Hard to Kill Builds?


Advice

1 to 50 of 58 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

What can we build now that the APG is released?

The build should be enough of a threat that the GM won't ignore us but should also be infuriatingly difficult to bring down.

Some scattered inputs that you can take or leave: Dwarf ancestry; Orc ancestry with the Hold-Scarred heritage; Toughness; Root Magic; Monk? / Champion? / Barbarian?


Well look a mountain toughness (dwarf) , toughness and die hard. Dwarf also can have anti poison or anti death affect heritages

Barbarian will put out very high damage and have most HP but will have lower AC so need the HP. I guess superstitious will protect against spells but haven’t read it

I was looking at champion with living monolith to replicate the old stone Lord class variant (assume adding oread when it is released will also be great for this). Then you get damage resistance that applies after a potential shield block and get free hits when Allies are attacked so can’t really be ignored .

Not certain I would want to give up the champion feats but would be tough to kill. The improvement against persistent damage strikes me as absolutely huge

I’d play it without thinking in a “free archetype” game - but mostly because it is an old character of mine


Big thing on the monolith is only crit failures increase your dying and with die hard this becomes one higher to kill you and with toughness this check is one easier

Also as champion you would have access to self healing

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Ancestry: Orc
Heritage: Hold-scarred (12 hp ancestry and diehard)
Class: Barbarian (Animal Instinct)
- L6 Animal Skin Feat gives you competitive AC while raging (i.e., goes up not down), takes away the main downside of barbarian and you keep all the upsides!
- Go for Deer so you get a 1d12 reach weapon at L7 or frog gives options with a smaller die size on the reach and a bigger closer weapon.

Ancestory Feats
1 - Orc Ferocity (Stay standing)
5 - Victorious Vigor (get some more temp HP)
9 - Mountain Stoutness (stacks with toughness for more HP)
13 - Incredible Ferocity (use ferocity once per hour)
17 - Rampaging Ferocity (free strike when using ferocity, if you drop the enemy then you can use ferocity again).

General Feats
1A - Diehard
3 - Toughness
7 - Adopted (Dwarves)
11 - ?
15 - ?
17A - ?
19 - ?

Key Class Feats:
1- ?
2 - Blessed One Dedication (free lay on hands and has a ton of extra higher level abilities baked in)
4 - ? (swipe or blessed sacrifice to get 2 focus points for LoH)
6 - Animal Skin (gets your AC on par or better than other martials while raging)
8 - Attack of Opportunity (use that reach for some protection)
10 - Renewed Vigor (one action to get more temp hp)
12 - Predator's Pounce
14 - Whirlwind Attack

Some other ideas. Instead of getting LoH, you could grab living monolith feats. You should carry two sturdy shields and block as necessary. The AC being competitive really makes having all the HP and resistance hard to get through. There are a chunk of champion feats for getting hit points that you could explore. Main downside is you don't have a viable ranged option while raging so you really can't rage against those enemies (to prevent anthema of using weapons) or you need to invest heavily in flying items). As well the L8 feat for animal instinct actually transforms you into your animal and gives you temporary hit points so you can utilize that as another hp source.

All in all with above you have:
12 hp to start
14 hp + con mod per level (toughness + mountain stoutness)
Competitive AC while raging (slightly lower when not raging as dex will be slow to max to 18 and won't hit 20 so +4 unarmored)
Have free hands for 2 sturdy shields
Have 1 or 2 focus points for scaling lay on hands for hp healing
Access to 1 action temp hp top up similar to starting rage
Have ferocity that keep you up near knockout
Have diehard to have a higher dying save.
Raging Resistance to Slashing/Piercing

There is also the celebrity/second wind/furious finish build going around which would let you re-top up those temp hp from raging, but I suspect there will be some community outcry/errata on that one.


Least likely to die builds are Champion/Anything and Monk/Anything

both have the highest AC. Champion gets the bonus of extra healing. Monk gets the benefit of more mobility, aka less likely to be hit by multiple attacks.


Temperans wrote:

Least likely to die builds are Champion/Anything and Monk/Anything

both have the highest AC. Champion gets the bonus of extra healing. Monk gets the benefit of more mobility, aka less likely to be hit by multiple attacks.

The monk can also take extra healing via ki powers.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

@Red Griffyn: I like your build very much. It checks a lot of boxes as you've pointed out.

Offense the GM isn't likely to ignore combined with multiple layers of defense from high hp to temp hp to self-healing to ferocity to resistance to decent AC to shield use to reach! Jeez.

My remaining concern is bolstering saves. Some options include Orc Superstition/Pervasive Superstition/Spell Devourer, Root Magic, Hero's Call (dwarf feat), Champion feats stolen via Blessed One Dedication.

