Tower shield questions


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


For the first time I chose to try out the tower shield and went all out in it. I'm a level 4 fighter/archetype tower shield specialist. So far I only have two questions:
Is there a feat or some other way that I can change the tower shield's full cover benefit from a standard action to a move equivalent action?

Also, I could use some clarification on the "tower shield training" feat. The feat reads, "At 3rd level, a tower shield specialist gains armor training as normal, but while he employs a tower shield, the armor penalty is reduced by 3 and the maximum Dexterity bonus allowed by his armor increases by 2. The benefit increases every four levels thereafter as per standard armor training; if the tower shield specialist is not employing a tower shield, the benefits to armor training revert to the normal bonuses." That's pretty cut and dry when it comes to how it effects your armor. Yet since the tower shield has both max dex limitations and an armor check penalty, does this apply to the tower shield as well? Does regular "armor training" (class skill of the fighter) effect the tower shield's max dex or armor check penalty?

A quick preemptive "thank you" to all those that take the time to read and/or reply... thx.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
AlanRoss wrote:
Is there a feat or some other way that I can change the tower shield's full cover benefit from a standard action to a move equivalent action?

No, there is not.

AlanRoss wrote:
lso, I could use some clarification on the "tower shield training" feat.

Just to be clear, the benefits given by archetypes are class features, not feats.

AlanRoss wrote:
Yet since the tower shield has both max dex limitations and an armor check penalty, does this apply to the tower shield as well?

It was probably intended to do so, but as written it does not function like that. This error renders the archetype nearly useless, and there is basically no reason you would ever take it.

Even with a generous GM who allows the armor training bonus to apply to tower shields, this is still an extremely weak archetype. I would suggest any GM who has one of these at their table to rule permissively.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
CRB wrote:

Armor Training (Ex): Starting at 3rd level, a fighter learns to be more maneuverable while wearing armor.

Whenever he is wearing armor, he reduces the armor check penalty by 1 (to a minimum of 0) and increases the maximum Dexterity bonus allowed by his armor by 1. Every four levels thereafter (7th, 11th, and 15th), these bonuses increase by +1 each time, to a maximum –4 reduction of the armor check penalty and a +4 increase of the maximum Dexterity bonus allowed.

RAW, the text of tower shield training affect only the armor, but the text of the standard ability affect the check, so both shield and armor. It is strange that an ability aimed at shields would not affect the shields. So I would say that the tower shield training doesn't say "armor check penalty" simply to reduce the word count and it is implied that it affects the check and so both armor and shield penalties.

As added proof that it lacks "check" only to keep the word count down if you look p. 48 of Ultimate combat, adding that to the text of tower shield training would have required a further row of text, changing the layout of the book for several pages. As someone that had to sweat to keep some text within the 500 character limits, I know all too well how sometimes you have to file it down to the point where you lose important details. :-/


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AlanRoss wrote:
Is there a feat or some other way that I can change the tower shield's full cover benefit from a standard action to a move equivalent action?

Mobile Bulwark Style. The feat line is superior to the archetype and many benefits don't stack, so I'd not take the archetype.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Wonderstell wrote:
Mobile Bulwark Style. The feat line is superior to the archetype and many benefits don't stack, so I'd not take the archetype.

Too many feats out there to keep track of. Good that someone remembered that one.

Also, I recalled that there's is a feat called the Tower Shield Specialist that lets you apply your armor training bonus to tower shields.


Dasrak wrote:
Even with a generous GM who allows the armor training bonus to apply to tower shields,
Well, it should be noted that Armor Training has nothing to say about shield of any type, so towers shields aren't any worse off in that regard.
Quote:
this is still an extremely weak archetype.

IMO, since not getting hit is a primary draw of the class, TSS is one of the better fighter archetypes:

* At 5th, the -2 attack penalty goes away. This compares favorably to any Gloves of Dueling build that uses a tower shield for best possible AC, since not only is such a build enjoying its WT bonuses to only a small subset of weapons, it's used its glove slot as well as spent money on them.
* At 9th, apply the shield's bonus applies to touch-AC.
* At 13th, reposition a tower shield as an immediate action.

Giving up weapon training means also giving up advanced weapon training options, but many of these are superfluous given the sword-n-board fighting style anyway. (E.g., you don't need Armed Bravery if you're a dwarf, etc.)

This leaves hideous armor-check penalties as the primary drawback, and this is solved by rolling in four levels of Cavalier, taking the Horse Master feat, and getting up on a full-level critter to ignore ACP while mounted.


