An extremely general guide to making viable characters.


Advice

151 to 200 of 317 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | next > last >>

What you could do is say the ranges are X but if playing a difficult campaign they become Y. Flex the ranges by +/-10% depending on the style of the DM/table.

If you are determined to keep it as it is. I would consider picking less perjoritave colours than red/orange which are systematically used to denote bad/warning/danger.


I think this is a great guide and I don't see how getting your character to succeed 70% or more on their primary role in the party is in anyway power gaming. If your character is claiming to be a great swordsman then I'd find it hard to believe if he misses his mark half the time he swings his sword.

I hope to see more of your guides in the future, and you have my respect for sticking to your stance.

Sovereign Court

5 people marked this as a favorite.

@The Sword: you're expected to be able to complete (as a 4-player party) four CR=level encounters a day without being at great risk. I don't think it's odd to say you need to hit such monsters much more often than you miss them, to achieve that kind of daily workload.


Let's be clear we are saying that 70% is the minimum before spells, buffs, advantages etc. I know I'm repeating myself but it seems people are completely disregarding these things. If one person in the party uses bardic courage the party is now failing on a 3 or less on the dice. If someone uses total defence or a shield spell the enemy now only hits them on a 20. The corollary of this is that monsters only succeed 30% of the time.

These figures are all calculated against =CR. If you fight against lower creatures these become auto succeed or auto fail very very quickly.

The way Adventure Paths are written CR = to APL creatures are rare. In one AP book 2 for 5th level the encounters are skeletons, a skeletal champion w1 (CR 2), troglodytes, a large crocodile and a trog cleric 3 (CR 3), Boggards, and some levelled Boggards (CR 3-4). A hydra (CR 6) is the toughest creature in that first section and frankly would be lucky to last one round against these average damages.

If you you want your combats to last one round and for characters to be in no danger at all then by all means stick to a base 70% benchmark. You will cake walk every AP and your DM might as well hand you the book to read and go watch a film because there really won't be any point rolling dice.

Grand Lodge

Honestly, I think I've balanced and clarified the guide to the point that any argument that it requires *gasp* dreaded Power Gaming can only come from those that either don't understand the guide, or don't understand what an effective character is.

Though arguments against my AC benchmarks can be valid or invalid depending on context. I'm working on a benchmarking model for survivability that may be more holistic and useful.

Grand Lodge

The Sword wrote:

Let's be clear we are saying that 70% is the minimum before spells, buffs, advantages etc. I know I'm repeating myself but it seems people are completely disregarding these things. If one person in the party uses bardic courage the party is now failing on a 3 or less on the dice. If someone uses total defence or a shield spell the enemy now only hits them on a 20. The corollary of this is that monsters only succeed 30% of the time.

These figures are all calculated against =CR. If you fight against lower creatures these become auto succeed or auto fail very very quickly.

The way Adventure Paths are written CR = to APL creatures are rare. In one AP book 2 for 5th level the encounters are skeletons, a skeletal champion w1 (CR 2), troglodytes, a large crocodile and a trog cleric 3 (CR 3), Boggards, and some levelled Boggards (CR 3-4). A hydra (CR 6) is the toughest creature in that first section and frankly would be lucky to last one round against these average damages.

If you you want your combats to last one round and for characters to be in no danger at all then by all means stick to a base 70% benchmark. You will cake walk every AP and your DM might as well hand you the book to read and go watch a film because there really won't be any point rolling dice.

Basically you're saying that characters should be constructed to balance against weak enemies when you're well buffed.

Okay, what about tough fights (CR=APL+3), and you have already had some fights? You might have a debuff or two going. That happens. A viable character is one who can live through it, and hopefully help other to as well.

CR=APL encounters made of low CR mooks should be a walk in the park. That provides contrast with the BBEG.


That is correct. I would expect 70-95% success against lower mooks and 50-65% success against the BBEG. That isn't what your guide advocates in practice. As I have just illustrated in the above section of Adventure path, your 'viability' guide green tier means I am 70-95% successful against the BBEG (or more with buffs and spells) and everything else is in the blue.

Weighting the guide to take account of AP +3 challenges that are described as 'epic' in the rules is a mistake. They occur very rarely - and usually at much higher levels By that point players can dramatically increase their effectiveness given preparation.

I think when you're writing a viability guide and therefore laying out what you need in order to be successful you should consider setting the bar lower lest players think anything less than overwhelming odds of success is to be feared.


I think in all this discussion, APL equivalent encounter is being mistaken for APL equivilent creature. As a result you are actually building for encounters much harder than are typically found in published works and that is resulting in a flaw in the difficulty levels.

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
The Sword wrote:

That is correct. I would expect 70-95% success against lower mooks and 50-65% success against the BBEG. That isn't what your guide advocates in practice. As I have just illustrated in the above section of Adventure path, your 'viability' guide green tier means I am 70-95% successful against the BBEG (or more with buffs and spells) and everything else is in the blue.

Weighting the guide to take account of AP +3 challenges that are described as 'epic' in the rules is a mistake. They occur very rarely - and usually at much higher levels By that point players can dramatically increase their effectiveness given preparation.

I think when you're writing a viability guide and therefore laying out what you need in order to be successful you should consider setting the bar lower lest players think anything less than overwhelming odds of success is to be feared.

No. The guide is against an AMCREL. That is neither a challenging nor trivial encounter. It assumes unbuffed, or buff=debuff conditions.

That is the most numerically controlled conditions I can imagine to construct benchmarks around.

Furthermore, I have repeatedly demonstrated that the benchmarks fairly accurately represent combat efficacy with the various builds that have been written in this thread.

When I discuss tough encounters, I'm not saying we should expect 70%+ efficacy. We should expect that level of competence in 'average' encounters, so that we're still at least somewhat effective during tougher encounters.

I'm done belaboring these points. If you don't want to use the guide, you don't have to.

Grand Lodge

The Sword wrote:
I think in all this discussion, APL equivalent encounter is being mistaken for APL equivilent creature. As a result you are actually building for encounters much harder than are typically found in published works and that is resulting in a flaw in the difficulty levels.

No. I understand this distinction. Using single monster stats provides a more concrete basis for benchmark construction than the assumption of multiple lower CR creatures adding up to one CR=APL encounter.

