Thursday, August 20, 2009

More Pathfinder Results

I'm been playing around with more of the classes and wanted to post some of my thoughts and findings. All of my test builds were to level 10 and none have ever been playing so there may be things good and bad that I've missed.

Prestige Classes

Arcane Archer
I thought the original 3.5 version totally sucked. The beta version was no better. So what if you can imbue your arrows with spells, you don't get any caster levels so you won't have any spells in the first place. Well, now the AA get 7 caster levels (out of 10) which works well for me. The best comparison is to an archer ranger or fighter which are also the best lead-ins to the class. The fighter once again does the best damage from the many bonus combat feats and weapon specialization. The ranger shines in certain environments and against certain foes as well as gets some great archery feats early (Pin Point Targeting stands out here). A little bit of spell casting and the animal companion add some interesting possibilities.

The Arcane Archer gets pretty good spell casting and tends to have the best saves of the three - at least where it counts most - Will and Fort. The spells add lots of utility out of combat as well as a way to keep the enemy from getting too close.

Now maybe I was biased against the duelist by its resemblance to its 3.5 cousin the swashbuckler. I thought the Duelist sucked and didn't really look at what it could do objectively. In a moment of madness I decided to build a test Duelist and see what it could do. To be honest I was pleasantly surprised. I built the duelist from a barbarian base and a fighter base (with a 6 bab entry requirement no other way sounded appealing). The barbarian sounded odd but they actually blended quite well. The uncanny dodge would help a lot since most of the duelists defenses are dodge based. I could almost see the barbarian duelist repeating over and over "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." The fighter ends up having better AC and ability to hit and do damage.

After looking the duelist over I figured the best build would be a crit build. Precise strike is now a set bonus so it multiplies on a crit. Throw in power attack and at level 10 you can get a combat round of +15/+10 1d6+17 15-20/X2. Almost 1 in three swings would be a crit for pretty decent damage. Assuming a single hit per round damage of 26.65. The fighter does 32.40. The fighter also has 4 extra points to hit making the real damage gap bigger.

The problem is that the Duelist is stuck using a single one handed weapon: the worst fighting style. The lack of shield option hampers the duelist on defense. The duelist is fast and gets some nice dodge and initiative bonuses. He also gets significant bonus to fighting defensively. I actually think a duelist can out tank the barbarian but pales next to the fighter or the paladin. Near 16 a duelist fighting defensively could fairly easily have a higher AC then a two handed weapon fighter.

My overall view of the duelist is that it would be great in a pirate type campaign where heavy armor isn't viable but otherwise not so hot.

Arcane Trickster
I've always had a soft spot for wizard rogues as my fellow contributors might recall (Think 2e drow pirate campaign). The old AT sucked. It was a crappy caster and a crappy rogue. Well all that has changed. Now a 16th level AT is only 3 levels behind a rogue for SA and 3 levels behind in casting level. Pretty good for that much versatility.

My first thought of all that sneak attacking with rays was "drool" but then I realized a few things. At level 10 SA damage is only 4d6 and unlike a rogue get only one attack per round if you are using ray attacks. Sneak attacks are also difficult to set up from range. Getting into melee to flank is an option but 2 potential AoO could hurt. The good news is that you should have a good selection of spells to help you out setting up SA like Invis, Grease, and a variety of illusions to hide behind.

While I haven't seen one in play yet, I think that an Arcane trickster can out rogue a rogue. In a fix they could fill in for a sorc or wiz but would lack the variety/number of spells of a full caster.

The first killer c-c-c-c-combo I've noticed is a bard doing the Dirge of Doom and a rogue with Shatter Defenses. After the first hit, all hits would automatically be sneak attacks assuming the rogue lands at least one blow a round. A rogue could out damage a Barbarian with this.

As there is no D&D this week, I will continue to monkey around in my spare time and post my findings.


Rognar said...

I must admit, although I prefer D&D 3.5 (and now Pathfinder), I really don't like the way sneak attack has evolved. Where is the "sneak" in sneak attack? There are so many ways now for rogues to just keep getting sneak attack after sneak attack after sneak attack.

Obiri said...

Perhaps Vital strike would be a better name.

It doesn't really do enough damage to warrant it being super hard to pull off. If it could crit I would change my tune.

Rognar said...

Perhaps, but if vital strike is what it really is, shouldn't other martial classes be able to do it also? If a rogue can score a hit to the vitals, why not a fighter?

Obiri said...



cause then no one would play a rogue?

Rognar said...

Maybe, although back in the day, playing a thief was all about the stealth and grabbing a few extra baubles when no one was looking. You typically got one shot at a backstab and rarely killed your mark even then. Still, plenty of guys played thieves.

Obiri said...

Maybe it is just me but I seem to recall combat being much less structured pre 3.X. Rogues stayed useful for all levels (well ok less useful over time) but in 3.5 rogues are nothing more then glorified cheerleaders after level 15 or so.

Sneak attack is about the only thing they have going for them in combat and a barbarian will still do more damage in most cases.

Derobane-bane said...

Perhaps a rogue's sneak attack in combat could be justified as this:

A lightly armored, very maneuverable person with lightning fast reflexes is able to roll, thrust and jab his dagger into the small opening in between the breast plate and the hole in the chainmail that opens up just wide enough to slash near the fighter's left kidney.

A fighter, regardless of combat prowess, is never able to achieve such a feat due to his unwieldy martial weapons and heavy armor.

Is sneak attack perfect? No. Is it better than 2E? Absolutely. 2E was so wishy-washy. If the DM was in a good mood, he would let you try back stab.

I am glad that there are more and more avenues to allowing rogues sneak attack more often. It is the one way that they can contribute to combat in a significant way. They clearly lack the staying power of the fighter and do far less damage (in the long run), regardless of ever increasing chances to make the sneak attack via bluff checks or flanking.

Yes, I am a sucker for rogues so my statements are extremely skewed toward the "Catwoman Huggers" side of the spectrum.