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Topics - Power

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D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder / [PF] Fable Tapestry Bard spell
« on: June 04, 2020, 02:14:49 PM »
So there's a Bard only spell that lets you summon NPCs as if using Shadow Conjuration on a Summon Monster spell for some daft reason (with a 1 round casting time too):
Source Inner Sea Races pg. 219
School illusion (shadow) [shadow]; Level bard 5, skald 5 (Varisian)
Casting Time 1 round
Components V, S, F (your kapenia)
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Effect 1 legendary character/4 caster levels
Duration 1 round/level
Saving Throw Will disbelief; Spell Resistance yes
The spell weaves shadows and colors from your kapenia into the shape of legendary characters from Varisian folktales. This spell functions as shadow conjuration emulating summon monster I, except as noted here. You can summon only one copy of the same character at the same time, even with multiple castings of this spell. The shadow creatures are 40% real and are drawn from the list below.

Anelda the beautiful (freelance thief)
NPC Codex 147
Old Mother Toad (fey giant toad)
Bestiary 3 116
Sonnorae the storyteller (con artist)
NPC Codex 29
Vyushbaro the savior (carousing champion)
NPC Codex 47
Winter’s Son (evasive slip)
NPC Codex 65
Zykomso the slaver (bearded devil)
Bestiary 73

So it's a bit of a question how to put this spell to use. Worth noting that the bard can immediately summon 3 of them in a single casting. Now, it's possible to add Solid Shadows and make it 60% real (add Crook of Cidhureen for another 50%) if you care, but the more interesting question is what to do with a spell that lets you summon a Cleric, Druid, Rogue, and Bard (also those monsters, but who cares). The most interesting aspect that stands out about this spell is the crazy amounts of healing your party can obtain just by summoning the Carousing Champion (who has 7 channel energy uses and can spontaneously convert all his non-domain spells into cures) and the Evasive Slip (who comes with a wand of cure moderate wounds that has 15 charges remaining). The NPCs come with all their magic items, which makes for a bit of an interesting question. When a summon monster spell expires and the creatures it has summoned disappears, all the spells that creature has cast end. But if you use spells from magic items that the summoned monster possesses? Then it's not exactly the summoned monster casting them. And one of the things that's possible here is summoning the Freelance Thief, Con Artist, and Evasive Slip and getting 4 potions of invisibility, and the Evasive Slip also comes with a wand of barkskin. They also come with gold and magic items. I know for sure that the Con Artist's Elixir of Truth will outlast the summon spell, seeing as it's not a spell effect (much like how supernatural abilities don't expire at summon's end), although the double will saves will make it horribly unreliable (unless you either use Beguiling Gift to make them voluntarily drink it or Mind Fog to destroy their will saving throws, but both of those spells are pretty rare picks for spells known).

Other stuff you can probably do involves items that interact with the classes in question. A Bard summon can be handed a Page of Spell Knowledge to cast whatever's on it after all (but you might prefer Summon Monster 6 for a 100% real Lillend Azata that casts as a 7th level Bard) or use its Lore Master ability to make knowledge checks for you (except you are a Bard yourself so you don't exactly need this), but I'm not sure about the rest.

This spell feels like it has some stunts in it (beyond just casting it to out-do Heal with a massive amount of healing spells and channels between the Evasive Slip and Carousing Champion alone), so I'm wondering how far you can push this spell to extract value out of it. It seems to be pretty shitty for combat, tbh, thanks to those shadow conjuration rules giving them garbage health. 

Alright, I've been looking at the Paladin class and just for kicks I've been wondering how feasible it is to make the Paladin also handle the party spellcaster role, considering it has so many options to expand its spell list and abilities. If anybody has any ideas on how best to achieve this, I'm all ears.

The following options for spellcasting expansion come to my mind: Patron deity spell list additions, oaths, the Unsanctioned Knowledge feat, and domain selection with Sacred Servant Paladin. One more thing worth noting is that you probably don't need a spell when you can just UMD a scroll or wand for it. That makes spells that are faster than a standard action or interact better with feats, metamagics, high DCs, and caster levels (use Magical Knack trait to fix CL) a bit more valuable. With regards to DCs I'm assuming the Paladin has a charisma score of at least 18 (Aasimar race works well for this) and a Lesser Metamagic Rod of Persistent Spell. A Cornugon Smash feat with the cruel weapon property also does a decent job of destroying an enemy's saving throws, but that's an investment into melee and you won't be casting in the same turn without a Lesser Metamagic Rod of Quicken Spell and/or a Spell Storing weapon property. Here's the list of spells I've got so far:

Abadar: Word of Recall (homecity temple only) 4
Erastil: Goodberry 2 / Animal Messenger 2 (may use any nonhostile animal, including friendly guard animals and domesticated animals)
Iomedae: Good Hope 3 / Mark of Justice 3
Kazutal: Blessing of Fervor 4 / Freedom of Movement 4 (Remember that Oath of Vengeance gives Blessing of Fervor 3)
Sarenrae: Flame Blade 2 / Sunbeam 4
Shelyn: Charm Person 1 / Charm Animal 2 / Good Hope 4
Shizuru: Searing Light 2 / Heroism 3 / Sunbeam 4
Torag: Ironbloom Sprouts 1 / Mending 1 / Fabricate 3 / Major Creation 3
Tsukiyo: Faerie Fire 1 / Calm Spirit 2 / Darkvision 2

Far as I can tell, Torag has by far the best spells, since Fabricate and Major Creation are great stuff. From a damage dealing perspective Iomedae's addition of Good Hope is pretty nice. Flame Blade is best for damage you do yourself. These spells are obtained rather effortlessly, since all you have to do is worship the deity in question and that's it. No archetype, feat, trait, or anything else required.

Oath against Fiends:  [Resist Energy 1 / Detect Thoughts 2 / Invisibility Purge 3 / Plane Shift 4] Now this is a solid list, all worth having. Worth noting Paladins already get Resist Energy as a 2nd level spell, but having it at 1st level is nice. And you can already use Litany of Seeing at 3rd level if you want. Detect Thoughts is rather handy (although the 2nd round int score condition may become a problem at higher levels) and Plane Shift at 4th level is great. The downside is this does not stack with Sacred Servant Paladin.
Oath of Vengeance: [Wrath 1 / Confess 2 / Blessing of Fervor 3 / Order's Wrath 4] Wrath might be useful if for some reason Divine Favor is not enough and you are not using better sources of morale bonuses. Confess is a waste when you already have Zone of Truth. And Order's Wrath is only useful against chaotic enemies for the 1 round dazed condition really (but that's still handy). Blessing of Fervor, however, is great to have as a Paladin. The real reason you typically want Oath of Vengeance is for massive amounts of Smite Evil uses, especially as a Sacred Servant Paladin (which gets fewer Smite Evil uses and extra Lay on Hands uses).

Other oaths typically conflict with Oath of Vengeance, trade away Divine Grace, or do other things that are not worth having. Oath of Vengeance is more skippable if you have another source of large amounts of smite evil uses (typically a 2 level ninja dip for the ki pool and loads of Tea of Transference - alternatively a Perfect Style feat will give you a ki pool of 2).

Unsanctioned Knowledge
1 - Charm Person / Grease / Hideous Laughter / Obscuring Mist (this one should be a wand tbh) / Call Weapon / Dazzling Blade?
2 - Heroism (better as wand) / Blur / Invisibility / Glitterdust / Pyrotechnics / Silence / Gallant Inspiration / Bladed Dash (with lesser metamagic rod of quicken spell) / Mirror Image / Full Pouch
3 - Good Hope? / Confusion / Slow / Charm Monster / Invisibility Sphere / Displacement / Shadow Enchantment / Jester's Jaunt / Fear / Glyph of Warding
4 - Sonic Thrust / Shadow Conjuration / Dimension Door / Dance of a Hundred Cuts / Greater Invisibility / Hold Monster / Fear

These are the thoughts I've got so far. Generally speaking for 4th level spells, Sonic Thrust is the best since you can combine it with Quick Draw to draw something like 12 large greatswords and add Smite Evil to instantly kill an enemy, but if you take the Telekinetic Mastery feat you can use Telekinesis as a SLA anyway. Call Weapon is a naked melee attack and damage bonus (just target yourself, get +2 to attack and damage until end of round). Jester's Jaunt is more useful with a Spell Storing melee weapon, especially since you can hit yourself for 1 nonlethal to teleport as a free action. Dazzling Blade is mostly recommended for a 1st level spell as swift action to blind an enemy for 1 round. If you decide to use shadow spells, you should get a shadow stencil set for +1 to DCs and really use that metamagic rod of persistent spell.

