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    Default The 3.5/Pathfinder Handbook

    Last edited by Saph; 2010-01-01 at 02:46 PM.

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    Default Intros and Outros

    2. Intro


    Pathfinder threads have been cropping up on this forum at the rate of several a week ever since Paizo announced the system. Most come down to the same two questions:

    1. What’s changed?
    2. Is it any good?

    This handbook is designed to answer these two questions, and provide a handy link to point people towards when they come and ask them.

    Chapters 3-7 in this handbook cover the differences between 3.5 and final-version Pathfinder. They’re derived from info off the Pathfinder SRD, and also from personal experience of the Pathfinder campaign one of my groups has been playing since mid-2008. We started with the beta, and switched over to the book version once it was released. Chapters 8-9 give a conclusion and answer some common questions.

    Since most of this handbook covers the changes between the two systems, it helps if you have at least a passing knowledge of 3.5, but it’s not essential.

    Useful links if you want to check information for yourself:

    D&D 3.5 SRD
    Pathfinder SRD

    So without further ado, let’s get started on the changes.
    Last edited by Saph; 2010-01-02 at 07:08 AM.

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    Default Stats 'n' Stuff

    3. General Changes - Races, Skills, Feats


    Races

    All the Pathfinder core races are much stronger than their 3.5 equivalents. They all get a net bonus to abilities (elves are +2 Dex +2 Int -2 Con, humans and half-elves are +2 to any one stat). They also get extra abilities, some of which are quite nice (elves get free Spell Penetration, for instance).

    One effect of the changes has been to narrow the power gap between the strongest and weakest races quite a bit. As an example, let’s compare a human to a half-orc in Pathfinder. Both get the same stat bonuses (+2 to any one stat). The human gets a bonus feat and an extra skill point per level. The half-orc gets Darkvision, ferocity, weapon familiarity, and a couple other minor benefits. As you can see, there isn’t much in it. I’d still say the human comes out ahead, but the difference is much smaller than it was in 3.5.

    Skills

    System Changes

    The 4x starting skills rule is gone. Classes now get a number of skill points each level equal to their class skill points + Int bonus. Cross-class skill penalties are also gone; they're now 1:1, no limit, same as anything else. If a skill is a class skill and you put at least one rank in it, you get +3 to that skill.

    As a result, there’s a mechanical incentive in Pathfinder to be at least moderately competent at all your class skills. Since putting 1 rank into a class skill gives you a +4 bonus, there's no real reason not to do it once you've levelled up a few times and have the points to play with. Cross-class skills are also now a much more attractive proposition: a 10th-level Fighter who's maxed out Perception has +10, a 10th-level Rogue who's maxed out Perception has +13.

    Skill Categories

    Balance, Tumble, and Jump have all been folded into a new skill, Acrobatics. Forgery, Decipher Script, and Speak Language have all been folded into a new skill, Linguistics. Listen, Search and Spot have been folded into a new skill, Perception. Hide and Move Silently have been folded into a new skill, Stealth. Gather Information is folded into Diplomacy. Open Lock is folded into Disable Device. One old skill has been removed, Concentration (now a caster level + ability modifier check). One new skill has been created, Fly (Dex-based, class skill for Dru, Sor, Wiz).

    What this means in practice is that your skill points go further than they used to, and previously obscure skills like Balance and Forgery are a lot more common. Oh, and everyone now has Perception.

    Feats

    Feats are now gained at every odd-numbered level, ie at levels 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, and 19.

    Individual feats have had many, many changes, way too many for me to list. Many of the old standard feats have been weakened, while others have been improved. It’s impossible to sum up the feat changes without making this article the length of a Robert Jordan novel, so I’m not going to try. If you want to see for yourself, go over to the Pathfinder SRD and have a browse.
    Last edited by Saph; 2010-01-01 at 02:29 PM.

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    Default More Stats 'n' Stuff

    4. General Changes - Combat Maneuvers, Spells, and Item Creation


    Combat Maneuvers

    In Pathfinder, Trip, Disarm, Bull Rush, Overrun, Sunder, and Grapple are now handled by one flat roll: 1d20 + your Combat Maneuver Bonus (your BAB + your Strength + your size modifier) vs 10 + the enemy's Combat Maneuver Defence (enemy's BAB + enemy's Strength + enemy's Dex + enemy's size modifier). IMPORTANT NOTE: Size modifiers are much weaker now! Small is -1, Large is +1, Huge is +2, etc.

    This seems to be the subject of a lot of debate, so let's look at a specific example. Bob the 2nd-Level Human Fighter with the Improved Trip Feat wants to trip an Ogre.

    • Under 3.5 Rules: Bob has Strength 16, a MW weapon, and +2 BAB. First he has to hit the Ogre's touch AC of 8: no problem there. He then needs to win an opposed roll. His bonus is +7, the Ogre's is +9. Not good odds, and the ogre can counter-trip him. Bob will need to get an Enlarge Person off the party wizard for this to be worth trying. That'll push him up to +12 against the Ogre's +9, which makes it worth trying . . . but you can't always count on the wizard buffing you, and you still risk a counter-trip. On the plus side, if he does pull the trip off, he’ll get a free follow-up attack.
    • Under Pathfinder Rules: Bob has Strength 18, a MW weapon, and +2 BAB (humans in Pathfinder get +2 to one stat, ie Strength for a Fighter). He makes one roll with his Combat Maneuver Bonus of +8 (+4 for Strength, +2 BAB, +2 Improved Trip) against the Ogre's CMD of 17 (10 + 3 BAB + 5 Str -1 Dex +1 Size). 60% chance of success, and you aren't counter-tripped unless you fail by 10 or more (which is impossible in this case). So the odds are more favourable, but the payoff is lower (since Improved Trip doesn’t grant a free follow-up attack anymore).

    So, the major changes are:

    1) Combat maneuvers resolve faster.
    2) Size differences matter a LOT less.

    In terms of effectiveness, combat maneuvers have gained a bit and lost a bit. There’s not much in it, IMO, though you could make a good argument for them being slightly better or slightly worse. However, for some reason (partly through not crunching the numbers, and partly as a holdover from the Beta, where CMD was 15+ instead of 10+), a lot of people seem to have decided that combat maneuvers in Pathfinder are useless. Having seen them in play, I can conclusively say that this is one hundred percent wrong. The monk and fighter in my party have been happily tripping and grappling everything in sight.

    Spells

    Concentration

    The most significant change to Pathfinder magic has been the defensive casting nerf. Concentration is no longer a skill - it’s an ability check. Concentration checks are calculated by:

    1d20 + caster level + relevant ability score

    and the DC for casting defensively is now:

    15 + (spell level)x2.

    As you can see, casting defensively is now a LOT harder, enough to make it a very bad idea unless you’ve got no other option. Taking a 5’ step away out of an enemy’s range is a much better plan. Of course, if the enemy has Step Up (a new Pathfinder feat that lets you take a 5’ step as an immediate action) you’re kinda hosed. The moral? In Pathfinder, if you’re planning to spend the fight casting spells, keep your distance.

    Spell Changes

    The Pathfinder spell list is pretty much identical to the 3.5 one, but many of the spells have gotten some significant changes. Here are a few of the highlights for low-level arcane spells.

    • Grease - Slightly nerfed. Doesn’t flat-foot enemies who don’t move, and moving through it is easier (Balance is a part of Acrobatics now, and loads of things have Acrobatics). Still a great spell.
    • Ray of Enfeeblement - Nerfed, now allows a save for half.
    • Glitterdust - Nerfed, now allows repeated saves to un-blind.
    • Alter Self - Heavily nerfed, lasts a tenth as long and can only give a very limited set of abilities.
    • Flaming Sphere - Buffed, now does 3d6 damage instead of 2d6. Actually not a bad choice now.
    • Mirror Image - Targeting rules have changed.
    • Rope Trick - Rope can no longer be removed or hidden.

    Probably the biggest change has been to polymorph spells. Polymorph is gone, replaced by a line of specific transmutation spells - Beast Shape, Plant Shape, Elemental Body, and Form of the Dragon. All of them modify your stats rather than replacing them entirely, and can only give benefits from a specified list, rather than giving you anything you can find. In short, polymorph has been dragged out back and beaten with the nerf stick. On the whole, this is probably a good thing, given that 3.5 polymorph is so broken that WotC basically gave up trying to fix it and started printing replacements instead.

    Conclusion: Spells in Pathfinder are slightly weaker than in 3.5, as many of the standouts have been nerfed. Note that for every spell that has been nerfed, there are two that haven’t, so you can still put together a good spell list, you just have to look a bit harder. However, having played a wizard for several months in Pathfinder now, I have to admit it does limit your options slightly.

    Magic Items

    XP costs have been removed for everything. That includes magic items. Oh, and you don’t need the prerequisite spells to craft a magic item anymore. In fact, with the Master Craftsman feat, you don’t even need spells to craft a magic item anymore. Any class can go in for crafting - wizard, cleric, bard, sorcerer, fighter, monk, whatever - and it doesn’t cost you anything except for the feat you spent to do it. Go hog-wild.
    Last edited by Saph; 2010-01-01 at 02:29 PM.