I also like a tenets of good Champion base but worry that it's not as likely to draw fire from enemies. I may be wrong but it feels as though you can build a Champion for strong offense or strong defense but trying to do both results in being lackluster at both.


Temperans wrote:

Least likely to die builds are Champion/Anything and Monk/Anything

both have the highest AC. Champion gets the bonus of extra healing. Monk gets the benefit of more mobility, aka less likely to be hit by multiple attacks.

The Monk can also MC Rogue or Ranger to have L/M/M saves, and Master Perception with Canny Acumen.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Xenocrat wrote:
Temperans wrote:

Least likely to die builds are Champion/Anything and Monk/Anything

both have the highest AC. Champion gets the bonus of extra healing. Monk gets the benefit of more mobility, aka less likely to be hit by multiple attacks.

The monk can also take extra healing via ki powers.

Anyone can get healing now with the Blessed One Dedication Feat. Or the Medicine Skill. Or Both. So easy.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

My Ruby Phoenix Character (with the free archetype variant) is likely to be a Mountain Style Dwarf Monk from Osirion who is a Living Monolith, taking MC Rogue after you run out of Monolith Feats to get those sweet, sweet L/M/M saves.

At level 20 will have AC 49, Saves of +33/+33/+35, 320 HP, Physical Resistance 7/Adamantine, Poison Resistance 10, Healing 80 HP with Wholeness of Body up to 3 times/combat, with dying recovery checks are 6+ dyinglvl, only increasing on a crit fail (i.e. a 1). I'll grab Stone Bones too for that dc 17 flat check to negate crits too, probably.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Applied_People wrote:


My remaining concern is bolstering saves. Some options include Orc Superstition/Pervasive Superstition/Spell Devourer, Root Magic...

Blech. Just reread Root Magic, and it appears to only apply to allies, not yourself.


Probably not the hardest to kill, but surprisingly resilient given the perception of the base class...

Witch:
Wild or Winter patron for the primal spells.
Pick up Lesson of Protection at 2nd,
and Lesson of Life at 4th.

You can now get and use Mage Armor on a wand. Cast Barkskin (unless going up against known fire damage). You can also use Resist Energy for energy damage protection. You have Life Boost, and Heal for HP recovery (your own or someone else's). And Blood Ward to help keep enemies from hitting you in the first place.

At level 7 you can upgrade Barkskin to Stoneskin without any further build investment.


Dhampir Champion (Desecrator), with a tower shield and all the shield feats.
You can use Touch of Corruption to heal yourself.
Shield ally (+2 hardness) with a sturdy tower shield.

1: Everstand stance (more hardness)
2: Deity's Domain (undeath)
4: Everstand Strike (retrain at 20)
6: Corrupted Shield.
8: Quick Block
10: Advanced Domain (Malignant Sustenance, fast heal 7+)
12: Barbarian Dedication (animal)
14: Divine Reflexes
16: Barbarian Second Wind
18: Barbarian Animal Hide
20: Shield Paragon

47 AC + 4 tower shield +1 raging = 52 AC
Block reaction with 20+4 hardness (+retaliation damage).
Resist 15 reaction
Fast Healing 17
24 THP.

Dhampir + Malignant Sustenance might need a nerf.


Hmm...

A party of Dhampir's clerics (and probably a Dhampir's fighter for damage), who spam 3 action Harm....
And toss in a few animate dead for good measure.

Dark Archive

Max AC at L20 is:

47 = 20 (level) + 8 (legendary proficiency) + 10 (base) + 6 (Heavy Armor) + 3 (rune)

For 2 actions (one to raise shield and 1 to take cover) you can get a +4 from a tower shield. So you can't sit in +4 as you have to raise then take cover to get the bonus (i.e., can't use quick block or what have you for more than +2.

As for sneaking the animal hide feat into a champion, it requires you to be unarmored and caps dex at +3. So you'll be:

45 = 20 (level) + 8 (legendary proficiency) + 10 (base) + 3 (Unarmored) Armor) + 3 (rune) + 1 status.

A barbarian with it though will one higher in status, 2 lower in proficiency so a 44. This is comparable to all other master proficiency martials who will be at the same unless they can nab a status bonus to AC reliably.

When you first get this at L6 you'll be at:

Barabrian -> 8 + Level/base = +3 Dex + 4 Expert Prof + 1 Status
Champion -> 8 + level/base = 2 Trained Prof + 6 heavy armor
Monk - > 8 + level/base = 4 Expert Prof + 4 Dex
Monk (Mountain Stance) - > 9 + level/base = 4 Expert Prof + 4 Status + 1 dex
Other Martial -> 8 + level/base = 2 Trained Prof + 6 heavy armor

At L7 the champion pulls ahead by getting expert prof so it is 10 + level/base.

