Help Make My PFS Investigator Combat Effective


Advice

Scarab Sages

So, I've got a skill oriented Investigator in PFS who just hit level 7, and I'm trying to figure out how to make him more combat effective. I recently ran him through a 6-7 scenario, and the problem became glaring. We didn't have a true melee damage dealing character in the party (me, a 7th level ninja, a 5th level Lunar Oracle, and a 7th level Kyra). The oracle's pet was our main melee, with the ninja trying to get sneak attacks where he could. The bottom line, though, is none of us could do enough damage at once compared to the NPCs.

Here's my build.

Investigator:

Investigator 5/Sleepless Detective 1
Gnome CN

STR 8 DEX 14 CON 12 INT 21 WIS 12 CHA 12

HP 44 AC 19 (26 w/Barkskin & Shield) FF 17 (24) Touch 13

FORT +2 REF +7 WILL +6 BAB +3 CMB +1 CMD 13

Attacks
MWK Rapier +6 (1d4-1) w/Sneak (1d4-1+1d6)
W/Studied Combat +8 (1d4+2) w/Studied Strike (1d4-1+1d6)

Stone Fist + Cold Touch + Studied Strike + Sneak +7 (1d4-1+2d6(precision)+1d6(cold))

Feats: Weapon Finesse, Alertness, Breadth of Experience

Investigator Talents: Expanded Inspiration, Underworld Inspiration

Inspiration: 7/day

Equipment: 2nd lvl boro bead, (2) 1st level boro beads, ring of protest +1, mithral chain shirt +1, headband of int +2, eyes of the eagle, potion of fly, potion of heroism, wands of: CLW, Magic Missile, Recharge Innate Magic, Endure Elements, misc alchemical items.

UMD +14

Fell Magic Gnome alt racial trait: 1/day Bleed, Chill Touch, Detect Poison, Touch of Fatigue

He'll often have Heroism up by way of Alchemical Allocution to add a +2 to those Attack numbers. Since he's a skills character first, I'm not expecting him to keep pace with a two handed fighter, or even most melee characters. But, in that last combat, after he burned through his inspiration, extracts, and spell like abilities, he had to resort to the wand of magic missiles and UMD, throwing 1d4+1 /round at a likely 7th level Ranger.

What I'd like is 1) Something consistent that does more than 1d4+1, 2) Some kind of additional burst damage so that when he needs to, he actually has a shot at bringing down a decently injured opponent.

I can typically save my Inspiration for help in combat. Either a bonus to hit, on a save, or using studied combat on someone a second time.

Possibilities:

Level to Investigator 6/Sleepless Detective 1 - This gets me to +3/+3 with Studied Combat, +2d6 with Studied Strike and a level closer to 3rd level extracts and another Investigator Talent.

Agile Amulet of Mighty Fists/Belt of Dex +2 - My current tactic is to have stone fist running, then stack touch effects on top of it. This would put me at +7 (1d4+3) consistently, plus up to 4d6 precision and other damage.

Dip into Brawler - Would gain me Improved Unarmed Strike and Martial Flexibility. This would save me from having to use Stone Fist

Dip into Mutagenic Mauler - Would get me Imp Unarmed Strike and a mutagen (though only for 10 mins)

Dip Snakebite Striker - Would get me Imp Unarmed Strike and another 1d6 Sneak Attack

Dip Inspired Blade - I'd have to abandon my current strategy. It would give me Weapon Focus Rapier, an Int-based panache pool, and I could take Fencing Grace as my lvl 7 feat. I could potentially retrain Weapon Finesse. It lowers my potential burst damage by a d6.

Dip Alchemist for mutagen, Int to splash weapons, Bombs, and a couple of first level extracts

Take Extra Investigator Talent with my 7th level feat and pick up a mutagen. Combined with the amulet of mighty fists or inspired blade dip, it would give me an extra +2/+2

Brawling Armor would give me a +2/+2 if I stay with the stone fist strategy or dip brawler.

Wand of Scorching Ray, scrolls to UMD

Any dip has the con of further slowing down Studied Combat and Extract progression, but anything I take for this level except a dip into another 3/4 BAB classlike Alchemist will still increase my BAB.

Anything easy I'm missing? Anything not easy that would be worth the trouble?

