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WhiteTiger

Pathfinder Review - Part 3

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Power Attack got better. Instead of +1 damage for every -1 to hit. Itís now +2 damage for every -1 to hit.

Cleave is now entirely different, instead needing to drop an opponent and then get an immediate extra attack against an enemy. You now get an immediate extra attack, if you hit the first foe, against an adjacent foe even if you didnít drop the first. There are 2 downsides that I see. The first is you suffer a -2 to your AC until your next turn and you can only do a cleave as a standard action and you only get one attack. The way I read it is that if you take a full action and make multiple attacks then you canít do cleave at all. If thatís true then it becomes near worthless once a fighter goes beyond 6th level. Great cleave is the same as cleave but you can continue to make additional attacks as long as there are more foes to attack but you can never make more than 1 attack per foe.

There are a bunch of ďextraĒ feats that allow classes with special banked powers like ki pool, Rage uses, lay on hands uses, etc. These allow you more points or more uses. This is standard trope stuff.

Arcane strike is sort of a new feat but not really since itís very similar to the one in complete Arcane. If you are an arcane caster, you can spend a swift action to imbue your weapon with magic energy, which adds +1 damage and is considered magical in order to overcome damage reduction. This is not a bad feat.

The 3 Vital strike feats allow you to double, triple or even quadruple your damage on a single attack but you can only make a single attack on your turn. The whole point of this feat is to quickly off a boss monster by only having to deal with Damage resistance once. In the old 3.5, a fighter would make four attacks and have to roll damage and then compare against DR a total of 4 times.

In many cases, you ended up only doing a couple of points of damage. These feats allow you to pile on a lot of damage with a single throw but you had better hit.

Penetrating strike allows you to ignore up to 5 points of damage reduction but only if the DR is overcomeable, if itís not then itís of no use until you take the ďGreaterĒ feat then you can ignore up to 10 points of DR but only 5 if itís DR 5/- or higher.

The next thing Iíd like to talk about are the ďCritĒ feats. Most of these only work if the foe is not immune to crits, otherwise they donít work. So undead, oozes and others donít have to worry too much about these. These are more ďtrickĒ feats to give the fighter another avenue of approach in order to stay relevant in the higher levels. I canít say for sure how good these really are and I am dubious if these would work. However, Critical focus is absolutely needed since that +4 to confirm the crit is just so desperately needed for the fighter. I think this feat existed in 3.5, I believe it was called Power Critical.

Iíve always said that the fighter needs maximum Damage output to stay relevant. The only real way of doing that is to get yourself a BFS (Big F***ing Sword) and take every feat that improves your chances of getting a crit including magic enhancements and magic items.
2D6 + bonuses just isnít enough. At double digit levels, the fighter needs to be doing 4D6, maybe even 6D6 + bonuses per hit to stay in the game otherwise the fighter is just a big obstacle who is tying down enemies but not killing anything.


If you can consistently crit then you are doing the equivalent of 4D6 + bonuses which is pretty good but if you canít do it consistently then itís not much good. The only other feat that partially helps out is ďDeadly StrokeĒ which allows you to take a standard action and make a swing and if you hit you do double damage plus 1 point of con bleed which is nice but you only get to make one attack per round and it only works against a stunned or flat-footed opponent. If there is a way to do this twice or more per round then I havenít found it yet. This is yet one more limited use feat. The only way to make that work is to take 2 or more crit feats and then if your opponent becomes stunned and then the next round you can off him with Deadly stroke. As I said before, Feat selection for the fighter is super-crucial.

There are a whole slew of added on feats like a feat that helps you push a foe off his mount (i.e. Dismount) but thatís only useful if you are playing in a campaign with a lot of cavalry. Catch-off-guard lets you use improvised weapons without penalties.

The metamagic feats stayed roughly the same. The item creation feats stayed roughly the same except that they changed the level requirements on some of them. The one feat I am not keen on is the Master Craftsman feat. This allows someone to make magic items even if they are not a spellcaster. I suppose for some people this is acceptable but I am an old grognard and this feat wonít cut it. I will most likely ban this feat outright. Itís not that I think itís too powerful. I really just think itís dumb and bypasses a major point of being a spellcaster.

One final note on feats. I noticed that Paizo went nuts with the whole Improved / Greater list of Feats. I have to agree with John Reyst who has made the www.d20pfsrd.org site. The whole list of those has gotten to be pretty silly. I have to side with john and say that they should have changed It to something more practical like (Grapple 1, Grapple 2, Bull Rush 1, Bull Rush 2, etc). I just think it would have been easier to read. I realize that it makes it look a bit video game-ish but after about the 10th entry, it kinda started looking tired.

Anyway, there are a lot of new feats designed to help all characters out. The monk can grapple better, the fighter has more options and hopefully everyone is happy but I will be looking forward to the Advanced Playerís Guide due out in August 2010 and hopefully certain feats that I think should have been in the main book end up making it into the next book.


