Ways to prebuff


Advice


My group is struggling to find a way to prebuff before a fight. There are a couple spells we would like to pop before battle and not during battle (Blur, Stoneskin). However, we are finding we just encounter enemies and initiative begins immediately. What are some safe ways to scout, we have a stealthy character and a Wild druid in the party, those are the two best potential scouting options. But how would you recommend we do safe reconnaissance so we have time to prebuff?


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Divinations, such as Clairaudience or Augury, are generally the safest thing. Even a rogue in stealth scouting risks being found and triggering a very bad encounter. Vigilant Eye, in particular, seems the best possible option.

But that's just me being a wizard.


Ediwir wrote:

Divinations, such as Clairaudience or Augury, are generally the safest thing. Even a rogue in stealth scouting risks being found and triggering a very bad encounter. Vigilant Eye, in particular, seems the best possible option.

But that's just me being a wizard.

It's not just wizardly you; you're right.

With the limited duration of most buffs (and the alterations to spell volume & wands), scouting is the best way to determine when to cast those spells. And Stealth is an iffy way to scout given the high Perceptions of enemies, plus unusual senses, maybe traps, and so forth. Therefore divinations and other magical foresight are the best ways to go.

Not that I think a buffing strategy is the best method nowadays, but it's hard to shake those PF1 norms. And if you can get some up in a key fight, then yay! Though I do recall some instances in PF1 where there were fake final battles that'd blow your short-term buffs before the actual finale.


Is there ever a time in combat where you would spend two precious actions to ever cast Blur or Stoneskin on an ally?


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Atalius wrote:
Is there ever a time in combat where you would spend two precious actions to ever cast Blur or Stoneskin on an ally?

My monk can barely find the time to spend one action to go into a stance.


Blur, no because I wouldn't have it. I'd prefer Mirror Image or Invisibility (or maybe something else). I suppose I might later have it on a wand, where I'd use it vs. bosses where one miss (which might be all you get) could swing the battle.

Stoneskin, yes. Think of it as pre-healing. It might not be great against a boss with its larger numbers, but against significant thugs, you might see the whole spell used up, meaning you got 100 h.p. from a 4th level slot. Pretty good normally, and awesome if your in-combat healing is limited.
(Twenty hits would hopefully be unusual, though not unheard of during a major battle.)


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I would use buff spells after initiative but before melee engagement. I.e it is better to stand still and buff if the enemy has to come to you. Though this is our groups playstyle showing where more combats begin at larger distances because we do more overland stuff.


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Stoneskin is a 20 minutes buff, this is one spell that is definitively possible to prebuff, just like Heroism that is a 10 minutes one and stuff that Imperial Sorcerer can extend.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Since pre-buffing to the max was one of the biggest reasons for balance going out of whack in PF1, it got kicked in the teeth, and rightfully so.

Sovereign Court

Yeah my impression is that "the way the game is meant to be played" is with a lot less buffing in general. Use 1-2 buffs in a combat if you can see it's going to make a big difference, but definitely not like PF1 where you'd have 3-6 constant buffs on everyone.


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Castilliano wrote:
It's not just wizardly you; you're right.

Those two are the same thing.

That said there are useful buffs that are more than worth the two actions, even three if you want. I mean, a 4th level Reaching Energy Resistance lets you safely turn the fight for the two frontliners at times, I have no issue spending three actions on it. And I haven't ever considered not preparing Magic Weapon on any first level session.

However, yeah, buffing in combat is good, but buffing before combat is very hard. Stuff like Enlarge, Freedom of Movement, Resist Energy, Stoneskin and all the 10min duration spells are good and handy, but require some ability to at least spend a turn with forewarning.

Real longterm stuff, like Water Breathing, Circle of Protection or Spell Turning should get a bookmark in your spell book, but tends to be less combat-enhancing and more utility-based.

If you can't tell, I'm specifically an Abjurer :P


Ediwir wrote:
Castilliano wrote:
It's not just wizardly you; you're right.

Those two are the same thing.

That said there are useful buffs that are more than worth the two actions, even three if you want. I mean, a 4th level Reaching Energy Resistance lets you safely turn the fight for the two frontliners at times, I have no issue spending three actions on it. And I haven't ever considered not preparing Magic Weapon on any first level session.

However, yeah, buffing in combat is good, but buffing before combat is very hard. Stuff like Enlarge, Freedom of Movement, Resist Energy, Stoneskin and all the 10min duration spells are good and handy, but require some ability to at least spend a turn with forewarning.