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    5. The Classes


    Most of the Pathfinder base classes are a fair bit stronger than the 3.5 ones. All of them now keep getting class features, many of which are tied to their class level. This, combined with the new favoured class rules makes single-classing much more attractive compared to multiclassing or taking a PrC. PrCing in Pathfinder has gone from “always do it” to a bit suboptimal.

    I’ve now seen every one of the Pathfinder core classes in action except for the bard. Each one will be quickly analysed in terms of buffs and nerfs, because let's face it, that's what you guys are interested in. A brief verdict is attached to each.


    Barbarians

    Buffs

    • Slightly improved skill list; having Perception and Acrobatics gives barbarians Spot, Search, Balance, and Tumble, which they didn't have in 3.5. Oh, and barbarians are no longer illiterate.
    • Rage is now measured in rounds, not by rages. Each day the barbarian can rage for a number of rounds equal to 2 + Con mod + (level x 2). This lets you spread your rage out over multiple encounters, so if the enemy you're fighting dies after two rounds, you can save the rest of your rage for later. The stat boosts for rage are unchanged.
    • Rage Powers - this is the main benefit. Every second level a barbarian gets a rage power, which is a special ability that only functions while raging. Most are along the lines of extra abilities like low-light vision or a bonus to skills such as Climb, which frankly isn't all that impressive. But there are a few standouts - Unexpected Strike gives you a free attack once per rage, and Superstition gives you a save bonus against spells and (Su) and (Sp) abilities equal to +2 plus another +1 for every four levels.

    Nerfs

    • The total number of rounds of rage a barbarian gets per day is slightly lower. An 8th-level 3.5 barbarian with a 14 Con and an item that gives him another +2 Con gets to rage for a total of 24 rounds per day. The same barbarian in Pathfinder gets a total of 20 rounds of rage each day - but can split them up. I think the flexibility probably makes this more of a buff than a nerf, but it's still worth noting.
    • Like fighters, barbarians are probably going to be disappointed with the new Power Attack.
    • Going unconscious drops you out of rage! This means that being knocked to negatives while raging is likely death at low levels (and certain death at mid and high levels). A raging barbarian in a dangerous battle now has the life expectancy of a one-legged rabbit.

    Verdict?

    Not great. The barbarian's rage powers look pretty weak compared to what some of the other classes have picked up, and the change regarding unconsciousness and rage is awful. Barbarians were probably the top martial class in core 3.5, but Pathfinder’s knocked them down a few pegs.


    Bard

    Buffs

    • d8 Hit Die instead of a d6. Always nice.
    • More spells per day! The progression has changed, but averages to about one extra spell per day per spell level. Spells known have also slightly increased.
    • Improved skill list: like rogues, bards get pretty much all the new amalgamated skills, allowing them to afford far more of the skills they want. They get other skill-related abilities, such as a flat bonus on Knowledge skills, and . . .
    • Versatile Performance: a bard can use specific Perform skills in place of certain other skills! Dance can be substituted for Acrobatics and Fly; Sing can be substituted for Bluff and Sense Motive, etc. Effectively this lets the Bard base many of his skills off his primary stat and save on skill points.
    • Bardic Music can now be used for healing and fear effects, and can be started as a move and even a swift action once you get to a high enough level.

    Nerfs

    • No more Bardic Knowledge; bards and loremasters just get a bonus on Knowledge checks instead.
    • Bardic Performance now only works for a number of rounds per day equal to 2 + Cha mod + (level x2); a huge nerf from 3.5, where a bard could play for ages multiple times per day.
    • The DC against a bard's fascinate/suggestion effect is now 10 + Cha mod + (bard level/2), which is far weaker than 3.5's skill check.

    Verdict?

    Poor Bards. Always the comic relief, and now they get a bunch of nerfs too. Bards used to have two signature tricks which they could do better than anyone else: long-term party buffing, and delivering suggestions at an impossibly high DC, both of which are now pretty weak.

    To make up for their losses, bards have gotten a boost in the skills and spells departments. A bard is now a kind of hybrid between a sorcerer and a rogue - half caster, half skillmonkey - but while both the sorcerer and the rogue picked up huge buffs out of Pathfinder, the bard's been left in the dust.


    Clerics

    Buffs

    • Clerics can use their Turn Undead ability (now renamed Channel Energy) to do a 30' healing burst. Total healed to all targets is 1d6, going up by another 1d6 every odd-numbered levels. Okay at low levels when healing wands aren’t always available, but it gets left behind fairly quickly as you go up levels.
    • Cleric domain powers have been buffed a bit. For instance, the Travel (now Liberation) domain's freedom of movement ability now also gives a nice aura effect at level 8 as well. The Luck domain reroll now works once per day at level 6, twice at level 12, and three times at level 18. The Rune domain gives you two powers and Scribe Scroll as a bonus feat into the bargain.


    Nerfs

    • Clerics have lost their heavy armour proficiency - no more fullplate.
    • The cleric's Channel Energy ability is now far weaker against actual undead. Instead of knocking undead out of the battle or destroying them, it can only hit them for some weak AoE damage (you need to spend a feat to actually turn them). The healing ability also doesn't discriminate between allies and enemies, meaning that if you try to heal your allies in the middle of a melee you'll end up healing your enemies as well!
    • Defensive casting is much more difficult. This is more of a problem for clerics and druids than for wizards and sorcerers, since divine casters tend to mix it up in melee a lot more than arcane ones do.

    Verdict?

    Clerics made a net gain of just about zero. While their new domain abilities are nice, the new Channel Energy ability is unimpressive, and the armour and defensive casting changes are a major nuisance.

    However, when you're starting with a power level that's over 9000, gaining nothing isn't exactly a big deal. Clerics are still full casters with free domain spells and they still have spontaneous healing and they still have good saves and a d8 Hit Die. In short, they're still awesome. They just didn't get any awesomer.


    Druid

    Buffs

    • Wild shape can now be accessed quicker, and you get the good forms faster; wild shape at level 4 and elemental form at level 6.
    • Druids can now choose to get a cleric domain instead of an animal companion. Technically a buff, I guess, but I can't imagine that many druids will take it.
    • Animal companions now have their own class table, and a lot more detail about what they get at each level. Not sure if it's a buff or a nerf, but it's nice to see them getting treated more thoroughly.

    Nerfs

    • Shapeshifting in all forms, including wild shape, has been beaten thoroughly with the nerf stick. The new form's physical stats no longer override your own - beast shape II, for instance, only gives you +4 Strength, -2 Dex, +4 Natural Armour. Druids who want to fight in melee will now have significant MAD issues, just like the monk.

    Verdict?

    Out of all the eleven classes, druids are the only one that unquestionably got nerfed. The polymorph change means that druids can no longer dump Strength and Dexterity without crippling their combat ability.

    One nerf doesn't mean the class is weak, though. Druids were arguably the strongest class in core 3.5 due to having three powerful features: animal companion, wild shape, and full casting. Druid wild shape is now half as good as it used to be, but their animal companion and full casting are just as powerful as ever. So they're now two-and-a-half classes instead of three. That's still good, even if they're no longer top of the heap.


    Fighters

    Buffs

    • Bravery: gives a bonus against fear effects. It's not bad, but should have been higher (it's still worse than what a bard gets just for having a good Will save).
    • Armour Training: fighters get to move at full speed in medium and eventually heavy armour, and modify their armour's max Dex and ACP upwards and downwards. Fighters should now be able to have the best AC of all the core martial classes.
    • Weapon Training: this is a the big one. Free Weapon Focus with weapon groups, not specific weapons, and a damage bonus into the bargain. It gets better as you go up levels, and lets you add additional groups too.
    • There are a bunch of new fighter feats which I haven’t had the chance to look at yet. Some, like Step Up and the critical feats, seem quite nice.

    Nerfs

    • Various fighter feats are now less exciting than they used to be. Power Attack now gives better damage returns, but can't be adjusted. Cleave is weaker. Improved Trip & co are weaker.
    • Still only 2+Int skill points. I know it's not actually a nerf, but come on, would 4 really have been too much to ask?

    Verdict?

    Fighters are better . . . but they could have done with more. The Weapon Training and Armour Training gives fighters great DPS and AC, but they still suffer from a lack of options. I’d put the Pathfinder Fighter ahead of the Barbarian, but behind the Paladin.


    Monk

    Buffs

    • Improved skill list due to skill amalgamation. They still only get 4 + Int skill points, but can now afford Acrobatics, Stealth, and Perception, and have points left over. Still no UMD, though. :P
    • More bonus feats, and more choice in their selection.
    • Flurry of blows now works like TWF, giving more attacks but at a lower bonus.
    • Stunning Fist can now apply other conditions instead of stun.
    • Most of the monk's per-day abilities and a handful of new ones now work off a point system called the ki pool, similar to the one the ninja class from Complete Adventurer gets. Gaining an extra attack on a full attack is 1 point, doing a Jedi-style force jump is 1 point, using the abundant step ability is 2 points, etc. A monk gets daily ki points equal to half his level + his Wis modifier.
    • Monks get to use their level instead of BAB on combat maneuvers, making them almost as good at combat maneuvers as a fighter or barbarian. :P

    Nerfs

    • None I can see.

