Feat Friday: Savage Summoning

Savage Summoning 

The animals you summon are incredibly powerful beings, forces of nature in their own right.
Prerequisites:  Spell Focus: Conjuration, Augment Summoning, Animal Affinity, ability to cast 5th-level spells
Benefit: Each animal you conjure with any summon spell may gain the benefits of an animal growth spell for as long as it remains conjured, even if the animal is an outsider.

Notes

A feat that lets your summoned animals become a LOT more powerful. You could always cast this spell yourself if you’re a Druid or Ranger, but that would require another standard action and a second spell slot. This spell is even more powerful if you’re an arcane caster, as you get to add both a template and a spell. This feat makes even low-level summon spells viable at high character levels. To balance the incredible power of this feat, you have to really focus your feat selection as well as take a lackluster feat on the way.

Enjoy!

-Max

Theme Thursday: Planning a Party

No, not that kind of party. Today’s theme deals with good party structure, and how you can have more fun playing the game with a bit of planning for party structure.

First, let’s go over the basic concepts:

In a magnificent game such as D&D 3.5 or the excellent child called Pathfinder, the most effective and fun gaming occurs when every player has a decent understanding of “roles.” The game is simply constructed so that characters are more effective when they specialize in an area. It comes of  the construction of the fantastic character-building system, where the player chooses from among a number of abilities and options, so that they build a particular type of character. This is not to say that you don’t want to build a character who isn’t effective in all types of situations. Instead of a truly “well-rounded” character however, you should look for a “well-lopsided” one. Fulfill a role while paying a due to other options, so that you are never at a loss or a drag on the game.

Not only does planning for roles make the characters more effective,  but it makes the game much more fun as well. As human beings, we simply don’t function well when everyone talks at once. The GM can only pay attention to a couple things at the same time, and if someone is speaking to him or her, describing their character’s actions, the GM cannot be dealing with another person doing the same thing at the exact same time. Combat is constructed as a series of turns for this very reason. Therefore, characters need to take turns in the spotlight, and need to be depended upon to make the most of that spotlight while they have it. Understanding your role in the party only becomes more and more vital as the game goes on, when players become more invested in the story and the power of the characters and monsters increases.

Rather than discussing the commonly-accepted names for roles that are out there, we will look at each of the 9 base classes in the core rulebook, and discuss where each one excels and how they can fit into the party structure.

Barbarian 

Your friends will rely on you to be a brute. You can take damage, and with a bit of character planning you can really dish it out. You have an edge of speed and versatility that means you are someone who can get to where the fight is at, strike a serious blow for your side, and just keep on going when the enemy hits back. You need to make sure that you are getting attacked.

Bard

One of the most deeply controversial classes in terms of role. I do not subscribe to the concepts that the bard is a “jack-of-all-trades” or the “best fifth character.” Instead, the Bard is a subtle character whom the party will come to rely upon. Your teammates will rely upon you to give them a vital edge in combat, making them all more effective and backing that up with important spells. They will need you to take the lead out of combat, with an array of knowledge and social skills that can win fights before they start.

Cleric

Your party will rely on you for healing. However, you keep everyone alive in several other key ways as well. You have access to vital magic that no one else does. You can wear serious protection and you can more than hold your own in a beatdown fight. You will be relied upon to plan ahead with your defensive and offensive magic, and take your knocks as need be.

Druid

Your friends need you to have a bit of healing, a bit of defensive magic, and a whole lot of extra pals. You can bring more key helpers to the table than anyone, and it’s vital that you do so while blasting away with other magics. You can also set up to fulfill key damaging roles in hand-to-hand combat, with a whole host of options that you can pick up at the last minute. Always be looking for the perfect option for the next encounter, as you will often be the linchpin upon which the wheel of the party turns.

Fighter

You can fulfill several different roles, depending on a wide array of character-building choices. Your party might depend upon you to be the toughest, hardest-to-kill member and direct all the enemies toward you. You might be relied upon to put out the most serious weapon damage. In all, the fighter needs to have a very strong understanding of the “well-lopsided” concept and build his character toward that ideal.

Monk

Another somewhat controversial class who can be absolutely vital. You will be needed to get to the fight before anyone else, survive all the way to that point, and be effective at locking down the enemies when you get there. As soon as you stop playing games where all the fights take place in big, empty rooms with a bruiser enemy, the role of the monk becomes clear. You need to take care that you are at the right place at the right time because no one can do that as well as you can.