Caves: [Magic Stone 1 / Create Pit 2 / Spiked Pit 3 / Spike Stones 4] More of a battlefield control pick. Tunnel Runner domain power can come in handy too. A decent pick if you have Torag.
Home: [Alarm 1 / Shield Other 2 / Glyph of Warding 3 / Imbue with Spell Ability 4] Mostly useful if you intend to take advantage of Glyph of Warding and Imbue with Spell Ability. Alarm and Shield Other are both spells you can cast daily, so Shield Other being on Paladin list is fine.
Knowledge: [Comprehend Languages 1 / Detect Thoughts 2 / Speak with Dead 3 / Divination 4] None of these are on the Paladin list. Only caveat is that Detect Thoughts can give you problems at high levels when int 26+ NPCs are near. Makes the Paladin into a master investigator. Also means Paladin gets all Knowledge skills as class skills.
Toil: [Command 1 / Wood Shape 2 / Stone Shape 3 / Minor Creation 4] A decent list of crafting spells to pull off a lot. Works well with Torag as your patron deity (giving you Fabricate and Major Creation)
Travel: [Longstrider 1 / Locate Object 2 / Fly 3 / Dimension Door 4] The domain powers are good. Longstrider and Dimension Door are both great spells. Fly is only good for higher speed and buffing others when you already have Angelic Aspect to give yourself a fly speed with minutes/level duration. Locate Object is too situational to have it every day, really.
Trickery (Erecura only, unless you have the Urban Acolyte faith trait and are worshiping Chaldira): [Disguise Self 1 / Invisibility 2 / Nondetection 3 / Confusion 4] No one really expects the Paladin to be a master of sneaking around, but now you can do it (shadow property on armor helps too - improved and greater variants exist also), and you even get Veil (with a terrible DC) as a domain power.
Smoke (Angradd/Svarozic deities only): [Burning Hands 1 / Pyrotechnics 2 / Stinking Cloud 3 / Wall of Fire 4] Adds an instant smattering of battlefield control options. Wall of Fire and Burning Hands both kind of suck though, being damage dealing spells that do bad damage, unless you're using metamagic rods to add riders (like Dazing Spell, Cherry Blossom Spell, Blissful Spell, or Authoritative Spell). Still, you can always prepare another Stinking Cloud or Pyrotechnics into your 4th-level domain slot.

Worth noting that Icon of Aspects lets you swap the domain powers of one of your domains with the domain powers from any other domain you choose that your deity provides, with the change being initiated while preparing spells and lasting for 24 hours. It's not PFS legal though, and it's a Cleric-specific item, but a UMD check will let your Sacred Servant Paladin count as a Cleric anyway. This makes Sacred Servant Paladins much better since you can combine the spells of one domain with the granted powers of another. That means that Hubris subdomain (available to Iomedae) can be obtained with any domain spell list, for instance. Rage subdomain can also be obtained (Ragathiel would be a fitting deity) if you want to add the Barbarian's Rage to your Paladin. Kobold Faith race trait (which can be obtained as a non-Kobold through the Adopted social trait), Urban Acolyte faith trait, and Acolyte of Apocrypha faith trait also allow you to expand the list of subdomains available to your deity.

Still a bit uncertain on what other domains, and spells are good to have. Any thoughts? What do you think are the best spells and domains for a Paladin to add to his list? I think part of the question we need to ask is what kind of proficiencies the Paladin is missing and how to cover that in order to make the Paladin a more useful party member. Another thing worth noting is the ability to UMD scrolls and wands. A wand of Calcific Touch for instance can be paired with things like Divine Favor and Smite Evil to allow the Paladin to hit for massive amounts of dexterity damage as a melee touch attack.           

D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder / [PF] Perilous Puzzle Box item
« on: May 26, 2020, 05:49:38 AM »
So I saw this PF item and I wondered how one might go about abusing it:

Price 5,000 gp; Slot none; CL 9th; Weight 1 lb.; Aura moderate conjuration
Source Horror Adventures pg. 222

Brass latticework decorates the faces of this cubical mahogany puzzle box. While in its solved configuration, the puzzle box is safe to open and close, and the user can access an extradimensional compartment that can store up to 10 pounds of objects. The user can store a single touch spell of 4th level or lower in the box by casting the spell and touching the box. This spell has no effect until the box is changed to an unsolved state and someone subsequently tries and fails to solve it.

Any creature can close the box and twist its segments, at which point the puzzle box becomes unsolved and requires a successful DC 20 Intelligence check to solve and open. Each subsequent consecutive round spent randomly twisting the segments increases the number of Intelligence checks needed to solve the puzzle, to a maximum of three checks after 3 rounds of scrambling. As soon as the creature ceases twisting the segments, it is no longer safe to change the configuration. Thereafter, twisting any segment triggers a 1-minute timer, during which the holder can safely attempt to solve the puzzle with a series of Intelligence checks. This requires two hands and a full-round action for each Intelligence check. If the timer runs out before the puzzle is solved or the creature pauses for 1 round in the middle of attempting to solve the puzzle, the touch spell stored in the perilous puzzle box (if any) discharges, automatically hitting any creature holding the box.

Unless the attempt to solve the puzzle succeeds, after 1 minute, the box automatically reverts to the configuration it had before the attempt to solve the puzzle and locks itself for 24 hours. If a perilous puzzle box is destroyed (hardness 10, 20 hp), any contents stored in the extradimensional space are lost on the Ethereal Plane.

A found puzzle box has a 75% chance of having a touch spell stored within it, usually bestow curse, contagion, or inflict critical wounds.

Cost 2,500 gp
Craft Wondrous Item, imbue with spell ability, secret chest

I think the interesting part is that you can use this to store a single touch spell of 4th level or lower. Spells that come to my mind so far include Plane Shift (Medium list, Oath against Fiends Paladin), Restoration, Invisibility, and Fly.

D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder / [PF] Silver Champion Paladin
« on: December 04, 2019, 01:15:07 PM »
Been looking at the Silver Champion Paladin lately. It's an archetype that gives up a lot of smite evil uses, has diminished spellcasting, has diminished mercies, loses aura of justice and aura of righteousness, casts all of Apsu's domain spells instead of his usual spells, and gets a Drake Companion. If it didn't give up aura of justice, it would have been a fairly solid archetype by letting you use Oath of Vengeance to cover your smite evil loss and bolster your spell list, but it doesn't so now you have a Paladin that can barely smite, which is... still manageable as long as you save your smite for when it really counts (to kill a boss). Still, the Drake Companion seems useful (see here) and I'm wondering what can be done with this Paladin.

The Silver Champion uses Apsu's domains and subdomains for his spells instead of the standard Paladin spell list. He essentially has the following spell list:

Animate rope
Divine favor (Paladin)
Expeditious retreat
Floating disk
Magic fang
Protection from evil (Paladin)
Protection from chaos (Paladin)

Align weapon (good only)
Align weapon (law only)
Animal trance
Locate object
Wood shape

Apsu's Shining Scales (Paladin)
Draconic reservoir
Greater magic fang
Magic circle against chaos (Paladin)
Magic circle against evil (Paladin)
Prayer (Paladin)
Stone shape

Dimension door
Dragon’s breath
Holy smite
Locate creature
Minor creation
Order's wrath
Poison (forbidden by Code of Conduct)

Surprisingly, not that bad of a list. Spells marked (Paladin) are spells you would've had as a Paladin regardless. Apsu's Shining Scales is a spell Paladins specifically get for worshiping Apsu, not a spell on the regular class list or Apsu's domains. Ironically, Silver Champions do not get to cast Draconic Ally. Clerics, inquisitors, oracles, and warpriests who worship Apsu or Dahak add draconic ally to their spell lists as a 3rd-level spell, but Paladins do not because it is always part of their class list, unless they are Silver Champions. In addition to that, the following Oaths can be taken to improve the Paladin spell list:

Oath against Fiends:
1. Resist energy
2. Detect thoughts
3. Invisibility purge
4. Plane shift

Oath against Grotesquery:
1. Sanctuary
2. Make whole
3. Banish seeming
4. True form

Oath of Chastity:
1. Remove fear
2. Confess
3. Heroism
4. Freedom of movement

The last oath is generally undesirable because it neuters your Divine Grace. The first one seems to be a bit of a must-have. All of those spells are welcome additions to the Paladin's list. In addition to that, the Unsanctioned Knowledge feat can be used to add 1 spell of each spell level from the Cleric, Inquisitor, or Bard spell lists, so overall it seems the Silver Champion would retain a decent spell selection. In addition, while the Silver Champion cannot cast spells at 4th level, it still gains the Spells class feature at 4th level, so it still has the same caster level as normal. Giving a Silver Champion Fate's Favored and Magical Knack traits will still give him a decent self-buff while he casts Divine Favor at -1 caster level instead of -3 caster levels.

I'm wondering if there's anything interesting to be done with the Silver Champion, but Drake Companion optimization aside it seems to be pretty much the same as a regular Paladin, with a different spell selection, slightly delayed spell progression, and fewer Smite Evil uses. A couple of 1st-level Pearls of Power will pretty much give him enough Divine Favor to last all combat encounters, though. At high levels UMDing a Wand of Mnemonic Enhancer (21k gp) is probably the way to go in order to make up for the Paladin's deficient spells per day.

Min/Max 3.x / [PF] Optimizing the Drake Companion
« on: December 04, 2019, 12:00:21 PM »
Legacy of Dragons added a Drake Companion feature so players could have their very own dragon as a specialized companion. The dragon was more powerful than a regular animal companion but came at a price of drake companion archetypes having to sacrifice a lot to obtain it. Then an editor pulled a Jason Bulmahn, panicked at seeing such a strong feature, and proceeded to nerfbat the Drake Companion heavily before print, making all the Drake Companion archetypes collateral damage in the process. It seems the Drake Companion was initially supposed to receive full HD and likely full BAB too, seeing as the Drake Companion's skill ranks explicitly scale with HD and yet the skill rank chart increments by 3 for every level not just when HD increases. Similarly the Drake Companion tops out at 15 HD instead of 16 like the regular AC, which is conveniently concurrent with the BAB. Probably it used to receive drake powers more often and had a better initial starting shape too. So instead they have trash stats and abilities.