Scarab Sages

I should add another option... Start using Alter Self. I wish there was a small creature comparable to the troglodyte. Picking up three natural attacks and a +2 Dex would be great. If I do go troglodyte, at least The strength bonus would get rid of my strength penalty to damage if I don't get the amulet right now.

Grand Lodge

With your physical stats, it would be hard to become incredibly combat effective, but I would retrain your level of Sleepless Detective to Inspired Blade, retrain Weapon Finesse to Fencing Grace, and take another level of Investigator. For your level 7 feat, pick up Extra Investigator Talent for mutagen, and use it for dexterity. With IUS you will have problems against DR. Consider using a heavy crossbow for the first round of combat before people close. The alchemical bolts are good. Get a hybridisation funnel.

I am running an Inspired Blade / Empiricist in PFS, and it has been reasonably effective so far.

Parry & Riposte from Inspired Blade is a great boost to both offence & defence.

Scarab Sages

I'm hoping not to retrain Sleepless Detective, as it gives me a nice boost to a few skills and Detect Magic as an at will SLA. But what you propose is a much more straightforward build. The numbers would look like this, if I made those changes, bought a belt of Dex +2 and a +1 rapier:

Rapier +11 (1d4+6)
W/studied combat +14 (1d4+9)
Plus Heroism +16 (1d4+9)
Studied strike would be +16 (1d4+6+2d6)
avg 15.5

With leaving the current build, another level of Investigator, the mutagen, the amulet of mighty fists and belt of dex, it would look something like this:

Stone Fist +9 (1d4+5)
W/studied combat +12 (1d4+8)
Plus heroism +14 (1d4+8)
Studied Strike plus Cold Touch plus Sneak would be +14 (1d4+5+2d6+1d6+1d6) avg 21.5, but much more situational.
Without sneak and cold touch it would avg 14.5

So the Inspired Blade build would add a point of average damage, would hit about 10% more, and would give access to a few deeds. I'd also be able to employ special materials more easily.

I'm not sure if I want to shift the direction of the character that much. But I'll think about it.

Another option is that I could retrain my 4th level stat bump from Intelligence to Dexterity, then at 8th I'd get another boost to hit and damage. I wouldn't lose anything on int. I just wouldn't get the extra bonus to it at 8th.

Grand Lodge

Ferious Thune wrote:
I'm hoping not to retrain Sleepless Detective, as it gives me a nice boost to a few skills and Detect Magic as an at will SLA.

You could just buy a wand of Detect Magic.

Also if you change to rapier based, a Bane Baldric is very useful. It would provide "additional burst damage" for 5 rounds a day. In PFS scenarios, that is usually more than enough.


I think really the only two choices you effectivly have is the dip in isnpiried blade and feat for fencing grace (assuming you have access to it) or combat reflexes, or feat buy improved unarmed + investigator level. Your studied combat is gonna be your main mode of damage honestly with how your built. I would honestly think inspired blade being the best choice with how much choice it gives you and how much defense you can put up. Using parry and counters can net you more attacks a round (more if yo uget combat reflexes). You would have more attacks and more control of an area. So even if your not doing massive damage your at least doing consistant. and consistant is a lot better than burst. The only burst you shoudl be getting is from studied strike when your combat runs out of time.
Look into the inspired weapon quality as well.

is how i view it anyway.

I love the detective dip. More Int to more stuff! and detect magic is convient. I think it gives enoug hbonus to an int based skilly type.

Scarab Sages

The Bane Baldric is a good suggestion, and another plus for the Inspiring Blade build.

The idea behind the burst damage is that he's not really a frontliner, but that he can step up in a situation where he needs to and for a few rounds put out a larger amount of damage. Like if the main melee is being overwhelmed or there are just too many enemies. That actually worked decently well in the scenario mentioned. Against 3 enemies, he was able to step up, occupy, and deal a decent amount of damage to the caster, nearly dropping her. It was after the enemy ranger took Kyra from full hitpoints to dead with one full round attack that things degenerated.

These have been good suggestions. The Inspired Blade dip, either as a replacement for Sleepless Detective or as a second dip would definitely add up to a big improvement. Better to hit, slightly better damage, cheaper upgrades, and better crit range. Thanks for the good suggestions. You've given me a lot to think about.

