Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Another class I'd like to try: The Inquisitor

This was a class I was really excited for when the Advanced Players Guide was first announced. I was a bit disappointed by its implementation at first but it has really grown on me as as I try out different builds and see what works and what doesn't. You can look at the class as a combination Rogue/Cleric but much better than that would suggest.

For a combat focused game there are only two Inquisitor builds that work well. The melee option is to focus on a two-handed weapon. This build is pretty easy since it really only depends on one feat: Power Attack. A great addition to this build is the use of Cornugan Smash which will give you a free Intimidate (which you get a big class bonus towards) every time you Power Attack (which is almost always). Shaken is a great debuff.
Inquisitors can lay down a lot of damage in melee combat.

While Inquisitors do really well in a melee role there effectiveness decreases at higher levels. They don't have great AC, no DR, and no other way to avoid damage. Once they get Heal, things will get easier again but they still don't make great Tanks.

The archery role is my preferred role for Inquisitors. Teamwork feats are pretty useless in this regard but can be traded away with Archetypes. Archery is pretty feat intensive and this is an area where Inquisitors suffer having to use almost all of their feats towards the Archery tree. Being Human with their bonus feat really comes in handy. Inquisitors get tons of bonus damage through Divine Favor/Power, Judgements, and Bane. Archery is all about getting a ton of attacks. Put the two together and that is a scary combination. From the back the Inquisitor can also use her spells to support they rest of the group when not launching volleys of death

Here's an example of my current favourite archery build at level 15. He can also do pretty well as a trap finder. The spell breaker Archetype is great since it trades out the useless Teamwork feats for better saves against spells. For a game that goes to 20 be aware that the capstone gives you immunity to a school of magic. This can be very bad if you are suddenly immune to healing, teleportation, or many buff spells. The best first school to pick is probably Necromancy since I don't think it has any utility or buff spells. I was saddened to see that Divine Power/Favor is an evocation spell. For Domains I prefer Liberation or Travel. Both are very strong but I prefer Liberation slightly since few things are worse than getting grappled as an archer.

