Brown Fur Transmuter and Monstrous Physique


Advice


I'm running a campaign which is limited to CRB, APG, and ACG with most stuff in UE approved.

One of my players just switched to a Brown Fur Transmuter at level 11.

He's asking for approval to use Monstrous Physique (III) from Ultimate Magic (not an approved book).

In theory it shouldn't matter, but if anyone's curious he's wanting to use it on an Unchained Monk (which is mainly relevant since the Unchained Monk currently does 2d8 with his fists (due to Monk's Robe) which then goes to 4d8 if he becomes Huge...and also because the Monk's Amulet of Mighty Fists will apply to any natural attacks gained).

I believe he specifically wants to turn the monk into a Thriae Queen.

So if I'm understanding this correctly, if I allowed the spell, it would give the monk a 1 minute per level effect(so pre-buffing is quite viable) that would impart...

Huge size (so 15 foot reach)
+1 AB (+3 str, -2 size)
13 damage per hit (2d8 -> 4d8 for 9, 4 from Dragon Style's 1.5 strength multiplier)
2 AC (+6 natural, -2 Dex, -2 size)
A sting attack at -5 from his normal Flurry (this sting is a *staggering* plus 1d6 Con poison at DC 17 (10 + 5 (HD) + 2 (Con)) whose DC would increase over time)

Is that all correct?

This could obviously be cast on other party members too, just using the monk as an example. It seems really powerful and frankly I'm already struggling at times to handle the difference buffs make (especially pre-buffs).

Anyone have any experience with this archetype or this spell?

And please don't give me "The monk isn't a level 9 caster breaking the game on his own so who cares?" That's a separate issue -- this is about the power of individual buffs (especially ones not designed for full BAB martials with high physical stats).


Flurry doesn't allow natural attacks at all (not even as secondary attacks) unless you have feral combat training, and I'm betting the monk isn't going to put that sort of investment in. Otherwise that summary seems accurate.

On a wizard or arcanist this sort of spell comes close to making them able to usefully engage in melee on its own if they have the ability scores to support it at all. On a full BAB class yeah, well.


The combination encourages teamwork and gives the spotlight to the martial character; I'd say it's a great thing to allow. Far more preferable than the spellcaster soloing an encounter with a single spell (say, a Dazing Fireball, also available at this level), leaving the martials without any real ability to contribute.

That said, I would also not give players a lot of free pre-buff time unless they're actively scouting ahead. Really, pre-buffing is the real issue. And if they aren't pre-buffing, then consider upping the challenge rating appropriately to their average power level.


In my experiences, party members are rarely willing to accept my polymorphs from brown fur. “Form of” is often enough change to almost require its own character sheet.


Melkiador wrote:
In my experiences, party members are rarely willing to accept my polymorphs from brown fur. “Form of” is often enough change to almost require its own character sheet.

I know at my table most players have Hero Lap open on a computer.

It's literally one button to check if you've set the form ahead of time, about a minute to set the form otherwise.


Quick note: I didn't realize the Powerful Change applied to the Arcanist Transmuting others, so the bonuses should actually be...

Huge size (so 15 foot reach)
+2 AB (+4 str, -2 size)
15 damage per hit (2d8 -> 4d8 for 9, 6 from Dragon Style's 1.5 strength multiplier)
2 AC (+6 natural, -2 Dex, -2 size)
A sting attack at -5 from his normal Flurry (this sting is a *staggering* plus 1d6 Con poison at DC 17 (10 + 5 (HD) + 2 (Con)) whose DC would increase over time)

avr wrote:
Flurry doesn't allow natural attacks at all (not even as secondary attacks) unless you have feral combat training, and I'm betting the monk isn't going to put that sort of investment in. Otherwise that summary seems accurate.

