Tips for survivability on my champion?


Advice


I'm playing a half-orc liberator and I go down quite a bit. My party consists of myself, a human monk, a homebrew pixie druid, and an elven witch. The druid and witch are very squishy, so I try to keep enemies from getting to them as much as possible, which leaves me in the line of fire (which is my job as a champion). However, this leads to me going down almost every fight.

My general playstyle is to use my meteor hammer to stay at reach, but oftentimes there's not enough room to step back from an enemy to use my reach without leaving the druid and witch exposed. I try to trip enemies to waste their actions, but while this prevents them from doing a lot of things they're still often able to get one or two good hits in. My AC is as high as it can be without a shield (chainmail with armored skirt, shield cantrip from sorcerer dedication). Any tips for what I can do?


What's the monk doing in fights?


She's mostly making use of hit and run tactics, occasionally doing some good burst damage from ki strike. She's a tiger monk so stepping out of combat is easy for her.

Sovereign Court

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Maybe it's the rest of your group that needs advice: in Pathfinder 2, tanking is a not a one-PC job. One or two PCs can be "first receiver" but the system is built on the idea that PCs and monsters are hitting each other more than they're missing. So if the rest of the party leaves all the getting hit to you, you're going to take the beating intended for four. Champions are pretty tough and probably done fine taking the beating for two, but not for everyone all on their own.

One or two squishies delegating is doable but 3 our of 4 is probably too much.


Yeah, I might ask the monk to stand in melee a bit more to take some hits. The druid has started summoning more though to take some heat off of me, which has helped a little but a summon isn't a replacement for a PC.


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If you are trying to one-character tank for a party, you should look at shield Ally and non cantrip shields, getting to Sturdy shield as soon as possible. That extra ac and damage soaking goes a long way.


I've thought about switching to sword and board, but the meteor hammer has become part of her visual identity. I suppose I could switch to a flail or flickmace for a similar flavor.


If you have already maxed out your characters balance of staying power to attack power there is few you can do on your behalf. The one option left is making use of the pooled health of the party instead of trying to tank it all by yourself. That is all party members need to learn how to off-tank without succumbing to enemy attacks easily.

1) All party members should aim at being semi-durable, i.e. having the AC and HP to endure a view selected hits. Many Min/Max builds seem to dump Con for many casters, however the HP difference in between a plain Con 10 Wizard, a Con 14 Druid with Toughness and a Con 18 Barbarian is huge.

2) All party members should now about positioning and evasive manoeuvres. Taking a stray hit after an enemy "wasted" two actions to close the distance is fine, standing put and taking a clobbering of 3 attacks usually is not.

The thing is, anybody might need to take "some time off" even in combat, so if you do not have an off-tank to fall back to and heal up, you are bound for trouble. The groups HP pool needs to be utilized, as is the monster HP pool, ideally in a controlled way. Spreading damage also helps with feats like Battle Medicine.

Usually there are at least two major strategies to pursue. Either build a most offensive group that can finish their opponents fast or build your group to outlast any opposition. For the former you need to master the art of evasion to avoid your glass-cannons being one-shotted or taken out early, for the later you need to learn how to stand fast (figuratively speaking).

For example, our group features a dwarven sword and board Fighter (first line of defense), a human (precison) Ranger and build-to-last human Warpriest (2nd line of defense) and a gnome Wizard (3rd line of defense). Usually the Fighter engages first, then either the Ranger forsakes his bow for a quick-drawn Guisarme or my Warpriest steps in with his shield raised. But even with 3 of 4 willing melee targets we often can not prevent the Wizard coming into trouble.

So don't try to tank alone.


I tend to agree with the others. You're going to have a hard time without adding a shield to your repertoire. Things just hit way more often than in PF1. You did right by trying to go with a reach weapon and using trip, but if the rest of the party isn't going to help with the tanking, then you are probably best off going full on defense. Toughness and the like are only going to go so far, and crits are going to happen more often too given how they work now. With that party set up, you probably should still be taking the majority of the hits, but the monk at the very least should be stepping up a bit and the summoned critters should help some.

I get it though, changing your character around to fit the party can be annoying (and the meteor hammer is just all around cool).