Slim Jim wrote:
Giving up weapon training means also giving up advanced weapon training options, but many of these are superfluous given the sword-n-board fighting style anyway. (E.g., you don't need Armed Bravery if you're a dwarf, etc.)

You seem to have a very specific build in mind, but I can assure you that most builds would suffer from not having AWT options.

More skills? (basically) Solo Tactics? Warrior Spirit?
I don't see why a sword-n-board fighting style would want them any less than a standard two-hander.

Slim Jim wrote:
Quote:
this is still an extremely weak archetype.

IMO, since not getting hit is a primary draw of the class, TSS is one of the better fighter archetypes:

* At 5th, the -2 attack penalty goes away. This compares favorably to any Gloves of Dueling build that uses a tower shield for best possible AC, since not only is such a build enjoying its WT bonuses to only a small subset of weapons, it's used its glove slot as well as spent money on them.
* At 9th, apply the shield's bonus applies to touch-AC.
* At 13th, reposition a tower shield as an immediate action.

5th - Yeah, this comes out slightly ahead of Weapon Training at level 5. But the moment you reach level 9 or get gloves of dueling, you're behind. The damage bonus is also something you needed.

9th - Great stuff. Touch AC is hard to get.

13th - Ech. You can only use it if you've already set up Total Cover, which means saying goodbye to your Standard action. Pretty odd to state that it cannot be used to interrupt an attack, though.

The archetype was already in a tough spot after AWT, but the Mobile Bulwark Style feat path was the final nail in the coffin. It provides benefits that don't stack with the archetype, such as negating the attack penalty and giving (half) your shield bonus to Touch AC.
But that's just in addition to lowering the Total Cover action to a move, allowing you to give Total Cover to adjacent allies, and blowing the 13th level power out of the water as early as level 7.

In fact, gaining Total Cover as a move action is a game-changer as you can now sustain offense and defense at the same time. It has great synergy with mounted charge builds if you take the Rhino Charge feat, since you can provide Total Cover to yourself and your mount in addition to skewering opponents on a lance.
(If your GM uses the old mounted combat rules you don't even need Rhino Charge.)

Slim Jim wrote:
This leaves hideous armor-check penalties as the primary drawback, and this is solved by rolling in four levels of Cavalier, taking the Horse Master feat, and getting up on a full-level critter to ignore ACP while mounted.

To be clear, you ignore the ACP while mounted only on ride checks. There's also the Armored Rider trait if you can't afford to dip into Cavalier.


Wonderstell wrote:
Slim Jim wrote:
Giving up weapon training means also giving up advanced weapon training options, but many of these are superfluous given the sword-n-board fighting style anyway. (E.g., you don't need Armed Bravery if you're a dwarf, etc.)
You seem to have a very specific build in mind, but I can assure you that most builds would suffer from not having AWT options.
Well, those that specifically depend on them as a concept (such as duel-wielding bastardswords) will "suffer" in the sense that the concept doesn't work. --That doesn't mean that the archetype is bad, just that it doesn't cater to what you want in that particular case.
Quote:
Solo Tactics?
(I assume you meant something else, as that's an Inquisitor widget.)
Quote:
Warrior Spirit?

It's undeniably good (good enough that PFS sees fit to keep it banned for some odd reason despite Brawler and Warpriest being things now), but it's still tied to your weapon group fav pick. E.g., adding Returning to your sword is still useless if the dragon is a quarter-mile away and you're minus a bazillian to hit it.

-- I supposed if you're used to playing in low-number-count parties or solo sessions, then these sorts of things are greatly appealing. In average- or high-number-count parties, being the tank who doesn't get hurt and waste the caster's resources is doing one's job nicely.

Slim Jim wrote:
Quote:
this is still an extremely weak archetype.

IMO, since not getting hit is a primary draw of the class, TSS is one of the better fighter archetypes:

* At 5th, the -2 attack penalty goes away. This compares favorably to any Gloves of Dueling build that uses a tower shield for best possible AC, since not only is such a build enjoying its WT bonuses to only a small subset of weapons, it's used its glove slot as well as spent money on them.
* At 9th, apply the shield's bonus applies to touch-AC.
* At 13th, reposition a tower shield as an immediate action.
5th - Yeah, this comes out slightly ahead of Weapon Training at level 5. But the moment you reach level 9 or get gloves of dueling, you're behind. The damage bonus is also something you needed.Gloves of Dueling seem like the most fabulist of hand-slot items possible ...until you can afford Gloves of The Shortened Path, which is essentially pounce via bauble without having to move, and you need never need to see a full-attack go to waste just because a single adjacent opponent dropped with your first whack. (At high level, you'll buy multiple pairs of these, and use one per encounter per day.)
Quote:
9th - Great stuff. Touch AC is hard to get.
It's especially great because high-powered rays 'n such are about the only non-save means of reliably dishing out worrisome damage to max-AC tanks. The bonus from a fully-upgraded tower shield will be +9. Add another +1 from Shield Focus. Or, the equivalent of having a dexterity 20 points higher while still being permitted to wear heavy armor. (You're probably also grabbing Shield Specialization for +5 to CMD.)
Quote:
13th - Ech. You can only use it if you've already set up Total Cover, which means saying goodbye to your Standard action. Pretty odd to state that it cannot be used to interrupt an attack, though.
Well, for game balance reasons, they can't let it be too broke. --At 13th level, you're starting to face opponents capable of insane output. In any situation where you're denied a full-attack, using a standard action to deprive them a full-attack may be your best play, especially if, once activated, the activated ability is then adjustable with a swift action.
Quote:
The archetype was already in a tough spot after AWT, but the Mobile Bulwark Style feat path was the final nail in the coffin. It provides benefits that don't stack with the archetype, such as negating the attack penalty and giving (half) your shield bonus to Touch AC.

Mobile Stronghold has three feat prerequisites, BAB+7, and Str17 as requirements.

So, let's compare the Tower Shield Specialist to the GoD-wearing fighter with Mobile Stronghold and also multiclassed enough levels of Brawler or Monk to get into Pummeling Charge (so he can he satisfy his pounce cravings that the WSS is obtaining from Gloves of The Shortened Path): the TSS martial has six more feat slots available because he hasn't needed to spend any.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Slim Jim wrote:
Well, it should be noted that Armor Training has nothing to say about shield of any type, so towers shields aren't any worse off in that regard.

I see what you are saying here, but there isn't a Shield check penalty and Armor training modifies the Armor check penalty, a single value that is the sum of the Armor check penalties of both armor and shield.

I would say that Armor training affects both, but only if you are wearing armor.

I have checked the forum and it is a question that was asked as far back as 2009 and never received an official answer.


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Slim Jim wrote:
Well, those that specifically depend on them as a concept (such as duel-wielding bastardswords) will "suffer" in the sense that the concept doesn't work. --That doesn't mean that the archetype is bad, just that it doesn't cater to what you want in that particular case.

My choice of words set aside, what exactly makes AWT "superfluous" for someone using a sword-n-board fighting style? It's literally just more and better options than if you didn't have access to it.

Slim Jim wrote:
(I assume you meant something else, as that's an Inquisitor widget.)

Nah, that's why I had the "effectively" in parenthesis. Check out the Fighter's Tactics AWT option. Legal for PFS, too.

Slim Jim wrote:
Quote:
Warrior Spirit?

It's undeniably good (good enough that PFS sees fit to keep it banned for some odd reason despite Brawler and Warpriest being things now), but it's still tied to your weapon group fav pick. E.g., adding Returning to your sword is still useless if the dragon is a quarter-mile away and you're minus a bazillian to hit it.

-- I supposed if you're used to playing in low-number-count parties or solo sessions, then these sorts of things are greatly appealing. In average- or high-number-count parties, being the tank who doesn't get hurt and waste the caster's resources is doing one's job nicely.

I'm not sure what point you're making here. You can be the tank who doesn't get hurt or waste any caster's resources, in addition to having Fighter's Tactics or Warrior Spirit. In fact, these abilities would actively make you better at being the tank.

=========

"Slim Jim wrote:
So, let's compare the Tower Shield Specialist to the GoD-wearing fighter with Mobile Stronghold and also multiclassed enough levels of Brawler or Monk to get into Pummeling Charge (so he can he satisfy his pounce cravings that the WSS is obtaining from Gloves of The Shortened Path): the TSS martial has six more feat slots available because he hasn't needed to spend any.

No. Let us not. Obvious straw man.

Let us compare a 9th level TSS and a 9th level vanilla fighter.

Ice, vanilla fighter:
1 Shield Focus, Mobile Bulwark Style (B)
2 Feat
3 Feat, Armor Training +1
4 Mobile Fortress
5 Feat, Weapon Training +1
6 Feat
7 Mobile Stronghold, Armor Training +2
8 Feat
9 Feat, Weapon Training +2

***

Four feats used, but since one of them is Shield Focus the TSS fighter might also need it for feat prerequisites. So what's the difference at level 9, with three extra feats invested in a class whose whole selling point is extra feats?