Real longterm stuff, like Water Breathing, Circle of Protection or Spell Turning should get a bookmark in your spell book, but tends to be less combat-enhancing and more utility-based.

If you can't tell, I'm specifically an Abjurer :P

Oh no, your not just an Abjurer. You sir are a legend. Your posts are always very informative, your insight is greatly appreciated.


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Big tip:
Open AoN. Go to Search. Untick everything but spells. Search for "minutes" or "hour".


That Terrain Stalker Feat (albeit situational) seems great for Stealth specialist scouting, although the wording confused me at 1st...

I think another interesting change of paradigm is allowing parties to viably roll Stealth collectively,
thru Follow the Leader and/or EDIT:Quiet Allies that lets just the one lowest person roll once for the group.
With or without Terrain Stalker, a party's 2 Stealth specialists can be even more successful together (w/ Circumstance and single roll)
While entire group may not all have high DEX/skill, it's still plausible to be successfull often enough to be worthwhile,
and when it does fail, you can still be together to fight as a party even if you didn't gain ideal advantage of Stealth.

But when you do win Stealth, that is the sort of opportunity for even just 1 round of pre-buffing which can be great.
(which could even include martials switching to optimum weapon type etc)
Also being able to integrate some pre-emptive movement for positioning can be just as important part of exploiting that situation.


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Pre-buffing got kicked hard in the nads in PF2, and rightly so. Most combat buffs have a duration of 1 minute, and the game goes out of its way to say that durations are not exact. Casting a spell is also usually really loud and obvious, which would make any nearby potential foes aware of you, which would start initiative.


Magically scouting ahead is the safest way.

At higher levels, a rogue with Sneak Savant can pretty reasonably do it. They aren't spotted unless someone is actively searching (first effect of the spell) which means no one is going to randomly spot them and no random bad rolls getting them caught. Second effect is that you treat failure like a success (though you can still crit fail). This means you're pretty safe, but if something goes wrong the wrong is likely dead unless they have some sort of magical GTFO button, so it's still pretty risky.


The magical GTFO button actually isn't that hard to come by, believe it or not. One example is sending a monk in to scout. Even if they get spotted, they usually have the durability to survive for a round and can then outrun most threats back to the party, shouting a warning that can effectively provide the party a round to prebuff if the enemy pursues. Luring an enemy back to your friends is also a great way to utilize Snares, and Snare damage is absurdly high. There are talismans that let you turn invisible, too, or if you're a caster you can always dimension door out of danger.

But also, don't forget you can always use Deception to walk in like you own the place. A little magic and planning can go a long way to making an enemy soldier think you're one of them, or even their boss. Not only can you find out about enemies in the next room and return to your party unmolested, you can potentially ask the enemy questions and find out key Intel, or even deliver fake orders for all kinds of hijinks. (Having a magical GTFO button usually becomes even more important here, though.)


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Captain Morgan wrote:
The magical GTFO button actually isn't that hard to come by, believe it or not. One example is sending a monk in to scout. Even if they get spotted, they usually have the durability to survive for a round and can then outrun most threats back to the party, shouting a warning that can effectively provide the party a round to prebuff if the enemy pursues. Luring an enemy back to your friends is also a great way to utilize Snares, and Snare damage is absurdly high.

As a monk player who has actually attempted this, I cant say I recommend it. The potential returns for being a sacrificial lamb just aren't worth it.

Most of the time, by the time you're able to spot the threat, they're already close enough to reach you within three move actions. It doesn't take much for even weak enemies to win initiative and block off your retreat before you get to act. Even if you can single handedly fight your way out, they only need stall you long enough for the big guns to arrive.

Shouting a warning is also a great way to draw in multiple encounters at once, which you won't be able to handle easily even if you do get back to your party.

No. I've done all of that. It has made for some of the worst 2e games we've had to date.

Never split the party. It's practically roleplaying 101.


Ravingdork wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
The magical GTFO button actually isn't that hard to come by, believe it or not. One example is sending a monk in to scout. Even if they get spotted, they usually have the durability to survive for a round and can then outrun most threats back to the party, shouting a warning that can effectively provide the party a round to prebuff if the enemy pursues. Luring an enemy back to your friends is also a great way to utilize Snares, and Snare damage is absurdly high.

As a monk player who has actually attempted this, I cant say I recommend it. The potential returns for being a sacrificial lamb just aren't worth it.

