Brawler, Shield Champion Advice


Advice

Liberty's Edge

Hi all, I will be starting a Brawler PFS character soon and have decided to mess around with the Brawler and the Shield Champion archetype, so was hoping the experts here may be able to give some advice on various directions to take the character. I also have some general questions that are probably easily answered:

1) I haven't seen any official errata's for the Shield Champ, am I to assume that currently in PFS I need to take the trait to become proficient with shields as a weapon?
Also, I assume we still lose the AC bonus from class progression when using the shield?

2) If I want to make use of the shield throwing aspect, in order to keep the AC bonus from the shield I will need Quickdraw Feat + Quickdraw light shield? I cannot do it with a Heavy shield or a Throwing Shield?

So, those are the opening questions, now when it comes to the build,
Race and Stats are still up for grabs, likely Human for bonus Feat or stat, or Half Elf to help with Will saves.

Traits - Shield Trained, Shield Bearer (if PFS legal)

Feats -
1) Improved Shield Bash (maybe, until I get to the point of enhancing the shields armor, the AC is not that important, heck, Dodge would be better)
2) Weapon Focus
3) Power Attack
5) Weapon Specialisation & ?

That's really just from quickly throwing some ideas down, I am very much open to suggestion. Likely a Style Feat will get added somewhere, I have to admit I am an AC junky, so the idea of Crane Style in there is tempting, though the -2 to hit along with Flurry may be painful.

Another thing that would be appreciated is people's suggestions of what kind of Feats I should have 'at the ready' for taking advantage of the ability to gain temporary Feats - So that I can create a kind of Cheat Sheet of preprepared Feats great for situational use (e.g. Improved Trip etc. Blind Fight, is there a Feat that lets you ignore difficult terrain?). Basically anything nifty that could be great in some unlikely situation.

Thanks for any and all help.


Asteldian Caliskan wrote:

1) I haven't seen any official errata's for the Shield Champ, am I to assume that currently in PFS I need to take the trait to become proficient with shields as a weapon?

Also, I assume we still lose the AC bonus from class progression when using the shield?

That is correct. Being CN, CG, or LN in order to worship Gorum and taking the Shield-Trained trait is currently the most efficient way of being proficient with shields as martial weapons. Keep in mind that the trait causes you to not be able to two-hand the shield for extra damage from 1.5x Strength or Power Attack since it make you treat the heavy shield as a light weapon.

There's (most likely) gonna be some folks here that'll tell you to ignore ALL of that for PFS (typically folks who endlessly rants about the ACG and the so-far lack of errata to have come out and soapboxes that Paizo is screwing over folks). Ignore them. They're basically telling to cheat in PFS and that ain't cool.

Quote:
2) If I want to make use of the shield throwing aspect, in order to keep the AC bonus from the shield I will need Quickdraw Feat + Quickdraw light shield? I cannot do it with a Heavy shield or a Throwing Shield?

Almost correct. My current Captain Andoran build in PFS uses a light adamantine throwing quickdraw. You want the throwing (+50 gp) quality in the shield simply to unstrap the shield as a free action so you can throw it as a full-round flurry. The light quickdraw shield alone would have allowed you to strap the shield back on as a free action and to draw/stow it on back or wherever as a free action.

Another thing is that it's currently written that you'd get the shield back at the END of your turn. End of your turn is typically when you don't do any more actions, so that'd mean you won't have the opportunity to do the free action to strap the shield back on. I MIGHT be wrong on that, but to not risk it, I keep three light throwing quickdraw shields (cold iron, silver, and adamantine) on me so I'm always actually still have a shield strapped on as I'm also chucking shields left and right. Hopefully there's errata to clarify that (and other things of course).

Quote:

So, those are the opening questions, now when it comes to the build,

Traits - Shield Trained, Shield Bearer (if PFS legal)

Feats -
1) Improved Shield Bash (maybe, until I get to the point of enhancing the shields armor, the AC is not that important, heck, Dodge would be better)
2) Weapon Focus
3) Power Attack
5) Weapon Specialisation & ?

That's really just from quickly throwing some ideas down, I am very much open to suggestion. Likely a Style Feat will get added somewhere, I have to admit I am an AC junky, so the idea of Crane Style in there is tempting, though the -2 to hit along with Flurry may be painful.

