Saturday, November 29, 2014

Builds: Mighty Halfling

Mighty Halfling

There’s no denying that Cavaliers are best astride a mount, but the big problem is mounted combat doesn't address the typical dungeon crawl. Order of the Paw helps this somewhat but leaves us with the less than optimal halflings… but with a barbarian dip suddenly the weaknesses become strengths.

Build Core:
The goals of this are to circumvent the weaknesses of being small with a barbarian dip and match and maximize our wolf companion’s tripping ability. We’ll use a flail and select a few choice rage powers to elevate the concept further.

Feats/Class Features of note
Halfling is the only choice for Order of the Paw.

1: Halfling Order of the Paw Strategist Cavalier 1: Challenge, Tactician- Tandem Trip*, Improved Trip
2: Cavalier 2: Danger Ward
3: Cavalier 3: Cavalier’s Charge, Mounted Combat
4: Mounted Fury Barbarian 1: Rage, Fast Rider
5: MF Barb: Ferocious Mount, Ride By Attack
6: Cavalier 4: Drill Instructor- Paired Opportunists
7: MF Barb: Trap Sense, Boon Companion- Wolf upgrades
8: MF Barb: Knockdown
9: MF Barb: Beastial Mount**, Combat Reflexes
10: Cavalier 5: Banner
11: Cavalier 6: Spirited Charge, Power Attack
12: Cavalier 7: Challenge 3/day
13: Cavalier 8: Canine Ferocity, Trample, Flag Bearer
14: MF Barb 6: Strength Surge***, Trap Sense 2
15: Cavalier 9: Greater Tactician- Coordinated Charge or Coordinated Maneuvers depending on party make up****, Cleave
16: Cavalier 10: Banner bonus increases, Challenge 4/day
17: Cavalier 11: Mighty Charge*****, Great Cleave
18: Cavalier 12: Demanding Challenge, Cleaving Finish
19: Cavalier 13: Challenge 5/day, Improved Cleaving Finish
20: Cavalier 14: Tactical Advantage
*You don’t bother yet but this gives your wolf the best of 2 trip rolls.
**At this point you likely keep the rage on yourself and stop using Ferocious Mount as the mount still gets a +2 to strength loses no class levels and has a23+ stre
***Use this in tandem with Knockdown and Tandem Trip for a huge bonus to trip with 2 rolls take the better!
****If there’s another charger (druid AC or Eidolon with pounce for example) take the coordinated charge if not take another +2 to trip for your mount or you when you want on maneuvers.
*****Peak Tripping power BAB+STR=CMB 20 +2 (trait bonus) +5 str surge, +4 cavalier's charge, +2 banner, +1 flag bearer, +2 coordinated maneuvers +36 to trip and roll twice take the better in addition to dealing double damage from your flail. You can possibly add flanking to this and yes I factored in a -1 for being small.
Helpful Aid another action is now a +4, for when you really want your wolf to trip that dwarf…
Heirloom Weapon go with a flail as it has the trip property and this will grant an additional trip

Max Ride, Handle Animal,  possibly stealth, definitely disable device.

20 point buy
Str 14 (with -2 points from Racial)
Dex 12 (with +2 from racial)
Con 15
Int 10
Wis  10
Cha 14 (with 2 points form Racial)

Stat Adds- all in CON

Tactics at level
1- use your flail, your mount, and tandem trip to keep your enemies down
3- see level 1 but charge if you want.
5- share rage when you desire
7- your mount just upgraded into a real threat, also you can flank trip and get the most out of it when enemies try to stand
9- extra AOOs whoot, always having a stronger mount without splitting your rage pool=bonus
To Hit: BAB +8, Str bonus (not counting equip) +4 Challenge + 2 (swift), +4 from Cavalier
11- 1st round charge up for a big hit, use move action to switch to flail then trip them down
12+ gets you better at what you already do… you are pretty versitile as you can deliver big hits with charge and ride by, or pull a flanking trip cycle to shut something down, overrun, eventually trip off of a charge, use tactician drill sergeant, and master tactician to provide TW feats, banner and flag bearer give static bonuses, Danger ward is a great way to boost saves, and you can provide anyone with a +4 bonus thru aid another actions.

Possible Variants
Rage Power Trees can differ a great deal on this, One could just go with a small version of the Spirited Pouncer build.

