Will these 2 characters have a good chance at duoing RotR?

Rise of the Runelords

We happened to have a copy of the Rise of the Runelords anniversary edition lying around, and given the situation going into this summer, were thinking of running it with just 2 players and a GM (basically the family), but trying to minimize adjustments on the GM's side of things to keep the amount of preparation work to a minimum. Mostly because this will be their first attempt at GMing. Also there is a preference not to run multiple characters simultaneously on the player side.

So I wonder if people had a feel how the following would handle the AP. We can always changes things later on if necessary, but its nice to be at least be in the ballpark of the right power level at the beginning.

Tempered Champion Paladin of Shizuru/Battle Oracle with Possessed Curse
Str 18/Dex 15/Con 14/Int 14/Wis 10/Cha 20 (after racial mods), with free bonus toughness feat

Kensai Magus/Diviner Wizard (Necromancy/Enchantment opposition)
Str 18/Dex 16/Con 16/Int 20/Wis 10/Cha 8 (after racial mods), with free bonus toughness feat

The GM is also considering having a single class more normally built NPC rogue tag along depending on what the exact final builds look like. Alternatively, changing Kensai Magus/Diviner Wizard to Slayer/Diviner Wizard would cover more skills and trap finding via talent, but have less action economy synergy during combat, as well as less AC.

The extremely high point buy was to adjust for the fact the characters are MAD, trying to fill in for front line melee while also handling back line casting in a single character. Similarly with the free toughness feat for additional hit points to make up for half as many targets. With favored class bonus going to hit points, this leaves them with 16 and 15 hit points at 1st.

Backstory for the two characters would actually pull both from Tian-xia, of the Tian-min ethnicity.

The oracle's possession is by the spirit of an ancient kitsune general who worked in Thassilon but returned to their homeland after Xin became old, isolated, and paranoid. The spirit never rested easily, and ended up possessing the paladin while she was cleansing some ancient ruins in the service of Shizuru. The paladin has come to the land that was once Thassilon to see if they can put the 11,000 year old spirit possessing her to rest. Plus Shizuru seemed to want this particular spirit as far away from Minkai and Tian-Xia as possible.

The paladin/oracle is in Sandpoint specifically as a student of the faith, coming to see the cathedral while continuing their search for a way to exorcise themselves of the half-crazy spirit. The fact that Sandpoint has one of the few inns in Varisia that knows how to serve traditional Tian-min food might have been a draw as well.

The magus/wizard was also "exploring" those same ruins for more traditional adventuring reasons at the time of the possession. And might have accidentally had a teeny, tiny role in getting the paladin possessed. Given the event drew Shizuru's personal attention, and resulted in said paladin becoming an oracle, Shizuru took a rather dim view to his motivations for being in the ruins and the related "accident".

So he was essentially told to clean up his act. In the form of a divine quest spell without a duration. Although Shizuru did kindly include a discharge clause, namely an alive but unpossessed paladin. He is here in Sandpoint with the paladin, researching everything he can about this stupid kitsune general and Thassilon in order to help get the paladin unpossessed.

Grand Lodge

So, first I'll say that that sounds like a neat duo, and I bet it'll be fun to see them fight and RP together.

Next: Both characters appear to be multi-classing. Are they gestalt characters? Actually splitting levels in the classes outlined seems very bad, but if you're doing gestalt, those could be very interesting characters. Unfortunately, it makes evaluating their CR harder.

Here's some recommendations:

- If those characters aren't gestalt (as in, gaining both of the non-overlapping class features of both, and taking the better of two when they overlap), make them gestalt. This is just to increase their options, and ensure they're always "on-track" for their magical resources (as the AP expects a wizard and cleric on the team).

- Max HP every level. Along with the free Toughness, this should roughly double your HP, AKA give you the HP pool of a more typical party.

- Neither of the above fixes the action economy in the players' favor, so they'll need to play cautious. Having a diviner on the team will massively benefit them in this endeavor, but I recommend the DM subtly point them in the direction of stealthy or clever approaches when big fights are unavoidable (like Fort Rannick).

- Lastly, just make NPCs a little more helpful than they otherwise would be, and have them come along on missions where their skill set would be particularly appropriate. Obviously only if the party wants them to, but I know my party is frequently inclined to seek out allies with complementary skill sets.

The AP isn't super difficult as-is, but that should keep things on track. Finding a way for the party to rez each other could also be nice around the end of Book 2 or so.