Male Human Inquisitor (Spellbreaker) of Desna 15
NG Medium humanoid (human)
Init +17; Senses Perception +25
AC 30, touch 21, flat-footed 22 (+9 armor, +8 Dex, +3 deflection)
hp 108 (15d8+30)
Fort +16, Ref +17, Will +20; +3 vs. enchantment spells, +4 vs. evocation spells, +1 vs. transmutation spells, +2 vs. necromancy spells
Defensive Abilities freedom's call, stalwart
Speed 30 ft.
Ranged +3 composite longbow +21/+16/+11 (1d8+12/×3)
Special Attacks exploit weakness, bane
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 15th; concentration +14)
   At will—detect alignment
   15 rounds/day—discern lies
Inquisitor (Spellbreaker) Spells Known (CL 15th; concentration +22):
5th (4/day)—break enchantment (DC 22), flame strike (DC 22), litany of vengeance, true seeing
4th (5/day)—death ward, divine power, freedom of movement, greater invisibility, litany of escape, named bullet, restoration
3rd (7/day)—burst of speed, dimensional anchor, dispel magic, heroism, hunter's eye, litany of righteousness, magic circle against evil, protection from energy
2nd (7/day)—delay poison, honeyed tongue, invisibility, lesser restoration, remove paralysis, resist energy, see invisibility, silence (DC 19), tongues
1st (7/day)—cure light wounds, divine favor, expeditious retreat, hide from undead (DC 18), litany of sloth, protection from evil, shield of faith, true strike, wrath
0 (at will)—create water, detect magic, detect poison, guidance, light, read magic
Str 14, Dex 27, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 24, Cha 8
Base Atk +11; CMB +13; CMD 34
Feats Clustered Shots, Deadly Aim, Great Fortitude, Manyshot, Point-Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Shot, Toughness
Traits reactionary, vagabond child (urban)
Skills Bluff +3, Climb +5, Disable Device +26, Fly +8, Heal +11, Intimidate +6, Knowledge (arcana) +15, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +4, Knowledge (nature) +4, Knowledge (planes) +15, Knowledge (religion) +4, Perception +25, Ride +11, Sense Motive +32, Stealth +25, Swim +5
Languages Common, Varisian
SQ defense against magic, defense against magic, defense against magic, defense against magic, domains (liberation), foil casting, liberation, judgement 5/day), strong-willed, teamwork feat, track
Other Gear celestial armor, +3 composite longbow, belt of incredible dexterity +6, bracers of archery, greater, cloak of resistance +4, handy haversack, headband of inspired wisdom +6, ring of protection +3, 5,800 gp
Special Abilities
Clustered Shots Total damage from full-round ranged attacks before applying DR
Deadly Aim -3/+6 Trade a penalty to ranged attacks for a bonus to ranged damage.
Defense Against Magic +1 (Transmutation) (Ex) At 3rd level, a spellbreaker picks a single wizard school. She gains a +1 bonus on saving throws against arcane spells of that school. Every four levels beyond 3rd, the spellbreaker picks a new school and gains this bonus against arcane spells of tha
Defense Against Magic +2 (Necromancy) (Ex) At 3rd level, a spellbreaker picks a single wizard school. She gains a +1 bonus on saving throws against arcane spells of that school. Every four levels beyond 3rd, the spellbreaker picks a new school and gains this bonus against arcane spells of tha
Defense Against Magic +3 (Enchantment) (Ex) At 3rd level, a spellbreaker picks a single wizard school. She gains a +1 bonus on saving throws against arcane spells of that school. Every four levels beyond 3rd, the spellbreaker picks a new school and gains this bonus against arcane spells of tha
Defense Against Magic +4 (Evocation) (Ex) At 3rd level, a spellbreaker picks a single wizard school. She gains a +1 bonus on saving throws against arcane spells of that school. Every four levels beyond 3rd, the spellbreaker picks a new school and gains this bonus against arcane spells of tha
Detect Alignment (At will) (Sp) Detect chaos, evil, good, or law at will.
Discern Lies (15 rounds/day) (Sp) Discern Lies at will
Exploit Weakness (Ex) With a crit, ignore DR, suppress Regen, and take advantage of vulnerability.
Foil Casting (Su) At 3rd level, when an opponent tries to cast an arcane spell within a spellbreaker's threatened area, the DC for that caster to cast defensively increases by 2. This increase stacks with the effects of the Disruptive feat (see page 112 of the Core
Freedom's Call (15 rounds/day) (Su) 30'r aura suppresses many conditions.
Greater Bane (+2 / 4d6) (15 rounds/day) (Su) Make the weapon you are holding a bane weapon.
Inquisitor (Spellbreaker) Domain (Liberation) Granted Powers: You are a spirit of freedom and a staunch foe against all who would enslave and oppress.
Liberation (15 rounds/day) (Su) Act as if you had freedom of movement for 15 rounds/day.
Manyshot You can shoot two arrows as the first attack of a full attack action.
Point-Blank Shot +1 to attack and damage rolls with ranged weapons at up to 30 feet.
Precise Shot You don't get -4 to hit when shooting or throwing into melee.
Rapid Shot You get an extra attack with ranged weapons. Each attack is at -2.
Second Judgement (5/day) (Su) Variable bonuses increase as the combat continues.
Stalwart (Ex) If you succeed at a Fort or Will save for reduced effect, you take none instead.
Strong-Willed (Ex) At 1st level, a spellbreaker is able to stand strong against magical effects that seek to control, compel, or persuade her. The spellbreaker rolls twice and takes the best result when making a Will saving throw against a mind-affecting effect. This a
Teamwork Feat (change 7/day) Swap your most recent Teamwork feat for another
Track +7 Add the listed bonus to survival checks made to track.

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Fairy Tail

Fairy Tail is a manga that has been adapted into an anime series from Japan. I stumbled onto the series while looking for character pictures for some of my Pathfinder character concepts and I thought one was so cool I looked into it further.

It didn't take too much detective work to figure out this is Erza Scarlet from Fairy Tail. I've enjoy Anime in the past so I thought I'd look this one up and see if it was any good. I found a source with English subtitles and have started through the first season. I think there are in the middle of season 5 but I could be wrong (around 175 episodes so far).