    Verdict?

    Not bad. No huge buffs, but a lot of little ones that do add up. The extra flexibility in bonus feats is nice, as is the ability to use different abilities more often with the ki pool. However, the basic problems of the class haven't changed; monks still have MAD, still don't hit very hard, and still need to stand still to use their extra attacks. At the end of the day the Pathfinder monk does pretty much the same thing as the 3.5 monk; he just does it better. If you hated the 3.5 monk, the Pathfinder one is unlikely to change your mind.


    Paladins

    Buffs

    • Good Will save. Very nice.
    • Casting stat is now Cha! Improves pally spellcasting greatly, and reduces their MAD. Paladins can now dump Wisdom without a qualm and still have a great Will save.
    • Lay on Hands has been buffed. It heals more HP on average (though it's now random), it can remove status conditions, and best of all, it can be done on yourself as a swift action - handy in combat.
    • Smite Evil has been heavily buffed. It now targets one enemy as a swift action, and gives you smite benefits against that target until they're dead. In addition it auto-bypasses DR, does extra damage against evil outsiders, and gives you a deflection bonus to AC equal to your Cha bonus versus that creature's attacks. Smiting evil has never been so much fun!
    • The pally's mount is now as powerful as a druid's animal companion. Also nice.
    • Your Aura of Courage upgrades as you gain levels, giving a variety of handy bonuses.
    • Detect Evil has been sped up. Now your Pally can determine that someone's evil and smite them all in one combat round, meaning Miko-types can fit as much as 300% more killing into their daily schedule. Note: You'll probably see this as a buff, but your party might not.

    Nerfs

    • Lay on Hands can no longer be used to dump all your healing in a single shot. Uh, that's about it.

    Verdict?

    Two thumbs up! Paladins got just about everything they could possibly have wanted out of the Pathfinder change. The only class that can compete with them for sheer number of upgrades is the Sorcerer.


    Rangers

    Buffs

    • D10 hit dice! Much needed.
    • Marginally better skill list due to skill amalgamation - a ranger can afford a couple more skills now.
    • Combat style feats now allow more freedom of choice, and you get slightly more (5 instead of 4).
    • Favoured terrain ability to go with favoured enemy. Very flavourful, and actually quite useful if you know in advance where your campaign's going to be taking place. Interestingly, you're allowed to choose "Urban".
    • Rangers can now exchange their animal companion for a group favoured enemy ability, though it's nothing great. However, if they keep a companion, it now advances levels at druid speed -3, which makes it less of a liability in combat.
    • Caster level is now also level -3.
    • Quarry ability: gain some decent bonuses against a single enemy. Lengthy cooldown, however, and requires 11th-level.
    • The Deadly Aim feat basically lets archer rangers Power Attack. Unfortunately, it's received the same nerfs that Power Attack did.

    Nerfs

    • No Acrobatics. Lame.
    • All characters can now track. The ranger's Tracking ability now gives a 1/2 level bonus, like the rogue's Trapfinding, meaning the ranger's going to be second fiddle to the druid if there's one in the party. This hurts the ranger a bit as it takes away an ability that only he used to have.

    Verdict?

    Rangers did okay out of Pathfinder. Not great, but okay. Their boosts are relatively small, but they were mostly in areas that were badly needed (better companion and spellcasting, better HP, more choice on combat style feats). The favoured terrain is a nice feature, too. Archer rangers are never going to win any awards for power, but they're a decent class as long as you don't expect too much. Unfortunately, TWF rangers are still very weak.


    Rogues

    Buffs

    • Hit Die is now a d8. Helpful.
    • Most of the rogue's primary class skills have been merged; they can max out Stealth, Perception, Acrobatics, and Disable Device and get the same effect that they would have done from maxing about ten skills in 3.5. This means they can now easily afford classic rogue skills like Bluff, Diplomacy, Climb, and Sleight of Hand, which 3.5 rogues struggled to find points for. There's no need to choose between a 'social rogue' and a 'thiefy rogue' anymore, you can do both.
    • Trapfinding now lets a rogue add 1/2 her level to Perception checks to disarm traps, and to all Disable Device checks, including opening locks.
    • Sneak Attack works on everything! All creatures are now vulnerable to Sneak Attack unless they specifically say otherwise in their description. Want to sneak attack undead? Go for it. Golems? No problem. Plants? Bring the blender. This is huge for rogues - being unable to touch anything immune to crits used to be the single biggest handicap of the class.
    • Rogue Talents! Rogues now get a talent every even-numbered level, and they're good - about as good as a bonus feat. In fact, many are feats, like Weapon Finesse, and 'bonus fighter feat' is one of the options.

    Nerfs

    • All classes can now detect traps, though rogues are still the only class that can detect magic ones. This means that at low levels, druids and monks will probably be better trapfinders than rogues. At higher levels, the rogue's trapfinding bonus should put her about on even terms with them.
    • Tumbling to avoid AoOs is now a hell of a lot more difficult. You don't get a synergy bonus from Jump anymore, and the base DC to tumble is now equal to the target's CMD, which can easily be 30 or more for a mid-level enemy.

    Verdict?

    Excellent! Rogues get the ability to sneak attack crit-immune enemies and a truckload of bonus feats, plus a whole bunch of useful minor benefits as well. The only problem is the nerf to Tumble. Rogues will have to come up with new strategies to replace the "tumble, flank, sneak" routine, but they've gained far more than they've lost.


    Sorcerers

    Buffs

    • D6 Hit Die, yay!
    • UMD as a class skill, double yay!
    • Free Eschew Materials. Minor yay, but hey, sorcs really should always have had this.
    • Bloodlines, and this is the big one. Sorcerers now choose a heritage, and get a whole variety of bonuses depending on which one you pick. There's bonus feats, Su, Sp, and Ex abilities, a free class skill, and best of all . . .
    • Bonus spells! A sorcerer now gets a free spell known at every odd-numbered level starting at 3rd! You don't get to pick them, but this gives a massive boost to the Sorcerer's traditional weak point; lack of spells known. Note that you do not get any of these bonuses if you PrC out, so sorcerers have gone overnight from being the class which you most want to PrC out of, to the class which you never want to PrC out of.

    Nerfs

    • Casting defensively is harder.
    • As mentioned, many of the power spells that sorcs used to rely on have been weakened significantly. Alter Self and Glitterdust, the two standouts of Level 2, have both been hit with the nerf stick.

    Verdict?

    Two thumbs up! The variant bloodlines give you loads more options and toys to play with as a Sorcerer. While they're still a bit behind Wizards, the gap has been closed dramatically; a well-played Sorc should be now able to adventure in a party with a Wizard without worrying about being outclassed. I’d say that sorcerers did the best out of Pathfinder than any other caster, neck and neck with Paladins. See the next chapter for an in-depth look.


    Wizards

    Buffs

    • D6 Hit Die, nice.
    • Slightly improved skill list due to skill amalgamation.
    • Arcane Bond - you get to choose between a familiar and an item that lets you spontaneously cast any spell you know 1/day. The flexibility is huge and you can even enchant it, but beware - if you lose it you can't cast any spells without succeeding on a high Spellcraft check. On the other hand, your spellcasting is dependent on an item anyway . . .
    • School powers. Depending on what you specialise in, you get a small selection of special abilities. These are generally mediocre, though the Illusionist gets some nice stuff. Have a look at the next chapter for a more in-depth look.
    • Item creation. Though all characters can now make items, wizards are the best placed to take advantage of it. Expect the Craft Wondrous Item and Craft Magic Arms and Armour feats to become VERY popular.

    Nerfs

    • Casting defensively is harder.
    • Again, many of the spells Wizards used to rely on have been nerfed.
    • Generalist wizards have been beaten with the nerf stick. There’s very little reason to play a non-specialist Wizard anymore.

    Verdict?

    Wizards didn’t get a huge amount out of the Pathfinder change, but the abilities they did get were useful. The specialist abilities help them through the early levels, and they now have a definite niche as the specialist crafter. Players used to 3.5 will have to adjust their tactics to make up for the minor nerfs, but Wizards still have the most pure spellcasting power of any base class.
    Last edited by Saph; 2010-01-01 at 02:49 PM.

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    Default For the Batman wannabes.

    6. The Classes (In-Depth)


    For those who like arcane casters, here’s a more detailed look at two of the Pathfinder classes, the sorcerer and the wizard. I’ve picked the Sorcerer because they’ve gained the greatest sheer volume of new class features, and because their new abilities are probably the most fun. The Wizard is in there because my current character is one, and because this forum is obsessed with Wizards. Since I know at least a quarter of the regular posters on this forum are going to jump straight to the bits that deal with Wizards and ignore everything else, I figure I might as well play to my audience.

    Class features and other changes that Sorcerers and Wizards get from 3.5 will be rated on the highly scientific scale of Excellent, Good, Meh, and Lame.


