Starknife Bard - help with build


Advice


Hi everyone :)

I'm currently trying to create a fun skill monkey high CHA character for a new campaign but I'm having some trouble optimizing the build. We're gonna start a lvl1 and will probably play up to 15 or so, but I'm currently interested in the first few lvls of build and making the character as battle effective as possible for a non-battle type character if that makes sense.

As I want to play the face and skill monkey of the party I was naturally drawn to bard, although I do see some benefits in playing the wyrm skald.

My thoughts: as high CHA as possible, without dumping int or wis, but +0 to STR and Dex... However I would take the Divine Fighting Technique (Way of the Shooting Star) feat and fight in meelee with starknifes with Cha to attack and damage (I won't be the party fighter, just want to make some damage when not buffing/spellcasting)
My biggest concern about this build is the low AC, and dipping into oracle seems to costly to spell progression/BAB.
That's why skald kind of makes sense as it would get medium armor, but not really happy about losing skills points.
For initiative I can take the cha instead of dex feat, but low reflex and AC makes me worried.
I'm open to playing another class like rogue for sneak attack and more skills points.. or using starknives as ranged but wondering if it's worth it without taking loads of feats.

Also, I know my GM would allow me to play dhampir, as undead, do they get cha to hp and fort saves? That could help with survivability with low AC

Alternatively do you think it's better to scratch the starknives and go for weapon finess highish dex?
Or if anyone has any suggestions of races or other classes or feats that would work for a Cha based face/monkey skill I would really appreciate it!

Fyi the rest of the party are a slayer, a witch, a druid, a barbarian and a summoner if that helps with suggestions!


I would go skald anyways, perhaps the archetype that boosts weapons not strength. Spend a feat on Cunning and you're now only a single skill point behind bards anyways.

Since you have no dex you can afford to get the best armour you can.

If you play a small race like halfling you'll have +1 to hit and ac and your charisma will add +1 to hit and damage and completely offset your smaller weapon damage.

Lastly look into Arcane Strike. Bards and skald rarely use their swifts as much as others do and it's a straight power boost to damage.


If you want to make a star knife wielding, cha based skill monkey out of a bard, you need to go all in. That means gutting it up and buying that 18 Cha and bumping it to 20. If you turn around and dump Str you should be able to pump Con to 14 and either dex or int to 12. You could dump Wis but that means gambling with your will save which never seems like a good idea to me.

Dumping Str also means you won't be able to carry a lot of stuff. Well, you'll be in light armor, and Star Knives are expensive anyways so you probably don't want to be throwing 3 knives a turn anyways (as a low level character).

As you gain levels and better access to magic items and feats you want to change how your character operates. My suggestion would be to plan out transitioning from a melee-based front line fighter to a short ranged thrower. In both cases you'll prioritize supporting the group over being a damage dealer.

So 1st level you naturally take Divine Combat Style, and some way to become proficient with a Star Knife. If you pick human you probably want to pick up Weapon Focus:Star Knife for the +1 to hit. At this point you probably want a heavy shield to make you respectable in melee combat.

By 3rd level you can afford to buy some extra star knives. Pick up Point Blank Shot with an eye for taking Precise Shot asap. Sometime around 5th-7th level your AC should start looking bad. Start trying to transition away from melee combat into doing thrown weapons. It will be 8th level before you get your first iterative attack. Until then you can use 1 star knife with the returning special property and be just fine. After that you might want to consider getting multiple star knives to throw, or something like a blink back belt to help you retrieve your weapons faster than returning. Or you can invest heavily into items to keep your AC up and concentrate on using a single star knife so you can afford to enchant it heavily. Either way it changes your feats.

Skill wise, ask your GM if there will be time to do retraining. If you can rely on retraining you can afford to sink most of your skill points into skills you need and only put 1 point into perform at early levels. Once you hit 6th level retrain to pick up another versatile performance and replace a skill you currently have.

If the GM discourages this, that means sinking 2 points into perform every level. Instead of sinking in a 3rd point pick up an ioun stone to give you +2 int that gives you a 3rd perform skill that you want to versatile performance at 10th level (Headband should be Cha). Of course you might want to sacrifice a versatile performance to get a masterpiece or convert it to a martial performance, but I'd discourage that. You're original vision is to be a skill monkey. Don't delay that. The group needs to feel your skills are useful early on, not at the end of the campaign.


I've build a Skald like that, Wyrm Singer with Desna's Shooting Star (that's what the divine fighting technique is actually called), and because it's the perfect opportunity to use the "party members us their own BAB but your charisma" thing in Skald's Rage Power description that no one ever cares about, Lesser Spirit Totem. I added Fated Champion for both mechanical reasons and fitting the theme.

The character is currently 7th level, and doing very well.

Traits: Reactionary and Shoanti Spirit-singer (for the spirit theme)
Relevant feats: Divine Fighting Technique @1, Possessed Hand (more spirit theme!) @ human bonus feat, Extra Rage Power (Superstition) @ 3, Weapon Focus @8 via Advanced Versatile performance.
Rage Powers are Lesser Spirit Totem and Spirit Totem, obviously.
With a 12 in Int, Skilled, and Versatile performance, that's 7 effective skill ranks per level, if you need more on a caster, you're doing something wrong. Seriously, don't overvalue skill ranks.