I assume these characters are Gestalt. If so, they're tough enough, and cover most important bases OK, though a bit weak in the Will Save and Perception department. They're going to be surprised a lot and miss a whole sack of clues. The rogue NPC sounds a good plan.

Ultimately, it's a matter of luck. As there are only two of them, they're vulnerable to Natural 1s and Natural 20s. You might want some mechanism like Hero Points just to ward that off, or the whole game might be ended by a couple of bad rolls. But until that happens, they'll carve a big swathe through the enemy.

Yes they are planning on being gestalt. Sorry I failed to mention that, being a rather key point in balance considerations. Not sure how I missed mentioning that.

I wonder if the max HP on top of the already high point buy and free toughness is too much?

Assuming 14 Con all around, and were 4 separate characters, HP per level would be around 6+2+1, 5+2+1, 5+2+1, and 4+2+1, for 32 HP per level for the party. For the two Gestalts, the max hit points, toughness, favored class, and listed stats gets 10+2+1+1 and 8+3+1+1, for 27. So actually, not too much.

Even including a normal stat rogue would probably bump that up another 7 or so, to 34, so still pretty close.

We'll also look at the hero point option for emergencies. And add the NPC rogue to help cover the spot/trap checks, although I expect to see them more in the background during combat.

And the GM has mentioned they had some kind of terrib... I mean great idea for a tiny chaotic good pseudodragon rogue. What possibly could go wrong with the equivalent of an intelligent, flying, lockpicking and pick pocketing house cat who likes collecting shiny things. And then hiding when mean people show up.

This may still end in tears.

Anyways, thanks very much for the feedback.

I'm near the end of the last book, having soloed it on a non-gestalt barbarian character. I was allowed to use some third party material, though, but even before any of that really kicked in I wasn't having that hard a time with encounters.

The one thing I'd suggest you guys be allowed to start with is a wand of cure light wounds or two. The biggest issue you'll have isn't so much the fights themselves, individually, but the barrage of them you have every now and again. There are a few sections that really don't give you much room to rest or recover. And always have a few handy. If you can go into most fights as full HP or near enough, you'll be fine.

Sovereign Court

I would be tempted to give bonus skill ranks (maybe limited to knowledge skills).

Action economy can be tough with two (I play in CotCT with two gestalt). We are thinking about playing around with things (extra attack at -5, cast spell 3 below max level as an immediate action once/round) to help with that.
Because things get tougher for gestalt at high levels, the GM was thinking of handing out some templates at level ten (half-celestial has been discussed).

Thanks for your ideas. I've had some further discussions with the group, and we're not starting until the GM is finished with AP exams, so we've got a few weeks to finalize things.

For the healing, we're definitely planning on purchasing/crafting healing items in addition to the healing ability provided by the paladin/oracle. The paladin/oracle does start with 5 1st level spells which can be spontaneously cast as cure light wounds, as well as adding 6 lay on hands per day at 2nd to the spell casting.

But acquiring a wand of cure light wounds is definitely on the list of to do things in character fairly early on, if not scrolls/potions.

The healing discussion has also led to the paladin's player deciding to take Fey Foundling at 1st level, which will certainly amplify healing effects for them.

As they were already planning on playing an Aasimar, we can probably roll that all into being found and then raised by a temple to Shizuru. We figure that means they'll have perfect etiquette, reverence for elders/ancestors, and great discipline, but might be lacking in general socialization. Should be something interesting there to roleplay.

As for skill points, one of the reasons for the high point buy was to allow for higher int and more skills. But yeah, even with an NPC rogue covering the traditionally rogue-y options (disable device, stealth, perception), the party still felt light on skills as we were sketching things out. So we'd were thinking about that.

The idea of handing out templates is interesting. We floated the idea to take the Aasimar race as a template, but expand on it, and/or switch racials around. This also helps put an effective level on all the high point buy/free toughness and so forth we're doing.

So for example, drop the point buy back to 25 points. But now customize an Aasimar-like race with the advanced ability score modifier quality. Which baseline would be something like +2 Str/+2 Dex/+2 Con/+4 Cha/-2 Wis (4 RP), and buy advanced charisma and advanced wisdom (8 RP). 25 point buy can do 16/13/12/14/10/14, which jumps up to the previously listed 18/15/14/14/10/20, while keeping true to the idea that Aasimar don't have negative stat modifiers. So the high point buy we had is worth 12 RP.

