Working on a buffer / de-buffer Bard (for PFS)...


Advice


Its been a while since I ventured into PFS and I thought to return with a Bard who specializes in buffing and de-buffing in combat and utility out of combat. I've been looking at a lot of options and I've finally settled on an Arcane Duelist. I keep bouncing back and forth between a Halfling and a Human with the Adopted trait for the Halfling version of Helpful - at the moment I'm leaning towards Human for the extra feat and the bonus spells known.

This is what I've got so far:

Human Bard (Arcane Duelist)

Attributes:
STR - 11
DEX - 16 (+1 @ 4th, 8th)
CON - 14
INT - 12
WIS - 12
CHA - 14

Traits:
Adopted – Helpful
Reactionary

Feats:
1st - Weapon Finesse
1st - Combat Reflexes
1st - Arcane Strike
2nd - Combat Casting
3rd - Bodyguard
4th
5th - Improved Initiative
6th - Disruptive

Gear:
3rd - Chain Shirt +1 (1,000), Cloak of Resistance +1 (1,000)
4th - Benevolent Chain Shirt +1 (upgrade, +3000)
5th - Gloves of Arcane Striking (5,000)
6th - Benevolent Chain Shirt +2 (upgrade, +5,000)

I'm trying to decide between a whip and a longspear and I'm not entirely clear on how Arcane Bond works in PFS right now, so I'll have to figure that out.

Using this build I should be pretty much able to grant adjacent allies a bonus to AC equal to +4 @ 3rd, +5 @ 4th, +7 @ 5th and +8 @ 6th without expending any actions. I plan to lean on Bardic performance and use spells or wands for most of my standard actions.

I'm not sure where to go from here. I've looked at going the Cavalier/Battle Herald route and even the Pathfinder Chronicler option, but I haven't found anything that offers more than the continued progression of my spell-casting would. The ability to gain and provide the teamwork feat Harrying Partners has some appeal, to extend the Aid Another benefits out to a full round, but I just don't know if that's something practically useful or just something that looks good on paper.

If I went that way, I'd be thinking something like this:

7th (Cavalier, Order of the Dragon)
Feat - ???
Bonus Teamwork Feat - Harrying Partners

8th (Cavalier, Order of the Dragon)
Additional +1 to Aid Another

9th (Battle Herald)
Feat - ???
Inspired Command - Teamwork

Any thoughts, suggestions or clarifications would be most welcome.


Observations and advice:

- Combats in PFS tend to be fail into two categories: cakewalks (95%), and holy-crap (5%). In the first category, half the table can sleep through - you barely need to be there. The latter? Everybody needs to deliver. Aid Anothers, except in weird situations, usually doesn't cut the mustard when actual offense right now is what staves off incipient character deaths next round.

- Bard is an end-loaded class; don't multiclass unless you do it right away at 1st and maybe 2nd so you can enjoy all the benefits over the whole career.

- When monsters start getting big, a front-line bard's comically awful fort-save will be out to lunch.

- Arcane Duelist archetype debuted in 2010 and is showing its age (i.e., weakness) relative to more recent gishes (magus, inquisitor, and warpriest in particular).

Try:

STR - 12
DEX - 14
CON - 12
INT - 12
WIS - 12
CHA - 15 (raise at 4th)

human
1 paladin1 or ranger1 or warpriest1
2 paladin2 or ranger2 or warpriest2
3 all bard

Shoot things with a longbow. There are complicated builds exploiting magic flags out there, but good old shoot things with a longbow is the easy button, and you don't necessarily have to devote feats to archery (since, aside from Rapid Shot, they're situational).


Slim Jim wrote:

Observations and advice:

- Combats in PFS tend to be fail into two categories: cakewalks (95%), and holy-crap (5%). In the first category, half the table can sleep through - you barely need to be there. The latter? Everybody needs to deliver. Aid Anothers, except in weird situations, usually doesn't cut the mustard when actual offense right now is what staves off incipient character deaths next round.