At L11 Fighter is on par with the Champion, ranger gets expert but doesn't have heavy armor without a sentinel dedication so is typically 1 behind)

At L13 everyone gets the expert prof or master (so nothing really changes). Instead of that, animal skin barbarian gets a +1 status bonus (so is back to a light/medium armor martial equivalent and not the heavy armor folks.

At L14 mountain stance monks get another +1 dex mod.

At L17 monks/champions go to legendary proficiency and fighters go to master.

At L19 all other martials get master proficiency.

Per above there are lots of ranges of bonuses for various level segments. Monk/champion have the best ac throughout, but consequently lose out on damage (i.e., 1d8 mountain stance or finesse monk build or a 1d8 one handed weapon to carry a shield champion). Barbarians deal lots of damage from high damage weapons and rage damage bonus, can carry shields without impacting their unarmed strikes, have 2hp/level, and typically start with temp hp/can refill it easily enough. Depends if you want more AC or to be a bigger threat? Barbarians are beasts without the animal skin feat and tank lots of hits/crits above other typical martials.


breithauptclan wrote:

Probably not the hardest to kill, but surprisingly resilient given the perception of the base class...

Witch:
Wild or Winter patron for the primal spells.
Pick up Lesson of Protection at 2nd,
and Lesson of Life at 4th.

You can't do that until level 6 and only if you're willing to burn Greater Lesson on a lesser lesson.


Red Griffyn wrote:
As for sneaking the animal hide feat into a champion, it requires you to be unarmored and caps dex at +3. So you'll be:

Right, my mistake.

Any way to sneak in Inspired Defense?
If not, tossing in mirror image or the like could work too.

And yea, using 2-3 actions, and 3 reactions to defend is not going to be a great character. But it will be very hard to kill.

Quote:


Barabrian -> 8 + Level/base = +3 Dex + 4 Expert Prof + 1 Status
Champion -> 8 + level/base = 2 Trained Prof + 6 heavy armor
Monk - > 8 + level/base = 4 Expert Prof + 4 Dex
Monk (Mountain Stance) - > 9 + level/base = 4 Expert Prof + 4 Status + 1 dex
Other Martial -> 8 + level/base = 2 Trained Prof + 6 heavy armor

I'd also throw in monk (crane stance). That get's you 9+level, and a good reaction at 6. Won't stack with a shield, but you don't need as much Str.

And monks get +1 at level 10, assuming 20 Dex.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I'm glad to see the post sparking some discussion. I do want to reiterate that the build should pose a substantial threat also. Otherwise, why even bother attacking the impervious turtle that doesn't make a meaningful offensive contribution.

Because the post title is hard to kill builds, I think the 'and also be a credible threat' piece is being overlooked despite being stated in my original post.

Perhaps a moderator can change the title to "Hard to Ignore, Harder to Kill Builds".


In my experience, some kind of Champion seem like the hardest to kill. Their armor ranking being higher while using a shield really makes them AC beasts as they level. If you get a good shield and build it up, can make for great damage mitigation. Their lay on hands can give them a good damage heal.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

One of the things I like about the mountain style monk as a tanky character is that Flurry lets you make two attacks and still have two actions remaining for things like the pseudo shield-raise, moving, activating a focus spell, etc.

That -10 attack isn't worth much really, so being able to attack twice with a d8 attack, "raise a shield", and move to guarantee you're in the face of somebody you dislike in one round is great.


Xenocrat wrote:
breithauptclan wrote:

Probably not the hardest to kill, but surprisingly resilient given the perception of the base class...

Witch:
Wild or Winter patron for the primal spells.
Pick up Lesson of Protection at 2nd,
and Lesson of Life at 4th.

You can't do that until level 6 and only if you're willing to burn Greater Lesson on a lesser lesson.

??

How so?

What did I miss?

Witch feat at level 2.
Witch feat at level 4.


Applied_People wrote:

I'm glad to see the post sparking some discussion. I do want to reiterate that the build should pose a substantial threat also. Otherwise, why even bother attacking the impervious turtle that doesn't make a meaningful offensive contribution.

Because the post title is hard to kill builds, I think the 'and also be a credible threat' piece is being overlooked despite being stated in my original post.

Perhaps a moderator can change the title to "Hard to Ignore, Harder to Kill Builds".

Then champion/monk. For the reason PossibleCabbage said. Personally I like Redeemer, but any will do.

Flurry + Shield + Tower Shield / Lay on hands / Move / etc..

