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    Default [PF] A Brief Guide to Martial Tanking

    Tanking: The art of stopping the horrible monster from eating your squishy wizard friend.
    It's commonly believed in Pathfinder that spellcasters are the only characters with any decent sort of crowd control. While this certainly used to be the case, it's decidedly becoming less and less so as time passes and splatbooks are added.

    For a recent campaign I decided to indulge myself in the challenge of building a martial tank. While I have by no means a list of everything, I do have a few observations and notes which I would like to share. If you know of something I've missed, please let me know so I can add it in.

    In the spirit of such things, I will colour things with my opinion of them as follows:

    Purple: excellent ability, mandatory or nearly so
    Blue: a very good ability, generally worth taking
    Green: a decent ability, often worth taking
    Orange: an ok ability, often situationally useful
    Red: not a very good ability. probably not worth taking

    I'd also like to apologize for the brevity of this guide. Quite frankly, there's not a lot of material to work with on the subject.


    ***** Part 1: Races *****

    Halfings - Helpful: Halfings get a racial trait their increases the bonus they give when Aiding Another from +2 to +4. It's very useful for Bodyguard based builds, or anyone who is adopted.

    Tieflings - Suicidal: Tieflings get a racial trait that lets them take a hit for someone once per day, as an immediate action. It also doesn't have the aiding another's AC requirements that In Harm's Way does. If you can work it into your build, it's pretty handy to have.

    Humans - Bonus Feat: That extra feat makes humans as good for a tanking build as they are at anything else that's feat intensive. Which is almost everything.
    Last edited by watchwood; 2014-06-08 at 12:51 PM.

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    Default Re: [PF] A Brief Guide to Martial Tanking

    ***** Part 2: Classes *****

    Barbarian: The mobility helps a lot for tactical positioning, and raging will boost your abilities a lot too. There's a couple of decent Rage Powers as well for tanks (Strength Surge, Come and Get Me, etc). See a Barbarian guide for details.

    Barbarian (Invulnerable Rager): Trade uncanny dodgyness for extra DR, which you can boost even more with the Stalwart line of feats. Add some abilities that let you take hits for others (In Harm's Way, etc), and you can start ignoring the hits that you're taking. The number of feats needed for it to come online is a serious drawback, though.

    Fighter: Most of the tanking abilities are bought as feats. Fighters get a ton of bonus feats. This gives you plenty of options or stuff to take. Fighters (and archetypes) also get exclusive access to some feats that no one else can get.

    Fighter (Lore Warden): gaining Combat Expertise and bonuses to CMB/CMD (that scale with level) makes them quite good for maneuver based builds, or as a 2/3 level dip.

    Fighter (Phalanx Soldier): gains an ability to let him use his tower shield to protect adjacent allies, at higher levels. Plus a few other interesting abilities for anyone interested in a shield+reach weapon style.

    Fighter (Tactician): The star feature here is the ability to use aid another on multiple allies with each use. Extra skills, Teamwork feats, and the Cavaliers tactician ability are great perks too.

    Golden Legionnaire: Area buffs, free tanking feats, Aid boosters, AoOs against 5 foot steps/withdraw actions/moving into your threatened area, and AoO attacks when adjacent allies are attacked. This is a PrC that is purpose built for tanking, and I recommend it wholeheartedly.

    Magus: I'm noting the Magus because they have an Arcana that boosts CMB for a single maneuver, but it's honestly a trap. A Magus is entirely about stabbing people with their spells, no exceptions.

    Monk: Monks suffer from being pretty badly MAD. That sad, if you've got the stats to make it work it can be a good class. Stunning Fist is a pretty good lockdown ability, and Monks get a lot of support from Styles and other feats.

    Monk (Maneuver Master): Trades flurry for a free combat maneuver with a full attack, at full BAB. Also trades some of the fluffier Monk abilities to be able to do them more and more reliably. If you're going down that path, it's reasonably good. Doesn't seem to keep up with the Lore Warden, though.

    Monk (Tetori): Gets a whole bunch of bonuses to grappling, and is extremely difficult to grapple themselves. If you're looking for a grappler this is a serious contender for your choice.

    Ranger: Combat Styles free up your regular feats for tanking abilities, and the right pet can go a long way to helping lock down an enemy

    Ranger (Witchguard): You trade your pet for an ability that lets you protect an adjacent caster for several turns, and swap endurance/woodland stride (both kinda weak) from the Bodyguard and In Harms Way feats. Losing the pet is a bit of a hit, but the swapped bonus feats make up for it.