The player is pointing out that the Unchained Monk lacks the language you're referring to (that both normal Monk and Brawler possess). Here's the exact wording for Unchained Monk:

"At 1st level, a monk can make a flurry of blows as a full-attack action. When making a flurry of blows, the monk can make one additional attack at his highest base attack bonus. This additional attack stacks with the bonus attacks from haste and other similar effects. When using this ability, the monk can make these attacks with any combination of his unarmed strikes and weapons that have the monk special weapon quality. He takes no penalty for using multiple weapons when making a flurry of blows, but he does not gain any additional attacks beyond what’s already granted by the flurry for doing so. (He can still gain additional attacks from a high base attack bonus, from this ability, and from haste and similar effects).

At 11th level, a monk can make an additional attack at his highest base attack bonus whenever he makes a flurry of blows. This stacks with the first attack from this ability and additional attacks from haste and similar effects."

avr wrote:
On a wizard or arcanist this sort of spell comes close to making them able to usefully engage in melee on its own if they have the ability scores to support it at all. On a full BAB class yeah, well.

Well, yeah indeed. Just dredged up this quote from James Jacobs:

"Now, the idea that polymorph spells become "death traps" is hyperbole. Remember, most of those folks who are typically using polymorph effects are spellcasters who don't have really strong armor options. Even druids are limited in the type of armor they can wear, and arcane spellcasters are normally going to be using mage armor anyway due to the relatively prohibitive cost of bracers of armor +5 or greater. So the typical polymorpher is gaining better physical stats and attacks and natural armor than they normally have. If you're playing a character who already has a really good armor class and good physical attacks... polymorph is probably not for you."

That last sentence is fascinating.

The player asked if he could swap characters the night before the session and I didn't have time to do much research -- I just double-checked that the class and archetype were in CRB/APG/ACG. And figured there were some decent self buffs from Transmutation that he could now share with others.

Looking around, it seems Monstrous Physique may effectively just be an alternative to Beast Shape -- the main differences being that armor/shields/weapons do not much and remain functional. Which in and of itself is huge for a Fighter/Paladin/Barbarian/Ranger/Slayer/etc.

But in this particular case with the Monk, he doesn't have armor or weapons to lose. So besides not being able to talk, it seems that Beast Shape would not really have any penalties if I'm reading it correctly? RAW I'm guessing a Tiger is "allowed" to make an unarmed attack if it wants rather than using Bite/Claw/Claw...which means we'd have a Flurrying Monk Tiger using Unarmed attacks rather than natural weapons?

This really seems to be going against the spirit of the spell and is a fringe outlier case with the Monk...

Kaouse wrote:
The combination encourages teamwork and gives the spotlight to the martial character; I'd say it's a great thing to allow.

Where's your cutoff point where something is too good? What if the bonuses were 50% larger? 100% larger? 200%?

In general I'm not opposed to the concept...I'm concerned about the details of the implementation.

Kaouse wrote:
Far more preferable than the spellcaster soloing an encounter with a single spell (say, a Dazing Fireball, also available at this level), leaving the martials without any real ability to contribute.

Yeah, well, Dazing (and most other metamagic feats) aren't allowed. And there are some other house rules designed to avoid this very paradigm.

Also, I did say

"And please don't give me "The monk isn't a level 9 caster breaking the game on his own so who cares?" That's a separate issue -- this is about the power of individual buffs (especially ones not designed for full BAB martials with high physical stats)."

and then you went and talked about how this is better than the spellcaster breaking the game on their own.

Kaouse wrote:
That said, I would also not give players a lot of free pre-buff time unless they're actively scouting ahead. Really, pre-buffing is the real issue. And if they aren't pre-buffing, then consider upping the challenge rating appropriately to their average power level.

They can do an awful lot with even 12-18 seconds of warning. And they often have the initiative (not game term initiative) where they're attacking an entrenched position which means they're usually dictating the timing of the engagement.

I don't want to have to make every encounter either an ambush or a hold position where they know there will be an attack, just not when (and then enemy attacks basically instantly, no spotting them on the approach for even a few pre-buffs).


If things are banned to keep things reasonable, I would include this.


plaidwandering wrote:
If things are banned to keep things reasonable, I would include this.

Are you talking about the brownfur, the monstrous physique spell or the Thriae Queen?