Dark Archive

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I don't think your build can be; look instead at being able to pass your potions to others and be a buffer. Take additional traits (adopted-helpful and whatever else you want), then "Aid another" to give allies +4.

With very poor physical stats and no real focus towards combat, your to-hit (in the BEST scenario, having spent the action to study) is as good as a 2nd level barbarian; with nowhere close to the average damage output. This is fine, as long as you try not to suddenly become a damage output person.

With you and an Oracle, maybe have the 7th level Kyra changed out for something more combat-worthy and "buff them to the max"?


I just skimmed the thread, so it may have been mentioned, but Fencing Grace would let you use your DEX for damage with your rapier. You've REALLY skewed your stats to non-combat stats, so don't expect a lot.

You could take a level of Swashbuckler with the Inspired Blade Archetype, and re-train your Weapon Finesse to Fencing Grace. Actually with your INT, that's probably a really good option that you may want to think about.


Student of War 2 will add that impressive INT to your AC,

If you're taking a level of Inspired Blade I'd reccomend the Sleuth architype.

Scarab Sages

Jodokai - yes, some combination of what you've listed had been the main focus of the thread. It's a good strategy.

Diminuendo - Student of War looks interesting. This is a PFS character that's already at 7th level, though, so rebuild options are a little limited. It would take me too many feat retrains to qualify, and believe it or not, I don't have the ranks in any knowledge skill to qualify. He's sitting at +11 on most of the knowledges with just 1 rank, plus gets to add a d6 free from Inspiration.

Thalin - A +16 to-hit (buffed) at 7th level isn't really that bad. It's hitting a CR 2 higher than my level more than half the time, which is acceptable to me for a character whose first priority isn't melee. Hitting hasn't been a real problem. It's dealing enough damage.

I get to skip a level when I hit 8 from an existing chronicle. I'm wondering if setting him up for Kirin Strike at 9th is worthwhile.

Silver Crusade

Thalin wrote:
With you and an Oracle, maybe have the 7th level Kyra changed out for something more combat-worthy and "buff them to the max"?

I second this. No need to have so many melee-incompetent characters in one group. It's a recipe for failure. Replace Kyra with Amiri, the iconic Barbarian, and you're good to go.

Were it 1st level kyra, rather than 7th level Kyra, a mere tactical change would suffice to make her much more combat effective: just buy her a 5 gp longspear and use reach tactics. I've done this lots of times. This roughly doubles Kyra's damage output and also reduces her damage taken, since she hardly ever takes Full Attacks when using this tactical approach. I'm not exaggerating. Level 1 Kyra really inflicts roughly 2x damage just from using a longspear, and really takes less damage. Because math.

I've also tried this for 7th level Kyra. It still works, but not nearly as well. Her damage output still increases considerably, but CR 7 foes have a lot more HP and more have reach. The main benefit to using reach tactics with level 7 Kyra is that she takes way less damage, since she mostly avoids taking Full Attacks, and is also slightly better able to cast spells in combat.

Scarab Sages

Yeah, we chose our pregen poorly. There were factors with the particular scenario that made us feel Kyra would be more effective, and in fairness, the ninja, oracle's cat, and I were doing ok when Kyra was around to channel. Normally, though, I'd have gone with Amiri or Seelah, if we felt we needed healing and melee. There were also reasons we suspected it wouldn't be the best scenario for a paladin (blurb made it clear lying would likely be involved)

Since it's PFS, I can't really control what the overall party will be in the future, so rather than try to make that subpar party mix work, I'm just trying to make sure I have more to bring to the table. I don't expect to be the main melee character. I've invested too much in skills to do that. I just want to contribute more when it's needed.

I would definitely be happy with the offensive output the dip into Inspired Blade would give. It's not fantastic, but it's at least approaching respectable. I'm still looking into whether there's something I can do other than another dip to get similar numbers, since I like the Sleepless Detective flavor, but I also want to get to 3rd level extracts sometime soon.

Whether I dip swashbuckler or not, it's looking like mutagen is the way to go with my level 7 feat. That combined with something to give me Dex to damage (fencing grace or agile) is a big improvement.

