Is "Tanking" a Useful Concept?


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion


I argue over here that "tanking" is a misleading concept in Pathfinder 1e. Yes you can do it (standstill, attacks of opportunity, etc.), but it's not central to the core mechancics of the game in the same way as an MMOs. My concern is for new players who may get confused when they "want to play a tank," only to discover that the flow of Pathfinder combat doesn't really work that way.

I therefore put the question to you. Is there any value in talking about "tanking" in Pathfinder, or is it better to use other paradigms?


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Tanking isn't a new term, it's older than MMOs, though it definitely has taken on new connotations. You can be a "Tank" in pathfinder and there is value to it, however it is important to help new players understand the limitations such a concept has. in pathfinder a tank is more like a "bruiser" in my experience.

Helping a player understand this is important and can help them understand how the game will change as they play. Low level play (1-3) is a completely different game in many ways compared to high level play (12-20) At low levels you really can be a "tank" in many ways blocking melee threats by providing cover and using a reach weapon, especially in a confined area. Once everyone is flying and throwing spells around like crazy it's not the same. IF you know your campaign is never going to go beyond level 5 "Tanking" is fine.


For tanking to exist in Pathfinder it would have to look less like Warcraft and more like Etrian Odyssey. In EO you have a taunt mechanic, but it's generally unreliable and not really why you bring the tank classes (Protector etc). The EO tanks always have some sort of outright damage mitigation they can apply to their allies - very necessary in a game where boss enemies will outright one shot squishier classes without these skills applied to them. There's some access to this in 3rd party content (the Shield sphere from Spheres of Might does a pretty great job of it imo) but it isn't nearly as available in terms of Paizo content, most likely because the ability to make the whole party tougher than they're expected to be shifts the CR paradigm in a way you need an experienced GM to manage.


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I don't think "tanking" in the sense that "I take hits for other people" is meaningful or appropriate in tabletop roleplaying games.

On the other hand "my character is tanky" or "my character is like a tank" is fine and makes sense.

Even at extreme ends of optimization you're unlikely to end up with characters who can take many more hits than other characters, so "getting hit" is in part their job. Indeed, defensive oriented characters often have high AC, which makes them *less* attractive targets for enemies. So I think it's best to view "defense" in terms of "how much can I take before I am done doing offense" than a primary character role.


I think the most important thing is to understand what they mean by "tanking" and how it can and more importantly cannot be accomplished in not only PF but pretty much all iterations of table top D&D.

I have a relatively narrow view of what qualifies as a Tank and tanking strongly influenced by my experiences in City of Heroes MMO. Pretty much nothing in PF (or earlier editions) qualifies. But that's my view and definition ... YMMV. Some of the options mentioned such as AoO's (especially when combined with Combat Maneuvers) can be useful for helping defend weaker teammates and in that sense tank but they lack what I consider the essential "aggro"/make them hit me element to be truly tanking. It's just good use of tactics not tanking per se.

But with that understanding if they want to build around a wider concept of tanking and call their build a Tank sure go for it. Just all be on the same page in the group.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I think the problem comes with conflating the game's underlying mechanics with its emergent properties. Whether we're talking a tabletop RPG or a MMO or any other game that involves building teams of characters that go into battle, there are going to be game mechanics that describe the defensive qualities of your characters. There are certain broad similarities between them, and the fact that a lot of these games grew out of the common cultural foundation laid by Dungeons and Dragons (with Pathfinder being a direct offshoot) only adds to the similarities.

However, just because many of the fundamentals are the same doesn't mean the emergent game plays similarly. In team-based games, every member of the team will have specialized roles to fulfill, but exactly how those roles play out (and their relative value) can be completely different from one game to the next. And this is the big problem; it's people not understanding the emergent properties of Pathfinder and drawing completely incorrect inferences from other games.

Using the term "tank" to describe a character who has strong defenses is a perfectly apt concept in Pathfinder and there's nothing wrong with it. Using the term "tank" to describe a character who absorbs damage in place of the other members of the party shows a complete misunderstanding of the emergent game mechanics of Pathfinder. It's not just the lack of aggro mechanics, but also the fact that hit point damage isn't the only way a character can be incapacitated (in fact, at higher levels, HP damage is often the least of your worries). It's that misunderstanding that's the problem, not the term itself.


