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My objective is to maximize damage done on the first round of contact to a giant with a flying two-sword charge. I love Mikasa in Attack on Titan, and wanted to see if I could replicate the flying, two swords simultaneous first strike giant killer in Pathfinder for a home game.
Character gen rules: 25 point buy, 9th level, normal wealth by level, no 3rd party materials, no technological items. A CR 9 Frost Giant has 133 HP, so that's the damage I need for first strike kills for this level.
Here's how this build works:
Round 1) Get Tengu Swordmaster into Tiger Trance
Round 2) Get airborne and climb to 60+ feet
Round 3) Charge from above for insane damage, then activate Glide to break fall
Here's I've got so far:
- Alternate racial trait: Glide
- ART: Deft Swords
Unchained Rogue 9 (Scout, Swordmaster)
- Swordmaster Trances:
- Tiger Trance (Succeed at a combat maneuver check to use Pounce on a charge)
- Dragon Trance (Dragon Style)
- Leopard Trance (Mobility)
- Scout's Charge (Charge makes target flat-footed)
- Skirmisher (After moving 10', attack action does sneak attack damage)
- Sneak attack +5d6
- Finesse Training (Aldori Dueling sword)
- Rogue Talents:
- Surprise Attacks
- Weapon Training
- Combat Trick
- Getaway Artist (to get Fly as a class skill)
- Rogue's Edge: Fly
- Agile Maneuvers
- Branch Pounce
- Death from Above
- Two-Weapon Fighting
- Improved Two-Weapon Fighting
- Flyby Attack (from Combat Trick)
- Weapon Finesse (from UC Rogue)
- Weapon Focus (Aldori Dueling Sword) (from Weapon Training)
- Sword Scion
- Swordlord's Page
- Profession (Soldier)
- scattered points to get class skill bonuses
- 2x +1 aldori dueling sword
- Celestial Armor and/or Boots of Flying
- Belt of Incredible Dexterity +2
- other stuff
So we have four key rolls to make:
1) DC 20 Fly check to climb
2) (The hard part) Combat Maneuver check with +13 to activate Tiger Trance. If this fails, fly more and look for another opportunity next round.
3) +21/+21/+16/+16 against flat-foot attack rolls with ADS (6 BaB + 7 Dex + 1 trait + 1 weapon focus +1 enhancement bonus + 5 Death from Above)
4) 1d8+8+6d6 Branch Pounce+5d6 Sneak Attack/1d8+8 +5d6 Sneak Attack/1d8+4 +5d6 Sneak Attack/1d8+4 +5d6 Sneak Attack
Best case scenario, you hit for 4d8+26d6+24, an average of 133 damage (max of 206!). If you miss the combat maneuver check, you can either climb more or still get one attack on a charge for 1d8+11d6+8 for an average of 51 damage (and a max of 82). Frost giant has flat-footed AC 21, so probability of 4 hits is over 50% if I succeed at the combat maneuver. Which is a big if since his CMD is 29 (25% chance of success), but you can elect not to use the charge that round if you fail your check. The result is she could be circling in the sky for several rounds looking for an opening before striking.
Any advice on how to get a better generic CMB without losing the ability to average over 130 damage? Or how to improve the damage of the first damage? I'm not interested in anything that requires more than one round of attacks or attacks with something other than two swords.
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A pale green prism ioun stone (probably cracked to save money) gives +1 competence to attack. This should apply to CMB also. A dusty rose prism ioun stone in a wayfinder gives +1 insight to attack. Or if you can spend a round to buff a ring of serene contortions (or a scroll of true strike with sufficient UMD) can give +20 insight.
If you're allowed to turn invisible or hide somehow then combat maneuver checks become a bit easier. Against a frost giant you only get the +2, but many other enemies will have a dex bonus they can lose.
Maybe go with a cheaper form of flight then the (Celestial Armor or Boots of Flying (Winged Boots?)) - like just levitation (as you have glide) or tengu wings feat or some potions of fly. Then you can spend the gold on an item that adds to your charge (e.g. Rhino Hide or Mammoth Hide armor or belt of thunderous charging)
You may also want to consider having your armor or flying item made from Special Material Griffon Mane - at 50 gp/lb with a 10% reduction in the cost for a flight related magical property it could be practically free to get a +2 competence bonus to flight.
PFS Legal Griffon Mane
Source Ultimate Equipment pg. 51 (Amazon)
This rough-spun cloth, ranging in color from golden-brown to brown-black, is woven from the mane of leonine magical beasts, primarily griffons but also chimeras and manticores, and is exceptionally strong and light. Wearing a cloak, robe, clothing outfit, or padded or quilted armor made from griffon mane grants a +2 competence bonus on Fly checks. If an item made of griffon mane is magically given the ability to fly, the cost to add that specific magical property is reduced by 10%, though this does not reduce the cost of any other abilities the item has.