1: Deity's Domain (undeath)
2: Monk Dedication
4: Monk Crushing Grab, as grabbing enemies will make you hard to ignore. But extra focus point works too. Possibly retrain to stunning fist at 10.
6: Attack of Opportunity
8: Quick Block
10: Flurry of Blows
12: Advanced Domain (Malignant Sustenance)
14: Divine Reflexes
16: Shield Warden
18: Shield of Reckoning
20: Shield Paragon

Monk / Champion would also work but Champion can get more reactions. Monk can move more.
Your not dealing much damage. But the enemy can't do much to hurt your or your allies.


Maybe I'm gonna ask a dumb question but how can you take redeemer(and in the same way using the tenets of the good) and Deity's domain(undead) which is only given to evil deities.

Shield Warden has for pre-requirements tenets of good.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

As has been aptly demonstrated by several posters above, it's all about the layers.


While this probably wouldn't be allowed in Pathfinder Society, the ancestries section of the CRB indicates that a Dwarf could be Half-Orc. This would allow combining things like Mountain Stoutness + Toughness for 6+ Dying saves and the Orc Ferocity feats to continue acting when you would otherwise be unconscious.

Couple this with a high HP class, and you can take a ton of damage and keep on fighting until you're beaten all the way to death.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

The regenerate spell is quite nice, as you can't typically die while it is in effect.


Phoenix 2.0 wrote:

Maybe I'm gonna ask a dumb question but how can you take redeemer(and in the same way using the tenets of the good) and Deity's domain(undead) which is only given to evil deities.

Shield Warden has for pre-requirements tenets of good.

This edition is weiiiiird. They play pretty fast and loose with deity alignment restrictions. Sometimes, they don't accept people that are in one step (Sad that I can't have a gorum cleric focused on JOLLY COOPERATION!), and other times, they can get ones very far outside of the normal one step.

For this question, I honestly had to go look up Arazni's domains and the exact rules for champions' alignments.

It didn't provide the right set up. But not for a lack of trying. If they later add undeath as an alternative subdomain (which would surprise no one, given the fact that she is undead), then it would be fully legal for a liberator, potentially even in PFS.

So there is no right combo...for now. It would not surprise me if we later get a full on good deity with undeath. Probably as some kind of god of ghosts and revenants- people with unfinished business that have a good chance of moving on.


Arazni is pretty singular in the Golarion universe, and it's pretty unlikely that she ever grants the undead domain because while she is Undead, her being made undead was a violation and her primary enemies are a Lich and a Ghost-Necromancer.

She's going to be pretty sincerely against anybody making anybody else into an undead without their permission at least.


PossibleCabbage wrote:

Arazni is pretty singular in the Golarion universe, and it's pretty unlikely that she ever grants the undead domain because while she is Undead, her being made undead was a violation and her primary enemies are a Lich and a Ghost-Necromancer.

She's going to be pretty sincerely against anybody making anybody else into an undead without their permission at least.

And it is unlikely that she will get both NG (the only neutral alignment she doesn't have on her follower's list, despite being NE) and undeath domain, since those seem like vastly different storylines.

Still, we have seen a few gods go through transitions recently, and Paizo likes to show that in the alignment section. Nocticula had both good and evil followers before she made the leap to full deity.

Liberty's Edge

I believe Arazni left lichdom behind due to recent events and that she is not undead anymore.


The Raven Black wrote:
I believe Arazni left lichdom behind due to recent events and that she is not undead anymore.

While she isn't a lich anymore, I'm.... fairly.... sure she is still undead.

She seems like a deity of the "whelp. This sucks" aspect of undeath. That state where you don't enjoy what you've become, but you also aren't looking to knock on Pharasma's door for "solutions" (read: redying).


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

It's been a year and a half. My favorites above are Red Griffyn's Dual Shield Wielding Orc Animal Barbarian and PossibleCabbage's Dwarven Mountain Stance Monk with Living Monolith FA.

But can we now do any better on Hard to Kill (but still a threat!) builds?

Feel free to use Free Archetype!

Silver Crusade

breithauptclan wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
breithauptclan wrote:

Probably not the hardest to kill, but surprisingly resilient given the perception of the base class...

Witch:
Wild or Winter patron for the primal spells.
Pick up Lesson of Protection at 2nd,
and Lesson of Life at 4th.

You can't do that until level 6 and only if you're willing to burn Greater Lesson on a lesser lesson.

??

How so?

What did I miss?

Witch feat at level 2.
Witch feat at level 4.

I need to get this figured out because I now want to play a winter witch like a frost mage from vanilla WoW that was extremely hard to kill.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Bigdaddyjug wrote:
breithauptclan wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
breithauptclan wrote:

Probably not the hardest to kill, but surprisingly resilient given the perception of the base class...

Witch:
Wild or Winter patron for the primal spells.
Pick up Lesson of Protection at 2nd,
and Lesson of Life at 4th.