From current experience, I'm gonna vote the shield use as a defensive tactic AND vs DR/adamantine or hardness AND primary ranged weapon at level 5 onwards. Being stuck with shield-trained trait, your melee shield use isn't gonna any more effective against things that have DR/hardness due to lack of benefits from two-handing the shield for extra damage.

Instead, focus on unarmed strikes: Brawling armor enchant ASAP. Pummeling Style with level 2 bonus feat and Pummeling Charge with level 8 bonus feat. Can have ways to defeat DR/hardness with unarmed strikes when a cold iron or silver or adamantine shields aren't gonna cut it. I have all three and encountered a huge fire elemental with DR/- recently; Pummeling Style allowed me to do the some of the most damage per turn and bring it down simply by punching. Pummeling Charge is terrific for pounce-like effects, and short of eidolons or wild-shaping, you'd get it earlier than most martial builds.

Weapon Focus and Specialization? I personally vote those to be activated with martial flexibility when not bothering with maneuvers in particular fights. The Brawling enchant is basically as good as those feats but it's undeniable they do help out a lot if all you wanna do is hit something.

Quote:

Another thing I would be helpful is people's suggestions of what kind of Feats I should have 'at the ready' for taking advantage of the ability to gain temporary Feats - So that I can create a kind of Cheat Sheet of preprepared Feats great for situational use (e.g. Improved Trip etc. Blind Fight, is there a Feat that lets you ignore difficult terrain?). Basically anything nifty that could be great in some unlikely situation.

Pick up Combat Expertise at level 1. Also, it might help to be human for extra bonus feat at level 1. With Combat Expertise, can use maneuvers whenever you'd like. In low levels, humanoid targets in PFS typically have a low CMD (especially spellcasters) and a lot of times easier to be tripped or disarmed. At higher levels, you can use martial flexibility as a swift action and that can be taken advantage of for more versatility. Blind-Fight is useful as a temporary feat. Others are: Weapon Focus/Specialization (unarmed or shield depending on your situation), Improved Maneuevers, Deadly Aim, Dragon Style to charge past allies and charge/withdraw/run on difficult terrain (charge past obstacles, then swift action switch to Pummeling Charge would be a decent tactic).

Pick up Quick Draw by level 5 at the latest in order to benefit from your shield tossing.

If you ever get Shield Master feat (be sure to pick up Shield Slam on your own to qualify for it. TWF also if you wanna be benefiting from Shield Master ALL time besides when flurrying), shield bashing would probably be the best main tactic, but that's practically at the end of PFS career for the character. Pummeling Style/Charge and focusing on unarmed strikes and the versatility of maneuvers can keep you having fun with your character a lot longer.

IF you do stick with focusing on Shields, definitely pick up the Ray Shield feat first chance you get. Also invest in an adamantine shield with the Impervious weapon enchantment. As I've learned recently, getting critted by rays (scorching ray in my case) REALLY suck. Either as a permanent feat or martial flexibility feat, it's gonna be real useful.

Liberty's Edge

Thanks for the advice, I was mainly looking at focusing on shield simply to keep benefits suchas weapon focus etc. At all times, but you make a great point about using flexibilty feats for that.
I was somewhat in two minds regarding whether to focus on a dedicated shield thrower or use the range aspect as a side thing and focus on melee as primary. Sounds like using it as a secondary means of attack would be better.
How much is the brawler armor, is it an enchant like a +1 or specific armor?
Also, doesn't the Throwing add on to shields require exotic proficiency?


Asteldian Caliskan wrote:

Thanks for the advice, I was mainly looking at focusing on shield simply to keep benefits suchas weapon focus etc. At all times, but you make a great point about using flexibilty feats for that.

I was somewhat in two minds regarding whether to focus on a dedicated shield thrower or use the range aspect as a side thing and focus on melee as primary. Sounds like using it as a secondary means of attack would be better.
How much is the brawler armor, is it an enchant like a +1 or specific armor?
Also, doesn't the Throwing add on to shields require exotic proficiency?

The brawling enchant is a +1 that only works on light armor. Bracers of armor doesn't count.