The vanilla fighter is ahead in attack and damage by +2, but behind in ACP* and Touch AC (by half their Shield AC). Vanilla also has one AWT option, in addition to the opportunity of getting two more with feats. So who knows, maybe this fighter has 4 extra skills maxed out as per Versatile Training, or uses Fighter's Tactics and feats such as Intercept Charge to actually tank for their party.
Speaking of actually tanking for their party, that's what the vanilla fighter is capable of doing with Mobile Fortress. While the TSS fighter stands by themselves and hopes the enemy is dumb enough to focus the tin can, the vanilla fighter can protect their backline from ranged attacks by giving them Total Cover and still use their standard action for literally anything else.
Or they're both using Gloves of the Shortened Path, and the vanilla fighter simply deals more damage.

And when that touch spell comes flying, vanilla fighter has the superpower to just shut down that attack once per round as an immediate with Mobile Stronghold. TSS does not.

*Also, as the Tower Shield Specialist feat allows you to double-dip on ACP reduction with the normal Armor Training class feature, the vanilla fighter actually has equal ACP to the TSS at level 9 and comes out ahead at level 11. Assuming they both take it, that is.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Slim Jim wrote:
* At 5th, the -2 attack penalty goes away. This compares favorably to any Gloves of Dueling build that uses a tower shield for best possible AC, since not only is such a build enjoying its WT bonuses to only a small subset of weapons, it's used its glove slot as well as spent money on them.

This is a significant downgrade on Weapon Training. While I would slightly prefer +2 attack over the +1 attack/damage of Weapon Training when they first appear, being shut out of Advanced Weapon Training is a complete deal-breaker.

Slim Jim wrote:
* At 9th, apply the shield's bonus applies to touch-AC.

This is the only legitimately good thing the archetype gives. If everything here were of this caliber then I would have a very different opinion, but requiring 9 levels of an otherwise trash archetype to get it is just way too much.

Slim Jim wrote:
* At 13th, reposition a tower shield as an immediate action.

If it could be used to interrupt an attack then we could talk, but with this limitation it's borderline useless. The problem is the order in which the immediate action will be resolved. If you declare your immediate action in response to an opponent's movement, it resolves before their movement, meaning they can simply revise their movement in response to a different square than the one they originally declared. The inability to declare it in response to attacks renders it desperately situational. And as Wonderstell points out, you're not going to be spending a standard to set up total cover on a regular basis to begin with.

Slim Jim wrote:
(E.g., you don't need Armed Bravery if you're a dwarf, etc.)

Dwarf Fighters absolutely want Armed Bravery as much as any other. Just as an example, a 15th Dwarf Fighter might have 20 wisdom and a +5 cloak for an overall +15 will save. Armed Bravery takes this to +19 will saves. Against DC 23 (guidelines for the DC of a CR 15 monster's abilities) that's improving a 65% success chance to an 85% success chance. That's a huge advantage.

But there are other great AWT options to consider. Versatile Training is absolutely mandatory on any Fighter that dreams of more than being a beatstick, Focused Weapon is superb on any build using one-handed weapon (crit fish with 18-20 while also getting good damage dice; strictly superior to Weapon Specialization), Fighter's Tactics is necessary for any build making use of teamwork feats, Warrior Spirit is deceptively powerful since it lets you apply any weapon enhancement you want on a spontaneous basis. That's just the really major ones; there are plenty of others that are circumstantially important to various builds.

Slim Jim wrote:
...until you can afford Gloves of The Shortened Path, which is essentially pounce via bauble without having to move, and you need never need to see a full-attack go to waste just because a single adjacent opponent dropped with your first whack. (At high level, you'll buy multiple pairs of these, and use one per encounter per day.)

You'd need a pretty Monte Haul GM to afford these. 27k a pop means a single one of these is 11% of a 16th level character's WBL. Even with a helpful Wizard to craft that's a big expense, especially given that the item takes a standard action to activate at the start of combat.

In any case, by the time you can afford this item a vanilla unarchetyped fighter is already at +2 attack/damage even without the gloves of dueling. It's definitely a strong item choice for unmodified AP encounters (Paizo rarely if ever includes battlefield control) but it's substantially weaker if the encounter includes support adversaries that will almost always have an ability to block LoS.

Slim Jim wrote:
It's especially great because high-powered rays 'n such are about the only non-save means of reliably dishing out worrisome damage to max-AC tanks.