You can't do that until level 6 and only if you're willing to burn Greater Lesson on a lesser lesson.

??

How so?

What did I miss?

Witch feat at level 2.
Witch feat at level 4.

I need to get this figured out because I now want to play a winter witch like a frost mage from vanilla WoW that was extremely hard to kill.

You can't take the Basic Lesson feat more than once. If you want both Lesson of Protection and Lesson of Life, you'll need both Basic Lesson and Greater Lesson.


Applied_People wrote:

It's been a year and a half. My favorites above are Red Griffyn's Dual Shield Wielding Orc Animal Barbarian and PossibleCabbage's Dwarven Mountain Stance Monk with Living Monolith FA.

But can we now do any better on Hard to Kill (but still a threat!) builds?

Feel free to use Free Archetype!

I keep noticing the combo of Ironblood Stance and the post-errata Scales of the Dragon out of Dragon Disciple for a str-monk. I'm not currently convinced that it's actually more durable overall than a bog-standard Champion, and it suffers for the first few levels, but I do keep noticing it.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I love the Barbarian + Vibrant Thorns combo. So hard to kill that monsters don't even try to!

It reminds me of the old Come and Get me! PF1 feat.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
SuperBidi wrote:

I love the Barbarian + Vibrant Thorns combo. So hard to kill that monsters don't even try to!

It reminds me of the old Come and Get me! PF1 feat.

Is Vibrant Thorns the only way to get that effect on a PC? It's pretty anemic if you're not regularly casting positive spells to juice it. It's a somatic-only spell itself, which means that Barbarians *can* cast the thing while in rage (if they're willing to provoke) and focus means that for many campaigns you can have it on every fight if you're willing to soak the action cost, but one damage per spell level isn't a lot.

Dark Archive

Special Mention to Golem Grafter which now provides a new way to get more hit points on top of toughness and mountain stoutness. It also has a similar resistance option to the living monolith archetype up to resistance 5 to physical damage.

Also the inventor armor innovations have tons of resistance options at the L15 level for all energies or all physical to fairly high numbers.

Also you can now throw on a Reinforced Coat onto most builds for some additional crit damage reduction.


Sanityfaerie wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:

I love the Barbarian + Vibrant Thorns combo. So hard to kill that monsters don't even try to!

It reminds me of the old Come and Get me! PF1 feat.

Is Vibrant Thorns the only way to get that effect on a PC? It's pretty anemic if you're not regularly casting positive spells to juice it.

Obviously, you Heal yourself every round to get the juice. You take a few Cleric Spellcasting feats for the spell slots. This build works better with an Animal Barbarian so you can have a Staff of Healing and even Wands if you're out of charges. With only the Staff and Basic Spellcasting, you have 8 Heals at level 8. And low level Wands are not that expensive.


SuperBidi wrote:
Sanityfaerie wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:

I love the Barbarian + Vibrant Thorns combo. So hard to kill that monsters don't even try to!

It reminds me of the old Come and Get me! PF1 feat.

Is Vibrant Thorns the only way to get that effect on a PC? It's pretty anemic if you're not regularly casting positive spells to juice it.
Obviously, you Heal yourself every round to get the juice. You take a few Cleric Spellcasting feats for the spell slots. This build works better with an Animal Barbarian so you can have a Staff of Healing and even Wands if you're out of charges. With only the Staff and Basic Spellcasting, you have 8 Heals at level 8. And low level Wands are not that expensive.

Okay, that's true... but you're spending an action for each cast, and with the exception of your single second-level slot, all that action is doing for you is juicing your thorns and giving you back 1d8 hp (plus staffmod). You also need to cast the Vibrant Thorns spell itself, in addition to the action spent to pop rage.

It's going to cost you three feats to make it happen, too, so you basically don't get the combo at all until level 6, and if you're not FA it leaves you pretty short on barbarian feats.

Oh, and your heal spells have a somatic component, so they're constantly provoking. whether you think that the damage they deal to you if they hit is worth more or less than the 4d6 you'd deal back to them on that same hit is up to you


Sanityfaerie wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:
Sanityfaerie wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:

I love the Barbarian + Vibrant Thorns combo. So hard to kill that monsters don't even try to!

It reminds me of the old Come and Get me! PF1 feat.

Is Vibrant Thorns the only way to get that effect on a PC? It's pretty anemic if you're not regularly casting positive spells to juice it.
Obviously, you Heal yourself every round to get the juice. You take a few Cleric Spellcasting feats for the spell slots. This build works better with an Animal Barbarian so you can have a Staff of Healing and even Wands if you're out of charges. With only the Staff and Basic Spellcasting, you have 8 Heals at level 8. And low level Wands are not that expensive.