- Bard is an end-loaded class; don't multiclass unless you do it right away at 1st and maybe 2nd so you can enjoy all the benefits over the whole career.

- When monsters start getting big, a front-line bard's comically awful fort-save will be out to lunch.

- Arcane Duelist archetype debuted in 2010 and is showing its age (i.e., weakness) relative to more recent gishes (magus, inquisitor, and warpriest in particular).

Try:

STR - 12
DEX - 14
CON - 12
INT - 12
WIS - 12
CHA - 15 (raise at 4th)

human
1 paladin1 or ranger1 or warpriest1
2 paladin2 or ranger2 or warpriest2
3 all bard

Shoot things with a longbow. There are complicated builds exploiting magic flags out there, but good old shoot things with a longbow is the easy button, and you don't necessarily have to devote feats to archery (since, aside from Rapid Shot, they're situational).

I very much appreciate the effort you put into your response, but that's not in any way the kind of character I'm trying to build.

I agree with you about the nature of combat in PFS, and in my experience, characters are often built that way, front-loaded rocket taggers who can control/kill everything ASAP. In parties like this, yet another damage dealer or controller rarely fills a needed gap. One the other hand, every time the Barbarian hits something that they otherwise wouldn't have due to Haste/Inspire Courage/Good Hope, that's damage that I did. Every time the Wizard doesn't take damage or suffer conditions or ability drain due to +10 AC that I gave her, that's immediate action combat healing that I performed. There is definitely a niche there to be filled in pretty much every PFS group I've ever come across.

I didn't go with Arcane Duelist for its potential as a gish, I took it because it both grants feats I would have otherwise selected (like Arcane Strike) and offers complimentary abilities that I normally wouldn't but might still prove helpful. Using a reach weapon like a spear or a whip keeps me from being too much on the front line, though I will admit that Fortitude saves are a bit problematic so that will have to be addressed.

Any thoughts about the kind of character I'm trying to build?


Wiggz wrote:

I very much appreciate the effort you put into your response, but that's not in any way the kind of character I'm trying to build.

I agree with you about the nature of combat in PFS, and in my experience, characters are often built that way, front-loaded rocket taggers who can control/kill everything ASAP. In parties like this, yet another damage dealer or controller rarely fills a needed gap. One the other hand, every time the Barbarian hits something that they otherwise wouldn't have due to Haste/Inspire Courage/Good Hope, that's damage that I did. Every time the Wizard doesn't take damage or suffer conditions or ability drain due to +10 AC that I gave her, that's immediate action combat healing that I performed. There is definitely a niche there to be filled in pretty much every PFS group I've ever come across.

I didn't go with Arcane Duelist for its potential as a gish, I took it because it both grants feats I would have otherwise selected (like Arcane Strike) and offers complimentary abilities that I normally wouldn't but might still prove helpful. Using a reach weapon like a spear or a whip keeps me from being too much on the front line, though I will admit that Fortitude saves are a bit problematic so that will have to be addressed.

Any thoughts about the kind of character I'm trying to build?

I don't think he is disagreeing with buffers.

I think he is saying that the "aid another" action specifically isn't really worth it, because you could be casting spells like haste, good hope, etc. Basically- you have better options for buffing than aid another.

So it is likely better to stick with bard to get better at those options, rather than multiclassing in order to get slightly better at aid another.


Wiggz wrote:
Slim Jim wrote:
Observations and advice: <I wrote stuff>
I very much appreciate the effort you put into your response, but that's not in any way the kind of character I'm trying to build.
Well, you were thinking of two levels of a martial class (cavalier) at 6th and 7th, which is not terribly dissimilar to a 7th-level PC with five levels of bard who took cavalier levels at 1st and 2nd. (At least you'd enjoy a free horse at levels it won't be easily killed, as well as an extra hitpoint and 2hp extra damage every hit versus Challenged opponents for five extra levels. And AC+7 from 200gp splint mail you're proficient in certainly won't hurt either while at a level where you have less than twenty hitpoints. Much of success in PFS is largely just avoiding getting killed before 4th.)
Quote:
I agree with you about the nature of combat in PFS, and in my experience, characters are often built that way, front-loaded rocket taggers who can control/kill everything ASAP. In parties like this, yet another damage dealer or controller rarely fills a needed gap.
I might add that such characters generally do not need another +2 to hit from Aid Another. (Many if not most will also own Boots of Speed before a 9th-level bard with two dips out begins casting Haste routinely - and that is especially true in PFS where they cannot count on an arcane caster with that spell being at the table.)
Quote:
One the other hand, every time the Barbarian hits something that they otherwise wouldn't have due to Haste/Inspire Courage/Good Hope, that's damage that I did.
I didn't say that you shouldn't be a bard. I just suggested not being a melee bard.
Quote:
Using a reach weapon like a spear or a whip keeps me from being too much on the front line