Most of the time, by the time you're able to spot the threat, they're already close enough to reach you within three move actions. It doesn't take much for even weak enemies to win initiative and block off your retreat before you get to act. Even if you can single handedly fight your way out, they only need stall you long enough for the big guns to arrive.

Shouting a warning is also a great way to draw in multiple encounters at once, which you won't be able to handle easily even if you do get back to your party.

No. I've done all of that. It has made for some of the worst 2e games we've had to date.

Never split the party. It's practically roleplaying 101.

It seems pretty difficult to cut a determined monk off to me. Even if they physically block a doorway, you can always Tumble Through them. The worst case scenario is you wind up grabbed, but monks are going to be good at some combination of Escape action options. No, none of that is 100% success rates, but it certainly gives you options. Plus there are some monks that can teleport.

Also, if a screaming retreat is going to bring more enemies to the scene, that was already going to happen because enemies will probably yell for backup. And even then, if you're players are smart they have set up in a strong position and can unload on individual enemies as they arrive on the scene.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Tumbling isn't so easy in this edition, even for monks. If they're blocking the only exit, you need to spend an action to move up to them, then another action to tumble past each individual enemy. You only need one bad roll. Even if you make all the rolls, you still waste a few actions and move through enemy spaces at half speed. Remember, unless they are alone, they don't have to stop you, only slow you down long enough for their friends to catch up.

Your other points are pretty sound.


Ravingdork wrote:

...you need to spend an action to move up to them, then another action to tumble past each individual enemy. You only need one bad roll. Even if you make all the rolls, you still waste a few actions and move through enemy spaces at half speed. Remember, unless they are alone, they don't have to stop you, only slow you down long enough for their friends to catch up.

Your other points are pretty sound.

Where did you get that ruling from?

CRB:
TUMBLE THROUGH [one-action]
MOVE
You Stride up to your Speed. During this movement, you can try to move through the space of one enemy...

Also your descriptions sounds alot like like your GM is metagaming your enemies? Or why do they batch move all past you just to block the exit en masse instead of just trying to swarm you? Lining up for the lightning bolt of your invisible and stealthy mage friend that waits a couple of feet behind?


What they said, yeah. That does sound awfully metagamey. It isn't like the enemy knows your a monk who can outrun them or that you're alone. That's pretty blatant. At most, I could see someone trying to grab you, which provides a lot of tactical advantages. Also... Where are you when you get spotted? The answer should almost always be peaking in from outside the door because that is how line of sight works. If anything they should be needing to tumble through you to get behind you.


Ravingdork wrote:

Tumbling isn't so easy in this edition, even for monks. If they're blocking the only exit, you need to spend an action to move up to them, then another action to tumble past each individual enemy. You only need one bad roll. Even if you make all the rolls, you still waste a few actions and move through enemy spaces at half speed. Remember, unless they are alone, they don't have to stop you, only slow you down long enough for their friends to catch up.

You don't tumble past enemies in PF2. You tumble through them. So unless they're actually standing in a line blocking the path sequentially, you'll likely only need to tumble through one of them.

Sure, you might be eating a few attacks of opportunity along the way, but I figure the situation with a one square wide corridor where the enemies put themselves in a line just to block you seems odd. Not to mention, you probably shouldn't leave the corridor in a situation like that – if nothing else, because you wouldn't be able to sneak out to scout.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Seems I misremembered a bit. It's still limited to one enemy per action though from the looks of it.

I'm not seeing what's metagamy about it. If you turn a corner and are suddenly faced with multiple adversaries who decide they want to kill you, cutting off your escape (however they can) seems like a pretty common sense tactic.

But that's neither here nor there. We're quickly getting into edge cases at this point. Best we get back on track with the original discussion (pre-combat buffs).


Ravingdork wrote:

Seems I misremembered a bit. It's still limited to one enemy per action though from the looks of it.

I'm not seeing what's metagamy about it. If you turn a corner and are suddenly faced with multiple adversaries who decide they want to kill you, cutting off your escape (however they can) seems like a pretty common sense tactic.

But that's neither here nor there. We're quickly getting into edge cases at this point. Best we get back on track with the original discussion (pre-combat buffs).

I mean, gathering intelligence through scouting or divination is the best way to prebuff, so we are still pretty on topic.

An enemy attempting to tumble through your space to cut you off instead of attacking you just seems like a really strange decision to me. I can certainly see them moving into a flank-- even tumbling to do so if they are trained in acrobatics-- but that's providing a notable edge to their allies in taking you down, not just cutting you off. And you should be able to slip by a single enemy.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

If you're indoors, they don't have to run at you or through you at all. Just towards all the available exits.