Okay, that's true... but you're spending an action for each cast, and with the exception of your single second-level slot, all that action is doing for you is juicing your thorns and giving you back 1d8 hp (plus staffmod). You also need to cast the Vibrant Thorns spell itself, in addition to the action spent to pop rage.

It's going to cost you three feats to make it happen, too, so you basically don't get the combo at all until level 6, and if you're not FA it leaves you pretty short on barbarian feats.

Oh, and your heal spells have a somatic component, so they're constantly provoking. whether you think that the damage they deal to you if they hit is worth more or less than the 4d6 you'd deal back to them on that same hit is up to you

Yes, it's a horrible build and a horrible strategy. One might live longer, but if your PC's doing so little, what's the extra time worth?

Much better Raising a Shield for one action. A Bastion Barbarian is a simple path that's hardier, and as mentioned, a vanilla Champion's still superior.


Sanityfaerie wrote:
so you basically don't get the combo at all until level 6

You'll hardly get a tanking build before level 6 (even Champions get their AC advantage at level 7). I don't see that as much of a disadvantage.

Sanityfaerie wrote:
if you're not FA it leaves you pretty short on barbarian feats

Sorry, but that's a non argument. We are speaking of tanking build, obviously you spend feats on tanking and not on more offensive abilities. Also, Barbarian feats are meh. Much of the power of a Barbarian comes from its innate abilities.

Sanityfaerie wrote:
Okay, that's true... but you're spending an action for each cast, and with the exception of your single second-level slot, all that action is doing for you is juicing your thorns and giving you back 1d8 hp (plus staffmod). You also need to cast the Vibrant Thorns spell itself, in addition to the action spent to pop rage.

I agree. But you'll have hard time finding a low level tanking build that can work without spending actions at it. Even Bastion doesn't get Quick Shield Block before level 8.

And at level 12 with an Animal Barbarian you solve your action economy issue (at round 1, you can cast Vibrant Thorns, Heal, Rage and charge, so it becomes pretty much a non issue).

Sanityfaerie wrote:
whether you think that the damage they deal to you if they hit is worth more or less than the 4d6 you'd deal back to them on that same hit is up to you

If I consider a level 8 monster with high damage and high hit points, if it only hits you with normal hits, it'll lose 55% of its hit points before putting you down. But if I go to level 9 and consider that such a level 9 monster hits you with Piercing or Slashing damage, it now loses 87% of its hit points before downing you. And that's without factoring the few hit points you get back from Heal. And obviously not looking for even more optimization like grabbing Bastion and Quick Shield Block at 10 for even less damage taken with the same damage reflected.

So, yeah, I think it's worth it. Reflecting 2/3 of the damage you take is super strong.

Sanityfaerie wrote:
Oh, and your heal spells have a somatic component, so they're constantly provoking.

Not that much of an issue. Enemies may even choose not to take their AoOs (they don't know that you are vulnerable before casting Heal).

The whole point of this build is to discourage enemies from attacking you, so giving them more opportunities to attack you is nearly funny.

Castilliano wrote:
One might live longer, but if your PC's doing so little, what's the extra time worth?

Doing so little? You're an Animal Barbarian, you hit like a truck. And you only have to spend the action if you expect to be hit as enemies are not supposed to know your spells (in contradiction to Raise a Shield that is clearly visible and understandable so enemies can choose to attack you when you are not doing it). And once at level 12 you can cast Heal, Charge and Strike every round, which is quite an optimal round. And if you grab AoO you'll generate a lot of them as enemies will run away from you. Or, if they don't, they will attack you and add even more damage to your contribution.

For a tank, it's a massive damage dealer.

I won't say it's the best tank ever or whatever. But you are clearly underestimating it. It's a headache of a tank (GMs hate these kind of builds).


Yes, doing so little compared to other Animal Barbarians.

Those powerful attacks of the Animal Barbarian (which I agree it has) would see more use if not spending actions casting Vibrant Thorns & Heal spells. I'm not underestimating the attacks, but rather suggesting getting more of them would be better than the meager damage of the thorns.
Predator's Pounce alleviates some of the action expenditure, yes, if one's playing into the highest levels. Yet I don't think the combo pays off enough dividends to warrant the feats and actions (though adding Shield to one's repertoire is nice). I'd say Stepping or Striding away would offer more benefits*, especially if one has AoOs & Reach via antlers.

For a defensive build as per OP, I'd prefer my hit points be better protected, making each one worth that much more re: healing.

As a GM, self-healing Barbs (even w/ magical barbs) wouldn't give me a headache. It'd be kinda funny as its applicability to a battle fluctuated.

*While he didn't present his calculations, one dev affirmed that backing away from an enemy was superior defense to Raising a Shield, though I don't think he was adding Shield Block to that.


