[PFS] What are the best Small-sized Builds?


Advice

Liberty's Edge

I play PFS exclusively. And the only time I've seen optimized small PCs is when they're riding on medium-sized mounts, I figure that their reduced movement speeds is the biggest deterrent to existence followed by how being small impacts grappling, bull-rushing, damage output due to strength, etc. Rhetorically speaking, what character build isn't made better by just switching the race to human and taking the additional feat?

So, character-flavor aside, my hope is to see this thread build into a list of great small PFS PCs, one's that can do what medium-sized PCs might "enviously look up to".

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Are you looking specifically for martial builds? Because the small size can be quite an asset, and not much of a liability, for a spellcaster. Especially when using rays, and the Dex bonus and size bonus of a Halfling or Wayang gives an effective +2 on attack rolls with your ranged touch attacks.

Personally, I've got a Gnome Illusionist wizard in Core, plus a Wayang Lore Warden archer fighter and Halfling ninja/Mouser swashbuckler. The lack of a Str penalty on Wayangs makes them great for small martial builds, and even on Halflings and Gnomes, the Str penalty doesn't hurt as much for archers as it would for regular melee builds. Not to mention all the Dex-to-damage options (agile weapons, Unchained rogue, Slashing/Fencing Grace...).


Well with the unchained rogue's ability to get dex to damage for free, small rogues are hugely improved.

You can dip into rogue for dex to damage and then go fighter or barbarian now, putting out some decent damage and still having dex for AC, etc.

I also think that small archers can be very effective.

For casters it generally doesn't matter what size you are, so you can easily optimize them just as you would a medium character.

Liberty's Edge

RainyDayNinja wrote:
Are you looking specifically for martial builds?

Not at all. All builds are welcome. I'd like to see how players get around the issues of being small. The more exotic the builds the more appealing. Hyperlinks and stat blocks are also welcome. My meta-question is whether it is possible to build a viable all-small party.


Mouser Swashbuckler


For pretty much any character that focuses primarily on spells (or bomb throwing alchemists), being small is better than medium, everything else being equal. +1 to AC and hit with rays and touch spells in exchange for smaller weapon damage dice and possibly reduced speed is a pretty big win.

For characters that use their weapons to damage, the penalty for being small and, as most do, having reduced strength amounts to -2 or -3 (if you are counting not having a racial str bump as part of your opportunity cost) which is not great, but certainly playable. For melee martial characters the speed becomes a problem. With the multitude of ways to get dex to damage now though, a small character can easily have quite similar damage to a medium one, with a better chance of hitting, albeit at some cost in other feats or options.

For a specific example, the classic dervish dance magus is at least as strong as a small character as a medium, although the more common small races don't have great stat synergy for that build.

Liberty's Edge

Be sure to ask yourself "am I saying at least as strong or as good as"? Although still useful counsel, what we're looking for here are builds where being smaller has a larger positive impact.


Just halfling with risky striker.

It is a second form of power attack that stacks with power attack, basically. It only works on large or larger creatures by default, but that is enough for a lot of higher level opponents- the system either makes enemies big and strong, or makes them smaller caster-y/rogue-y types that aren't damage sponges anyway.

When faced against dragons, they are monstrously effective. Particularly with a nice TWF style build (since risky striker lacks the 2 handed/offhand language; always a +2 per 4 BAB). So maybe a nice brawler with pummeling strike, or maybe an eldritch guardian fighter with the pseudo pounce from coordinated charge.

Thinking about eldritch guardian fighter, it also stacks with mutagenic warrior, which means wings and mutagens to make up for the strength thing.


I really like gnome for a life oracle. A bonus to Con for soaking damage with life link and/or Shield Other. And a bonus to Cha, because obviously.


Lamontius wrote:
Mouser Swashbuckler

My son is playing a halfling mouser swashbuckler ninja in PFS. His AC is pretty stellar while using a buckler. He purposefully provokes AOOs so he can jump into foe's squares so he can "ride" the foe.

Funny!

At level 3, he started using Ki Points to get in extra attacks.
At level 4, he hits for 1d6+5+2d6 sneak attack.
At level 5, he will be using TWF to really wail on foes.

The Risky Striker and Pirahna Strike feats and a Potion of Reduce Person are going to ignite the craziness around level 7.

Sovereign Court

Id assume dex to damage builds are great for smallies.


I find my gnome alchemist highly effective.

Grand Lodge

Most casters are better off as small creatures. Wizards and Witches have Wayang for INT boost. Oracle and Sorcerer have their choice of Gnome and Halfling.

