I'm at a crucial point of a complicated Whip wielding Warpriest build, so I'm looking for advice on the next level choice. He's a Crusader's Flurry whip build working towards Difficult Swings to maximize AoOs. Currently he's Unchained Monk 1/Warpriest 4 with no archetypes. I'd taken Slashing Grace with his Warpriest 3rd level bonus feat so that I could get Dex to Damage until I can afford/have the fame for an Agile whip. Since Slashing Grace doesn't work with flurry, I'll eventually retrain that.
The question is, what to do once I hit 6th level. The currently planned build looks like this.
LN Human Unchained Monk 1/Warpriest of Matravash 9/Lore Warden 1
STR 11 (10 +1 8th) DEX 20 (17 +2racial, +1 4th) CON 14 INT 7 WIS 16 CHA 7
Favored Class Bonus for WP levels 3-8 goes to 1/6 Bonus Feat
L1 UMonk 1: Weapon Finesse, B) Combat Reflexes, B) Stunning Fist, B) Improved Unarmed Strike, H) Phalanx Formation, Flurry of Blows
L2 WP 1: B) EWP (Whip), B) Weapon Focus (Whip), Sacred Weapon (1d6), Community and Travel Blessings
L3 WP 2: Whip Mastery, Fervor
L4 WP 3: B) Slashing Grace->retrain at 6 to Weapon Specialization (Whip)
L5 WP 4: Crusader's Flurry, Channel Energy, Sacred Weapon +1
L6 LW 1: B) Improved Whip Mastery, Knowledge Skills, Linguistics, Spellcraft as Class Skills, +1 skill rank
L7 WP 5: Martial Focus (Flails-Includes Whip), Fervor 2D6, Sacred Weapon (1d8)
L8 WP 6: B) Difficult Swings
L9 WP 7: Lunge, Sacred Armor +1
L10 WP 8: FCB) Greater Weapon Focus (Whip), Fervor 3D6, Sacred Weapon +2
L11 WP 9: Improved Critical (Whip), B) Power Attack (assuming +2 Ioun Stone for STR)
Traits: Magical Knack (Warpriest), Fate's Favored
Blessings: Community and Travel
Skills: Focused on Perception and Sense Motive with his whopping 2 skill points/level. A couple of points in Acrobatics and Knowledge Religion along the way.
I'll hit enough fame/gold at 5.2 to buy an Agile whip assuming I get full prestige in the next 2 scenarios, or at 6 if I play a module.
I need a +5 BAB to take Improved Whip Mastery and Martial Focus without them being a Warpriest Bonus Feat.
The options I'm considering are:
1) as spec'd, take Lore Warden at 6. This gives me a bonus feat, which I can use on Improved Whip Mastery. A small benefit is that I get +2 skill ranks, but with a 7 INT, that effectively becomes +1 skill rank (2-2=0 min 1 plus human point =2. Or LW 2+2-2 = 2 + human bonus rank = 3, and 2 likely need to be in INT skills).
2) Take Unchained Monk at 6. Retrain Slashing Grace to Improved Whip Mastery. Gain Dodge as a UMonk Bonus Feat and Evasion. I wouldn't take Weapon Specialization until 11th with my level 9 Warpriest Bonus Feat.
3) Take Warpriest at level 6. Retrain Slashing Grace to Improved Whip Mastery. This moves some stuff around later in the build, but I think I can still take everything roughly at the same place except Weapon Specialization, which would move to the bonus feat at 10th (WP 9), and I likely wouldn't get Power Attack at all. BAB ends up at +8. I get 4th level spells, major blessings, and a 1d10 damage die. Dimensional Hop as the major blessing for Travel is nice.
Hmm... maybe option 3?
Three looks best to me. I would buy the ioun stone that gives you weapon familiarity with scorpion whips, so you can have weapons with special materials.
Lunge is good but optional for whips as you have 15ft of reach and aoos threaten 10ft. Enemies you can hit, already have to spend a move action and provoke an AOO to get to you. Expanding reach does not change that. Lunge may catch some extra enemies trying to get to your allies but it's a minor benefit compared to what you get on most builds. Difficult swings cover enemies at 10ft by creating difficult terrain, which is perfect.
Not much else to say the build looks good and I would stay warpriest. An extra feats is nice but 2 skill points are not really meaningful. Give the choice between 1 feat and '4th level spells, major blessings, and a 1d10 damage die'. It's no contest to me.
