Theme Thursday: Fix The Inquisitor

Fix The Inquisitor

A very cool class, it seems to me the inquisitor is just slightly too powerful in comparison to other classes. An inquisitor can outperform other players too easily, making the game less fun for everyone. In addition, the class references a severely Antisemitic organization from real-world history. This theme Thursday is all about dialing the inquisitor back just a little bit to make it viable.

Problems: a little too customizable to the fight, can outperform other players too easily on both attack and defense, loaded with too many low-cost actions, some abilities upgrade too fast, can re-tool significant chunks of the character build at will, and has a somewhat anti-Semitic flavor.
Fixes:

  1. Entering and switching Judgements is a move action, not a swift.
  2. The “Healing” judgement instead allows you to cast cure light wounds as a cleric of your inquisitor level. This free spell can be cast once, at any time so long as the healing judgement lasts. At 5th level, this becomes cure moderate wounds, at 10th level, cure serious wounds, and at 15th level, cure critical wounds. 
  3. You cannot change your last bonus Teamwork feat as a standard action, as it encourages players to go digging through supplements and can complicate combat to a ridiculous degree. You can change it with 1 hour of practice outside of combat.
  4. The “destruction” judgement only upgrades every 4 levels.
Notes:
Dealing with the Antisemitism inherent to an inquisitor class is an interesting problem. On the one hand, the inquisitor as it is imagined here has got nothing to do with the Jews, set in a fantasy world as a grim hunter of evil who’s quite cool. On the other hand, it’s named for one of the worst organizations in history, which tortured and killed an enormous number of innocent people, and the art captures the costume that struck terror into the hearts of thousands.
I think it’s important to keep it light-hearted and make sure your inquisitor has a very clear agenda. This preserves their hunter-of-evil coolness while staying away from the unpleasant associations that would otherwise come up.
Also, Paizo, please don’t make a German Secret Police class, as that would be about as bad.
Enjoy,
-Max
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Weapon Wednesday: Shredsword

Shredsword

Two-handed exotic weapon. 2d6 damage. Crit x3. 5 lbs. 200 gp.

Though freakish-looking, the shredsword is not designed for actual combat, but to focus destructive arcane energy. A user proficient with and holding this weapon takes a -2 penalty on attacks but gains +1 caster level when casting spells with a variable amount of damage dice based on level.

Notes

Another in the strange series of weapons appearing on this site which are nonmagical themselves, but are shaped in such a way that they aid magical energy. Enjoy a method of increasing your blasts at the cost of a feat and a strange weapon.

-Max

Tuesday Tweak: New “I” skill uses

Don’t Mess With Me: Intimidate. As a full-round action, you can attempt to convince a creature that you’re too scary to approach or attack. Make an Intimidate check with a -2 penalty. If you succeed, the creature will not willingly approach within your apparent reach and suffers a -2 on attack rolls against you. If the creature is forced within your reach, you may automatically make a second Intimidate check as a free action with a -4 penalty. If you succeed, the creature becomes shaken. All of these effects last 1 minute from you original Don’t Mess With Me check.

Notes

Although a bit complex, this skill use is powerful. In a way, it does the opposite of what the barbarian usually wants, which is to attract attacks to him, but the exact thing the sorcerer or wizards want in a fight, which is to discourage attacks. Either way, sometimes everyone needs to escape a sticky situation, and this skill use can help.