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Things you can do in pathfinder to tank

1. Gain a high AC
2. Gain a high CMD
3. Make opponents attack you with spells or feats (taunts or compel hostility)
4. Negate attacks on yourself with style feats or ranges attacks with strike from air
5. Negate crits
6. Reduce the amount of damage taken
7. Control the movement of those around you
8. Move yourself around when others move
9. Increase the ac of allies when they are attacked
10. Stand in front of the attacks of allies when they are attacked
11. push opponents back when you attack them
12. Trip opponents
13. Stop oppenents from moving away from you.
14. Gain hitpoints on top of ordinary limits.
15. Debuff opponents do they are less likely to hit with attacks
16. Change terrain you so shifting around becomes harder.
17. Increase the difficulty to use acrobatics to get around you
18. use reach weapons to allow greater circle of defense
19. use skills like intimidate for making opponents think twice about attacking
20. daze, stagger or stun oppenents to prevent actions
21. Use teamwork feats to allow others to do the same, such as increase saving throws by being near you.

I don't know how people are defining "tank", but the idea that you cant stand in front of someone and have them stay there attacking you and not others is horribly outdated. Paizo has done everything to make this happen.

People can tank in this game. They just choose to not take the options to do so.


A couple things to keep in mind. Not all enemies are intelligent. Many undead, animal and humanoid of near animal intelligence aren't simply going to ignore the big guy in front because he's obviously tough and go for the squishies in the back. These kinds of threats are very common at low level play. Simply being in front should be enough to take the agro from most such creatures.

Tanking doesn't mean getting hit, it means not dying while protecting others. In many MMOs this is done by absorbing hits, in pathfinder it's done my mitigating attacks usually by a high AC. This changes as the level of play changes.


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Tanking is a useful concept, but Pathfinder isn't a MMO and you need to focus on the expectations of a 'tank' here. The role of a tank in PF is to:

1) Have superior AC and other defenses, or abilities to mitigate damage. Being able to survive multiple attacks per round better than the rest of the party.

2) Stand in the way. That means having an eye for terrain and being able to position yourself to force opponents to confront you before taking on other party members. This isn't always possible, so tanks also need to have good judgement and be able to prioritize which enemies need to be held while the rest of the party engages the rest.

3) Having a sufficient offense. This isn't agro I'm talking about, but if all you can manage is one d8+2 attack each round there is no reason to take you seriously as an opponent. If you aren't a considerable threat creatures should just give you AoO and rush past you to engage the actual threats in the party. You don't need to do massive damage, but you have to inconvenience and/or threaten the enemies you do engage. Grappling, trip, dirty tricks, lots of non-standard attacks can be used to fulfill this requirement.

bonus) And while the list above is important to being a tank, its also important to realize that situations will happen when you can't tank. At such times you need to be flexible and be able to freely abandon the role to do other things to assist the party. Usually just having a sufficient offense is enough, but it wouldn't hurt to be able to aid other characters in other ways too. Carrying a few potions and other magic items you can use in an emergency is planning for such contingencies. Don't stock all of your healing on one character. Spread potions around so anyone can provide support in the right situation.


I used to play a larp that worked a lot like pathfinder, and we had this conversation there. There were no "aggro" powers, so stopping monsters from going anywhere was a matter of a) physically blocking them, b) killing them, or c) doing a movement-altering status effect (is b) redundant, since it's a subset of c?). A high-defence and high-HP character could survive a lot more damage than the base level, which led some people to conceptualise it in terms of "tanks" and "squishies", but my conclusion from the games' small-scale skirmishes was that positional control and damage alone were never going to be enough to make the concept of a "back line" relevant. Even when we added in long weapons and movement control powers, the squishy characters who were trying to hide would need to take a hit or two, or be able to run terribly terribly quickly. Hence my ultimate "tank" spec was actually relatively low on hits, but high on movement control effects and also damage (with added backstab effects, to punish anyone who just went past me). I think the PF equivalent would be a polearm user with trip and reposition feats, or maybe trip+drag, or trip+dirty trick. Cad fighter, maybe?