Past around 8th level, if the monster can see you and you're within its move range, you're on the front-line whether you like it or not. Opponents which reach are increasingly prevalent, and a polearm or ally in-the-way won't keep them off you.

Bard! Mmm! Crunchy outside, chewy center. Nom-nom goes the monster.

YOU are the "easy target", not the invisible wizard.


Slim Jim wrote:
Wiggz wrote:
Slim Jim wrote:
Observations and advice: <I wrote stuff>
I very much appreciate the effort you put into your response, but that's not in any way the kind of character I'm trying to build.
Well, you were thinking of two levels of a martial class (cavalier) at 6th and 7th, which is not terribly dissimilar to a 7th-level PC with five levels of bard who took cavalier levels at 1st and 2nd. (At least you'd enjoy a free horse at levels it won't be easily killed, as well as an extra hitpoint and 2hp extra damage every hit versus Challenged opponents for five extra levels. And AC+7 from 200gp splint mail you're proficient in certainly won't hurt either while at a level where you have less than twenty hitpoints. Much of success in PFS is largely just avoiding getting killed before 4th.)
Quote:
I agree with you about the nature of combat in PFS, and in my experience, characters are often built that way, front-loaded rocket taggers who can control/kill everything ASAP. In parties like this, yet another damage dealer or controller rarely fills a needed gap.
I might add that such characters generally do not need another +2 to hit from Aid Another. (Many if not most will also own Boots of Speed before a 9th-level bard with two dips out begins casting Haste routinely - and that is especially true in PFS where they cannot count on an arcane caster with that spell being at the table.)
Quote:
One the other hand, every time the Barbarian hits something that they otherwise wouldn't have due to Haste/Inspire Courage/Good Hope, that's damage that I did.
I didn't say that you shouldn't be a bard. I just suggested not being a melee bard.
Quote:
Using a reach weapon like a spear or a whip keeps me from being too much on the front line
Past around 8th level, if the monster can see you and you're within its move range, you're on the front-line whether you like it or not. Opponents which reach are increasingly prevalent, and a polearm or ally in-the-way won't keep them off you....

Good and fair points all, and points that I will consider, thanks.

I generally don't let what might happen when I'm 8th level or higher overly influence me when designing a PFS character; given the nature of the game, its very important to me that a character have the same effectiveness, fun and playability curve all throughout its career, from 1st to 12th. Its been my experience that PFS characters tend to see far more play at low to middling levels as it is, and I don't want to sacrifice the first 20+ sessions for what might happen during the back half-dozen or so. I also find that optimizing is something that isn't quite as rampant at the table as it is on these boards, and I rather like the idea of creating a character that will help everyone else do the things THEY want to do, especially when it comes to newer players.

If I can't be a melee bard, then I can't do most of the things I'm designing the character to do... with the understanding that my goal is to protect my allies from danger when things get up close and personal, finding ways to do that and survive is what I'm asking for advice on. I really think the dips are probably fool's gold anyway, but I find the higher level Bard spells have less appeal than many of the lower level ones.

Some of it comes down to the GM's playstyle, I suppose... most dumb foes I would expect to spend their time more focused on the Barbarian banging on them for massive damage and most smart foes I would expect to spend their time trying to shut down the invisible wizard rather than taking the mindset of 'well, I want to take out at least one character before I die - who's the easiest target?'


lemeres wrote:
Wiggz wrote:

I very much appreciate the effort you put into your response, but that's not in any way the kind of character I'm trying to build.