    Ranger (Trapper): Trade your spells for the ability to make traps. The traps offer an interesting variety of disabling stuff, but they're really only workable with prep time and that's not something you can rely on.

    Paladin: I like the Paladin as a class, but as a chassis for tanking it doesn't offer a lot. There's a few AoE buffs against certain status effects, your mount (which you can give some extra feats to), and a few spells.

    Paladin (Warrior of the Holy Light): It's slightly better for tanking, but not by a lot. You trade your spells for a mild AoE buff with assorted utility uses, and an AoE blinding effect at level 14. It would be a lot better if the AoE buff scaled with your level instead of waiting to high levels to get any better at all.

    Paladin (Sacred Shield): Trade Smite/Channel for abilities which help you defend nearby/adjacent allies, and do a reasonably good job of it too. Works best against evil enemies, but that's generally not a problem for Paladins.

    Paladin (Holy Tactician): Gains some Cavalier-esque Teamwork and area support abilities. The Smite variant lets allies take advantage of it too.

    Oradin Builds: They're not really tanks in the sense I'm going for with this guide, but functioning as an effective HP battery for the rest of the party is probably just as good.

    Cavalier: The vanilla Cavalier gets a minor ability to encourage the enemy you're charging to attack you, but it's honestly not very good.

    Cavalier (Order of the Dragon): The big star here is an Aid booster that scales up with your level (an extra +4 by level 20). It's also got a couple of nice 1/combat area buffs, but you won't get them until later on in the class.

    Cavalier (Order of the Shield): Stand still as a bonus feat at level 8, with the option to make a regular attack instead of a Maneuver check to stop the target. Doesn't offer much else for tanking, though.

    Cavalier (Order of the Lion): Damage boosting area buffs, and the ability to redirect attacks to yourself (at level 15)

    Cavalier (Honour Guard): Bodyguard and a +1 Aid booster at level 3, and the a couple other ally defense bonuses. Very good as a 3 level dip or combined with Dragon Order for a full Cavalier tanking build.

    Cavalier (Strategist): Boosts the Tactician ability, and Teamwork feats in general.





    DSP's Warder: I'm told this class will come with a number of built in tanking mechanics. I've only been able to glance through it briefly and it seems to have potential, but I don't know it well enough to really rate it's capability.

    Summoner (Synthesist): I'm told they can be a decent chasis for a tank as well. They seem to have potential, but I don't know the class well enough to really be able to rate it properly.
    Last edited by watchwood; 2014-04-20 at 04:45 PM.

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    Default Re: [PF] A Brief Guide to Martial Tanking

    ***** Part 3: Feats *****


    Antagonize: Got hit with the FAQ nerf bat. Pre-FAQ it's fantastic, post-FAQ...not so much. It's still pretty good, you just need to be a lot more mobile and tactical about how you use it. That said, see if you can sneak the pre-FAQ version past your DM anyways.

    Dazing Assult: take a penalty to your attacks to have a change at dazing anyone you it. It's a fort save that scales with your BAB, so a lot of people will have a hard time with it.

    Step Up: most casters and ranged builds rely on the 5 foot step to get out of reach before unleashing pain. Step up nullifies this.

    Following Step: it's kind of weak compared to Step Up, but it is necessary if you want to complete the feat chain.

    Step Up and Strike: Get a free attack when someone makes a 5 foot step away from you. I'd rate it purple if it didn't need a 3 feat chain, but it gets better if you've got high dex and Combat Reflexes.

    Combat Reflexes: It's great if you've got a high dex and abilities to use it. Otherwise, not so much.

    Bodyguard : When someone attacks an adjacent ally, use an AoO to boost their AC. For best effect you'll need decent dex, Combat Reflexes, and a way to boost the bonus you grant from Aid Another.

    In Harmís Way: As an immediate action, you literally take a hit for someone. If this isn't a top grade tanking ability, then I honestly don't know what is.

    Swift Aid: Swift action to grant a +1 aid bonus to someone. Not very good on it's own, but very very good once you've got some Aid boosters that you can stack on top of it.

    Team Up: Aid 2 allies (full bonus) as a move action. With the Aid Boosters you should be having, this is an excellent feat for you to take.

    Lunge: Take -2 AC to increase your reach by 5'. It's straight up fantastic for Golden Legionnaires, and others with a lot of AoO's.

