Remastered Swashbuckler / Panache


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I haven't really done a deep dive in Swashbuckler because the kludges needed to make them work right-ish threw me off.

Are there ways to have Strength as a Key Ability for Swashbuckler instead of Dex?

Liberty's Edge

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Wei Ji the Learner wrote:


I haven't really done a deep dive in Swashbuckler because the kludges needed to make them work right-ish threw me off.

Are there ways to have Strength as a Key Ability for Swashbuckler instead of Dex?

No. They are balanced around being MAD apparently.


Wei Ji the Learner wrote:
Are there ways to have Strength as a Key Ability for Swashbuckler instead of Dex?

No. There is one style - Gymnast - that focuses more on STR than CHA like the rest do. But you won't be starting with more than a 16 in it.

Well, in either STR or CHA. That MAD effect is consistent for all Swashbuckler types. Fencers can't start with more than 16 CHA either.

Horizon Hunters

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Though to be fair, I am not sure that I would want an 18 CHA and 16 DEX instead. Considering that I use DEX for accuracy of attacks with the finesse weapons that I nearly always use. And I can use skill boosts to increase my skill bonuses. I can't use much to increase my weapon accuracy any farther to make up the difference in lower attack stat.


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25speedforseaweedleshy wrote:
swashbuckler rely on riposte heavily for any chance of decent damage

Since they can only riposte when an enemies critically fails to strike them, it's too rare and situational to be of any moderate value.


one of best feat of swashbuckler already require 16 cha

only one style doesn't depend on cha

change the class to str key ability wouldn't improve much


Pixel Popper wrote:
25speedforseaweedleshy wrote:
swashbuckler rely on riposte heavily for any chance of decent damage
Since they can only riposte when an enemies critically fails to strike them, it's too rare and situational to be of any moderate value.

swashbuckler will have damage almost as good as rogue after taking parry and riposte at level 18 and eternal confidence give riposte extra 6d6 on fail at level 19

pretty sure most player will never see that


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25speedforseaweedleshy wrote:
Pixel Popper wrote:
25speedforseaweedleshy wrote:
swashbuckler rely on riposte heavily for any chance of decent damage
Since they can only riposte when an enemies critically fails to strike them, it's too rare and situational to be of any moderate value.

swashbuckler will have damage almost as good as rogue after taking parry and riposte at level 18 and eternal confidence give riposte extra 6d6 on fail at level 19

pretty sure most player will never see that

Yeah any "well it works if you are level 18 or higher" is the equivalent of "you are not allowed to have fun unless you spend 2 years on this or get a lucky level 20 campaign".


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The Swashbuckler only has light and unarmored proficiency, why would you want them to be strength based?


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My first ever pf2e character was a wit swashbuckler, and its brilliant interweaving of mechanics and roleplay was a major reason I fell in love with the game.

But over time I've come to see it does have a few pain points, mainly at lower levels, and could benefit from some assistance. A key part of that is making Panache more regularly available.

A few thoughts:

1. Auto skill progression on Acrobatics (or perhaps the 'kit' skill might be more fun and flavourful?) would help at levels 3 and 9 especially, as you'd be able to boost both 'key' skills at the same time. For a class that's meant to be a kind of fighter-rogue hybrid, this also makes sense to me.

2. I love the idea above that a hit with a riposte should automatically generate Panache. I'm going to just add that into the game I'm GMing right now. Won't come up often enough to have any balance implications, but it's cool - which is what this class is all about.

3. I agree that it would have been good if keeping panache ever made sense, but it doesn't now. Perhaps boosting the flat bonuses would be enough, I'm not sure. what about expanding the bonuses to _all_ d20 rolls? That's probably too powerful though. But a change here is lower on my priority list.

4. Noting the concerns about gaining panache at the start of encounters, the 'After You' feat could be made into a core class feature. It's not a free panache to start every encounter, as there is a cost, but the cost is thematic, and this change would be less dramatic.

5. I'd like swashbucklers wielding finesse weapons with relevant traits get the pre-errata ability to do Dex (Athletics) trip & disarm combat maneuvers. They are so on-brand for the class fantasy, and it gives swashies something that even rogues wouldn't have access to.

6. Lastly, I wonder about granting Panache on any critical success roll? Again, fits the theme really well.

Vigilant Seal

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I would change panache so that once you get it, you retain it until the end of your next turn and it is not consumed by doing a finisher. That way you actually get to use things like the panache speed boost, precise strike, and your bonuses to panache-generating skillchecks, making it easier to retain panache over the course of a fight.

I'd also make Parry and Riposte a level 12-14 feat rather than 18.


SatiricalBard wrote:
1. Auto skill progression on Acrobatics (or perhaps the 'kit' skill might be more fun and flavourful?) would help at levels 3 and 9 especially, as you'd be able to boost both 'key' skills at the same time. For a class that's meant to be a kind of fighter-rogue hybrid, this also makes sense to me.

I'm going to use this quote to introduce why for me the Swashbuckler needs to be redesigned from scratch.

First, the concept of what a swashbuckler is IMO. He's not a fighter-rogue hybrid, it's a battle rogue! A light character, specializing in light weapons, unlike the rogue who needs to split his attention between skills and his martial skills, the swashbuckler is 100% combat oriented! So the least you can expect from a swashbuckler is that it's better than a rogue in combat!

Following this idea, let's start with:
How to activate precision damage:

  • The rogue to deal precision damage basically needs his target to be flat-footed. But that's the bare minimum, and that in itself means that a rogue doesn't need to spend actions to be able to use his precision damage (although this can also be an attainable option in a number of different ways, be it hiding, using deception, or simply starting first on the initiative, which in itself already makes the rogue stupidly versatile to activate his precision damage) he just needs to be in a position that flanks with an ally, or that an ally leaves the enemy flat-footed against him, either using trip , whether grappling or any other means that leaves the opponent flat-footed.
  • What's more, he doesn't even come close to limiting himself to that, from the 6th level he can take Gang Up and doesn't even need to be flanking the target anymore, just be in melee range of an ally, that's it. not only does it guarantee flat-footed in a safe position, but it also makes it considerably more difficult for your target to stop being flat-footed against the rogue, as it is no longer enough to take a step to force players to reposition themselves, it now really needs to move. move away from the rogue or his allies to force it (or force any of its allies) to spend an action to move, that is of course if he is no longer flat-footed due to any other situation that may have been generated either by the rogue as well as by the rogue's allies.
  • And to reach what for me is the pinnacle, at 10th level he can take Precise Debilitations and from then on just the mere fact that he hits the opponent is enough to guarantee its precision damage until the end of his next turn, making it basically impossible for the opponent to avoid it, and all with no action cost! Just taking advantage of a hit from the rogue and nothing else!