Even so, I think Drake Companions have a solid optimization ceiling. They just look like shit by the standards of regular animal companions, but the important part is that Drake Companions are solid skill monkeys, get 15 BAB unlike the usual twelve, are intelligent creatures that can take any feat they want, and get UMD as a class skill. That's important in case you want to give them Skill Focus (Use Magic Device), Magical Aptitude, equip a Circlet of Persuasion (4.5k gp) (does not stack with Greater Hat of Disguise, however, as they both use Head slot) or Cracked Magenta Prism Ioun Stone (800gp), add a Cracked Pink and Green Sphere Ioun Stone (200gp), and they will have +9 to UMD, not counting favored class bonus and skill ranks or charisma modifier. Seeing as the Drake Companion is PFS legal and it explicitly gets UMD as a class skill, this is a very reliable means of getting a UMD companion without worrying about table variation.

In addition to that, you can also deck out your drake companion with Point-Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Deadly Aim, Rapid Shot, Manyshot, equip a Greater Hat of Disguise and Lesser Bracers of Archery (they function as Greater Bracers of Archery aside from the lowered bonus, so wearer can use any bow as though proficient) and turn them into your very own pet archer. Or you can give them Two Weapon Fighting, Improved Two Weapon Fighting, Greater Two Weapon Fighting, and Rapid Shot which means you need to equip a Blinkback Belt with the Quick Draw feat or a Belt of Mighty Hurling with either a Rope Dart or Shuriken, which allow you to full attack without special support. Use a Flawed Opalescent White Pyramid Ioun Stone (3k gp) to gain proficiency with the weapon of choice while taking a -2 dex penalty, which is a non-issue on Mighty Hurling builds (alternatively burn a feat on weapon proficiency). If you add a Wayfinder you get +1 attack with the weapon too, assuming your 25% chance gives you a working resonance power. The main pain of this build will be stacking dex bonuses high enough to qualify for all the feats.

Archer Variant:
1. Point-Blank Shot
3. Precise Shot
6. Rapid Shot
9. Manyshot
11. Deadly Aim

TWF Variant:
1. Two-Weapon Fighting
3. Point Blank Shot
6. Rapid Shot or Precise Shot
9. Improved Two-Weapon Fighting
11. Deadly Aim or Rapid Shot
14. Greater Two-Weapon Fighting

I feel like there should be more ways to take advantage of the Drake Companion, so anyone have any thoughts? I think Intellect and Keen Mind are the best drake powers to get.

D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder / [PF] What to do with the Gift from the Sea feat?
« on: December 02, 2019, 09:21:36 AM »
So I found this curious feat, I'm wondering what can be done with it:
Source Heroes from the Fringe pg. 20
Although shoreborn see little of their aquatic parents, they can still call on their underwater kin for help.

Prerequisites: Shoreborn half-elf.

Benefit: Once per day, you can fill a vial with water from a natural source and the water will turn magical, functioning as a potion of a 1st-level druid spell of your choice with a caster level equal to your Hit Dice. This potion becomes inert after a number of hours equal to your Hit Dice.
The best part is you can decide which Druid spell you get each time you use the feat, and the potion even gets full caster level. The downside is you need a natural water source nearby to use it, and it only lasts a number of hours equal to your Hit Dice. A Dawnflower Dervish Bard can use Inspire Greatness on himself while filling a potion to give it +4 caster level and +4 hours duration, since IG gives +4 Hit Dice while filling it. A regular Bard only gets +2 HD (but there are two PF faction feats that can increase bonus by 2 total). Other than that there are no sources of bonus Hit Dice to my knowledge.

It's worth noting that with a Syringe Spear or Poisoner's Gloves you can insert potions and similar liquids into creatures as an attack action (the gloves in particular allow you to make touch attacks), the Cauldron of Fireworks will shoot potions into people as a ranged touch attack with a command (best let your familiar put the potions in the cauldron and later activate it, use Sage and/or Figment familiar (use Ability Increase 2-point evolution) archetypes and Fox's Cunning spell for higher int while filling potions), and the Accelerated Drinker combat trait lets you drink potions as a move action. In addition, the Alchemist's Alchemical Allocation (2nd-level) extract lets you drink a potion without expending it, Amplify Elixir (3rd-level) extract (Alchemy subdomain gives this as a 4th level divine spell) can Empower a potion, and the Tattoo Potion spell allows you to turn potions into permanent spell tattoos (at a cost of 500gp). Rune of Rule lets you raise a potion's CL by 2 with someone else's assistance. The Touch Injection spell, similar to Poisoner's Gloves, lets you use a melee touch attack to put a potion in someone. Alchemist discoveries can also double the duration of a potion you drink, make the duration of a potion you drink permanent (but only 1 potion at a time, and requires lvl16), and turn 1 potion into 2 potions (requires level 12). Deathwine spell can use a potion for a caster level bonus to necromancy (and undead healing) instead of its normal effect, and Transmute Potion to Poison extract will make a shitty 1d2 dex damage DC11 fort save injury poison out of your Spell Level 1 poison. This is probably not an exhaustive list, since I'm sure there are magic items and other abilities to affect potions.

According to PF, a potion or oil "can duplicate the effect of a spell of up to 3rd level that has a casting time of less than 1 minute and targets one or more creatures or objects."

It seems like there should be a lot of uses you can get out of this feat, especially if you are an alchemist.

Handbooks / Power's Guide to the Shifter class
« on: February 19, 2018, 05:22:04 PM »

Welcome to my guide for the Shifter class. I know what you're thinking: "Isn't the Shifter just a Druid minus? Wait, that's the Hunter. Okay, isn't it just a Druid minus minus? Wait, that's the Ranger. Okay, so is the Shifter just a Druid minus minus minus?" And the answer is "kinda, sorta, more or less, pretty much, yeah." Still, the Shifter has a few advantages on the Druid. For one, he has full BAB instead of 3/4 BAB and a d10 hitdie instead of a d8. For another... uhhh... he gets beast shape II stats and options at level 4 instead of level 6. And he gets Planar Wild Shape two levels early thanks to the new errata. Anyway, pay no attention to the fact that the Druid gets a ton of better shapeshifting options than the Shifter whose sole class feature is basically shifting or the fact that the Druid's large amount of self-buffs with his 9th level casting improve his wildshaped combat in ways the Shifter cannot or that he gets a free animal companion buddy which you don't. The point is that even a severely neutered Druid whose sole class feature is an extra super neutered Wild Shape is still a powerful martial class, played right.

The basic idea: There are really just two ways to play a Shifter. One, you pounce from level 4 onwards, and collect Two-Weapon Fighting feats to do a massive amount of damage. Two, you are going Ape Shifter with a reach build.

Your stat needs don't really vary whichever of these two routes you pick. Basically Str, Dex, and Con are your most important stats. I'd say dump all your mentals to -7 (seriously, you need combat stats), but the new errata makes it slightly more unpleasant to dump wis unless you're starting on high levels, since it will reduce your duration and cost you more levels to perma-mode your wild shape. Anyway, for Wis there are 3 options on your wisdom. Option 1: 14 wisdom (enough for +1 to AC and +2 hours, on top of +2 will). Option 2: 10 wisdom (hey at least you avoided losing hours of wild shape or taking penalties to your will and perception). Option 3: 7 wisdom (or lower). The thing is that you should consider adjusting your point buy for lower or higher wis depending on whether you are playing a race with a wis bonus. You don't want to end up with 12 wis or 16 wis since the benefits are too marginal, and if you have 18 wis, you're probably squandering the combat stats you need.

You might have noticed I only count 1 AC for 4 wis. That's because fighting naked is for idiots. Always wear armor. You want that AC. Get a set of barding/armor for unusual creatures (animal-shaped armor, you have all the armor options humans do, but you pay extra) to put on when you're wild-shaped. Wild shape out of combat and have your party members equip it on you.

So, a Shifter's stat array:
10 point buy: 16 str - 14 dex - 12 con - 7 int - 10 wis - 7 cha
15 point buy: 16 str - 16 dex - 13 con - 7 int - 10 wis - 7 cha
20 point buy: 16 str - 16 dex - 13 con - 7 int - 14 wis - 7 cha
25 point buy: 16 str - 16 dex - 14 con - 9 int - 14 wis - 7 cha

Expect to put all your favored class bonuses into bonus health. The alternate favored class bonuses are all terrible. However, you should probably shift around stats a bit depending on your racial modifiers. Post-racial, you generally want at least 14 str, 16 dex (18 dex if large size), and 12 con (and don't forget what I said about wisdom - post-racial, your wis should be 6-7, 10, or 14 only - you can go below 6 if you start at a high enough level or you use Adaptive Shifter and thus don't lose hours/day duration). Use a point buy calculator if you need to figure it out. You could dump str lower if you're planning on going weapon finesse with shifter's edge and use piranha strike, but Weapon Finesse will cost you an extra feat on an already feat-starved martial and Shifter's Edge now requires you to use str for damage (no agile AoMF) and the pounce builds will be spending their feats on TWF, Power Attack, and Planar Wild Shape. This means you will be picking up Shifter's Edge rather late, which is when it will give you more damage to be worth the investment anyhow.

