Synthesist tank advice


Advice


Hello everyone,

I read, over and over that synthesist were really overpowered. And I really don't want an overpowered character.

But when I read about this archetype, I had an idea, a frail gnome in a mech suit protecting his friends.

So I'm looking for advice, not to make the most powerful character (we already have a rogue and an inquisitor in the group who tried their best to max their damages), but to create a great controller that will prevent them of being crushed by our enemies.

We will start at level 1 up to level 13-15 depending on how we roll.
For ability scores we have 10/12/12/12/14/16 to assign and we can change 3*2 points. I don't plan on having less than 8 on strength or dexterity. Once again, I don't want to be overpowered but fun and useful for the group.
I can use all paizo books for creating the character.

Thank you very much for reading me and for your help!
(Sorry for my writing, I'm not a native english speaker and I can make mistakes)


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Ability scores don't matter much for a synthesist - their physical stats will be replaced by the eidolon's stats, and their mental stats don't do a great deal for them in combat. Some people see that and think it must be overpowered somehow. It really isn't;

If you're going to protect others via battlefield control you've got two main options. Summoner spells of course (changing terrain or summoning monsters) but you don't really get enough spell slots, and you may want some of those spell slots to buff yourself. The other is combat maneuvers.

Combat maneuvers will take all your feats if you go that way.

e.g. for using the trip combat maneuver you might choose
L1: Dirty fighting
L3: Improved trip
L5: Combat reflexes
L7: Greater trip - the odd BAB progression of an eidolon lets you get this feat at L7.
L9: Weapon focus (long spear)
L11: Tangled limbs
L13: Titan's tangle

Different combat maneuvers (e.g. dirty trick) or trying to concentrate on spells will push you towards different feats of course.


Trip has lots of problems. With a synthesist, I recommend going with grapple. The grab evolution gives you +4 to any grapple attempts which is pretty big. Put grab on an attack that has reach and you’ll have a chance to grapple enemies during attacks of opportunity. But on your own turn you will want to directly use the grapple combat maneuver instead of chancing getting one as a free action from your grab evolution.


First, you need to understand why a) Summoner is problematic, and b) Synthesist specifically is problematic.

The Summoner's biggest problem is not the class itself, but the large number of atrociously made martial classes that get outclassed by the Eidolon. Brawler, Cavalier, Samurai, Gunslinger, Swashbuckler, and cMonk lack selectable class features, which no class in the game should lack (if you're interested, I can give yu an in-depth analysis of why that is). Fighter, Rogue, Cavalier, Swashbuckler, Ninja, and Samurai only have a single good save, something no pure martial class in the game should have. Rogue, Ninja, and Stalker Vigilante are even behind an Eidolon on BAB three quarters of the time because they have medium BAB, something no pure martial class in the game should have. And to add insult to injury, most of these classes also don't have an easy fix to the "can't move plus full attack" sickness that plagues the game, while Eidolon does. All the above also apply to a Synthesist, possibly even more so.

So, a regular Summoner's eidolon can already outshine most martials, and it's but one of a Summoner's multiple class features. But it's hard to feel resentful towards a Summoner who buffs you with Haste every combat (and possibly other buffs, it's not like he has anything better to do), thus significantly increasing your combat prowess. A Synthesist on the other hand has the same spotlight stealing power, but (as often played at least) without the feelgood effects from infight buffs.

This is why Synthesist, although significantly weaker than regular Summoner, is so often called "overpowered": It tends to screw inter-party balance, thus making players feel bad. A regular Summoner is less likely to do that (although it can still easily happen, depending on the other PCs, and the players' system mastery). It's not the actually power level that's the problem, but the penchant for spotlight stealing.

So, the most important thing as a Synthesist in a party with other martials, is to not charge in first round of combat; I suggest casting Haste instead.
You should also look at the feats Bodyguard and In Harm's Way.


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Synthesist works best when played like a reach cleric. Go biped and get reach on a big attack, usually slam. Then you can cast the buffs/debuffs on your turn and get attacks of opportunity off your turn.


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Derklord wrote:
This is why Synthesist, although significantly weaker than regular Summoner, is so often called "overpowered"

You will also get a lot of people like myself who really disagree with the idea that it's a lot weaker.

No shared item slot issues, more feats, but most importantly it's not an Eidolon shackled to a squishy Summoner, the Syntheist is unkillable and outside of very niche things, anything that challenges the Synthesist will make paste out of the rest of the party.