Edit to add: Also, the group should really be looking into Battle Medicine if you haven't already. Granted, this will only help you once per day, but the difference can be huge. Nothing like having someone come up to you, slap a bandage on ya, and heal ya for 2d8-4d8 HP (depending on crit). Finally, keep in mind too that PF2 is largely built on the assumption that the party is at full HP for each encounter, so stringing encounters together isn't always ideal either. Bandoliers and potions are pretty cheap now as well, so don't be afraid to use those, especially since attacking as a third action is rarely a great idea.


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Salamileg wrote:
My AC is as high as it can be without a shield (chainmail with armored skirt, shield cantrip from sorcerer dedication). Any tips for what I can do?

Full Plate would give you one extra point of AC. Leaving both the shield and the heavy armor has quite an impact on your AC. Your Champion is no more a tank.

Also, I agree with everyone, Champion's Reaction allows your fellow party members to take hits without flinching. If they don't take any hit and you don't have a shield to block then you lose your reactions every round. It's not optimized at all.


Yeah I should have clarified, "highest AC I can afford". We're still kind of low level and the first couple chapters of Extinction Curse seem to be a little tight on cash.


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the champion actually works best if you are not the one that's always attacked so that you can use your champion reaction. I would switch to using a shield


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I've run/am running two groups through age of ashes (one group is 20, and the other 13) and both groups include a Champion. Both Champions are extremely resilient, but both are also packing shields.

The +2 AC from Raise Shield is the most important bit, but having a Sturdy Shield for blocking is also clutch. Ideally, you want to be using your Champion Reaction though.

The general gameplay "strategy" for my Champion players is to stay on top of their vulnerable allies to maintain range for their reactions, and keep their Shield Raised. If bad guys attack their allies, the Champion Reaction neuter their offense (the ally either steps back from melee or to somewhere better, or the redeemer applies conditions). If the bad guy swings on you, theyre swinging into top tier AC with a Shield Raised, and potentially a Shield Block as well. It puts the bad guys in a "no win" situation for effectively causing damage to the party... they won't always miss your champion, but only their first swing will have any reliability and you'll almost never get crit.

Absolutely Critical Caveat! Make sure your allies know how you work and what you can offer. You cant do them any good if they're running off doing their own thing and you either can't keep up, or are constantly out of range. Its a team game, and you're a team player, but they have to keep you in mind.

If you cannot use a shield due to your character image, you'll want to rethink your gameplay as only a "partial" tank - your allies need to be even more aware of your limits, and they also need to be looking out for their own defenses. I think Champions have the tools to be effective in this role, but its gonna be a bit less straightforward and you won't be able to massively mitigate damage like a shield champion would.


So Champion, Monk, Druid and Wizard.

Maybe the Monk can be grappling enemies to keep them from getting to the party? You know, punch something hard, tiger step to the side (and out of melee with a few enemies) and grab hold of an enemy on the edge of their formation, locking it down in place.

Wizards and Druids both have good crowd control/debuff spells. Enemies that are debuffed are enemies that aren't hurting the party as badly. Enfeebled is nice, Frightened is better. Every caster can (and I'd argue SHOULD) prepare Fear in a 1st level slot. Stays viable through the whole game. Sure there are plenty of enemies that are immune to mental/enchantments, but there are way more that are not.

Stuff like that goes a long way towards keeping the front line from caving in.

Oh! And your Monk friend can carry a shield!

[A] Flurry of Blows for two strikes
[A] Step 10 feet away, but still in the line of fire
[A] Raise Shield

The enemy has to blow an action to close on the monk, so they only get 2 actions to attack with. The monk has higher AC due to raised shield, so the 1st attack may land but the 2nd is not so likely to land.

Wizard can cast Mirror Image when you're all high enough level, it's not fool proof but it adds a bit of defense. Mage Armor is tough to justify at low levels but at higher levels it's a solid pick. Not gonna change the world but every bit helps.

Silver Crusade

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Hmm, I would recommend raising up your AC. Pooling money to get you into full plate might be a good team effort. Champion reactions are critical. In playing my Champion-Paladin I selected Ranged Reprisal which I found to be very useful with Retributive Strike. Trained in Medicine and Battle Medicine Skill Feat work well too. I don't carry a shield, but I do wear full plate with a bastard sword for flexibility. I also carry a short sword and light mace in case I need an agile weapon to increase my chances of hitting my enemies.