Anyway, what I wanted to say is that MMO tanking is actually a really specialised form of battlefield control. And if you look at it in those terms - controlling the shape of the fight so the enemy has a harder time attacking the targets it would otherwise be best to focus on - then that is something a lot of characters can join in doing.

But I do agree that constitutes a different paradigm.


Is discussing what seem to be considered various means of tanking useful, well yes. But that said it seems more like discussing what are generally just good use of tactics or an alternate way of saying "tactics". Cavall's list, for example, to me is just that, a list of various tactics, methods or abilities a character or group can use to help win a given battle as much as it is a list of how to tank in PF. Why create another word (i.e. tank) when we have terms like control, battlefield control, debuffs, tactics, etc., already. What makes using the term tank or tanking useful or set it apart as something in and of itself at that point?


I mean.. I adore my version of tank healer. Oracle of Life who has Aid Another boosters, and Bodyguard feat. Giving large boosts to AC's to the person I'm guarding. Its very satisfying, thematically interseeting. and just fun.

It does have issues after 12.. not enough things t o boost Aid Another currently that I know of. So it can't keep up with the To Hit for enemies.

He stll eats damage to the party like a champ. effectively allowing the two heavy hitters to not care about their lives and decimate.

So I think tanking is a useful concept in the game. It just has to be played within the means of the game. How that takes form sorta depends on the group in question.


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Tanks in pathfinder are, IMO, not high AC hard to hit targets. The harder you are to hit, the less often an enemy will attack you because it is easier to kill your weaker allies. The trick to tanking in Pathfinder is to be so g%+*@!n annoying that an opponent MUST remove you from the battlefield as a priority. Consider the idea of generate Threat in MMOs, you need something to draw enemy aggro and being a big sack of meat isn't a good way to bring a baddies to you.

AoOs are one method to generate that kind of threat, as you severely limit the field of battle while alive and threatening (especially as a Large character). Another method to generate threat is to have a dangerous pet that requires you to be alive to function (Phantom, Animal Companion, Eidolon). Another method of threat generation is to do something really nasty like inflict a ton of damage every round, rush down the enemy's weaker caster minions, or to hammer people with status effects every round you're alive.

Thus: Summoners, Witches, Barbarians, Druids, Shamans, Kineticists, and the like are much better at forcing the enemy to remove you from the battle-field. Because every turn wasted trying to beat down the Barbarian who just Overran your lines and is trying to eat your Wizard is one more turn that the enemy Wizard has free reign to cast his spells.


Tanking is a useful concept, but there is no useful way to do it in first party materials. Dreamscarred Press's Warder, which punishes enemies for attacking anyone else and makes it hard for them to reach your allies, is a useful tank.


Correction, there are no useful way people want to take. Sacred Shield Paladins can totally tank, their smite replacement is a literal team damage mitigation. Order of Fire Cavaliers also do get the damage boost and "hit me not them" incentive. There are some ways to get enemies to focus you even if they may not target many enemies. There are also ways to reduce the damage allies take at your expense (life link, shield other, etc.)

Barbarians do have a penalty for not attacking me mechaninc.


I feel like "tanking" in an MMOish sense is also sort of obviated by things like an Oradin who is a fast replenishing HP battery for the entire party.


Tanking is easy in any environment based around 5-foot corridors.

It's only the tendency of adventure writers to, for example, exclusively use 10-foot-wide doors in their fortresses, that makes it hard. Even then, Enlarge Person can do the job.

The most difficult thing about tanking is that there are usually other members of the party who want to melee the enemy.
Druid: "Hey, stop blocking the door so my animal companion can attack!"
Enlarged Fighter: "But I have an AC of 38! If I stand here the Ranger will kill them all with his bow before I'm down to half HP!"
Druid: "I don't have a bow! I want to turn into a tiger and bite them!"
Enlarged Fighter: "Your AC is terrible!"
Orc Commander: "Is this a bad time? We can come back later."

(Or if the enemies all have fireball spells, tanking doesn't help much there either.)


