Strictly worse options.


Skills, Feats, Equipment & Spells


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

This is a thread for cases where you are presented with two or more options and one is strictly better than the other. (This isn't for apples-to-oranges comparisons like saying demon bloodline powers vs. celestial bloodline powers.)

I noticed that animal totem has the following strictly betters:
Deer, wolf, and bull all have 1d10 piercing unarmed attacks leaving hands free.
Animal rage gives all of them scent, but deer gets 45ft. movement, wolf gets 40ft., and bull gets 30ft.

Cat also gets 1d10 piercing hands-free, plus scent and 40ft. movement from animal rage, but also gets 1d8 slashing agile claws (using hands). That puts them as strictly better than wolf and bull.

They're not big differences, but it'd be nice to have some mechanical reason for each form.

Any other cases like this?


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A -lot-of weapons and several armora are like this. Some of its legacy reasons, but I'd hazard less than half the weapons table will be used.

There are several spells that produce the slow effect. Slow is single target, but heightens to 10 targets at 6th. Crushing despair is 5th, but has a delayed onset of one rounds and gives two will saves rather than a single fortitude save.


Maybe you have to mimic the antler bull attack making it hard to use your free hands to grapple with. I dunno. Seems boring to not have animal rage as a default at least. Ape and snake gets climb speed so that's something to consider.

The Exchange

Spears. Spears are still awful, which makes no sense. They were a staple of melee combat for a very long time for reasons beyond them simply being affordable. Looking at the regular spear, it does a d6, online with the shortsword, you can throw it 20 feet, and that's it. That is the only dex based attack you get with your poking stick. The rapier, a metal poking stick, gets the same damage die, and you can apply your dex to the attack. The shortsword is the same deal. I get that they're both martial weapons, and for some reason the spear isn't, but the one handed spear can and should be a lot better than it is.

The longspear is eclipsed by the ranseur. Like if you're going to go with a spear build based on a two handed weapon without taking a martial class, you might as well burn a feat for martial proficiency to get it. Honestly rolling them into each other would work well.


AC, with non-proficiency penalties. At second level (when full plate becomes available), it's impossible for a wizard to get a high enough Dex for him to be better off going without armour, rather than wearing heavy armour. Even if he's prepared to spend a spell slot on mage armour. Technically there are costs to this: slower movement speed, higher check penalty, etc. However, they're very minor compared with getting a higher AC.


pi4t wrote:
AC, with non-proficiency penalties. At second level (when full plate becomes available), it's impossible for a wizard to get a high enough Dex for him to be better off going without armour, rather than wearing heavy armour. Even if he's prepared to spend a spell slot on mage armour. Technically there are costs to this: slower movement speed, higher check penalty, etc. However, they're very minor compared with getting a higher AC.

I think someone said that Arcane spell failure chance is still going to be a thing but was accidentally left out of the play test. I'm not sure if that is rumor or fact however.


Vidmaster7 wrote:
I think someone said that Arcane spell failure chance is still going to be a thing but was accidentally left out of the play test. I'm not sure if that is rumor or fact however.

It wasn't left out accidentally. They intentionally left it out to see where things would be going. They are just not sure if they want to keep leaving it out or re-introduce it when 2e is released.


Blave wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
I think someone said that Arcane spell failure chance is still going to be a thing but was accidentally left out of the play test. I'm not sure if that is rumor or fact however.
It wasn't left out accidentally. They intentionally left it out to see where things would be going. They are just not sure if they want to keep leaving it out or re-introduce it when 2e is released.

Ah ok. Interesting. Well I'd personally prefer is casters where still penalized for wearing armor.


Vidmaster7 wrote:
pi4t wrote:
AC, with non-proficiency penalties. At second level (when full plate becomes available), it's impossible for a wizard to get a high enough Dex for him to be better off going without armour, rather than wearing heavy armour. Even if he's prepared to spend a spell slot on mage armour. Technically there are costs to this: slower movement speed, higher check penalty, etc. However, they're very minor compared with getting a higher AC.
I think someone said that Arcane spell failure chance is still going to be a thing but was accidentally left out of the play test. I'm not sure if that is rumor or fact however.