The advantage bunches of low CR creatures has is numbers. You still want your benchmarks to be balanced against an AMCREL such that you can eliminate mooks efficiently enough not to be overwhelmed.


Thankies this'll help me sorta play with weird builds and guess how they do.

So far. not well haha. I sure seem to lack to hit when i'm rolling up 3/4th classes.

Sovereign Court

To take a look at The Sword's claims that EL = APL+3 encounters are very rare, I counted encounters in some S7 PFS scenarios. Some scenarios contain traps that have a CR, are quite hard to avoid, and have dire consequences; I've included those in cursive. The series between curly braces is what you're expected to do in a single day. Note that this is assuming a 6-player party so APL = tier+1.

A fairly easy 1-5 adventure (combat-wise):
1-2 {2, 3}, {4}
4-5 {5, 6}, {7}

A dangerous 3-7 adventure with some "unfair" encounter setups:
3-4 { 6, 6, 4, 6, 7}
6-7 { 9, 9, 7, 9, 10}

A quite dangerous 5-9 adventure with "fair, but very nasty" enemies:
5-6 {8, 8, 9, 9, 5, 9}
8-9 {11, 11, 12, 12, 8, 12}

In addition, I took a look at the ELs in Iron Gods part III;
At level 8 you're working your way through approximately the following: 7, 8, 8, 7, 8, 8, 8, 7, 8, 9, 10, 8, 9, 8, 8, 9, 9, 7, 11. Some of these are stationary, some of them wander around. There are occasional opportunities to seal a floor and rest up.
Around the time you reach level 9 you're facing the following ELs: 9, 9, 9, 9, 10, 12.

Encounters generally consist of 1-3 creatures. The CR 12 monster can (and will) visit you anywhere on both levels and if defeated will respawn unless complicated steps are taken.


Pathfinder Society is playing with larger parties hence the higher levels. If you run PFS with six characters successful the 70%.success is going to make mincemeat of even higher level challenges because of the party's actions economy. At the same time the nature of these modules with each player getting to start fresh effectively makes the Challenge easier. That said if this is a guide for PFS modules lets get it labelled such as that is a very different style of play to home games.

I think you have just made my point with the Iron Gods AP (known as having particularly high CR challenges) there is only 2 X APL +3 encounters out of 25 encounters. I consider this to be rare. Of the encounters listed the majority are multiple creatures of a lower CR.

You can still tackle the 2 x epic challenges across the adventure - it's just that they may need planning, tactics and *gasp* maybe a tactical withdrawal on occasion!


Le Petite Mort wrote:
The Sword wrote:
I think in all this discussion, APL equivalent encounter is being mistaken for APL equivilent creature. As a result you are actually building for encounters much harder than are typically found in published works and that is resulting in a flaw in the difficulty levels.

No. I understand this distinction. Using single monster stats provides a more concrete basis for benchmark construction than the assumption of multiple lower CR creatures adding up to one CR=APL encounter.

The advantage bunches of low CR creatures has is numbers. You still want your benchmarks to be balanced against an AMCREL such that you can eliminate mooks efficiently enough not to be overwhelmed.

it may be more concrete, but it is also incorrect because they aren't the challenges you are facing in game. If your figures are based on hitting creatures that =APL but the party actually fights multiple APL-2 then your success criteria are going to be 2 levels off. It makes 70% success threshold closer to 80/85% success again before tactics/ buffs/spells.

These encounters I reference aren't necessarily consisting of dozens of mooks (in fact they rarely do), they are 2 or 3 creatures two or three levels below APL.

Look I'm not knocking the intention of the guide, nor the maths. Just the core premise that 70% - 95% success against APL creatures is needed to be viable in normal Pathfinder play. You clearly disagree with me, you obviously play a very different style of Pathfinder to me and the groups I have seen.

Liberty's Edge

The Sword wrote:
I think in all this discussion, APL equivalent encounter is being mistaken for APL equivilent creature. As a result you are actually building for encounters much harder than are typically found in published works and that is resulting in a flaw in the difficulty levels.

Well, let's examine this assertion. Shall we?

I'm gonna look over an AP, say, Reign of Winter. Books 1, 3, and 5. And see how many encounters involve fighting creatures equal to or above APL in CR (assuming PCs hit levels when the book says they should). Ignoring traps and encounters where traps are the highest CR thing there (since those aren't what we're examining).

So:

Book 1: 24/34 encounters involve foes of CR at least equal to the PCs APL. Some are higher, many also involve minions that aren't of as high CR. No individual creatures are CR of APL +3 (though a few encounters are), but APL +2 CR creatures aren't uncommon at all (maybe a fifth of encounters or so).

Book 3: 27/36 encounters involve foes of CR at least equal to the PCs APL. Many with multiple creatures of that level. Again, few creatures at APL +3 in CR (though there are some), but APL+2 isn't uncommon at all.

Book 5: 9/38 encounters involve foes of CR at least equal to the PCs APL. The rest are CR balanced, but involve larger numbers of lower CR foes. Only the main villain is much above APL in his CR, but is +3 above it.

So...this claim pretty much falls apart completely under actual scrutiny of available material. It's true of 1/3 of the things I looked at, and the highest level part, not the lowest level part.

Obviously, looking at one half of one AP isn't super scientific, but I haven't heard RoW called the harshest AP or anything, and the above matches the impressions I've gotten from reading other adventures and APs. There are adventures where fighting something of your APL in CR is the exception, but they're in the minority. That's mostly a pretty standard encounter, and you're in trouble if you can't deal with it.


I have heard it discussed as one of the harshest. I am happy to do similar analysis for the other APs when I get home.

Liberty's Edge

The Sword wrote:
I have heard it discussed as one of the harshest. I am happy to do similar analysis for the other APs when I get home.

Okay, let's look at Shattered Star instead. Chapters 1, 3, and 5 again:

1: 23/57 encounters involve foes of CR at least equal to the PCs APL.

3: 11/33 encounters involve foes of CR at least equal to the PCs APL.

5: 9/31 encounters involve foes of CR at least equal to the PCs APL.

That's a fair bit lower, but still well over 1/3 of Encounters and thus more than common enough that you need to be able to handle it when it occurs.