Doompatrol wrote:
Derklord wrote:
This is why Synthesist, although significantly weaker than regular Summoner, is so often called "overpowered"

You will also get a lot of people like myself who really disagree with the idea that it's a lot weaker.

No shared item slot issues, more feats, but most importantly it's not an Eidolon shackled to a squishy Summoner, the Syntheist is unkillable and outside of very niche things, anything that challenges the Synthesist will make paste out of the rest of the party.

Derklord, you already know I disagree with your analysis of the martial vs. caster problem (though I agree on the existence of martial/caster disparity because obviously).

Synthesist and normal summoner are different kinds of OP. Synthesist can both caste and fight with equal efficiency while normal summoner abuses the heck out of the action economy. But they lack the defenses of the synthesist has and if the enemy can target them, they're in bad shape. Fly and invisibility are usually enough to cover it, but gods help you if they're not.

That said, your feat suggestions plus throwing out buff spells are a great way to go if you don't want to hog the spotlight.

For the record, the druid class shares many of these problems and is almost never banned. And they have 9th level casting. Not an argument for summoner being reasonable (it's not), just that this is an old problem.


If going for the Grapple build then consider: Sticky (+4 to initiate or maintain grapple checks), Rake (2 claw attacks on grappled targets that counts as 1 for Eidolon limit), Rend (bonus dmg when you make 2 claw attacks), size increase and feats that increase effective size for combat maneuvers. (let's you use grab vs bigger things and may have more fun stuff).

***************
For more defenses, Shadow Blend & Form gives you total concealment at the cost of dealing half damage (you didnt want to dmg anyway). Ability increase to get higher Con. Size increase evolution (to get higher Con & Str).

Then there are the immunity, resistance, appearance (they give lots of defenses for a relatively discounted rate), damage reduction, and fast healing evolutions.


Increasing your size is always good for a combat maneuver build, but grab is still great against bigger sizes, because it always gives you that +4 to grapple. And you can still grapple larger creatures as a standard action like anyone else.

Silver Crusade

@Nytheal: I'll elaborate on Melkiador's suggestion that you play your gnome synthesist like a reach cleric. As other say above, in this case this is a good approach because:

* You don't steal the show from your melee allies. You will only inflict Big Damage in melee when your party is being overrun, at which point no one will mind.
* You maximize your action economy. It's the easiest way to both cast and attack in the same round.
* You mitigate incoming damage. It's a very defensive build that also protects others. Damage not taken is damage that need not be healed.

This approach lets your allies mostly get the glory yet, when the going gets tough, you're positioned to save the day. Rather than charge in early to soak up damage that would kill any of your allies, which is a drag for other players, it might be wiser (and more fun for other players) to hang back in a defensive support role and play Free Safety.

Synthesist Summoners gained a bad reputation when they were played in a hyper-aggressive way that exploits their enormous HP pool: this pisses off players of other [mechanically inferior] melee classes. They get twice the HP of other melee types and can also self-heal and cast spells. No one will mind this if you play defensively and focus on protecting allies. Mechanically, a reach weapon and the Combat Reflexes feat is one cheap way to get decent battlefield control.

A gnome synthesist summoner can wield a small-sized longspear, which still has reach.


Magda Luckbender wrote:
A gnome synthesist summoner can wield a small-sized longspear, which still has reach.

You could do that, but it's pretty cheap to just put reach on a slam attack. At first level you can have the slam and reach(slam). And then you can improve that slam with more evolutions like grab, push and increased damage. And then this can still be combined with other extra natural attacks, for when you end up toe to toe with something.

And of course, natural attack reach doesn't have a dead zone, like reach weapons do.

Silver Crusade

Melkiador wrote:
Magda Luckbender wrote:
A gnome synthesist summoner can wield a small-sized longspear, which still has reach.
You could do that, but it's pretty cheap to just put reach on a slam attack. At first level you can have the slam and reach(slam). And then you can improve that slam with more evolutions like grab, push and increased damage.

One could do that, but it's spending build resources on what could be free. Also, a longspear gives 1.5x STR to damage, unlike a slam attack. This frees up evolutions for other things. What Melkiador says is true, though, and probably more optimal.


Magda Luckbender wrote:
Also, a longspear gives 1.5x STR to damage, unlike a slam attack.

When you replace your claws with the slam, it's the only natural attack possessed, at which point it does 1.5x STR as per the natural attack rules: "If you possess only one natural attack (such as a bite—two claw attacks do not qualify), you add 1–1/2 times your Strength bonus on damage rolls made with that attack." CRB pg. 182

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