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Ok, first, what is a "tank"? In real life, it's a heavily armored combat vehicle. Technically, a tank also means it has a big gun, but describing characters as "armored combat vehicles" rather than "tanks" just doesn't have the same ring.
In RPGs, it's basically the same - a character who can take a heavy beating and still survive. That's all that is there to be a tank, the ability to survive a lof of enemy fire. You can be a tank in a solo game, if you want. Also, how you archieve this goal is irrelevant - I've played tanks with 1/10th the HP of other party members, and tanks which took thrice as much damage from any attack (before defensive spells kicked in).

"Tanking" on the other hand is a pure game term describing the ability to someway draw your enemies' offensive actions towards you. You need to actually influence what the enemies do (or who they're doing it to) to be tanking. The most common ways are a direct aggro mechanic, a taunt mechanic ("you must attack me for the next few seconds!"), or by preventign the enemies form passign you (e.g. body blocking).

Being a tank in Pathfinder is easily possible, on a multitude of classes; any character who has strong defenses against both attack rolls and saving throw inducing abilities. Tanking is more difficult, not the least because while you may body block melee enemies (which is heavily terrain dependent), the only way to tank (verb) ranged enemies is with impactful offensive actions. That means, a purely or overwhelmingly defense focussed character (i.e. a dedicated tank) can't be tanking in Pathfinder.


Matthew Downie wrote:

Tanking is easy in any environment based around 5-foot corridors.

It's only the tendency of adventure writers to, for example, exclusively use 10-foot-wide doors in their fortresses, that makes it hard. Even then, Enlarge Person can do the job.

The most difficult thing about tanking is that there are usually other members of the party who want to melee the enemy.
Druid: "Hey, stop blocking the door so my animal companion can attack!"
Enlarged Fighter: "But I have an AC of 38! If I stand here the Ranger will kill them all with his bow before I'm down to half HP!"
Druid: "I don't have a bow! I want to turn into a tiger and bite them!"
Enlarged Fighter: "Your AC is terrible!"
Orc Commander: "Is this a bad time? We can come back later."

(Or if the enemies all have fireball spells, tanking doesn't help much there either.)

Bodyguard and teamwork saving throw boosts. Done.

Like I said, theres over 20 ways to tank in this game.


In a way when you think of it, boosting others saves by being near you is actually BETTER than a standard WoW tank. AoE in that has no such protection.


Cavall wrote:
Like I said, theres over 20 ways to tank in this game.

Only if you completely, utterly ignore what the word means. Under your "definition", every single character in the game would be a tank.

The only thing on your list that's actual tanking is #3 (although some of them can help to tank, but aren't enough on their own, like #10 which works in a corridor, but not on an open field). Self-Defense is not directly related to tanking (you may need it to survive tanking, but that's not always true). Buffing your party isn't tanking, that's, well, "buffing" (sometimes called "prot/protting" to note purely defensive buffing). Debuffing enemies isn't tanking that's "debuffing". Stunning et al. your enemies isn't tanking, that's things generally called "crowd control".

Same thing applies to stuff like Oradin - that's not a tank, that a healer.

I can't dictate what people think is a "tank", but applying the term to everything that somehow protects party members removes any meaning form the term. Remember, killing enemies also protects your party members (dead dudes don't do damage), so at that point, "tank" and "character" would be completely interchangable.

Cavall wrote:
In a way when you think of it, boosting others saves by being near you is actually BETTER than a standard WoW tank. AoE in that has no such protection.

Or, you know, the tank doesn't stand so close to the party that a fireball targetting him hits the party. I presume you've never played WoW, as making sure that e.g. a dragon's breath weapon doesn't hit the party is a mandatory aspect of (sucessful) tanking in WoW.


Ok dreklord. Define tank.


"Tank" or "tanking"? These stopped being the same thing decades ago.

Also, have you read my post #18, where I basically did just that?

It's also not just me - the OP differentiates between attention-grabbing tanking, and other methods of influencing the fight.


No I was just wondering if you read your post as you define only taunting as an example I gave of tanking when your own definition states " You need to actually influence what the enemies do (or who they're doing it to) to be tanking. The most common ways are a direct aggro mechanic, a taunt mechanic ("you must attack me for the next few seconds!"), or by preventign the enemies form passign you (e.g. body blocking)."

