Effectively Playing Pikemen with Bucklers


Advice

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I've been playing a lot of Total War: Attila lately, and I was wondering how best to play a Pathfinder version of these guys, the elite pikemen of the Ostrogoths.

Ostensibly, the longspear would be my go-to weapon for such a character, and a buckler would be included...but anytime I jab something with that spear, the buckler would stop providing it's AC bonus, essentially rendering it useless.

So the question is essentially, how do I play such a character effectively?

My gut reaction when first coming up with this concept was to either use the Phalanx Soldier or Thunderstriker archetypes, but both present problems. Phalanx Soldier seems to carry the expectation that you'll be using a spear or polearm with one hand and a larger shield, similar to the hoplites the archetype is based on. On the other hand, Thunderstriker is built more with bucklers in mind, but it's more oriented towards a "sword and board" style of fighting rather than the buckler serving a purely defensive purpose, and as such a reach weapon like a longspear renders most of the features it provides useless. In addition, Thunderstriker requires one to be an almost exclusively single-class Fighter, which, whether one wishes to optimize or simply take a prestige class (which I was interested in doing, specifically the Stalwart Defender).

As a result, I find myself at a bit of a loss. It seems like there's no way to build such a character without either forgoing some of your class features, forgoing the opportunity to branch out and/or optimize, or just abandoning the buckler altogether. Is there anyway I can realize this character effectively, or am I pretty much screwed no matter which avenue I take?


It feels like 1-7 Thunderstriker is your best mate, the benefit being you threaten at reach and at adjacent with your Buckler/Longspear combo, plus it leaves you at the perfect level to drop into Stalwart Defender.

Sure it can be made up with Armour Spikes naturally, but this way you have some added defense when your not attacking.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Guess you could play whatever class and just have an animated shield or your other option is to wait for the level 19 ability of Thunderstriker which I don't think that you want.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Reflavor the bill:

Ultimate Equipment wrote:

BILL

Price 11 gp

Type martial

The blade of this polearm is a curved or hooked chopping blade with a spiked projection on the back of the blade. The spike is commonly used to block and parry. When fighting defensively or with full defense, this weapon gives you a +1 shield bonus to AC. A mounted opponent hit by a bill takes a –1 penalty on his Ride check to stay mounted.

Alternately, ask your GM if you can take a custom feat that allows someone to gain the shield bonus from a buckler when fighting defensively with a polearm.


My recommendation is the Fighter Archetype Phalanx Soldier: Polearm in 1 hand, shield in the other. You can take Shield Slam and push anybody that gets inside the reach of your Lucerne Hammer back out again. At level 5, you gain the ability Ready Pike. Use Brace pole arms, gain some ability that helps finesse a charge like the Antagonize Feat, give them Quick Draw for good measure. Then you can taunt your enemy from juuuust within your Charge range. They'll see your Horsechoppers, but strapped to your backs, so they'll charge, meaning to use their horses' hooves to stuff your words back down your mouth, then as a Free Action, the whole line bristles with Brace, Reach weapons as a Free Action making both regular attacks and attacks of opportunity at double damage. You keep insulting them as they are skewered on your blades.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I suppose a light shield works just as well in this context. It's not like the records explicitly say "bucklers" in reference to those shields.

And honestly Antagonize was a planned part of the character regardless of the form he takes.

So the idea is instead of proper "sword-and-board" which can't happen with reach weapons, you attack with spear OR shield depending on how close the enemy is?


Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
I suppose a light shield works just as well in this context. It's not like the records explicitly say "bucklers" in reference to those shields.

You could even use a heavy shield or a Klar.

Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
So the idea is instead of proper "sword-and-board" which can't happen with reach weapons, you attack with spear OR shield depending on how close the enemy is?

That's pretty much the idea. You could use Halberd and Shield Bash, though in that case I'm pretty sure you'd have to use a Light Shield. You could Great Cleave with a Reach Pole Arm and a Shield, bashing opponents within 5', skewering the ones 10' out.

Shield Slamming can yield a wicked loop of attacks of opportunity.

Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
Antagonize was a planned part of the character regardless of the form he takes.

Cool, we're on the same page.


or you could be an alchemist with vestigial arm discovery.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Scott Wilhelm wrote:
You could even use a heavy shield or a Klar.

No offense meant, but do these guys look like they're carrying heavy shields? The size was why I was initially looking at bucklers.

Scott Wilhelm wrote:

That's pretty much the idea. You could use Halberd and Shield Bash, though in that case I'm pretty sure you'd have to use a Light Shield. You could Great Cleave with a Reach Pole Arm and a Shield, bashing opponents within 5', skewering the ones 10' out.