    Now let's see the swashbuckler, this one to be able to activate its precision damage basically has 2 options, Tumble Through and a way to gain the panache provided by the style.

  • The Tumble Through itself is already much more risky and limited than a mere feint, the most basic and least effective way for a rogue to be able to activate his precision damage, because if the target has some reaction that activates by movement , it will activate no matter your test result.
  • If you're a battledancer, your life is a little safer, as your failures don't cause side effects, but you still had to spend an action and make a roll to do so, something that doesn't even compare to a simple flanking.
  • If it's a braggart for Demoralize to gain the panashe, which is also safe. But it has a very important detail, the opponent is immune to new attempts later, which limits to one attempt per target in practice. This limitation "only ceases to exist" in practice at level 9 due to the Exemplary Finisher.
  • If you're a fencer in practice it's the closest to the rogue's ability to feint, only worse, you don't even have the different feats to improve your feints and the Exemplary Finisher is basically a worse Precise Debilitations, because in addition to only having the option to keep the opponent flat-footed, only lasts until the start of your next turn.
  • If you're a gymnast then you're probably a strength Swashbuckler, which would be nice if it weren't for the fact that Grapple, Shove, or Trip cause MAP, which very negatively affects your chance of hitting a Finisher in the same round .
  • If it's a wit then you have an additional problem here. This is linguistic! Your opponent also needs to be able to understand you for you to get the panache.

    Can you see the stark difference, risk and ease of a rogue being able to activate his precision damage compared to the swashbucler? The rogue not only achieves this in much more guaranteed ways, but also in indirect ways due to allies or environmental conditions, as he often doesn't even need to spend actions to do so! While the swashbucler must always expend an action, it always has some risk of failure when it is not also limited in additional ways, and it often risks some dangerous setback.
    This in itself makes the rogue's gameplay much friendlier than the swashbuckler's.

    Now let's go to the second problem of the swashbuckler when compared to the rogue:
    The chance to hit!
    Every rogue necessarily looks for a way to keep the target flat-footed against him, and this, as already mentioned, is often achieved by approaching the target himself, either by sneaking in, or by positioning himself on the opposite flank of the target in relation to an ally, either with a feint, or taking advantage of an environmental condition, or starting before the opponent and so on. Being virtually certain your target will have -2 to AC against you.
    OK, the swashbuckler can flat-foot just like any other character, but you still need to get the panache, meaning depending on your style this could mean you need to give up the ability to flat-foot the target. footed against you. For example, suppose it's the start of a turn, you're not hidden, you don't have the panache yet, your target is far away from you, there are still no allies flanking or otherwise leaving the target unprepared, you need to move, get the panache, and probably use a finisher. In this case if you're not a fencer you won't get the benefit of flat-foot, you just don't have enough actions for it. And this will be repeated in several situations, which in practice means that the rogue will often have greater chances of hitting than the swashbucler, and that without necessarily having to spend actions.
    That is, in practice, martially, the rogue in general is more effective than a swashbuckler to hit a target, because its entire construction involves becoming and taking advantage of the target being flat-footed.

    And finally, let's go to:
    Damage:
    Here we have the "icing on the cake" of the swashbuckler's disgrace.
    The most used rogue, the thief, already starts by putting his dex bonus on damage. This alone already guarantees the average damage of a swashbuckler from a d8 weapon early in the game and without worrying about MAD.
    And now for precision damage. Due to the failure risks of using a MAP finisher, most players don't do other attacks, which in practice means that the swashbuckler will almost always be limited to one attack per round. This attack does 2d6 precision damage at the start of the game.
    The rogue only takes 1d6 precision damage. But not limited to a single attack.
    So let's consider a scenario where both have the same chance of success. To facilitate the calculations, the rogue will use agile weapons and the swashbuckler a d8 weapon, both will have a 50% chance to hit on the first attack, but the rogue will have a second attack with a 30% chance to hit due to MAP -4.
    With that the average damage, considering that each d6 does an average of 3.5 damage and the d8 does an average of 4.5 damage:

  • Per round using the swashbuckler finish will be: 1d6 +3(strength) +2d6 (accuracy) = 4.5 +3 +7 = 14.5 x 0.5(due to 50% hit chance) = 7, 25 average damage per round.
  • Per round with the rogue making 2 attacks will be: 1d6 +4(dexterity) +1d6 (accuracy) = 3.5 +4 +3.5 = 11 x 0.5 (due to 50% chance to hit) = 5.5. The second attack will be the same thing only with a lower chance to hit, being: 1d6 +4(dexterity) +1d6 (accuracy) = 3.5 +4 +3.5 = 11 x 0.3 (due to 30% second attack hit chance due to MAP) = 3.3. Adding the 2 results in 8.8 average damage per round!
    And this is all disregarding the fact that the rogue is almost always benefiting from a -2 target, while the swashbuckler doesn't necessarily get that benefit, which in practice makes the rogue tend to criticize more than the swashbuckler, in addition to the greater chance for simply attacking more often.
    The difference already in the early game starts brutal here!

    Let's go to the end-game now, now the swashblucker has maximum runes (except property runes), all his precision damage and using Lethal Finisher. This generates some difficulties in the calculation because in addition to hitting the target, it also makes a fortitude test to see if it will not take double the precision damage, so to make it easier, I will ignore the critical chances, and round it up to 50% of failure on the Fortitude save, which deals an average of 9d6 damage. While with the rogue I'll just add the Precise Debilitations which deals 2d6 more damage per attack.

  • Swashbuckler: 4d8 +5(strength) +9d6(accuracy) = 18 +5 +49.5 = 72.5 x 0.5(due to 50% hit chance) = 36.25 average damage per round.
  • Rogue: 4d6 +7(Dexterity) +4d6(Accuracy) +2d6(Precise Debilitations) = 14 +7 +14 +7 = 42 x 0.5(due to 50% chance to hit) = 21. second attack will be the same thing only with a lower chance to hit, being: 4d6 (Dexterity) +4d6(Accuracy) +2d6(Precise Debilitations) = 14 +7 +14 +7 = 42 x 0.3 = 12 .6 (due to 30% second attack hit chance due to MAP). Adding the 2 results in 33.6 average damage per round! In other words, here finally the Swashbuckler was in a situation where he did more average damage per round than the rogue (2.65 more), but for that he needed a level 18 feat, he still maintains all the previous problems, such as the need to always roll to be able to use precision damage, and generally have a lower chance to hit and crit. Not to mention the fact that he spent 9/10 of his life being weaker than Rogue.