Castilliano wrote:
As a GM, self-healing Barbs (even w/ magical barbs) wouldn't give me a headache. It'd be kinda funny as its applicability to a battle fluctuated.

That's missing the point. The "self-healing" part of this barb is worth maybe 40-50 HP per day total at level 8 - a place that really does serve as a high point for the build. That's about half of your total HP pool, spread out over multiple fights. It's a little bit more than a single use of Battle Medicine for that level without further feats. The healing portion isn't quite meaningless, but it's close.

The point of it is the barbs. "every time you successfully hit me you take a cantrip to the face with no save" is a not entirely trivial discouragement.

I'm not saying it's necessarily worth it overall. I don't necessarily think it is - especially if you're expecting to fight for more than 8 rounds of combat per day. It's not entirely incoherent, though.

Even if it works, though, that's still spending a lot of effort on convincing your enemies to attack not-the-barbarian. Might be worth trying if you got FA to work with, and then put much of the rest of your build into grappling moves, so that you could lock down a foe with the hand you don't have a staff in, and put them in a position where they don't have anyone else to hit.


Sanityfaerie wrote:
Castilliano wrote:
As a GM, self-healing Barbs (even w/ magical barbs) wouldn't give me a headache. It'd be kinda funny as its applicability to a battle fluctuated.

That's missing the point. The "self-healing" part of this barb is worth maybe 40-50 HP per day total at level 8 - a place that really does serve as a high point for the build. That's about half of your total HP pool, spread out over multiple fights. It's a little bit more than a single use of Battle Medicine for that level without further feats. The healing portion isn't quite meaningless, but it's close.

The point of it is the barbs. "every time you successfully hit me you take a cantrip to the face with no save" is a not entirely trivial discouragement.

I'm not saying it's necessarily worth it overall. I don't necessarily think it is - especially if you're expecting to fight for more than 8 rounds of combat per day. It's not entirely incoherent, though.

Even if it works, though, that's still spending a lot of effort on convincing your enemies to attack not-the-barbarian. Might be worth trying if you got FA to work with, and then put much of the rest of your build into grappling moves, so that you could lock down a foe with the hand you don't have a staff in, and put them in a position where they don't have anyone else to hit.

Since I mentioned those barbs, I'm pretty sure I understood the point of those barbs*. They're the main reason the build's applicability would vary, since yep, subpar 1-action Heals hardly matter compared to the -1 AC from Rage (& mediocre AC to begin with). So in a melee heavy battle, especially with enemies with disproportionately high AC (since that typically means lower h.p.)**, then those barbs are cool. Yet it fails against casters, blasters, ranged attackers, enemies with Reach weapons, and as you pointed out most any creature that can swap targets after the initial ouch. That's what I mean about the build being entertaining since it fluctuates in value.

I didn't call it incoherent, I called it a bad tactic & bad build, which your last paragraph supports. Adding Predator's Pounce or grappling (good tactics) does improve the bad build, perhaps to fun albeit mediocre. Yet it remains subpar to other builds that can also do those, especially if vying in the "hard to kill" contest. Mainly I think it fails at the OPs request of being a hard-to-kill build. It's hardly hardy, and more eccentric than reliable.

*Pun unintentional, yet accepted. :-)
**And if they have AoOs, it becomes really interesting as the Barb & their enemies might rapidly destroy each other.

ETA: And note that the thorns are visible, so enemies will be aware to avoid them if capable of doing so, i.e. giants might throw rocks...not that they have to fear with their Reach weapons, but as an example. Even a dumb creature might think "me grabby non-pointy meal first".


@Castilliano: I find you're hard against this build. A lot of your criticism applies to all tanky builds.

Castilliano wrote:
Yet it fails against casters, blasters, ranged attackers

Most tanks do. Ranged attackers focus on juicy targets, not on full plate Paladins.

Castilliano wrote:
And note that the thorns are visible, so enemies will be aware to avoid them if capable of doing so

Full plates are also visible. You can include deception in a tank arsenal, but it's definitely an uncommon ability.

Castilliano wrote:
any creature that can swap targets after the initial ouch

It applies to all hard to kill builds. As soon as the enemy realizes you're tough, they switch target.

On top of it, this build has good aggro management. You can easily add Attack of Opportunity at level 8 (and unlike most tanks your AoOs are fearsome). And if the enemy ignores you you can switch to full damage dealer. It can even allow you to draw attention again and get back to your tanking duty, something most tanks fail at.

Castilliano wrote:
Mainly I think it fails at the OPs request of being a hard-to-kill build.

Damage reflection builds have definitely their place in a hard-to-kill contest. They have their category on their own, I agree it's not a common build, but I don't understand why you insist in disqualifying it entirely.