And that's an AP. PFS has a lot more. This is due to, as you mention, high numbers of players, but that reason doesn't actually change the stats of the creatures you need to be able to fight.


I've just done book 3 of hells rebels as I happen to have it on Kindle. 12 out of 34 encounters feature creatures of the APL or higher. The highest creature is
APL +1.

I'd be interested to know what the highest Creature CR is in the adventures you've diacussed because I believe these APL+2 or 3 creatures are very rare and simply don't exist in many adventures.

You are of course right that PFS have higher CR creatures but in those cases you have 50% extra PCs so success doesn't need to be as high in an encounter with 3 or 4 players.

Based in the evidence you have presented my assertion is correct.

Liberty's Edge

The Sword wrote:
I've just done book 3 of hells rebels as I happen to have it on Kindle. 12 out of 34 encounters feature creatures of the APL or higher. The highest creature is APL +1.

Noted.

The Sword wrote:
I'd be interested to know what the highest Creature CR is in the adventures you've diacussed because I believe these APL+2 or 3 creatures are very rare and simply don't exist in many adventures.

There hasn't been a single adventure I've looked over without at least one. Book 5 of Shattered Star has at least 2 (I think 3, I'd have to look again to be sure).

The Sword wrote:
You are of course right that PFS have higher CR creatures but in those cases you have 50% extra PCs so success doesn't need to be as high in an encounter with 3 or 4 players.

Well, to some degree this is true, but if you can't handle creatures of CR equal to your APL, you're...less than useful in those encounters. Remember, it takes two people with Green EDL two turns to kill an equal CR monster. Four are needed to kill it in one turn. And that's with full attacks, which may not be available until the 2nd turn or so.

The Sword wrote:
Based in the evidence you have presented my assertion is correct.

No it isn't. Being not very useful (and not even doing a quarter of the enemy's HP on a full attack is not very useful) in over 1/3 of encounters is not really very viable. And that's leaving aside the defensive stuff.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Shouldn't the base be something that corresponds to 15 point buy and automatic bonus progression (ABP)? I'm thinking probably no more than a 17 in the prime ability, with the leveling and items as suggested by ABP from Pathfinder Unchained.

If you can't get that into the green, the bottom of green is probably set too high.


Okay well skull and shackles book 3 doesn't have an AP +3 encounter - though it does have 2x APL+2. Overall it has 16/31 creatures are APL or higher. That's the second one I have seen without them.

Book 2 has one APL+3 character who in fairness has to attack a fortification the PCs are defending. It has 16/50 creatures that are APL or higher.

Book 2 of Hells Rebells has 20/41 encounters APL or higher and features two APL +3 characters, one of which you get to lay an ambush for.

Can we agree based on what we have seen that lower CR creatures makes up just over half of the encounters faced in Adventure paths and that APL +3 fights are rare comprising 0-2 per book equating to 0-6% of all fights?

"Less Useful" is a relative term when your success is 70-95% I can't really discuss things in terms of "not very useful" because what useful means is clearly massively different.

Doing a quarter of an enemies HP each means in round 1 four PCs can kill the creature and 2 are left twiddling their thumbs. Imagine if a creature took out a 1/4 of the party's resources in one round how ridiculous that would be!

There seems to a growing trend on the boards that unless you are soloing creatures you are somehow letting the party down. Very odd, and not how PFS was designed.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Sometimes I worry that the word "play" is in great danger of being removed from the description of these types of games

Sovereign Court

BretI wrote:

Shouldn't the base be something that corresponds to 15 point buy and automatic bonus progression (ABP)? I'm thinking probably no more than a 17 in the prime ability, with the leveling and items as suggested by ABP from Pathfinder Unchained.

If you can't get that into the green, the bottom of green is probably set too high.

Dubious. The original assumption for stats inherited from 3.5 was roll 4d6, drop lowest, which averages out closer to 20pt build.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Ascalaphus wrote:
BretI wrote:

Shouldn't the base be something that corresponds to 15 point buy and automatic bonus progression (ABP)? I'm thinking probably no more than a 17 in the prime ability, with the leveling and items as suggested by ABP from Pathfinder Unchained.

If you can't get that into the green, the bottom of green is probably set too high.

Dubious. The original assumption for stats inherited from 3.5 was roll 4d6, drop lowest, which averages out closer to 20pt build.

On the other hand, among the point-buy values in the Core Rulebook, the one labeled "standard" fantasy is 15pts, while 20pts is "high". Additionally, every NPC with PC-class levels is assumed by default to be using the Heroic Stat Array, which is a 15pt buy array.

I think calling rolled stats the "original assumption"—at least in the context of working with the math of the system as a whole—is misguided at best.


While this was a good guide, it begs a bigger question.
Just exactly how dangerous adventure really should be?
After all, any victory can ring hollow if you never felt threatened to die. I have seen that, I have seen well built characters bulldozing published material with no effort. And your regular GM is not going to become a game designed and one fly tinker with all encounters to make them "properly challenging".

Where goes that wobbly line of player feeling confident enough that they can do what they desire but still a little fear of god in them so they actually feel some emotion in the adventure other than boredom?

Sovereign Court

Jiggy wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:
BretI wrote:

Shouldn't the base be something that corresponds to 15 point buy and automatic bonus progression (ABP)? I'm thinking probably no more than a 17 in the prime ability, with the leveling and items as suggested by ABP from Pathfinder Unchained.

If you can't get that into the green, the bottom of green is probably set too high.

Dubious. The original assumption for stats inherited from 3.5 was roll 4d6, drop lowest, which averages out closer to 20pt build.

On the other hand, among the point-buy values in the Core Rulebook, the one labeled "standard" fantasy is 15pts, while 20pts is "high". Additionally, every NPC with PC-class levels is assumed by default to be using the Heroic Stat Array, which is a 15pt buy array.

I think calling rolled stats the "original assumption"—at least in the context of working with the math of the system as a whole—is misguided at best.

NPCs with PC levels are also assumed to have less wealth by level than PCs; clearly they aren't quite the same.