Fairy Tail is based in a world where magic is somewhat common and wizards band together in guilds. Magic is much more varied than D&D style magic and it seems like there are almost as many styles as there are wizards. These are not all scholarly wizards that just stand around and cast magic, they set themselves on fire and punch things, summon magic weapons, and many act more like magic monks or Magi than the stereotypical wizard. Tech level is a bit harder to pin down. Maybe 19th century with trains, magic propelled cars but no gunpowder.

 Fairy Tail is one of the guilds and is famous for being a bit out of control. The main character Lucy is introduced in the first episode as on her way to Era where the guild hall is located so she can ask to join. The most famous member of the guild is the wizard who acts as the waitress in the guild hall and who poses in the world's equivalent of a swimsuit magazine. Like almost all of the female characters in the cartoon she is very... top heavy.

The show starts slow as it introduces characters and key concepts to the show like the various types of magic. Lucy uses celestial magic which is basically summoning. She carries around a bunch of keys that act as summoning foci. She has made a contract which each of her summoned creatures about how often they can be summoned and what actions they will perform. At this point in the show they are all some what limited in their effectiveness but already you can see that Lucy is learning to turn some of these limitations as assets.

The next character introduced is Natsu. Natsu specializes in Fire magic and was raised by a Fire Dragon. Natsu isn't the smartest person around, gets terrible motion sickness, and thinks the answer to just about every problem is brute force. His powers are so strong it often works.

Happy is a talking cat that follows Natsu around and likes to pester Lucy. He has limited shape changing magic and provides a lot of the show's comic relief. He really likes fish and saying "Aye". Like Natsu, he's not all that bright but often has a non conventional solution to a problem the characters are facing.

Gray is an ice wizard that does fights with Natsu constantly. Quieter than Natsu, he likes to think things through before rushing into action although he will still quickly slip into a rage if someone (Natsu) stars pushing his buttons. His magic seems to be better balanced between offense and defense. He has a habit of unconsciously taking off his clothes.

The last to join their team is Erza. Her magic is called Requipping magic. She has stored in an extra-dimensional pocket a number of magic weapons and armor that grant her different powers depending on  which is equipped. She is famous for being able to switch more often and faster than anyone else. Ezra is the strongest woman in Fairy Tail and is one one of 4 members of the guild who is allowed to take on S Class (for Super hard) quests for the job board. Erza is very serious and just about everyone is very afraid of her temper. Natsu challenges her to a duel and she defeats him with a single punch.

Fairy Tail is lots of fun and fairly light hearted most of the time with lots of Japanese zaniness. There is lots of violence but no blood or gore in the cartoon. There is some minor PG-13 language and the show is a bit too sexy for my 8 year old to watch. An example is that Lucy's summons Taurus always compliments her on her cleavage. The characters are well done and seem to grow as the storyline progresses and you start to see friendship and respect growing between them. The villains are interesting that there is a wide variety of secondary characters that I'm sure will grow as the series continues.

If you like Anime, I would check it out.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Optimization Theory

I don't always make it clear why I like some classes and dislike others. I figured if I wrote my Optimization theory and the standards around it more posts will make more sense. Clarity is good.

When I say Optimization I don't mean flat out Min/maxing. Sure a wizard can pump his Intelligence to the point where everything pretty much auto fails saves vs his spells but he'll have no hit points, poor saves, and go last every round. In other words he'll be dead shortly and its hard to be effective when you are dead.

A well optimized character can do his or her job well and has few if any weaknesses. IMHO all characters should have at least a 12 Constitution because everyone from time to time is going to get hit and make fortitude saves.

Lets start with defenses. In general all characters should have save bonuses in all three categories equal or exceeding their character level. If one has to be sub-par Reflex is the least likely to end your characters life. Keeping this up to level 20 is very tough for many classes since often Wisdom or Dex are dump stats. I don't recommend every dumping Wisdom unless you have at least 2 levels of Paladin and a big Charisma score. Dumping Dex is still a bad idea in most situations but a 10-12 is usually ok as long as you have healing available and extra movement options (though I'm not sure how you'd avoid Dazing spells).