I haven't heard that rumour. Fairly major thing to leave out, particularly when it's presented in the armour stat blocks in PF1. The point probably still stands in regards to monks, though. They might have a slightly easier time of it (is Dex their key ability score, or is it wisdom? I don't have the book available to me at the moment) but they'll still end up with essentially the same AC with heavy armour vs going unarmoured, and suffer no other penalty for wearing armour they're not proficient with.

As a somewhat off topic side point, I think this is a major problem in the proficiency system as it stands. In most cases (weapons are an exception) when you have a choice between using something you're proficient in and something which you aren't, the only penalty for using the latter is that the bonus it gives is slightly reduced. So if the latter thing is stronger inherently more useful than the former, it's often better to use it even though you're not proficient. In PF1, the penalties for using something you're not proficient in apply to other stats. A weapon you aren't proficient with may do more damage, but you take a big to-hit penalty and to-hit is more important than weapon damage. Armour you aren't proficient in gives a penalty to lots of different rolls, which are collectively more important than AC. And so forth.


pi4t wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
pi4t wrote:
AC, with non-proficiency penalties. At second level (when full plate becomes available), it's impossible for a wizard to get a high enough Dex for him to be better off going without armour, rather than wearing heavy armour. Even if he's prepared to spend a spell slot on mage armour. Technically there are costs to this: slower movement speed, higher check penalty, etc. However, they're very minor compared with getting a higher AC.
I think someone said that Arcane spell failure chance is still going to be a thing but was accidentally left out of the play test. I'm not sure if that is rumor or fact however.

I haven't heard that rumour. Fairly major thing to leave out, particularly when it's presented in the armour stat blocks in PF1. The point probably still stands in regards to monks, though. They might have a slightly easier time of it (is Dex their key ability score, or is it wisdom? I don't have the book available to me at the moment) but they'll still end up with essentially the same AC with heavy armour vs going unarmoured, and suffer no other penalty for wearing armour they're not proficient with.

As a somewhat off topic side point, I think this is a major problem in the proficiency system as it stands. In most cases (weapons are an exception) when you have a choice between using something you're proficient in and something which you aren't, the only penalty for using the latter is that the bonus it gives is slightly reduced. So if the latter thing is stronger inherently more useful than the former, it's often better to use it even though you're not proficient. In PF1, the penalties for using something you're not proficient in apply to other stats. A weapon you aren't proficient with may do more damage, but you take a big to-hit penalty and to-hit is more important than weapon damage. Armour you aren't proficient in gives a penalty to lots of different rolls, which are collectively more important than AC. And so forth.

Hmm I'm not sure if this is exactly the topic he had in mind. I see how it is related and has similarities but I think its probably off topic technically. I know their is a thread just for the issue you mentioned. I think his is more like 2 feats that would do the exact same thing but one was just slightly worse for no reason.


If Paizo want to reintroduce ASF, they could just apply the armour's check penalty to the caster's spell-casting modifier or (less severely) their non-proficiency penalty instead.


On topic: Caster dedication feats seem strictly better than Cantrip Expansion assuming you qualify. So if you're already keeping that particular stat high enough, why not go for it? As of the playtest, I don't think any caster stats line up to make this work. We don't have charisma caster dedication feats. And druids don't have a Cantrip Expansion feat anyway. But it seems like it could become an issue if this pattern holds true in the long run.

pi4t wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
pi4t wrote:
AC, with non-proficiency penalties. At second level (when full plate becomes available), it's impossible for a wizard to get a high enough Dex for him to be better off going without armour, rather than wearing heavy armour. Even if he's prepared to spend a spell slot on mage armour. Technically there are costs to this: slower movement speed, higher check penalty, etc. However, they're very minor compared with getting a higher AC.
I think someone said that Arcane spell failure chance is still going to be a thing but was accidentally left out of the play test. I'm not sure if that is rumor or fact however.
I haven't heard that rumour. Fairly major thing to leave out, particularly when it's presented in the armour stat blocks in PF1. The point probably still stands in regards to monks, though. They might have a slightly easier time of it (is Dex their key ability score, or is it wisdom? I don't have the book available to me at the moment) but they'll still end up with essentially the same AC with heavy armour vs going unarmoured, and suffer no other penalty for wearing armour they're not proficient with.