The thought with Lunge is that I can attack from the back of the group if I get stuck there. With Phalanx Formation, even if there are three allies between me and the enemy, I can attack with no cover penalty. So 5’ hallways and situations like that. Also for attacking large creatures with 10’ Reach so they can’t 5-foot step into a full attack. Difficult Swings doesn’t really help in that situation, so it’s more about avoiding the full attack. If I Attack from 15 feet, they could 5’ and attack with 10 foot reach. If I attack from 20’, they have to take a move action. Still no provoking, but they get fewer attacks. Since I don’t plan to enlarge as it hurts Dex, and I don’t have a reliable way to get longarm, the extra flexibility seems like a good thing.
What I wonder about getting the extra feat is whether or not there’s another feat or Feat chain I could add to the build. Taking UMonk and Dodge means I could use my level 11 feat and bonus feat for Mobility and Combat Patrol, for example, instead of Improved Critical (I can already make the whip keen with Sacred Weapon) and Power Attack.
I’m a little iffy on scorpion whip and Crusader’s Flurry, since deities list whip and scorpion whip separately as favored weapons. I’m not sure using it as a whip is the same as it being a whip for something that requires the deity’s favored weapon, in the same way using a two-handed weapon as a one-handed weapon doesn’t make it a one-handed weapon. It probably works, but the bigger issue is that I need Agile, so I don’t want to swap out weapons unless I have to. Anything with DR 5, I’d actually be doing less damage (+6 from Dex with a belt +1 enhancement vs removing 5 DR). Also, I can boost the enhancement with Sacred Weapon to +3 starting are WP 8th for cold iron/silver, and by 11th I should have a +2 Agile Whip, so I’d be able to get to +4 to overcome Adamantine. It’s just simpler for me to stick with one weapon and power through the DR. Every bit of gold is pretty much spoken for as well, with just a small margin for important consumables. So dropping 3,000+ on an Adamantine whip is probably not going to happen anyway.
I’m glad the majority of the build looks good. It took a lot of time to figure out getting things at the right levels to get Difficult Swings at an early enough point where I can actually have the fun of using it for a few levels.
Most of what is below are more thoughts on lunge feel free to ignore them. The last part is a different metal whip option if you want. It also happens to be a channel focus so it could be good for the character's theme.
Honest question, among you normal pfs groups do you have someone that can do melee damage at 15ft?
If not be the third person in the 5ft hallway. If you play with a lot of lunge using pole arm users in a lot of mansion senarios (I find 5ft hallways infrequently) the it may become more valuable.
Without lunge you attack then 5ft away. A large creature will still need to move to you. Lunge makes this more reliable.
But it only helps at between 15 and 20ft.
If they start closer, they full attack. If they start further they are coming in with a move provoking and taking a single attack. The feat is helpful but like I said earlier when you have a whip it becomes less useful.
Also consider you have to activate lunge, so if they go before you and move you can't use it. If they go after you attack once at 20ft and give yourself the extra reach for an aoo vs larger creatures. Not changing what happens for medium or huge.
It's not bad you can keep it and I don't think you will regret it. It does give a bunch of small situational bonues.
My feeling on combat patrol and aoos in general if they are not forced like broken wing or outflank, is that they stop happening in most fights after the first round. As you get into the cycle of full attacks.
Combat patrol is good but you have to be making 3 is attacks a round to cover the full attacks you give up then subtract out the aoos you would have received anyway. You likely have to make 4-5 aoos to make it worth using. Plus you still provoke so that mean you will need to make one attack for each of those to keep the net damage equal.
I would grab lunge or chat patrol but not both.
The the agile thing is a problem. You could use a stinging whip which is a. Channel focus for chalistia and a metal whip of you change your mind. I have purchased an adamantin weapon for 13 melee pcs so far and they are al doing alright but some build do requite a lot more equipment than others.
Combat Patrol isn’t something I’m planning to take. It’s just an example of a feat chain that becomes possible with a 2nd dip for a bonus feat. I’m more looking at whether there are any interesting options I haven’t found along those lines. Are there any other Feat chains that might work well with using a whip or help control the board? Or something I’m not thinking of for Warpriest that would help? I looked at One-Handed Weapon Trick for Stylish Riposte, which could net me some more AoOs. Quicken Blessing doesn’t really seem necessary since neither of my blessings are things I would use frequently in combat. Any way to deliver Stunning Fist through the Whip, maybe? Or a style feat that would be good?
One other option I didn’t mention is to dip Brawler for Martial Flexibility. If there’s not one feat that is an obvious choice, that would give me access to lots of different feats as needed. It also gets me around the 13 INT requirement where that’s an issue.
