Monday, November 19, 2012

Lamentations & Class Ideas

One of my biggest beefs with gaming is that I never get to play as a player and I have such an immense knowledge of the game. So I know the game and I see what people are playing and I come up with my own ideas about stuff. I come up with these character concepts that I think would be fun to play, but there is no release for them. They don't really get to ever go anywhere but rattle around in my head for a time, until something new pops in. Occasionally I get to put these thoughts into effect via an NPC, but my NPCs tend to be uncomplicated because I can't be running that game and also managing a complex character. Plus, I feel like playing something with spells and such while being the GM gives me the opportunity to subconsciously or otherwise aid the players in some way, to give them an advantage. Frankly, they have enough advantages as it is. I always tend to hold back from outright killing them when one more hit would take them down. I also habitually underpower their foes. For instance, in the most recent scenario, there are the four of them and three npcs, one of which is significantly higher level than the rest. For some reason, I thought it was prudent to put them up against four zombies, somehow feeling that that would be a decent challenge. Luckily, I caught myself prior to game day and fixed that error.

Edit After The Fact: They still fucking basically one shot killed the main enemy, which is basically what happened two scenarios ago. Maybe I should have them fight a dragon... Also, Vanden was a pain in the ass to manage. I basically just had him hit shit and used his excessive power point value to fuel his ability to ignore damage. I think I may reinvent him as a straight up Fighter. It might be easier to manage. I'd consider Soulknife, but we already have him using a his crystal sword and pistol combo. In comparison, Gog and Gamog were a breeze to use. 

So a long long time ago, I read that Wizards make the best assassins. Mind you, I read this in some Baldur's Gate material while the game was still in production. Later in life, I read some Dark Sun books and about all the poisoning and assassinating the bards did on Athas. This kind of led to the concept of a Bard/Assassin in 3.5 Edition. I thought the concept had a lot of synergy. Bards have a decent base attack bonus, they have lots of handy spells, including all of the ones that increase ability scores like bull's strength. In addition to having access to invisibility and various diplomatic spells.

Lately, I've been doing a lot of work with the Assassin prestige class, for reasons that won't become relevant for like 3-5 scenarios. So the class has been on my mind. Back in 3.5, the Assassin had access to spells in and of itself but in Pathfinder it does not, just a lot of stealth and murder abilities. I think this makes more sense. Anyway, I'm really starting to kind of want to run like a Wizard/Assassin. Think of it. An Assassin is if nothing else, a focused individual that needs preparation to be his most effective. A Wizard follows along the same track, if he knows what he is up against, he can tailor his spell selection to fit with the ideal set up. Granted, Wizards have no stealth or attack abilities, but have you met my friends true strike, mage armor, and invisibility?  All are capable of being cast by a third level Wizard, hit level 5 and keep a lightning bolt or fireball in your pocket as an oh shit button and you're pretty much set to go to take down a target. It you want to go with a more utility route, you've got knock or accelerate poison or alter self that are also at low level.

If you wished, you could instead use the Magus class as the base to kind of shore up the hit points and attack bonus of the Wizard concept. You would sacrifice a little bit of the spell utility though, as Magi have a more limited spell selection. But the Magus would have more survivability in unexpected situations.

The unfortunate aspect of this combo is that if you do 10/10 with the level breakdown is that you cap the Wizard's spells at 5th level, which is not exactly ideal. You still get plenty of useful ass spells to leverage against targets, but no time stop to let you study the target and then cap his ass when it ends. However, one significant bonus would be the truly excessive Intelligence modifier you would have. The Assassin death attack is 10 + 1/2 the Assasin's level + Intelligence modifier. I'm figuring something on par with 18-20 range. Now, a DC 20 save isn't impossible by any means at higher levels, but as a save or die I think it is ok. Even on a failure, you still have the Assassin sneak attack damage to deal with.

I dunno, obviously the Assassin is meant for a Rogue, but I think a Wizard or Magus variant has some possibilities. Fuck, an Alchemist could be pretty slick as well. I mean, you have the mutagen to hulk out and a hefty bonus on Craft (Alchemy) checks to make poisons and some poison based abilities that make poisons you use nastier. I wonder if you can sneak attack with bombs...