    And finally, what I almost forgot:
    MAD!
    Every swashbuckler suffers from MAD, either because he needs to invest in charisma to be able to gain panache more safely, or because he wants to invest in strength to guarantee higher damage. While the rogue doesn't need any of that, charisma is optional, being just one of several possible ways to flat-foot the opponent, allowing him to easily be a SAD class. A swashbuckler doesn't have that flexibility, even if he chooses not to invest in charisma, he will still have to split between strength and dexterity to maintain the hit of stronger weapons and maintain some AC and if he really makes this choice, he will be dependent of Tumble Through turning him into an AoO shooting machine that goes so far as to make the melee magus more palatable in comparison!

    Anyway, all this makes the swashbuckler worse than the rogue in practically everything, not to mention the fact that the rogue is also a skill monkey, which makes everything more broken.

    That's why I argue that the swashbuckler is best completely redesigned from scratch. There are too many things to tidy up punctually

  • Scarab Sages

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    I played a swashbuckler from levels 1-20 in Age of Ashes. It's a fun and flavorable class, but it suffers at low levels.

    I would change it so that finishers didn't need to be your final attack in your turn, and instead just make it so finishers could only be used once per turn. Finishers aren't quite good enough to justify only getting a single attack.

    Swashbuckler should have scaling proficiency to Acrobatics, like what inventors have with Crafting or thaumaturges have with Esoteric Lore. Currnetly the Acrobat Dedication allows this, but it's too good to not take, so it might as well be a core feature.

    I would also grant panache if you fail, but not critically fail, the appropriate skill check. That way swashbuckler would be effective against foes that are higher level than they are.


    Swashbuckler does get markedly better as you level up since finishers eventually fall into their niche since they're not only a handful of precision dice like sneak attack is. The good ones just come too late. Would be nice to have some early specific finishers with better riders. Unbalancing finisher should make things clumsy instead of flatfooted or something.


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    I think the essence here is this:

    A rogue has far easier access to their damage, sometimes even automatic via teamplay. A swashbuckler will always have to spend at least an action and succeed on a check to get panache. Despite this and additional offensive advantages of the rogue (e.g. Debilitating Strike, Opportune Backstab), the swashbuckler only deals marginally more damage for a single Strike per round. At the end of the day, the rogue is realistically much better and consistent at dealing damage.

    The swashbuckler has some other advantages in terms of survivability and movement speed, but most of those are fairly minor in practice. As a whole really doesn't measure up too well - more hurdles for less gain.

    -

    I don't think you need a whole redesign to change this - though that depends on what you mean by "redesign". The majority of the class kit is completely fine and the class fantasy is quite clear. It's the offensive features that are a problem. Those problems can be solved with fairly subtle changes. No need to rebuild the cart when you break a wheel.


    When I talk about redesigning it from scratch, it's exclusively its mechanics, its flavor part is great. The problem is his gameplay mechanics are weak and inefficient from start to finish, and it's not just offensive, it mainly affects his stock economy as well. Remember, in the end every Swashbuckler is somehow forced to burn 2 actions, one to receive the panache and the other with the finisher! There is only one action left to do anything else.

    Not only does this make the class boring, it makes it clunky as well and when you compare all that to the more direct alternative to it which is the rogue, it gets humiliating!

    As I described it in very detail and it turned out to be very long, many may not have paid attention. But in practice, the swashbucler is worse than the rogue in practically everything, except DPR and only after level 18.

    Comparing side-by-side:
    Rogue vs Swashbuckler
    Stats:

  • Rogue: Usually SAD with Dex or Str
  • Swashbuckler: Usually MAD with Dex + Str + Cha
    Hit:
  • Rogue: Constantly benefits from flat-foot (-2 to opponents AC) and can Strike multiple times per round using its full precision damage
  • Swashbuckler: Need to use 1-action to get panache and another to use finisher, just leaving only one to do other thing like move to flank. Due MAP make opponent flat-footed using athletics will penalty the finisher attack check, some swashbucklers may use flint to flat-foot but may risk to fail or critical fail.
    Damage:
  • Rogue: Due Gang Up and Precise Debilitations can grant its precision damage almost every round for all attacks and even offensive activities you have without need extra actions. For example if you take Fighter Dedication you can get Double Slice and make 2 Strikes with your full precision damage and you still have an action to do another thing.
  • Swashbuckler: Most of its damage came from finishers and finishers requires panache and panache requires some success in some check that needs an action and when you use your finisher you cannot attack anymore in your turn. In the end you basically are doing a single Strike that need 2 separated actions with 2 successful checks to work and that don't integrate with any other activity that requires a Strike nor that requires you made a Strike in that turn but its also an attack action like actions with press trait basically forbidding you to improve or change your damage in any way.
    Action Economy:
  • Rogue: Get flat-foot benefit is pretty easy and don't require to use an action every round. Just flank or Gang Up or hit some Strike if you are using Precise Debilitations. Usually no extra actions are required except if you are alone and need to distract your opponent or hide where you will still have 2-actions to use an activity or 2 more actions without problem.
  • Swashbuckler: You need a to use at last one action to panache, if you success you need another action to use a finisher, after this you only will have an action to do any other this that isn't an attack.


  • For him to stay competitive with the rogue, or even the fighter, ranger, gunsliger[...], the swashbuckler would need in my opinion legendary proficiency progression with one-handed weapons similar to how the gunslinger is with fire-arms and crossbows.

    The rationale behind this is to compensate for the fact that the rogue has better accuracy due to the constant use of the flat-foot.

    The other thing he would need to improve is precision damage without the finisher. Instead of being 1 damage per die of the finisher's precision damage, it should at least deal half the damage dice of the finisher's damage by default while in panache. Only then would the player consider using the finisher with a Finisher!!!, as it would be worth risking using a finisher with map -5/-4 in this situation.