The CRB lists rolling-4d6-drop-lowest as the "Standard" way of generating abilities; Purchase is an alternative. It's an extremely widely used alternative of course because it's needed for organized play. However, claiming that r4d6k3 is equivalent to 15pt is just wrong. It's also telling that PFS uses 20pt buy and from what I hear, that's also what the newer APs use as assumption.

Liberty's Edge

The Sword wrote:
Can we agree based on what we have seen that lower CR creatures makes up just over half of the encounters faced in Adventure paths and that APL +3 fights are rare comprising 0-2 per book equating to 0-6% of all fights?

I'd say the percentage of +3 APL fights is about that, yeah. +2 APL fights are quite a bit more common, though. And, as you demonstrate, somewhere between a third and half of encounters are with enemies with a CR of APL or higher.

The Sword wrote:
"Less Useful" is a relative term when your success is 70-95% I can't really discuss things in terms of "not very useful" because what useful means is clearly massively different.

Uh...nobody is saying 70% isn't useful. That's the bar for usefulness on Save DC. People are saying that having less than that on Save DCs isn't good to rely on as your primary combat role.

And that taking more than four turns to kill a CR=APL creature is likewise not a good main thing to be doing in combat. Which is, as mentioned, the important measure. Actual attack bonus is less relevant.

The Sword wrote:
Doing a quarter of an enemies HP each means in round 1 four PCs can kill the creature and 2 are left twiddling their thumbs. Imagine if a creature took out a 1/4 of the party's resources in one round how ridiculous that would be!

That's with Full Attacks. PCs aren't usually all gonna get full attacks on round one. Also, that assumes a single CR=APL foe vs. 6 PCs. Which effectively make it an APL-1 encounter. Ie: the sort of thing that's supposed to be easy.

Basically, you're complaining that doing this makes encounters that are supposed to be easy by the rules actually easy. That's an odd thing to complain about.

The Sword wrote:
There seems to a growing trend on the boards that unless you are soloing creatures you are somehow letting the party down. Very odd, and not how PFS was designed.

That's not what this discussion is about, though. It's not at all about soloing creatures. Indeed, if a creature lasts 4 rounds in Pathfinder and it's not the main boss, something is likely very wrong and PCs are about to die.

It's about making a solid contribution to success.


It is so frustrating preparing an encounter, thinking of terrain, tactics and level appropriate threats to have PCs smash them in one round - not because they are lucky but just because they succeed on 3+ die rolls. Sure you can increase qty of threats but then you aren't changing the core dice rolls. If you increase CR you increase the risk that luck or a mistake wipes the floor with the group.

For skull and shackles I find myself removing big six items, doubling encounter numbers an adding advanced template to single creatures. Four PCs still plow through comfortably, though we did have a death when a bulette critted several times in a row with a full Attack pounce. That's how it should be for me - death when unlucky or foolish - or when fighting Orcus!

Liberty's Edge

BretI wrote:

Shouldn't the base be something that corresponds to 15 point buy and automatic bonus progression (ABP)? I'm thinking probably no more than a 17 in the prime ability, with the leveling and items as suggested by ABP from Pathfinder Unchained.

If you can't get that into the green, the bottom of green is probably set too high.

You can, for the most part anyway.

For example, a 5th level Fighter with Str 16 and automatic bonus progression has a total of +10 to hit with no investment (+3 Str, +5 BAB, +1 Weapon Training, +1 weapon attunement). Add in Weapon Focus and his attack is green (at +11). Getting his EDV to green requires Power Attack and Weapon Specialization as well. But that's it. His AC can be 22 with Full Plate alone (and Dex 14), and thus Orange. His Saves are mediocre, but with Iron Will, Dex and Con 14 and Wis 12 (all very reasonable with Str 16), he has a +7, +4, +5. That's plenty for Orange (which is the requirement) and even Green on Fort. So...yeah, a Fighter can do it with very average stats, plate armor, and 4 Feats. And Fighter is...not a great class compared to most at this level.

It's slightly harder to manage Save DCs with a Wizard at 5th, but if you start with a 17 Int, and boost it to 18 at 4th, you can get to Green with just Spell Focus. So that's a single Feat. You also need either Dex 14, Con 14, or a save enhancer Feat to meet Saves, but Mage Armor, Shield, and Dex 14 gets you to AC 21. So, yeah, that's doable with a single Feat and decent stat allotment.

So...that's actually very doable.

Ascalaphus wrote:
Dubious. The original assumption for stats inherited from 3.5 was roll 4d6, drop lowest, which averages out closer to 20pt build.

APS and modules all assume 15 point-buy, though, which makes it a valid yardstick to measure by.

Ascalaphus wrote:
It's also telling that PFS uses 20pt buy and from what I hear, that's also what the newer APs use as assumption.

All APs assume 15 point-buy to this day.

Liberty's Edge

The Sword wrote:
It is so frustrating preparing an encounter, thinking of terrain, tactics and level appropriate threats to have PCs smash them in one round - not because they are lucky but just because they succeed on 3+ die rolls. Sure you can increase qty of threats but then you aren't changing the core dice rolls. If you increase CR you increase the risk that luck or a mistake wipes the floor with the group.

See, when I GM (which is almost always with Pathfinder...I've gotten to play in only a couple games of it that went more than a few sessions, while I just completed running an AP), I'm a fan of the PCs. I wasnt them to do well. When they blow through an encounter because they're awesome, I applaud.

I obviously also like to challenge them, and modify encounters to do this whenever the mood strikes. Since they're pretty optimized, that can sometimes be challenging. Of course, I've also almost wiped the party by accident a few times in unmodified AP encounters.

The Sword wrote:
For skull and shackles I find myself removing big six items, doubling encounter numbers an adding advanced template to single creatures. Four PCs still plow through comfortably, though we did have a death when a bulette critted several times in a row with a full Attack pounce. That's how it should be for me - death when unlucky or foolish - or when fighting Orcus!

APs are designed at a relatively low optimization bar. If your PCs really only need a 3 to hit, they're well above the floor this guide provides, and you're obviously gonna need to do stuff like this.

But that's a significantly higher bar than this guide really sets. Heck, the defensive benchmarks in this guide are really pretty easily overcome, which can easily result in PC deaths even if they have killer offense.


Having some problems calculating EDV for my characters. Is there a better explanation somewhere on how to get the numbers for the formula?