Enjoy,

-Max

Monster Monday: Death Dancer

Death Dancer               CR 12
The uncanny appearance of this horrific goatlike creature sends chills through all. 
XP 19,200
CE Large Outsider (evil, extraplanar)
Init +6; Senses Darkvision 60 ft; Perception +25
Defense
AC 30, touch 21, flat-footed 27 (+2 Dex, +1 dodge, +8 natural, deflection +9, -1 size)
hp 152 (16d10+64)
Fort +14, Ref +10, Will +11
Resist fire 10, cold 20, Immune poison
Offense
Speed 40 ft.
Melee Ram horn +21 (2d6+7), or 2 hooves +19 (1d8+7+enervating dance), or +1 unholy flail (2d6 +8 and +2d6 against good creatures, + enervating dance)
Statistics
Str 20, Dex 15, Con 18, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 28
Base Atk +16; CMB +21, CMD 34
Feats Improved Initiative, Dodge, Weapon focus (flail), lightning reflexes, mobility,
spring attack, skill focus (perception), weapon specialization (flail)
Skills  Bluff +26, Diplomacy +23,  Intimidate +23, Knowledge (arcana) +18, Knowledge (planes) +21, Knowledge (religion) +11, Perception +25, Perform (dance) +28, Spellcraft +18, Use Magic Device +23
Languages Common, Abyssal, Infernal, Telepathy 100 ft.
Special Abilities
Enervating Weapon (SU): When the death dancer hits with its hooves or flail, the enemy must succeed on a Fortitude save (DC 27) or gain one negative level. If the enemy is slain by this attack, it rises as a death dancer lacking a magic weapon and with the young template in 1d3 minutes. The DC is Charisma-based and includes a +4 racial bonus.
Death Dance (SU): When using spring attack, the death dancer may attack with both hooves as it jumps on its opponent and leaps away.
Do Not Harm The Dancer (SU): as it dances across the battlefield, a death dancer gains a deflection bonus to AC equal to its Charisma bonus. This bonus ceases to function if the death dancer is immobilized by a spell or effect.
Ecology
Environment any land (extraplanar)
Organization solitary or dancing pair
Treasure standard plus +1 unholy flail
The death dancer is a rare and horribly evil being whose purpose is to dispense death. Newly created dancers disappear into the void between planes, there to learn horrific rituals that will bring about death and madness in the entire world. These creatures rarely remain at the site of a kill, appearing and disappearing only to commit murder.
Notes
Intended as a frightening and enigmatic monster, the death dancer should be used carefully. It will work best as a macabre being stumbled upon in a remote location or as a hunter seeking the death of someone important. You just don’t want the beast to come off as silly instead of creepy.
-Max

Sunday Spell: Hellfire Retribution

Hellfire Retribution

School Evocation [fire]; Level Sorcerer/Wizard 2, Witch 2
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S, M (a pinch of ash)
Range personal
Target you
Duration Concentration +1 round, up to a maximum of 1 round/level
Saving throw: Reflex negates  Spell Resistance: yes

Fiery runes burst from your hands and surround you, lashing out at anyone who dares to strike you. For the duration of this spell, whenever an enemy hits you with a melee weapon, they must make a Reflex save or take 1d6 fire damage, +1 for each round spent concentrating so far. You then negate an amount of damage from their attack equal to the damage dealt, if any.
In addition, although this spell has a somatic component, the gestures required are simple and intuitive, and you gain a +2 circumstance bonus on concentration checks related to this spell.

Notes

This spell is meant to be subtly useful. It’s a somewhat unimpressive defense, allowing enemies a save and requiring concentration, but the extra bit of reliability lent by the bonus on concentration checks could make this an important last-stand choice.

-Max Porter Zasada

Feat Friday: Valiant Chaos

Valiant Chaos (Combat)

Prerequisistes: Chaotic alignment, +5 BaB, Endurance

Benefit: At the beginning of an encounter, you may roll a d6. That many rounds from now, you gain DR 20/- for one round. You may use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3+ your Con modifier.

 

 

Notes:

The Powergamer’s Pitfall

“If it’s not the best, it’s worthless”
No mantra benefits the Earth less
Or makes Pathfinder so mirthless
As “If it’s not the best, it’s worthless”

 

-Max

Theme Thursday: Argument for the Monk

A SERIOUS ARGUMENT FOR THE MONK

 

Introduction

 

It has been said by many that monks are underpowered in Pathfinder for various reasons, including a less-than-full base attack bonus, a less-than-maximum damage output, and a multiple-ability-dependency. While I do not seek to disprove any of these points, I would argue that once you leave the world of theorycrafting and enter actual gameplay, monks begin to shine and their role becomes quite clear. We will go through several points one at a time, responding to the potential pitfalls as we proceed.

 

A Mobile Warrior

 

While one should look elsewhere for gaining the maximum in certain combat statistics, the monk becomes the star when movement is required. When well designed and played, a monk is unmatched by any in terms of mobility on the battlefield. With no need for armor, the monk avoids both speed loss and the armor check penalty that would otherwise apply to Acrobatics and the like.

In addition, the monk gains speed increases with level, quickly becoming the fastest creature on the field. With the addition of ki points to increase speed, even a mid-level monk can outrun almost anything in the game.