Any thoughts on extracts to use? I typically go with some combination of stone fist, shield, reduce person (for utility, mostly), expeditious retreat, and a mix of other extracts depending on the scenario. For 2nd level, I've been using Alchemical Allocution (usually for Heroism), Barkskin, and either Invisibility, Cat's Grace, or Elemental Fist to stack more energy damage on top of cold touch from my spell like ability, though usually there aren't enough rounds to get both up and running. I'm likely adding Alter Self if I stay with unarmed combat. I have Darkvision already from the alternate racial trait, so I don't need Alter Self for that. False Life is another one I'm thinking about.

Grand Lodge

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Combine Alchemical Allocation with Seishinru, Spirit Elixir :)

True Strike is very useful with Parry & Riposte - a parry counts as an attack roll!

Scarab Sages

Wow. That's... Really powerful. And actually PFS legal. I don't own any of the Jade Regent books, but I may have to think about it.


While I am one of the few FEW people who love Kirin strike. It is undoubtly hard to get off. It takes a swift action to go into stance, swift action to target, THEN you can apply extra damage via swift action. then for a new target swif taction to target THEN next swift action damage.
Also doesn't that compete with combat study? Isn't it a swift action to do that?

Too many swift actions there... You could get away with it actually.. but you would've wanted to start a while back. or dip into MOMS or the fighter archetype that gives yo ua free style thing.
If you have 2 style feats I think yo ucan get master of styles which allows starting as a free action. Which would help a lot.

but really gotta build for it when you start out..

Though Inspiried blade + kirin+ that snake (or panther? i think it was.. the other one that allows extra hits when they miss. Maybe panthar is aoo.. and crane is miss counter?) that combined with parry repost give decent damage output if you have combat reflexes also.

that takes 3 levels and some feats though. Which slows down Investigator. but it would set you up pretty decently ish for it. but until starting style was a free action you'd have to spend a round designating a target "move action study, swift action style" eventually once it's free action style though. you can spend "move action study, free action start style, swift actoin designate kirin target"
Granted I'm not terribly agaisnt spending one round to astack up like that. but it's still pretty painful.
End result is something like 2MOMS 1 inspiried Blade, 17 Investigator.
but i'd only do this build if I could start at lv 5 or higher I think. It's just hard to get rolling earlier and find a place for you until yo ustart raking in the Investigator skill/extracts.

Scarab Sages

Studied Combat is a move action, unless I take the Investigator Talent to make it a swift. So there's no conflict there. The three swift actions before Kirin Strike would pay off is a bit much, though, you're right. Figuring out where to pick up Imp Unarmed Strike would be tricky, too. A Monk dip isn't really an option due to his alignment. I don't really have a problem with him taking a round to study/identify/buff. He pretty much has to do that now, and again, his main Schtick isn't combat. But waiting until the third round for a payoff isn't practical. So Kirin Strike is out.

I'm leaning toward taking a level of Investigator at 7 and trying to stick with some combo of unarmed/stone fist/alter self/stacking spell effects. I'd take Extra Investigator Talent: mutagen with the feat. I'd pick up a Belt of Dex +2. I'd probably pick up an Agile Amulet of Moghty Fists.

Posters on this thread have made a strong argument for an Inspired Blade dip. If things don't go well with my strategy, I can always do that next level. All I'll have really lost is half the cost of the amulet.

Using Alter Self actually looks slightly better to me than the Inspired Blade dip. It hinges on predicting when combat will occur, but with PFS, that's usually possible. Drink Alter Self and Shield extracts when sensing danger is near (possibly keep them in an Admixture Vial to drink as a single action in case of surprise). Drink Mutagen, Heroism potion (Using Alchemicat Allocation), and Barkskin Extract when entering dungeon. Use boro beads to recover Alter Self and Shield. Repeat as needed.

On the first round of combat, study a target and cast Chill Touch. If within 5', step up and use the free touch attack. After, full attack with natural attacks.

Troglodyte

claw, claw, bite +13/+13/+13 (1d4+8/1d4+8/1d4+8)
The first 7 hits would add 1d6. If I can manage a flank, I'd add another 1d6. For a potential average dmg of 50.5 when all three hit. That's a decent, if not sustainable long term, damage output. When time comes to finish the target off, use the 2d6 studied strike.

My AC would be 20 base +2 mutagen Dex +2 mutagen natural armor +3 Barkskin +4 shield -1 size = 30.

A CR 7 creature on average will have a 20 AC, so a +13 will hit 70% of the time. Against a CR 9, that becomes a 23 AC and hitting 55% of the time. Those are acceptable to me for this character.

