvil like is if you're fighting Giles Corey

Liberty's Edge

Avatar-1 wrote:
I've got to tell you, Hammer Anvil and Arm are the least intuitive names for those roles I've ever heard.

Someone was trying to be witty with the whole "forge" of combat concept.

The Exchange 4/5

Check with your area, hang around where pfs is being played and note down the classes. Down here where I am, we have lots of hammers, little much else. Ocassional kitsune charm specialist with dcs over the moon, and 1 other buff bot (arm) other then me.

Locals are still trying to get me to hit things with a big stick, and I'm not very convinced...

5/5

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WORST. ROLEPLAYING. DESCRIPTION OF ANYTHING NOT IN FATAL EVER.

Seriously, that article is so mechanical it has no concept of strategy or tactics. I get trying to boil things down to a trinity system, but RPGs are not MMOs.

I almost never see a character who can't do at least 2 of those roles, and many can do all three.

Scarab Sages

Yeah, I don't agree with most of the article, and I hate the terms, but several players use it, and I'll work within the terms of the article to give advice when people ask for it.

It's really just damage, support, and control and is the same as the 4e striker/leader/controller paradigm. It's an easy way to generalize combat roles, but a well built character should do more than just fill one of those roles and it doesn't address out of combat at all.

Perception, social skills, and knowledge can be every bit as vital to success as combat ability, especially in PFS.

5/5 5/55/55/5

Imbicatus wrote:

Perception, social skills, and knowledge can be every bit as vital to success as combat ability, especially in PFS.

Definitely, but there's little excuse for not having something you can do in combat.

5/5

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This article is great if you want to fight in a team gladiatorial challenge. It is full of useful ways to work together in combat, designed to defeat the enemy with the minimum use of resources. If the campaign actually *were* combat-focused, this would be an invaluable resource. As it stands, this misses the entire point of what PFS is/can be.

Golarion is a rich campaign setting, there are great NPCs and secrets and storylines put together by some of the best RPG writers and developers in the world. Players who focus solely on combat not only miss that, they seem to not care that they are missing it. (Or, perhaps they assume there will be enough other players to pick up their slack so they can still get full rewards anyway? I'm not sure.)

This sort of combat-focused approach seems better suited to a random encounter wave attack, with a score system so you can see how much you won by. I wonder if that might not be just as useful to some of the playerbase: themed series of encounters, with dangerous combats in interesting tactical situations, building up in difficulty? I guess like Bonekeep, but less complicated. Then players who enjoy the other aspects of the game will know to avoid those scenarios like we avoid Bonekeep, and the combat crowd will have more of what they want.

5/5

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Definitely, but there's little excuse for not having something you can do in combat.

Absolutely, BNW - this is just the other side of the specialization spectrum. Given how optimized characters can trivialize combats, having one of these "can't fight at all" types won't generally ruin the optimizer's fun, so it doesn't come up as often as a problem.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

GM Lamplighter wrote:
This sort of combat-focused approach seems better suited to a random encounter wave attack, with a score system so you can see how much you won by.

Most of the multi-table specials have had such encounters.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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It boggles my mind that there are people who believe that the only way someone would be interested in commentary about combat strategy is if they ONLY care about combat. These sound like people who have already drawn battle lines in their minds between "those combat-focused optimizers over there" and "we rich-experience-players over here" and have long since lost any ability to see any talk of combat competence as anything other than the chants of the former category.

That kind of divisive, closed-minded, us-and-them mentality is more harmful to the community than any amount of combat optimization.

5/5

Jiggy, you and I should meet at a con sometimes, we always seem to boggle each other's minds when I don't think we're that far apart on many issues. :)

As the founder of my local Lodge and its V-C for the first three years, I have seen my share of divisive issues, both at the table and away from it. I can tell you, in my experience the only truly divisive issue which has come up is when 3/4 of the group doesn't want to play with or GM for player (or GM) X, because they try to "win" Pathfinder. That is bad for the community, and it is a direct consequence of focused combat optimization. So this is a warning well worth bringing up time and time again when focus on combat is brought up time and time again.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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That's not what I'm talking about, GM Lamplighter. (Man, that's long and unwieldy; can I just call you Lampy or something?)

I think you and I can agree that a certain type of player/GM exists for whom the goal is to be as powerful in combat as possible. They miss (whether accidentally or as a preference/choice) things like skills, exploration, world immersion, and so forth. For the sake of ease of communication, let's give them a name; let's make that name "flooglewhump".

So we both know flooglewhumps exist. We both know that, unless they're very socially conscientious, flooglewhumps can be disruptive to the game.