You further state "the only way to tank (verb) ranged enemies is with impactful offensive actions. "

So I'm wondering if you're ignoring what I wrote or what you wrote.

I gave multiple ways to body block and examples hiw to protect others from ranged.

Also, just to negate your extremely poor assumption, I played WoW for 5 years


For the record I define tanking as "making an enemy focus attacks on you through bottlenecks or mental aggravation, icreasing protection for others when attacked, while having a way to negate or lessen the effects of those attacks." A tank is one who does tanking.

Everything I gave in my list does that.

Maybe that's the issue actually. Poorly defined ideas of what a tank is and does.

Tanking is entirely possible in the game. I'm currently running a tank in rise of the runelords, and having no issue keeping focus on me and my pet.

The key is to look at the options you have and pick out of the list I gave as the most likely ones for you to use to make tanking possible in your way. The more off the list you have, the more likely you are to do your job effectively. Just like WoW.

I'm not even going specific like broken wing gambit, giving your opponent a way to hit you, only to punish him for doing so. Or things like with my hunter pet and vengeance strike, gaining an attack for hitting an ally, there by punishing him and focusing him on not giving away free attacks.

It's really easy to tank with investment. You just HAVE to invest. Tanking is done with cash and feat investment, just like spellcasting is invested by levels in that class.


Cavall wrote:
I gave multiple ways to body block

No, you gave multiple ways (#s 7 8 10 11 12 13 17 18) to help body blocking/choke-pointing, not a single of which work on an open field. Hence "some of them can help to tank, but aren't enough on their own". None of them force ranged combatants to attack you instead of party members, either.

Cavall wrote:
For the record I define tanking as "making an enemy focus attacks on you through bottlenecks or mental aggravation, icreasing protection for others when attacked, while having a way to negate or lessen the effects of those attacks." A tank is one who does tanking.

I strongly disagree on the "i[n]creasing protection for others when attacked" part, because otherwise, the Wizard casting Haste is a tank (increases AC and reflex saves), the Bard casting Good Hope is tanking (increases saves), even the first level cohort casting Mage Armor on the wildshape Druid and then standing a mile away during the fight is a tank. With a bit of cross-buffing (plus melees being in front), an entire party may consist of tanks, which does not sound like a reasonable use of the term to me. This is also why I differentiate between the act of tanking (the first part of your definition), and the means to survive the 'enemy fire' (the third party of your definition).

If having all three parts is mandatory, then a tank in WoW doesn't tank (doesn't do the middle part). If having all three parts is not mandatory, then anyone who does a tiny bit of defensive buffing is a tank. For instance, a discipline priest does (or did last time I palyed) the middle and later parts. In both cases, people coming form games like WoW won't understand what you're talking about, which means your use of the term results in confusion, not clarity.

Cavall wrote:
Also, just to negate your extremely poor assumption, I played WoW for 5 years

When you act like you don't know the tactic of using tank positioning to have the AoE not hit the party in the first place (something every tank in WoW knows), it's indeed a very reasonable assumption.


No. I act like facing in this game is different than facing in WoW so not everything is transferable.

But increasing saves vs dragons breath so players take less damage WOULD be damage mitigation. So therefore tanking.

Sure spells can help tank. As can armour. Bards can do both and tank for a bit. Why not? Are they good at it? Not as good as someone with more feats and higher AC. That doesnt mean they can't do it. It means they cant do it as well.

Same with wizard. Uses spells to bottle neck, summons to block. Is that tanking? Yes. Less damage to party, party free to act how it wants.

It just doesnt fit in your narrow view of tanking in the game and you're failing and continuing to fail to see how that role can be carried out.

But I will repeat for you.

"The key is to look at the options you have and pick out of the list I gave as the most likely ones for you to use to make tanking possible in your way. The more off the list you have, the more likely you are to do your job effectively."

Hope that helps. Try looking at each class and see what they can do it work together to make that happen. The options are more than you have imagined but I hope not more than you can.


Also if someone is attacking friend, and you use bodyguard to increase their AC and they don't get hit, you DON'T think that's somehow under the job of keeping friends from being hurt? Why, because that's not how WoW did it?