    Sorcerers In Depth


    Every Pathfinder Sorc has a Bloodline, which gives them a different set of abilities. I don't have time to analyse them all, so I'll just do the Arcane Bloodline, as that's the one the Pathfinder rules assume as the 'standard' one.

    Stuff All Sorcerers Get

    Hit Die: d6.
    More HP is a good thing. Verdict: Good.

    Class Skills: The sorcerer's class skills are Appraise (Int), Bluff (Cha), Craft (Int), Fly (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Profession (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), and Use Magic Device (Cha).
    Use Magic Device, the best skill in the game, on a class with Cha as its primary stat! Verdict: Excellent!

    Eschew Materials: A sorcerer gains Eschew Materials as a bonus feat at 1st level.
    . . . which they should always have had, really. No real mechanical benefit, but it's occasionally handy, it makes sorcerers more distinct from Wizards flavour-wise, and it's free. Verdict: Good

    Bloodline-Specific Stuff

    Arcane

    Your family has always been skilled in the eldritch art of magic. While many of your relatives were accomplished wizards, your powers developed without the need for study and practice.
    Flavour text, yadda yadda.

    Class Skill: Knowledge (any one).
    You already have Know (arcana) and probably not that many spare skill points. Verdict: Meh.

    Bonus Spells: identify (3rd), invisibility (5th), dispel magic (7th), dimension door (9th), overland flight (11th), true seeing (13th), greater teleport (15th), power word stun (17th), wish (19th).
    Now this is more like it. Bonus spells are exactly what you want as a Sorc and the list here is pretty damn good. The only spells I'd consider 'meh' on that list are Identify and Wish; the others are all useful, letting you spend your precious spells known slots on stuff you actually want. Verdict: Excellent!

    Bonus Feats: Combat Casting, Improved Counterspell, Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Scribe Scroll, Skill Focus (Knowledge [arcana]), Spell Focus, Still Spell.
    The list isn't all that amazing, but there are some decent choices on there. Besides . . . hey, free feats. Verdict: Good.

    Bloodline Arcana: Whenever you apply a metamagic feat to a spell that increases the slot used by at least one level, increase the spell's DC by +1. This bonus does not stack with itself and does not apply to spells modified by the Heighten Spell feat.
    Kind of like Metamagic Spell Focus. Decent if you're a metamagic Sorc, but the spells you're most likely to use metamagic on are probably the ones without a Save DC. Verdict: Meh.

    Bloodline Powers: Magic comes naturally to you, but as you gain levels you must take care to prevent the power from overwhelming you.
    Yeah, right. Magic is your chew toy like any other Sorcerer.

    Arcane Bond (Su): At 1st level, you gain an arcane bond, as a wizard equal to your sorcerer level. Your sorcerer levels stack with any wizard levels you possess when determining the powers of your familiar or bonded object. This ability does not allow you to have both a familiar and a bonded item.
    This is a good one; either a familiar or the wizard's bonded item. Both are useful. Verdict: Good.

    Metamagic Adept (Ex): At 3rd level, you can apply any one metamagic feat you know to a spell you are about to cast without increasing the casting time. You must still expend a higher-level spell slot to cast this spell. You can use this ability once per day at 3rd level and one additional time per day for every four sorcerer levels you possess beyond 3rd, up to five times per day at 19th level. At 20th level, this ability is replaced by arcane apotheosis.
    Kind of like the Rapid Metamagic ACF from the 3.5 PHB2. Would be nicer if you could use it a bit more often. Still, metamagic is useful. Verdict: Good.

    New Arcana (Ex): At 9th level, you can add any one spell from the sorcerer/wizard spell list to your list of spells known. This spell must be of a level that you are capable of casting. You can also add one additional spell at 13th level and 17th level.
    You just can't ever have enough spells known, and this gives you extras of any level you like. Verdict: Excellent!

    School Power (Ex): At 15th level, pick one school of magic. The DC for any spells you cast from that school increases by +2. This bonus stacks with the bonus granted by Spell Focus.
    Very nice. It's Spell Focus and Greater Spell Focus for free. Verdict: Excellent!

    Arcane Apotheosis (Ex): At 20th level, your body surges with arcane power. You can add any metamagic feats that you know to your spells without increasing their casting time, although you must still expend higher-level spell slots. Whenever you use magic items that require charges, you can instead expend spell slots to power the item. For every three levels of spell slots that you expend, you consume one less charge when using a magic item that expends charges.
    Yeah, like it says. It looks good, but the truth is that by 20th-level you probably won't care about item charges, and you'll almost certainly have already found some way around the metamagic issue. Verdict: Meh.

    Wizards In Depth


    Pathfinder wizards get notably fewer new class features than sorcerers, so I can cover all of the wizard specialities instead of only one.

    Stuff All Wizards Get

    Hit Die: d6.
    HP is nice. Verdict: Good.

    Class Skills: The wizard's class skills are Appraise (Int), Craft (Int), Fly (Dex), Knowledge (all) (Int), Linguistics (Int), Profession (Wis), and Spellcraft (Int).
    Nothing very exciting here. Wizards now get Appraise as well as the equivalent of Forgery and Speak Language, which is okay, but nothing to write home about. Verdict: Meh.

    Arcane Bond (Ex or Sp): At 1st level, wizards form a powerful bond with an object or a creature. This bond can take one of two forms: a familiar or a bonded object . . . Once a wizard makes this choice, it is permanent and cannot be changed . . .

    Wizards who select a bonded object begin play with one at no cost. Objects that are the subject of an arcane bond must fall into one of the following categories: amulet, ring, staff, wand, or weapon. These objects are always masterwork quality. Weapons acquired at 1st level are not made of any special material. If the object is an amulet or ring, it must be worn to have effect, while staves, wands, and weapons must be wielded. If a wizard attempts to cast a spell without his bonded object worn or in hand, he must make a concentration check or lose the spell. The DC for this check is equal to 20 + the spell's level. If the object is a ring or amulet, it occupies the ring or neck slot accordingly.

    A bonded object can be used once per day to cast any one spell that the wizard has in his spellbook and is capable of casting, even if the spell is not prepared. This spell is treated like any other spell cast by the wizard, including casting time, duration, and other effects dependent on the wizard's level. This spell cannot be modified by metamagic feats or other abilities. The bonded object cannot be used to cast spells from the wizard's opposition schools (see arcane school).

    A wizard can add additional magic abilities to his bonded object as if he has the required item creation feats and if he meets the level prerequisites of the feat. For example, a wizard with a bonded dagger must be at least 5th level to add magic abilities to the dagger (see the Craft Magic Arms and Armor feat in Feats). If the bonded object is a wand, it loses its wand abilities when its last charge is consumed, but it is not destroyed and it retains all of its bonded object properties and can be used to craft a new wand. The magic properties of a bonded object, including any magic abilities added to the object, only function for the wizard who owns it. If a bonded object's owner dies, or the item is replaced, the object reverts to being an ordinary masterwork item of the appropriate type.

    If a bonded object is damaged, it is restored to full hit points the next time the wizard prepares his spells. If the object of an arcane bond is lost or destroyed, it can be replaced after 1 week in a special ritual that costs 200 gp per wizard level plus the cost of the masterwork item. This ritual takes 8 hours to complete. Items replaced in this way do not possess any of the additional enchantments of the previous bonded item. A wizard can designate an existing magic item as his bonded item. This functions in the same way as replacing a lost or destroyed item except that the new magic item retains its abilities while gaining the benefits and drawbacks of becoming a bonded item.
    This is nice, very nice. The ability to spontaneously cast any spell from your spellbook, even if it's only once per day, adds a lot of flexibility. In addition you can enchant the bonded item, which is almost as good as getting an item creation feat for free.

    There are, however, two catches. You give up your familiar, which (as those skilled in the art of familiar-fu will know) is a significant loss. In addition, if you lose the item, spellcasting becomes ridiculously difficult. I'd say the benefits probably outweigh the drawbacks, though, and in any case you can choose not to take it if you’re planning to get some use out of your familiar. Verdict: Good.

    Arcane School: A wizard can choose to specialize in one school of magic, gaining additional spells and powers based on that school. This choice must be made at 1st level, and once made, it cannot be changed. A wizard that does not select a school receives the universalist school instead.

    A wizard that chooses to specialize in one school of magic must select two other schools as his opposition schools, representing knowledge sacrificed in one area of arcane lore to gain mastery in another. A wizard who prepares spells from his opposition schools must use two spell slots of that level to prepare the spell. For example, a wizard with evocation as an opposition school must expend two of his available 3rd-level spell slots to prepare a fireball. In addition, a specialist takes a –4 penalty on any skill checks made when crafting a magic item that has a spell from one of his opposition schools as a prerequisite. A universalist wizard can prepare spells from any school without restriction.