I agree with you about the nature of combat in PFS, and in my experience, characters are often built that way, front-loaded rocket taggers who can control/kill everything ASAP. In parties like this, yet another damage dealer or controller rarely fills a needed gap. One the other hand, every time the Barbarian hits something that they otherwise wouldn't have due to Haste/Inspire Courage/Good Hope, that's damage that I did. Every time the Wizard doesn't take damage or suffer conditions or ability drain due to +10 AC that I gave her, that's immediate action combat healing that I performed. There is definitely a niche there to be filled in pretty much every PFS group I've ever come across.

I didn't go with Arcane Duelist for its potential as a gish, I took it because it both grants feats I would have otherwise selected (like Arcane Strike) and offers complimentary abilities that I normally wouldn't but might still prove helpful. Using a reach weapon like a spear or a whip keeps me from being too much on the front line, though I will admit that Fortitude saves are a bit problematic so that will have to be addressed.

Any thoughts about the kind of character I'm trying to build?

I don't think he is disagreeing with buffers.

I think he is saying that the "aid another" action specifically isn't really worth it, because you could be casting spells like haste, good hope, etc. Basically- you have better options for buffing than aid another.

So it is likely better to stick with bard to get better at those options, rather than multiclassing in order to get slightly better at aid another.

I can't imagine a scenario where a standard action would usually be best spent with Aid Another, certainly. The benefits I'm seeking to stockpile there would be partially for skill checks outside of combat but most especially for using Bodyguard in combat to boost allies AC's to astronomical levels. The latter is what I'm looking to maximize, but I suppose that you start to get diminishing returns after a while... after all, once you're granting everyone +10 to their AC, should you really going that far out of your way to make it +11 or +12? At any rate, I'll be able to provide those benefits without expending anything more than AoO's, which should leave me free for spell-casting, wand use and performance.

No, thinking about it, probably the best advice I could get is how to best use those later levels to make me as survivable as possible. The last thing I want is the rest of the group having to worry about keeping me alive rather than doing whatever it is that they do best. Mirror Image and Invisibility will be helpful, certainly, but that's why I was wondering if a class that allowed me to distribute team work feats might not be worth considering...


Strong DEX and mithral medium armor is decent AC. Heroism bumps saves up. So basic survivability is there.

I would probably just stick with making a great Bard; there are many options. A well-done Dual Talent Human could have good Bard casting as well as melee ability, meaning that you only risk melee on more favorable terms. Or if you want an expert sword-wielder, do something like rapier-and-buckler with Amateur Swashbuckler, so you're a deadly swordsman with reach and strong mobile/defensive tactics.


Do a melee bard, a nice one handed weapon (probably scimitar or rapier), good armor (mithral chain shirt), dex based with a buckler, should have pretty good AC. Then get things like menacing or cruel and work towards pulling those off, that way you're doing damage, providing flanks, and giving out extra bonuses and debuffing the enemy. Coupled with arcane strike your damage is solid for a support secondary fighter.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

One consideration to go with is to use a longspear and pick up the Flagbearer feat. The longspear helps with keeping some distance and still being able to provide Bodyguard benefits, allows you to put a banner on it for Flagbearer, and eventually gives you a means to pick up a Banner of Ancient Kings.


While a melee bard can work quite well, there are a couple problems with your build. First, the feat Bodyguard only applies to adjacent allies, so the extra reach of the whip is useless. Also a whip cannot deal lethal damage without feats, and will not damage heavily armored enemies without feats. Second, at lvl 5, the Arcane Duelist must take a weapon for the Arcane Bond. The weapon must be one-handed (so it cannot be the longspear) and you must make a concentration check to cast a spell without touching your bonded weapon. Third, Weapon Finesse only works for light weapons, so not for a longspear. Four, you are spending all you wealth on just 2 items, you should spread out the wealth a bit more.