If you use the specific stats of throwing shield 1d6 and 20 ft range increment to make a normal ranged attack, sure it'd be exotic. As a melee attack for bashing, it'd still be a martial weapon (simple with Shield-Trained). We only want it for the free action unstrap feature. At level 3, you'll be relying on Shield Champion's throw shield ability, which has a a range increment of 10 feet or the shield's range increment (Probably shouldn't use that second part, would probably count as exotic throwing shield attack if using the throwing shield's range increment) whichever is greater. The thrown shield deals the same damage as a shield bash, which would scale with Close Weapon Mastery (at level 5 you'd be doing d6 and at level 8 it'd be d8).

Since the class feature is what's allowing one to throw a shield normally, and we can only assume it doesn't change proficiency from the normal melee weapon feature, you probably don't have to worry about the Throwing Shield exotic weapon when you're using the Shield Champion's Throw Shield Ability which only cared about the proficiency of the shield as a melee weapon.

Liberty's Edge

Interesting. Reading the ability, it states you can throw a medim or light shield as a normal thrown weapon with a range increment of 10 feet or the shields range increment. Has there been an official ruling on this? It suggests to me that if this allows you to throw a Throwing Shield without penalty, then there is no reason why it cannot be thrown at the increased range without the penalty as it is still part of the same ability.

Another question, I assume the answer is no, but with the Shield Trained Trait making a Heavy Shield a light weapon, with Throwing and Quickdraw, is it then also a Free Action to Don the weapon again or is that just a Quickdraw Shield benefit?

I think I am leaning towards melee focused with shield as back up, though being a full time shielder is tempting - I guess if I were to make the Shield my full time weapon I would make use of Pummelling Style as a flexible feat for my fist on occassions it is required.
My only concern with having the shield as a back up, is that in reality it won't really ever be used - I mean why bother throwing a shield even for DR mobs when I can just Pummel them anyway?

A Cestus I assume would work with Pummelling Strike as you would be punching and the Feat does not specifically state unarmed strike, however I guess the Brawler enchant would not work. A shame rally because I would like to avoid the ovepriced Amulet of the Mighty Fist.

Scarab Sages

The reason to use a shield is twofold - the insanely good Shield Master feat, and Shield Slam. If you get Shield Slam, you get a free bull rush attempt on every hit, and with feats like Merciless Rush, Squash Flat, and Spiked Destroyer, you get to do all kinds of nasty things when you bull rush somebody.

Source: I have a guy who dual-wields shields and doesn't understand why people use inefficient weapons like swords or guns when you can just smash someone's face off with a steel door strapped to your forearm.


Asteldian Caliskan wrote:
Interesting. Reading the ability, it states you can throw a medim or light shield as a normal thrown weapon with a range increment of 10 feet or the shields range increment. Has there been an official ruling on this? It suggests to me that if this allows you to throw a Throwing Shield without penalty, then there is no reason why it cannot be thrown at the increased range without the penalty as it is still part of the same ability.

The "medium shield" part everyone assumes to be a typo for "heavy shield". I advise for the lesser range increment in order to get away from table variation that inevitably happens for PFS; if one goes with the "weaker" interpretation, no one really notices and gets their hackles up then raise a hissy fit.

Quote:
Another question, I assume the answer is no, but with the Shield Trained Trait making a Heavy Shield a light weapon, with Throwing and Quickdraw, is it then also a Free Action to Don the weapon again or is that just a Quickdraw Shield benefit?

That's just with the quickdraw shield benefit which only comes in the "light shield" flavor, rather than "light weapon".

Quote:

I think I am leaning towards melee focused with shield as back up, though being a full time shielder is tempting - I guess if I were to make the Shield my full time weapon I would make use of Pummelling Style as a flexible feat for my fist on occassions it is required.

My only concern with having the shield as a back up, is that in reality it won't really ever be used - I mean why bother throwing a shield even for DR mobs when I can just Pummel them anyway?

I see the case as with Captain America in the Winter Soldier and Avengers 2 movies (not First Avenger and Avengers 1 as he was still basically WWII gun friendly at that point) where he excels at unarmed combat and uses the shield for extra oomph! as can be emphasized with Shield Slam feat. Also the ranged maneuvers feature of Throw Shield is nothing to scoff at. Nothing in the ability specifically states you use your Dexterity for your CMB instead of Strength, so you're potentially more accurate bull rushing/dirty tricking/disarming/repositioning/or tripping someone at ranged than simply hitting AC (depending on target's CMD of course). Some folks might state that it's a ranged attack so Dex to CMD, they would typically cite the Weapon Finesse + CMB FAQ which specifically says you can use Dexterity implying it's an option, but the Throw Shield ability specifically states she makes the CMB check as if the champion were making a melee shield bash attack which implies just as strongly that it uses Strength for the CMB.