    Pin Down: Fighter 11+ . Lets you block withdraw actions and 5' steps taken away from your threatened area with an AoO. Annoying requirements and and less reliable then Step Up, but affecting the Withdraw action as well is handy.

    Stand Still: Lets you try to stop someone moving through your threatened area with an AoO. If you're using a reach weapon it's Green or Blue due to area control, but if the terrain is open there's not a lot stopping your enemy from just going around you.

    Disruptive: Fighter 6+. Boosts the DC of concentration checks to cast spells in your threatened area. Very good for making life difficult on casters.

    Spell Breaker: Fighter 10+. get an AoO against casters that fail a defensive spellcasting check within your threatened area.

    Teleport Tactician: Fighter 10+. Pretty situational, but teleporting away is usually what casters do when they're in trouble (read: low on health), and this last swing could well be enough to leave with with a corpse in front of you instead of an empty square.

    Weapon Finesse: Helps you be more MAD if you want to go down a dex based AoO build. MAD is generally a good thing.

    Agile Maneuvers: Weapon Finesse for your combat maneuvers. Suffers from the fact that any maneuvers you do with a weapon are covered by Finesse already, but if you're looking to do an dex based grappler build then this feat is mandatory.

    Archon Style: An unboosted Aid Another check is better then this feat. The whole chain works only against melee attacks, and you get an AC penalty for doing it. It also takes Combat Expertise and Improved Unarmed Strike to get, which is a MASSIVE tax for a ****ty feat.

    Archon Diversion: Your AC penalty is halved and your protection is a move action, but the notable thing here is that once per round you take take a hit against your ally yourself, against your own AC, and the ally gets an AoO against your enemy.

    Archon Diversion: The penalty is gone and your protection is now a swift action. When you take a hit for whoever you're protecting, everyone threatening the attacker gets an AoO against him. It's pretty good, but unless you can bypass most of the feat chain it's probably not worth it.

    Wolf Style: WIS 13+. When you deal substantial amounts of damage with an AoO, you also reduce your target's speed for a round, to a free trip attempt if you reduce it to 0. Situational, but not bad.

    Wolf Trip: WIS 15+. +2 to AoO trip attempts and you choose where they land. 15 wis requirement for it is pretty bad for most builds, though.

    Wolf Savage: WIS 17+. Whenever you punch someone prone, you get free Bestow Curse effects on them. Very few builds (read: monks) will be able to use it, but the ones that can will find it to be very powerful.


    *****

    I won't go into detail on the combat maneuver builds (I believe there's guides on them already), but I will touch on them briefly. All of them suffer from being highly feat intensive to really make work.

    Grappling Builds: Grappling mostly suffers against larger creatures, who typically have a substantial CMD. It's generally not bad against humanoids, though.

    Tripping Builds: Tripping isn't a bad ability on it's own, but it's completely useless against anything that can hover or fly.

    Disarming Builds: Taking away a fighters weapons makes his life a lot harder, but wizards won't really care and most monsters use natural weapons that you can't disarm anyways.
    Last edited by watchwood; 2014-02-15 at 11:46 AM.

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    ***** Part 4: Spells *****

    It's a *martial* tanking guide. Where there are no shortage of spells that can help with tanking, they're really not my focus with this guide.

    That said, get the casters you're probably covering for to throw as many buffs onto you as you can get out of them. It's good for both of you. See guides of their respective classes for details.
    Last edited by watchwood; 2014-02-07 at 07:41 PM.

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    Default Re: [PF] A Brief Guide to Martial Tanking

    ***** Part 5: Equipment *****


    You're a martial character. You need gear.

    Armour: you want the best armour you can get that doesn't compromise your dex bonus. Shield usage is up to you.

    Scorpion Whip: Finessable, one handed exotic weapon with a long reach and the trip/disarm qualities. Has a lot of feat support, can be used as a regular whip, and doesn't have the regular downside of not being able to get through armour.

    Flail: Martial One handed weapon with Trip and Disarm. If you're going the sword and board route (Holy Shield Paladin) it's not bad, but if you're going for a high dex bonus you might be better off with something finessable.

    Heavy Flail: Martial two handed martial weapon with Trip and Disarm. Lacks Reach, but a lot of the tanking abilities specify adjacentcy anyways so often not a huge loss. It's generally a good pick.

    Flying Talon: Exotic light weapon with a natural 10' reach, Trip, and Disarm. Only drawback is a very low base damage, but it's very good for dex/control builds.