Alchemist also enjoys being small. Bombs care not about your size, and throwing distance is set at 20ft, no matter your size.

Druid and Cleric *can* be small, but they lack a wis boost race in small size sadly.

The thing to keep in mind is that most damaging spells do not care if they are cast by a pixie or by a giant, they do their set damage. A favorite example of this is the Flame Blade spell in the fire domain and druid list. It deals 1d8+1/2 CL, targets touch AC (so the target AC to hit is never all that high) and the +1 AC from size makes you a little harder to eviscerate.

Also, the dex bonus many smalls get help with their range touch attacks (helping negate the need for point blank/precise).

Dark Archive

As others are saying, Dex to Damage and leveraging the +1 on AC and to Hit are your focuses. So, find a build that gets benefits from hitting and doesn't need the damage. It's been done before, but here's my attempt. I'm not huge for optimizing anything - this is a character I would actually play in PFS. Fell Magic + Close Range lets you use those Necromantic rays in close combat. Everything else is for fun. Your AC stays high and you can hit with that rapier often.

Smallgus
Gnome magus 3 (Pathfinder RPG Ultimate Magic 9)
N Small humanoid (gnome)
Init +3; Senses low-light vision; Perception +2

Defense
AC 19, touch 14, flat-footed 16 (+5 armor, +3 Dex, +1 size)
hp 24 (3d8+6)
Fort +4, Ref +4, Will +3; +2 vs. illusions
Defensive Abilities defensive training

Offense
Speed 20 ft.
Melee mwk cold iron rapier +7 (1d4/18-20) or
rapier +6 (1d4/18-20)
Special Attacks arcane pool (+1, 4 points), hatred, magus arcana (close range), spell combat, spellstrike
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 3rd; concentration +4)
1/day—bleed (DC 11), chill touch (DC 12), detect poison, touch of fatigue (DC 11)
Magus Spells Prepared (CL 3rd; concentration +8)
1st—chill touch (DC 15), ray of enfeeblement (DC 15), ray of enfeeblement (DC 15), shocking grasp
0 (at will)—dancing lights, daze (DC 13), detect magic, disrupt undead

Statistics
Str 11, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 16, Wis 11, Cha 9
Base Atk +2; CMB +1; CMD 14
Feats Low ProfileAPG, Weapon Finesse
Traits animal friend, focused mind
Skills Acrobatics +3 (-1 to jump), Climb +4, Disable Device +2, Fly +9, Handle Animal +3, Intimidate +3, Knowledge (arcana) +8, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +8, Knowledge (planes) +8, Perception +2, Ride +7, Spellcraft +7, Swim +4, Use Magic Device +3; Racial Modifiers +2 Perception
Languages Common, Draconic, Gnome, Osiriani, Shadowtongue, Sylvan
Other Gear +1 darkleaf cloth lamellar (leather) armor, mwk cold iron rapier, rapier, 130 gp

Special Abilities
Animal Friend +1 to Will saves when you are within 30' of an animal, Handle Animal is a Class Skill.
Arcane Pool +1 (4/day) (Su) Infuse own power into a held weapon, granting enhancement bonus or selected item powers.
Close Range (Ex) Using spellstrike, deliver ranged touch spells as melee touch spells.
Defensive Training +4 Gain a dodge bonus to AC vs monsters of the Giant subtype.
Focused Mind +2 to Concentration checks
Hatred +1 Gain a bonus to attack vs goblinoid/reptilian humanoids.
Low Profile +1 Dodge bonus to AC vs. Ranged attacks. You do not provide soft cover when ranged attacks pass through your square.
Low-Light Vision See twice as far as a human in low light, distinguishing color and detail.
Spell Combat (Ex) Use a weapon with one hand at -2 and cast a spell with the other.
Spellstrike (Su) Deliver touch spells as part of a melee attack.

Scarab Sages

The biggest problem with small builds is the movement speed. There are lots of ways around that though. Halfling Fleet of Foot gives you 30. You can also take a level of Barbarian, Bloodrager, or anything with the Travel Domain for an extra 10' each. Longstrider lasts an hour/level and gives another 10'.

Dark Archive

Imbicatus wrote:
Halfling Fleet of Foot gives you 30. You can also take a level of Barbarian, Bloodrager, or anything with the Travel Domain for an extra 10' each. Longstrider lasts an hour/level and gives another 10'.

Let's do them all. With flair, AC, and HP.