We then use additional RP to buy toughness as a bonus feat for 2 RP. Skilled is 4 RP for +1 skill per level, and bonus flexible feat lets us take Fast learner for another 4 RP. So in total 10 RP for +2 skills and that toughness feat.

Baseline Aasimar is Outsider (Native) for 3 RP, which also provides Darkvision. Lastly throw on Aasimar energy resistance for 3 RP. That puts us at 28 RP. Probably skip the 1/day spell and two skill bonuses.

According the advanced race guide, 30 RP is roughly level+2 in the level 1-5 range, level+1 in the 6-10 range, and level+0 in the level 11-20 range. So averaging over the entire AP, its like level+1, easier in the beginning, harder at the end. Combine with the gestalt rules which are like level+1, and that puts us around level+2 on average throughout the AP. And level+2 is roughly what you'd want for 2 characters aiming to be worth 4.

If we need to add more later, we can simply add some RP to add abilities and up it to around 40 RP or so (worth another level+1 in the 10-15 range). Of course this race discussion also brought wings to the attention of the paladin/oracle player for a mere 4 RP at 1st level. Insert long suffering sigh here.

I'm tempted to do a Tien-Min tiefling with a touch of Oni blood just to be contradictory, given dual talented human wouldn't be the only option in that case.

Lastly, the GM has asked me to come up with ideas for Shizuru's divine fighting technique. Given she's the Goddess of Swordplay, we can't imagine her not having one, but the GM didn't want just a copy of Iomedea's divine fighting technique (which I thought was the easiest option). But the GM gets what the GM wants.

Anyone have any suggestions for what the Goddess of Honor and Swordplay's fighting techniques would be? Obviously something to do with katana.

Grand Lodge

Shizuru Divine Fighting Technique:
Way of the Ascending Carp

Initial Benefit: Your movements flow like water when wielding Shizuru's favored weapon. Whenever you make an Attack as a standard action or make a Full Attack with a katana, you may make a five-foot step after the attack (or the last attack in a full attack). This works even if you have already taken a five-foot step or moved this turn, but does not allow you to take two five-foot steps after making an attack.

Advanced Pre-requisites: Divine Fighting Technique, Following Step, Step-up, BAB +10

Advanced Benefits: When you reduce a creature's hit points equal to or less than 0 with a katana, you may move up to 15 feet as a free action, as long as your land speed is at least 15 feet. If you have remaining attacks as part of a full-attack action, you may make them after moving in this way. If you have a swim speed, you may also use this ability while swimming, even if your swim speed is less than 15 feet.

Hope that's along the lines of what you were looking for. I can't exactly say how balanced it is, as I'm more liberal with tools that aid melee fighters move around the battlefield than PF often is.

Additionally: I think the concept of having an Oni Tiefling and Archon Aasimar being the legendary Heroes of Sandpoint sounds rad as h*ck, so if diving into the Race rules helps you do that, go for it. If things get too easy (for instance, your excellent stats make enemy spellcasting ineffectual), making changes to the characters is easier than re-balancing the entirety of an Adventure Path (which I can attest to - I'm doing it as I go).

Regarding the party's lack of knowledge - make sure to pick up Kn: Religion (oracle), Kn: Arcana and Planes (magi) and Kn: Local and Dungeoneering (Rogue), and anything you don't have can be compensated by the party's friends and divination magic. That way, you can ID most creatures you encounter, but you get lore / infodumps from NPCs rather than skill rolls.

If the party finds they need a boost, the end of Book 3 would be a decent point to grant them the templates or other buffs. Some ideas with less redundancy than templates:

Aasimar Paladin/Oracle: Grow wings with a fly speed of 30'. Paladin Caster Level = HD. Truespeech.

Tiefling Magi/Wizard: Gain telepathy with a 100' range. Cast wizard spells using Spell Strike & Spell Combat. Gain DR 5/Good.

A small party lets you make and resolve decisions faster. Giving the party more tools and goodies to solve problems with is more fun in a group that won't get drowned by the need to make decisions - so telepathy and flight in particular become fun little tools you otherwise wouldn't have such easy access to.

Thanks again for the comments and for the divine fighting technique idea. I like how you're building them around movement. Neither strikes me as too strong, although the advanced benefit strikes me as too situational when compared to Saranrae's or Iomedea's.