    Flying Blade: Reach weapon with d12 damage dice. Take a -2 to regular attacks, but gain a +2 on AoO attacks. Very good for AoO based builds (Golden Legionnaire)

    Hooked Axe: Take a Flail instead. It's basically the same thing and will save you a feat.

    Whip: Nice weapon, but you can't use it do damage anything with decent armour. Take a Scorpion Whip instead, it's better across the board and they share proficiencies.

    I'll start going through the huge lists of magic items at some point down the line, but I know there's plenty of useful ones.
    Last edited by watchwood; 2014-02-07 at 08:16 PM.

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    ***** Part 6: Sample Build *****

    Stats: (20 point buy) STR: 10 DEX: 19 CON: 14 INT: 13 WIS: 10 CHA: 9
    For this sampler build we're going fully dex based, to reduce MAD. floating +2 is in the dex.

    Race: Human - We'll go human here for the bonus feat. Always a good pick.

    Traits: Adopted (Halfling), Helpful - We're looking for the +2 on Aid checks here.

    Skills: Max Diplomacy/Intimdate for the Antoginze usage. you'll need points in both anyways, and you might as well go all out and make use of it.

    Classes:
    Cavalier (Order of the Dragon, Honour Guard, Strategist) - We're looking for the extra +2 on Aid checks here, early access to the Bodyguard feat, The ability to share teamwork feats, and Heavy Armour proficiency. The other perks are delicious gravy.
    Fighter (Lore Warden) - a couple extra feats and Combat Expertise. It's a good dip for us.
    Golden Legionnaire - Max this class out. Don't argue, just do it.

    Levels:
    1 Cavalier - Weapon Finesse, Combat Reflexes, Precise Strike - put your high dex to work, and get some nice teamwork abilities
    2 Cavalier - Aid Booster
    3 Cavalier - Step Up - Body Guard as a bonus feat and another Aid booster
    4 Fighter - In Harm's Way, +1 DEX- hey look, you're a tank
    5 Fighter - Antagonize, Swift Aid - a big boost your your area defense and action economy, powered by getting Combat Expertise as a bonus feat Antagonize is a nice debuff/control feat, too
    6 Legionnaire - Mild AoE buff. Use Defy Danger to max your save against charms/compulsions, they're very bad for your party for you to fail
    7 Legionnaire - Gang Up - need it as a prerequisite, though it's not terrible on it's own
    8 Legionnaire - +1 DEX - minor self buff at this level, but the dex boost is nice
    9 Legionnaire - Team Up, Following Step - Aid booster and the ability to Aid to allies as a move action
    10 Legionnaire - AoO when anyone tries to 5' or withdraw away from you.
    11 Legionnaire - Step Up And Strike, Lungue - Make 2 AoO's when someone tries to 5' away from you, and increase your AoO range
    12 Legionnaire - +1 Dex - you get to AoO someone moves into your threatened area
    13 Legionnaire - Piranha Strike, outflank - Your party Rogue will be a happy camper, and you boost your own damage output
    14 Legionnaire - AoO when an adjacent ally is hit
    15 Legionnaire - Paired Opportunists - +4 on AoOs, and the capstone is pretty nice too
    16 Cavalier - +1 DEX - Longer duration on your Tactician buff is handy
    17 Cavalier - Shielded Caster - Help your wizard get his reality shattering spells out, he will love you. Plus another Mild AoE buff.
    18 Cavalier - Shake It Off - handy when you're facing spellcasters, since you'll generally want to be close to your allies anyways.
    19 Cavalier - SF: Diplomacy - Boost your AoE debuff
    20 Cavalier - +1 DEX - Your last Aid booster, and a nice AoE buff here too


    How it Works:
    This build is 95% about support. You've got a whole ton of area abilities that boost your party and help control the area around you. You can draw aggro through antagonize, but if you're doing your job right then your main method of getting Aggro should be through pissing off the DM because he can't land a hit on anyone else and any time he does something he takes an AoO.

    You'll have a really hard time with 1v1 duels though, so try to avoid those.