Griffon mane has twice the number of hit points of normal cloth and hardness 1.
Type of Griffon Mane Item Item Price Modifier
Light armor +200 gp
Other items +50 gp/lb.
avr: I like what you're seeing that I missed.
[X] 1k Dusty Rose Prism (Cracked) Ioun Stone + Wayfinder for a +1 insight bonus to combat maneuver checks.
[X] 1.2k Ring of Serene Contortions for 1/day True Strike (so useful to this build I'm split between buying 2 or buying 4 and a Meridian Belt and leave the Belt of Incredible Dexterity)
[ ] 4k Pale Green Prism (Cracked) Ioun Stone for a +1 competence bonus to attack (still kinda pricy for level 9)
[ ] 750gp Wand of True Strike if she has UMD?
[X] 50gp Potion of True Strike for those days where you don't have enough uses per day
Baba: Griffon Mane outfit is definitely a cheap +2 competence bonus to Fly, so that's totally in. It also reminds me I should have a masterwork tool of flying, which would be what I make out of griffon mane. Since I technically have functioning wings already a good jacket that can accomodate wings while catching the wind dramatically seems fair.
[X] 301gp custom Griffon Mane masterwork tool (fly): "Wings of Freedom" soldier's uniform
You're right, Celestial Armor is pricy, but it's something I could use until level 20. I need some AC since giants will get an AoO as I swoop in. In the Celestial Armor example, AC is 24 = 10 + 7 Dex + 9 armor -2 charge, and frost giant's to hit is +18... so I need AC >28 to not get swatted first most of the time. +9 AC for 22k seems fair. More on flying in a moment.
[ ] 5.2k Rhino Hide: +2 hide armor (medium armor, which rogue isn't proficient in), but the killer is max dex bonus of 4. Only nets me +2 AC over no armor. That +2d6 damage on a charge is very tempting, but I do need to survive to hit first.
[ ] 8.2k Mammoth Hide (MTT): +2 hide armor, and +3d6 on a charge
[ ] 11.7k Mammoth Hide (ISC): +3 hide armor, so same problem as above, but +4d6 on a charge... more tempting, but I'd need a feat or dip for armor proficiency
[ ] 10k Belt of Thunderous Charging: takes my ADS from 1d8 to 2d6 netting 2.5 average damage per hit (and double on crits), but belt slot means my Dex mod goes down 1 so -1 to hit, -1 damage per attack, -1 AC, -1 init, -1 Reflex, -1 to skills, etc. I'll have to see if I can change one slot with a custom item first.
True Strike is a personal spell, i.e. not available as a potion, and someone else can't cast it on you. If you get a scroll or wand of it your character is the one who will need the UMD skill.
Also if you're using the standard rules for cracked/flawed ioun stones it's often not worth buying them if you need the resonance power - only 25% of them will have that power. Fortunately the dusty rose prism has a useful basic effect, 5 000 gp is a bit for +1 AC but it should be possible at 9th level. Standard WBL is 46 000 gp then.
Altitude is a defining element of the build damage, and flight speed is key to getting a high initial altitude. There's a ton of options for how to fly, none of them perfect so a mix of options seems ideal.
Expense per encounter for something a character is built around is one element, and presumably she also practices regularly. With APL 9 party of 4, average treasure per encounter is 1,062gp, about 19 CR=APL encounters per level, expecting +16k WBL means only consuming 4k, or 200gp total expenses per encounter at this level.
Here's a list of the ways to fly I've looked at:
[X] 0? Party casting fly spells every fight: cheapest option, but Mikasa is a strong independent woman who don't need no wizard.
[ ] 450gp Overland Flight spellcasting service: for 9 hours of 40' fly speed is great if I'm near a city offering it and know I'll have more than 1 encounter that day.
[ ] 11.3k Wand of Fly: costs 225gp per use, but either needs a party member or UMD investment to consistently hit DC 20.
[ ] 2.5k custom item (+5 competence bonus to UMD)?: could make wands useful
[X] 750gp Potions of Fly: 5 minutes of fun with 60' fly (+2) speed. Great backup, but too pricey to use in half the combats.
[ ] 22k Wings of Flying: constant fly 30' (poor) not great speed, but good for practicing all day, every day. Too bad the speed means my team getting chased by giants for an extra round as I climb.
[ ] 16k Winged Boots: fly 60' (good) for 5 min 3/day. It keeps you independent, beats potions on price after 22 uses, and this is going to be used basically every combat. But if someone can make you fly or the first flight of the day is free or you're in town for multiple combats it becomes less tempting.