Brownfur in this case

The spells were designed around self only casters

If he's trying to keep the game more reasonable power level, and his game is already been started/advertised as such, then this is a logical ban


Balkoth wrote:

The player is pointing out that the Unchained Monk lacks the language you're referring to (that both normal Monk and Brawler possess). Here's the exact wording for Unchained Monk:

"(...) He takes no penalty for using multiple weapons when making a flurry of blows, but he does not gain any additional attacks beyond what’s already granted by the flurry for doing so. (He can still gain additional attacks from a high base attack bonus, from this ability, and from haste and similar effects).

Natural weapons are still weapons for most things. You can not, ever, add natural weapons to a Flurry of Blows.

Balkoth wrote:
RAW I'm guessing a Tiger is "allowed" to make an unarmed attack if it wants rather than using Bite/Claw/Claw...which means we'd have a Flurrying Monk Tiger using Unarmed attacks rather than natural weapons?

There's actually a lack of rules on the exact topic, but nothing says you lose the ability to make an unarmed strike, and you can explicitly use any part of your body to make unarmed strikes, so RAW it does work. Can get pretty weird when your unarmed strikes with claws or bite only do bludgeoning damage, though.

Balkoth wrote:
I believe he specifically wants to turn the monk into a Thriae Queen.

I take it he hasn't found the Deathsnatcher yet? Or, possibly even worse, Great Old One Yig.

Brown-Fur Transmuter's 9th level ability is very strong, because combining (spersonal range) polymorph spells with strength based full BAB characters is very strong. For Monstrous Physique, unMonk isn't actually that good a target (the natural attacks are wasted, pounce is mostly wasted, most other special abilities are natural attack dependent and thus wasted, and MP lets you keep your weapons and armor). The Monk would gain just about the same benefit from turning into a Quetzalcoatlus via Beast Shape III.

Will it be disruptive? Depends on the campaign, the Monk's build, and the other party members. Still, we're talking about 5th level wizard spells. Is MP3 or BS3 worse than Dominate Person, Wall of Force, Cloudkill, Magic Jar etc.? Buffing martials is generally the least disruptive playstyle a full caster can pick.


UC flurry also does not work with natural attacks; designer statement was that the “no additional attacks” language made the specific natural attack prohibition from chained superfluous.


And the whole point of brown fur transmuted is giving groupmates access to pomymorphs that are normally hard to get. Of course he should be able to make the monk huge, most of the core polymorphs already allow that. Monstrous form on a monk is pretty weak; on an armed/armored martial though it might push the bounds of what you should allow.


Balkoth wrote:


A sting attack at -5 from his normal Flurry (this sting is a *staggering* plus 1d6 Con poison at DC 17 (10 + 5 (HD) + 2 (Con)) whose DC would increase over time)

Is that all correct?

The save DC will actually be 10 + spell level 5 + arcanist's casting modifier (not con). So, probably even higher than 17. But as has been pointed out, it can't be used with a flurry of blows.


Lelomenia wrote:
And the whole point of brown fur transmuted is giving groupmates access to pomymorphs that are normally hard to get.

Just because something is the whole point of a printed archetype doesn't mean it's suitable for all campaigns.

There's a metric f-ton of stuff printed up in pathfinder that a group wanting a more reasonable power level may want to ignore.


It's not like there aren't already ways for martials to get access to these spells though. They're just more expensive. A scroll of Monstrous Physique IV is only 1650 gold, which isn't usually that much gold at level 12, when the Arcanist can cast it on allies. And there are plenty of ways to get enough Use Magic Device by that level.

The Exchange

Hi, Balkoth!

I think the spell will be outside the power level you are trying to set for your campaign. I suggest you tell the arcanist you are not going to allow it. If the player is upset, you can point out all the wonderful things brown-fur transmuters can still do (overland flight for everyone! Who wants gravity bow?)


Derklord wrote:
Buffing martials is generally the least disruptive playstyle a full caster can pick.

I mean, when the Paladin in the group uses Smite Evil he gains 11 damage per hit. Against one enemy only. On a very limited resource pool.

This buff would add 15 damage per hit against ALL enemies for 11 minutes per cast.

