Suck might be a strong word, but it really seems to me that they are notably hosed, especially Small melee characters. Not only is the weapon damage reduced, but the (typically) reduced land speed makes them harder to get into melee. PLUS they tend to have Strength penalties. All this doesn't seem worth a +1 AC and attack, a -1 to CMB/D, and a +4 on Stealth.
Anybody come up with any houserules to make this a little more viable?
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Not house rules, but for Small martials:
Rogue/Slayer (and some archetypes of other things) Sneak Attack are not reduced by Small size.
Swashbuckler Precise Strike is not reduced by Small size, and Mouser Swashbuckler is actually better if you are Small.
Also, if you are a Goblin, you just need a feat to use firearms made for Medium creatures without penalty.
For Small semi-martials:
Magus Spellstrike damage and other effects are not reduced by Small size.
|David knott 242|
Weapon Finesse/Grace feats let you fight with dexterity instead of strength to damage. The Halfling alternate racial trait Fleet of Foot eliminates the speed penalty. Alternatively, a Halfling Cavalier or Paladin can zip around dungeons pretty fast on a riding dog. The only penalty not overcome is the weapon damage die size.
I didn't even have to resort to houserules for this one.
I haven't found house rules for this really needed. Albeit you have to pick through things somewhat, but then a kitsune isn't the greatest medium martial either normally.
Aasimar and tieflings can be small and still have a STR bonus. Wayangs have no STR penalty. A small STR race is only -1 damage for +1 to hit and +1 AC.
Halflings are surprisingly melee proficient with 30' speed and right racial abilities and feats.
Often a mounted character can be only viable in a dungeon/city delving game if small with a medium mount.
If you are playing at low levels then a balance tweak change might be in order if martial race disparity is a worry.
But if you are playing up to mid levels and beyond the penalties tend to be lost in the sea of bonuses.
It really depends on the build. For example, I have a halfling hunter/unchained-rogue who focuses on flanking with her animal companion. She got Weapon Finesse at rogue level one and Dex-to-Damage at rogue level 3, and since she rides her companion as a mount, her Pack Flanking feat lets her always be flanking. So she always gets the bonuses from Outflank, Sneak Attack, Precise Strike, and Dirty Fighter. And with the mount's greater speed, there's no problem getting close to an opponent. Add in Broken Wing Gambit, Paired Opportunists, and Combat Reflexes, she and her mount are doing tons of damage.
Steadfast Slayer roughly negates the difference in damage die (+2 damage over a Medium sized attacker), but you have to be the only threatener and engage the foe with a two-handed melee weapon. And well, the foe must be at least Medium sized for this to work.
Some "Small or smaller" feats: Taunt allows you to demoralize with Bluff, ignoring the size difference. If you want to give a big foe the runaround, Underfoot and Passing Trick can be an interesting specialization. Finally, Kobold Style gives a great +4 on combat maneuver checks - if you managed to deny the foe's Dex bonus before (usually via feint).
As long as you can get yourself a decent movement rate you'll be fine. I'm presently playing a gnome paladin in Wrath of the Righteous. Last night I inflicted nearly 400 hp of damage on a dragon with just two mounted charge attacks. And none of the damage was due to mythic abilities (although my mount was under the effects of a mythic haste in addition to the usual airwalk spell.)
|David knott 242|
In a previous Pathfinder campaign, the toughest badass in the party was our halfling paladin. Admittedly, it was a high point buy campaign, but his smite/charge routine was quite deadly to our foes.
My house rules are way more extensive, but if I were to focus solely on this issue these are the changes I would limit them too:
- Small characters have a base speed of 25 ft.
- Instead of having armor decrease speed to set amounts, have medium armor reduce speed by 5 ft. and heavy armor reduce speed by 10 ft.
- Allow small races to remove the -2 Str by giving up one of their +2s
This allows small races to avoid being pigeonholed into Dex based builds. I will agree that this really only matters at lower levels (which is what I personally prefer), and at higher levels the penalties of being Small don't matter nearly as much.
Halflings make pretty good martials. Damage will be very slightly less than a medium character with a STR bonus (about 3 or 4 points less) but that is offset by other benefits. Other posters have already listed some of those benefits, but in addition halflings get several useful combat feats like Risky Striker and Blundering Defence. They also have the Adaptable Luck feat tree.
I have a couple of halfling martial builds on the drawing board. My wife plays a halfling barbarian (mounted fury) in pfs and has a blast with him.
And wayangs are possibly the best race to use for a mounted martial due to size benefit and no STR penalty.
Small characters with a -2 to strength is equal hit and ~1-4 damage. This is pretty easy to ignore at most levels. This is basically less than you get from a single dip on most martials. If your level for acceptable martial performance is most full bab mono-classes, a single medium, brawler, or barbarian dip will fully fix the deficit.
My wife's "dash-one" in PFS is a halfling underfoot monk, with the fleet of foot and underfoot alternate racial traits. Her damage output wasn't terribly high at lower levels, but she's always been good at maneuvering around opponents and tripping them to set up AoO's for the party's heavy hitters. She tends to be a living monkey wrench in her enemy's tactics! ;)
And now that she's 9th level, she has a monk's robe and a vicious merciful amulet of mighty fists, so rolls a fistful of dice with every hit, too.