Equipment

Weapons didnít change a whole lot. Although, the chart is expanded by one column to show you any special qualities that the weapon has, such as, monk or trip or reach, etc. They threw in one or 2 new weapons such as the starknife but other than that, not a whole lot changed.

Armor got a little bit of an upgrade. Light armor stayed the same but medium armor got a +1 bump up in the chain mail & breastplate armor bonus. Heavy armor also got a +1 bump up. Full plate can now yield a +10 bonus if you have a +1 dex bonus. The armor alone now yields a +9 bonus on itís own. This is a good thing since it makes heavy armor more relevant than in the old 3.5 version.

Special materials such as Adamantine, Silver, cold iron & mithral pretty much stayed the same.

Your adventuring gear didnít really change too much either.


Additional Rules

The rules for Size, weight & age didnít change.

The rules for overland movement and encumbrance didnít change either that I could see.

Carrying capacity, mounts, ships, light sources, hardness & rules to break stuff doesnít appear to have changed too much.


Combat

The combat round stays pretty much the same at 6 second per round. Your attack roll and attack bonuses stayed the same. The rules for touch attacks pretty well stayed the same. Damage changed a little bit unless I missed something. If you hit a foe and your damage is reduced to 0, you still deal 1 point of nonlethal damage regardless. I donít recall that being in 3.5.

Rules for dying changed, instead of everyone dying at -10, now you die based on your constitution score. If your half-orc barbarian has a 20 constitution then the Half-orc doesnít bleed out until You hit -20. Conversely, if your sorcerer only has an 8 constitution then you run the risk of dying sooner. In Pathfinder, it pays to have a high constitution.

The types of actions that you can take are pretty much the same as 3.5 but better organized and easier to read. Attacks of opportunity pretty much work the same as they ever did and there is a huge list on page 183. I canít memorize nor compare the whole list so you will have to go through it on your own.

Stabilizing from death is easier now. You only need to make a DC 10 constitution check to stabilize.

The big thing to talk about for Combat is the new CMB/CMD system. This system is the new big fix for things like grappling, disarm, bull rush, over run, sunder & trip.

Itís pretty easy and it loosely resembles 4th edition D&D mechanics.

CMB is your attack result and CMD is a target number similar to your AC.

CMB = BAB (Base Attack Bonus) + Strength modifier + Size modifier + relevant feats (Improved grapple) if it applies to the specific act that you are attempting to perform.

CMD = 10 + BAB + Strength mod + Dex Mod + Size Modifiers + relevant feats

I will use grapple as an example to show you how this works.

A monk will grapple the wizard. The monk rolls a D20 and adds his bab + strength + size + feats. In this case, lets assume that the monk is 1st level with improved grapple and a 14 strength.

Letís also assume that the wizard is also 1st level and has a 10 strength and a 14 dexterity but no relevant feats to improve his CMD. In this case the wizardís CMD = 12 (10 + 0 bab + 0 strength + 2 dexterity + no feats)

The monk rolls a D20 and adds +4 to his roll (+2 strength, +0 for bab, +2 to improved grapple). If the monk rolls a 10 then he successfully grappled the wizard since he meet or exceeded the target number since the monkís total is 14 beating a 12. The monk can now proceed to inflict his unarmed strike damage on your next turn, since you canít do damage on the turn that you initiated the grapple, and keep the wizard grappled.

At this point, the wizard is screwed since he has to cast while grappled and taking damage. Usually, a grapple would provoke an AOO but since the monk has improved grapple, the wizard doesnít get one and is even more screwed. The wizard (i.e. the defender) does not get an opposed roll but will have to wait until itís his turn to do something which would be to either cast while grappled or break the grapple and neither is probably going to work out too well.

This is way easier and much more efficient and potentially deadly especially for the monk who can now do things that he couldnít before and should have been able to. The standard character sheets and most modified character sheets that I have seen all have boxes for you to fill in for both stats.


Next up is Magic.

Magic

Casting spells hasnít really changed that I can see. Spell resistance still works pretty much like it has before. Preparing spells and copying spells for spellbooks seems to be pretty straight forward. The costs and specific DC target numbers may have changed ever so slightly but not enough to mention as being a big change.

This big thing to note is that you will need to look at individual spells as several of those have changed. The most notable of course is polymorph. This has been changed extensively and a whole slew of ďShapeĒ spells have been added. Reincarnate now gives negative levels and the rules for negative levels has changed as well. A Negative level bestows a -1 to all checks and rolls such as attack rolls, skills checks, saving throws, CMB & CMD. You also lose 5 hit points per negative level. Restoration & Greater Restoration can still remove negative levels. You still die if you have a number of negative levels equal to or greater than the number of total character levels that you have.

Another new spell, such as overland flight which gives you specific mechanics that tell you how far you can fly. Summon Monster and Summon Natureís Ally each got a slightly expanded list of things to summon but the mechanics stayed the same.


In Part 4, I will finish up with Prestige Classes, Magic Items, Environments, NPCs, Gamemastering and a final word on the current situation between 4th edition, Pathfinder & 3.5 as well as a final score assigned to this book. Till thenÖ.

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