I'd rather not have the Paladin feel like he's weak when Smiting Evil...

Melkiador wrote:
It's not like there aren't already ways for martials to get access to these spells though. They're just more expensive. A scroll of Monstrous Physique IV is only 1650 gold, which isn't usually that much gold at level 12, when the Arcanist can cast it on allies. And there are plenty of ways to get enough Use Magic Device by that level.

That's actually an excellent point. I *really* don't want the meta to shift into "everyone get UMD to use Monstrous Physique" at higher levels. Good argument against allowing it.

Belafon wrote:
If the player is upset, you can point out all the wonderful things brown-fur transmuters can still do (overland flight for everyone! Who wants gravity bow?)

First of all, nearly every form of flight is banned so Overland Flight is out.

Second, your point in general is what I expected him to be doing -- he asked me the night before the session if he could switch. But he seems to be thinking there's not actually many other options. Do you have any more in mind you could list?

Shadow Lodge

We had fun in a PFS scenario with an ant hauled character in thrae queen form flying off with a final blade...

The Exchange

Balkoth wrote:
Second, your point in general is what I expected him to be doing -- he asked me the night before the session if he could switch. But he seems to be thinking there's not actually many other options. Do you have any more in mind you could list?

There's a few that are worth preparing for most groups, though many of the ones I would normally recommend are either not in your campaign's allowed books list or are far more useful at lower levels. Here's a few that will still be useful:

long arm
gravity bow
transformation
(at 12th level)
the various allowed polymorph spells, including beast shape and elemental body
mnemonic enhancer
or mage's lucubration can be great utility spells if you have a lot of other prep casters in the party. Especially mage's lucubration when the cleric says "I only prepped that once today!"


Beast Shape (core rulebook) also would give your monk the same +15 damage per hit.

And I think it would make more sense to compare to where your monk would be at if he just went with permanency enlarge person, which should be +4 strength in your group, and would move him from 2d8 to 3d8 (+7.5 damage per hit?). Yes, huge form is better, but is it better by a full caster’s surprise round/first round standard action?

Again, I don’t support allowing that spell, as it sounds like the player is wants it for power reasons based on a misunderstanding of the rules. I’m just saying past level 10 effects on that power level (specifically huge monk; there’s stronger things that can be done with that spell) are ubiquitous even in core.


Lelomenia wrote:

Beast Shape (core rulebook) also would give your monk the same +15 damage per hit.

And I think it would make more sense to compare to where your monk would be at if he just went with permanency enlarge person, which should be +4 strength in your group, and would move him from 2d8 to 3d8 (+7.5 damage per hit?). Yes, huge form is better, but is it better by a full caster’s surprise round/first round standard action?

Again, I don’t support allowing that spell, as it sounds like the player is wants it for power reasons based on a misunderstanding of the rules. I’m just saying past level 10 effects on that power level (specifically huge monk; there’s stronger things that can be done with that spell) are ubiquitous even in core.

I am the player in question and I feel I can speak to this.

Two things, permanency is not allowed in this game and second, I picked it because I thought it would be a cool buff to give to my allies to buff their damage instead of trying to just kill things myself. I want to buff everyone in the party to increase our overall fighting power. This is a challenging game so I thought I needed to come at it in that fashion. I don't really care if its beast shape or MP, they are both equal on our monk (Who is our only BAB melee character.) I just want to let people go ham a bit since I planned to use it on our cleric and Oracle when they wanted to mix it up in melee also.

I don't want anyone to outshine others, if anything, I am sitting back and letting our two damage dealers do their thing. We have 3 support characters.