Armor Class is a bit odd. It works great for the first 5 levels or so and then begins to loose its effectiveness. The general rule with AC is for it to be your level +20. That will keep all but the bosses from hitting you 95% of the time. It is harder to boost Touch AC but it comes in very handy in those situations where you are fighting nasty things with touch attacks (like undead) or ranged touch attacks (like wizards). AC is really only useful for those classes that like to get up close and personal with the bad guys but all classes should have some sort of defense on standby.

For the melee types a miss chance is often better than high AC. Mirror Image or Displacement are great as is the Duelist's Parry or the pre-nerf Crane Wing deflection. Considering how difficult to get and pricey Damage Reduction is, I imagine that must work pretty well too but I'm never played a character that's put it to good use.

Offense is a tough one. If you are playing published adventures like an Adventure path, they tend to be based around non optimized characters and players that use team work and understand the game. Well optimized offensive characters tend to kill things pretty quickly and eventually the DM is going to start compensating by adjusting the monsters or at least boosting hp. In some ways its an arms race that really isn't worth taking part in. The party needs to be able to have high "To Hit" bonuses when required, have the ability to target Touch AC and some area effect damage for those god awful swarms. Really, damage dealing types should be able to kill any equal CR critter in about three rounds or less assuming full attacks. Of course extra fire power is always good if you can call on it when you need it.

Roles: There are several roles that characters can fill and any well optimized character should excel at his or her roll and be able to assist in other areas.

Meat Shield: Someone has to get between the squishies and the monsters. There are lots of ways to do this. Any character with good melee defenses as listed above or you can use disposable tanks like summoned monsters. The only real requirement is that it has to be threatening enough to keep your opponents attention. The tin can fighter that does 3 points of damage will be ignored but the gargantuan lake octopus that is grappling everything will not.

The Face: This one depends on how much roleplaying is actually being done. If you play with a group where entire sessions go by with no blood being spilt I have you have some ranks in one of the social skills or your GM gives good bonuses for good roleplaying. Otherwise, social skills can be very helpful but are usually not essential with the possible exception of Diplomacy. That skill is so versatile at least someone in the party should be at least reasonably good at it.

The Brain: While this often falls to the wizard, as long as all of the key Knowledge skills for identifying monsters are covered (Arcane, Planes, Religion) the rest are just a bonus. In a party without a high Intelligence class, each PC could take one skill and you'd have your bases covered. The other knowledge skills are useful and flavorful but really how often in a campaign is Engineering going to be useful?

The Buffer: All magic classes get buffs and these can act as a massive force multiplier. A party that is entering battle with Good Hope, Barkskin, Haste and Inspire Courage is going to be massively more effective than a party without.

The Debuffer: This role is not as effective as the buffer since here you often have to defeat saving throws for the debuffs to stick. The Witch class is probably the best debuffer and can set up any BBEG for what is almost an autofail saving throw with a round or two of prep. I would also put characters that specialise in Save or suck spells here as well since its all about taking opponents out of the battle.

Support: Problem solving. Having the right skills is a good help at low levels but quickly gets surpassed by magic. Flying, Stone Shape, Teleport, Gaseous Form, Disintegrate, Clairvoyance, Divination are all great ways to solve problems. Trap finding falls into this category as well but unlike earlier editions of the game its not as essential as it used to be. If you can be an effective trap finder while still able to focus on your primary role then go for it. Your party will thank you.

Healing: You don't need a good healer but life is much safer with one around. As long as you carry around crates of Cure Light Wounds wands and someone can use them to patch up injuries after combat you will probably be ok. Until Heal comes along healing during combat is not really your best move in most cases but its very helpful to have the standard Remove Poison, Disease, Curses, Restoration spells available, although potions and scrolls will again fill the gap. Heal is a big game changer in Pathfinder since its likely the first time you can heal damage faster than it is being delivered.

Damage dealer: almost everyone should be able to contribute here. Again its good to have a variety of damage dealing types. A few heavy hitter melee types, an archer, and a caster with a few blasty spells on standby.