Average damage, I can get that, but the others are just confusing me on how they are calculated.

{Yes, I took statistics in College, but the knowledge on how to use it just seems to have disappeared after I graduated :( }

Scarab Sages

Deadmanwalking - Adding Power Attack just took the 16 STR fighter back down to an orange attack roll, though. Power attack is a fairly standard feat for a melee character, and pretty necessary to reach green in EDV. So, in order to get to a green attack and a green EDV, the fighter at least needs to start play with an 18 STR, take Weapon Focus, have a MWK or magic weapon, and have purchased a Belt of STR +2 by level 5. That is the minimum for green with Power Attack. For a full-BAB class with lots of feats and a built in always on bonus to attack and damage.

A Full BAB Ranger with an 18 STR, Weapon Focus, a MWK or +1 weapon, a Belt of STR +2, and Power Attack is only going to be at +10 unless fighting their favored enemy.

Everyone is looking at what bonuses it takes to kill the creature. Very few posters are looking at the investment that it takes to get those bonuses. That's where I contend this turns into an optimization guide. It sets the minimum investment necessary to achieve those bonuses at a level where, if you don't invest the majority of your available fears and resources into offense, you can't be green in attack and damage. It's the equivalent of telling a player you must start with an 18 STR. You must take Weapon Focus. You must take Power Attack. You must buy a +1 weapon. You must buy a belt of STR +2 as soon as possible. And if you want to add defense in, you must buy Heavy Armor. You must have a Dex bonus to AC. You must invest another feat/trait/whatever into AC.

It's better with the minimum for green at +11. More classes can reach that with just the investment that I've listed. Getting to +12 or higher actually requires more of an investment than I've listed. Like starting with a 20 STR.

The new language in the guide also doubles down on the idea that if you're [i]only[/] +9 or +10 to hit, you're a secondary melee character. You better have something else you do first in combat. And that throws a lot of 3/4 BAB classes into the why bother category.

Liberty's Edge

As has been stated repeatedly, including by the guide itself, EDV is the thing you need to have Green.

Having a Green attack as well is nice, but not required at all. EDV is plenty.

The guide itself could maybe be a little clearer on this point, but that's been mentioned as something that's in the works.

Silver Crusade

Ferious I noticed it seems as though you have forgotten that Furious Focus is a thing. As well as Classes and Feat lines (Such as archery) that give extra attacks early and thus can get those numbers.

A good example being say an Inquisitor. At 5th level one such character with Power Attack and Furious Focus can have the Green in both Attack and damage while having orange or green in the other values. This assumes a +1 Weapon.

Scarab Sages

And as has been stated in response, any player making a melee character where attacking is their thing in combat is not going to feel good about being told their +9 or +10 to hit is "passable." They are going to want to be green in both attack and damage. If to-hit is less important, then why not lower it? Everyone counters with if you aren't hitting 70% of the time, then you aren't good.

I agree that a 70% hit rate is desirable. The difference is that guide is setting that as the minimum, and I consider it more like the average for a good melee character.

Liberty's Edge

Ferious Thune wrote:
And as has been stated in response, any player making a melee character where attacking is their thing in combat is not going to feel good about being told their +9 or +10 to hit is "passable." They are going to want to be green in both attack and damage. If to-hit is less important, then why not lower it? Everyone counters with if you aren't hitting 70% of the time, then you aren't good.

Because less than a 70% isn't actually great. Your to-hit doesn't need to be great, but lowering standards in one area and not others makes the guide kinda meaningless.

The guide repeatedly emphasizes that you're probably not gonna be Blue in anything, and will be Orange in most things, including most offensive things (those that aren't Red). If your EDV is Green, you have the one Green offense the guide recommends and are good to go.

The guide should maybe make that slightly clearer, but assuming it's clarified, I doubt most people are gonna actually feel bad about their Power Attacking bonus being below Green.

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Endoralls - No, I'm aware of what feats are out there. I'm saying that being a viable character should not require two feats an 18 STR a magic weapon and a magic belt. That is more than viable.

A 16 STR inquisitor at level 5 would be BAB 3, Magic 1, STR 3, for a base of +7. The guide makes it seem like that's a barely passable melee character. It's a perfectly viable melee character, because Inquisitor has the ability to boost things considerably for the harder fights. He's Google to be fine unbuffed in most CR=level encounters. With a single CR=level creature comes along, he can Judgement, Bane, and Divine Favior if needed and reach Green. But his baseline is significantly lower than what is described as good.

When I say players need to optimize to reach those numbers, and someone responds that all I need to do is take Furious Focus, that's saying optimize. So now we're talking an 18 STR, full-BAB, +1 Weapon, STR belt, Weapon Focus, Power Attack, and Furious Focus. You're telling me to optimize more, when I'm saying it's already requiring too much optimization.

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Deadmanwalking - I would feel a lot better about it if the guide did not use words like "passable" and "secondary" for orange. And if there were another category below orange that actually described secondary melee characters. Even just calling the category "average," as in this is where a melee character will fall who has committed an average number of resources towards being a melee character. What the guide is saying is that average isn't good enough. And that the 14 STR cleric who runs out of spells may as well not step up and enter melee at all.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

The thing is, only succeeding at something 50-60% of the time is not something that you should want to be your 'thing'. If a doctor or engineer was only successful 50-60% of the time we would ask for their resignation. If someone in my group is being a melee fighter, some one I am relying on to keep me safe and protect me [same position in the party that doctors and engineers have in society], and is only sucessful 50-60% of the time, I want him to do something so that MY character doesn't die due to his poor abilities.

Making a guide on viability really shouldn't be based around making people FEEL successful, or trying to minimize their feeling bad about only being passable, but rather actually showing them where they need to be at to BE successful.

Scarab Sages

But in reality, you're going to succeed much more than 50-60% of the time, even if you only have a +7. You'll be fighting a lot of creatures at less than CR=Level. You'll be closer to 75% on them without any party buffs. Most classes have some ability to turn things up a notch for the tougher fight, so my example Inquisitor could be +11 for one fight, maybe two, if needed. Higher if the party is buffing. That's a perfectly viable character. It probably can't solo a dungeon, but it's not going to be ineffective in combat at all.