I would recommend the following build: Str 16 (+1 @lvl 4, 8), Dex 14, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 14. Human feat: Power Attack. Lvl 1 feat: Combat Reflex. Lvl 3 feat: Bodyguard. Lvl 5 feat: Weapon Focus(Rapier).

At lvl 5 you can use the hand holding your bonded weapon for somatic components. So at lvl 5, you can use a rapier and a heavy shield and still cast. Also you enchant the bonded rapier at half price. Items: +1 rapier, +1 Chain Shirt, +1 Heavy Shield, +1 Amulet of Natural Armor, +1 Ring of Protection, +1 Cloak of Resistance for a total of 8000gp spent, leaving 2500gp remaining for extras.

This build has +10 attack/12.5 average damage with Inspire Courage, Arcane Strike and Power Attack and your AC is 22. So you are a support fighter, standing next to a low AC rogue/barbarian and giving them +4AC from Bodyguard while still be able to reliably deal damage on your own. Hope this is helpful!


Quote:
If I can't be a melee bard, then I can't do most of the things I'm designing the character to do... with the understanding that my goal is to protect my allies from danger when things get up close and personal

In a game with math, some concepts are going to be less viable than others -- there's no getting around this.

The low-output, light-armor melee bard will be needing the protection of his allies more often than the reverse. The exceptions where it works (and even works well) are those involving custom builds specifically catering to races that excel in the situation (for example gnomes, who are harder to hit because they're small, have more hitpoints and better fort-save due to CON bonus, have built-in racial magic, lots of cool racial feats and gadgets, and a CHA bonus as well to make them better in the bard class). Halflings are even harder to hit, and also lucky with saves.

- - - -

Scenario: I am an 8th-level tank. I hit almost everything on a five or six, and many things on a 2.

If your Aid Another is +4 *and* you're adjacent to me (i.e., keeping up while I dash around the battlefield, possibly while mounted or flying), that means you're actually assisting me to hit only in those instances where I'm rolling 2,3,4, or about one-seventh of the time. If I'm full-attacking and have a lousy iterative? Sure. But you're still flipping coins, and some of the time I already went before you in initiative. Giving me AC+10 will be handy...for one of the enemy's attacks.

But If I'm at 8hp and going to croak on the monster's turn, I'd *really* like it if someone else in the party would sink three arrows into the thing and drop it. Or blind it. Or cast Vanish on me. Or heal me, like a ton.

Alternatively if I'm at 80hp, I don't want my next turn's choices to be between (a) full-attacking the boss within reach (because I spent last round bypassing mooks to get near him), or (b) eat an AoO leaving the boss to come over and save the not-invisible bard (who's at 8hp with a monster chewing his face) by making a single attack on said monster.

Aid Another is *highly* situational and essentially requires you to be in "Fireball formation" full-time if your character concept is built around it.

- - - -

But OK; if we're going to do this slightly dipping melee bard thing, let's up the output and ditch the adjacency limitations.

Step 1: human. Why? Because the +1 spells known favored-class bonus in spontaneous casters is "Why haven't you taken this already?" level of cyan-colored-in-the-guides cheesy good.

Step 2: Cavalier at 1st level. Why? To share a Teamwork feat with the entire party as a standard action, and there are some very nice ones out there, including one which is literally LOLWUT!? Aside from that, and all the benefits listed in the previous post, the Order ability may include a morale bonus, which will be amplified later by an item (see below).

STR - 14
DEX - 14
CON - 14
INT - 07
WIS - 12
CHA - 17 (racial+)

human racial trait: Focused Study (trade bonus feat for Skill Focus feats granted at 1st, 8th, 16th)
traits: magical knack(bard), armor expert

1 cavalier1 (Standard Bearer and Honor Guard archetypes(Banner)(tactician feat: Paired Opportunists) (human: Skill Focus Perform) Combat Reflexes
2 cavalier2 (Order of the Dragon: Aid Allies)

Three feats at 1st level without being a fighter...nice. Getting three skill points per level with an INT of 7 in a martial without it being your favored class...nice. Having Perception as a class skill...nice. And Order of the Dragon is all about helping your buddies, as is also this:

Paired Opportunisits wrote:
Benefit: Whenever you are adjacent to an ally who also has this feat, you receive a +4 circumstance bonus on attacks of opportunity against creatures that you both threaten. Enemies that provoke attacks of opportunity from your ally also provoke attacks of opportunity from you so long as you threaten them (even if the situation or an ability would normally deny you the attack of opportunity). This does not allow you to take more than one attack of opportunity against a creature for a given action.