Now, movement on the battlefield is vital for several reasons. Firstly, controlling the battle is all about positioning. Where you are in relation to the enemy, how you predict their movements, set up tactical advantages, and innumerable other factors all rely on speed. Second, getting to the fight in time is almost as important for a warrior as being effective when he or she arrives. While the slower and armor-wearing warriors are stumping along, struggling to get in front of the softer caster targets, the monk may arrive suddenly and unexpected, like lightning out of a clear sky. Third, countering slowing effects and sticky situations can often be impossible without a great speed. In an encounter with difficult terrain, with enemies casting darkness and entangle effects, slower warriors can be mired for hours and worn down to death. The monk can run or leap out of these areas and bring the offense to the enemy instead of lying down in despair.

As soon as you stop having all your encounters in a small stone hallway and enter the world of adventure on real and complex terrain, a mobile warrior becomes a key component of any group.

 

The Power of Flurry

 

Monks have a powerful ability called Flurry of Blows, which allows them to make a dangerous full attack with a bonus as if they had a full base attack bonus. They gain this ability at first level, and it scales as they increase in power. This ability alone makes a Monk dangerous and effective in combat. It is true that their numbers fall slightly below a fighter or similar who takes all the two-weapon fighting feats that monks are assumed to have in Flurry. However, this doesn’t matter. Such a fighter would lack all the abilities and options that a monk possesses, while specializing heavily in one aspect of combat. A monk can be a master of the same thing without being the best, most damaging example that could possibly exist. They can have less than the best possible average damage in return for a deluge of powerful abilities in other areas.

One of the most common complaints regarding the monk has to do with their three-fourths base attack bonus. It is true that monks are a melee warrior class, and that they need to hit their targets just like everyone else. However, I would argue that the three-fourths base attack bonus is the only thing keeping monks back from sweeping all competition out of the water. Imagine a monk that could speed in and out of the battle every turn, hitting with the maximum bonus available in the game, and zipping away at will. It is appropriate to have a monk required to stand still and use a Flurry of Blows to get such a powerful attack in. Keep in mind that a monk is not a fighter without armor. A monk fulfills a powerful and unique role.

 

The Master of Defense

 

While they don’t always have the absolute highest number that one could possibly build for in a defense, monks are the hardest to kill of any base class. James Jacobs once stated that the monk is a defensive class, and he was correct; however, his phrasing has been misinterpreted by many.

A defensive class doesn’t mean that you only play responsively to the enemy, struggling to catch up in damage while reducing the amount taken. Nor does playing a “tank” literally mean wearing metal and advancing slowly and ponderously over the field while carrying the heaviest weapons. It means having the best defense available in all areas, and taking the enemy’s blows when others can’t.

The monk has the most well-rounded defense in the game. They are the one and only class with all good saves. I am tempted to put that in all caps: ALL GOOD SAVES. They can be built with a very high armor class (if not the highest possible in the game), and can pump that higher with a ki point. Nobody else can say that they don’t have an Achilles heel in any area. No matter what attack the game throws at a monk, whether it be axe-wielding cyclopes or fireball-hurling demons, the monk has a strong defense. This well-rounded defense makes the monk arguably the best tank in the game; where the fighters and paladins stumble in the face of a lightning bolt, the monk leaps away and has evasion to escape the entirety of the damage. A monk can direct attention to him/herself and then escape the consequences no matter what kind they might be.

 

Adaptability and Threat

 

While the monk may not be the most adaptable nor necessarily the most dangerous in the party, the class is very well designed to do both of these. With ki points, the monk can gain an incredible boost to AC, speed, or an additional attack in the round. As three things the Monk is already good at, the ability to become truly great at one of them in a round is crucial. Whether attack or defense is paramount at that moment, the monk can shine if necessary.

Finally, the monk does indeed pose an enormous threat to the enemy right at level one. This threat comes via Stunning Fist. With the ability to simply slip a stun into a flurry of attacks, the monk has the potential to deal damage and inflict one of the worst effects in the game, all in one turn. Here the monk synergizes extremely well with other warriors in the party, allowing them to move into position without provoking an AoO, set up a flank, and attack a flat-footed enemy with impunity. Avoiding a situation where the monk gets off a Flurry of Blows plus a ki point bonus attack plus a Stunning Fist plus a number of other effects from bonus feats could be absolutely critical in a fight. However, with the monk’s speed and array of movement abilities, avoiding that deadly situation may be impossible.

 

Conclusion

 

In the end, we find that monks have a number of places they excel, and an impressive array of unique abilities or combinations that few can match. The monk has a place in almost any party, and can shine almost no matter what kind of encounter they face. Playing a monk can be an enjoyable, fun, and even optimized experience for them and their thankful party members.

 

Enjoy,

-Moox

 

P.S. Monks: Why they so frickin’ rad?