    Each arcane school gives the wizard a number of school powers. In addition, specialist wizards receive an additional spell slot of each spell level he can cast, from 1st on up. Each day, a wizard can prepare a spell from his specialty school in that slot. This spell must be in the wizard's spellbook. A wizard can select a spell modified by a metamagic feat to prepare in his school slot, but it uses up a higher-level spell slot. Wizards with the universalist school do not receive a school slot.
    This is probably the biggest buff for wizards. Now being a specialist doesn't cut you off from schools! While adventuring, you probably still won't make a habit of using opposition schools; the opportunity cost of losing two spell slots is too high. But the ability to use something like, say, Contingency during days off is great. Verdict: Excellent!

    So, What Do The Specialists Get?

    In general, the answer is "not that much". However, there are a few standouts. Illusionists probably benefit the most, and Diviners get some abilities that are excellent at high levels (but weak at low ones). Universalists and Enchanters do worst out of the deal, with Universalists coming in last by a mile.

    Abjurer

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    Resistance (Ex): You gain resistance 5 to an energy type of your choice, chosen when you prepare spells. This resistance can be changed each day. At 11th level, this resistance increases to 10. At 20th level, this resistance changes to immunity to the chosen energy type.
    Pretty weak. You're rarely going to know what energy type you'll be attacked by, and 5 points of resistance isn't going to make all that much difference even if you do. Verdict: Meh.

    Protective Ward (Su): As a standard action, you can create a 10-foot-radius field of protective magic centered on you that lasts for a number of rounds equal to your Intelligence modifier. All allies in this area (including you) receive a +1 deflection bonus to their AC for 1 round. This bonus increases by +1 for every five wizard levels you possess. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Intelligence modifier.
    Contradictory wording aside, this isn't all that impressive. A standard action is a high cost to pay for something with such a small effect and radius. It's also just begging for the enemy to fireball you. Verdict: Meh.

    Energy Absorption (Su): At 6th level, you gain an amount of energy absorption equal to 3 times your wizard level per day. Whenever you take energy damage, apply immunity, vulnerability (if any), and resistance first and apply the rest to this absorption, reducing your daily total by that amount. Any damage in excess of your absorption is applied to you normally.
    This is more like it. Since it works on any type of energy damage, you can actually expect it to apply frequently. The total protection is still not that high, but it could save your neck. Verdict: Good.

    Overall Verdict: Mediocre. Abjuration isn't the best of specialities in the first place, and these abilities don't make it any more attractive.

    Conjurer

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    Summoner's Charm (Su): Whenever you cast a conjuration (summoning) spell, increase the duration by a number of rounds equal to 1/2 your wizard level (minimum 1). At 20th level, you can change the duration of all summon monster spells to permanent. You can have no more than one summon monster spell made permanent in this way at one time. If you designate another summon monster spell as permanent, the previous spell immediately ends.
    As a general rule, for every round a wizard or sorcerer casts a spell that's on the cleric spell list, for that round he's a sucker. Casting Summon Monster is the cleric's job, and druids do it better anyway. Verdict: Meh.

    Acid Dart (Sp): As a standard action you can unleash an acid dart targeting any foe within 30 feet as a ranged touch attack. The acid dart deals 1d6 points of acid damage + 1 for every two wizard levels you possess. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Intelligence modifier. This attack ignores spell resistance.
    Eh, it beats shooting a crossbow. Verdict: Good.

    Dimensional Steps (Sp): At 8th level, you can use this ability to teleport up to 30 feet per wizard level per day as a standard action. This teleportation must be used in 5-foot increments and such movement does not provoke an attack of opportunity. You can bring other willing creatures with you, but you must expend an equal amount of distance for each additional creature brought with you.
    Pretty nice. I'm sure you can think of some good uses for this. The ability to divide it up as you wish makes it much more useful. Verdict: Good.

    Overall Verdict: Some solid features. The fact that conjuration is probably the strongest school in the game anyway makes the Conjurer one of the best choices.

    Diviner

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    Forewarned (Su): You can always act in the surprise round even if you fail to make a Perception roll to notice a foe, but you are still considered flat-footed until you take an action. In addition, you receive a bonus on initiative checks equal to 1/2 your wizard level (minimum +1). At 20th level, anytime you roll initiative, assume the roll resulted in a natural 20.
    Being able to act in the surprise round is nice, though situational. The initiative bonus is awesome at high levels, but most games are played in the 1st-10th level range, which makes this less attractive. At 12th-level it's a +6, but at 2nd-level it's only a +1. Still, not bad. Verdict: Meh at level 1 (unless you get surprised REALLY often), Good at level 10, and only gets better from there.

    Diviner's Fortune (Sp): When you activate this school power, you can touch any creature as a standard action to give it an insight bonus on all of its attack rolls, skill checks, ability checks, and saving throws equal to 1/2 your wizard level (minimum +1) for 1 round. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Intelligence modifier.
    Again, an ability that's useful at higher levels and sucky at lower ones. Verdict: Meh or Good, as above.

    Scrying Adept (Su): At 8th level, you are always aware when you are being observed via magic, as if you had a permanent detect scrying. In addition, whenever you scry on a subject, treat the subject as one step more familiar to you. Very familiar subjects get a –10 penalty on their save to avoid your scrying attempts.
    If spying and intelligence gathering are a big part of your games, this is excellent. Otherwise, it's pretty much useless. Verdict: Situational, depends heavily on the DM's style of game.

    Overall Verdict: Diviners are hard to rate. Their information-gathering abilities can be utterly awesome, or totally useless, depending on how the DM runs campaigns. There's also the issue that divination is probably the weakest school to pick your bonus spell slots from. The only thing that can be said for sure is that diviners are much, MUCH better at high levels than at low ones.

    Enchanter

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    Enchanting Smile (Su): You gain a +2 enhancement bonus on Bluff, Diplomacy, and Intimidate skill checks. This bonus increases by +1 for every five wizard levels you possess, up to a maximum of +6 at 20th level. At 20th level, whenever you succeed at a saving throw against a spell of the enchantment school, that spell is reflected back at its caster, as per spell turning.
    Bonuses to three cross-class skills based on Wizards' second most popular dump stat. You're not the party face. As for the 20th-level ability . . . yeah, as if anyone's going to cast an enchantment spell that allows a save against a 20th-level enchanter. Verdict: Meh.

    Dazing Touch (Sp): You can cause a living creature to become dazed for 1 round as a melee touch attack. Creatures with more Hit Dice than your wizard level are unaffected. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Intelligence modifier.
    So let me get this straight. You go into melee, make a touch attack using your lousy Strength and lousy BAB, and in exchange you get to . . . daze a creature for 1 round if it doesn't have more Hit Dice. Except that if the creature's threatening enough to need dazing, it probably DOES have more Hit Dice. Verdict: Lame.

    Aura of Despair (Su): At 8th level, you can emit a 30-foot aura of despair for a number of rounds per day equal to your wizard level. Enemies within this aura take a –2 penalty on ability checks, attack rolls, damage rolls, saving throws, and skill checks. These rounds do not need to be consecutive.
    There seems to be a major split of opinion on this one. Lots of people see the -2 to everything and think it’s great. Personally, I think it’s average at best. The big problem is that it's a (Su) ability that doesn't say what kind of action it takes, and by default, that makes it a standard action (check the Pathfinder SRD). Actions in combat are the currency of D&D, and a standard action for a minor debuff is not a great deal. An additional problem is that to get all the enemies within its radius, you have to stand RIGHT in the middle of them, effectively painting a huge target on yourself.

    In short, YMMV. If your arcane casters are regularly involved in long battles where you spend a lot of the time within 30’ of lots of enemies, you’ll find Aura of Despair very useful. However, my personal verdict is Meh.

    Overall Verdict: Enchanters kinda got the shaft in Pathfinder. Specialising in enchantment isn't a great deal anyway, and the poor abilities just make things worse. The only reason enchanters aren't right on the bottom of the heap is because, bad as their abilities are, they're still better than the universalist.

    Evoker

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    Intense Spells (Su): Whenever you cast an evocation spell that deals hit point damage, add 1/2 your wizard level to the damage (minimum +1). This bonus only applies once to a spell, not once per missile or ray, and cannot be split between multiple missiles or rays. This damage is of the same type as the spell. At 20th level, whenever you cast an evocation spell you can roll twice to penetrate a creature's spell resistance and take the better result.
    It's not a huge increase, but hey, free damage. Verdict: Good.

    Force Missile (Sp): As a standard action you can unleash a force missile that automatically strikes a foe, as magic missile. The force missile deals 1d4 points of damage plus the damage from your intense spells evocation power. This is a force effect. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Intelligence modifier.
    Anything that auto-hits is worth using. It gets a decent rating because it beats using a crossbow or spamming cantrips, but like the conjurer's Acid Dart, you'll use this less and less as you level up. Verdict: Good.

    Elemental Wall (Sp): At 8th level, you can create a wall of energy that lasts for a number of rounds per day equal to your wizard level. These rounds do not need to be consecutive. This wall deals acid, cold, electricity, or fire damage, determined when you create it. The elemental wall otherwise functions like wall of fire.
    It's a wall of fire. Good as far as it goes. Verdict: Good.