Attributes and Races
Traits, Skills, and Feats

Alternate Opinions and a few areas I didn't cover

Spirited Charging Pouncer
Knight of Shadows
Dragon Knight
Mighty Halfling


Friday, November 28, 2014

Builds: Spirited Charging Pouncer

Spirited Charging Pouncer

Sometimes the most fun thing to do is to make the nastiest monster you can pull off and be the character that rides on it’s back. While strictly speaking the summoner is a little better at this the summoner also sort of ends up being the boring half of the duo. You can still be a really cool character in your own right while riding a very cool mount, just like deadpool in this picture except you won’t be at all like deadpool.

Build Core:
We dip into Primal companion hunter first to establish what our AC is and to hook it up with a starting evolution pool. There’s also the matter of the free teamwork feats. We then exploit the careful wording of the hunter companion  that specifies that anything that grants AC levels stack to make sure our monstrous mount is still an awesome tiger (or whatever) when we go into Beast rider which applies combat trained and gives our mount a free endurance feat. It can become better as we level while we lose next to nothing and at 7th level advance a size category if it doesn’t already! Thanks to being an Aasimar we also can take advantage of the Celestial Servant Feat enabling the ultimate in animal companion awesome a flying pouncing large sized tiger with a goodly number of feats! Meanwhile we can also share our teamwork feats with it and our buds with tactician and its improved cousins. Order of the Sword rounds things out by improving our attack power and giving a really nice damage bonus from our strong mount.

Feats/Class Features of note
Aasimar is a part of the core, it can be discarded but that means no celestial template which adds DR, energy resistance, and the ability to smite evil… Seriously why would you NOT want that for your murder machine? Hunter leads the chain for the reasons I’ve outlined. I’d go for Angle Blooded for the Strength and Charisma bonuses and alter self can be very useful.

1: Aasamar Primal Hunter Companion 1: Spells (Druid and Ranger spells which is awesome), Animal Companion with Primal Transformation (1 evolution point), wild empathy, Mounted Combat
2: PHC 2: Precise Companion- For Outflank, Track
3: Beast Rider Cavalier Order of the Sword 1: Tactician- Shake it off, Challenge, Ride by Attack (Companions are now automatically Combat Trained and have endurance feat)
4: Beast Rider 2: By My Honor, 4th level possible upgrade* (Axe beak)
5: Beast Rider 3: Cavalier’s Charge, Sudden Charge (2 points of evolutions can now be wings and flight!)
6: Beast Rider 4: Challenge 2/day
7: Beast Rider 5: Banner, 7th level mount upgrade options now include Big Cat, Celestial Servant**
8: Beast Rider 6: Combat Expertise
9: PHC 3: Pack Tactics- Pack Flanking***, Power Attack
10: Beast Rider 7: Challenge 3/day
11: Beast Rider 8: Mounted Mastery****, Skill Focus (Ride), Arcane Strike*****
12: PHC 4: Improved Empathetic Link, the ability to use 4 point evolutions if needed (like increasing size) 2nd level spells
13: Beast rider 9: Greater Tactician- Precise Strike (remember with pack tactics when mounted you and mount are flanking so this is +1d6 damage for both of you), Indomitable Mount
14: BR 10: Challenge 4/day, banner now adds +2 to hit
15: BR: 11: Mighty Charge, Trick Rider
16: BR 12: Demanding Challenge, Mounted Skirmisher
17: BR 13: Challenge 5/day, Furious Focus
18: BR 14: Greater Banner
19: BR 15: Knight’s Challenge, Cleave
20: BR 16: Challenge 6/day
*It depends on how you read the animal companion stacking line of hunter. I read it as all animal companion abilities both hunter and cavalier levels count which means level dependent options for your eventual 4 evo points count as though you’re basically your character level but you do not gain additional points. Also the upgrade options of beast rider would hit at the appropriate levels. Check with your GM but it’s a solid interpretation of RAW. It’s also what generally shuts down multiple Booned Animal companions without very specific archetypes.  
**You can and should now be able to pull a winged large tiger with the Celestial Template out. You now win at life. Seriously your tiger companion dishes serious damage with pounce while you’re charging.
***Allows you to be on your mount and benefit from flanking, since you have outflank thats a +4 to hit, With Cavalier’s charges, with Spirited charge and a lance with is times 3 damage and you still have challenge and have only lost 1 BAB. Once you hit continue running by because it’s mean and funny.
****+4 to AC when charging, free feat AND add mounts strength mod on top of your own to the already considerable sum of damage you deal when charging.
*****Because you have an arcane spell like ability and there’s a FAQ stating you can use SLAs for prerequisites. Your caster level is equal to your character level making this a +3 to damage that makes even non-magical weapons magic for the purpose of overcoming DR)