Lastly don't spend all of your money on a handful of really nice items since you'll often do better but spreading the money around over a variety of magic item slots.  One should have a Bag of Holding or even better - a Handy Haversack to store your collection of potions and scrolls within. After you've been hit with a blind effect its great to reach into your Handy Haversack and automatically get the right potion.

So that is my take on optimization in Pathfinder. It's more art than science. There isn't only one way to do it right but there are many ways to do it wrong since Pathfinder is full of terrible (or at least non optimized) options.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Way of the Wicked 16

Boss Fight.

Setting up boss fights is always tough. Too strong and you TPK the party, too weak and the boss gets rolled easily. The PCs were ready to fight Ara Mathra. I upgraded him from a Movadic Angel to a Planetar. He was able to scry on the party and new all of their tactics and how they had buffed. He was also buffed and was ready to go. I had what I thought was a great strategy.

It started out pretty well. The melee combatants were foiled by Anti-Life Shell, the archer cleric was rolling like mad and inflicting tons of damage. It took two tries but the wizard was able to bring down the Shell and most of his other buffs after a lucky caster level check. The PCs were hurting him but he was able to heal most of it back. I quickly realized that if I kept playing defense I had no chance so the angel cast Holy Word only to have it interupted. The second attempt was successful but I made a huge tactical blunder by not moving after the spell went off and blinded the entire party. The melees swung blindly made a couple lucky hits and that was the end of Ara Mathra.

I have to admit I was a bit disappointed that I made such a dumb mistake but I don't think it really changed the outcome too much. Five level 12 PCs versus one CR17 angel should be a tough fight but with 5 actions for every one the Angel can make it is a really tough situation. Action economy wins the day.

With the Vale now fully under their control, the PC sat back for the remaining two months and relaxed, crafted some new magic items and enjoyed life as evil dreadlords.

With the coming of spring, the PCs marched their army to Daveryn where they were to assist Sakkarot Fire Axe is the taking of this city. The PCs arrive only to find that the city has already fallen. Fire-Axe takes the PCs into his confidence as tells them his secret: that he is supposed to throw the fight against the Army of Asmodeans. Of course the more pressing confirm is how he is expected to beat the 30 000 strong rmy of the Mitrans that King Markardian has assembled and is even now marching north with. Of course the PCs have no idea at this point.

Fire-Axe does request some assistance from the PCs. When he took the city, the Duke managed to escape. He would really appreciate it if the PCs could locate him and capture him alive. In the meantime they are welcome to loot whatever they can find in the city.

Through the use of divination magic they were able to track the duke to a section of the city but magical means failed to pinpoint the exact dukes location. They searched door to door but failed to turn him up. They did suppress a contingent of guards that were protecting a roadway. The PCs tried to lure him out with a ruse but it failed.

Next session we'll see if the PCs managed to locate the Duke and perhaps explore/loot the city.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

The Scarred Witch Doctor

The Scarred Witch Doctor (SWD) is an archetype for the Witch class. What is most interesting about this archetype and unique to Pathfinder is that it uses Constitution as its casting stat.

Why does this matter? Casters have a few weak points but the biggest tends to be their Fortitude save. In our current campaign, the PC wizard suspected an enemy wizard was present, picked him out hiding invisibly, and cast Polymorph Other. The wizard rolled ok but it wasn't enough and he turned into a sheep (someone plays too much WoW). With one stroke the battle swung towards the PCs and the sheeped wizard's companions no longer stood a chance. Smart casters (and wizards should be nothing but) will always target what should be the lowest saving throw. Getting petrified, polymorphed, poisoned, etc is not much fun as a player.

So a SWD has little reason to put points into Str, Int or Cha. Bump Dex up to 14 to boost your Reflex save from awful to merely crappy and help you aim your ray spells. Put Wis up to 14 so your Will save is decent, and then focus everything else into Con. You are boosting your hitpoints (you will have tons), your Fort save, the number of bonus spells you get, and your spell DCs. Score!

Since you really only have to focus on Con you can really go all out. Other arcane casters have to put points in non essential stats like Cha or Int but you can focus on the three stats that boost your saving throws.