Shield Slamming can yield a wicked loop of attacks of opportunity.

Sounds effective. I'm more interested in longspear, though, to more accurately resemble the pikemen in the picture.

Scott Wilhelm wrote:
Cool, we're on the same page.

For the most part. Thanks! :)

Avadriel wrote:
or you could be an alchemist with vestigial arm discovery.

Erm...thanks but no thanks. It doesn't really gel with the concept I have in mind. <.<

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

So, let's break it down, what you want:

Wield Longspear, preferably in two hands.

Have a shield for defense.

Is there more to the requirements?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Specifically a little shield strapped to the arm.

And use the Antagonize feat, both because it's apparently a good feat for this kind of character and it fits with his planned penchant for The Reason You Suck Speeches.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Why not multiclass?

Just take 3 levels in Thunderstriker, and then move on.

Ignore flavor, and "expectations" presented for the archetype, and make your own.

Hard-boiled flavor, is not supported by the rules.

You could go Order of the Cockatrice Cavalier afterwards, and nab Hurtful.

As long as the shield is present, the spear is present, and you flavor it right, the mechanics are much more fluid into fitting with your theme.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

That was my first instinct, but I'm not sure how effective it'd be, especially given the buckler stops working when you attack. That's always my concern with these things. I see a picture or something I think is cool and say "I wanna play that!" but I worry that by shaping myself to fit that image I'll become useless in combat.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Then let the Buckler be there for enchantment and flavor purposes.

If you focus less on having the Buckler have a major mechanical role, then you can focus on a powerful build, that works with the flavor concept.

The look is maintained, and feel still within the concept.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Improved Buckler defense used to be a feat in 3.5, rather low level, but now yeah, its a feature of thunderstriker...at level 19. Not frankly quite worth level 19 and they do share the same name, Improved Buckler defense. It shouldn't be too difficult to convince your DM to allow it.

But well, beside that, just expensive options (Animated shield) or I suppose if you really want the mechanical advantage of it at low level invest in the UMD skill, buy a wand of Shield and cast it on yourself. For a +4 shield bonus for 10 rounds. Or to make up for losing one AC from the buckler, you could always just take the feat dodge and fluff it however you want on the battlefield.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
blackbloodtroll wrote:

Then let the Buckler be there for enchantment and flavor purposes.

If you focus less on having the Buckler have a major mechanical role, then you can focus on a powerful build, that works with the flavor concept.

The look is maintained, and feel still within the concept.

And what would that more powerful build be? I'm honestly not sure what I'm doing...

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

What I am saying, is it makes it easier to find a suitable build, with less restrictions on what that build entails, and maintain flavor.


Archpaladin Zousha wrote:

Specifically a little shield strapped to the arm.

And use the Antagonize feat, both because it's apparently a good feat for this kind of character and it fits with his planned penchant for The Reason You Suck Speeches.

Looking at the picture, those might be light shields and not bucklers


Historically, I don't know of these "Ostragoth Pikemen".

While Ostragoths did use pikes, sometimes, they used them like any other army used pikemen: with some guys being pikemen (no shields) and other guys being shield bearers (no pikes).

I am not aware of any historical army that equipped soldiers with long 2H pikes and somehow glued sizable shields to their shoulders. The video game picture definitely shows light round shields (targets) affixed to the shoulder (not forearms as a buckler would be). It's almost as if the shield is PART of the armor - certainly someone wearing that shoulder-shield is NOT moving it around and blocking attacks like a guy using a normal shield would do. Maybe they used it like Floyd Mayweather uses his "shoulder roll" to block punches...

In any case, for game terms, why make this about class or archetype at all? Why not just do what the video game picture suggests: make a new kind of armor. Mail, like any other chainmail armor, but with a shield permanently attached where a pauldron would go. Make it not quite permanent, say, some kind of mounting device, then a character could actually remove and replace the shield with a better one, or just enchant the shield he has.

Call it a "Pikeman's Cuirasse" which should fit the Ostragoth theme well enough.

There should be some balancing factor to this armor. After all, the armor basically lets its wearer have two hands free AND use a shield too. I would decrease the max DEX by 1 and raise the armor check penalty by 1. I would probably also restrict weapon use to thrusting weapons (spears, etc.), because that shield on the shoulder would be very awkward for swinging swords and axes.

I might even go so far as to suggest making it an exotic armor and treating that like exotic weapons: you need a special feat to use this armor (in which case I probably would NOT restrict the weapon use).

None of which is RAW, but then, this is in the Advice board so there you have it, my advice.

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