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as a rule of thumb, if any of these transmutation spells (dragon shape, giant shape etc)gets overboard you can always rule that the materiel component's price is too much for a standard spell pouch to produce -each of these spells has something along the lines "M (a piece of the creature whose form you plan to assume)"
spell component pouch :
"A spellcaster with a spell component pouch is assumed to have all the material components and focuses needed for spellcasting, except for those components that have a specific cost, divine focuses, and focuses that wouldn’t fit in a pouch."

it's not very far fetched to rule that a gold dragon scale or a part from a Thriae Queen is worth a lot of money. it's sure is a hell lot more rare then a pinch of bat guano.
this way the players have to work to get their power-up and have to be careful not to spam it on a daily basis

specifically there is this unique humanoid creature (which im not going to name )who players like to use as the base of a transmutation spell even though the lore state there is only one of it in existence. when one of my players tried to use it as a base for his spell i told him: " there is no way your common spell pouch comes with this specific creature's body part in it, you want to turn into it? fine, first hunt it to get a part of it for your spells THEN you can use it."


Balkoth wrote:
Derklord wrote:
Buffing martials is generally the least disruptive playstyle a full caster can pick.

I mean, when the Paladin in the group uses Smite Evil he gains 11 damage per hit. Against one enemy only. On a very limited resource pool.

This buff would add 15 damage per hit against ALL enemies for 11 minutes per cast.

I'd rather not have the Paladin feel like he's weak when Smiting Evil...

That's why I said "Depends on (...) the other party members.", but you also have to look at a bigger picture. A Paladin has better saves, incredible self-healing, condition removal, and spells, and smite evil also grants an attack bonus, and circumvents damage reduction. Quite frankly, Paladin has so much defensive and utility features, him not also being the best at dealing damage should be a good thing. Quite frankly, if the player wanted the most offense, he shouldn't have picked Paladin but e.g. Barbarian.

If you do decide to allow Monstrous Physique, the Paladin would probably be an even better target than the Monk.

But the real question is, will the Paladin feel better when the Arcanist simply possesses enemies with Magic Jar, or kills a bunch of them with a single casting of Cloudkill?

Quite frankly, if you really want to lower a campaign's power level, ban tier 1 and 2 classes (all full casters plus Summoner).

Balkoth wrote:
First of all, nearly every form of flight is banned so Overland Flight is out.

Shouldn't polymorphing into a flying creature be banned under those grounds, anyway?

Balkoth wrote:
Second, your point in general is what I expected him to be doing -- he asked me the night before the session if he could switch. But he seems to be thinking there's not actually many other options. Do you have any more in mind you could list?

There aren't actually that many, at least not in those books. Apart from the various polymorph effects, there's Eyes of the Void, Planar Adaptation, Fluid Form, Transformation, Ethereal Jaunt, Iron Body, Time Stop, and Fiery Body. Ethereal Jaunt allows flying, don't know if that's allowed, Transformation is mostly useless for a full BAB class, and Planar Adaptation is obviously very situational.

Kamea wrote:
our monk (Who is our only BAB melee character.)

Wait, so, do you have a Paladin, or not?


Derklord wrote:
Wait, so, do you have a Paladin, or not?

Ranged Pally. I would have used it on him but best I can give him is more dex by making him smaller. I did plan on doing that but ofc I would need MP or Fey form to do such a thing which at this point, I doubt will be happening. I would love to have something good to give to everyone, I made a support caster for a reason.

Our ranged pally has already lost Manyshot and Divine Bond which affected his damage on top of haste no longer giving an extra attack. Just to give you some context.


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Kamea wrote:
Derklord wrote:
Wait, so, do you have a Paladin, or not?

Ranged Pally. I would have used it on him but best I can give him is more dex by making him smaller. I did plan on doing that but ofc I would need MP or Fey form to do such a thing which at this point, I doubt will be happening. I would love to have something good to give to everyone, I made a support caster for a reason.

Our ranged pally has already lost Manyshot and Divine Bond which affected his damage on top of haste no longer giving an extra attack. Just to give you some context.

Holy cow. I'll be honest, it's going to be incredibly difficult for anyone here to give meaningful balance input with house-rules like no flying and haste not giving an extra attack. Those two examples are practically factored in to the CR of mid-level encounters. Monstrous Physique isn't overpowered normally, but if it's a campaign with no magical healing and where weapons cost double to enchant, then it's a different matter.


awbattles wrote:
Kamea wrote:
Derklord wrote:
Wait, so, do you have a Paladin, or not?