Well, let's look at that in the case of monks. Assuming 18 dex, they get +5 AC and TAC for expert unarmored. So that's 17 AC/TAC at level 2.

For comparison to heavy armors with those stats:

Splint: 17 AC/14 TAC, plus a -2 penalty on reflex saves
Half Plate: 17 AC/ 14 TAC
Fullplate: 17 AC/13 TAC, plus a -3 penalty on reflex saves.

The monk also loses their increased movement speed, and access to certain feats including all stances.

So our heavy armor monk winds up with: huge penalties to the skills they are supposed to be good at, huge movement speed penalties (which sucks on a melee based class that isn't trained in range weapons by default,) a crippled TAC, AND they lose access to their Incredible Movement talent and all of their Stance feats. And they paid most of their starting silver to do this. That's a rather terible trade off all around, especially when you consider Bracers of Armor aren't much more expensive than fullplate (350 sp vs 300 sp.)

A monk that dumps dex to focus on strength might better off, but unarmed strength attacks are only worth using with Dragon Style which you can't use armored. However, I don't think Stances work with weapons anyway. So their might be some synergy for armor on a strength based Monastic Weaponry monk. That could be a solid way to free up ability boosts for Wisdom and do a ki focused build. And at that point you're almost certainly going to want a feat to get you proficient with the armor anyway. At which point, yeah, I'm cool with such a specialized build benefitting from armor but losing access to all sorts of other options.

Now let's look at the wizard. He won't have 18 dex. But can have 16, and it is even probable that he will at level 2 since he needs to hit things with spells. At which point, you are looking at:

Unarmored: 15 AC/ 15 TAC
Splint: 17 AC/ 14 TAC, and a -1 penalty to reflex saves
Half Plate: 17 AC/ 14 TAC
Full Plate: 17 AC/ 13 TAC, and -2 penalty to reflex saves

Full plate is certainly not the right call here compared to half plate. But while half plate grants you +2 AC, you take -1 TAC, -10 speed, and -4 ACP. And if you left strength at 10 you are 3/5ths of the way to encumbered. You'll certainly need that boost to armor class, because you aren't running away from enemies and you aren't getting the drop on them. (Consider that AoOs no longer being the standard means an unarmored character can run away much easier and still cast much easier than before.)

Then you need to figure in the silver cost... Even making a character at level 2, the WBL table suggests you still only start with 150 SP and 1 1st level item. You are allocating a lot of your resources towards that armor, for all that it isn't a strict upgrade. A breast plate might look better though.

To be conservative, let's look at a dex 14 2nd level wizard:

Unarmored: 14 AC/ 14 TAC
Splint: 17 AC/ 14 TAC
Half Plate: 17 AC/ 14 TAC
Full Plate: 17 AC/ 13 TAC, and -1 penalty to reflex saves

At this point the winner is actually splint mail for being the cheapest and lowest ACP, but it still has all those encumbrance penalties. +3 AC might be worth all those costs. But you're devoting a lot of money into this, and a lot of Bulk-- a spell book is 1 bulk, as are most weapons, which already takes you up to the Encumbered limit before literally anything else. Really, I can't see many wizards doing this in practice unless they are specially going for a gish build with decent strength that wants to hang out on the front lines.

By the time you can easily afford the price tag and extra-dimensional storage space, you probably have feats and/or ability boosts that change how this looks pretty drastically.

So yeah, if you only look at AC numbers, untrained wizards in full plate looks great. But you look at everything else, not so much.

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