    Overall Verdict: Generally decent stuff for evokers. Nothing all that exciting, but they make you a better blaster, and let's face it, if you're playing an evoker that's what you're going to be doing.

    Illusionist

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    Extended Illusions (Su): Any illusion spell you cast with a duration of “concentration” lasts a number of additional rounds equal to 1/2 your wizard level after you stop maintaining concentration (minimum +1 round). At 20th level, you can make one illusion spell with a duration of “concentration” become permanent. You can have no more than one illusion made permanent in this way at one time. If you designate another illusion as permanent, the previous permanent illusion ends.
    The image spells are some of the most versatile in the game, and this lets you bypass the concentration duration. If you know your stuff, this is very handy. Verdict: Good.

    Blinding Ray (Sp): As a standard action you can fire a shimmering ray at any foe within 30 feet as a ranged touch attack. The ray causes creatures to be blinded for 1 round. Creatures with more Hit Dice than your wizard level are dazzled for 1 round instead. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Intelligence modifier.
    Ugh, another power that only works on creatures who don't have more Hit Dice. Still, at least you can do this one at range, so you aren't totally screwed if it doesn’t work. Verdict: Meh.

    Invisibility Field (Sp): At 8th level, you can make yourself invisible as a swift action for a number of rounds per day equal to your wizard level. These rounds do not need to be consecutive. This otherwise functions as greater invisibility.
    Now this is more like it. Greater invisibility is the kind you want to have, and being able to put it up as a swift action is the kind of speed you want to do it at. This can and will save your life if you get jumped in melee. Verdict: Excellent!

    Overall Verdict: Illusionists got a good deal out of Pathfinder, with abilities that actually make them better at what they're supposed to be good at (invisibility and illusions). Recommended.

    Necromancer

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    Power over Undead (Su): You receive Command Undead or Turn Undead as a bonus feat. You can channel energy a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Intelligence modifier, but only to use the selected feat. You can take other feats to add to this ability, such as Extra Channel and Improved Channel, but not feats that alter this ability, such as Elemental Channel and Alignment Channel. The DC to save against these feats is equal to 10 + 1/2 your wizard level + your Charisma modifier. At 20th level, undead cannot add their channel resistance to the save against this ability.
    If you're playing a necromancer, odds are good you want undead minions, and this gives them to you. The only problem is that the saves are based off Cha, but still. Verdict: Good.

    Grave Touch (Sp): As a standard action, you can make a melee touch attack that causes a living creature to become shaken for a number of rounds equal to 1/2 your wizard level (minimum 1). If you touch a shaken creature with this ability, it becomes frightened for 1 round if it has fewer Hit Dice than your wizard level. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Intelligence modifier.
    Gah! What is it with melee attacks that only work properly on creatures with equal or fewer HD? To add insult to injury, you have to touch a minion twice to send it running. No thanks. Verdict: Lame.

    Life Sight (Su): At 8th level, you gain blindsight to a range of 10 feet for a number of rounds per day equal to your wizard level. This ability only allows you to detect living creatures and undead creatures. This sight also tells you whether a creature is living or undead. Constructs and other creatures that are neither living nor undead cannot be seen with this ability. The range of this ability increases by 10 feet at 12th level, and by an additional 10 feet for every four levels beyond 12th.
    Crappy duration, crappy range, and again requires a standard action to activate. It only avoids a 'lame' rating because even with all those limitations, blindsight is still decent. Verdict: Meh.

    Overall Verdict: The necromancer's abilities are very flavourful, but poorly implemented. Could be worse, I suppose.

    Transmuter

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    Physical Enhancement (Su): You gain a +1 enhancement bonus to one physical ability score (Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution). This bonus increases by +1 for every five wizard levels you possess to a maximum of +5 at 20th level. You can change this bonus to a new ability score when you prepare spells. At 20th level, this bonus applies to two physical ability scores of your choice.
    Basically saves you 4,000 gp or so on an Amulet of Health or whatever. Eh, free stat boosts are nice, if not that exciting. Verdict: Good.

    Telekinetic Fist (Sp): As a standard action you can strike with a telekinetic fist, targeting any foe within 30 feet as a ranged touch attack. The telekinetic fist deals 1d4 points of bludgeoning damage + 1 for every two wizard levels you possess. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Intelligence modifier.
    Like the Conjurer's acid dart, and the Evoker's force missile, but worse. Verdict: Meh.

    Change Shape (Sp): At 8th level, you can change your shape for a number of rounds per day equal to your wizard level. These rounds do not need to be consecutive. This ability otherwise functions like beast shape II or elemental body I. At 12th level, this ability functions like beast shape III or elemental body II.
    Beast Shape and Elemental Body are a pale shadow of Polymorph, but spontaneous shapeshifting is still handy. Verdict: Good.

    Overall Verdict: Solid bonuses, if nothing very exciting. Like Conjurers, Transmuters benefit from the fact that they're already picking from one of the power schools.

    Universalist

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    Hand of the Apprentice (Su): You cause your melee weapon to fly from your grasp and strike a foe before instantly returning to you. As a standard action, you can make a single attack using a melee weapon at a range of 30 feet. This attack is treated as a ranged attack with a thrown weapon, except that you add your Intelligence modifier on the attack roll instead of your Dexterity modifier (damage still relies on Strength). This ability cannot be used to perform a combat maneuver. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Intelligence modifier.
    Awful. Using your Int on the attack modifier would be good, except for the fact that the damage is still based on Strength. This is the worst of the specialist attacks by far. Verdict: Lame.

    Metamagic Mastery (Su): At 8th level, you can apply any one metamagic feat that you know to a spell you are about to cast. This does not alter the level of the spell or the casting time. You can use this ability once per day at 8th level and one additional time per day for every two wizard levels you possess beyond 8th. Any time you use this ability to apply a metamagic feat that increases the spell level by more than 1, you must use an additional daily usage for each level above 1 that the feat adds to the spell. Even though this ability does not modify the spell's actual level, you cannot use this ability to cast a spell whose modified spell level would be above the level of the highest-level spell that you are capable of casting.
    So wait, at level 8, I can use one level of metamagic once per day? But only if I've got the feat already? If you want free metamagic, get a metamagic rod. Normally I'd give this some credit for being free, but it's so bad it's embarassing. Verdict: Lame.

    Overall Verdict: Universalist wizards in Pathfinder suck horribly. There is literally no reason to play one, with all the benefits specialists get. If you want to play a generalist, either use the Paizo Beta, or stick with 3.5.
    Last edited by Saph; 2010-01-02 at 06:46 AM.

  7. - Top - End - #7
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    Default And here's the only bit I know half of you are going to read.

    7. Class Power Rankings


    So, you want to know which classes are the most powerful in Pathfinder, right? You want the definite, final answer as to which class is the strongest and which is the weakest, right?

    Okay. Check the spoiler box below for the answer to the question “which class is the strongest?”

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    There is no answer. It’s a stupid question. If you didn’t see that one coming, smack yourself in the head for being so gullible.

    Character power depends on the skill of the player, the build they’re using, the level of the party, and the environment and setting the DM is running the game in. Asking “which class is the strongest?” is like asking “how long is a piece of string?” (If you're wondering, the answer is “twice half it’s length”)

    Now that’s out of the way, we can go on to something more useful.

    Since this is a 3.5/Pathfinder handbook, what I’m interested in measuring is how the classes have changed. So with no further ado, here’s the table of whether the Pathfinder classes have gone up or down in relative power from how they were in 3.5. Note once again that this measures relative change.

    Major Buffs - These classes are significantly stronger in Pathfinder than they were in 3.5.

    • Paladin
    • Rogue
    • Sorcerer

    Minor Buffs - These classes are better than they were in 3.5, but not hugely so.

    • Fighter
    • Monk
    • Ranger
    • Wizard

    Mixed Bag - These classes have picked up a bunch of buffs and a bunch of nerfs. Figuring out whether they’re better or worse is going to come down to opinion.

    • Barbarian
    • Bard
    • Cleric

    Nerfed - The only class which has unarguably gotten worse. Yeah, you saw this coming.

    • Druid
    Last edited by Saph; 2010-01-01 at 07:12 PM.

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    Default Okay, maybe if I'm lucky you'll skim this one too.

    8. Conclusion


    Whew. Finally there.

    Remember the two questions I listed at the beginning? If you’ve read all the way through, you now have a good handle on the answer to question 1. That only leaves question 2. And the answer to that is: It depends.

    If you hate 3.5, then obviously Pathfinder isn't for you. It's still very recognisably D&D 3rd-ed, and for every one thing that's changed, there are ten things that have been kept the same.

    Where Pathfinder is good is if you like 3.5, but would like to have everything in one book instead of twenty. Core-only Pathfinder is much better than core-only 3.5 - the classes are far more interesting.

    If you already make a habit of using the scores of 3.5 splatbooks, then it’s not so easy. The Pathfinder changes improve many things, but they come at the expense of reverse compatibility. If you try to include 3.5 material, you’re going to have to make adjustments, and the more material you try to include, the more adjustments you’re going to have to make. Honestly, I just don’t think it’s worth it.