For an extra boost of awesomeness take a single level of Urban Barbarian with a focus on Con. A couple feats dedicated to Extra Rage and you can rage most battles. I am pretty sure since Urban Barbarian allows you to use mental skills while raging that includes casting. You can easily get your Hex and spell DCs almost to 30 by level 15 which means few things will be able to resist your power.

Now I admit the Witch spell list is not the best. It loses a lot of the wizards versatility but does borrow a few tricks from druids and clerics (Heal!). Most of this is made up for by Hexes. I played a Witch in the Kingmaker campaign and I was both grossly overpowered and nearly useless depending on what type of enemy we were facing. The Sleep hex is nasty and trivialized many encounters especially when it follows an Evil Eye/Misfortune combo. The Witch really is King/Queen of the debuffs. With an insane number of bonus spells from crazy high constitution and a carefully chosen patron I think the Witch can replace the Wizard in many parties.

Knowing that we are likely going to be playing the Mythic campaign Wrath of Righteous in the next year, I've been adding Mythic to my character builds to see how they behave. Most builds do quite well from a mythic power-up but not all (my Smartest Orc in the Universe didn't gain much). Like most arcane casters the SWD becomes even more awesome driving up spell and hex DCs into the stratosphere. Only BBEGs have any chance to make the saving throw.

Here's a semi finished level 15 SWD

Scarred WitchDoctor
Half-Orc Barbarian (Urban Barbarian) 1/Witch (Scarred Witch Doctor) 14
NG Medium humanoid (human, orc)
Init +9; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +10
AC 15, touch 15, flat-footed 10 (+5 Dex)
hp 259 (1d12+14d6+194)
Fort +24, Ref +17, Will +22; +2 vs. effects that cause pain or have the [pain] descriptor
Defensive Abilities scarshield
Speed 30 ft.
Special Attacks hexes (cackle, evil eye, flight, fortune, ice tomb, misfortune, slumber), rage (31 rounds/day)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 15th; concentration +15)
   At will—feather fall (self only) (DC 11)
   14 minutes/day—fly (self only)
   1/day—levitate (self only)
Witch (Scarred Witch Doctor) Spells Prepared (CL 15th; concentration +27):
1st—mage armor
0 (at will)—detect magic, light, putrefy food and drink (DC 22), read magic
Str 10, Dex 20, Con 35, Int 10, Wis 20, Cha 10
Base Atk +8; CMB +8; CMD 23
Feats Extra Rage, Extra Rage, Extra Rage, Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Raging Vitality, Spell Penetration
Traits magical knack
Skills Heal +7, Intimidate +4, Perception +10, Spellcraft +18, Swim +4, Use Magic Device +18; Racial Modifiers +2 Intimidate
Languages Common, Orc
SQ controlled rage, controlled rage: constitution, controlled rage: dexterity, crowd control, fetish mask, hex scar, orc blood, patron spells (time), weapon familiarity, tireless rage
Other Gear belt of physical might (dex & con +6), cloak of resistance +5, headband of inspired wisdom +6, 89,000 gp
Special Abilities
Cackle (Su) As a move action, extend the duration of other hexes by 1 rd.
Controlled Rage (Ex) May gain lesser bonus split as desired, but without normal drawbacks.
Crowd Control (Ex) If 2+ foes adjacent, +1 to hit & AC. Unslowed by crowds & bonus to intimidate.
Darkvision (60 feet) You can see in the dark (black and white vision only).
Evil Eye -4 (15 round(s)) (DC 29) (Su) Foe in 30 ft takes penalty to your choice of AC, attacks, saves, ability or skill checks (Will part).
Fetish Mask (Su) +2 to Heal, Intimidate & save vs pain while wearing the mask. Can enchant the mask
Fortune (2 round(s)) (Su) Ally in 30 ft can roll 2d20 for an attack, save, ability, or skill check (and take higher) once/rd.
Hex Scar You must scar your flesh for every hex you learn.
Ice Tomb (DC 29) (Su) A storm of ice and freezing wind envelops the creature, which takes 3d8 points of cold damage (Fortitude half). If the target fails its save, it is paralyzed and unconscious but does not need to eat or breathe while the ice lasts. The ice has 20 hit
Magical Knack (Witch [Scarred Witch Doctor]) +2 CL for a specific class, to a max of your HD.
Misfortune (2 rds) (DC 29) (Su) Foe in 30 ft must take the lower of 2d20 for rolls (Will neg).
Orc Blood Half-orcs count as both humans and orcs for any effect related to race.
Rage (31 rounds/day) (Ex) -2 Str, -2 Con, +2 to Will saves, -2 to AC when enraged.
Raging Vitality +2 CON while raging, Rage does not end if you become unconscious.
Scarshield +7 (14 minutes/day) (Su) +1/2 level to AC for a number of minutes per day equal to your level.
Slumber (14 rds) (DC 29) (Su) Foe in 30 ft falls asleep for duration, or until damaged or roused by ally (Will neg).