Speedling
Halfling barbarian (unchained, savage barbarian) 2/cleric of Desna 1 (Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player's Guide 79)
Small humanoid (halfling)
Init +4; Senses Perception +7

Defense
AC 20, touch 15, flat-footed 16 (+5 armor, +4 Dex, +1 size)
hp 35 (3 HD; 1d8+2d12+11)
Fort +8, Ref +4 (+1 bonus vs. trample attacks), Will +3; +2 vs. fear
Defensive Abilities uncanny dodge, underfoot; Resist underfoot

Offense
Speed 50 ft.
Melee mwk light mace +4 (1d4+1) or
mwk rapier +4 (1d4/18-20)
Special Attacks rage (9 rounds/day), channel positive energy 2/day (DC 9, 1d6), rage power (guarded stance +1)
Domain Spell-Like Abilities (CL 1st; concentration +2)
4/day—bit of luck
Cleric Spells Prepared (CL 1st; concentration +2)
1st—bless, longstriderD, lucky number
0 (at will)—create water, detect magic, mending
D Domain spell; Domains Luck, Travel

Statistics
Str 12, Dex 18, Con 16, Int 7, Wis 13, Cha 9
Base Atk +2; CMB +2; CMD 16
Feats Two-weapon Fighting, Weapon Finesse
Traits freedom fighter, killer
Skills Acrobatics +8 (+16 to jump), Climb +5, Diplomacy +3, Perception +7, Spellcraft +2; Racial Modifiers +2 Perception
Languages Common, Halfling
SQ agile feet (4/day), fast movement
Other Gear +1 darkleaf cloth lamellar (leather) armor, mwk light mace, mwk rapier, 150 gp

Special Abilities
Agile Feet (4/day) (Su) For 1 rd, you ignore difficult terrain.
Bit of Luck (4/day) (Sp) Target takes the higher of 2d20 for a d20 roll.
Cleric Channel Positive Energy 1d6 (2/day, DC 9) (Su) Positive energy heals the living and harms the undead; negative has the reverse effect.
Cleric Domain (Luck) Granted Powers: You are infused with luck, and your mere presence can spread good fortune.
Cleric Domain (Travel) Granted Powers: You are an explorer and find enlightenment in the simple joy of travel, be it by foot or conveyance or magic. Increase your base speed by 10 feet.
Fast Movement +10 (Ex) +10 feet to speed, unless heavily loaded.
Fearless +2 racial bonus vs Fear saves.
Guarded Stance +1 (Ex) Gain a +1 dodge bonus to AC while raging.
Killer Add weapon's critical modifier to its critical bonus damage.
Rage (Unchained, 9 rounds/day) (Ex) As a free action, gain temp hp, bonus to melee att/dam, thrown dam, will saves, but AC penalty and limited actions. 1 min fatigue when ended.
Uncanny Dodge (Ex) Retain Dex bonus to AC when flat-footed.
Underfoot +1 AC vs. larger opponents and +1 save vs. trample


Daring champion cavaliers are amazing for halflings.


Having your familiar carry you is also a good way to get around small size. Don't remember the exact way it was done, but it seemed pretty clever way to fly at first level. (good for sorcerer, wizard, witch, alchemist...)


The reason most of them are mounted is not necessarily to make up for the slow movement, but because PFS is not good for large mounts in the maps they draw. Small mounted characters have medium mounts and thus fit in the spaces the combats are designed for.

I have a Halfling Hunter or Sacred Huntmaster Inquisitor build that loves being mounted, as do Cavaliers.

Take a Mount with Bodyguard Archetype, wolf to start and small cat once that advances to medium size.

Take Outflank, Pack Flanking, Lookout and Escape Route as feats. Your mount gets them all thanks to the teamwork sharing of the hunter/sacred huntmaster ability.

Now, you can move anywhere on the map and never provoke, you always get to go in surprise rounds, (usually with a full round not just a standard), and always flank while mounted for a +4 with outflank, and if either crit the other gets an AoO. Mount gets to use AoOs on you (should always hit) to give +4 ac, you can take mounted combat to negate hits on him, and rack up.

Liberty's Edge

Rylar wrote:
Having your familiar carry you is also a good way to get around small size.

Don't you mean animal companion?

Liberty's Edge

I think he means Mauler familiars. Medium sized familiars carrying small sized PCs.


If you cast Ant Haul many familiars can carry around a small master no problem. An owl or hawk with ant haul can easily carry around a small character and a reasonable amount of gear.

Gnomes make the best heavens oracles, in addition to perfect stat bonuses they have a racial bonus to illusion DC's.

Halflings and Wayangs tend to make the best dex to damage characters.

Halflings also tend to make the best ray sorcerers and Wayangs the best ray wizards.

A Halfling Dual-Cursed Oracle with the adaptive luck alternate racial and the fate's favored trait is at or at least near the top of reroll builds.