Something to consider, but what is the healing capability of the rest of the party?

Teamwork goes a long way with everyone knowing what their fellow party members strengths and vulnerabilities are. As always, you can't tactically use what worked in 1E/3.5 in 2E.


With that party, a champion is going to have hard time.

I'd consider to take AoO and play as a fighter with less attack and more armor.


Our healing is decent but not great. The witch and druid always prepare a couple castings of Soothe and Heal each, so we have a bit of in-combat healing. The big strength of the group is out of combat healing between LoH and Goodberry.


Champion needs to heavily focus on defense to survive. It's real hard for a single character, even a high AC champion to take all the blows from a boss mob. Not to mention no one else in melee really hurts your ability to use Champion's Reaction to protect your ally.

Champions work best if someone else is in melee range or at least in that 15 foot range for the Champion's Reaction. Then the mob focuses on hitting the damage dealer, while the champion blocks the damage and harms them. Then it becomes a measure of cost versus attacking the melee damage dealer and attacking the champion.


Are you not using lay on hands in combat?

1 action, healing and +2 status AC for 1 turn is amazing. And you don´t need hands free. I agree out of combat is good to, but don´t forget to use it on combat (I am saying it because I have a champion that always forgets).


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Aswaarg wrote:

Are you not using lay on hands in combat?

1 action, healing and +2 status AC for 1 turn is amazing. And you don´t need hands free. I agree out of combat is good to, but don´t forget to use it on combat (I am saying it because I have a champion that always forgets).

Remember that the armor bonus doesn't work on yourself.


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Ah I forgot.

Given the proper deity, consider also the possibility to use "protection sphere" as focus spell.

By lvl 9 you will have a 4DR aura ( 15 feet ) against alla damage, which is worth the action spent if you don't use a shield.


Salamileg wrote:
Yeah I should have clarified, "highest AC I can afford". We're still kind of low level and the first couple chapters of Extinction Curse seem to be a little tight on cash.

My group just finished book 1 of Extinction Curse. We struggled real hard to get it into our heads how important tactics are. Some of the fights in that first book are rough if you just kind of...walk in.

My group: Bard, Druid (Animal), Fighter (One-handed), Fighter (Unarmed)

So, we aren't the tankiest of groups. I suspect that changing how your group approaches fights would go a long way to increasing your survivability. AC is important, but it isn't the end-all. Trip, Demoralize, and Grapple are all incredibly useful tools in your survival.

Scarab Sages

HumbleGamer wrote:
Aswaarg wrote:

Are you not using lay on hands in combat?

1 action, healing and +2 status AC for 1 turn is amazing. And you don´t need hands free. I agree out of combat is good to, but don´t forget to use it on combat (I am saying it because I have a champion that always forgets).

Remember that the armor bonus doesn't work on yourself.

Remember also that LoH has the manipulate trait (by way of having somatic components), and therefore provokes. It’s unfortunate, because it means in a lot of the situations when you’re most likely to need it — dangerous creatures are often dangerous because they have AoOs — it becomes difficult to use it.


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Saedar wrote:
Salamileg wrote:
Yeah I should have clarified, "highest AC I can afford". We're still kind of low level and the first couple chapters of Extinction Curse seem to be a little tight on cash.

My group just finished book 1 of Extinction Curse. We struggled real hard to get it into our heads how important tactics are. Some of the fights in that first book are rough if you just kind of...walk in.

My group: Bard, Druid (Animal), Fighter (One-handed), Fighter (Unarmed)

So, we aren't the tankiest of groups. I suspect that changing how your group approaches fights would go a long way to increasing your survivability. AC is important, but it isn't the end-all. Trip, Demoralize, and Grapple are all incredibly useful tools in your survival.

Yeah my group is in the early stages of Book 1 and dang if that wasn't a really long first day, lol.

But yes, the point being that PF2 is very much a highly tactical game. Small bonuses and penalties are actually a fairly big deal.