    Alternative Options:
    -ditching the fighter levels will eventually let you use you mass teamwork as a swift action
    -moving your 4th level of cavalier earlier in the build lets you take Horse Master, and keeps your mount relevant throughout the build. Especially good if you play as a halfling instead of adopted by one. You'll need to drop the Strategist Archetype, though.
    -ending your build with fighter levels instead of cavalier levels gets you a ton of extra feats, and more CMB/CMD boosts. It's handy if you're using Stand Still a lot.
    -SF: Diplomacy/intimidate early on in the build, for best use of Antagonize (your main aggro mechanic, aside from pissing the DM off by making everyone else untouchable)
    -Fey Foundling: Boost your HP received from magic healing by a lot.
    -plus probably a bunch of other things I haven't thought of.

    Other Builds
    Here's an Oracle/Oradin based build suggest by Prime32, for something along those lines.
    Last edited by watchwood; 2014-12-08 at 11:22 PM.

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    Default Re: [PF] A Brief Guide to Martial Tanking

    A neat idea but could you please not use yellow? It's a little too bright on the white background.

    Also Dreamscarred Press is making a ToB inspired PF book called the Path of War(check out the GitP thread here) it's going to have a class called the Warder that has tanking mechanics.
    Last edited by JHShadon; 2013-12-13 at 12:29 AM.

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    Default Re: [PF] A Brief Guide to Martial Tanking

    It's only an option at high levels (12+), but a Barbarian with Come and Get Me and Dazing Assault is pretty darn good at tanking, too. I like the idea of also combining it with In Harm's Way, but I've seen posters on paizo's board claim the attack you intercept with IHW doesn't "count" for triggering Come and Get Me. Whatever. Also, once you can rage cycle, strength surge provides for a hefty combat maneuver bonus, and there is a rage power to bull rush in place of a melee attack (Knockback).

    I think you under-rate Teleport Tactician, considering that teleportation is the unsolvable bane of all high level martial controllers. And that you grossly over-rate its awful pre-req feats.

    Pre-nerf, Antagonize forced the victim to get into melee with you and was a good feat. Now, Antagonize is a horrible feat, that causes you to waste your turn to maybe get the target to waste his turn as well throwing a rock at you (if he has no other ranged option, otherwise he doesn't actually waste his turn after all). It's only good when you have a clear numbers/actions advantage over the enemy, and a) the foe's generally pretty screwed in those scenarios already and b) you still can only use it once per target, IIRC.

    Step Up is a great feat, but it's not really anti-caster (concentration is still a joke other than grappling). It's great because of how badly it hoses archers and ESPECIALLY reach weapon users. The former, if they're one of 3 specific classes and wait enough levels, can overcome the auto-lose. The latter...just cries.

    You should include spells, they're a major part of the game, and even the dumbest fighter knows how to chug a potion of enlarge person (that the party wizard picked out in the store for him).

    You should also include Synthesist Summoner; it may be a caster (but so is Ranger and Oradin; double standard much? ) but you can really focus on the whole "steal melee classes' jobs and do it better than them" thing if you seek to. It starts off "only" with 10 ft natural reach (biped w/ reach evo) or pounce (quadruped w/ pounce evo) and multiple attacks, possibly with grab on all of them. But it gets pretty intense size and strength boosts over time, and again...it can chain free maneuver attempts off its existing (and lengthy!) attack routine, which is something the actual martial classes...can't do so well.
    Quote Originally Posted by JHShadon View Post
    A neat idea but could you please not use yellow? It's a little too bright on the white background.
    This.

    EDIT: Also, Stand Still only applies to adjacent squares, it's actually completely incompatible w/ reach weapon use other than for those who can also threaten adjacent.
    Last edited by StreamOfTheSky; 2013-12-13 at 02:30 AM.

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    Default Re: [PF] A Brief Guide to Martial Tanking

    I find that Dark Orange works well instead of yellow.


    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
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    Default Re: [PF] A Brief Guide to Martial Tanking

    I don't know what people find so annoying when we use yellow. It is so easily readable once you have marked it!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sporeegg View Post
    I don't know what people find so annoying when we use yellow. It is so easily readable once you have marked it!
    Argh! It's like trying to read pee in the snow.


    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
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    Default Re: [PF] A Brief Guide to Martial Tanking

    Quote Originally Posted by watchwood View Post
    Oradin Builds: They're not really tanks in the normal sense, but functioning as an HP battery for the rest of the party is still useful as a base ability.
    Green? I take umbrage!
    If built for it they are at least Blue.
    (of course, that also partly depends on your exact definition of "tank")

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Sporeegg View Post
    I don't know what people find so annoying when we use yellow. It is so easily readable once you have marked it!
    Argh! It's like trying to read pee in the snow.
    THE YELLOW!
    IT BURNS US PRECIOUSES!