Discussion of Divine Fighting Technique:
As for balance I tend to try to look at several things:
1) What is the typical usage of the feat, and how much of a change in victory does it make, especially when compared to similarly hard to acquire feats
2) If the feat takes an action, what is that action's effectiveness compared to other common actions
3) How often does the feat's typical usage come up

For example, I'd compare to the initial tier of Iomedea's or Saranrae's divine fighting techniques when looking at the initial benefit.

For example, Iomedea's initial benefit trades a full round action for +2 to attacks, saves, and skills for a 1-5 rounds. Generally this is only a good option in combat if you can't engage the enemy for some reason and want to aid those who can, as typically a paladin attacking is going to get you to a victory condition sooner. Although it provides an interesting out of combat boost not unlike a bard. So its a nice buff, but only situationally useful over other things you could be doing.

On the other hand, her advanced benefit is a free rider on a very common action you have a lot of control over. Move + attack or Charge both happen a lot in combat, and getting a +2 sacred bonus to everyone who can see your attack (no range limit?). So basically, every combat has the entire party getting a solid +2 to attacks/+2 to all saves to everyone in the party. That is a solid 10% shift in your favor for the entire group on a lot of d20 rolls.

Looking at Saranrae's initial benefit, it is only useful when you want to deal non-lethal damage which tends to be a rare occurrence. It is very thematic, and in some cases makes certain objectives easier, but in general, doesn't improve a groups odds of winning your typical fight.

Her advanced benefit on the other hand can be likened to fast healing 7 or a free cure light wounds every round when not fighting undead or constructs with a scimitar, which combos nicely with the first ability. It also works half as well with other weapons, assuming you are willing to take a penalty to hit.

So I like your proposed initial ability a lot. It doesn't cost an action, it has some applicability in some very specific situations, but in general isn't going to do too much on its own, especially since katanas don't have reach. It won't prevent an enemy's 5 ft step to reach you for a full attack for example, as they can just 5 ft step after you. It seems in line with the other initial benefits.

The second one needs some changes or perhaps a different direction. Abilities which trigger when dropping enemies to 0 are inherently very situational as they typically require multiple enemies to be meaningful, and that you are the one dropping the target. It also sometimes leads to weird tactical choices based on how many hit points you think the target has, and other players than choosing different targets rather than focus firing and so on. It also doesn't build on the previous ability (like Saranrae's) nor a more common or easier way of activating the initial ability (like Iomedae's).

Also the swimming clause while extremely thematic with a carp, just doesn't work in my head with samurai in full armor. I also think the mechanical disadvantage of using a slashing weapon that takes -2 to hit and half damage is a bit rough when swimming.

However, your suggestion has definitely gotten me thinking, and I think I'll propose something like this to the GM:

After taking a 5 foot step, gain a +2 dodge bonus to AC and +2 sacred bonus to saves against any attacks made by an enemy you ended the step adjacent to until the end of your next turn. Any attacks you make with a katana against an enemy you are gaining the above bonuses against gain a +2 sacred bonus to hit and damage.

I'd also expand the initial benefit to be usable after charges as well.

I'd say this roughly about as good as Iomedea's advanced benefit, maybe a bit less in a large party. Iomedea provides +2 to hit/saves/skills to the entire party against all enemies for 1 minute after a successful hit with a standard attack or charge. This one provides +2 AC/hit/saves/damage to only the user, and only against those in melee combat (i.e. keep 5 foot stepping adjacent every turn or else lose the benefit). On other hand, you don't need to hit to activate it. The initial ability then combos by letting you essentially activate this after engaging an enemy from a charge or move + attack when you normally wouldn't be able to. Or edge around someone to become adjacent to more targets. It also activates neatly with Step Up.

It continually rewards you for being in swordplay distance and using footwork essentially.

We were thinking things along the same lines if things look like they're getting too tough at higher levels. Although quantified by race points.

For example there is definitely an interest in adding wings to the Aasimar by the paladin player, the only question is at what level and at what cost (if any). There are Aasimar only feats which add wings and flight around 10th level for example. It has been pointed out Strix have wings at 1st, and the advanced race guide prices 30 foot clumsy flight (-8 to fly checks, making it very hard to maneuver at low levels) at only 4 race points.

The magus/wizard was always going to be taking broad study at 6th, which allows wizard spells with spell combat/spell strike, but I like the general line of ideas you suggested.

Lastly, we are planning on using standard hero points, and allowing the spells and items that interact with those rules. We hope that will be sufficient action economy boosts during climatic tough fights.