    The rationale for this is to make the finisher feel like an actual finisher, not a complicated one-handed Power Attack that requires 2 checks and 2 separate actions plus prohibits you from attacking again. In addition to making the damage of the medium swashbuckler a little stronger than the rogue, since the first is a combat specialist, the second is a skill monkey.

    In addition, panache should be compressed into more actions, such as attack actions using light weapons, or attempted to be obtained automatically on the initiative roll itself.

    The rationale for this is that it would help bring the panache closer to the flexibility that the rogue has with the flat-foot.

    The panache should not be terminated by finishers.

    The rationale behind this is that the rogue doesn't lose the advantage of opponents being flat-footed against him easily, either because of Gang Up or because of Precise Debilitations. So it would be fair that the panache lasts for the whole fight as if it were a stance to compensate.

    Swashbuclers should be able to use Dex on damage when using light or agile weapons.

    The rationale is simple, why the rogue who is a skill monkey can, while the swashbuckler who is a martial geared towards one-handed weapons cannot? This MAD only harms the swashbuckler and also harms the flavor of the light character who uses agility instead of strength.

    These would be the minimum tweaks needed to make swashbuckler competitive with rogue. But there are already so many basic adjustments, that make me wonder if it wouldn't be better to rethink all those soft bases from the beginning.


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    Karmagator wrote:

    I think the essence here is this:

    A rogue has far easier access to their damage, sometimes even automatic via teamplay. A swashbuckler will always have to spend at least an action and succeed on a check to get panache. Despite this and additional offensive advantages of the rogue (e.g. Debilitating Strike, Opportune Backstab), the swashbuckler only deals marginally more damage for a single Strike per round. At the end of the day, the rogue is realistically much better and consistent at dealing damage.

    The swashbuckler has some other advantages in terms of survivability and movement speed, but most of those are fairly minor in practice. As a whole really doesn't measure up too well - more hurdles for less gain.

    -

    I don't think you need a whole redesign to change this - though that depends on what you mean by "redesign". The majority of the class kit is completely fine and the class fantasy is quite clear. It's the offensive features that are a problem. Those problems can be solved with fairly subtle changes. No need to rebuild the cart when you break a wheel.

    Agreed. The flavour of the class is fine but the difficulty of achieving the bonus damage is much harder. Swashbuckler and Inventor can have a very hard time of it, but for a Rogue it is 95+% automatic after a few levels. The balance is just off. The Rogue is almost too good.

    Then there is the stopping of retries and the unnecessary limitations of the finisher trait. These really hurt these classes.


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    Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
    Gortle wrote:

    Agreed. The flavour of the class is fine but the difficulty of achieving the bonus damage is much harder. Swashbuckler and Inventor can have a very hard time of it, but for a Rogue it is 95+% automatic after a few levels. The balance is just off. The Rogue is almost too good.

    Then there is the stopping of retries and the unnecessary limitations of the finisher trait. These really hurt these classes.

    Perhaps the Rogue is not 'too good' but the Swashbuckler and Inventor are not good enough and need to be raised to Rogue effectiveness?

    Rather than tear down a near-top performer, match that performance, in other words?


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    As I mentioned several times in this forum, Rogues and Fighters are clearly above every other class in terms of balance.

    They have stacked chassis, great selection of interesting and good class feats, they have unique mechanics that are straight power boosters (Rogues with extra skill increases and Fighters with extra class feats and +2 accuracy) and their niches are "Best at Skill" and "Best At Combat", which are Mechanic concepts instead of the concepts every other class in the game represent, which is tied to some kind of flavor that splits into other niches within that larger umbrella.

    Imagine if the Wizard's niche was "Best At Spells"? There would be riots.

    To me, difficult and complex set ups require massive pay offs. Swashbucklers have harder set ups compared to Rogues and their pay off is unreliable and hardly better.

    Finishers could be d8's and have better effects, given their requirements and the dangers they put themselves in. Gimmicks need to be rewarded, it's that simple. These types of characters trade reliability and easy of use for high impact pay offs.


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    Personally, I think Finishers should be more flavorful. They are just attack modifiers, which are helpful. But I think everyone here would agree they lack a bit of... Panache?

    Where are the jumping strikes? Cut through single blows (Samurai style, perfect way to gain panache after finisher, btw)? Sweeping slashes? Massive Lunges? And many other cool strikes that are visually interesting and can be made to be mechanically impactful beyond extra damage.

    I think they should feel like special attacks, not just a "Strike+".

    Mobile Finisher and Flamboyant Finisher are too high level for what they provide and they're pretty much the only exceptions. The former could easily be a Economy-Enhancing high level class feature (you combine move+finisher) and Flamboyant not only is gated behind a class choice (Flamboyant Athlete), but it's just a Sudden Leap, but worse, because it's freaking 14th level (Should be 8th or 10th at most).


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    Lightning Raven wrote:

    As I mentioned several times in this forum, Rogues and Fighters are clearly above every other class in terms of balance.

    They have stacked chassis, great selection of interesting and good class feats, they have unique mechanics that are straight power boosters (Rogues with extra skill increases and Fighters with extra class feats and +2 accuracy) and their niches are "Best at Skill" and "Best At Combat", which are Mechanic concepts instead of the concepts every other class in the game represent, which is tied to some kind of flavor that splits into other niches within that larger umbrella.

    Imagine if the Wizard's niche was "Best At Spells"? There would be riots.

    To me, difficult and complex set ups require massive pay offs. Swashbucklers have harder set ups compared to Rogues and their pay off is unreliable and hardly better.

    Finishers could be d8's and have better effects, given their requirements and the dangers they put themselves in. Gimmicks need to be rewarded, it's that simple. These types of characters trade reliability and easy of use for high impact pay offs.

    Players prefer consistent, usable abilities that fit the theme of the class.

    The rogue isn't too good in my opinion. They have a legitimate weakness in defenses that can be costly in play. I've played many rogues and that class can really get its butt kicked if the main martial goes down and the monsters turn on them. They get eaten for lunch.

    But for those weak defenses rogues are extremely good damage dealers and skill monkeys.

    Fighter is highly specialized for single target damage with weapons. That fits. It's what they do. But they aren't too good because of it.

    Druid is probably the most versatile class in the game in terms of damage dealing and roles. I've seen druids do a bit of everything well enough to the tune of immense damage and impact in most parties.

    Bard is the best at party support.

    What I'm getting at is players want classes that make an impact and do something well. They don't mind weaknesses, but when a class is straight up worse at just about everything than other classes that isn't fun.