Yeah: You'll be giving that to everyone in the party for four rounds, potentially doubling overall party damage per round at any table with at least two maneuver/AoO-optimizing PCs.

3 bard1 Lingering Performance

Regrettably you'll now have to sell the cheap splint mail and step into pricey agile mithral breastplate. Oh well, money tax; pay up. <finger waggle>

4 bard2
5 bard3 Improved Initiative
6 bard4
7 bard5 Flagbearer

Waiting for the needed 36 PFS prestige points to be able to buy that Banner of the Ancient Kings was unbearable. But now you have it, so drop 18,000gp and supercharge.

INIT+10 now.

8 bard6 (Versatile Performance) (human feat: Skill Focus 2nd type of Performance, or one of the two skills you just picked with Versatile)

That lined up perfectly.

9 bard7 (any feat)
10 bard8
11 bard9 Discordant Voice

At any point you can take cavalier3 (honor guard feat Bodyguard) and increase your Sword Ally's AC even further.


An Arcane Duelist can easily use mithral medium armor and a heavy shield, or be DEX-based with mithral medium armor and a buckler. So the idea that they can't fight without some kind of low-AC-death-sentence hanging over them doesn't hold up at all.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Penumbra Bard wrote:
Second, at lvl 5, the Arcane Duelist must take a weapon for the Arcane Bond. The weapon must be one-handed (so it cannot be the longspear) and you must make a concentration check to cast a spell without touching your bonded weapon.

I don't see anything restricting the type of weapon selected for Arcane Bond, either from the Arcane Duelist or Wizard descriptions.


Any bard can wear mithral medium armor and cast spells just fine. (Eating non-proficiency penalties is annoying but an acceptable cost. For those who don't like it, dipping martial at low levels, or taking the Armor Expert trait, or Elven Chain, solves the problem.)

Arcane Duelists must wait until 10th level for Arcane Armor it kick in. That's like two years of real-life PFS playing time unless you're a convention junkie or slam-playing online. Even if you're once a week or more often, you can rarely play the same character exclusively due to the Tier system while forming tables. -- In the meantime, they're wearing the same stuff as everyone else.


Slim Jim wrote:

human racial trait: Focused Study (trade bonus feat for Skill Focus feats granted at 1st, 8th, 16th)

traits: magical knack(bard), armor expert

Armor Expert isn't really necessary in this build due to the Cavalier levels granting the sufficient armor proficiency. (The character will still have a -1 penalty to some physical skills, but that's more of a problem for rogues than bards.)

This frees up a slot for Wiggz to take Reactionary, as he had in the OP, and getting the character to INIT+12 in the build I made.

More RP-flavored trait choices might include:

Adopted (Half-orc: Dirty Fighter) ...+3 to feint in combat using Bluff
Adopted (Gillman: Azlanti Inheritor) ...+1 Aid Another
Adopted (Oread: Earthsense) ...Tremorsense 60' as a swift action
Adopted (Sylph: Carrying Voice) ...+2 caster level determining range of sonic spells and effects.
Adopted (Tiefling: Chain Master) ...+2 to trip with spiked chain (no) or whip (yes)
Blood of Dragons

...eh, I'm only a third of the way down [url=http://archivesofnethys.com/Traits.aspx?Type=Race]the race traits page] at Nethys, and it's clear that not only are their more awesome traits than I could ever play in a lifetime, but more that I have the time to even read right now. Good luck.