Dirty Fighter basically +1 to damage when flanking which becomes all the time starting at level 9 but is viable anytime you want to flank whcih is anytime you are not charging.
Bralani’s Step gives an axtra 5ft of movement on move actions 1/day

Max Ride, Handle Animal, Face Skills this isn’t your forte.

20 point buy
Str 18 (with 2 points from Racial)
Dex 10
Con 13
Int 13
Wis  12
Cha 14 (with 2 points form Racial)

Stat Adds- 4th Con, 8th INT, 12 & 16 Str

Tactics at level
1- Use your companion as front line while you buff or cast some BF control,
3- Challenge and you can ride or flank with companion
5- Saves are likely not an issue and now you should ABC… Always be Charging!
7- Your Mount is now supremely Awesome. You get your big hit with the charge and it gets a full attack with pounce, make sure to take fly-by-attack for when you sprout wings on the AC
9- Assuming you are following the build:
To Hit: BAB +8, Str bonus (not counting equip) +4 Challenge + 2 (swift), +4 from Cavalier Charge, +4 (outflank and pack flanking), +1 worn banner, assuming minimal +2 from magic weapon, -3 from power attack = +20 to hit against a CR( average AC = 23 meaning you donly fail to hit on a 1.
Damage: 1d8 lance, +4 Strength, +6 power attack, +2 from magic weapon +1 from trait multiplied by 3 for 42 -63 damage + Animal companion gets pounce and rake full attack off gaining most of your to hit sheenanigans against an average of 115 HP. If you crit it dies… If not your team can finish if they haven’t softened it up. This also isn’t factoring force multipliers like bard songs or Bulls strength.
11- You should never fail a ride check, Arcane strike and 8th level order fo sword ability just added 4 to your mounted charge AC a +8 total to damage before the times 3 is applied.
13- More damage, more saves, pretty much more everything as you level.

If for some reason you cannot bring your mount you are far from useless in combat you just deal a little less damage (lance becomes x2 still reach, no shield) per strike BUT you get your itterative attacks which should balance. See if the party can shrink your companion to medium for tougher spots as it is a big part of your sheet.

Possible Variants
I considered going Chevalier for a lovely 3 level dip from level 12-14. You’d be even better against will targeted effects, add an aura to your awesomeness, immunity to poison, another attack damage bonus condition, a little better ac on a charge and oh yeah SMITE EVIL. What you’d lose is the 15th level order of the sword ability and delay the progression of some rather sweet cavalier abilities and that was the biggest factor in me saying no thanks.

Attributes and Races
Traits, Skills, and Feats

Alternate Opinions and a few areas I didn't cover

Spirited Charging Pouncer
Knight of Shadows
Dragon Knight
Mighty Halfling


Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Big thank you to our readers, have a free monster variant

Thanksgiving Inspiration: All winter long along a city park I’d come across a small flock of three turkeys. I used to think a ranger would think lunch when he saw them, especially in winter. I stopped seeing them all spring long and finally ran across them again in a graveyard with some great hills. I was excited to see them and loudly exclaimed “my turkey friends” they replied by running away from the crazy human surely bent on murder. I’m sure if there were witnesses they thought me a madman.

There’s a ton of great ways to use turkeys as a set up… having a variant WISC able to make 3 dance around in a lifelike manner letting an unsuspecting hunter shoot one and lure him into tentacle range was a great set up. To make the whole mess more interesting I decided that the creature got larger and smarter by consuming a fey. Here’s the result

A small forest animal scurries atop a worn stump in a delightful and cheerful way—and then the stump's face peels open into a maw of sharp teeth.