    The designers need to pick what the swashbuckler is supposed to do well by design and make them do it well consistently in a fun manner. When a player plays a swashbuckler to be the dashing rapier wielding warrior, they want to be good at it all the time, not just when they have panache that requires actions to get and too many points of failure. So if you're going to have a panache mechanic, make it easy to get and use and impactful where the player and other players see its value in the same way they see the value of sneak attack and fighter weapon hits and barbarian rage and what not.

    The PF1 swashbuckler worked well. It was probably overpowered, but it was a great class that was a lot of fun because what they did worked all the time with panache being more of a fun boost to a variety of abilities the player could choose to use at key times rather than being required for the main damage mechanic of the class. That particular design choice was a bad idea from the beginning.


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    Yeah, the big difference between the rogue and the swashbuckler is that the rogue is particularly squishy for a martial and the swashbuckler really isn't.

    The Swashbuckler can be built into one of the tankier martials, just short of the champion and monk, which is a valid way to play since you get riposte abilities.

    Nobody's ever going to be as good as the fighter at what the fighter is good at (and this is by design) so it's not really useful to compare classes to the fighter.


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    Lightning Raven wrote:


    Where are the jumping strikes? Cut through single blows (Samurai style, perfect way to gain panache after finisher, btw)? Sweeping slashes? Massive Lunges? And many other cool strikes that are visually interesting and can be made to be mechanically impactful beyond extra damage.

    I think they should feel like special attacks, not just a "Strike+".

    I'm always keen on more flavour. Just get the balance right too.


    Deriven Firelion wrote:
    Lightning Raven wrote:

    As I mentioned several times in this forum, Rogues and Fighters are clearly above every other class in terms of balance.

    They have stacked chassis, great selection of interesting and good class feats, they have unique mechanics that are straight power boosters (Rogues with extra skill increases and Fighters with extra class feats and +2 accuracy) and their niches are "Best at Skill" and "Best At Combat", which are Mechanic concepts instead of the concepts every other class in the game represent, which is tied to some kind of flavor that splits into other niches within that larger umbrella.

    Imagine if the Wizard's niche was "Best At Spells"? There would be riots.

    To me, difficult and complex set ups require massive pay offs. Swashbucklers have harder set ups compared to Rogues and their pay off is unreliable and hardly better.

    Finishers could be d8's and have better effects, given their requirements and the dangers they put themselves in. Gimmicks need to be rewarded, it's that simple. These types of characters trade reliability and easy of use for high impact pay offs.

    Players prefer consistent, usable abilities that fit the theme of the class.

    The rogue isn't too good in my opinion. They have a legitimate weakness in defenses that can be costly in play. I've played many rogues and that class can really get its butt kicked if the main martial goes down and the monsters turn on them. They get eaten for lunch.

    But for those weak defenses rogues are extremely good damage dealers and skill monkeys.

    Fighter is highly specialized for single target damage with weapons. That fits. It's what they do. But they aren't too good because of it.

    Druid is probably the most versatile class in the game in terms of damage dealing and roles. I've seen druids do a bit of everything well enough to the tune of immense damage and impact in most parties.

    Bard is the best at party support.

    What I'm getting at is players want classes that make an impact and do...

    My gripe with Rogues is that they are insanely good at being skill monkeys for very little sacrifice in combat. They also get a ton of options at each level and their class features improve at higher levels. They basically check all the boxes of what makes classes good in this game and beyond. The same with Fighter, who already start with an incredibly stacked chassis and their main shtick is being better at a basic system of the game.

    Both classes could have some power shaved off and they would barely feel it. I take this stance because I know that the opposite will never be true, other classes will never be treated the same way as these two are, sadly.


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    Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

    Rogues being super squishy and Swashbucklers tanky is an idea that perplexes me a bit.

    Like the difference between them is a few points of HP and, for a few levels, an edge in fort saves, but even that might not necessarily be the case because the rogue is more SAD and can pump Con higher anyways. Ruffians can even get plate without much investment.

    There are some high level options that can help the Swashbuckler a bit, but that's at specific level brackets and still doesn't exactly put the class on champion tier or anything... and pointing to those options I think only highlights the broken aspects of the Swashbuckler's design, because making them good essentially hinges on a few key feats that are exceptionally effective.

    Lightning Raven wrote:
    Both classes could have some power shaved off and they would barely feel it. I take this stance because I know that the opposite will never be true, other classes will never be treated the same way as these two are, sadly.

    I mean you can sort of see that not only with the Swashbuckler's issues, but in the way the Investigator makes itself into the worst combat class in the game in exchange for skill benefits that aren't necessarily markedly better than the rogue's (unless the GM is willing to pander directly to the investigator, but you can make anything look good that way).


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    I think with the witch, swashbuckler, and investigator they were trying some new design ideas that didn't work out as well as expected.

    Oracle was kept simpler and I think was more successful.


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    If I remember correctly their playtests, the Witch was incredibly poorly received, the Investigator had great flavor but incredibly poor combat effectiveness and the Swashbuckler was well received with good flavor and mechanics, but needed refinement.

    Turns out, all of the criticisms still apply.

    With the Swashbuckler still being a decent class with some unforeseen weaknesses and clumsiness only revealed over time. I don't think it needs any major changes, but there are some core tweaks that need to be solved.

    If I were to lock down some changes that were within the scope of the remaster, I think I would go with allowing Panache on a failure with all the checks, to keep the current power level and cadence of the class the same, while improving reliability. Also, Panache on Riposte and Critical hits.

    For the craziest scenario I could think, I would go with my proposed change earlier: If you hit with the previous attack, your finisher either has attacks with 0 MAP (making a third attack insanely good) or with the same MAP as the previous attack. That would boost the class significantly without making any major changes (work-wise), since it would just require changing the wording on the Finisher trait. Imagine: Hit and then Finisher with full MAP. Or even stronger: Hit, Hit, Finisher (at -0 MAP or -5 MAP).


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    Lightning Raven wrote:

    My gripe with Rogues is that they are insanely good at being skill monkeys for very little sacrifice in combat. They also get a ton of options at each level and their class features improve at higher levels. They basically check all the boxes of what makes classes good in this game and beyond. The same with Fighter, who already start with an incredibly stacked chassis and their main shtick is being better at a basic system of the game.