Ranged Pally. I would have used it on him but best I can give him is more dex by making him smaller. I did plan on doing that but ofc I would need MP or Fey form to do such a thing which at this point, I doubt will be happening. I would love to have something good to give to everyone, I made a support caster for a reason.

Our ranged pally has already lost Manyshot and Divine Bond which affected his damage on top of haste no longer giving an extra attack. Just to give you some context.

Holy cow. I'll be honest, it's going to be incredibly difficult for anyone here to give meaningful balance input with house-rules like no flying and haste not giving an extra attack. Those two examples are practically factored in to the CR of mid-level encounters. Monstrous Physique isn't overpowered normally, but if it's a campaign with no magical healing and where weapons cost double to enchant, then it's a different matter.

In a campaign that heavily house ruled there's not much point in asking anyone except your DM.

Anything we advise here will simply be overruled.


Derklord wrote:

In a campaign that heavily house ruled there's not much point in asking anyone except your DM.

Anything we advise here will simply be overruled.

He is the one who made this thread, not I. He was asking your input on this.


Lelomenia wrote:
And I think it would make more sense to compare to where your monk would be at if he just went with permanency enlarge person, which should be +4 strength in your group, and would move him from 2d8 to 3d8 (+7.5 damage per hit?). Yes, huge form is better, but is it better by a full caster’s surprise round/first round standard action?

I'm not currently allowing permanency for a few reasons, one of which is the same reason I don't sunder player's gear.

But even allowing that, I still have two concerns:

1, compared to Enlarge Person, this is 1 AB, 7.5 damage, 4 AC, and 5 foot extra reach. If this decreased AC like Enlarge Person I'd be less concerned.

2, at minutes per level it's often pre-buffable. And/or could be quickened if desired.

Lelomenia wrote:
I’m just saying past level 10 effects on that power level (specifically huge monk; there’s stronger things that can be done with that spell) are ubiquitous even in core.

Could you name some of the worst offenders (likely some already aren't allowed but I'm curious)?

To be clear: I have no issues with the PCs being strong at high levels. I'm just worried about them wrecking the CR curve (and severe differences inside the party, which is actually worse).

Derklord wrote:
Quite frankly, if the player wanted the most offense, he shouldn't have picked Paladin but e.g. Barbarian.

He's an archer paladin who was one-rounding Frost Giants at level 9 (more specifically, Frost Giants with +50% HP due to maximizing PC hit points to try to reduce the rocket tag slightly).

Derklord wrote:
But the real question is, will the Paladin feel better when the Arcanist simply possesses enemies with Magic Jar, or kills a bunch of them with a single casting of Cloudkill?

Maybe I'm missing something, but Cloudkill only seems to affect targets with 6 HD or less in terms of instant kill.

I've heard stories about Magic Jar, though. Some of the house rules (like the person being possessed being able to make additional saves at a penalty) may help.

Derklord wrote:
Quite frankly, if you really want to lower a campaign's power level, ban tier 1 and 2 classes (all full casters plus Summoner).

I'd really rather not ban Clerics, Druids, Sorcerers, and Wizards especially. Others are mostly, what, Oracle/Shaman/Witch/Arcanist?

I made content in NWN for years and while full casters were often more powerful than martials, it wasn't to such a game-breaking degree.

Derklord wrote:
Shouldn't polymorphing into a flying creature be banned under those grounds, anyway?

Probably. Kamea got turned into a dragon for two levels and I let him generally fly around between locations, just not hover in the air and continuously attack.

awbattles wrote:
Holy cow. I'll be honest, it's going to be incredibly difficult for anyone here to give meaningful balance input with house-rules like no flying and haste not giving an extra attack. Those two examples are practically factored in to the CR of mid-level encounters.

I call baloney.

For Fly, I'm playing in a Paizo AP and there's plenty of mid to high CR stuff that's effectively helpless before a hovering archer/caster.

For Haste, like I said above the Paladin was killing an equal CR Frost Giant that had 50% more HP in one round. They were mowing through CR+6ish encounters until one CR+4 encounter was going to result in a TPK because of spell break points (Blasphemy, to be specific, paralyzing the party).