Fairy Fed Wolf-in-Sheep's-Clothing
CR 10
XP 9,600
N large aberration
Init +3; Senses all-around vision, darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +14
AC 23, touch 9, flat-footed 24 (+14 natural. -1 large)
hp 119 (14d8+56)
Fort +11, Ref +5, Will +10
Speed 5 ft., burrow 5 ft., climb 5 ft.
Melee bite +14 (1d8+5), 8 tentacles +13 (1d6+2 plus grab and pull)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft. (15 ft. with tentacle)
Special Attacks constrict (tentacle 1d4+3), implant, pull (tentacle, 5 ft.)
Str 21, Dex 8, Con 19, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 7
Base Atk +10; CMB +16 (+20 grapple); CMD 24 (can't be tripped)
Feats Great Fortitude, Greater GrappleB, Greater Weapon Focus (tentacle),Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Multiattack, Skill Focus (Perception),Weapon Focus (tentacle)
Skills Climb +15, Disguise -1 (+11 as tree stump), Knowledge (nature) +6,Knowledge (local) +6, Perception +14, Sense Motive +8, Stealth +9; Racial Modifiers +12 Disguise as tree stump
SQ corpse lure
Improved Corpse Lure (Ex)
By setting up to three corpses within 15 ft of its stump and touching the body lightly with one of its tentacles, a wolf-in-sheep's-clothing can expertly maneuver the corpses, manipulating them in a lifelike way that is very hard to detect. The corpses must be within 15 feet of the stump portion. It can manipulate creatures up to size small but tends to avoid using humanoids as they are often expected to speak. When a wolf-in-sheep's-clothing uses a corpse like this, it gains a +8 per corpse bonus on Disguise checks beyond its normal racial bonus.
Fairy Magic (Sp)
In addition to growing larger and smarter the fairy fed wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing also gains a measure of fairy magic as though it were a fey creature half its hit dice thus 7. Treat the creature as a 7th level caster that can cast:
3/day- Dancing lights
1/day- deep slumber, entanglement, fairie fire, glitterdust, major image
Implant (Ex)
A wolf-in-sheep's-clothing can infest a creature with its eggs in one of two ways. A creature that eats a carcass used by the monster as a corpse lure automatically becomes implanted. Alternatively, up to once per day, a wolf-in-sheep's-clothing can implant an egg into a helpless or pinned creature as part of a grapple action. The target can resist being implanted with a DC 19 Fortitude save, but if it fails, the seed gestates and becomes a self-aware creature that slowly steals nourishment from its host before finally exploding free of its host's gut. The parasite can be cut free of the host's belly with a DC 25 Heal check, which takes 1 hour and deals 3d6 slashing damage regardless of success or failure. Remove disease (or any similar effect) also kills an implanted egg.
Wolf-in-Sheep's-Clothing Egg: Infestation—ingestion; save Fort 19;onset 1 day; frequency 1/day; effect 1d4 Str damage until host reaches 0, then 3d6 damage as parasite bursts free; cure 3 consecutive saves. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Builds: Nature's Assassin

Nature’s Assassin

Nature’s Assassin

In case you missed it, I’m rather a fan of the rogue. I enjoy having a variety of skills and using sneak attack, but I’m also rather a fan of the druid. Aside from the very interesting defender of nature angle there’s the probable animal companion, my favorite spell list, and the versatility of wildshape. I’m made my share of rogue 3/druid 17 characters before but thanks to PAizo’s latest offerings there’s another rather attractive package. We lose wildshape and possibly a spell level or two but gain so much. Meet Nature’s assassin…

Build Core:
Nature’s Fang Druid archetype with Crocodile domain. This gives you slayer talents (which you can swap for ranger style feats or rogue talents if you wish), studied target, and a little SA, croc domain gives you more SA and a SA progression, a familiar that gives you a stealth bonus and a special attack along with good domain spells.

Options include going into Grey warden and trading a few spell levels for judgements and a better SA progression. Using your feats to regain an AC to go with your familiar, or dipping a level of cleric for more domain power.

***Thanks to Davor on the Paizo boards for the root concept see the discussion here

Feats/Class Features of note
Race choice is rather important to this build. Human is of course viable as ever for the extra feat can come in handy depending if you are leaning towards a weapon based style. For this I’d far rather have the early advantage and low feat investment for multiple attacks that some of the races with natural attacks offer. Of particular note are the Tengu and Lizardman. The Tengu has an alternate trait that gives it 2 primary claw attacks that are treated as Improved unarmed combat for the purpose fo feat prerequisites, a feat option that raises the beak attack damage by 2 steps and causes bleed, and 2 feat options that give you some form of flight. On the other hand Lizardmen have a swim speed, their attacks start with 1 damage step higher, they have natural armor, and a better stat array for the build. I can get behind either option but for this guide I’m going Tengu.