Grand Lodge

Let me take another crack at it - now that I've re-read the other Divine Fighting Techniques, I see they typically strictly upgrade a type of action and really encourage a particular fighting style.

Way of the Flowing Blade:
Initial Benefit: Your movements flow like water when wielding Shizuru's favored weapon. Whenever you make an Attack as a standard action or make a Full Attack with a katana, you may make a five-foot step after the attack (or the last attack in a full attack). This works even if you have already taken a five-foot step or moved this turn, but does not allow you to take two five-foot steps after making an attack.

Advanced Pre-requisites: Divine Fighting Technique, Following Step, Step-up, BAB +10

Alternate Pre-Requesites: A lawful-good samurai or cavalier of at least 12th level can gain the following advanced benefit in place of a bonus combat feat. Alternatively, a paladin of at least 9th level can replace a mercy with the following advanced benefit. In either case, they do not need to meet the requirements to gain this advanced benefit.

Advanced Benefits: Your enemies cannot slow your momentum, not even when your blade cuts through their bodies. Whenever you move at least 10 feet, you gain a +2 sacred bonus to attack and damage on your next attack with a katana before the start of your next turn. Additionally, if you reduce an opponent to 0 or fewer hit points while wielding a katana, you (or a mount you are riding) may immediately move up to 15 feet without provoking attacks of opportunity.

Discussion on the Divine Fighting Technique:
The ability you proposed seems pretty good, but I think the word 'adjacent' is where you get into trouble. 'Adjacent' means that it would not work on enemies you threaten if you are not size small or medium (a Large katana wielder does not threaten adjacent, and a tiny katana wielder wouldn't threaten at all). Shizuru's portfolio doesn't specifically call out non-humanoids that call her patron, but as such a major deity, I thought her ability should be more accessible.

Secondly, in a situation where you CAN get the ability to trigger, a +2 sacred bonus on attack, damage, and saves is a HUGE bonus, and sacred bonuses to damage are typically only found via an Inquisitor's Judgement ability, if I'm not mistaken. Not to mention, a +2 dodge bonus to AC (melee only) alone is about on par with a feat, but added to everything else grants, I think, too many benefits of rare bonus types. Iomadae's bonus is good - VERY good, to make up for the fact that longsword & shield is a rather weak combat style - and I think this is even better.

Regarding my original version - excellent point. I was thinking of lightly-armored and amphibious katana-wielders when I designed the ability originally, and was specifically inspired by the Water Breathing Style of Demon Slayer, but after reviewing Shizuru's portfolio again, I realize that ninjas and lightly-armored samurai are the wrong group to appeal to. My revised 'Way of the Flowing Blade' is designed with heavily-armored characters in more traditional combat scenarios in mind.

Thoughts on it:

- I kept the sacred bonuses but reduced the number of things that benefit. This is to keep the feat from strictly out-shining Fighter feats 100% of the time while providing an incentive to play mobile.

-Additionally, it strictly boosts Following Step, which is a requirement if you're not a samurai or paladin.

- Lastly, it gives a BIG mobility boost for close-quarters combat in a way that synergizes with Following Step and the classes it's intended for (Samurai, who gain mounts, and Paladins, who may gain mounts). If the boost feels too significant, only grant the 15' movement after attacks that benefited from the sacred bonus (where you had to move beforehand).

- And as a little side-note, a character with Trick Riding could use this feat to gain constant attack, damage, and speed boosts while full-attacking, but it would take basically all of their feats to pull off.

For a neat look at a mobile katana fighter with a water theme, check out these sword techniques - #3, Flowing Dance, in the inspiration for the Advanced Benefit.

Fun fact, one of the biggest issues with 'boss fights' in RotR in that action economy is often overwhelmingly in the PC's favor. Having a small party actually makes balancing them easier on the DM.

- Re: Wings. While it's technically possible to fly at level 1, Flying + Ranged Attacks will render low-level encounters in this (and most) AP almost pointless. I have a party filled entirely with flyers. As mentioned, I've rebuilt every. Encounter. To deal with the specific complications my party creates. It's up to your DM in the end, but I'd encourage the players here to hold off on a request for wings until level 10, where constant flight is actually accounted for in the AP.

I certainly appreciate the discussion. In regards to the flight, I happen to agree, and after some discussion of its repercussions, I've talked the player down to gliding wings (an option for 3 race points), at least at lower levels, which means no active flight, but more of a free feather fall. It is a compromise between "Wings!" and making the GM's job harder for most fights.