But what I'm saying you may have lost sight of is that flooglewhumps aren't the only people who can benefit from a discussion of combat tactics, that people who want to make a character who specializes in combat are not automatically flooglewhumps, and so forth.

Despite the OP making the (IMO, erroneous) assertion that PFS is very combat-focused, the premise of this thread is nothing more than "Here's a framework for discussing combat roles; what are people's thoughts?"

That's a topic that has potential benefit for ANY player, yet your reaction seems to be "What? Discussion of combat? Meh, that's just something for those flooglewhumps over there." You don't even have to see someone do something abusive before you sound the flooglewhump alarm; all it takes is "let's discuss combat" and off you go.

What if instead of responding to the topic of combat with "Careful not to be a flooglewhump!", you just responded with good examples of how to build responsibly? The former just drives a wedge into the rift between player types and makes the division worse; the latter creates an attractive community that someone might adjust their playstyle in order to be a part of.


Jiggy wrote:

It boggles my mind that there are people who believe that the only way someone would be interested in commentary about combat strategy is if they ONLY care about combat. These sound like people who have already drawn battle lines in their minds between "those combat-focused optimizers over there" and "we rich-experience-players over here" and have long since lost any ability to see any talk of combat competence as anything other than the chants of the former category.

That kind of divisive, closed-minded, us-and-them mentality is more harmful to the community than any amount of combat optimization.

My experience with this is primarily in non-PFS PbP. There are is a non-trivial segment of PbP'ers who nearly want the entire game to be played without dice (actually, they like dice when it produces bad rolls). They feel that classes are meta-game and that any attempt at actually employing tactics is evidence of trying to "win" at an RPG.

I believe these people are far more prevalent in PbP than in F2F. While I don't enjoy that approach to the game, I can understand why such an approach exists. It's my perception that some people really embrace the immersion that is possible in PbP and they want to cultivate that. The game isn't a game, but truly a story that they are writing. Dice rolling, combat tactics, meta-data, are all things that undermine the immersion. You don't win at combat, combat is something that happens to you.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

N N 959 wrote:
Jiggy wrote:

It boggles my mind that there are people who believe that the only way someone would be interested in commentary about combat strategy is if they ONLY care about combat. These sound like people who have already drawn battle lines in their minds between "those combat-focused optimizers over there" and "we rich-experience-players over here" and have long since lost any ability to see any talk of combat competence as anything other than the chants of the former category.

That kind of divisive, closed-minded, us-and-them mentality is more harmful to the community than any amount of combat optimization.

My experience with this is primarily in non-PFS PbP. There are is a non-trivial segment of PbP'ers who nearly want the entire game to be played without dice (actually, the like dice when it produces bad rolls). They feel that classes are meta-game and that any attempt at actually employing tactics is evidence of trying to "win" at an RPG.

I believe these people are far more prevalent in PbP than in F2F. While I don't enjoy that approach to the game, I can understand why such an approach exists. It's my perception that some people really embrace the immersion that is possible in PbP and they want to cultivate that. The game isn't a game, but truly a story that they are writing. Dice rolling, combat tactics, meta-data, are all things that undermine the immersion. You don't win at combat, combat is something that happens to you.

Now imagine that someone wrote some kind of guide to fitting your character concept into the campaign, maybe with some kind of three-pronged framework like "branch, goals, methods". Then imagine that I came into the discussion thread for said guide and said things like "This might fit better for a zero-combat scenario where it's just hours of roleplaying with no dice or mechanics, but as it stands it misses the point of what PFS is/can be" and that maybe we should make special scenarios for people who want that and the rest of us can keep away from it.

Would it make any sense at all to suggest that a guide to getting your roleplay on was only suited to people who wanted a diceless storytelling session (even though such people exist)? Of course not. Just like it makes no sense to suggest that a guide to coordinated combat is only suited to people who want all combat all the time (even though those people also exist).

Let's not let every mention of Aspect X of the game be an excuse to make war-speeches about the segment of people who overdo Aspect X.

EDIT: Okay, I guess that turned out to not really be a reply to you so much as a reframing of my earlier thoughts, inspired by having read your post. Oh well. :)


Jiggy wrote:
Now imagine that someone wrote some kind of guide to fitting your character concept into the campaign, maybe with some kind of three-pronged framework like "branch, goals, methods". Then imagine that I came into the discussion thread for said guide and said things like "This might fit better for a zero-combat scenario where it's just hours of roleplaying with no dice or mechanics, but as it stands it misses the point of what PFS is/can be" and that maybe we should make special scenarios for people who want that and...