    So my recommendation for now would be:

    Want to play 3.5 with one book? Use Pathfinder.
    Want to play 3.5 with twenty books? Stick with 3.5.

    So there you have it. Hope it was useful.
    Last edited by Saph; 2010-01-01 at 02:31 PM.

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    Default Just the FAQs, ma'am.

    9. FAQ


    This section will expand as and when I have time for it.

    • Q. Does Pathfinder fix the problems of 3.5?
    • A. No. Pathfinder improves a few things, but it's still basically the same game. Characters are still mooks at 1st-level and gods at 20th, you still have Linear Warriors Quadratic Wizards. The thing is, the problems with 3.5 are so integral to the system that you can’t fix them without effectively turning it into a different game - and in the process, throwing out most of the things that make people want to stick with 3.5 in the first place.
    Last edited by Saph; 2010-01-01 at 02:31 PM.

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    Default Version Notes

    Notes

    1/1/10 - Posted handbook.
    Last edited by Saph; 2010-01-01 at 02:31 PM.

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    Default Re: The 3.5/Pathfinder Handbook

    Nice work.

    Question: Do the new Class Skills rules ever lead to skillmonkey characters dipping levels in other classes just so they can pick up more skills as class skills? Would a Rogue ever dip one level in Ranger just so he can put 1 skill rank in all of the nature-y skills and get a +4 bonus on each of them?
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    Default Re: The 3.5/Pathfinder Handbook

    This is very nice work, Saph. This must have taken a lot of effort, so thanks for doing the work. A place to point people who ask about Pathfinder and concentrate arguments about it will be useful. Unfortunately, I'm not in a game right now, but the DMs in my area like Pathfinder, so it helps to know about it.

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    Default Re: The 3.5/Pathfinder Handbook

    You rock Saph, great handbook.

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    Default Re: The 3.5/Pathfinder Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    Nice work.

    Question: Do the new Class Skills rules ever lead to skillmonkey characters dipping levels in other classes just so they can pick up more skills as class skills? Would a Rogue ever dip one level in Ranger just so he can put 1 skill rank in all of the nature-y skills and get a +4 bonus on each of them?
    I haven't seen it done so far. I think it would be a swings and roundabouts thing - you'd gain a few extra skills, but you'd lose out on your class features. Might be worth it for fighter/skillmonkey types.

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    Default Re: The 3.5/Pathfinder Handbook

    Very interesting read. I hadn't been able to get any kind of comprehensive understanding of the Pathfinder changes, and this was very helpful. Good comparison-fu. Thank you, Saph.
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    Default Re: The 3.5/Pathfinder Handbook

    It would be nice to see some discussion from a holistic viewpoint. For example, I didn't see any discussion of stealth nerfs (maybe I missed them). Like for example, how several spells (e.g. blink and grease) that made it easier for a rogue to sneak attack, no longer do so.

    EDIT: I did notice that grease was mentioned, but it should have been discussed in the rogue section as well.
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    2: (derogatory) any character used by a DM that disrupts the game
    Need to replace those core 3.5 books, check out Gauric Myths.

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    Default Re: The 3.5/Pathfinder Handbook

    Thank you for the reviews, Saph. I got a book myself, but didn't read it yet. I actually like most of the changes they did. In fact, many of what they did is very similar to some things I've been working on, so I guess I will start using Pathfinder more now.

    I did notice you disliked most of the wizard changes, finding them too weak. Is it weak compared to what others classes get? Because it's still more than 3.5. Actually, it feels like they got the core wizard and added the ACFs from UA, something I was thinking about doing too.

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    Default Re: The 3.5/Pathfinder Handbook

    Saph, you will do one on d20r when that gets finished, yes? Yes. You will. I shouldn't have phrased that in the form of a question. It makes it look like you are given a choice.

    Also, why Comic Sans? Get rid of that.
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    How many times, when the Fighter says "I draw my sword", did you just want to smack that cheating-optimizer in the face and say "No! You don't draw your sword! You draw Orcus!". When the Cleric says "I run away from Orcus!": "No! You run into Orcus! Rogue tries to hide? He hides behind Orcus! The bard in a tavern on the other side the town tries to order a drink? How about a nice frothy mug of Orcus?
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    Default Re: The 3.5/Pathfinder Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by pres_man View Post
    It would be nice to see some discussion from a holistic viewpoint.
    Well, how about this for Combat Maneuvers:

    Translating Pathfinder RPG Combat Maneuvers

    This entire section is atrociously overwritten, taking way too many words to say some very simple things.
    First, a CMB roll is a standard attack roll, with the size modifier reversed.. Really. That's what the three paragraphs of text boil down to.
    Seriously, it is BAB + Str (or Dex with the appropriate feat) + your size modifier inverted + all other modifiers that normally apply to an attack roll + any special modifiers for that specific maneuver.
    Also:
    "When you attempt to perform a combat maneuver, make an attack roll and add your CMB in place of your normal attack bonus. Add any bonuses you currently have on attack rolls due to spells, feats, and other effects. These bonuses must be applicable to the weapon or attack used to perform the maneuver."
    Unless there are some really obscure modifiers that for some reason apply to an attack but do not apply to an attack (anybody?), the end result is a standard attack roll, just with the size modifier inverted.
    Oh, there is a special bonus of +4 is the target is stunned, and it is an auto-crit if the target is helpless, which is also different.

    Second, CMD is your touch AC with size modifier inverted + Str modifier - (alchemical bonus + competence modifier + luck modifier + racial bonus).
    Pretty simple, huh?
    Oh, and that assumes there are any extant modifiers of those types that apply to AC in PFRPG. (I can find a few luck bonuses, which makes me wonder if it was an oversight, and none of the others.)
    The operative sentence for this is:
    "A creature can also add any circumstance, deflection, dodge, insight, morale, profane, and sacred bonuses to AC to its CMD. Any penalties to a creature's AC also apply to its CMD. A flat-footed creature does not add its Dexterity bonus to its CMD."
    Other than the four modifiers I note above, are ability (already added), resistance (only applies to saves), enhancement (only makes other bonuses better), armor, shield, and natural armor (which are already excluded from Touch AC).
    So really, it is your Touch AC with the size modifier inverted + Str modifier.

    So compressing over a column of text we get:
    To perform a special combat maneuver, make a standard attack roll with your size modifier inverted against the target's Touch AC with his size modifier inverted + his Str modifier - his Luck modifier to AC (if any). Consult the entries below for specific results. If the target is helpless, your attack is an automatic critical hit. If the target is stunned, you get a special +4 bonus to your attack roll.

    Everything else in that column of text is utterly superfluous.

    Now that that is out of the way, a comparison becomes a lot easier.
    Before you had to attack Touch AC, then make an opposed check, which was generally based on Strength, and which quadrupled the normal size modifiers.
    Now you make a single attack against Touch AC, with everyone's size modifiers inverted, and with the target getting to add his Strength modifier to his defense.

    Without doing a massive amount of number crunching, it should be relatively easy to see how this will affect things.
    First and foremost, one roll means only one chance to critically fail, giving a benefit to the attacker.
    Second, with the maneuver feats being split in two, it will generally be harder to "specialize" in these attacks, giving a benefit to the defender.
    Third, removing the special size modifier means big creatures are weaker across the board, both as attackers and defenders. Small creatures are theoretically stronger, except as defenders, where a lot Strength will usually make them weaker.
    Fourth, tagging the Strength modifier into the initial Touch AC attack means most everyone else will be harder to affect.

    Overall, except where large creatures are involved as with the example of the ogre, the combat maneuvers are going to generally be more difficult to execute, particularly for players who always looked at enlarge person as a way to supercharge the maneuvers. Instead of getting a net +1 on the touch attack and +5 on the opposed roll, you will now just get a net +1 to the single attack made.

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    Default Re: The 3.5/Pathfinder Handbook

    You say that Druid got significantly nerfed, but is it now equal to all the other classes, and same for the paladin getting stronger?

    Also, has anyone developed a tier system for PF yet?

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    Default Re: The 3.5/Pathfinder Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldar Ditto View Post
    You say that Druid got significantly nerfed, but is it now equal to all the other classes, and same for the paladin getting stronger?
    Wildshape got nerfed pretty hard; the spellcasting is still there in all its glory and the animal companion is more or less intact. You can still be a spellcasting tiger charging into combat alongside your pet tiger. You just need decent base physical stats to pull it off now.. but if you decide to do it, you can still regularly be larger and use monster special attacks (pounce, grab, bonus trip attacks, poisons, rake, rend..) that no other martial class can easily access.

    The paladin did get a lot of nice stuff, but none of it really changed his basic problems (IMO). He's better at what he does, but what he does is still not a very powerful role, and he's still stuck with MAD and is pretty weak when he can't Smite something.

    So.. essentially the huge whacking gulf between casters and everybody else is still there. The differences just aren't quite as extreme in the ranks of everybody else.

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    Default Re: The 3.5/Pathfinder Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    Nice work.