With the effective 2 bonus skill ranks coming out of the race builds (skilled + bonus fast learner), the paladin/oracle has taken knowledge: religion and engineering, and the magus/wizard has grabbed knowledge: history, arcana, local, and dungeoneering, as well as grabbing linguistics for Thassilonian. Based on the fact he's been researching the local area, Thassilon, and its ruins. The oracle also has perception as a class skill via battle mystery, and the magus/wizard picked up perception as a class skill via trait.

Discussion on the Diving Fighting Technique:
In regards to the adjacent requirement, the Step up and Following Step feats require adjacency to trigger, rather than threatening. Given you were suggesting those as requirements, I figured it was a reasonable model to follow.

I'd like to clarify that a large creature with a katana threatens adjacent squares (including its own) and 1 more square out. I.e. a katana wielding Ogre has 10 foot natural reach, and threatens 1 and 2 squares out (as well as its own squares). A naginata wielding Ogre has a 20 foot weapon reach, and threatens squares 3 and 4 out, and doesn't threaten and can't hit 1 and 2 squares out, nor into its own square.

While it potentially varies from feat to feat, or potentially GM to GM, generally a tiny or smaller creature is considered adjacent to anyone they are in the same square as.

CRB, page 182 wrote:
With a normal melee weapon, you can strike any opponent within 5 feet. (Opponents within 5 feet are considered adjacent to you.)

Your own square is within 5 feet of you. If you don't use that definition, any tiny or smaller creature trying to get the advanced benefit the normal way is going to have 2 unusable feat taxes in the form of Step up and Follow Step, as being able to stay in the same square for such a character is much more useful than being near, but not threatening.

As for the bonuses I had suggested, I was using the Iomedea's Shining sword as a baseline comparison. It provides a sacred +2 attack/skills/saves to the entire party for 10 rounds with a single hit, whose trigger is basically move and attack or charge,, typically something that happens in the 1st round of combat.

Given I figured this ability was much more limited in scope (i.e. duration until next round instead of the entire fight, only against enemies that were adjacent to the user within the last round, only affects the user, and requires you to use a katana to get the to-hit and damage bonus), I had to provide something a bit more than what Iomedea's bonuses were. Hence the dodge AC and damage.

My suggestion still was, for a typical party, weaker than Iomedea's advanced benefit, given it only applied benefits to the user as opposed to the entire party.

At around 10th level, a +2 damage bonus isn't actually that powerful. A paladin wielding a +2 katana in 2-hands with 22 strength and power attack might be dealing 1d8+9+9+2=1d8+20 or so per strike. The +2 to hit is worth more, given it converts 1 in 10 attacks from a miss to a hit. So +2 to hit is worth like 2.4 damage per attempted swing on average. Assuming 50/50 odds of hitting, but 15-20 crit threat range, +2 to damage is worth about 1.25 per attempted swing.

In Iomedea's divine technique, that +2 sacred bonus to hit is applied to the whole team (and stacks with bardic bonuses, morale bonuses like heroism, fighter weapon training bonuses, etc) and works on ray spells cast by the wizard or archery full round attacks by the ranger.

If your typical 4 to 5 man party at 10th level or higher has characters dealing around 24 damage per standard action (8d6 scorching ray, or a fighter standard attacking), then the +2 to hit is worth 4 to 5 x 0.1 x 24 a round, or 9.6 to 12 extra damage. If they start full attacking, it is worth more.

Thats not including the benefit of +2 sacred bonus to all saving throws in the party, or +2 to all skills (intimidate builds, acrobatic using rogue, spellcraft, knowledge checks, etc). +2 to the entire party saving throws might convert one fail to success every other spell in a 5 man party.

Given the divine fighting technique feats are typically at the end of a 3 feat chain (i.e. Divine Technique, Step Up, Following Step) and requires a +10 BAB (or 10 skill ranks), and require worshipping a specific deity, they tend to be stronger than a typical stand alone feat.

+2 to hit, +2 to AC, +2 to saves, and +2 to damage against targets you are effectively in close melee with (i.e. you have to be adjacent to trigger) for just the user until end of the next turn didn't seem crazy for such a 10th level benefit. I certainly would still prefer Iomedea's benefit over it.