Grand Lodge

There seems to be a common, "but, buffs!" argument coming up. Remember that debuffs will also be commonly levied against the players, enemies will also buff themselves/their allies, and that many fights occur without pre-buff time. I created benchmarks with the assumption that it all comes out in the wash, because to do otherwise introduces more variance than can be accounted for in a document such as this.

Silver Crusade

Ferious, your example Inquisitor is different from mine in that your Strength is not 18 but that is simply a factor of 1 to hit and 2 to damage. A +7 is quite low as the chart shows but in practice the attack will not be that low for a plethora of reasons. Your previous Paladin by contrast was quite low at +7. The Difference being The Inquisitor with little effort reaches green and not for one or two fights for multiple Fights. Some it uses Bane which skyrocket EDV and Attack, Some it uses Judgement, Some it simply Casts Bless, which lasts 5 minutes and at that point can be on well before a fight or into multiple fights depending on the Dungeon.ost of the options take a swift or no action. Depending on the Inquisition or Domain They may not even have to do that. I havent even crept into their 2nd level spells.

This guide does not care for feelings, it represents competency and validity. With its entire kit an Inquisitor demonstrates its possible to be green most of the time, if you try harder it can be Blue. There is not alot of optimization there.

Silver Crusade

A little theorycrafting using the metrics as currently posted:Is he viable? One handed or great weapon fighters with "boring" standard feats and items.

Human fighter 5. Str 19, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 10
Weapon Focus (1), Power Attack (1), Dodge (1), Mobility or whatever(2) Iron Will (3), Weapon Specialization (4), Improved Initiative or whatever(5)

Longsword and shield: Equipment. +1 longsword, +1 fullplate, +1 heavy steel shield, +1 cloak of resistance, +1 amulet of natural armor, 1378 gp in consumables or misc items

Greatsword: Equipment: +1 greatsword, +1 fullplate, +1 cloak of resistance, +1 amulet of natural armor, +1 ring of protection, 335 gp in consumables or misc items.

Atk: +12 (+5 BAB, +4 Str, +1 WF, +1 weapon, +1 Weapon Training)
Damage: 1d8+8 (+4 str, +1 weapon, +2 weapon spec +1 weapon training) or 2d6+10
AC: 24 or 26 (+1 dex, +10 armor, +1 natural, +1 dodge, +3 shield or +1 deflection)

Saves +7/+3/+5

So, how do they measure up. Offensively, both hit green attack bonuses but can only hit blue with a combination of buffs and positioning (Bull's strength+flanking is enough to hit blue).

Base EDV is 10.31 with the longsword--orange--or 14.025--green for the greatsword.

With Power Attack, the longsword gets up to 11.7975--still orange but nearly green-- and the greatsword gets up to 16.445 which is still not close to blue. If you assume some positional bonus such as flanking longsword gets up to 13.6125--just barely shy of green--and greatsword gets up to 18.975.

If we switch gears and assume that the one-handed weapon wielder is using a bastard sword instead (who needs Mobility?), then EDV goes up to 14.4375 with Power Attack and a flanking bonus--and does hit the elusive green bench mark.

In terms of AC, they are both green unless provoking an AoO in which case the longsword hits blue.

Saves are all orange or red for both of them unless it is a fort save on a fear effect (Phantasmal Killer).

So, according to the benchmarks here, there are a few interesting conclusions that run counter to established board wisdom.

1. A sword and board fighter with a bastard sword is viable but one with a longsword is not.
2. Power Attack is more important for one-handed weapon users than for two-handed weapon users. The one-handed guys can't hit the benchmarks without it, but the greatsword guy does.
3. Good (green) defense is fairly easy for a fighter to get.
4. Human fighters don't have viable saves (1 shy of green fort and orange Reflex) but half-orcs with sacred tattoos do.
5. Blue EDV is not really acheivable by an unbuffed lvl 5 fighter. (But haste will put both fighters to blue (as long as the guy with the longsword is using Power Attack and can get a flank.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Ferious Thune wrote:
Deadmanwalking - I would feel a lot better about it if the guide did not use words like "passable" and "secondary" for orange. And if there were another category below orange that actually described secondary melee characters. Even just calling the category "average," as in this is where a melee character will fall who has committed an average number of resources towards being a melee character. What the guide is saying is that average isn't good enough. And that the 14 STR cleric who runs out of spells may as well not step up and enter melee at all.

I agree with the conclusion--the guide needs more granularity on the low end, especially with regard to EDV which is especially punishing at the recommended evaluation level of 5.

But I think the danger is that a player relying on the guide will think that there is no point to making a 14 strength cleric, that it's either battle cleric all the way and go for 18 strength, or there's no point in bothering and you might as well go with a 10 strength and hide in the back with the wizard. There's a big difference between the 14 strength cleric with a +1 mace (+6 to hit for 1d8+3 damage; EDV 3.54375 at 5th level) and a wizard with a 10 strength and a masterwork dagger (+3 to hit for 1d4 damage; EDV 0.825) but the viability guide shows them both as red. The cleric has an attack that is a contribution to the battle (more so than Aid other on the fighter's attack). The wizard is useless and would be better off using Aid Other than attacking.

Grand Lodge

Elder Basilisk wrote:
Ferious Thune wrote:
Deadmanwalking - I would feel a lot better about it if the guide did not use words like "passable" and "secondary" for orange. And if there were another category below orange that actually described secondary melee characters. Even just calling the category "average," as in this is where a melee character will fall who has committed an average number of resources towards being a melee character. What the guide is saying is that average isn't good enough. And that the 14 STR cleric who runs out of spells may as well not step up and enter melee at all.

I agree with the conclusion--the guide needs more granularity on the low end, especially with regard to EDV which is especially punishing at the recommended evaluation level of 5.

But I think the danger is that a player relying on the guide will think that there is no point to making a 14 strength cleric, that it's either battle cleric all the way and go for 18 strength, or there's no point in bothering and you might as well go with a 10 strength and hide in the back with the wizard. There's a big difference between the 14 strength cleric with a +1 mace (+6 to hit for 1d8+3 damage; EDV 3.54375 at 5th level) and a wizard with a 10 strength and a masterwork dagger (+3 to hit for 1d4 damage; EDV 0.825) but the viability guide shows them both as red. The cleric has an attack that is a contribution to the battle (more so than Aid other on the fighter's attack). The wizard is useless and would be better off using Aid Other than attacking.