A CR 7 creature on average will have a +13 high attack, so I'd only get hit 20% of the time. For a CR 9, that becomes a +17 high attack or getting hit 40% of the time. Also acceptable.

Compared to what I'm doing now, that's a huge improvement. It might be better or cheaper with the Swashbuckler dip, but this approach fits the character better. If it doesn't work, though, I'll reconsider the dip.

Nothing in Alter Self actually says you take the size penalty to AC or to hit from going from Small to Medium, but I assume that's the case. Maybe not, though, since it's got the weird stat bonus even when you stay the same size.

Dark Archive

Dip Inspired Blade, retrain that 4th level stat bump to DEX, bump DEX again at 8th. Buy a +2 Belt of DEX and upgrade the rapier to +1.

You won't be confused with the local murder hobo barbarian, but you will do moderately well in combat for offense, especially if you have time to prepare for combat.

Just my opinion, but you should pick a few knowledge skill to focus on: when you hit the 8-9 tier and higher, you are going to need higher knowledge bonuses to be the primary knowledge monkey. Pick three or four and train them up.


i hoenstly would suggest at one point getting combat study, to make it a swift action. It's quite useful to be able to move and attack and use that. or use it then full attack. and just in general it prevents some stress. Especially if your going to go with nat attack route with alter self. Since you'll have more attacks you'll want more full round attacks, all with studied combat damage boosts. and occasionally studied strike on the last one-which is les risky than on the last hit for a manufactored weapon due to the to hit stuf.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Ferious Thune wrote:
I should add another option... Start using Alter Self. I wish there was a small creature comparable to the troglodyte. Picking up three natural attacks and a +2 Dex would be great. If I do go troglodyte, at least The strength bonus would get rid of my strength penalty to damage if I don't get the amulet right now.

What's wrong with the Charda

Bite, Claw, Claw, Claw, Claw. Small, Swim speed and Darkvision.

Scarab Sages

Rerednaw wrote:
Ferious Thune wrote:
I should add another option... Start using Alter Self. I wish there was a small creature comparable to the troglodyte. Picking up three natural attacks and a +2 Dex would be great. If I do go troglodyte, at least The strength bonus would get rid of my strength penalty to damage if I don't get the amulet right now.

What's wrong with the Charda

Bite, Claw, Claw, Claw, Claw. Small, Swim speed and Darkvision.

Oh wow.. I had no idea that was out there. That would put me at:

bite, claw, claw, claw, claw +15/+15/+15/+15 (1d6+9/1d4+9/1d4+9/1d4+9/1d4+9)

And my AC would be 32

Thanks!

EDIT: Oh, I see. Chard a is a monstrous humanoid, so Alter Self doesnt work. I could pick up a potion of Monstrous Physique I and Alchemical Allocation it. Or wait until I have 3rd level extracts.

Zwordsman - Yes, at some point I probably will. I think mutagen is more helpful now. At 8th (7th level Investigator) I'll get another Talent, which may go to that.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Ferious Thune wrote:


EDIT: Oh, I see. Chard a is a monstrous humanoid, so Alter Self doesnt work. I could pick up a potion of Monstrous Physique I and Alchemical Allocation it. Or wait until I have 3rd level extracts.

Ah bummer, sorry about that.

Scarab Sages

Rerednaw wrote:
Ferious Thune wrote:


EDIT: Oh, I see. Chard a is a monstrous humanoid, so Alter Self doesnt work. I could pick up a potion of Monstrous Physique I and Alchemical Allocation it. Or wait until I have 3rd level extracts.
Ah bummer, sorry about that.

No problem. It's still good to know. Because of Alchemical Allocation shenanigans it's still a 2nd level spell slot. It just costs me a one time 750gp, and it will have a 1 minute less duration than Alter Self would.

It's too bad the natural armor bonus from Monstrous Physique doesn't stack with the one from mutagen. But it's still a net 2 AC gain from the Dex Bonus and staying small. Likewise a net +2 to-hit for the same reasons. Not to mention the extra 2 attacks and the stronger bite.

Scarab Sages

And my brain froze. Monstrous Physique is a personal spell, so no potion. Looks like Alter Self until I get 3rd level extracts next level.

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