    Nasty fat stupid yellowses...
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    Default Re: [PF] A Brief Guide to Martial Tanking

    I imagine a monk with scorpion style + crane, could do a decent job tanking.

    +1 for barbarian

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    Default Re: [PF] A Brief Guide to Martial Tanking

    I think spells should be included - the Paladin in particular gets several "taunt" abilities (for those familiar with MMO mechanics).

    The Monk definitely needs to be on here - Maneuver Master and Tetori archetypes especially.

    The Magus can pick up an arcana to add its full BAB to a maneuver of his choice, but, of course, the Magus generally works far better as a straight damage dealer than a tank. Still, it's an option, even if its an orange one.

    Dittoing Stream's comments on the Barbarian - Strength Surge effectively doubles a straight-class Barbarian's BAB for a single combat maneuver, meaning the Barbarian is one of the few classes that actually has a shot at tripping level 20 monsters. That plus large Strength bonuses from Rage and very low feat requirements (Raging Vitality+Power Attack is all you need on a Barbarian) means the rest of his feats can be put to tanking.

    If you're considering adding 3rd party material, the DSP Soulknife makes an excellent tank, even from fairly low levels (hit+trip as a standard action - see the toppling strike and improved toppling strike blade skills). It also has access to limited reach (Reaching Blade).

    The DSP Aegis is a pretty decent tank, especially with the easy that it picks up size increases and reach.

    The DSP Warder (currently in beta, already mentioned) will quite possibly be the best tank written for 3.5/PF on its release. The DSP Warlord (also from the Path of War) makes a fine tank in its own right.

    Overall, though, I want to stress that I really love the idea of this guide and just want to see it reach its full potential. Would you mind if I added it to my Pathfinder Optimization Compendium?
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    Default Re: [PF] A Brief Guide to Martial Tanking

    Quote Originally Posted by Novawurmson View Post
    If you're considering adding 3rd party material, the DSP Soulknife makes an excellent tank, even from fairly low levels (hit+trip as a standard action - see the toppling strike and improved toppling strike blade skills). It also has access to limited reach (Reaching Blade).

    The DSP Aegis is a pretty decent tank, especially with the easy that it picks up size increases and reach.

    The DSP Warder (currently in beta, already mentioned) will quite possibly be the best tank written for 3.5/PF on its release. The DSP Warlord (also from the Path of War) makes a fine tank in its own right.
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    Default Re: [PF] A Brief Guide to Martial Tanking

    Quote Originally Posted by Greenish View Post
    No love for Psychic Warrior?
    I think the guide is dealing with non-gish melee - no spells, no psionic powers, no extracts, no invocations etc. (Even Incarnum might be pushing it.)

    EDIT: not that those last two would matter in PF only.
    Last edited by Psyren; 2013-12-13 at 11:13 AM.


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    Default Re: [PF] A Brief Guide to Martial Tanking

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    I think the guide is dealing with non-gish melee - no spells, no psionic powers, no extracts, no invocations etc. (Even Incarnum might be pushing it.)

    EDIT: not that those last two would matter in PF only.
    Ah, but Novawurmson argued that spells should be included, in the very same post.

    Oh, and Aegis looks like a meldshaper from a distance. Is there a handbook for it, by any chance?
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    Default Re: [PF] A Brief Guide to Martial Tanking

    Quote Originally Posted by Greenish View Post
    Ah, but Novawurmson argued that spells should be included, in the very same post.
    Oh, I missed that. Though I don't think the OP would want talk of Magi etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Greenish View Post
    Oh, and Aegis looks like a meldshaper from a distance. Is there a handbook for it, by any chance?
    *Looks at Nova expectantly*


    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
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    Default Re: [PF] A Brief Guide to Martial Tanking

    Quote Originally Posted by Greenish View Post
    Ah, but Novawurmson argued that spells should be included, in the very same post.
    The reason I didn't include the Psychic Warrior was because it doesn't have full BAB, making it a bit tricky to use as a tank. It does get the bonus feats to try it (as if it had full BAB, no less), and especially once it has the PP to keep its powers up, it can work.

    Oh, and Aegis looks like a meldshaper from a distance. Is there a handbook for it, by any chance?
    As it turns out, there is! If you have any feedback on it, I'd love to hear it.
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    Default Re: [PF] A Brief Guide to Martial Tanking

    I've probably mentioned this build a few times too many on these forums, but don't forget the Cavalier!