Once again, different game and poorly thought out definitions keep the potential of tanking in this game from being seen.

Get in front, keep them in front of you, punish them for trying to get around and aid those who are in danger of being hit. It's not only a pretty clear job it's pretty clear how to do it in this game.

Why you're getting upset at the idea its somehow possible I dont know, but it doesn't change the fact it is, no matter how much it isn't like a video game you played once.


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This reminds me a bit of the Mastermind in City of Heroes. It was a class that was intended to fill the tanking role, but it filled that roll by summoning a lot of replaceable minions that you could then buff up. And this is a style of tanking that is very supported in Pathfinder.

But the closest thing to a traditional MMO tank in Pathfinder is probably a tanky life oracle. Max out your health and self healing and then use effects like shield other and life link to funnel all damage dealt to you. It's not quite a taunt, but most intelligent enemies should quickly figure out they will need to get rid of you before they can get to the rest of your party. And tanking unintelligent enemies is usually just a matter of being in front of your allies.


Was mastermind city of villians? I didnt play that one, but I played the very clearly obvious tank class in heroes.


Cavall wrote:
Was mastermind city of villians? I didnt play that one, but I played the very clearly obvious tank class in heroes.

Yes, though towards the end, the classes were available to both sides.


Cavall wrote:
No. I act like facing in this game is different than facing in WoW so not everything is transferable.

No, you acted like party buffs are "actually BETTER" than positioning when facing enemies with fireball.

Cavall wrote:
It just doesnt fit in your narrow view of tanking in the game and you're failing and continuing to fail to see how that role can be carried out.

If saying that the first level follower who had cast Mage Armor 50 minutes ago and stands a mile away does not qualify as a tank is a "narrow view of tanking", than so be it. I'm not talking about a Bard standing up front, or a Wizard using summons, your definition designates that follower a tank. I'm proud to have a view more narrow than that!

Since I guess we won't come to an understanding, good day to you.


It all depends on who is playing the character, honestly. But "Tanking", in general, is as useful a concept as any other Martial outside of archery.

With the right build and some Style Feats (Panther&Crane), you can move through threatened squares to draw AoO from the enemy, and deal damage to them out of sequence during your move action... then still attack at the end of your movement. There is absolutely no reason for the enemy to know ahead of time not to AoO against your movement through their threatened squares.

You can use this to position yourself into the middle of a group or a bottleneck for battlefield control, or for flanking purposes.

It's possible to have Deeds in this build, such as Opportune Parry and Riposte. Further negating incoming damage, and allowing you to deal damage out of sequence in return.

You can have Spellstrike and SpellCombat for increased damage production.

And you can do all that Tank stuff without even wearing armor.

Being a "Tank" is a mindset. There are a million ways to Tank, the common denominator is:

Be up in the enemies' faces, and be good at what you do.

As long as you are a team player and have half a mind for strategy, you will be just fine. It literally doesn't matter if you are standing in the way or tripping with a reach weapon or soaking AoO from the enemy, just be good at it.

Tanks are generally martial characters, and as such, they are generally limited to martial character things. Flying, invisible wizards will have to be dealt with by other people in your team.


Basically, this is my tanking belief in Pathfinder. You have to make other's far harder to die. In this way they have to try and burn you before they can do enough to others.
Even if I"m only moderate damage output. I make the rest of the team beasts and they do the work.
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[spoiler=My "tank" in my current game]
Going to repost and expand on my current thing.
My oracle of life with Bodyguard feat. Life link, Channel, Auto Heal at 0 hp*, Pei Zin archetype's Healer's Way (basically LoH)+ Fey Founding? (the feat that lets you gain extra healing per die)

* I forget the name of this feat. but if i go down to 0 hp from damage, I can use channel or LoH equivilent, as an immediate action to heal myself. If it heals enough I don't die.

So basically, everyone heals enough, or i block/stand in front of them enough that they rarely get hit/hurt much. Basically the enemies end up having to murder me first-and I am hard to kill. Or resort to AOE's and try to outdamage my healing output. Or save vs suck spells.
All the while, the heavy hitters are shredding the enemies, the fragile long range or casters are under my protection. and I am either aiding another someone's AC, or i'm throwing my own spells out there (blackened Curse). I tend to save my swift action heals and channels for self heals, or lifelink+ group emergency heals (or that immediate action avoid my own death). For post healing stuff. I usually let lifelink do it then a spell to heal that.