I do think I want Lunge on this build, though. It’s possible that’s something I could use Martial Flexibility for if I went that direction. Again, with 15 foot reach, I’m attacking a creature that has reach from 5 feet beyond its reach. So all it has to do is 5 foot step to get a full attack. With Lunge, I’m attacking from 10 feet beyond its reach, so it has to move if it wants to attack me. Other than that, it’s just about the utily and being able to control more of the board. With less need to move around, I’ll get more full attacks and be able to change targets more easily if one falls before I’m finished. I don’t play with a consistent group of characters, so I don’t know how many melee characters there will be. I do seem to run into small spaces a lot in PFS. It may just be the choice of scenarios, but there are lots of dungeons. 20 foot reach means, for example, in a 4-person group the Wizard doesn’t have to be at the back of the line, because I can be back there and still attack the front line, or I can be the front line if something comes up from behind us. The feat is late enough in the build that I still have a few levels to decide if I really need it, so I could always skip it if I don’t find these situations coming up.
Difficult Swings is this character’s means of creating AoOs. Against anything without reach, I can prevent them from 5-foot stepping up to me, without limiting my or my allies’ ability to 5-foot step. I’ve already got a trip build character, so I don’t want to go the Greater Trip route again. This seems like something different and fun.
Tripping has nice synergy with the whip and Aoos that seems most obvious to me, but you have done that before so it seems.
Difficult swings is awesome on this build. I don't know about you but I find at a certain level I'm in the air a lot and ground-based tactics start to be less reliable. You may want to have a replacement plan depending on how high a level you foresee this character reaching.
Stylish Riposte if you are investing heavily in AC is a great option. It solves the problem of most AOO builds not getting AOOs after the first round. I have stylish repose on my magus.
The brawler could be good if you took Greater whip mastery and went for crazy versatility. On that build, I would be inclined to try to squeeze extra flexibility in. I think that ends up deviating pretty far from the initial build though.
Your level of optimisation is far beyond mine so im just gonna ask a stupid question.
What about whirlwind attack, wouldnt you in theory get a far greater number of attacks (yes spread out, not against the same target, I understand normally its better to take one guy out of commission than to spread the damage around, but the feel that I get its more of control build than pure dps).
Thing is whirlwind attack has the wording "when you do a full attack action" so difficult swings would apply.
Whirlwind attack has a few issues. Super feat heavy and stat heavy prereqs for this build more dipping would be mandatory.
Giving up your full attack means you have to hit a number of enemies every round equal to the number of attacks you would normally make. That may or may not be possible to give the fight. So the feat is less consistent.
The other I think worse problem is spreading damage around is an ineffective tactic.
5 enemies with with 10 HP.
You can do 2 damage to each of them for 5 rounds or 10 damage to one of them each round.
Scenario 1: each round for 4 rounds the enemy attack that is 20 total attacks
Scenario 2: each round 1 enemy dies. 4 attacks round 1, 3 round 2, 2 round 3 and 1 rounud 4. That is 10 attacks total.
Pathfinder is a game of action economy. Obviously, the numbers have been simplified but once PCs start getting multiple attack and haste becomes more common the effectiveness of whirlwind drops off significantly. It is really helpful to think about things in terms of actions.
Is a feat or a buff good in a fight? You have to consider two factors. The first is how many rounds does it take to make up for lost damage. The second is, in that time did the enemy get any extra actions. If so you have to make up that damage as well. Think of it as damage for and against, or net damage. Whirlwind has the potential for very poor action economy denial.
I see this character as one that doesn’t have to move around to control/attack the board. It’s true that Whirlwind Attack does that, but it requires taking a bunch of feats that require moving to get a benefit from them. Or at least Mobility and Spring Attack. I would likely never use Spring Attack, because I’d rather stand still and flurry on someone from 15-20 feet away.
Flying creatures do pose a problem for Difficult Swings, but there’s not much I can do about that. I still run into plenty of ground based opponents in 10-11 Tier. But dealing with flight is necessary even at the level I’m at now (5th). Yet another reason I want Lunge, actually. Helps me reach flying creatures from the ground without having to burn a potion to fly. But pulling off AoOs in that situation is definitely more difficult. It’s too bad Ace Trip is ranged only. Shadow Trap is on the Warpriest/Cleric list, so that might be an option. My DC won’t be amazing, though, so it probably won’t help at the levels I would need it.