A Shifter's Favorite Races

Core Races

Human: Your shifter is a martial with as many feats as a bard, druid, or cleric (fewer, depending on the archetype/domain options used). A bonus feat goes a long way and with 7 int the extra skill ranks are not bad either. You can also trade the Bonus Feat for Adoptive Parentage (get another race's weapon familiarity trait) or Military Tradition (get two martial or exotic weapon proficiencies, but GM may require you to fluff it to your local culture - I guess you can make up a shifter clan for your character), and you could swap Skilled for Heart of the Fey (+1 racial bonus to reflex and will saves). It's always a good pick, especially if you're feeling feat-starved. There are ways to use Traits for weapon proficiencies (more on that later), but even then Human will be a solid pick simply for the extra feat on the rather feat-starved Shifter.

Half-Elf: Similar to human but with worse feat options. You can also trade the Skill Focus for Dual-Minded (+2 Will saves) or a weapon proficiency. Multitalented perk is thoroughly useless and as such I recommend swapping it out for Fey Thoughts and picking up Sense Motive and something else as class skills or taking Blended View for darkvision. Failing that swap it for Jungle Affinity.

Dwarf: The big question is whether you lose your racial +2 bonus to all saves vs spells and poisons while shapeshifted. If you do lose it, skip playing dwarf unless you are playing Lycanthropic archetype Shifter. If not, then it's a decent pick. +2 racial bonus to all saves vs spells and poisons is great, especially when you add the Glory of Old trait (+1 trait bonus to all saves vs spells and poisons), and Steel Soul feat (another +2 racial bonus to all saves vs spells and poisons). You can also use Heirloom Weapon to gain proficiency in a Dwarven Longhammer/Longaxe for monkey reach builds, although having a large size longhamer/longaxe as your heirloom weapon will be interesting to explain (family of shifters and/or wizards who are fond of enlarge person, I guess?). Swapping languages for Xenophobic for another +1 vs mind-affecting saves is also recommended, but you'll be stuck speaking Dwarven only until you have reached level 2 and invested 2 skill ranks of linguistics. Better have a party member pick up Dwarven as a bonus language from his int bonus at level 1 or invest a rank into linguistics so he can play translator. Replacing Defensive Training and Hatred for Slag Child is not a bad call either.

Non-Core Races

Aasimar: Your options are to go Archon-Blooded (+2 Con, +2 Wis / Intimidate, Sense Motive / continual flame) or Garuda-Blooded (+2 Dex, +2 Wis / Acrobatics, Fly / see invisibility). The +2 Dex from Garuda-Blooded has some use for Combat Reflexes build (bear in mind pouncing Shifter with Tiger shape still has a 10 foot reach for a spare Combat Reflexes feat). If your GM would rule you lose your Celestial Resistance trait when Wild Shaped, definitely replace it with Deathless Spirit. If not, Deathless Spirit is still not a bad pick given Planar Wild Shape (esp. if you're going to pick up the celestial template instead of fiendish). You should probably also replace Darkvision with Halo which you can use while wild-shaped and if Archon-Blooded, replace your spell-like ability with Incorruptible for the Corruption Resistance spell-like ability. Continual Flame is redundant when you have Halo.

Tiefling: You would want Hungerseed (+2 Str, +2 Wis, -2 Cha / Disguise, Intimidate / alter self). Mostly a pick if you want the Smite Good alternate racial trait, I suppose.

Other races
You don't want them.

Question: What about Skinwalker? It's so thematically fitting!
Awful idea. You can only have 1 polymorph effect at a time. The Change Shape racial cannot be used while Wild Shaped. Losing your change shape perks makes the race trash. I'd love to recommend it if I could, but I just can't recommend shooting yourself so heavily in the foot. The whole point of this guide is to help you avoid messing up your character, after all.


First, do not forget that Wild Shape states: "Each major form details the abilities the shifter gains with that major form and at what level; she gains these instead of the form abilities from beast shape II, but she still gains beast shape II abilities that are size dependent." Let's detail those size dependent abilities:
  • Tiny animal: If the form you take is that of a Tiny animal, you gain a +4 size bonus to your Dexterity, a –2 penalty to your Strength, and a +1 natural armor bonus.
  • Small animal: If the form you take is that of a Small animal, you gain a +2 size bonus to your Dexterity and a +1 natural armor bonus.
  • Medium animal: If the form you take is that of a Medium animal, you gain a +2 size bonus to your Strength and a +2 natural armor bonus.
  • Large animal: If the form you take is that of a Large animal, you gain a +4 size bonus to your Strength, a –2 penalty to your Dexterity, and a +4 natural armor bonus.
For wild shape options, the following options are worth considering as your main form: Deinonychus, Tiger, and Monkey. For minor aspects, Snake (AoO build), Mouse (evasion), and Giant Wasp (mind-affecting saving throws) are all good. The stat enhancement options don't stack with other enhancement options (like the belt everyone grabs) and they burn up precious minutes of shifter aspect, so I'd sooner just say "grab a belt of physical perfection" than burn shifter aspects on them, but you can do it if you want. Just remember that temporary bonuses to constitution are awful since you don't get temporary HP from it. When the constitution bonus vanishes, you lose the health it provided in the first place, and if that knocks you negative, then you're negative. This is the same problem Barbarians face with their Rage power.

Deinonychus and Tiger are the same concept: You get pounce. Deinonychus is the faster, medium-sized option which gets 2 extra foreclaw attacks at level 8. Tiger is the larger option, which gives you bigger attacks, more strength and natural armor, and a larger reach. The Tiger's +4 stealth bonus at 8 is still outweighed by the -4 size penalty to stealth and the -2 dex from wildshaping, for a -5 stealth penalty total, making you -1 worse at stealth than you would be as a regular medium creature.

Monkey is a lot like using Lycanthropic Wild Shape, except you get large size and you don't get pounce. You can also mix in a Snake minor aspect with the Monkey shape for the AoO bonuses. Even though you don't have pounce, with a reach weapon, you can attack enemies 20 feet away (25 with a five foot step, 30 if you also add Lunge, even more if you're swinging a whip), so it is possible to go full melee (2H or dualwield whips advised), but you could also go ranged. If you are going ranged, then the bow is a good pick from level 8 onwards (the prehensile tail lets you hold a reach weapon while firing a bow, then when you're not shooting anymore, grab the reach weapon with one hand, pass the bow to the tail, and wield the reach weapon in both hands, giving you the 20foot AoO radius - remember, switching hands is a free action). If you're using the Military Tradition human trait (or Arms Master + Quick Learner), just get an Orc Hornbow for your bow and a Dwarven Longhammer (or a Gnome Ripsaw Glaive) for your reach weapon.

For weretouched shapes, you either want Tiger (pounce + stealth bonus) or Deinonychus (high speed, pounce, and talon natural attacks from your feet), or something with flight speed (falcon for perception bonuses, owl for stealth bonuses) as you play archer. Since your size does not change with lycanthropic wild shape, I would strongly recommend the deinonychus form for pouncing since you get extra talon attacks from your feet.

Arms and armor

As I said above, don't go into battle naked. Just because your equipment melds into your form when you wild shape, doesn't mean you can't equip yourself after you enter wild shape. This is very important because armor fitted for animals (it's just a cost multiplier to your normal armor options, see here.) is a crucial source of AC, and armor spikes are a crucial source of manufactured weapon attacks while in animal form. Note that while you are prohibited from equipping metal armor, armor spikes are mechanically treated as weapons and shifters can equip metal weapon (see: scimitar proficiency). If your GM dubiously insists metal armor spikes should be treated as metal armor, you can either equip Rosewood armor (you might want a Magical Talent magic trait for the Create Water orison so you cannot run out of water) or just have your armor spikes crafted out of special materials, like obsidian (masterwork it and the fragile quality disappears) or liquid glass (+800gp, but you get +1 damage). Wearing armor just means you only get half your wis modifier to AC, which is just 1 point of AC if you started with 14 wis. You still get the +1 AC bonus per 4 character levels when you wear armor. Your best armor options are Darkleaf Cloth studded leather armor (if your wild-shaped dex rises above 20) or lamellar leather armor (if your wild-shaped dex won't rise above 20). If you want to wear medium armors (and eat the movement penalty), Darkleaf Cloth Do-maru is probably your best pick (RAW only says Do-maru is made of lamellar, but lamellar armors made of leather do exist, even in PF, and Do-maru has historically been made of leather as well). You can wear metallic armors if they're made out of ironwood strengthened materials, dragonhide, or if you want breastplate, made of bone (bone's penalties vanish as long as it's a magic breastplate made of bone, in which case it's just a cheaper breastplate that's not made of metal). Other ways to raise your armor include Ring of Protection and Amulet of Natural Armor.

Sadly you are not proficient in the grand art of armor spikes, so either burn a feat, use Heirloom Weapon (armor spike), use a racial choose-your-own-weapon-proficiency or double up on Quick Learner and (Adopted->)Arms Master traits so you can wield them effectively. The other question is whether you can two-weapon fight with just armor spikes. Your GM might say "sure" (same as how a monk fights with Flurry of Blows or how you can enchant unarmed strikes as a single weapon), "as long as you pay for two armor spikes" (goodbye Heirloom Weapon trait), or "no" (in which case you will need a Dwarven Boulder Helmet or Weretouched archetype). Generally the mechanical interpretation trends very strongly to the last option, since people will not let you consider armor spikes by itself as two weapons and armor is considered either spiked or not spiked. In the event of using a Dwarven Boulder Helmet, your choices are generally either Human with Military Tradition or Arms Master + Quick Learner trait combo to be proficient in both Armor Spikes and Dwarven Boulder Helmets. Since the boulder helmet uses the same limb as your bite attack, you cannot use both in the same full attack, though. Armor spikes are different because they don't need to be located on limbs. They can be on shoulders, chest, wherever. Armor spikes aren't spiked gauntlets (which is a separate item to buy). Your GM might (reasonably) rule that the boulder helmet counts as wearing metal armor, in which case you could opt for one made out of stone or bone instead (which makes it a fragile weapon, until you enchant it with a +1 property). Remember that Dwarven Boulder Helmets are not an upgrade until you have greater two-weapon fighting because you give up a bite attack for TWF. Given how Shifter's Fury has been errata'd in, you can now TWF just fine with your bite attack collecting iteratives as your main hand and your armor spikes functioning as the off-hand. Shifter's Fury explicitly states that it is a Full Attack action using your selected natural attack as if it were a manufactured weapon, so adding an off-hand works just fine.