I really want a race that has small size and a wisdom bonus. Grippli would fit the bill nicely and will possibly open up in the future like Wayangs did. We shall wait and see on that front though.


I've had fun with a wayang magus 2 ninja 3 so far.....


Yeah, I was talking ant haul. Make it even more fun cast reduce person first.


Goblin Musket Master - take the racial feat to wield medium sized firearms without penalty, 30 ft. base speed, and +4 dex on a dex-to-damage class.

All sorts of caster builds - a negative energy/inflict gnome cleric with travel domain and the potential for well-applied necromancy as well as Reach and Persistent Spell shenanigans has always seemed entertaining to me.

Grand Lodge

I'll throw myself into the ring for a superior Halflings build. Yes I'm mounted but I have plenty of reasons to be.

1: Superior movement
2: Top end damage that is delivered in a single hit. DR effects me less than a typical multi-hit character.
3: All day spider climb. Being able to scale a fort wall or house can come in handy. As well as using cliffs and obstructions as cover.
4: Reach
5: Coolness factor of a giant gecko and a Halfling that can break humans in half.

Also being a Ranger gives me access to spells and all the wands/scrolls that go with it. Let's not forget a rangers skill pool and favored enemy/Terrain bonuses.

In 8 levels he had to dismount once to enter a spa...inside a half-elf wanted to fight...well a 18 str + Favored enemy still made for a beatdown. Sure I didn't 1 shot like everything else but it still died without much a fight. And I'm not kidding most encounters are ended usually in 1 hit on a 3 or better roll.

Scarab Sages

Idle Champion wrote:
Goblin Musket Master - take the racial feat to wield medium sized firearms without penalty, 30 ft. base speed, and +4 dex on a dex-to-damage class

If the op is one of the handful of people with a goblin boon in PFS, this might be helpful.


Imbicatus wrote:
If the op is one of the handful of people with a goblin boon in PFS, this might be helpful.

People started talking about Wayangs, and while I haven't played PFS since last year, they weren't available without boons then. I assumed boons were fair game.

(Edit: quotes and brackets)

Shadow Lodge

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Idle Champion wrote:
Imbicatus wrote:
If the op is one of the handful of people with a goblin boon in PFS, this might be helpful.

People started talking about Wayangs, and while I haven't played PFS since last year, they weren't available without boons then. I assumed boons were fair game.

(Edit: quotes and brackets)

Wayangs are now available without boons.


Wayang, Nagaji, Kitsune and Tengu are open for season 6. Tengu carried over from previous season.


That's a fun cocktail of uncommon races - the Society's Pathfinders are becoming dangerously unrepresentative of the actual demographics of the cities in which they operate.

How are people going to feel when a band of 4-5 associated birdmen, atavistic hellspawn and magical fox-people comes asking prying questions about traumatic events before climbing into their basements?

I digress. On the main point - there's always the Gnome with Master Tinker - one of the easiest ways to collect weapon proficiencies for rogues, bards, non Battle/Metal oracles who want some combat effectiveness - like Flames mystery.

Gnome flames oracle with their weapon of choice, outgrowing the penalty of their curse sooner because of the FCB?

Liberty's Edge

Idle Champion wrote:
How are people going to feel when a band of 4-5 associated birdmen, atavistic hellspawn and magical fox-people comes asking prying questions about traumatic events before climbing into their basements?

Probably similar to how they feel about a band of 5 half-orcs or gnomes doing the same.


Deighton Thrane wrote:
Probably similar to how they feel about a band of 5 half-orcs or gnomes doing the same.

It must be a little weird being an NPC in PFS.

"Did I tell you, the old lighthouse didn't need its lantern fixing. Turns out a death cult had taken it over to wreck the merchant fleet - a Halfling riding a giant gecko, an angelically beautiful woman with a big-ass longbow, two musicians who kept on arguing about redundant bardic knowledge and the world's most obvious ninja sorted it all out. They even came to my store - didn't buy anything, though."

Besides, it was never 5 half-orcs and gnomes. The core races have an uphill battle against the human's bonus feat.


Ratfolk Wizard

EDIT: whups, replied without reading the OP. Dunno if Ratfolk are PFS Legal.


I think there are ratfolk boons.


Halfling paladin based on aid another is golden in PFS.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Small races are awesome. Bomus to stealth, to hit, ac. The CMD and strength penalty does not matter as much for casters, ranged or even in the long run for melees.

Typical combinations I work with are:
Halfling archer, paladin...or both. Halfing sorc also holds up and the new unchained rogue works well (for a rogue).
Gnome pyromancer.

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