I am considering changing the benchmarked level to 6. The level before iteratives are gained really don't indicate combat efficacy as much as the level where you get a new iterative.

By the way, I calculated the difference between your cleric outlined taking their attack and just using aid another on the minimum green EDV martial.

Taking their own attack is a whopping 0.98 better. At that point, yes, I'd say it's pretty much pointless for the Cleric to attack. Now, once he's buffed himself to high heavens (you know, like battle clerics are supposed to) it's a different story. But an unbuffed battle cleric should be casting, not attacking.

To the conclusions you drew in your comment above, I agree with all of them, pretty much. Still seems like you're viewing Blue as the goal though.

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Endoralis wrote:

Ferious, your example Inquisitor is different from mine in that your Strength is not 18 but that is simply a factor of 1 to hit and 2 to damage. A +7 is quite low as the chart shows but in practice the attack will not be that low for a plethora of reasons. Your previous Paladin by contrast was quite low at +7. The Difference being The Inquisitor with little effort reaches green and not for one or two fights for multiple Fights. Some it uses Bane which skyrocket EDV and Attack, Some it uses Judgement, Some it simply Casts Bless, which lasts 5 minutes and at that point can be on well before a fight or into multiple fights depending on the Dungeon.ost of the options take a swift or no action. Depending on the Inquisition or Domain They may not even have to do that. I havent even crept into their 2nd level spells.

This guide does not care for feelings, it represents competency and validity. With its entire kit an Inquisitor demonstrates its possible to be green most of the time, if you try harder it can be Blue. There is not alot of optimization there.

But that's exactly my point. The Inquisitor has plenty of ways to boost its attack, but the guide does not account for that. It says to factor in things that are on almost all the time. Bane is 5 rounds/day. That's not all the time. It also might not work against more than one creature in a fight. And it requires identifying the creature in the first place.

Mort just said he's not counting party buffs, so counting Bless doesn't work with regards to the benchmarks in the guide.

And regardless, with just Bless running, the inquisitor only goes to +8. With just Bane, to +9. With just Judgement +8. You need a combination of all of the above to reach green, and you're not going to be able to do that every fight, 4-5 fights a day.

It sounds like both you and I agree that the Inquisitor as presented is viable. Mort might even consider that Inquisitor viable. I don't agree that the guide, read by someone independent of this thread, considers that Inquisitor viable.

Also, arguing that +7 is quite low because the chart in the guide says it is, when the values in the chart in the guide are what is being debated, doesn't really make any point. I would describe +7 as low, but viable, given the other abilities that the Inquisitor brings to the table. As I said upthread, if a Fighter only had a +7, I would be worried, because they would have no way to boost their own attacks.

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Le Petite Mort wrote:

By the way, I benchmarked the difference between your cleric outlined taking their attack and just using aid another on the minimum green EDV martial.

Taking their own attack is a whopping 0.98 better. At that point, yes, I'd say it's pretty much pointless for the Cleric to attack. Now, once he's buffed himself to high heavens (you know, like battle clerics are supposed to) it's a different story. But an unbuffed battle cleric should be casting, not attacking.

To the conclusions you drew in your comment above, I agree with all of them, pretty much. Still seems like you're viewing Blue as the goal though.

But that Cleric can buff (EDIT: Like you said), and can still be effective. The guide does not account for that. There's no discussion in the guide about temporary buffs, other than not to count them. It says to include things that you expect to always have active. There's no "If you're orange as a baseline, but when fully buffed reach green for the tougher fights, then you are good." The way it reads is more like, "If you're green, but reach blue for the tougher fights, then you are good."

Basically, the language in the guide, and what you are saying in this thread, don't agree. You've told me to count Smite, but Smite doesn't work a significant portion of the time. Looking purely at the guide, I would think that 14 STR Cleric is useless in combat. I would think my Paladin is almost useless. And I would think the 16 STR Inquisitor is almost useless. I would think the +10 to-hit Ranger still needs more investment to be considered viable. And if that Ranger decides to use Two-Weapon Fighting? Now we're down into almost useless territory again.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Le Petite Mort wrote:
Elder Basilisk wrote:
Ferious Thune wrote:
Deadmanwalking - I would feel a lot better about it if the guide did not use words like "passable" and "secondary" for orange. And if there were another category below orange that actually described secondary melee characters. Even just calling the category "average," as in this is where a melee character will fall who has committed an average number of resources towards being a melee character. What the guide is saying is that average isn't good enough. And that the 14 STR cleric who runs out of spells may as well not step up and enter melee at all.

I agree with the conclusion--the guide needs more granularity on the low end, especially with regard to EDV which is especially punishing at the recommended evaluation level of 5.

But I think the danger is that a player relying on the guide will think that there is no point to making a 14 strength cleric, that it's either battle cleric all the way and go for 18 strength, or there's no point in bothering and you might as well go with a 10 strength and hide in the back with the wizard. There's a big difference between the 14 strength cleric with a +1 mace (+6 to hit for 1d8+3 damage; EDV 3.54375 at 5th level) and a wizard with a 10 strength and a masterwork dagger (+3 to hit for 1d4 damage; EDV 0.825) but the viability guide shows them both as red. The cleric has an attack that is a contribution to the battle (more so than Aid other on the fighter's attack). The wizard is useless and would be better off using Aid Other than attacking.

I am considering changing the benchmarked level to 6. The level before iteratives are gained really don't indicate combat efficacy as much as the level where you get a new iterative.

I'd actually consider going to 8. 6 is great for full BAB characters but it is a pretty punishing comparison for 3/4 BAB characters like Inquisitors, Magi, etc. A comparison at 6 will probably result in the conclusion that only full BAB characters can easily hit the benchmarks. A comparison at 8 is a lot closer to how full and 3/4 BAB characters will relate across their careers (other than level 6 and 7).

Quote:

By the way, I calculated the difference between your cleric outlined taking their attack and just using aid another on the minimum green EDV martial.

Taking their own attack is a whopping 0.98 better. At that point, yes, I'd say it's pretty much pointless for the Cleric to...