That's when I tried to rein in the players rather than increasing the CR, because the latter broke the game.


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So...flying is banned, most metamagic is banned, and now you're seeking validation to ban polymorph spells on friendly martials...dude, just ban 9th level spellcasters and be done with it.

No offense, but I would honestly hate to be a wizard in your party and have to constantly walk on eggshells because half my class is banned. Worse still, if the other half starts overpreforming, it might get banned, too.

Complex bans are a headache on both the player and the GM. Just ban tier 1 and 2 classes and both you and your players will have a much simpler, much more relaxed time.


Balkoth wrote:
Derklord wrote:
Quite frankly, if the player wanted the most offense, he shouldn't have picked Paladin but e.g. Barbarian.
He's an archer paladin who was one-rounding Frost Giants at level 9 (more specifically, Frost Giants with +50% HP due to maximizing PC hit points to try to reduce the rocket tag slightly).

That only makes my point: The paladin is powerful enough, the player doesn't have a right to b%&!# about the Monk being good as well.

Balkoth wrote:
Maybe I'm missing something, but Cloudkill only seems to affect targets with 6 HD or less in terms of instant kill.

It's not the instant kill part, but the fact that it does con damage even with a made save. It's not exactly a boss killer spell, but it can severely damage or even kill a bunch of enemies.

Balkoth wrote:
Derklord wrote:
Quite frankly, if you really want to lower a campaign's power level, ban tier 1 and 2 classes (all full casters plus Summoner).
I'd really rather not ban Clerics, Druids, Sorcerers, and Wizards especially. Others are mostly, what, Oracle/Shaman/Witch/Arcanist?

Psychic is missing from the list, even though it's about the weakest from the bunch. Why not? These are the classes most likely to upset inter-party balance. These are the classes the hardest to challenge. Especially tier 1 classes (prepared full casters, plus spontaneous full casters with a means or circumventing their limited spells known, e.g. Sorcerer with Mnemonic Vestment) not only have the raw power (like how a Wildshaped Druid is better than most martials even without using spells), but also have enough versatility to solve a huge number of problems.

The real power of high tier class is not even what they can do in combat, even though that's certainly part of it, the biggest part is probably what they can do out of combat, or before combat starts. Full casters are often able to overcome obstacles that would severely challenge other characters. The concept is called "narrative power", the ability to shape the story instead of merely following it.

Narrative power is the ability to not follow the dungeon crawl, but to fly, teleport, sneak, burrow etc. to the objective instead. Narrative power is the ability to grab the key from the guardhouse (through the window via mage hand, by stealthing in, whatever) instead of dealing with the guard. Narrative power is the ability to fly, teleport, or create a bridge across the chasm to not deal with the guarded/trapped/breaking-apart-once-you-are-in-the-middle bridge. And yes, narrative power can also be killing the enemy before he can use the intended tactics (like calling for backup or teleporting away).

I have a Shaman in my current campaign (I did ban full casters, but the player asked for an exception because he really wanted to play the clas after being GM for the last couple of years). The player gives me an explicit chance to veto any spell he picks, no hard feelings, but the character is still warping what I can challenge the party with. Among the problems the Shaman solved were a custom curse which I had to put into the campaig earlier than intended (i.e. before the party turned 5th level), and a dungeon with an entry too narrow to get through (Stone Shape).

I've seen a Sorcerer casting Invisibility on the entire party so that we could sneak past enemies and ambush a boss. I've seen a Druid use Air Walk so that another PC could enter a guarded building through an upstairs window, surprising the enemies within. I've seen Color Spray ending whole encounters, and Fireballs damaging enemies so much that the fight was decided before the enemies could reach us. I've seen Black Tentacles removing the mooks from a fight, allowing us to focus fire on the boss.

And these are all exmaples of 8th level and below...


Derklord wrote:
I've seen

...things you people wouldn't believe.

Dazing fireballs winning encounters off the planes of golarion.

I watched Color Spray... dazzle in the dark near the beginner's tavern.

All those... encounters will be lost... in time... like tears... in rain.

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