Some tactics to think about:

Disarm with the meteor hammer + telekinetic projectile from the witch (if she’s occult/arcane). Place one enemies disarmed weapon into the face of another enemy on the other side of the battlefield.

Faerie Fire + Obscuring Mist is one of my favorite spell combos.

Does the Druid have an animal companion? It’s more fat to put in the way. Druids animal companions are actually really good.

Demoralize is bread and butter for a champion, especially with two casters getting that save drop is a big deal.


I would look at the other players as well. There is no reason why anyone should be particularly squishy. Outside of champions and heavy armour users everyone can get to a decent baseline AC. Getting evryone a bit closer to melee allows damage to be spread around a little more. Its always going to be hard if one character is the focus of most attacks, given the basic monster attack maths.


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andreww wrote:
I would look at the other players as well. There is no reason why anyone should be particularly squishy. Outside of champions and heavy armour users everyone can get to a decent baseline AC. Getting evryone a bit closer to melee allows damage to be spread around a little more. Its always going to be hard if one character is the focus of most attacks, given the basic monster attack maths.

I think the important supporting point to this is to bring up the reminder that a "Decent AC" means something fundamentally different in PF2E than previous editions.

In previous editions, AC mitigated damage by preventing hits altogether. In PF2, AC mitigates damage by preventing criticals and hits from secondary and tertiary attacks - avoiding getting hit altogether isn't really an attainable goal in 2e, which is a big shift for people with experience in other games.

Liberty's Edge

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Arklore wrote:

Hmm, I would recommend raising up your AC. Pooling money to get you into full plate might be a good team effort. Champion reactions are critical. In playing my Champion-Paladin I selected Ranged Reprisal which I found to be very useful with Retributive Strike. Trained in Medicine and Battle Medicine Skill Feat work well too. I don't carry a shield, but I do wear full plate with a bastard sword for flexibility. I also carry a short sword and light mace in case I need an agile weapon to increase my chances of hitting my enemies.

Something to consider, but what is the healing capability of the rest of the party?

Teamwork goes a long way with everyone knowing what their fellow party members strengths and vulnerabilities are. As always, you can't tactically use what worked in 1E/3.5 in 2E.

We often have 2 Paladins in my PFS2 group. I am really tempted to copy my fellow gamer's trick : ranged reprisal (always useful) + thrown weapon + Divine ally = Returning weapon.

It becomes real ugly real quick.

BTW, 2 Champions in a party is awesomely good.

Scarab Sages

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That is the combination I'm working towards on my Paladin utilizing a trident, so I can melee or throw it depending on if there's room to step or if I want to stay where I am.

Liberty's Edge

Ferious Thune wrote:
That is the combination I'm working towards on my Paladin utilizing a trident, so I can melee or throw it depending on if there's room to step or if I want to stay where I am.

He uses a trident too.


My next Champ will be of Ra for that sweet d8 throw and return spearing action, and some delay consequence tech for reaction efficiency. Can’t wait!

Scarab Sages

It’s good to know that’s a build that other people are trying. What did you end up doing for armor? Since I have some Dex, I’ve been going with scale mail to keep my full speed. It’s been tough to judge how much that is putting me behind (I mean, 1AC behind full plate, but tough to judge how much that matters).

Liberty's Edge

IIRC my fellow Paladin has the highest armor available.

My own PC is built to be Flash in armor. I am patiently waiting for 5th level when I will take Unburdened Iron thanks to Adopted Ancestry so that I can follow suit. In the meantime I will do my best to not suffer too much from my temporary fragility.

I think that at low levels the returning trident makes up for the lower speed. And yes, the lower AC does hurt over time.


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One tactic which might help is if the party focuses on one bad guy at a time.

Liberty's Edge

Terevalis Unctio of House Mysti wrote:
One tactic which might help is if the party focuses on one bad guy at a time.

I found this just as useful and relevant as in PF1, except those rare times when the mooks are easily dispatched and it is simpler to get rid of them quickly so that the whole party can focus on the single boss.

Note : IME with a 5 PCs party, the fight is mostly clean up when there are only 2 opponents left.

Because it is easier to gang up on them, as more squares are available than when opponents abound.

In a way, opponents are difficult terrain.


You would be surprised, at least in my experience, that tactic is not used.

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