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Tuesday, April 01, 2014

The Ulimate Combat Rogue: The Slayer

The playtest version of the Slayer came out late last year and the final version is coming this summer. The Slayer is supposed to be a hybrid class of a Ranger and a Rogue and borrows many of the best features from both.

Now I will do my best from going into why I don't like the Rogue class but many, many people like the idea of a rogue so if there was another class out there that do the same sorts of things but only better then the world will be a happier place for all.

Few classes can do melee combat well. In later levels there are lots of heavy hitters and a good melee combatant needs some way to take (or avoid) the hits. There is no perfect solution but as long as you have your basses covered in at least one area you should be ok.

The first is AC. Have a high enough armor class and you are almost unhittable. The PC Sergent Fenton in my current campaign is a good example of this. Most sessions go by without him getting hit at all. Even his touch AC is really good.

The second is DR. It doesn't matter if you get hit with every swing if they have to subtract 10 or 15 points of damage from each blow.

The third is avoidance. There are a few options here. You can use Mirror Image, Displacement, if available pre-nerf Crane Wing, or Duelist's Parry.

Since the Slayer (like the Rogue and Ranger) can't really achieve any of these three objective ( a dex based sword and board Ranger might be able to pull off AC), they are best suited for ranged combat.

So how good are Slayers at range combat? Let's look at their derivative classes to get a starting point. The rogue is pretty bad. Sure she can can do some serious damage when she has surprise but once she's seen those 1d6+5 arrows are a joke. The ranger does much better. In fact, I would argue its the rangers most effective style. In Pathfinder archers are crazy powerful since they can just stand at the back and launch volley after volley of death. It is a bit boring to play but hugely effective.

The good news here is that the Slayer is perhaps an even better archer than a Ranger. The Slayer will get sneak attack on each arrow during surprise but remains very effective even without it. The ranger gets a few spells that can help out but in any case they are quite comparable.

In a campaign where all you face are Drow, the Ranger is much better since your favored enemy is obvious. Any other time the slayer is really good since you just spend a standard/move/swift action studying your foes and you instantly get a bonus equal to half of the rangers (Favored Target). No limits per day, no limits on enemy type.

What else makes the Slayer awesome? You still get to throw lots of sneak attack dice. Not as many as a rogue but its still good. The better part is that you don't do trivial damage without it.

You get slayer talents, which are like Rogue talents but better. You get to cherry pick most of the best talents form the Rogue and Ninja list and get a few awesome ones of your own. You can pick Trapfinding making you the ultimate combat rogue. You can take Ranger Weapon Styles as talents. You can get Evasion as a Talent. You get full BAB so you can hit things. Favored Target really makes sure you hit things. You still get a decent number of skills and you should have decent hit points.

What sucks about the Slayer? They still have crappy saves with no easy way to fix that. They still get beat hard in melee combat but do have a few more hit points so its not quite as bad as a Rogue.

Overall I really like the Slayer class (not crazy about the name). It is a great Rogue replacement that is effective in combat without trying too hard. Bards still make better skill monkeys but not everyone likes classes with spells. Just tell your adventuring buddies that you are a rogue, do rogue stuff but be awesome at combat as a Slayer.

Let's hope the final version of the class doesn't get nerfed.