How consistently should my Swashbuckler hit?


Advice


Hi all, I've played pathfinder for about 2 years, but I've always stayed away from martial classes (for the most part). So i just had a general question. I've noticed that at level 6, where our party is right now, that my character has a much (much) higher to-hit than anyone else in the party (an inquisitor, bard/rogue, and a druid). Now obviously I'm full BAB, so that's a big part of it, but for most encounters I simply *can't* miss unless I roll a 1.

To give you an Idea, I'm currently Swashbuckler 5/Weapon Master (fighter) 1, and I've grabbed improved and greater trip (because with swashbuckler, maximizing AOO is the optimal build I've considered). So on a normal attack, my trip is at +19, which means the following AOO is at +19 (+15, with the enemies -4 to AC for being prone). Depending on the creature, and we're fighting mostly humanoids, their CMD is between 20-25, with an AC hovering around, if not below, 20. It just feels like my character cannot miss. Is that supposed to be how martial classes are played, or is my character party-breaking? I'm trying not to trip-lock, but it just makes more sense to have the enemy prone AND attacked than just attacked. Looking for some opinions before I take this farther and grab Spring Attack and Whirldwind Attack, which make me even more "inconvenient" to fight against.

A quick breakdown of to-hit for my character
6 BAB + 4 Dex + 2 Weapon Enhancement Bonus + 1 Weapon Focus + 1 Swashbuckler Weapon Training + 1 Sword Scion (trait).

I do less damage than the 2H inquisitor on hit (obviously), but I feel like my near-inability to miss might make the game less enjoyable for my party, not to mention that with extra panache and combat reflexes I can effectively never be hit in melee because my AC is 1d20 + 15 with a parry. Any input is welcome.

Thanks


Attacks made at your highest bonus against CR-equivalent opponents shouldn't miss as a Full-BAB character. That's just how it is.

Also, I believe the AoO from Greater Trip is made before the enemy is made prone, so the enemy would not suffer a -4 to AC.


Wonderstell wrote:
Also, I believe the AoO from Greater Trip is made before the enemy is made prone, so the enemy would not suffer a -4 to AC.

Don't believe there's an official ruling on this yet, but I'm in the camp of "whenever you successfully trip an opponent" as meaning that the trip is resolved. I think it's pretty hugely meta to be like 'well this number is as high as it needs to be to succeed in tripping, so pause the trip and roll your AOO.'

Personally I think it clearly refers to an AOO that happens after the trip, since for a trip to be "successful" the enemy would have to take the penalties of being tripped. In other words, if the enemy isn't yet prone, the trip isn't yet successful.

Thanks on the input though! I assumed that full-BAB is supposed to be always or almost always hitting, but wasn't certain on that


CMantle wrote:
Is that supposed to be how martial classes are played, or is my character party-breaking?

That is indeed intended, and basically the groundwork for the iterative attack stuff. Your character has a normal attack roll for a 6th level weapon based melee character.

The Inquisitor shouldn't be too much behind, though, at least not with spells and Bane active (and ignoring the penalty from Power Attack, presuming he has that). The Druid is, what, wildshape? Natural attack builds do have lower attack rolls (as they normally have lower enhancement bonus, no weapon focus, and often no hit improving class features), but that's (normally) offset by having multiple attacks made at full BAB, unlike a weapon's iterative attacks. Rogue's lack of attack roll bonuses is one of the biggest weaknesses of the class, and whatever is going on with that multiclassing, I suspect it's not helping.

Yours is the sole character without spells, they should be the best at physical combat!

On a different note, if you manage to actually be "party-breaking" with a Swashbuckler, one of the weakest classes in the game, then a) your fellow players have very weak characters, or b) your combats are way to straight-forward.

CMantle wrote:
Depending on the creature, and we're fighting mostly humanoids, their CMD is between 20-25, with an AC hovering around, if not below, 20.

That's also normal, in case you're wondering. The recommended AC for a CR 6 monster is 19. The average CMD for CR 6 mosters is 24.


If all you do is melee, expect to be good at melee. The rest have skills, spells and supernatural abilities to give them tricks in and out of combat. You buckle swashes. You buckle swashes very well. Do not question the obvious outcome of placing all your eggs in a single basket and then doing a single thing compared to many eggs and many baskets and many things.


Additional, greater trip says you gain an AoO when you trip. It would gain the +4. A tripped opponent (the result of tripping) is clear. I see no language or indication that tripping someone doesnt result in them being tripped.


Cavall wrote:
You buckle swashes. You buckle swashes very well.

This is literally the best way to explain it!


thanks for the input! But how dare you speak Ill of my boy the swashbuckler


I've made entire threads about how my wife and skill unlock intimidate made swashbuckler the greatest destroyer I've ever seen in the game. It was not even fair to the bad guys, with her having a 10 foot vertical standing jump and AoE panic dealing attacks, not to mention disarms on a whim.

Magics great but if the job is to clean the room out quickly with no harm to the party and few resources used... yeah. She did that.
Focused maybe. But hardly weak.