The bonus movement on dropping the enemy I fear is not going to fundamentally change the odds of most combats. I typically remember enemies simply running up and engaging in melee, rather than being spread out, unless they were ranged strikers. In which case, they tended to be spread out farther than that. Now this might not be the case for the RotR campaign. It is flavorful, but I fear not very effective.

To be honest, I think the battle cry feat would be better than your revised proposed advanced benefit in terms of changing odds of victory (or margin of victory). +1 to hit to for the entire party for 10 rounds (the entire combat) for every attack roll as a swift action is better than +2 to hit and +2 to damage on a single attack of a single character at most each round. It is also very hard to trigger if you want to do a full attack. Since it disappears at the start of your next turn, its basically either move + strike, or 5ft, full attack, 5ft, and hope the enemy provokes an AoO (which generally isn't under your control).

If you happen to be fighting a bunch of low level enemies that you happen to be able to take out in a single hit, you might get a cool full attack chain with movement in between - but its really low odds of that happening. Samurai and Paladins get challenge and smite evil which are "I'm really good against a single target", where as this is trying work well with weaving in and out of a bunch of low level enemies. It just doesn't feel like a good mesh.

Personally, I also have game design philosophical issues with abilities that trigger on dropping enemies. First, it encourages non-optimal behavior where allies don't necessarily focus fire, or try to juggle opponents, so as to try to trigger a benefit on the right character.

Secondly, its a "win even more" benefit. If you're dropping enemies, you are in some sense already doing well, and the feat in theory is trying to help you do even better in that case. If you're not dropping enemies, and in fact in a currently losing position, there is no benefit. Or against a boss (which is what every Samurai or Paladin is going to focus on with smite evil/challenge). So it helps you when you don't need as much help, and in some fights can't do anything by design, as the triggering condition is the fight is over.

Grand Lodge

Sounds like the team is getting its bases covered. I don't think you'll have much issue with Book 1 at least with such powerful characters, so you've got time to ID any issues.

And ah, regarding the DFT, I suppose we have different experiences with 'when an enemy drops to 0' abilities. Paladins, cavaliers, and samurai are full-BAB attackers with big damage boosts to single targets, and your particular team also has a magus. As a result, I was approaching this from a 'paladins and samurai don't need help defeating big single targets - what will ease their experience dealing with many smaller enemies?' Both the initial and advanced benefits were designed to improve one's positioning and mobility and reward aggressive melee tactics.

Also, thanks for the clarification on 'adjacent' with regards to tiny creatures. I did not know that. And thank you for the reminder about large creatures - it's been like a year since one of my PCs enlarged and I needed to think much about it.

Feel free to use whatever parts you like of Way of the Flowing Blade and adjust the rest to your liking. I'd prefer to steer clear of using Iomadae's Advanced Benefit and Battlecry as comparisons, as those are both top-notch (though I think Battlecry would accomplish little with your particular party).

A note on attack calculations:
While I'm less familiar with the AC guidelines for PF in general, I know ACs in Rise of the Runelords become nearly auto-hits for full-BAB characters by book 2 (at least their first attack), and to-hit bonuses will quickly stop providing their expected returns. Sacred bonuses to damage are multiplied on a critical hit, which is especially important when considering the performance of a katana or other 18-20x2 crit weapon.

A gestalt paladin-oracle with exceptional stats is only going to be more accurate than a typical fighter, so you may want to keep that in mind when coming up with homebrew for this campaign.

Thanks. I do appreciate the help with brain storming and we'll certainly be stealing some of the ideas you presented. I also do like the movement theme (flowing blade indeed).

Different play styles and experiences are always going to affect value judgements of feats. Which is one of the great advantages of home table top campaigns. They can be tailored to the individual players and GM needs and opinions.

You make a good point about Iomedea's divine fighting technique and battle cry being on the high end of feats, and perhaps aren't the best baselines to use.

On the other hand, the Tempered Champion also has a number of really good feats to take from its bonus list beyond just Divine Fighting Technique.

(Greater) Weapon focus and (Greater) Weapon specialization are solid middle of the road feats providing constant +1 to hit or +2 to damage each, applying to all parts of a full attack and AoOs.

Weapon Trick: One handed can easily get you Stylish Riposte when wielding a katana in 1 hand, turning enemy misses of 5 or more into AoOs (once per day per target). Which will likely trigger in many combats, and with combat reflexes as a requirement, can provide a huge damage spike against a group of lower level enemies.

So perhaps I should be aiming somewhere in between those. I suppose no one ever said coming up with balanced and interesting rules was easy.

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