With Spirit Totem's 20% miss chance against non-adjacent attacks (including enemies with reach), in addition to medium armor and 14 dex, and Superstition's save bonus in addition to the perfect base saves, defense is pretty well covered. And for offense... even with the party currently down to 3, Lesser Spirit Totem for all is amazing. Favourite trick, especially at early levels: Standard action to start performance, move action to move towards the enemy, let the spirits make an attack.

The problem with the Skald is that the song doesn't stack with the Barbarian's rage. Not really a problem, but it's something to remember.

MissPenguin wrote:
I'm open to playing another class like rogue for sneak attack and more skills points.

Make no mistake, a Skald is way better at skills, and even more so at solving problems, than a Rogue. Seriously, Rogue is not a good class for a character who wants to be good at overcoming skill-check-type challenges. (I dislike the term "skillmonkey" because you should never have skills as the main focus of a character, unless you're playing in a campaign with virtually no combat.)

MissPenguin wrote:
I know my GM would allow me to play dhampir, as undead, do they get cha to hp and fort saves?

Dhampirs are not undead, but humanoids with the dhampir subtype.


Thanks so much for your suggestions!!!

No possibility for retraining skills unfortunately :(
I'm leaning towards a wyrm singer skald, with the spirit totem rage powers, probably human for the extra feat and skill.
Too bad about the dhampir, would have been fun!

Also, probably choosing the tattoed mystic trait so I can use starknives... Buy any suggestions on a good rise of the runelords campaign trait?
I saw a really cool one that gave +1 skill point and hp per lvl but it was for another campaign unfortunately.


Giant slayer and merchant family would be good choices.


MissPenguin wrote:
Also, probably choosing the tattoed mystic trait so I can use starknives...

Skald is proficient with martial wepaons, and thus starknife, anyway.

In addition to the campaign traits Cavall mentioned, Eager Performer deserves note, because thanks to Versatile Performance, it's a +1 to two skills, and because you have high charisma, the +1 to one enchantment spell's DC is vers useful, especially for the discounted spells (e.g. Hideous Laughter, Suggestion, Confusion, Dominate Person). Presuming someone else in the party picks Merchant Family - you really only need it once, but it's too good to not have in the party.

For the other trait, apart from the ones I listed for my character, there's Irrepressible for awesome will save bonus against the worst stuff, or Deft Dodger if you're worried about reflex saves.


Wyrm Singer Skald seems very neat, but I wouldn't go with Starknives personally. Since it provides a flat bonus, going with an archer would be very effective, or even TWFing. Depending on your point buy (or rolls) you can do a lot with a Skald. You really only need 14 CHA so your other stats are pretty free. You don't gain nearly as much with a Skald going with Starknives as you might with other classes.


It's a build using Charsima to attack and damage with star knives only.

I think you may be wrong.


If that's directed at me, I meant that 14 CHA for spellcasting is enough for a Skald since OP indicated he could go for a Weapon Finesse build instead potentially.

I think you can do decently with a Wyrm Singer Skald that TWFs starknives but you have to accept the Dex investment. One starknife isn't great since you're putting a lot of feats and ability points into a 1d4 weapon (1d4+3 or +4 is no better than 1d8+1 or +2 from a battleaxe for example, and you'll need some strength if you're wearing medium armor). And you're now also trying to compensate for lower AC, reflex, and initiative. Since Wyrm Singer provides static bonuses, I'd definitely go with archery or potentially TWF.

Pretty much every single one of your allies also should be decent at skills (even the Summoner's eidolon), so you just need to focus on the skills you think will be relevant. Versatile Performance means you can bump Perform (I like Oratory or Sing) and that gains you two social skills, and several of the others can take certain knowledge skills you don't need to.


JiaYou wrote:
Wyrm Singer Skald seems very neat, but I wouldn't go with Starknives personally. Since it provides a flat bonus, going with an archer would be very effective, or even TWFing.

Wyrm Singer's Draconic Rage boosts melee attack and damage rolls only.

TWF is highly problematic because not only do you not normally have 15 Dex, you'd need to drop a Starknife to cast spells with a somantic or material component.

Wyrm Singer Skald is one of surprisingly few classes/archetypes that can make Desna's Shooting Star really work.

JiaYou wrote:
One starknife isn't great since you're putting a lot of feats and ability points into a 1d4 weapon (1d4+3 or +4 is no better than 1d8+1 or +2 from a battleaxe for example, and you'll need some strength if you're wearing medium armor).

Wait, what? It's a single feat, and and the ability points are something you want to put into charisma (for skills, spell DCs, and bonus spells per day) but other Skalds or Bards can't. Seriously, this Skald can suddenly make all those awesome discounted mind-controllish spells that the Bard list is full of work.


Only for melee? Damn. *goes and deletes several theorycrafted characters*


Would a Warpriest of Desna be good? With a sacred weapon, you do better damage, and with fervor allowing you to buff yourself quickly. You are 3/4 BAB just like a skald. You have 6th level spells, just like a skald.

/cevah


For a melee Warpriest, there's not much reason to use a starknife. There is no archetype that makes a Warpriest charisma based (boo!), and even with high charisma you lack the skill ranks for a good "face" character, so Desna's Shooting Star doesn't do much.

Presuming your GM rules that starknives count as a ranged weapons for prereqs, a Molthuni Arsenal Chaplain with Ricochet Toss as the 6th level bonus feat would work rather well for a thrown build.

Obviously, you don't have the SADness that makes the Skald so great, not that your spell list would support it as much anyway.

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