Cavall wrote:
Additional, greater trip says you gain an AoO when you trip. It would gain the +4. A tripped opponent (the result of tripping) is clear. I see no language or indication that tripping someone doesnt result in them being tripped.

It's one of those weird "when does the AoO actually happen?" questions that pop up once in a while. The FAQ requests usually don't lead anywhere, but there are multiple threads on the subject.

I've been told that the Greater Trip AoO isn't made against a Prone enemy, and believed there was designer input on the question. Reading into it I've changed my mind: the enemy would be prone.


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CONSENSUS ON THE INTERNET.


Well, I think your hit ratio comes from two things:
1. You've really upped your to-hit ratio. Full BAB, +4 DEX, a class feature, a feat, a trait, and frankly, at this level, a ridiculous enhancement modifier. The only thing I can think of to up it even more is that "only" a +4 on DEX. Depends on stat generation of course (maybe you just didn't get a high enough DEX at generation), but by level 6, I would've expected a Belt enhancement. But that's cancelled out by the higher enhancement on your sword.
(Not that a +4 DEX is bad, wouldn't want to say that, I just expected more.)
2. Depending on whether you're fighting "civilised" humanoids (playable races, etc) or monstrous humanoids (basically, monsters), there's not much room to grow, AC-wise. Enemies will wear some armour, have a bit of DEX, maybe a shield. And maybe a few AC comes from class features or feats, magical items, spells, and such. Most armour is balanced around the fact that armour and DEX penalty equals roughly 8 or 9 (padded armor is +1 AC, max DEX of 8, fullplate is +9 AC, max DEX of 1). And generally, NPCs are rarely optimised for their purpose, unless your GM deliberately skews them. But in theory, let's go for max AC: Fighter with armour training, DEX of 14, fullplate, tower shield. Already an AC of 25. Dodge, Shield Focus and Armor Focus feats. 28. +1 armour and shield, Ring of Protection and maybe a Barkskin from a friendly caster? AC 34. This is, off the top of my head, a quick and dirty way to max AC. This guy spent 3 feats and probably all his money just to not get hit. You'll only hit him 10% of the time, and to your allies he's probably unhittable. But as I said, NPCs are rarely this optimised. Let's remove 5 AC from that. AC 29. This sounds like an amazingly high number at level 6, but remember: unbuffed, you have a +15 to hit. You still have a 35% chance to hit him (14+, I believe). Taking a quick look at CR 6 NPCs on d20pfsrd, I see a seventh-level Paladin having the highest AC, with 23. You have a 60% chance of hitting that guy. The average of the other NPCs I found was roughly 18, I guess.
So yeah, martials are supposed to hit everything in sight. Only really poor rolls should miss really well-armoured enemies, and mooks are nearly always a hit unless you roll a 3 or so.

When you're fighting monsters, they get to cheat. Monsters can have a nasty combination of stupid things, such as an ankylosaurus in fullplate or whatever. They get to stack a whole lot of things, such as DEX bonuses not attainable by humans, a lot of natural armour, maybe some deflection from somewhere, and armour. And if they have class levels, hoo boy.


CMantle wrote:
thanks for the input! But how dare you speak Ill of my boy the swashbuckler

Well, the Swashbuckler is good at what he does, but that's just a small part of the game. Agains a low number of enemies that nicely do nothing but attack in melee, he's strong. What happens when the enemy is flying or invisible? The Swashbuckler is useless then. What happens when there are a lot of enemies (or the enemies have a lot of attacks per round)? The panache won't last long if he uses OP&R multiple times per round. What happens when the enemies are ranged combatants? He needs to walk up to them, make a single attack, and wait a turn while under enemy fire (OP&R only works against melee) before he can full attack. Even worse when there's difficult terrain in the way. What happens when the enemies enforce multiple saving throws per round? After the first one, Charmed Life is gone and with weak base saves for both Fort and Will, the Swashbuckler is very likely to fail.

When it comes to non-combat challenges, it doesn't look much better - 4+int skills per level (and you can't invest much in int), and the Derring-Do deed is the only non-combat class features (apart from Swashbuckler’s Edge at 15th level).

Archetypes, feats and magic items can help with some of these things. But other classes can deal with these issues on their own, and the got feats and magic items as well.

That does not means Swashbuckler never works. It does not means Swashbuckler necessarily weak in your campaing. And it certainly does not means Swashbuckler can't be fun to play. What it does mean is that compared to other classes, when facing a multitude of challenges, Swashbuckler is on the weaker (i.e. "more often struggling") end of the spectrum.

­
Regarding Greater Trip: Most people seem to have this idea that AoOs are always resolved before the trigger is, but that's not an actual rule, but rather a special thing for spellcasting et al. Per the rules, "If an attack of opportunity is provoked, immediately resolve the attack of opportunity" CRB pg. 180, and the trip attempt must have already suceeded to provoke. According to the description of trip, the target is knocked prone when the combat maneuver check succeeds, with no delay given.


Swashbucklers are extremely good at two things:

-hitting people in melee range and dealing solid damage
-avoiding getting hit while in melee range.

Unfortunately the class is average to weak at literally everything else, which is why you should relish opportunities to do what you excel at.