Historically its been very effective in my Iron Gods campaign.
So I rarely run out of resources throughout the day. Except for the big painful gauntlet moments in the AP. But I'm putting out heals, defending with AOOs. while tossing out damage, buffs, or debuffs.

=================
If I was going to be purely tanking I would have adjust this way.
Mobile Bulwark feats. This lets me boost saves, give cover, give emergency cover. Basically it would become very difficult to AOE us, and I could provide emergency partial or full cover for myself and anyone next to or behind me. I ultimately chose to get a few Channel spells. I don't have tower shield profiency so the bulwark line was painful. But I could have dipped into fighter or a paladin archetype for it. (or 2 paladin for the saves boost)

-----
[/spoiler]


DRD1812 wrote:

I argue over here that "tanking" is a misleading concept in Pathfinder 1e. Yes you can do it (standstill, attacks of opportunity, etc.), but it's not central to the core mechancics of the game in the same way as an MMOs. My concern is for new players who may get confused when they "want to play a tank," only to discover that the flow of Pathfinder combat doesn't really work that way.

I therefore put the question to you. Is there any value in talking about "tanking" in Pathfinder, or is it better to use other paradigms?

I actually disagree with you here.

At low level, wizards don't have many spell slots. Yes, the wizard should cast Mage Armor at level 1, or Mirror Image at level 3, but you can't do that frequently. Your best strategy is frequently hide behind the fighter and cast spell-like abilities (one thing Pathfinder did that's far better than 3e). If an enemy can simply Tumble past the fighter and gut the mage, you have a problem. With Mage Armor, a wizard still does not have the hit points and AC of a fighter, or a cleric, or (probably) even a rogue.


One can discuss the definition of a tank, just like you can with other words... Ultimately, in my experience, most people will indeed come in with tanks being the guy that can take many hits and help his allies to not get hit, by whatever means, usually having something to make itself the target even if for a while.

Ofc, definition wont matter AT ALL once the player declares what they want, because the word tank might be up to discussion, but when the person literally explains the above is what they think a tank is, the door is closed and if you give them the other options people listed here chances are you will have a frustated player that cant do what they wanted to do, doesnt matter others are calling it a "tank".

What comes to mind in order of a nowadays classic tank, is antagonize, i remember also some spells that could help with this, as well as feats. It should be kinda of possible to make up such a tank. What i wonder is how many such builds one could come up with.


It is as useful as the concept of "skill monkey". As in- it is nice to have, but it should not be your primary focus. I am sure that everyone here would roll their eyes when they see someone bring a pure int rogue to the table. But they would appreciate it when someone brings a slayer (because it is actively hard to make a bad slayer when you understand the bare basics).

You should always be a "tank AND--". For example- paladins are tanky...AND they are very explosive damage dealers (in limited circumstances) AND they have various healing abilities that can help get the party back into fighting shape.

Just explain this to your players, and they can move accordingly. Let them understand "You can't really aggro, but you can be the tough as nails guy that pulls our rear ends out of the fire when everyone else fails their saves, or the one that jumps into a crowd of enemies swinging a huge sword without worrying about your HP".


You CAN agro in this game though. I dont get why this is hard to grasp. Theres feats class abilities and spells to make someone attack you not another.


I don't think things (short of mind-control magic) should ever force an intelligent opponent to attack one person no matter what.

At best, mundane options should provide an incentive to attack one person (i.e. "you get a bonus to hit me") and or a disincentive to attack anyone else (i.e. "you get a penalty to hit anyone else.")

But nothing short of magic should ever force anybody to do anything when it doesn't make sense- like "ignore the lightly armored wizard and run over there and attack the heavily armored person" - no matter how insulting you can be.


Personally, I prefer to "Tank offensively" with debuffs like Shaken/Sicken and Quick Dirty Tricks.