    At level 12 the standard Cavalier gains Demanding Challenge, which is one of the few abilities in the game that actually force enemies to pay attention to you.

    Order of the Dragon gains increasing bonuses on Aid Another checks, which works well with a Body Guard build.

    Order of the Shield can converts some of the lethal damage that you take to non-lethal every time you take damage. Useful when paired with In Harm's Way. At level 8 you get Stand Still for free and can use it as a normal attack instead of a maneuver, so it'll work even at high levels. At level 15 you can use an Immediate action to move your speed (or your mounts) and attack an enemy, though you're staggered on the next round. That's excellent martial CC.

    The Honor Guard archetype is built specifically for tanking. When you challenge you can ward an ally, dropping your AC by 1 too boost his AC by 1. You gain Bodyguard as a free feat at level 3 along with a +1 boost to their AC from the Aid Another bonus. At level 11 if your challenged target attacks your Ward you can make an immediate action to take a move action towards the enemy and make a single attack. You can even count this move as a charge, though you're limited to your move speed (or your mounts). This move also lets you use an AoO to use Body Guard/In Harm's Way. And finally, you tweak Demanding Challenge to both force the enemy to attack you and also cause it to take a -2 on attack rolls against anybody but you.

    Classes with Animal Companions can choose to give their companion the Body Guard archetype. This nets you and your animal the Alertness feat for free, and your companion can pick from a nice list of tanking feats (including Bodyguard, In Harm's Way and Combat Patrol). Your companion always acts in Surprise Rounds and can gains stat boosts if it drops below 0 HP. It also can last below 0 HP for a lot longer.

    Cavalier mounts can also take the Charger archetype, gaining the Fighter's Armor Training feature, half your challenge bonuses when you challenge a target and Improved Evasion that works for Fort and Will saves instead of Reflex saves.

    Halflings can take the Helpful trait, giving them a +4 base-line bonus when using Aid Another.

    The Virtuous Creed (Protection) feat gives anybody a baseline +4 when using aid another to boost AC. This does have an RP requirement attached to it.

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    Default Re: [PF] A Brief Guide to Martial Tanking

    Quote Originally Posted by NightbringerGGZ View Post
    At level 12 the standard Cavalier gains Demanding Challenge, which is one of the few abilities in the game that actually force enemies to pay attention to you.
    Except it doesn't force them to pay attention to you. It gives them a penalty to AC, which does nothing to their ability to eat the face of the party Wizard. In fact, the penalty to AC applies to everyone except you, meaning it increases the importance of killing everyone else.

    Order of the Dragon gains increasing bonuses on Aid Another checks, which works well with a Body Guard build.
    The aid other action (even boosted to the levels you're taking it) still has numerous flaws:

    1. It's eating up your standard action in combat. Reread the Bodyguard feat, which helps with action economy.

    2. It only applies to the next attack against them, not all attacks against them.

    3. It only lasts for one round.

    4. You have to be adjacent to your ally.

    Alternatively, you could trip your target:

    1. Requires an attack action, not a standard action, so it can be made multiple times per round at high levels. Additionally, some builds can gain a trip attempt as a free or swift action. Additionally, the Greater Trip feat means that you can get an attack of opportunity from tripping.

    2. When prone, a creature takes a -4 penalty on melee attack rolls and can't make ranged attacks (except crossbows and guns), and takes a -4 penalty to AC against melee attacks.

    3. It lasts until they stand up from prone (a move action that provokes AoO).

    4. You just need to be where your enemy is.

    5. Heavily hampers their movement, meaning they may not even be able to get to your ally.

    Now, to be fair, there are some things aid other has over tripping: Some creatures can't be tripped, aid other is much easier to pull off (AC 10 vs. CMB), and so forth, but overall, aid other is a terrible tanking method unless there are ways to mitigate those weaknesses.

    At level 15 you can use an Immediate action to move your speed (or your mounts) and attack an enemy, though you're staggered on the next round. That's excellent martial CC.
    Yeah, that's amazing CC against the Cavalier - staggered is an awful condition. I kid, but that ability still doesn't do much in terms of tanking. One attack? Not going to kill the enemy, meaning they still get to attack your ally.