Also for DR mobs, pummeling strike only works against one enemy at a time for a full-round action. If you ever do want to split up attacks or use maneuvers or a mix of attacks+maneuvers (Trip+Attack with +4 bonus because target is prone is pretty awesome), Pummeling ain't the best option.

Quote:
A Cestus I assume would work with Pummelling Strike as you would be punching and the Feat does not specifically state unarmed strike, however I guess the Brawler enchant would not work. A shame rally because I would like to avoid the ovepriced Amulet of the Mighty Fist.

Pummeling Style got FAQ'd and will be errata'd to only work with unarmed strikes. Stick with the brawling armor bonus. It's as good as a +2 amulet of mighty fists and way cheaper. It ALSO stacks with the amulet of mighty fists so when you could have afforded a +3 amulet, a brawling armor and +1 amulet is just as good and way more inexpensive.

Scarab Sages

Yeah. The Brawling enchant is one of the most fantastic options out there.

Liberty's Edge

Man, this class is tricky to decide on! I am wanting a char fun to play which is why I went with it, but figuring out if I will have more fun bashing and throwing the shield around or punching and occasionally throwing the shield is tricky! I am not overly worried about all out optimising, though obviously want to be effective.

I think I need to look into all those shield feats mentioned too!
Thanks for all the advice, if you have anything else to throw in please keep it coming, even example builds you or a friend have messed around with! Everything helps generate ideas!

Also, sure they errate pummelling but haven't bothered giving Shield Champ shield proficiency!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I suggest just having a baseline of prereq feats for martial flexibility and an assortment of shields will keep you versatile and having fun with no issues.

My PFS Build:

Stavian Rogiers (Yes I went there)
Str 18 (16+2 racial)
Dex 14
Con 14
Int 12
Wis 10
Cha 8

Traits:
Shield-Trained -- Obvious reasons. It sucks to be CG instead of LG, but Liberty's Edge missions
Highlander -- I wanted Stealth because I'm in light armor and wanted to be commando-esque. Might as well take advantage of it and keep up with the scouts.

Skills: I maxed out diplomacy and perform (oratory)I picked up Eagle Knight vanity for diplomacy as a class skill. I plan on picking up the Eagle Knight Captain vanity for two reasons: Refer to myself as Captain Andoran, instead of Corporal, and get perform (oratory) as a class skill and have it maxed along with diplomacy (it proves pretty useful for Liberty's Edge) and picked up Tome of Epics from ACG for a +2 bonus.

Feats:
1 Class Bonus) Improved Unarmed Strike
1 Human Bonus) Improved Shield Bash. I bought a cold iron and silver light throwing quickdraw shields early on as those can be common DR types found in low tiers.
1) Quick Draw -- It was totally worth it to quickly stowing my quickdraw shield away to do acrobatics, climb, or swim checks and drawing it back on to my arm immediately afterwards (the masterwork light throwing quickdraw shields still suffer a -1 armor check penalty). Picking up heavy shields in scenarios was useful too for the AC bonus.
2 Class Bonus) Pummeling Style -- Level 2 is when you get flurry and qualify. Better to pick it up early. When you get higher levels and satisfy more prereqs, you'd want to get better feats with your limited feat slots.
3) Combat Expertise -- Qualify for awesome Improved Maneuver feats with Martial Flexibility. At low tiers, the CMD of humanoids is pretty pitiful when compared to the +2 bonus to CMB the Improved Maneuver feats grant.
5 Class Bonus) Shield Focus -- Picked it up as a feat tax to qualify the bonus Greater Shield Focus feat at level 9. Plus the +1 to my shield bonus doesn't hurt.
5) Power Attack -- It's good to have even without being able to two-hand a heavy shield. Still provides good damage for pummeling style or shield bash flurries.