Ravingdork wrote:
If you're indoors, they don't have to run at you or through you at all. Just towards all the available exits.

But if you're indoors, you don't sneak into a room with enemies in it. You sneak up to the entrance or other vantage point, note that there are baddies around, and sneak back and report. Even if you're spotted, you're already in the actual escape route.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Staffan Johansson wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
If you're indoors, they don't have to run at you or through you at all. Just towards all the available exits.
But if you're indoors, you don't sneak into a room with enemies in it. You sneak up to the entrance or other vantage point, note that there are baddies around, and sneak back and report. Even if you're spotted, you're already in the actual escape route.

That'd likely work fine in most anything but an ambush scenario.


Ravingdork wrote:
Staffan Johansson wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
If you're indoors, they don't have to run at you or through you at all. Just towards all the available exits.
But if you're indoors, you don't sneak into a room with enemies in it. You sneak up to the entrance or other vantage point, note that there are baddies around, and sneak back and report. Even if you're spotted, you're already in the actual escape route.
That'd likely work fine in most anything but an ambush scenario.

If they laying in ambush they already know you're coming, so you shouldn't be trying to sneak up on them anyway.


.... Setting an ambush means they either detect you were going or were targeting someone else. In either case you dont know someone is ambushing you until they spring the trap or someone warns you, to not sneak because of it would be metagaming.

I can see a person sneaking trying to see were the enemies are. But the enemies having noticed hiding to ambush the trespassers.

Also, if you are scouting into a building its very well possible for you to move a couple of room. By which point unless you secured an exit, you can be surrounded and trapped. Which is often the case with police surrounding a target.


Ravingdork wrote:
I'm not seeing what's metagamy about it. If you turn a corner and are suddenly faced with multiple adversaries who decide they want to kill you, cutting off your escape (however they can) seems like a pretty common sense tactic.

Sorry, but I find that a bit metagamey.

Think of it the other way round. A PC party (the multiple creature party) random-encountering a wandering ogre (the lone scout) in a dungeon. How many times did the party go "block all exits!" instead of "kill the ogre"?


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
masda_gib wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
I'm not seeing what's metagamy about it. If you turn a corner and are suddenly faced with multiple adversaries who decide they want to kill you, cutting off your escape (however they can) seems like a pretty common sense tactic.

Sorry, but I find that a bit metagamey.

Think of it the other way round. A PC party (the multiple creature party) random-encountering a wandering ogre (the lone scout) in a dungeon. How many times did the party go "block all exits!" instead of "kill the ogre"?

Not sure how your games are generally played, but if there was any advanced info (such as the notion that he was a scout that could bring us more pain), stopping the enemy from getting their way is exactly the first thing we'd attempt.

I'm guessing you're coming from a Pathfinder 1E or D&D 3.0/3.5 background where you could pretty much take out any foe in a round?


Ravingdork wrote:
masda_gib wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
I'm not seeing what's metagamy about it. If you turn a corner and are suddenly faced with multiple adversaries who decide they want to kill you, cutting off your escape (however they can) seems like a pretty common sense tactic.

Sorry, but I find that a bit metagamey.

Think of it the other way round. A PC party (the multiple creature party) random-encountering a wandering ogre (the lone scout) in a dungeon. How many times did the party go "block all exits!" instead of "kill the ogre"?

Not sure how your games are generally played, but if there was any advanced info (such as the notion that he was a scout that could bring us more pain), stopping the enemy from getting their way is exactly the first thing we'd attempt.

I'm guessing you're coming from a Pathfinder 1E or D&D 3.0/3.5 background where you could pretty much take out any foe in a round?

What if your allies are just waiting around the corner for you though? If party can hit the scene and start attacking in the same round but I used all my actions to cut off exits, I've just wasted my one shot at killing you before backup arrives. Not to mention set at least one of my dudes up to get flanked.

And again, I don't know you're a monk. Without armor, you might very well be a caster who can just teleport away. I'd be much better off just stabbing you and relying on you being squishy. Even grappling wouldn't work great to trap you, as it is only a 20% spell failure. I might let everyone grab to increase the odds of failure I suppose.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Not really sure where this "what if" game is going to get us...


Ravingdork wrote:
Not really sure where this "what if" game is going to get us...

Roleplaying 101: Get a better scout in order to be able to pre-buff. :P

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