    Both classes could have some power shaved off and they would barely feel it. I take this stance because I know that the opposite will never be true, other classes will never be treated the same way as these two are, sadly.

    I think those two classes are some of those that ride the fine line the best. They do exactly what they should, both mechanically and in terms of the class fantasy. Dragging them down wouldn't help the rest's issues one bit, it would just spread the problems further. That's the crab bucket "solution", so no solution at all. Instead, we want everyone to feel like their class is fun and their contribution is valuable. That is achieved exclusively by buffs, not nerfs.

    Nerfs are reserved for things that substantially exceed design principles and math "barriers". Neither the rogue nor the fighter do that.


    Yeah, I think more/easier panache-gaining opportunities and the free scaling acrobatics (or, as I mused earlier, the subclass skill) are probably enough to make swashbucklers feel like they are pulling their weight.

    I understand the mechanical reason for suggesting it, but I don't see the thematic logic of panache on a failed check though - that goes against the 'vibe'. If that mechanical concern is important, I'd look for something that allows a re-roll, like a 'Pure Bravado' reaction that allows you to reroll but using your subclass skill, or something like that - this would play into the "haha, you thought you had me there, didn't you? But no! I have you right where I want you!" trope.


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    Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

    I think there needs to be a deeper examination of the Swashbuckler than that.

    Scaling proficiency and better panache options would help immensely, but part of the Swashbuckler's problem, imo, is the unevenness of options. My bleeding finisher and dueling dance Swashbuckler feels pretty good right now, but a lot of that comes from the very specific feat choices I've taken to maximize performance.

    SatiricalBard wrote:
    I understand the mechanical reason for suggesting it, but I don't see the thematic logic of panache on a failed check though

    I'd sell it as... you get panache for being daring. It's getting up in a dragon's face and insulting them that's your act of derring-do. Whether or not the dragon takes a -1 to its checks and dcs isn't really as important.

    ... Honestly that might even be more flavorful in a way. Swashbucklers in fiction often have a problem with style over substance, taking risks they don't need to for payoffs that aren't worth it because it looks good.


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    I would prefer Panache end up as something you can use like Amps myself. It can be used to boost damage, but is not required for finishers. More an optional ability that can amp a finisher to a higher level damage. Now that the Amp mechanic is introduced, I wouldn't mind seeing the Swashbuckler as the first martial to use an amp type mechanic for finishers.

    Finishers should work with or without panache. Maybe panache gives them a boost up. Or can be used for other tricks to help the class.

    Liberty's Edge

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    Squiggit wrote:

    I'd sell it as... you get panache for being daring. It's getting up in a dragon's face and insulting them that's your act of derring-do. Whether or not the dragon takes a -1 to its checks and dcs isn't really as important.

    ... Honestly that might even be more flavorful in a way. Swashbucklers in fiction often have a problem with style over substance, taking risks they don't need to for payoffs that aren't worth it because it looks good.

    You wouldn't want to bog down every roll they make with it, but adding in some abilities that have a trait which gives you panache after making the roll regardless of result, but can only be used against higher-level threats could be a fun way to add this sort of option. It's certainly flavourful for a swashbuckler to throw themself into a very risky attempt against a powerful enemy. I'm not sure exactly how the wording would be phrased, but it does seem fitting :)


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    Squiggit wrote:
    I think there needs to be a deeper examination of the Swashbuckler than that.

    I think perhaps there's 2 conversations to be had, and which we're having in this thread: (1) what are some simple quick errata-level fixes that can give the class that little bump it needs to be less frustrating, and (2) what are the bigger changes you'd make if you were doing a more thorough rebuild?

    My primary interest right now is in (1). I'm not against (2) at all, but it might be helpful for us all to understand these are slightly different conversations, so we don't just talk past each other.

    Quote:
    I'd sell it as... you get panache for being daring. It's getting up in a dragon's face and insulting them that's your act of derring-do. Whether or not the dragon takes a -1 to its checks and dcs isn't really as important... Honestly that might even be more flavorful in a way. Swashbucklers in fiction often have a problem with style over substance, taking risks they don't need to for payoffs that aren't worth it because it looks good.

    That's an excellent answer! Definitely has merit.


    Squiggit wrote:
    I'd sell it as... you get panache for being daring. It's getting up in a dragon's face and insulting them that's your act of derring-do...

    That's sort of already a thing, though. In the Panache class feature it states, "... At the GM's discretion, after succeeding at a check to perform a particularly daring action, such as swinging on a chandelier or sliding down a drapery, you also gain panache if your result is high enough (typically the very hard DC for your level, but the GM can choose a different threshold)..."

    Now, leaving it to the GM's discretion might be too soft a requirement and/or a very hard DC may be too high a threshold. My GM rarely denied my ad-hoc panache generating deeds.

    Scarab Sages

    SatiricalBard wrote:

    Yeah, I think more/easier panache-gaining opportunities and the free scaling acrobatics (or, as I mused earlier, the subclass skill) are probably enough to make swashbucklers feel like they are pulling their weight.

    I understand the mechanical reason for suggesting it, but I don't see the thematic logic of panache on a failed check though - that goes against the 'vibe'.

    Since I suggested the changes of your first paragraph, here's how I would explain gaining panache on a failure:

    "I Meant to Do That"
    Even your failures look impressive, and you easily flow from misstep to masterstroke. You gain panache when you fail, but not critically fail, the appropriate skill check.


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    I have done the math and the swashbuckler does better damage not doing finishers if the swashbuckler does one attack per round. It's pretty sad that their main class ability reduces their damage.

    Really suggests the class needs a big redesign and not tweaks


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    Lightning Raven wrote:

    If I remember correctly their playtests, the Witch was incredibly poorly received, the Investigator had great flavor but incredibly poor combat effectiveness and the Swashbuckler was well received with good flavor and mechanics, but needed refinement.

    Turns out, all of the criticisms still apply.

    Paizo need to look at how they evaluate feedback.

    Sovereign Court

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    One idea earlier in this thread I really liked was making finishers work better towards the end of your turn. Make the mechanics support the flavor better.

    "If your previous action was an attack and was successful, do not apply MAP to your finisher."

    Suddenly, the maths of how strong finishers are change a lot, because it's an extra attack at full to-hit. Which is generally a first-pick feat for most classes.

    We also get rid of the wonky "won't risk a finisher on second attack, so I'll only attack once" bit.

    Gymnasts get a wonderful trip + finish routine.