If you use Heirloom Weapon, remember that you can pay for a Masterwork Transmutation spell to turn an Heirloom Weapon into a masterwork weapon and then you can have it enchanted into a magic weapon.

The build

It's pretty simple, really.

If you are making a TWF pounce shifter, you want:
Power Attack
Two-Weapon Fighting
Planar Wild Shape
Improved Two-Weapon Fighting
Greater Two-Weapon Fighting

If you are making an archer, you want:
Point Blank Shot
Precise Shot
Deadly Aim
Rapid Shot
Planar Wild Shape

Those are your must-haves, really. If you are Large size, consider fitting in a Combat Reflexes feat for the AoOs, especially if you're a monkey.

If you are going melee monkey, get a Lunge feat, Power Attack, and Planar Wild Shape really. Just get a good large 2H reach weapon, and don't forget Combat Reflexes for AoOs. You already threaten 5-10 feet with your natural attacks. If it is a dualwield whip monkey, then it's the same as a TWF pounce shifter except you need to go Human to invest Military Tradition into both Whip and Scorpion Whip exotic proficiencies so you can swing scorpion whips as whips for lethal damage (otherwise whips are trash without the Deadly magic property). Improved Whip Mastery is not really in the works (too many feats) so if you want the AoO, I'd recommend using an Heirloom Weapon trait for a large reach weapon. At level 8 as a monkey, you can use your prehensile tail to hold your two whips while you switch to your reach weapon and vice versa. Switching hands is a free action, holding two whips in one hand (but not wielding them) is not a problem, and at level 8 "you can use your tail to hold and manipulate objects as if you had a third hand, but you cannot use it to wield weapons or shields," so this all works fine.

About Planar Wild Shape:
I strongly recommend taking Planar Wild Shape asap (at level 5). It's an excellent feat to boost your shifter as it gives you a strong suite of resistances, some powerful damage reduction, and a single smite (ignore the charisma, you get bonus damage equal to your level to all attacks for boss-killing). Assuming you are playing a good-aligned campaign, it might be in your best interests to take the Fiendish template (since your odds of facing enemies with the good subtype are much much lower than your odds of facing enemies with the evil subtype), which requires a neutral alignment. In fact, being neutral is advised since you can pick whether to go celestial or fiendish every time, so you can spend combat in fiendish template for the resists until you want to go after a boss with a big smite evil. There is a downside to Planar Wild Shape though, and that's that allied spellcasters will have to overcome your SR to buff you (unless you spend a standard action suppressing SR). And having a celestial or fiendish template does not give you the good or evil subtype, so you still cannot overcome alignment-based DR with it. Also, just to be clear, Planar Wild Shape only requires you to expend 1 extra use to turn into planar wild shape ("When you use wild shape to take the form of an animal, you can expend an additional daily use of your wild shape class feature to add the celestial template or fiendish template to your animal form."), and the Shifter says that hours of duration are counted as daily uses for feats, so if you use Planar Wild Shape, you spend 1 extra hour to enter planar wild shape, but it only costs you 1 hour of duration as normal to stay in planar wild shape. So it's generally in your interests to stay in planar wild shape instead of paying double cost from exiting and re-entering planar wild shape.

How do I speak if I'm stuck in wild shape all the time?
First off, DO NOT GET THE WILD SPEECH FEAT. It is a waste of a feat and you are starved for feats as is. Just buy a Ring of Eloquence (3.5k gp) instead and problem solved. The item explicitly states that it allows you to continue speaking while wildshaped and it gives you a neat +2 competence to Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, and Perform (oratory) in addition to its language proficiencies. Other than that, you can still communicate simply by scratching messages into the ground or basic nonverbal communication.

For clarity's sake, here are the celestial and fiendish templates:

Senses gains darkvision 60 ft.
Defensive Abilities gains DR and energy resistance as noted on the table
SR gains SR equal to new CR +5
Special Attacks smite evil 1/day as a swift action (adds Cha bonus to attack rolls and damage bonus equal to HD against evil foes; smite persists until target is dead or the celestial creature rests).

Celestial Creature Defenses
Hit DiceResist Cold, Acid, and ElectricityDR

Senses gains darkvision 60 ft.
Defensive Abilities gains DR and energy resistance as noted on the table
SR gains SR equal to new CR +5
Special Attacks smite good 1/day as a swift action (adds Cha bonus to attack rolls and damage bonus equal to HD against good foes; smite persists until target is dead or the fiendish creature rests).

Fiendish Creature Defenses
Hit DiceResist Cold and FireDR

Planar Wild Shape is less valuable if you are a Weretouched Shifter and thus have DR/silver, although the DR still overlaps (So your enemy needs to overcome both DRs to hurt you) and the celestial/fiendish DR is bigger than your silver DR from class levels.


Yeah, this guide was pretty short, but that's about all you needed. Pairing beast shape natural armor with animal barding will give you strong AC, and pairing pounce with a huge number of iteratives from weapons will give you lots of attacks to do strong damage. Add the size bonuses you get from wild shape and you're in a good spot.

Handbook Discussion / [PF] Class imitating guide discussion
« on: June 24, 2015, 09:23:42 PM »
Dedicated discussion thread for the class imitating guide I wrote. Knock yourself out. Comments/feedback/criticisms/suggestions all welcome.

Handbooks / [PF] Class imitating guide: Let's not and say we did!
« on: June 24, 2015, 07:49:19 PM »
Discussion thread: Here

Let's not and say we did!
Power's Guide to Not Playing a Class But Doing Everything It Does Better Anyway

This is a pretty simple guide. I will list a class, then I will present a build that can pretend to be that class and beat the actual class.

Alchemist: Prestige into Brewkeeper from practically any spellcaster. Herbalism bond Druid. Cleric with Alchemy subdomain. Maybe Thuvian Alchemist prestige class too.
Arcanist: Exploiter Wizard prestiged into Magaambyan Arcanist. Obtain Arcane Bond with the Bloodline development exploit (or Eldritch Heritage (Arcane) if you're burning charisma and feats on an arcane bond that scales without burning swift actions) and since the core rulesbook declares that Wizards who do not specialize are referred to as universalists, just make an Amulet of Magecraft your arcane bond. (If your GM specifically wants you to have universalist school powers, you may have to get the School Development exploit for Universalist or just UMD it with a Pragmatic Activator / Clever Wordplay trait.) Add a Planned Spontaneity feat and now you're spontaneously casting all over the place as a prepared caster plus you get exploits and you're 1 level ahead of the Arcanist on spell progression. You could also get the Greater Spell Specialization (or Preferred Spell) feat for even more spontaneous casting.
Barbarian: Primalist Bloodrager. Also, see Bloodrager below.
Bloodrager: Cleric with the Rage subdomain and the Anger inquisition (Clerics can take inquisitions, it's just typically a bad pick). The combination of the two will stack a Barbarian level higher than your class level from level 8 onwards (also gives you solid rage rounds). Given that the PFS Skald 7 pregen has an Extra Rage Power feat and treats it as a separate source from class rage powers, it's safe to say that since the Extra Rage Power feat is not your class's rage power, it can give your Cleric rage powers with level restrictions just fine. Downsides are that you don't get rage until level 6 and you don't get rage powers until level 12. You could also just play a Skald and give him Extra Rage Power feats.
Bard: Evangelist Cleric. Prestige into an Evangelist of Calistria (or just use Deific Obedience + Diverse Obedience for lvl10 access) if you want 3/day Saving Finale.
Brawler: Lore Warden (PFS Field Guide version) + Martial Master Fighter or Mutation Warrior + Martial Master Fighter (invest feats into Ascetic Style for Ascetic Strike if you also wanted the damage die)
Cavalier: Paladin with the mount bond or Inquisitor with Chivalry inquisition.
Cleric: Nature Priest Druid. Add Samsaran race with Mystic Past Life to rob Cleric list for spells. Also, any domain bond Druid if you use Shaping Focus and either prestige into 5 levels of Exalted (for extra domain) or 3 levels of Stargazer (for Stars subdomain).
Eldritch Scoundrel Rogue: Vivisectionist 1 / Wizard 4 / Arcane Trickster (use an Accomplished Sneak Attacker feat to obtain the second 1d6 sneak attack). If you really want rogue talents, go Ninja 2 / Wizard 4 / Arcane Trickster (and use Accomplished Sneak Attacker for the second 1d6 sneak attack)
Fighter: This thing doesn't even really have class features.
Gunslinger: Gun Chemist Alchemist, Trench Fighter
Hunter: Sacred Huntmaster Inquisitor, Nature Fang Druid
Monk: Sacred Fist Warpriest
Ninja/Rogue: Archaeologist Bard. Take Maestro of the Society and Fate's Favored traits to boost the rounds and Luck bonus. Use Sense Vitals spell for sneak attack. If all you want is sneak attack, Vivisectionist Alchemist. Alternatively the Slayer can easily be played as a superior Rogue, which also brings us to the Nature Fang Druid with the Crocodile domain (which is a superior Slayer).
Oracle: Some of the mysteries can't be imitated, but Speaker of the Dead Shaman with the Human favored class bonus gets Cleric spells and access to both the Oracle's Ancestor and Time mysteries. Stargazer gives access to Heavens mystery as well.
Paladin: Self-cast Bestow Grace of the Champion as a martial Oracle. If you don't want to wait for level 14 to eclipse Paladins, dipping two levels of Pathfinder Savant will let you take the spell from the Paladin list, and since it's also on your class list, you don't get a level penalty, so you can cast it at level 9 instead (level 8 if you used the Samsaran race's Mystic Past Life for early Bestow Grace of the Champion). Scar Seeker prestige class (especially with Prestigious Spellcaster feats) for 4+ levels works also.
Psychic: Psychic bloodline Sorcerer or Draconic bloodline using the Esoteric Dragon's variant draconic arcana. If you want a psychic knack, use the Two-World Magic magic trait. You don't get phrenic amplifications or psychic disciplines, but you do get psychic casting. Esoteric Dragon with Paragon Surge can even flexibly expand your list of psychic spells known with any psychic spell as desired.
Ranger: Nature Fang Druid using slayer talents for Ranger Combat Style and grabbing an animal companion or the feather subdomain.
Shifter: Druid
Slayer: Nature Fang Druid with the Crocodile domain and Accomplished Sneak Attacker feat
Sorcerer: Blood Arcanist
Summoner: Occultist Arcanist
Swashbuckler: Daring Champion Cavalier
Warpriest: Crusader Cleric
Witch: Spirit Whisperer Wizard prestiged into Stargazer for 1 level. Really anything with a single Stargazer prestige class level gains Witch hexes and can take Extra Hex feats. Use Samsaran race for Mystic Past Life if you also want to have the Witch's spells.
Wizard: Shaman built for Arcane Enlightenment hex, especially with a Dreamed Secrets feat on top.