Ryze Kuja wrote:
Personally, I prefer to "Tank offensively" with debuffs like Shaken/Sicken and Quick Dirty Tricks.

And I listed that as ways one can tank in the list I made way back. Of it makes people miss the ones that can't take damage, leaving them to use their actions to deal with the problem, that's just as much tanking as making them miss you instead. Point is the vulnerable big guns are alive.


PossibleCabbage wrote:

I don't think things (short of mind-control magic) should ever force an intelligent opponent to attack one person no matter what.

At best, mundane options should provide an incentive to attack one person (i.e. "you get a bonus to hit me") and or a disincentive to attack anyone else (i.e. "you get a penalty to hit anyone else.")

But nothing short of magic should ever force anybody to do anything when it doesn't make sense- like "ignore the lightly armored wizard and run over there and attack the heavily armored person" - no matter how insulting you can be.

Well to each their own ofc. I would be more interested in making a full list of every single effect that "pulls the aggro" to a player and then people can run whatever way they prefer. If they want to run antagonize, that is could be an option pending house rules.

Ultimately, a player can just turn to making a full arcane caster and simply end fights with disables. This is clearly "tanking" as the enemies cant hit your team anymore or do about anything really after a few lvls, but then again, this isnt what many players expect when they visualize a big guy in armor taking hits in front of the guy in robes.


Maybe that's true. But pathfinder worked hard to break out of those cookie cutter roles. Now every class has options to be more than just what it seems at first glance. If that means a build set up to keep others safe, even outside the traditional ideals of it, just goes back to what I said about fixing a narrow view of the role in a party.

Somebody the best tankings I've seen come from a Court Bard archtype, using music to ensure missing attacks and lessened damage for the few that snuck through. Add in a little dazzling blade (first level spell!) And it was pretty darn decent


When I sit down at the table and am deciding what character to play I look around to ensure that three rolls are covered;

1) The ability to advance the plot. Skill checks will need to be passed, are there enough points in enough skills to meaningfully interact with the plot?
2) The ability to do HP damage. You can have all the support in the world but someone needs to deal raw damage in a consistent manner.
3) Someone to stand in the front. Control is a wonderful thing, but it is not perfectly reliable. Someone will need to survive that first volley of attacks, to open the door, to hold a chokepoint.

#3 is what I think about when we 'tank' in Pathfinder. The ability to hold 'aggro' and stop the enemy from attacking others is just gravy but not required for the role. Being the only character that can be charged, being the character that they can full round attack this turn, or being the character they can attack without receiving an AoO serves to tank in this system without aggro mechanics.


DM Livgin wrote:
3) Someone to stand in the front. Control is a wonderful thing, but it is not perfectly reliable. Someone will need to survive that first volley of attacks, to open the door, to hold a chokepoint.

When I think of tanking in a more general manner and less in a MMO way I think this fits the idea closest to what comes to mind for me. And preferable with not only the hp and ac to be durable enough but with sufficient saves to avoid being turned on the party or simply turned into a 'statue' (or otherwise becoming easily disabled by magic).

Silver Crusade

The party needs someone who can hold off the BBEG for a couple of rounds by themselves, IMHO.


Cavall wrote:
You CAN agro in this game though. I dont get why this is hard to grasp. Theres feats class abilities and spells to make someone attack you not another.

Yes, but those tend to have very particular restrictions (some of the immediate ones that come to mind are mind affecting effects- that can limit things) and need particular builds. You don't have the simpler, near auto "everything come to me" options you can see in mmos.


All the ones in MMO are specific builds too. Fighters druids paladins... all have to focus on tanking too. So that point is moot. Both require (everything requires) expenditure in the field of focus.

And if its immune to mind effects, it's a good chance it's of an intelligence that hitting the thing in front of it is all it understand. Vermin, plants, basic undead, animals all just hit what's in front of them.

The other options are to keep it in one spot, with CMB builds like bullrush trop or reposition. Those don't require the person to not be immune.

So yeah. Still can tank just fine.


my definition of tank:
large metal mobile machine on treads that can take a beating and dish out a beating...

rpg tank:
character that can take a beating and deal out one.

high AC/resistances does not a tank character make imo.....
fortress character maybe....

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