Slim Jim wrote:

Any bard can wear mithral medium armor and cast spells just fine. (Eating non-proficiency penalties is annoying but an acceptable cost. For those who don't like it, dipping martial at low levels, or taking the Armor Expert trait, or Elven Chain, solves the problem.)

Arcane Duelists must wait until 10th level for Arcane Armor it kick in. That's like two years of real-life PFS playing time unless you're a convention junkie or slam-playing online. Even if you're once a week or more often, you can rarely play the same character exclusively due to the Tier system while forming tables. -- In the meantime, they're wearing the same stuff as everyone else.

The unique point with Arcane Duelist isn't medium armor proficiency, it's being able to cast spells even though you have both hands full (like with a heavy shield).

Regardless, even just DEX-based plus mithral breastplate will end up with a character whose AC is superior to most full-plate users.


One great Bard melee trick is specializing in the spell Dazzling Blade, which is a swift-action/free-action melee-range blind spell. Nothing like blinding a target to aid both attack and defense for anyone engaging it.

If using rapier-and-buckler, the Amateur Swashbuckler feat can be grabbed to gain both the Dodging Panache ability - CHA to AC and immediate movement when attacked - and the ability to use a Swordmaster's Flair: Blue Scarf, which grants reach with a rapier. Combining those two things makes for one seriously tactical swordsman.


BadBird wrote:
The unique point with Arcane Duelist isn't medium armor proficiency, it's being able to cast spells even though you have both hands full (like with a heavy shield).
But can he wield a weapon, a heavy shield, and a Banner of the Ancient Kings all at the same time? Because holy crispy chicken tenders is that thing fantastic for buffer bards. Downgrade AC-1 for a buckler instead of a heavy shield and wear it on the weapon arm, and you now have a free hand for drinking potions or wand use without having to drop or stow anything and you don't need an archetype to cast, and the weapon can now be a polearm with the banner attached (and also otherwise suitable with Paired Opportunists and Enlarge Person for tearing up the enemy, among more general "reach bard" tactics).
Quote:
Regardless, even just DEX-based plus mithral breastplate will end up with a character whose AC is superior to most full-plate users.

Well, I wouldn't want to have to attempt to pigeonhole who "most full-plate users" are, but I suspect they're fighters who haven't dumped Armor Training if they care about their AC. They'll be in mithral full plate and occasionally losing a cheap shield to Armored Sacrifice. No bard in the best gear he can finagle will ever match that.


Slim Jim wrote:
BadBird wrote:
The unique point with Arcane Duelist isn't medium armor proficiency, it's being able to cast spells even though you have both hands full (like with a heavy shield).
But can he wield a weapon, a heavy shield, and a Banner of the Ancient Kings all at the same time? Because holy crispy chicken tenders is that thing fantastic for buffer bards. Downgrade AC-1 for a buckler instead of a heavy shield and wear it on the weapon arm, and you now have a free hand for drinking potions or wand use without having to drop or stow anything and you don't need an archetype to cast, and the weapon can now be a polearm with the banner attached (and also otherwise suitable with Paired Opportunists and Enlarge Person for tearing up the enemy, among more general "reach bard" tactics).
Quote:
Regardless, even just DEX-based plus mithral breastplate will end up with a character whose AC is superior to most full-plate users.
Well, I wouldn't want to have to attempt to pigeonhole who "most full-plate users" are, but I suspect they're fighters who haven't dumped Armor Training if they care about their AC. They'll be in mithral full plate and occasionally losing a cheap shield to Armored Sacrifice. No bard in the best gear he can finagle will ever match that.

Arcane Duelist can carry a Banner of the Ancient Kings in one hand (possibly with a light shield) while also wielding a weapon and casting spells, if that's the route they want to take. You can go DEX-based with that setup easily enough. The drawback is losing the two-handed specific bonuses from the banner when you have a weapon drawn, but it's still very strong, of course.

By 'most full-plate users', I mean the typical person in PFS using a regular full plate armor with a +1DEX bonus. Not defense-stacking DEX-based Fighters.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Of note, Banner of Ancient Kings specifically says it must be weilded "firmly in two hands" for most of the benefits to apply.