Handbook Discussion / Pathfinder Shaman Discussion
« on: April 11, 2015, 01:09:28 PM »
Dedicated discussion thread for the Shaman guide I wrote. Knock yourself out. Comments/feedback/criticisms/suggestions all welcome.

Still a work in progress. Still trying to get a handle on this MADness.

Handbooks / [WIP] Power's Guide to the Pathfinder Shaman
« on: April 11, 2015, 08:53:44 AM »
Discussion thread: Here


Welcome to my guide for the Shaman class. I know the Shaman class looks very weak for a full caster, but as it turns out he's got enough tricks up his sleeves to be surprisingly capable. My guide is here to show you how. You may have noticed that the Shaman gets the Arcane Enlightenment hex which gives him access to Wizard spells. You may have written it off because of how ludicrously MAD it is. But, your best bet as a Shaman is actually to take the MADness on the chin and grab Arcane Enlightenment anyway for some drastically superior spell access.

Your best way to get your MAD stats high is to use aging rules, which are not allowed in PFS despite being part of the core rules. For now, the guide does not use aging rules, but by all means feel free to apply them for a stronger Shaman.

So, a Shaman's stat array, caster style:
10 point buy: 7 str - 10 dex - 10 con - 12 int - 16 wis - 12 cha
15 point buy: 7 str - 12 dex - 12 con - 13 int - 16 wis - 12 cha
20 point buy: 7 str - 9 dex - 10 con - 13 int - 18 wis - 14 cha
20 point buy: 7 str - 9 dex - 12 con - 13 int - 16 wis - 16 cha

Time to answer some basic concerns about this build's weak defenses: For AC, consider running around in heavy armor and a tower shield (this will exceed your heavy encumbrance limit unless you have the muscle of the society combat trait and a masterwork backpack for +3 str for carrying capacity purposes). Divine spells don't suffer spell failure, so as long as you don't use attack rolls (including spells with attack rolls), you won't care about the lack of proficiency. For health, you should probably start with a Toad familiar (+3 hitpoints). Later on you should probably get an Improved Familiar with fast healing and the Protector archetype. If you're using the human favored class bonus, you should use the first two levels to pump health instead of getting cleric orisons. And get ready to buy a Belt of Mighty Constitution. If you want more starting health, you may want to get the Tribal Scars feat at level 1 since it gives you +6 health and your choice of perks (Raptorscale gives you +5 movespeed, Ice Chasm gives +1 reflex, bearpelt gives you +1 fortitude, etc - oh and they give skill bonuses too). For initiative, you may be interested in taking a +2 initiative trait like the Reactionary combat trait, but if you already took Muscle of the Society combat trait, then consider taking the Adopted social trait into Elven Reflexes / Warrior of Old race trait (+2 initiative again) or taking the Hermean Paragon region traits. Alternatively you can take the Survivor region trait (funnily enough, no region specified) which gives +1 to initiative, +1 to sense motive, and makes sense motive a class skill (Shamans do not get this skill).

If you are content with only one spell from Arcane Enlightenment, you can shore up defense stats instead, but you do get a much smaller Wizard spell selection each day.

Caster style:
10 point buy: 7 str - 8 dex - 10 con - 13 int - 18 wis - 7 cha
15 point buy: 7 str - 10 dex - 13 con - 13 int - 18 wis - 7 cha
20 point buy: 7 str - 13 dex - 14 con - 13 int - 18 wis - 7 cha

Martial style:
10 point buy: 12 str - 12 dex - 12 con - 13 int - 14 wis - 7 cha
15 point buy: 12 str - 12 dex - 12 con - 13 int - 16 wis - 7 cha
20 point buy: 14 str - 13 dex - 13 con - 13 int - 16 wis - 7 cha

If you decide to give up Arcane Enlightenment, stats become much easier but you give up your best spellcasting perks on a caster with the worst list of all casters.

Caster style:
10 point buy: 7 str - 10 dex - 14 con - 7 int - 18 wis - 7 cha
15 point buy: 7 str - 14 dex - 14 con - 7 int - 18 wis - 7 cha
20 point buy: 7 str - 14 dex - 16 con - 7 int - 18 wis - 7 cha

Martial style:
10 point buy: 14 str - 10 dex - 13 con - 7 int - 16 wis - 7 cha
15 point buy: 16 str - 10 dex - 13 con - 7 int - 16 wis - 7 cha
20 point buy: 16 str - 13 dex - 14 con - 7 int - 16 wis - 7 cha

For martial tricks, it's also possible to go for an AoO build with the Witch's Prehensile Hair hex (Wis-based for Shamans) instead of investing in strength and taking advantage of the fact that if you only have 1 natural attack it's always treated as a primary natural attack doing damage at 1½ your bonus. Which is a lot less painful than investing in Strength for a MAD caster like the Shaman, plus you'd have an attack that threatens at both 5 feet and 10 feet. The downside is spending a standard action to activate Prehensile Hair and investing your only Witch hex into obtaining it. But Prehensile Hair does give you an extra hand with which to activate magic items.

Also, if people insist on roleplaying mental stats, I would note that 7 int does not in fact make you a drooling retard. In Pathfinder, 3 int makes you an intelligent creature, so you still have quite a ways to fall before your character is THAT dumb, and 16 wis would mean your character is very sensible.

A Shaman's Favorite Races

Races With Human Favored Class Bonus
They give Wis and let you cast Cleric spells, fixing up a severely damaged spell list. Speaking of the favored class bonus, it's time to clear something up:

Question: The favored class bonus lets me prepare Cleric spells, right?
No. The human favored class bonus adds "spells known." Prepared divine casters do not have or use a "spells known" mechanic. Otherwise almost all Clerics and Druids would be running around with Eldritch Heritage (Arcane) for an Arcane Bond to cast their entire spell list spontaneously. This debate has been played out definitively many times over. Only spontaneous divine casters have a "spells known" mechanic. So, you can only cast these Cleric spells with your Spirit Magic feature, the spontaneous slots. However, the Fluid Magic hex from the Water spirit will let you prepare Spirit Magic spells in regular slots, so you can prepare Cleric spells that way. It's come to my attention that the FAQ here indicates that any spell added to your list of spells known by a class feature is also added to your class list. (We are assuming that favored class bonuses count as class features because otherwise the entire favored class bonus would be unusable under this FAQ.) That would mean you could prepare these Cleric spells not because they are spells known, but because becoming spells known also adds them to your class list. Whether or not one can also cast Cleric spells known from the spontaneous Spirit Magic slots (seeing as for divine spellcasters spells known means spontaneous spellcasting) is a bit of a quandary given that you can also prepare them through class slots. At least if your Shaman gets an Arcane Bond like a Sorcerer (Speaker of the Past Shaman with Eldritch Heritage (Arcane) for instance), you could cast any of your spells known with it, meaning the Cleric spells, but perhaps not your class spells, and perhaps not the ordinary Spirit Magic spells either.