1: Tengu Nature’s Fang Druid with the Crocodile Domain 1: spells, studied target, death roll, caiman familiar, Improved Grapple
2: (druid level 2)nothing new
3: (druid level 3)2nd level spell, trackless step, Combat Reflexes
4: (druid level 4)Sneak attack 1d6, Rending Claws (slayer talent)
5: (druid level 5)3rd level spells, Weapon Focus Claws
6: (druid level 6)Sneak attack 2d6(from croc domain), Eldritch claws (slayer talent)
7: (Gray Warden 1) Sneak attack 3d6, Anonymity, Improved Familiar (Mephit)
8: (GW2) 4th level druid spells, judgement, stern gaze
9: (GW3) Bane, dramatic interrogation, Blood Beak
10: (GW4) 5th level Druid Spells, Grim Investigator, 2nd judgement, Vital Strike
11: (GW5) Sneak Attack 4d6, Improved Bane, Improved Natural Weapon Claws
12: (GW 6) Harsh Judgement 2/day, Gang up
13: (GW 7) 6th level druid spells, Sinister Bane, Extra talent- Trapfinding
14: (GW 8) Slaying Judgements, Dastardly Finish
15: (GW 9) Sneak Attack (5d6), Greater Bane, Deflect Arrows
16: (GW 10) 7th level Druid Spells, Final Demise, Harsh judgement 3/day, True Death, Deadly Finish
17: (Dr 7) Body Shield
18: (Dr 8) 8th level Druid spells, Fast Stealth(slayer talent)
19: (Dr 9) Swift Studied Target, Dodge
20: (Dr 10) 9th level Druid spells, Improved Vital Strike(slayer talent)
Ending Caster level 17
Base SA 5d6 Bane of 3d6 can be added along with a number of conditions including a few ways to set up a save or die.
You should also be able to function as a moderate skill monkey especially with int buffing items.

Silent Hunter- gives a +1 to stealth and makes it a class skill
Reactionary- bonus to reflex save

Max Stealth, Intimidate, Disable Device spread the rest around to ensure at least a point into all class skills and “roguish skills.” Make sure you cover all the Gray warden basics before getting to 7th.

20 point buy
Str 14
Dex 16  (with +2 racial mod)
Con 12 (with -2 racial mod)
Int 13
Wis  16 (with +2 racial mod)
Cha 8

All stat adds into Wisdom, All class bonuses into Hit Points

Tactics at level
1- Study target-Charge-Grapple-Death Roll This should get you a +8 to your CMB (more if they are smaller than you) to slam them for 1d8+2 and put them prone, if they get up you get an aoe if not take a +4 to claw and pecking 3 attacks a round in a full attack, this is on top of druid spell shenanigans. Your Stealth should be +13 so use that to make a target flat footed when you can.
4- have your camen flank when possible and get an extra 1d6 to all 3 of your attacks, hit with both claws there’s another d6 for you.
5- 3rd level spells whoot
7- Let your new mephit buddy use his SLAs and use him for flanking when you can.
8- Judgement and studied target options to improve your attacks, use you’re 2nd level domain spell to either improve your bite or as a quick release dazzling display, it is a good buff for this build
9- Bane and Blood beak ramps your damage again!
10+ You lose little in the way of spellcasting levels and gain a good number of feats sneak attack damage and general natural attack power, buff first on defenses before wading in too far or you can get caught

Possible Variants
You can make this into a short range archer with a decent SA range.
You can make this into a dual wielder and use your beak as a secondary nat attack which will gain you more attacks ultimately (though the bottom end will likely be a flurry of misses.)
You could invest 3 feats get a Boon Companion enhanced Animal Ally and accept a slower less optimized Natural attack progression.
Dip 1 level cleric for growth and travel domain for swift action Enlarge and use Shillelagh and other buffs to add a reach element to your game… bonus going large helps your ability to grapple and roll!

Augment Summoning line and Druid specific summons enhancements (though that’s better with a straight druid.)