[ ] 7.5k Boots of Levitation: cheap levitation at will and with Glide I could move laterally fine... but only 20' of climb speed per round is very slow. I would need three rounds at least waiting for the eleveator to go up. And it's a -1 to the attack/combat maneuver roll.
[ ] 10k? Tengu Wings feat is 30' speed for 9 minutes 1/day, and I think I can get better equivalent than 1/day for a feat investment. Feats normally cost around 10k in item equivalent, but even 10k for slow 1/day isn't worth it.
[ ] 18k Jetpack: fly 60' (poor) 1 charge/round. But I'm avoiding technological items.
[ ] 5.1k Hippogriff (combat trained) + exotic military saddle: Scouts fly and ride horses, so this is feasible but ideally she should be flying independently.
[ ] 4.5k Medium animated object: construct can use two construct points to get Fly 40' (clumsy). It could carry you, follow orders and it's not afraid of things like a hippogriff might be
[ ] +10.5k An intelligent magical item with flying: should be treated as an NPC, so too unreliable
[ ] 10.1k Windstrider Mail: 3/day 60' flying rush for one turn as a standard
[ ] +15k Radiant Flight armor enhancement: fly 30' (poor) 10 min/day in 1 min increments, but must be attached to heavy armor
[ ] 15.2k Gale Armor: gives air walk, which doesn't let you fall when it ends
[X] 22.4k Celestial Armor: fly 60' (+2) 5 min 1/day. +9 AC and +8 MDB with only a light armor proficiency is the best armor a rogue can get, even without the flight. But first flight of the day free is a big bonus.
[ ] 35k+ Dread Wing (+5 armor bonus): fly 60' (average) at will, but expensive and requires heavy armor
[ ] 40k Gravity Suit: fly 60' (average) 1 charge/min. Technological.
[ ] 55k Wicked Wings: way too much for a constant 30' fly speed - and it's a Demonic Implant
You're right about true strike, so I will just need a bandolier full of Rings of Serene Contortions and put a new one on each fight. I *should* only need it once per combat. Dusty rose prism + wayfinder is useful, but not 12% of wealth useful.
Wands and UMD are insanely useful outside combat if you can use them, but it's un-thematic, TWF means no spare hands in combat, and my action economy already sucks two or three rounds of setting up the finale.
I've also considered replacing flying with a second story harness, 2 crank light crossbows, 6 tiny animated object constructs, 200' of silk rope and 2 grappling bolts for 2219gp. I suspect table variation on how that works though...
[X] 1k Boots of the Cat: would mean an unchecked 60' fall only does 6 damage instead of 6d6. Seems prudent.
Every good rules system makes it hard to model an OP character.
The challenge stands open if you can find a better build! I think Scout/Swordmaster is thematically best, but swordmaster is also the only way I can find to get two swords on a charge at level 9. With ninja you can get scout but not swordmaster, and poison use/no trace/light steps make less sense to me than finesse training/danger sense/debilitaing injury/rogues edge. Magus I disagree with thematically because she doesn't use magic, doesn't like to think and she clearly kills by precision damage.
Flight speed has one other factor than action economy: charge rules state "allows you to move up to twice your speed". If she were at 60' flying speed the downward charge could add 12d6 instead of 6d6 for 30' fly speed (assuming a limit of double speed when falling charge). I'm not sure if this really is a requirement since you can presumably make a falling charge without a fly speed and I'm not certain falling would be considered a double move if you do have a fly speed. Full round action to swing by rope at least 20' from a higher elevation also counts as a charge.
Climb speeds are definitely useful, but I'll probably get a climb speed with Rogue's Edge at level 10.
Some more thoughts I've had:
[X] 8.3k +1 giant-bane Aldori Dueling Swords: Her swords are designed specifically to kill giants, so more appropriate than just +1 ADS at a cost of 12k extra for +2 to hit and +2d6+2 damage per hit.
The giant's AoO would be more appropriately avoided with amazing Acrobatics (e.g. frost giant's CMD 29) instead of by armor. Acrobatics is +19 so that's only 50% protection so far. Dropping celestial armor would be thematically approriate (though stupid for normal Pathfinder play style). Then I'd need another way to fly every day to qualify for putting ranks in Fly skill.
So now I'm at:
Tiger trance -> flying 120' up with 60' fly speed (+two sword draws as part of movement) -> true strike and a move -> pounce for 12d6 branch pounce+4d8 weapon+20d6 sneak attack+ (8d6+12) giant bane+28 Dex to damage+4 weapon enhancement= 40d6+4d8+44, averaging 202 damage when all 4 hit. Enough to kill a CR13 storm giant in one pass (if I could actually hit 4 times), and CR9 frost giant is toast. Without trance/pounce one charge attack is still 12d6+1d8+5d6+2d6+10 or 81 damage, enough every other round to definitely kill a CR6 ettin and frequently enough for a hill giant.