    Question: Do the new Class Skills rules ever lead to skillmonkey characters dipping levels in other classes just so they can pick up more skills as class skills? Would a Rogue ever dip one level in Ranger just so he can put 1 skill rank in all of the nature-y skills and get a +4 bonus on each of them?
    From what I've seen the incentive to branch out into other classes for skllmonkeying is less. their are no cross class skills and the max ranks is your level, so basically the only bonus a class skill grants is +3. A lot of skills are together so your skills points go a long way, and because of that their are a lot more skills that have become class skills for each class. This really helps when you want to create city guards. Even though a fighter does not get perception as a class skill, they can still have one rank per level in it, makeing it a little bit harder for players to sneak past. I've converted some of my characters from 3.5 to pathfinder and they almost always come out ahead in total skills with the pathfinder rules, even though they have a lower number of skill points.
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    Default Re: The 3.5/Pathfinder Handbook

    Some bard points:
    Might be worth mentioning that bardic music progression is earlier/better.

    Inspire Courage, for example, was +2 at 8th, +3 at 14th, and +4 at 20th in 3.5; it's at 5th, 11th, and 17th now, so you get them a bit earlier. It's noticeable, though it doesn't boost the end power level.

    Inspire Competence bonuses scale now, up to +6. Not shabby.

    A big buff to bards is that their song bonuses (I'm looking at the perennial favourite here: Inspire Courage) are competence bonuses now - this means that they stack with spells that add morale bonuses - and the bard list has several of those (heroism, good hope, and greater heroism come to mind).

    I'll point out that I DM a Pathfinder group, and the bard's opening move of a swift action spell (like Inspirational Boost if you allow the SpC), a move action bardic music (Inspire Courage), and a standard action spell (Haste or Good Hope, both are solid options) is pretty solid. Good Hope stacking with Inspire courage is a nice extra +2/+2 for the attackers. Obviously, if you are jacking your IC through the roof with items/feats from diverse sourcebooks it's less of a deal, but it's a nice boost to the vanilla bard.

    Inspire Greatness is interesting, because you can continue bardic music as a free action - and thus, one can stop bardic music by simply not taking that action. Because bardic music doesn't persist after stopping, you can start a new one up the same round that you stopped (even as a swift action, eventually). A bard starting and stopping inspire greatness up every round doesn't use any more uses of bardic music (since it's measured in rounds, now) but is continually re-granting the 2d10+2*Con temporary hitpoints that Inspire Greatness grants, which can certainly help soak up incidental damage if that's what is needed; given that this can be done in lieu of swift or move actions you can still be doing other things while restoring everyone's ablative shields.

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    Default Re: The 3.5/Pathfinder Handbook

    The funny thing about the power attack in Pathfinder is that at least for my characters it is more useful. I don't often take two handed sword swingers so the -1 to attack and the +2 to damage works out better for me. In 3.5 you only get that with a 2-hander. Pathfinder you get -1 to attack and +3 to damage with a 2-hander so that's not too shabby.

    Making it a flat penalty and bonus with every +4 to your base attack seems unnecessary, thought I do like it capped(in my games I have a harder time with the fighters running amock, not the casters). I think we have house ruled that to allow you to pick your penalty and add that amount back to your damage bonus. We still are using the cap (The -1 for every +4 BAB)....For now anyway, I've heard some squawking on that from some players. Worked out well for me the other night. I tore up a fighter PC with a NPC using the new power attack.

    Really the complaint is from Combat Expert. It only adds a +1 dodge bonus for every +4 BAB. Seems like a spell caster nerf to me. In 3.5 with combat expert you could shove your entire BAB into AC, and why not? Your casting a spell anyway, so you don't need it for attacking (ya unless your doing a touch spell I know). This will slow down that abuse.

    Cleave is better. Instead of getting another attack when you kill a foe. You get another attack at your full BAB if you hit your first target, then you can target someone adjacent and attack. So at low level it's a nice two-fer if your fighting multiple baddies.

    And I really like the Combat Maneuvers even though they are generally harder to get off in combat. One mechanic, one roll. It's way faster. And the improved feats now give a bonus to attacking and defending against the maneuver. Epically failing a combat maneuver can be a bad thing. They include grappling in with the Combat Maneuvers as well so that rocks.

    So far everything, with some tweaking, has been compatible with my 3.5 stuff. Some things are not needed anymore, and you will have to make some on they fly decisions about what skills are class skills for the old 3.5 prestige classes and stuff like that. When new books from the Pathfinder people come out I bet they address some of the more popular 3.5 prestige classes and add them into their game. I'm running a 3.5 adventure, but useing the pathfinder rules, and so far no hitches. I converted some of the major NPC's in the adventure, and they turned out a little bit better but nothing major. I'll be doing some higher level ones in the future.
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    Default Re: The 3.5/Pathfinder Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Grommen View Post

    Really the complaint is from Combat Expert. It only adds a +1 dodge bonus for every +4 BAB. Seems like a spell caster nerf to me. In 3.5 with combat expert you could shove your entire BAB into AC, and why not? Your casting a spell anyway, so you don't need it for attacking (ya unless your doing a touch spell I know). This will slow down that abuse.
    Combat Expertise doesn't work that way. You have to make an attack action.
    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Roc View Post
    Ring of Evasion means never playing a monk with monk levels again. There is just no reason to dip that stuff. I know we're all about using every part of the buffalo here, but can we just admit that it's inedible?

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    Default Re: The 3.5/Pathfinder Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Roderick_BR View Post
    I did notice you disliked most of the wizard changes, finding them too weak. Is it weak compared to what others classes get? Because it's still more than 3.5. Actually, it feels like they got the core wizard and added the ACFs from UA, something I was thinking about doing too.
    Oh, I don't really think they're too weak. Wizards didn't get all that much, but then they didn't really need all that much, and the buffs they did get help them out in the early game, when they need it most. Wizards are still a very good class - I'm playing one now, in fact. And the school powers are a fun way to set the school specialisations apart a bit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldar Ditto View Post
    You say that Druid got significantly nerfed, but is it now equal to all the other classes, and same for the paladin getting stronger?
    The Druid player in our campaign's only just joined, so I haven't had a good chance to look at it, but my suspicion would be that Druid is still a top-tier class. 3.5 Druids are so ridiculously strong that they can afford to have one of their primary class features nerfed and still be very powerful.

    Paladins are probably the strongest martial class now - I'd rank them above Fighters and Barbs.

    Quote Originally Posted by tyckspoon View Post
    The paladin did get a lot of nice stuff, but none of it really changed his basic problems (IMO). He's better at what he does, but what he does is still not a very powerful role, and he's still stuck with MAD and is pretty weak when he can't Smite something.
    Actually, Paladin MAD has been reduced by their good Will save and basing their spellcasting off Cha. This means they can now afford to dump Wisdom. So a Pathfinder pally only needs high Cha, high Str, decent Con.

    Quote Originally Posted by Epinephrine View Post
    I'll point out that I DM a Pathfinder group, and the bard's opening move of a swift action spell (like Inspirational Boost if you allow the SpC), a move action bardic music (Inspire Courage), and a standard action spell (Haste or Good Hope, both are solid options) is pretty solid. Good Hope stacking with Inspire courage is a nice extra +2/+2 for the attackers. Obviously, if you are jacking your IC through the roof with items/feats from diverse sourcebooks it's less of a deal, but it's a nice boost to the vanilla bard.
    Hmm, could be. Bards are the only class I haven't seen, which makes it hard to judge. Do you think they're actually better than their 3.5 equivalents, though?

    Quote Originally Posted by Flickerdart View Post
    Also, why Comic Sans? Get rid of that.
    I would have picked Chancery, but the forum doesn't have it.

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    Default Re: The 3.5/Pathfinder Handbook

    Saph, what do you think of the changes they made to the Prestige classes? Are Arcane Archers actually (god forbid) playable now? Which ones were hit with a nerf stick, and which ones got buffed?

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    Default Re: For the Batman wannabes.

    This is probably the biggest buff for wizards. Now being a specialist doesn't cut you off from schools! While adventuring, you probably still won't make a habit of using opposition schools; the opportunity cost of losing two spell slots is too high. But the ability to use something like, say, Contingency during days off is great. Verdict: Excellent!
    Saph, you didn't mention something that makes Specialist wizards even better. They are no longer prohibited from using wands and scrolls of their opposition schools. Hell, they can even craft those items, although at a -4 penalty. And if your party has two wizards with different opposition schools that's even better.

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    Default Re: The 3.5/Pathfinder Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Mongoose87 View Post
    Combat Expertise doesn't work that way. You have to make an attack action.
    Well then I don't know what the deal is....*shrug*
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    Default Re: For the Batman wannabes.

    Quote Originally Posted by maijstral View Post
    Saph, you didn't mention something that makes Specialist wizards even better. They are no longer prohibited from using wands and scrolls of their opposition schools. Hell, they can even craft those items, although at a -4 penalty. And if your party has two wizards with different opposition schools that's even better.
    Ya I don't like that they can use prohibited items. I refrain from that with specialized wizards personally, but in a pinch at least you have the option.
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