If you want my rambling explanation for how I missed that FAQ, I've been somewhat inconsistent in my applications of these new rules rewrites/"reinterpretations" paizo likes to do because usually they're just awful ways to indirectly nerf specific feats/tricks they obviously had in mind and if you truly try to apply these newfound general principles as universally as they claim them to be, you will find out that the new rulings break old content and sometimes even new content (yes, seriously - turns out paizo's own designers don't really keep up with their own rules changes and publish technically broken content every so often that relies on the old rulings to function) that were clearly not intended that way, so 9 times out of 10 I prefer to figure out which use cases that ruling was actually intended to curb, and apply the ruling (or rather, its intended nerf) to just those. It's pretty clear for instance that this ruling was really just meant to curb the combo of Greater Eldritch Heritage (Arcane) with Paragon Surge (they nerfed Paragon Surge in another FAQ, then just made it a proper errata for once) which was very popular among Oracles rather than ruin the Daivrat prestige class and Dreamed Secrets feat and the second evangelist boon of Deific Obedience (Urgathoa) for spontaneous casters while letting prepared casters continue enjoying cross-list spell access, since they cast with prepared spells, not spell slots, and mechanics that intend to apply to both, like the Preferred Spell and Theurgy feat, tend to explicitly call out "prepared spell or spell slot." Depending on your perspective this might be too pedantic of a reading, but PF itself doesn't shy from odd pedantic rulings either so whether or not you are supposed to parse rules in a more formal or loose fashion can be uncertain like that. Personally I tend to prefer ruling by RAW because it's more predictable and clear-cut ("Did it say X? No? Then it's not X.") whereas RAI can be a real guessing (and arguing) game, unless of course the RAI is clear-cut and RAW leads to dysfunctional mechanics. Now, I'm fairly certain in that example Jason Bulmahn was just nerfing the Cleave feat by making up rules minutiae so he can avoid calling it an errata since PF likes to nerf a lot of mechanics with creative rules re-interpretations and "clarifications" that way, but at the same time sometimes they also want you to treat the ruling as a totally real principle even if they forget it half the time they make new content, so issues abound. That said, I'm pretty sure even PFS will rule that the Daivrat prestige class lets you cast spells from other classes though because of how very explicitly that was intended, but you might want to expect table variation now (as for the Dreamed Secrets feat, it is indirectly banned in PFS - the feat isn't banned, but all of the gods in its prerequisite are). So I guess we're just having it both ways now. As for the Cleric spells added as spells known to Shamans, I don't think this was one of those cases of design marching on. I'm pretty sure the designer just had a superficial understanding of the game mechanics and just thought of "spells known" as generically meaning "spells you can cast" without considering the mechanical implications of his language.

On to the races...

Aasimar: Scion of Humanity alternate racial trait makes him count as a human.  +2 Wis boosts DCs and +2 Cha gives an extra spell with Arcane Enlightenment. Very good pick all around. You can also go Archon-Blooded (+2 Con, +2 Wis / Intimidate, Sense Motive / continual flame) or Garuda-Blooded (+2 Dex, +2 Wis / Acrobatics, Fly / see invisibility). The +2 Dex from Garuda-Blooded has some use for a reach Shaman build (equip reach weapon or use Prehensile Hair and get Combat Reflexes, then just cast spells while your AoOs do in enemies). Owing to the Shaman's MADness, +2 Cha is more valuable than normal. Additionally, you can replace the racial SLA with Lesser Age Resistance which is very useful if you can use the aging rules for bonuses to mental stats.

Human: Bonus feat is good and extra skill ranks are nice. Not much else to say. It's always a good pick, especially if you're feeling feat-starved. You could also trade Skilled for Fey Magic, Fey Thoughts, and Low-light vision (yes, all three). For Fey Thoughts I would strongly recommend taking Perception and Sense Motive as class skills (yes, seriously, the Shaman does not have them). For Fey Magic, take your pick, but the only druid orisons (0-level spells) that aren't on the Shaman list are Spark, Flare, Sign of the Dawnflower (if you worship Sarenrae), and Enhanced Diplomacy. Spark is situational at best (use cave terrain to light a torch, I guess?) and Flare is worthless though. Enhanced Diplomacy works best with urban terrain (silly, I know, but you can use urban as your fey magic terrain type). For the 1st-level spell I mostly recommend picking something not on the Shaman spell list (or Cleric, if using favored class bonus on it, or Wizard, if using Arcane Enlightenment hex). If you picked urban terrain, you may as well grab Whispering Lore for +4 to Knowledge (Local) checks, I guess. That bonus should stay useful.

Half-Elf: Skill Focus is not bad (esp. if you need it as a prereq). Paragon Surge is still a goddamn amazing spell (not on your class list but who cares, with the favored class bonus at level 7 or the Arcane Enlightenment hex you can and most definitely should nab Paragon Surge anyway). You can also trade the Skill Focus (which is probably going in Perception) for Dual-Minded (+2 Will saves) or even a weapon proficiency if you're going martial Shaman. Multitalented perk is thoroughly useless and as such I recommend swapping it out for Fey Thoughts and picking up Sense Motive and Perception as class skills or taking Blended View for darkvision.

Half-Orc: You're down a feat and you don't get Paragon Surge, but you do get Orc Ferocity (you still get 1 turn of staggered combat when reduced below 0, very good for spellcasters) which you can also instead trade for Sacred Tattoo (+1 luck to all saves, combine it with Fate's Favored faith trait for +2 luck instead; also very good, but does not stack with Luckstone). Aside from that you can trade Intimidating for Shaman's Apprentice and pick up an Endurance feat, and you can trade weapon familiarity for Fey Thoughts to pick up Sense Motive and Perception. And you can trade Darkvision for Skilled or Vigilant Gaze. All told, the Half-Orc is one of the weaker options here, but he does have some perks. More of a flavor pick

Tiefling: You'll want the Pass for Human alternate racial trait to obtain access to the human favored class bonus (which sadly locks you out of prehensile tail, and numerous other traits), and you should generally pick the Hellspawn variant (+2 Con, +2 Wis, -2 Cha / Diplomacy, Sense Motive / pyrotechnics). For a more martially inclined Shaman, you would want Hungerseed (+2 Str, +2 Wis, -2 Cha / Disguise, Intimidate / alter self).  The only real reason to pick Tiefling is for +2 Str as a martial Shaman. It's probably tempting to kick out the Pass for Human (and human favored class bonus) as a martial Shaman to take those alternate racial traits, but if you do, you won't be able to cast Divine Favor.

No Human Favored Class Bonus, but Wis and Sick Perks
Samsaran: Mystic Past Life alternate racial trait more than makes up for the lack of Human favored class bonus. You could use this to add Cleric spells to your Shaman list right away, or Druid spells for that matter, but I would sooner recommend pilfering the Inquisitor or Hunter list for some discounted goodies. The +2 int can also translate into a +2 cha if you swap around base stats from 14 int 12 cha to 12 int 14 cha which will pick up an extra spell with Arcane Enlightenment.

Svirfneblin: Ouch. Not only do you lose out on the spell selection from the favored class bonus, but your Arcane Enlightenment hex is crippled to one spell at a whopping -4 Charisma. On the other hand, you do get: +2 to all saves (and another +1 to reflex from dex and +1 to will from wis); +2 dodge to AC from a Defensive Training that applies to everything (oh, and another +2 AC from dex and small size); 11+Level Spell Resistance (you can make it 12+Level if you take the Scorned by Magic magic trait); constant nondetection; 1day - blindness/deafness, blur, disguise self; +1 to all your illusion spell DCs (Excellent if you prestige into Veiled Illusionist) on top of your +2 Wis; +2 Stealth (+4 underground) plus another +4 from Size (and another +1 from +2 dex); +2 to Perception (on top of the Stonecunning and your Wis bonus, yes); +2 Craft (Alchemy) - why not, helps if you take the Witch's Cauldron hex; Stonecunning (+2 bonus on Perception checks to notice unusual stonework and your GM has to automatically roll for you whenever you are within 10 feet of such stonework); 120 foot Darkvision and Low-light vision without any light sensitivity; +1 attack from small size; oh, and a +1 Hatred attack bonus against Dwarves and reptilians. In addition to that, you are still a Gnome so you do get the Gnome favored class bonus (+1/6 bonus hex, good for any Shaman, but Unsworn Shaman in particular). And you could conceivably take Improved Unarmed Strike and Earth Child Style to boost your Defensive Training to +6 AC (did we mention Svirfneblin Defensive Training applies to everything?) but that's 2 feats for +4 AC which isn't the highest priority for a Shaman. Then again if you do do this you can also ignore proficiency, attack rolls, and stealth to just wear a nonproficient Heavy Armor and Tower Shield for some absurd AC (they would need to roll nat 20s to hit you).

Other races
You don't want them.


Any Shaman can be played with a somewhat martial bent (though I don't really recommend playing a martial Shaman), but there are only three viable archetypes for a decent Shaman that I see.

Vanilla Shaman
The vanilla Shaman's advantage is that he gets a lot of hexes for a strong Hex build. He typically prestiges out at level 7 because level 6 is where he tops out with all the good stuff of the Shaman class (wandering hex and Spirit Talker prerequisite). He uses the Spirit Talker feat for Arcane Enlightenment so he has a wandering spirit to pick any spirit he pleases for the spells, spirit ability, or hexes. Also, prestiging out keeps the cost of replacing your spirit animal low.