Sanityfaerie wrote:
if you're expecting to fight for more than 8 rounds of combat per day

You will rarely activate your ability during the whole fight. If enemies attack you a lot the fight will be over quickly. If enemies don't attack you enough you'll switch to full damage dealer. 8 Heals is roughly 4 fights. Also, you can buy Scrolls and Wands if you want to add a round every now and then. It's not as if first level Heal Scrolls were expensive.


Yes, most tanks share the same difficulties with offense against enemies at a distance (and should account for it). What I was pointing out was problems with defense; its damage reflection as you call it only works vs. some enemies. That makes its defensive shtick unreliable while its defensive vulnerabilities remain.

And I think if being bulldozed by two warriors, a creature will prefer hitting somebody they can hit even if it hurts instead of somebody they can't hit or who blocks much of the damage. I'd put Vibrant Thorns in the "blaze of glory" category where you're getting pummeled in order to wound them back. I recall one comment re: Fire Shield that mocked it since any ability that depends on the enemy hurting you can't be that good. This is like that, except you also need to spend an action strengthening it, one which provokes AoOs.

There are hard-to-kill builds that can defend their neighbors, namely Champions, grapplers, and some shield builds. This one could work as a grappler, but better have support.

And I don't understand why you defend it so strongly. Your arguments mostly say "but it hurts its enemies a lot" which it does, but does it do as much damage as a similar build not spending actions & feats on that tactic? The arguments about AoO, grappling, and Predator's Pounce are all available to its rival builds too, ones that maybe went with a defensive Archetype instead. And is this thread about dealing damage or surviving damage?

Don't get me wrong, I already said I'd find the build amusing in play. I just wouldn't call it hard-to-kill, more like "it'll take you out too".


Castilliano wrote:
And I don't understand why you defend it so strongly.

It's because I don't find you fair with this build. "Yes, it's a horrible build and a horrible strategy." makes me stand for it. It's an unconventional strategy, but not a horrible one.

Barbarian chassis is not that bad for a tank. Ok saves, damage reduction and massive hit point pool makes for a good start. Their issue is AC. And this build addresses the issue by making most AC targetting attacks painful.

So, it's actually not a bad tank at all. It addresses the aggro management issue most tanks have, it functions as a buffer tank, it is ok against magic (something a lot of tanks have issues with as tanks main role is to suck melee damage). It will overshadow a lot of tanks during boss fights (bosses quickly ignore tanks and turn on squishier preys so most of their super tanky abilities are only useful during round 1 when this build bring the pain putting the boss in a no-win situation).

The only thing I concede is that this build takes time to grow. It doesn't work before level 6, and before level 12 you have a massive action economy issue at round 1. But once at level 12, I think it's a very competitive offensive buffer tank (so an excellent tank for parties with low healing and sustainability).

And hard-to-kill is very open for an expression in a game where you can face so many different challenges.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.

It's a decent tank build, but you wouldn't want it to be your only tanky party member. It's not a damage avoidance build, it's a damage soaking build. In a game like this, those builds tend to use up resources faster than damage avoidance builds. I wouldn't want to have this character in a party where the only other front liner was a rogue, magus, thamaturge, swashbuckler, or investigator. I'd have to have a monk, fighter, or champion with it.


So, really, this guy is something of a switch tank. Once he gets up and going (like, level 12 or so), you'll pop spikes every fight (because why wouldn't you?) but you're only burning heals to juice them on the fights where it matters - where you're able to force melee enemies to engage you whether they like it or not, or where the melee enemies are engaging you hard enough that your HP starts dropping and you decide you might prefer a bit less attention.

It's a character that requires the right campaign (like, he doesn't really thrive in campaigns where you're not able to recharge your focus spell every fight, and he'd really prefer Free Archetype) and it's more of a "wacky, niche build" than a full-on optimized character... but realistically, "wacky, niche build" was kind of baked into the initial prompt, so I can't really fault it for that.

Actually, where the concept might *really* thrive would be in a dual-class (no dual-martial) game. Dual-martials are almost inherently stronger than dual-caster or caster/martial builds, so that's actually a viable restriction that some games have applied. Having this guy backed by a full-on Heal Font would crank his tank-factor up a fair bit, and also give you access to Smites. For that matter, if you're dealing with the undead, it opens up the possibility of using some of those heal spells offensively, in place of second or third attacks. As builds in *that* space go, it's not bad.

SuperBidi wrote:
It reminds me of the old Come and Get me! PF1 feat.

Incidentally, the Barbarian does have a PF2 Come and Get Me! feat that might also work well here.

1 to 50 of 58 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder Second Edition / Advice / Hard to Kill Builds? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.