I'm only level 6, so I plan on taking these future feats...
7) Shield Slam. As of now I only qualify for it when flurrying.
8 Class Bonus) Pummeling Charge -- Mmmmmm sweet pounce punches.
9 Class Bonus) Greater Shield Bonus
9) Two-Weapon Fighting -- Yes flurry sorta grants it. But I want it so Shield Slam and Shield Master will apply all the time like with AoOs, charges, immediate action attacks for whatever reason.
11 Class Bonus) Shield Master -- Will be so sweeeet.

Equipment.
My Dexterity wasn't the best, so I didn't feel the need for mithral chain. Instead I picked up darkleaf cloth lamellar armor (rather than leather). Cheaper than mithral, one less max Dex bonus, but don't gotta worry as much when fighting shocking grasp magus or rust mosnters lol.
Got than enchanted as +1, then +1 brawling as my first major investments when my Fame allowed it.
3 masterwork light throwing quickdraw shields. Cold iron, silver, and adamantine. Got the adamantine shield enchanted as armor, and will be enchanting it as weapon soon and getting the impervious (+3000 gp) weapon quality to keep it protected. Hardness 20-30 isn't enough for some stuff even PFS throws at characters' equipment. With shields, I'm cool with throwing the spares with flurry and keeping one shield on my person to keep benefiting from the AC bonus. Might not be thematic, but until errata comes out, gonna try and keep my butt protected. Died once from a critical scorching ray + 2 non crits. Gotta be careful.

Liberty's Edge

Very cool build. Was Improved Shield Bash worth it? I mean I assume punching is mostly used and when shield is used it is more for the throw in which case the Shield Bash Feat is not so important?
I was going to take it when Shield was going to be my everything weapon, but not so sure now.

I will likely boost Dex more at the cost of some stats to help max armor and a little boost to range attacks - for when I am not throwing it to do a trick.

Brawling is definitely a winner, that and Amulet is easy investment for fists, I can then improve the shields defense a bit :)


I have found the the Improved Shield Bash to be more situational now that Pummeling Style exists and could be argued for it's use via Martial Flexibility for early levels.

Before you can afford Brawling armor or if you don't have the Fame yet, when it comes to special material damage reduction (such as with low CR demons, wererats, etc) it's probably better to use your assortment of shields as the unarmed strikes at that point are maybe only a tad better even with Pummeling by then depending on the DR value. Plus it's a prereq for Shield Slam and Shield Master, which makes just as worth picking up as Combat Expertise.

Grand Lodge

Asteldian Caliskan wrote:

Very cool build. Was Improved Shield Bash worth it? I mean I assume punching is mostly used and when shield is used it is more for the throw in which case the Shield Bash Feat is not so important?

I was going to take it when Shield was going to be my everything weapon, but not so sure now.

I will likely boost Dex more at the cost of some stats to help max armor and a little boost to range attacks - for when I am not throwing it to do a trick.

Brawling is definitely a winner, that and Amulet is easy investment for fists, I can then improve the shields defense a bit :)

Is your STR or DEX your primary stat? Have you considered going for a dex build and using your extra feats to go for weapon finesse and to add spikes to your shield and enchant them with Agile? It'll up your overall AC in addition to your already ridiculous AC. You could put Agile on an Amulet of Mighty Fists too and get the best of both worlds for only a minor impact to your feats.

Also, while it doesn't directly address this archtype, I will shamelessly plug this since it covers most of my thoughts/options on the vanilla class (and a bit on unarmed attacks) and because I don't think there is another guide out there.

Liberty's Edge

I actually found that just yesterday! It was a great read!
I had thought about Agile and I may well go that way, but it does mean using another feat which I find I am already struggling with. Also I hate spending my money on that.
Course, if I cannot get the stats I want, then it is a Plan B.

Grand Lodge

I would recommend looking at the feats you want, and ask yourself which of them you would use in 100%, 75%, and 50% of encounters to help decide if you need tot take a feat... Adjusting for perquisites as needed. I've found that I rarely use more than half of my martial flexibility uses by using it for situational needs and focusing on the foundation feats early on.

I think for the shield champion many of the above feats are great, but you don't need to rush into those deep trees. At that level, you can afford to deviate a bit, and take those stronger feats with Martial Flexibility when things get dicey. If you spend all your permanent feats towards a single goal, you'll end up reducing your ability to adjust to a situation.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Advice / Brawler, Shield Champion Advice All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.