While I agree with you that the game is more enjoyable when both facets are equally important, I also acknowledge that the situations is asymmetrical. it's not really possible to have zero RP in an adventure, but it is possible to have zero combat.

In any event, I am just commenting on my experience and insight (or lack thereof) with a vocal minority of players who eschew discussions of combat as not only failing to add value to the gaming experience, but in fact, undermining it.

Shadow Lodge 5/5

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N N 959 wrote:
it's not really possible to have zero RP in an adventure

Oh yes it is.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
TOZ wrote:
N N 959 wrote:
it's not really possible to have zero RP in an adventure
Oh yes it is.

Begrudgingly, I second this.

5/5 Venture-Agent, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East aka Pirate Rob

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Why do I suddenly have this terrible urge to name my next Gnome "Flooglewhump"...

Of course it would be a Gnome that staves off the bleeching by finding out how people taste. So he would constantly be trying to sneak in licks on the other PCs, which would lead me to asking them how their character tastes?

I also think this my sinus infection may be affecting my thought process.


Takhisis wrote:
As the title asks. If you have not yet read "the forge of combat" guide I suggest it as it's a good, useful read.

I have not read the guide as of yet. But based on the thread, the concepts seem fairly standard.

Quote:
My question to all you PFS gamers is what of these roles do you find is least represented in society play?

The role I find to be the rarest in PFS is that of teammate. During my stint at playing F2F games, I don't know that a single person asked or inquired as to my approach to combat or offered an discussion on how to facilitate my character or anyone else's. It's my experience that when you play with complete strangers, most people focus on their own characters and on what they want to do.

I blame most of this on the scorn and ostracism people direct at anything that smells like "meta-gaming" e.g. talking OOC tactics. Another chunk of the blame results from the lack of an in-game rules for character vs character knowledge. Does my barbarian know you can cast Bull Strength and why he should Delay so you can cast it? Do I know your Swashbuckler or Gunslinger benefits from getting the npc kill and is it meta-game for me to Delay so that you can attack first?

Regarding the frequency of roles, Buffer/ARM is by far the least prevalent ime. Most people don't enjoy combat damage vicariously. They want to be the person that rolls the 20 and gets the crit rather than buff the character who does it. I also notice that most players don't have enough system mastery to really understand how to assist beyond the basics e.g. Bless, Inspire Courage, Haste, etc. But even worse, strikers don't want to wait for buffs before attacking. The idea that the barbarian might Delay so the cleric can cast Bless is sometimes tantamount to asking the player to chop off his pinky toe.

In fairness, most PFS encounters at low levels are extremely short. Like five rounds or less. At mid levels 3-7, BBEG combats feel like rocket tag, with BBEG's getting +15 on damage or more, characters feel an urgency to attack early and often. So players are not generally rewarded for taking time to buff up before combat, more often they are penalized. Would you rather the Witch Slumber Hex in round 1 or round 5? Most Witches are all too eager to try and drop the BBEG in round 1, maybe 2 if they think they need Evil Eye first.

Expanding on what John Compton touched on, with the proliferation of multi-classing, the discussion of roles has broken down significantly. Many characters are highly context dependent and/or highly specialized. In other words, a character is designed to exceed expectations in a given set of circumstances and outside of those circumstances, they are ineffective.

What's more, many scenarios are written to debilitate certain functional roles in combat. Flying and/or incorporeal targets dramatically may invalidate your striker and turn your buffer into the primary damage dealer.

In my opinion, it's more beneficial to understand the paradigms under which combat and creatures/monsters operate and are meant to be defeated. Then look to provide the facet that you most enjoy. I'll take an active engaged player as a teammate over a specific role any day of the week.


TOZ wrote:
N N 959 wrote:
it's not really possible to have zero RP in an adventure
Oh yes it is.

No, it really isn't. Even dungeon crawls compel characters to act according to their nature. Moving to the front or moving to the back is, in fact, roleplaying your character.

Zero RPing would mean you do nothing but roll dice. No actions taken, no decisions made other than attack.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

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N N 959 wrote:
No, it really isn't. Even dungeon crawls compel characters to act according to their nature.

Roleplaying your bishop moving diagonal does not make chess a roleplaying game.


Steven Schopmeyer wrote:
N N 959 wrote:
No, it really isn't. Even dungeon crawls compel characters to act according to their nature.
Roleplaying your bishop moving diagonal does not make chess a roleplaying game.

Disanology. You play chess with pieces, not characters.

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