Unsworn Shaman
The Unsworn Shaman's advantage is that while he gets fewer hexes, he can flexibly reassign them every day, plus he can reassign both of his wandering spirits for different spirit magic spells, etc. Flexible hexes are extra fun to grab things like the Shaman Fetish hex (Craft Wondrous Item) and Witch's Cauldron hex (Brew Potion). He uses the Spirit Talker feat for the Arcane Enlightenment hex. You can prestige out at level 7 (level 6 gives 2nd wandering spirit and Spirit Talker prereq) but level 9 (level 8 gives 3rd minor spirit hex) is not a bad thought either. Speaking of the Spirit Talker feat, lets clear something up:

Question: The Unsworn Shaman does not qualify for the Spirit Talker feat, right? "Minor Spirit" doesn't count as the "hex" class feature.
Eh, it's open to debate. You can argue that Minor Spirit gives the Unsworn Shaman hexes, therefore the Unsworn Shaman counts as having a hex class feature. It's the same reason why a Druid with a Nature's Bond counts as having an animal companion class feature. Because even if that isn't the name, that's what you get. I don't think any GM would argue it's against RAI for an Unsworn Shaman to get the Spirit Talker feat either. EDIT: There has been an errata changing Minor Spirit from replacing the hex class feature to altering the hex class feature. The FAQ confirms that this was explicitly done to ensure that the Shaman keeps the hex class feature while obtaining Minor spirits (but he still only gets hexes through his minor spirits by default). This means it is no longer open to debate and it is 100% confirmed that an Unsworn Shaman counts as having the hex class feature for all intents and purposes.

If your GM does draw a distinction between the transient hexes of the Unsworn Shaman and the permanent hexes of a regular Shaman for prereqs, then there's another way to fulfill the prereq. In that case, you'll want to play a Svirfneblin or use a Racial Heritage feat to count as a Gnome so that at 6th level your favored class bonus gives you a Shaman hex outright, at which point you do have that bona fide hex class feature, solving your prereq issues. This is the best way to sidestep a rules debate and just get your Spirit Talker feat. An extra hex is quite solid for an Unsworn Shaman anyway, but you are giving up 4 cleric spells to do this. If you are specifically going Svirfneblin, then prestige out at 7 because your favored class bonus does nothing for levels 7 and 8, you've got that extra hex anyway, and you will really want to prestige out for more casting options since a Svirfneblin does not get Cleric spells and only adds 1 wizard spell to his preparation list each day, unless you're using Pearls of Power to restore Wizard spells from previous days.

If you play an Unsworn Shaman, be sure to get the Spirit Talker feat. Otherwise the archetype is trash since you're hex-starved and probably just going to spend a wandering and minor spirit to get Arcane Enlightenment at which point with 1 minor spirit hex and 1 wandering spirit remaining you're just a severely crippled vanilla Shaman (who would just use Spirit Talker for his Arcane Enlightenment leaving him the same 1 wandering spirit and 1 wandering hex in addition to the Spirit and hexes he got from class levels).

Speaker for the Past Shaman
This Shaman still gets his class hexes, Spirit, plus two Oracle mysteries (Ancestor and Time, spells included) and uses Spirit Talker for Arcane Enlightenment. It is the only Shaman that might seriously consider single-classing as a Shaman (which also progresses the favored class bonus for Cleric spells) instead of prestiging out, courtesy of Oracle revelations. Also the Ancestor mystery has more features for a martially inclined Shaman.

D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder / Sean K. Reynolds leaving Pathfinder.
« on: February 22, 2014, 02:05:30 AM »
Title says it all folks. The man so unpopular he makes Monte Cook look good by comparison is leaving Pathfinder now.

Min/Max 3.x / [PF] Good domains for a Sacred Servant Paladin?
« on: December 12, 2013, 01:43:29 PM »
Anyone know which domains are good for Sacred Servant Paladins?

Smoke, Caves, and Travel domains seem decent.

D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder / Power's Tier List for Pathfinder
« on: December 03, 2013, 01:45:35 AM »
You know, I figured, what the heck. I have my own perspective on the Tiers, so I may as well share it.

ACG = Advanced Class Guide Playtest

Anything in red is weak for its tier. Anything in blue is strong for its tier. Not sure if there's a point to color-coding Tier 1s or Tier 6s, but I marked the vow of poverty monk in red for Tier 6 since it's so stupid it's usually in a league of its own.

Tier 1: Capable of doing absolutely everything, often better than classes that specialize in that thing. Often capable of solving encounters with a single mechanical ability and little thought from the player. Has world changing powers at high levels. These guys, if played with skill, can easily break a campaign and can be very hard to challenge without extreme DM fiat or plenty of house rules, especially if Tier 3s and below are in the party.

Wizard, Druid, Cleric, Witch, Sorcerer (Razmiran Priest archetype, Paragon Surge spell, Mongrel Mage archetype, Mnemonic Vestment robe), Oracle (Paragon Surge spell, Mnemonic Vestment robe, Dreamed Secrets feat, Spirit Guide with Versatile Spontaneity + Magical Epiphany feats), Psychic (Mnemonic Esoterica discipline power, Mnemonic Vestment robe, Amnesiac archetype), Shaman, Arcanist, Bard/Skald (Music Beyond the Spheres masterpiece)

Tier 2: Has as much raw power as the Tier 1 classes, but can't pull off nearly as many tricks, and while the class itself is capable of anything, no one build can actually do nearly as much as the Tier 1 classes. Still potentially campaign smashers by using the right abilities, but at the same time are more predictable and can't always have the right tool for the job. If the Tier 1 classes are countries with 10,000 nuclear weapons in their arsenal, these guys are countries with 10 nukes. Still dangerous and easily world shattering, but not in quite so many ways.  Note that the Tier 2 classes are often less flexible than Tier 3 classes... it's just that their incredible potential power overwhelms their lack in flexibility.

Oracle, Psychic, Sorcerer, Summoner, Unchained Summoner, Monster Tactician Inquisitor

Tier 3: Capable of doing one thing quite well, while still being useful when that one thing is inappropriate, or capable of doing all things, but not as well as classes that specialize in that area. Occasionally has a mechanical ability that can solve an encounter, but this is relatively rare and easy to deal with. Can be game breaking only with specific intent to do so. Challenging such a character takes some thought from the DM, but isn't too difficult. Will outshine any Tier 5s in the party much of the time.

Alchemist, Bard, Skald, Inquisitor, Magus, Investigator, Warpriest, Eldritch Scoundrel Rogue, Vigilante w/ spellcasting archetype, Occultist, Mesmerist (when it can seance its spirits easily), Medium, Spiritualist, Hunter w/ Divine Hunter + Primal Companion Hunter archetypes, Sacred Servant+Oath of Vengeance Paladin, Fiendish Bond Antipaladin with Succubus or Shadow Demon

Tier 4: Capable of doing one thing quite well, but often useless when encounters require other areas of expertise, or capable of doing many things to a reasonable degree of competence without truly shining. Rarely has any abilities that can outright handle an encounter unless that encounter plays directly to the class's main strength. DMs may sometimes need to work to make sure Tier 4s can contribute to an encounter, as their abilities may sometimes leave them useless. Won't outshine anyone except Tier 6s except in specific circumstances that play to their strengths. Cannot compete effectively with Tier 1s that are played well.

Adept, Barbarian, Unchained Barbarian, Bloodrager, Archetyped Brawlers, Paladin, Ranger, Slayer, Martial Master and/or Mutation Warrior Fighter, Mesmerist (when it can't seance well), Kineticist, Hunter, Shifter, Antipaladin, Sohei Monk (preferably with Qinggong Monk powers)

Tier 5: Capable of doing only one thing, and not necessarily all that well, or so unfocused that they have trouble mastering anything, and in many types of encounters the character cannot contribute. In some cases, can do one thing very well, but that one thing is very often not needed. Has trouble shining in any encounter unless the encounter matches their strengths. DMs may have to work to avoid the player feeling that their character is worthless unless the entire party is Tier 4 and below. Characters in this tier will often feel like one trick ponies if they do well, or just feel like they have no tricks at all if they build the class poorly.

Fighter, Vanilla Brawler, Vigilante, Ninja, Rogue, Unchained Rogue, Cavalier, Samurai, Gunslinger, Swashbuckler (ACG), Archetyped Monks, Unchained Monk

Tier 6: Not even capable of shining in their own area of expertise. DMs will need to work hard to make encounters that this sort of character can contribute in with their mechanical abilities. Will often feel worthless unless the character is seriously powergamed beyond belief, and even then won't be terribly impressive. Needs to fight enemies of lower than normal CR. Class is often completely unsynergized or with almost no abilities of merit. Avoid allowing PCs to play these characters.

Vanilla Monk, Aristocrat, Expert, Warrior, Commoner, Vow of Poverty Monk

A while ago, Paizo released a Pathfinder splatbook called Paths of Prestige, where they added some 30 prestige classes to Pathfinder.

One of these prestige classes is the Magaambyan Arcanist (listed as Collegiate Arcanist in d20pfsrd). As far as I understand, the purpose of this prestige class is to grant Druid spells, Good domain spells, 1 minute preparation (1 full-round action at level 9), and spontaneous casting to Wizards. There's some other stuff too, like permanent protection from evil, caster level and duration bonus for good spells, etc.

Is it just me or is this prestige class a little overpowered?

Aside from Magaambyan Arcanist we also have Daivrat for adding power to wizards.

Handbook Discussion / Nvm
« on: May 21, 2013, 03:49:18 PM »

Introduce Yourself / Hello
« on: May 19, 2013, 04:41:40 AM »

More of a theorycrafter here.

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