While rays are dangerous, so are spells that call for Reflex and Will saves, and those tend to be more common than rays. At high levels, having Armed Bravery plus Fighter's Reflexes effectively turns the Fighter into a class that has strong saves in every category.


Wonderstell wrote:

No. Let us not. Obvious straw man.

Let us compare a 9th level TSS and a 9th level vanilla fighter.

(Because it's so much more likely that "a 9th level vanilla fighter" will have Mobile Fortress than not? ...which one's the obvious "straw man" now?)

Versus a *real* "9th level vanilla fighter", the TSS has +2 AC, because DPR-obsessed Mr. Vanilla *won't* be using MBS/MF/etc, or a tower shield at all, even though his class entitles him to use a tower shield, an item that must be good for SOME reason as it is doled out exceptionally parsimoniously by the design-team.

Not getting hit is the primary virtue of the fighter class, not weapon play. They're the dude that stands up front surrounded by several multi-attack critters, checking their AC twelve times a round.

Dasrak wrote:
Dwarf Fighters absolutely want Armed Bravery as much as any other.

Versus a human who puts his racial bonus in strength, and the dwarf picking up Glory of Old and Steel Soul (total gimmes for dwarf fighters), the dwarf is relatively +6 to two of his saves (+5 on the other) versus 95% of the SoS checks the game will throw at him. So no, they don't need it "as much as any other".


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Slim Jim wrote:
The TSS has +2 AC, because DPR-obsessed Mr. Vanilla is using a worse shield even though his class entitles him to use the best one, the tower shield, an item that must be good for SOME reason as it is doled out exceptionally parsimoniously by the design-team.

While most vanilla fighters don't use tower shields (or any shields, for that matter) that's not what we're discussing here. We're discussing options for builds that use Tower Shields, and the position that both Wonderstell and I take is that vanilla Fighter does that better than the Tower Shield Specialist archetype.

The rarity of Tower Shield proficiency is peculiar, since most classes wouldn't care to use it anyways for the same reason that they don't care for the heavy shield: they need their off-hand to be free to manipulate objects.

Slim Jim wrote:
Not getting hit is the primary virtue of the fighter class, not weapon play.

Strongly disagree. Strong defenses are a useful quality for a player character to have and AC is definitely an advantage the Fighter class has over the likes of a Barbarian, but defenses on their own do not constitute a party role. The primary role of the Fighter class is the elimination of threats in combat, and this is typically achieved through DPR. Where defense is useful, it's in being able to consistently deliver on that DPR.

Slim Jim wrote:
Versus a human who puts his racial bonus in strength, and the dwarf picking up Glory of Old and Steel Soul (because those are total gimmes for dwarf fighters), the dwarf is relatively +6 to two of his saves (+5 on the other) versus 95% of the SoS checks the game will throw at him. So no, they don't need it "as much as any other".

Setting aside that not all saving throws are against spells or spell-like abilities, we're talking about a defensively-oriented build here. The closer you can bring yourself to 95% success rate the better! For instance, a 15th level NPC Wizard (a CR 14 threat) will typically hit for somewhere between DC 24 to DC 27. What do you have? +5 base saves from fighter, maybe +5 from wisdom, +5 from a cloak, +1 from glory of old, +4 from steel soul, for a total of +20? That's somewhere between 70%-85% success rate. Adding on Armed Bravery to bring that up to 90-95% success rate on will saves would be amazingly good.


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Slim Jim wrote:
Wonderstell wrote:

No. Let us not. Obvious straw man.

Let us compare a 9th level TSS and a 9th level vanilla fighter.

(Because it's so much more likely that "a 9th level vanilla fighter" will have Mobile Fortress than not? ...which one's the obvious "straw man" now?)

Still your hypothetical example.

I think you may have mistaken vanilla fighter for generic fighter. I meant vanilla as in "having no special or extra features; ordinary or standard". The vanilla fighter is simply a non-archetyped fighter.

And that non-archetyped fighter with the Mobile Bulwark Style feat chain is a much more proficient tank than the archetype, and has the potential to be even better than that.

====

Edit:
Consider why OP made this thread in the first place. They're gonna take the Mobile Bulwark Style feat for the ability to get Total Cover as a move action, and then they're gonna realize that protecting others is worth another feat. And after that, why not get the ability to negate any attack once per round for another feat?

The feat line is so good, that even the TSS will want it. The end result is then that you've traded away your Weapon Training class feature for 2-5 extra points of Touch AC, which you should reconsider at once.

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