    In general, maneuver + finisher is going to be interesting for all swashbucklers, so we smuggle Strength back in the door as a genuinely attractive stat. Which is good because a fair amount of swashbuckler flavor stuff is Athletics checks. (Lots of jumping.)

    After your first attack hits, you have a choice: finish, or try another attack and hope it hits and then finish. That's the kind of gambling that makes sense for swashbuckler class to have. Incidentally, it plays well with a bias towards agile weapons.

    It opens the door a bit for swashbucklers to dabble more with other feats that enhance your first attack.

    ---

    Looking at newer classes like thaumaturge, some auto skill scaling is definitely appropriate. Maybe the easiest would be to get a free skill upgrade at level 3, 7 and 15 that you may apply to Acrobatics or your flair skill.

    ---

    Finally, looking again at thaumaturge and how Exploit Weakness deals with unique high level monsters, there's a lesson there for panache DCs. It shouldn't be harder to gain panache against boss monsters. Maybe even easier, since swashbucklers live for drama. Since I'm already proposing a major upgrade to finishers, this one is a bit more conservative than the "I meant to do that";

    Underdog
    When you try a skill check that could gain you panache, and the primary or only target is an enemy of higher level than you, you also gain panache when you fail (but not critically fail) the check.


    Karmagator wrote:
    Lightning Raven wrote:

    My gripe with Rogues is that they are insanely good at being skill monkeys for very little sacrifice in combat. They also get a ton of options at each level and their class features improve at higher levels. They basically check all the boxes of what makes classes good in this game and beyond. The same with Fighter, who already start with an incredibly stacked chassis and their main shtick is being better at a basic system of the game.

    Both classes could have some power shaved off and they would barely feel it. I take this stance because I know that the opposite will never be true, other classes will never be treated the same way as these two are, sadly.

    I think those two classes are some of those that ride the fine line the best. They do exactly what they should, both mechanically and in terms of the class fantasy. Dragging them down wouldn't help the rest's issues one bit, it would just spread the problems further. That's the crab bucket "solution", so no solution at all. Instead, we want everyone to feel like their class is fun and their contribution is valuable. That is achieved exclusively by buffs, not nerfs.

    Nerfs are reserved for things that substantially exceed design principles and math "barriers". Neither the rogue nor the fighter do that.

    While I agree that buffs would be better, we spent how long asking for buffs only to be met with "this was intended", "you are playing wrong use X, Y, & Z", and/or "you are just a power gamer".

    Then the pretty clear stance of nerfing anything that seems a bit strong. Or adding nerfs along side any buff for net neutral (latest alchemist fix). Yeah there is no point in asking for a buff that will never come. Asking for nerfs to all the strong options however is much more likely to actually happen as seen with Scare to Death.


    As a player, I always am more in favor of buffing other options when there's a "best" choice that isn't harmful to the game. Even though I think rogues and fighters are on the stronger side overall, they're still not in any kind of broken state, specially since in play, Swashbucklers and all the other problematic martially inclined classes have their strengths and can outshine even Rogues and Fighters.

    Burst damage is a thing. Combat effectiveness can only be glimpsed in action. So it doesn't matter if a fighter is more reliable with white room math in its favor if a Barbarian or a Swashbuckler are taking down their foes nonetheless.

    I'm saying this just as a reminder that while we're discussing things in theory here, which can make a class or a feature look bad, sometimes in play things can be different (even if not that much).

    Personally, the two core issues that need to be addressed are: Swashbucklers have too much trouble gaining their core feature against higher leveled creatures ("daring" actions, as well) and the fact that Finishers aren't giving enough pay off for its requirements (neither they are feeling like Finishing moves, they need to be cooler).


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    I think the only real change the Swashbuckler needs is to make "gaining panache" more reliable, since it really hurts when you're fighting like a APL+3 boss and you can't even get it.

    Something like "you spend an action and you gain panache. If you succeed on the associated skill roll, you gain panache and a bonus" would work fine. Give the Swashbuckler Panache for trying stuff, rather than succeeding at stuff.


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    Lightning Raven wrote:

    As a player, I always am more in favor of buffing other options when there's a "best" choice that isn't harmful to the game. Even though I think rogues and fighters are on the stronger side overall, they're still not in any kind of broken state, specially since in play, Swashbucklers and all the other problematic martially inclined classes have their strengths and can outshine even Rogues and Fighters.

    Burst damage is a thing. Combat effectiveness can only be glimpsed in action. So it doesn't matter if a fighter is more reliable with white room math in its favor if a Barbarian or a Swashbuckler are taking down their foes nonetheless.

    I'm saying this just as a reminder that while we're discussing things in theory here, which can make a class or a feature look bad, sometimes in play things can be different (even if not that much).

    Personally, the two core issues that need to be addressed are: Swashbucklers have too much trouble gaining their core feature against higher leveled creatures ("daring" actions, as well) and the fact that Finishers aren't giving enough pay off for its requirements (neither they are feeling like Finishing moves, they need to be cooler).

    I can speak to some 3rd party experience about that.

    One of my players tried to play a Swashbuckler, but soon (after 3 sessions) he gave up and asked me to switch characters.

    The main problem that afflicted him was not even the question of damage, or so much the flavor. But the Action Economy was limiting him.

    According to him, in addition to Panache being unreliable, which required new attempts, the main problem is that he often found himself in a situation where he had no actions and any attempt to get feats with 2-action activities for him was unfeasible. The last straw for him was when he lost an entire turn without being able to use the finisher and still had to attack without the panache, because he needed to move, the panache failed and he decided to at least try to attack so as not to end up without doing anything.

    Anyway, much has been focused here regarding damage, but damage is not the only problem with the swashbuckler, it is just one of the problems, among several others that I have already mentioned.

    That's why I say that the class needs to be mechanically rethought. A lot about it is excessively punitive or limiting, and when you compare it to the CRB classes, especially the rogue (which had another player at the table playing with one next to this one), you can see how limited the swashbuckler ended up being.


    YuriP wrote:
    Lightning Raven wrote:

    As a player, I always am more in favor of buffing other options when there's a "best" choice that isn't harmful to the game. Even though I think rogues and fighters are on the stronger side overall, they're still not in any kind of broken state, specially since in play, Swashbucklers and all the other problematic martially inclined classes have their strengths and can outshine even Rogues and Fighters.