A. That impression is an example of the weakness of EDV as a comparison point. For example, the benchmark monster has 55hp. Mr Longsword does 12.5 or 16.5 per hit and needs 5 or 4 hits to finish the monster depending on whether or not he is power attacking. However, 1 hit from Mr Cleric (avg damage 7.5 per hit) drops that to 4 or 3 hits to kill. Mr Greatsword does 17 or 23 damage per hit and needs 4 or 3 hits to kill the monster. One hit drops that to 3 or 3*.

*Average damage is a little misleading here as to the usefulness of that hit. 1 hit from the cleric has a 37.5% chance of dropping the number of average power attacking greatsword hits to 2. The odds of dropping the monster in two rounds go way up if Mr "barely adequate" cleric is attacking than if he is using Aid Other.

B. I think the difference is actually bigger than that. If we run back to my previous post, for longswordfighter, the difference that the first +2 attack makes (non-flanking) is 1.815 and 2.53 for greatswordfighter. The cleric does 1.7875 more than that by attacking rather than aiding the longsword guy and 1.01375 more than that by attacking rather than aiding the greatsword guy. Now the attack is not all that much better than a successful Aid Other (though at +6, it's only an 85% chance of success on Aid Other, so make that 1.54275 for Mr Longsword and 2.1505 for aiding the greatsword guy) by raw EDV numbers but in terms of percentage, attacking is more than twice as effective than aiding the longsword guy and 50% more effective than aiding the greatsword guy.

Now all that said, is the 14 strength cleric with no combat feats, no buffs and a +1 mace "viable" as a melee combatant? I don't think so either. (To be a viable character, he either needs a better strength and some combat feats to make his melee combat ability better, or he needs to have another tactic that would be in the green--perhaps he has augment summoning and sacred summons). But he's a lot better than the wizard, or the cleric who completely tanked strength and he has one more item in his toolbox.

Maybe a better example would be to take both of my Mr Fighters above. Assume they have a masterwork might [+4] composite longbow.

Their attack bonus is +7 (+5 BAB, +1 dex, +1 masterwork) for 1d8+4 and EDV 5.1425. The attack bonus is barely orange but the EDV is pretty far down in red territory. Neither fighter is going to want to exchange arrows with a manticore, but they would be pretty foolish to decide there's no point in having a bow because they're in the same category as the wizard with his dagger. That is an indication that they should be in a different category than Mr. Wizard with his dagger of uselessness.

Silver Crusade

Ferious Thune wrote:
Le Petite Mort wrote:

By the way, I benchmarked the difference between your cleric outlined taking their attack and just using aid another on the minimum green EDV martial.

Taking their own attack is a whopping 0.98 better. At that point, yes, I'd say it's pretty much pointless for the Cleric to attack. Now, once he's buffed himself to high heavens (you know, like battle clerics are supposed to) it's a different story. But an unbuffed battle cleric should be casting, not attacking.

To the conclusions you drew in your comment above, I agree with all of them, pretty much. Still seems like you're viewing Blue as the goal though.

But that Cleric can buff (EDIT: Like you said), and can still be effective. The guide does not account for that. There's no discussion in the guide about temporary buffs, other than not to count them. It says to include things that you expect to always have active. There's no "If you're orange as a baseline, but when fully buffed reach green for the tougher fights, then you are good." The way it reads is more like, "If you're green, but reach blue for the tougher fights, then you are good."

Basically, the language in the guide, and what you are saying in this thread, don't agree. You've told me to count Smite, but Smite doesn't work a significant portion of the time. Looking purely at the guide, I would think that 14 STR Cleric is useless in combat. I would think my Paladin is almost useless. And I would think the 16 STR Inquisitor is almost useless. I would think the +10 to-hit Ranger still needs more investment to be considered viable. And if that Ranger decides to use Two-Weapon Fighting? Now we're down into almost useless territory again.

A better way to look at buffing is the way I treated flanking and Power Attack in my Mr Fighter analysis. It's perfectly reasonable to come to the conclusion that Mr. Cleric is not a viable melee combatant when not buffed but can be adequate once or twice per day when he casts prayer and bull's strength. One could also decide that Mr Battlecleric (18 strength, weapon focus, etc) is adequate (orange) when non-buffed but is pretty good (green) when he has prayer and bull's strength/divine favor up.

A character who is orange when buffed needs a primary contribution mechanism that is better than orange. (For example, the cleric may have a mix of party buffs, emergency healing, and well-timed offensive spells). A character who can get to green when lightly buffed may be able to make that his primary contribution mechanism.

Grand Lodge

This has been in there for a while:

"If Buff/Support is your combat strategy, your benefits are harder to quantify, and somewhat beyond the scope of this guide. For example, while a Bard is unlikely to have a decent EDV on his own, by inspiring courage he can increase the EDV of the rest of his party as well. Same goes for casters with haste or similar, really anything that numerically effects a bunch of allies will contribute to combat efficacy...just not really in a way I can easily analyze without knowing your party in particular. So, if you've got a Bard that is orange rated in his EDV on his own, and can hit all party members with +3 to hit in the same round as an attack, you're probably doing pretty well with your total EDV. You'd count your contribution to the EDV of the rest of your party in addition to your own damage output.

This could really be said of defensive spells as well: by negating enemy abilities or attacks (giving out AC, resist energy, life bubble, what have you) you can dramatically increase your own/ your party's combat efficacy. I just can't write that out in raw numbers, because I'd need very specific information about the situation at hand.

This is particularly relevant to 'gish' characters (3/4 BAB with 6th level spellcasting), who might be comfortable in Orange baseline combat metrics given their abilities to buff themselves, their allies, and cast troubleshooting spells such as see invisibility, ghostbane dirge, align weapon, etc."

I have also included the following to account for certain class abilities that keep coming up:

"If you possess strong abilities with limited usages per day (such as challenge, smite, mutagen, bane, etc.) you would want to benchmark both your 'baseline' combat metrics as well as when you're 'firing on all cylinders'. This will give you a more complete perspective from which to decide if you're comfortable with your character's resource allocation."

151 to 200 of 317 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Advice / An extremely general guide to making viable characters. All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.