Paladin

You will be relied upon to rank among the toughest warriors out there. You’ll need to do a little healing and backup spells in a pinch, but your focus needs to be taking on the most dangerous and the nastiest of the evil damage-dealers. You have the survivability to outlast, and you need to make sure you’re the first into the fray and the last man standing.

Ranger

The ranger needs to be the man with the plan. You need to utilize your woodcraft and your expertise in certain enemies. You have some backup healing and spellcasting, but you bring your seen-it-all type of abilities to the fore and your damage-dealing focus needs to be chosen carefully to play off the other players. If there’s another melee type with a dangerous full attack, you should probably choose a ranged style, and vice versa. Err on the side of ranged damage or on being extremely tough.

Rogue

Another extraordinarily versatile class, the two things you will definitely be relied upon for are dealing with traps and being stealthy. You should build your choices to deal damage and to improve your capability in your roles, as well as bringing a whole host of skills to the table so that you are truly never at a loss. Be careful about survivability, and be the person with a backup plan.

Sorcerer

A somewhat problematic class if you’re overly fond of comparisons with other classes. Nevertheless, the sorcerer will be relied upon for two vital things: versatile on-the-fly spellcasting, and not running out of spells. Make sure you can keep slinging those spells one after the other, and that those spells each have greatly varied uses. You may want to look into the gamingmage variant sorcerer, presented here

Wizard

You will be relied upon to have the perfect spell for every encounter, day after day. Attempt to evince a nigh-supernatural ability to pick the perfect preparations, and control reality with a number of different specializations. You will be relied upon to deal with large numbers of enemies, to give your companions an edge, to win the fight before it starts, and to match the spells being thrown at the party with magic of your own. You can cherry-pick the ideal spells, and you should try to do just that. You will also be expected to make possible all the things that were impossible without you.

Notes

Don’t disappoint your party members with poor planning. You should ask questions at the beginning of a campaign, and get an idea of where everyone is going with their design. While you want all the possible required roles to be covered, you need to make sure that you enjoy and can shine in the roles you’ve chosen to excel in. Be open about your choices, and the possible side paths you might consider later on. And make sure it’s going to be a fun, well-meshed party.

-Max


Weapon Wednesday: Aberrant Blade

Aberrant Blade

Martial weapon. 1d8 damage. x2 critical. 3 lbs. 110 gp.

Often decorated with pieces of strange creatures, this weapon is a hard-to-find variant on the longsword that sacrifices some accuracy for a shape that improves mental strength. You can use an aberrant blade to focus your mind into an alien mindset. When you attack defensively and strike your target, you may apply half of the AC bonus to your Will save as well.

Notes

Another martial weapon! The way I justify creating these as opposed to exotic weapons is that they are merely variants on weapons that your average fighter or barbarian would be highly familiar with. This one almost seems like a magic weapon, but is intended to tap into a certain “martial focus” in the style of the good ol’ Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords. 

Enjoy!

-Max

Tuesday Tweak: New “E-F” skill uses

And we’re back! Try out these new uses for skills to add an epic flavor to your game:

Escape Artist: Epic Escape. When you successfully perform an Escape Artist check in combat (such as to escape a grapple), you can immediately make a DC 15 Perform check to begin a Bardic Music effect as a free action. This expends your uses and can be continued as normal.

Fly: Flying Charge. When charging with a fly speed against an opponent on the ground, you can dive and angle yourself in such a way as to make your headlong attack more dangerous. make a fly check with the opponent’s AC as the DC of the check. If successful, double the benefits and penalties to attack and AC respectively for this charge attack.

Notes

This time we’re trying to make some new uses that will make these skills more viable and worthwhile choices. I think these both work in almost any type of game, because heroism and spectacular moves are never out of place.

Like?

-Max

Feat Friday: Flexible Resistance

Flexible Resistance

Focusing on your body, you change your energy resistance to another type.
Benefit: As a standard action, you can focus yourself to change your energy resistance to another type for 5 minutes. For example, if you have fire resistance 10, you can change it to acid resistance 10 for  five minutes. Once used, this feat cannot be used again for 8 hours.

Notes

There are other feats like this out there, but here’s how I’d like to have it. Sorry for missing yesterday!

-Max