Just some odd combos I've thought about I guess.


  1. Personally, the Alchemist is something that warrants a bigger look. They also get access to some decent buff spells and disable device, not really sure about stealth though as a class ability. Also, some decent skill points for that class. To top it off, the poison use discoveries are fantastic and I recently seen a discovery that allows you to add your bomb damage to a firearm. Seriously, I think even without the mutagen, it syncs up pretty well...

  2. So, there is also the Vivisectionist archtype of the Alchemist that replaces the bombs with sneak attack... That would be swell, right? I don't know, when I read up on that prestige class, I really think that that archtype would sync well, just take some Skill Focus feats for stealth and disguise or bluff.

  3. That archytype was something I noticed when I was converting Gob a week or so ago. If not for the weird magic of Jason's campaign, it would definitely be something I am trying out. You don't really need skill focus in Disguise and Stealth or Bluff though. Once you take the Assassin class, those become class skills, so if you have one rank in them you get the +3 bonus for being class skills. Alchemists get Disguise Self as well, so you don't need any ranks in Disguise beyond the 2 needed to qualify for the prestige class (unless you want to prepare for the inevitable failure of magic). It is a pretty nice build, considering the Assassin's death attack save is Intelligence based. You can either take a +Dexterity/-Wisdom based mutagen like Gob to augment stealth and armor class (wouldn't hurt to use something like a rapier and Weapon Finesse in this situation), or a +Intelligence/-Strength based Cognatogen to augment the death attack save. Or both if you want to be thorough. It is a good build with some very interesting synergies. Now here is Alec Baldwin to talk a little bit more about synergy.

  4. Nice. So Gob is part Alchemist now?

  5. Since your current campaign is a low fantasy, steampunk setting ... and you're current player base has to some extent min/max'ed their characters. You may want to look into more than hack-n-slash to make this group squirm.

    Maybe leverage a 4e-esque skill challenge. Since Psionics are more commonplace ... pull ideas for monsters from the Dark Sun setting, and just re-skin (so to speak) the monsters to fit your current campaign. Instead of fighting some well armed giants or Asosans ... throw some sort of powerful psychic or wizard into the mix (save vs. death).

  6. Also how do you feel about essentially rolling against yourself? Your "good" NPC's vs the monsters or challenges you've set forth for us.

    1. Gob is all Alchemist all the time now.

      The frustration with how you guys wade through battle is kind of a momentary thing, Lance. Now that you're all level six I can start throwing more complicated enemies against you. You'll be fighting Fighters, Paladins, Clerics, and Wizards when you encounter Asosans, instead of Warriors and Adepts. The giants will be more along the lines of Barbarians and Druids now as well. If you guys head east, battle will become a lot more guerrilla fighting with saves vs. poison and fallen temples full of traps and that sort of thing. The area you're all in right now is kind of boring and empty, which is why no one has built a country there.

      I have a tendency to avoid save or die mechanics without knowing how everyone feels about character death. Eric is making his cohort a healerbot, so it is safe to say he would be upset if Karl bit the dust due to a single failed save. It is somewhat difficult to get your guys brought back from the dead in this campaign. The quickest easiest solution that doesn't involve throwing you to the other side of the continent into the bottom of an ancient temple is to just start min/maxing your enemies. Hehe. Regardless, I will keep all your thoughts in mind.

      Rolling against myself, meh. It happens. I try to keep my npcs simplistic so they don't/can't do a lot of thinking to get around challenges. Vanden is kind of a departure from the norm for me in that way. It is a very strange sensation for the GM to be essentially leading the party. Maybe you guys will get lucky and Vanden will get his skull split by a giant. Wouldn't be the first time I killed an NPC I liked.

      Hmm, now that I think of it, with the removal of the ban on sorcerers coming to New Haven, healing and resurrection are much less of a problem. Actually, fuck it, with the use of two feats any Wizard, Sorcerer, or Magus can have a the same healing spells as a Cleric on their spell list. This campaign basically has the same allotment of healing as any other high fantasy campaign now. I mean, it did in the first place, but the no Clerics thing tends to make people put on blinders and not notice the five or so classes that I allow that can heal. Anyway, kid gloves off, you guys is fucked.