    Burst damage is a thing. Combat effectiveness can only be glimpsed in action. So it doesn't matter if a fighter is more reliable with white room math in its favor if a Barbarian or a Swashbuckler are taking down their foes nonetheless.

    I'm saying this just as a reminder that while we're discussing things in theory here, which can make a class or a feature look bad, sometimes in play things can be different (even if not that much).

    Personally, the two core issues that need to be addressed are: Swashbucklers have too much trouble gaining their core feature against higher leveled creatures ("daring" actions, as well) and the fact that Finishers aren't giving enough pay off for its requirements (neither they are feeling like Finishing moves, they need to be cooler).

    I can speak to some 3rd party experience about that.

    One of my players tried to play a Swashbuckler, but soon (after 3 sessions) he gave up and asked me to switch characters.

    The main problem that afflicted him was not even the question of damage, or so much the flavor. But the Action Economy was limiting him.

    According to him, in addition to Panache being unreliable, which required new attempts, the main problem is that he often found himself in a situation where he had no actions and any attempt to get feats with 2-action activities for him was unfeasible. The last straw for him was when he lost an entire turn without being able to use the finisher and still had to attack without the panache, because he needed to move, the panache failed and he decided to at least try to attack so as not to end up...

    This is a huge factor. Having to use an action to gain Panache is terrible action economy, made even worse with the points of failure.


    Just a question... How good would Panache be if it gave +4 to attacks instead of +2?

    Alternatively, would Thief Rogues be more balanced if they applied only half of their dex to damage?

    After all, one of the main benefits of Swashbucklers and Investigators was access to, seemingly, better weapons with their Martial Proficiency. Which is no longer the case, since Rogues are gaining this as well.

    Damn, now that I realize it, PF2e Rogues are looking a hell of a lot like Operatives from Starfinder. Those who know the system, know what I'm talking about. At least Rogues aren't as broken as Operatives, though.


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    Lightning Raven wrote:
    Just a question... How good would Panache be if it gave +4 to attacks instead of +2?

    I believe that you are talking +4 to damage.

    But yes this will make the thing way better specially if its scales with dices (2 per dice). But I still prefer to get the half of the number of finisher dices with minimum 1. Fells more like a precise damage than a rage.

    Having a good amount of damage from normal Strikes while in panache can make to use the finisher as a finisher viable in math.

    Lightning Raven wrote:
    Alternatively, would Thief Rogues be more balanced if they applied only half of their dex to damage?

    Honestly I'm against anything that makes the classes that already works well worse because another class that isn't working good.

    Anyway this only will end making Ruffian Rogues more attractive without solve anything for swashbucklers.


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    Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
    Lightning Raven wrote:
    Just a question... How good would Panache be if it gave +4 to attacks instead of +2?

    Do you mean the non-finisher panache damage?

    The main problem with that is scaling more than the base damage.

    Quote:
    Alternatively, would Thief Rogues be more balanced if they applied only half of their dex to damage?

    That makes thieves noticeably worse at low levels, slightly worse at high levels, but also doesn't really do anything to address why Swashbucklers (or other dex-based melee build) suck.

    So I'm not really sure what that accomplishes.

    Quote:
    After all, one of the main benefits of Swashbucklers and Investigators was access to, seemingly, better weapons with their Martial Proficiency.

    I'm not sure I'd call that a main benefit. Rapiers, Shortbows, Shortswords, and special unarmed attacks are already more or less go-to finesse options. The idea that it's somehow meaningful just doesn't really hold up. Wider proficiency is more a roleplaying concern thatn a heavy mechanical one.

    Paizo's own categorization means they consider weapons of the same tier to be of relatively comparable strength. It's an extremely negligible benefit, if any.

    Quote:
    Damn, now that I realize it, PF2e Rogues are looking a hell of a lot like Operatives from Starfinder. Those who know the system, know what I'm talking about. At least Rogues aren't as broken as Operatives, though.

    Eh, the main thing with Operatives is less that they're 'broken' and more that Starfinder's skill system is broken and operatives get to ignore it. In some way that's a bit similar to what the rogue deals with, but the problem Starfinder has is with its fundamentals.

    Sovereign Court

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    There's a whole lot of martial classes that are all doing pretty okay compared to each other;

    * Fighter is obviously a happy camper.
    * Rogue has it pretty good.
    * Thaumaturge is pretty chummy with rogue and fighter when it comes to effective martials. You get to hit nearly as hard as a barbarian while being pretty and skillful. You're actually pretty okay at coping with high level rare weirdo monsters.
    * Champion is doing just fine, very effective at holding the front together, as long as the rest of the party works with them on positioning.
    * Magus is definitely more complicated than CRB martials, but also has more tricks to pull and adequate base numbers.
    * Monk is comfortable defensively, has pleasant action economy. Doesn't hit super hard but you hit very often. You can kite and tailor your saves to your needs.

    * Barbarian might be a bit jealous of the fighter's to-hit, but rage damage makes up for a lot. Some of the instincts have pretty cool expansion paths.
    * Ranger's okay, not amazing but functions okay.
    * Summoner's Eidolon is effectively a martial. Less raw numbers but more capable of being weird (huge with long vine tentacles, flying, underwater adapted...)

    I don't know enough to talk about the inventor.

    But the fighter, rogue, thaumaturge, champion, magus, monk; if you compare them to each other, none of them needs another one of them to be nerfed.

    The only martial that I feel sorry for is the investigator who actually feels worse off than the swashbuckler.

    So can we lay off with trying to make the swashbuckler feel good by making someone else feel bad? Let's just find a way to raise the swashbuckler up enough so they fit in with the rest of the pack.


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    YuriP wrote:
    The main problem that afflicted him was not even the question of damage, or so much the flavor. But the Action Economy was limiting him.

    That is most of what we are complaining about. The action economy of gaining panache is terrible and failure prone, then you have a to hit roll as well. Two significant failure points. Plus both these have limits and can not always be retried.

    Thus the average damage is lower than it should be, and the player is regularily frustrated.


    Ascalaphus wrote:
    The only martial that I feel sorry for is the investigator who actually feels worse off than the swashbuckler.

    I only disagree here because the investigator is a skill monkey. It's pretty worse than rogue in combat but in exploration mode they are in par. The Swashbucker in other hand is a pure martial focused in combat so in the end of the day this feels it worse than investigators.

    Also after Insight Coffee workaround the investigator damage becomes a little better.

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