Quentin Coldwater wrote:

Well, I think your hit ratio comes from two things:

1. You've really upped your to-hit ratio. Full BAB, +4 DEX, a class feature, a feat, a trait, and frankly, at this level, a ridiculous enhancement modifier. The only thing I can think of to up it even more is that "only" a +4 on DEX. Depends on stat generation of course (maybe you just didn't get a high enough DEX at generation), but by level 6, I would've expected a Belt enhancement. But that's cancelled out by the higher enhancement on your sword.
(Not that a +4 DEX is bad, wouldn't want to say that, I just expected more.)...

We have homebrew point-buy rules with no starting ability higher than 18. And none of us have belts yet, so that will increase. And we’re playing Kingmaker so that +2 weapon is from the lonely soldier and his tomb.. it’s the story-placed +2 feybane Bastard Sword that we reforged (more home brew) into a dueling sword, since I’m playing a son of a Swordlord as a slashing grace swashbuckler.


Derklord wrote:
Regarding Greater Trip: Most people seem to have this idea that AoOs are always resolved before the trigger is, but that's not an actual rule, but rather a special thing for spellcasting et al. Per the rules, "If an attack of opportunity is provoked, immediately resolve the...

Agree wholeheartedly. Had some contention on this point already, but they’re wanting to read it in the most unintuitive, nerf the martial classes way. I’d rather let them be wrong than ruin the party relationships for a -4 to AC. They are being very intransigent on it though.

As a general rule my party does this though; if a benefit is not clearly or plainly stated they assume you don't get it. They're of the 'read the rules in the most restrictive way possible' mindset, whereas I read the rules (especially in regards to feats) and apply intuition and shamefully, common sense.

Frankly it's amazing that they can read a feat that says (and i'm paraphrasing) 'If you successful trip an enemy they provoke an attack of opportunity,' and then immediately assume that you do not get the benefit of tripping the enemy for this attack. They pull the "well you're attacking as he's falling" line, which is nonsense, since no where in all of pathfinder is that a legitimate condition. There is no delay in successful trip and prone, they just conjure up one to make the rules as restrictive as possible... sigh... rant over.


Also, unsure if you're playing with the Errata or not, but you can't reduce Parry/Repost's cost below 1 now. So you'll have to pay for it no matter what you do.


TheMonkeyFish wrote:
Also, unsure if you're playing with the Errata or not, but you can't reduce Parry/Repost's cost below 1 now. So you'll have to pay for it no matter what you do.

Yep I know! Have Extra panache and a +3 CHA as well as favored class bonus into +1/4 panache per level. I have 6 panache currently and I *should* be hitting enough that my crits refill (20% crit threat chance).

Thanks for the input!


If you're fighting a flying creature you can one of 2 things

1. Get a bow. You're a dex based full bab character. Your damage isn't fantastic but you'll contribute.

2. Stand slightly off to one side of the flying person. Wait until dispel magic is cast. Stab them. Gain +4 on prone.

You're part of a party. You dont ask them to melee they dont ask you to get rid of invisibility. Know what you do, then do it. You can still intimidate people and handle ground troops.


Cavall wrote:

If you're fighting a flying creature you can one of 2 things

1. Get a bow. You're a dex based full bab character. Your damage isn't fantastic but you'll contribute.

You're speaking to an aspiring Swordlord whose father is a Swordlord. I am far more likely to hurl insults at a creature for being "too afraid to fight me in melee" than I am to pick up a bow! Might throw a few daggers at it though. Or just taunt it for multiple rounds in a row... We'll have to wait and see.


Cavall wrote:
1. Get a bow. You're a dex based full bab character. Your damage isn't fantastic but you'll contribute.

1d8 damage. Unless he has a strength bonus (most Swashbucklers don't due to dex-to-damage feats and light armor), for CMantle's character, that's 5.2 average damage per round against an average CR 5 enemy (with 55 HP), or 11 rounds to kill the enemy.

Cavall wrote:
2. Stand slightly off to one side of the flying person. Wait until dispel magic is cast. Stab them. Gain +4 on prone.

Unless the target uses non-magical flight, supernatural flight, or the Fly/Overland Flight/Air Walk spells (dispelling them grants the target a free Feather Fall effect for 1d6 rounds). That leaves, er, actually cast polymorph spells?

Look, here's the thing: It's not about being a party, it's about pulling your weight in a party. With enough support by party members, a Commoner can be awesome in combat - doesn't make the class not weak. Swashbuckler is weak, because you could replace it with a bunch of other classes, and the party would be straight up better (your campaign may differ). Let's say you're replacing the Swashbuckler with a Synthesist Summoner. You still have a melee powerhouse that can wreck pretty much every enemy, but you no longer have a party member unable to pull their weight against e.g. invisible enemies. That makes the party stronger, and thus Synthesist is stronger than Swashbuckler.
To gauge the strength of the class, we compare it to other classes, see how they each fare against a number of challenges. That's how you compare any different things. And like it or not, with all the different challenges an ordinary Pathfinder campaign has, Swashbuckler looses that comparison against most other classes, making it (as I said in my first post) "one of the weakest classes in the game".

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