Peevenator wrote:
Of note, Banner of Ancient Kings specifically says it must be weilded "firmly in two hands" for most of the benefits to apply.
"It" being the object it is attached to, not the banner itself.
Quote:

When carried into battle, a banner of the ancient kings confers several benefits. As long as the longspear or pole to which the banner is attached is firmly wielded in two hands, its carrier gains a +4 circumstance bonus on Initiative checks. In addition, when so wielded, it grants the wielder and all allies within 30 feet a +2 resistance bonus on all saving throws against mind-affecting effects. If the carrier of the banner fails a saving throw against a mind-affecting effect, he may attempt a new saving throw against that effect every round he continues to wield the banner of the ancient kings—once he releases his firm grip on the banner’s haft, though, he no longer gets this benefit, even if he wields the banner properly at a later point while still under the effects of the mind-affecting effect.

If the banner’s carrier possesses the Flagbearer feat, the banner of the ancient kings doubles the morale bonuses granted by that feat. A bard who carries a longspear or pole to which a banner of the ancient kings has been attached is treated as four levels higher than his actual bard level for the purposes of determining the bonuses granted by his inspire courage bardic performance ability.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

It looks like I mixed up the previous comments and thought it was mentioned that tue Banner could be carried with a heavy shield. Carry on!


The Banner of the Ancient Kings must be held in two hands to grant the initiative bonus and the bonus to saves. However, it confers the bonuses to Inspire Courage and Flagbearer so long as you carry it one way or another.

It's worth noting as well that the Banner of the Ancient Kings is a very expensive item in both cash and application, especially in PFS. 18K and a feat for Flagbearer could always be put to other uses; Flagbearer +2 is somewhat redundant with Heroism, and very redundant with Good Hope. Still a fantastic item of course, but not a requirement.

Silver Crusade

I have to Chime in since I have a similar Build.

I have a Human Archivist Bard with following:
Adopted Halfling Helpful/Magical Knack(Bard)
14/14(DexBelT)/14/14/10/20(+1@4Lvl/Headband)

4 Bard/1 Lore Master/1 Bard/1 Lore Master and rest straight Bard

1 : Ling Performance and Flagbearer
3 : Combat Reflexes
5 : Arcane Strike and Bodyguard
7 : Combat Expertise and Swift Aid and Phalanx Formation.
Swift Aid needs BAB+6 so at lvl 7 its not possible and either needs GM approval or will be needed to be retrained @ Lvl 8.

Important Spells are Saving Finale and Gallant Insperation. Heroism and Good Hope are good Buffs but only last for Minutes or are single Target.

With Gloves of Arcane Strike (which should be bought around LvL 5) I get +6 when using Bodyguard 3/round and as swift action I give +3A/+2DMG
while passively giving +2A/+2D from Flagbearer and +2A/+2AC from the Song. If a Attack still misses I have 2d4 to change that.

This Build isn't the Best but its a fun one. I only play it with more than 4 people are in a group while he himself isn't terribly bad in Melee he is sitting behind the Main Melee fighter and making everyone around him glorious

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Quote:
4 Bard/1 Lore Master/1 Bard/1 Lore Master and rest straight Bard

Are you meaning Lore Warden the fighter archetype and not Loremaster the prestige class?

Silver Crusade

Lore Warden . Thanks for Noticing it. There are to many similar named things in Pathfinder.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

While Flagbearer with Banner of the Ancient Kings does create a redundancy with Heroism and Good Hope, the fact that the bonuses are always active allows more freedom of utility for spell usage.

While this is more for a later level selection, Discordant Voice is another to keep in mind.


If interested in buffing/debuffing more than Bard stuff overall, Evangelist Cleric can do some very impressive stuff. They've got stronger spellcasting and stronger buffs, and they can use Aura spells to automatically debuff - especially with the later 10min/level Aura of Doom. They also multiclass more easily, so you can run things like Urban Barbarian 1/ Evangelist and use both Controlled Rage and Inspire Courage.

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