    The Honor Guard archetype is built specifically for tanking. When you challenge you can ward an ally, dropping your AC by 1 too boost his AC by 1. You gain Bodyguard as a free feat at level 3 along with a +1 boost to their AC from the Aid Another bonus. At level 11 if your challenged target attacks your Ward you can make an immediate action to take a move action towards the enemy and make a single attack. You can even count this move as a charge, though you're limited to your move speed (or your mounts). This move also lets you use an AoO to use Body Guard/In Harm's Way. And finally, you tweak Demanding Challenge to both force the enemy to attack you and also cause it to take a -2 on attack rolls against anybody but you.
    Note you have to be adjacent for the AC boost. Most importantly, you have to be level 11, and it only affects your challenged target, meaning you're limited in uses per day and only one target at a time. You're also still only making a single melee attack - which probably isn't going to be enough to stop them from attacking your ally.

    Defensive Challenge is an excellent change.

    Classes with Animal Companions can choose to give their companion the Body Guard archetype. This nets you and your animal the Alertness feat for free, and your companion can pick from a nice list of tanking feats (including Bodyguard, In Harm's Way and Combat Patrol). Your companion always acts in Surprise Rounds and can gains stat boosts if it drops below 0 HP. It also can last below 0 HP for a lot longer.
    Hrm. I like this strategy a lot better for animal companions. That way, you can leave your animal with an ally to protect them while you wade into battle.

    Overall, though, I think the Cavalier only has one main ingredient for a good tank (full BAB), while it's missing the rest (bonus combat feats for improved (combat maneuver)/a way to make CMB checks without provoking attacks of opportunity, large bonuses to attack rolls/Strength/CMB checks, action economy boosters for CMB checks, reach/size increases, etc.). My gut feeling is that it's below even the Fighter in terms of tanking.

    Edit: Something else I wanted to say about the aid other strategy: Compare it with a Barkskin spell:

    1. Standard action to cast, then no action required.

    2. Applies on all weapon/natural attacks against the target.

    3. Lasts for 10 minutes per level.

    4. Have to be adjacent to start, but not after the first round.

    5. Castable on multiple allies, can eventually be quickened, little/no feat requirements, etc.

    Apply to each spell that grants AC for a similar treat.
    Last edited by Novawurmson; 2013-12-13 at 12:31 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CTrees View Post
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    Default Re: [PF] A Brief Guide to Martial Tanking

    First off guys, thanks for all the input. I'll definitely change the yellows to dark orange or something, so that it's all more readable.

    I'm not actually opposed to spellcasting at all (most of my characters are actually gishes or full casters). It's just not the focus of what I was going for with this guide. Casters as it is have tons of ways to lock down people (grease, web wall of X, etc), so I decided to try and centralize all of info I could find for non-magical ways to lock down or inhibit enemy actions (Which is what I mean by tanking, Grarrrg). I will start adding in a few selected buffs are martially oriented spells that are relevant.

    I'll also start going through all of your feedback and suggestions when I get home, and adding it into the guide.

    EDIT:
    Overall, though, I want to stress that I really love the idea of this guide and just want to see it reach its full potential. Would you mind if I added it to my Pathfinder Optimization Compendium?
    I'd be honoured.
    Last edited by watchwood; 2013-12-13 at 01:18 PM.

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    Default Re: [PF] A Brief Guide to Martial Tanking

    Regarding Demanding Challenge, the strength depends on how your GM interprets "whenever a cavalier declares a challenge, his target must pay attention to the threat he poses". If it's read as just fluff, then the ability isn't great. If it's read as a rules requirement, you've got a baked in Taunt mechanic.

    As for the Bodyguard feat, what's preventing your reaction from occurring prior to enemies attack roll? The people I've gamed with have always ruled that so long as you declare it prior to the enemy attack being resolved then you're interposing your weapon/shield before the attack hits. The feat's kind of useless otherwise. And 1 round of +5 or more AC as an AoO isn't exactly a bad thing to have for a mundane character.

    With staggered condition with Intercept is a way to keep you from just getting bonus move actions. You're basically spending the move action before your turn and using the Standard Action on the next. Combine it with a maneuver that replaces your attack for the strongest effect.

    Overall none of the abilities are strong individually, I've found that combining them with a Small Cavalier riding a Medium mount is the best bet. Honor Guard, Emissary and Beast Rider all stack as archetypes allowing you trade your charge bonuses, banner abilities and team work feats for a ton of feats that are normally used as feat taxes. You can also pick up a medium sized mount with Pounce and a Claw, Claw Bite attack combo =)

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    Default Re: [PF] A Brief Guide to Martial Tanking

    Before continuing this discussion, I want to be completely clear: I think your Bodyguard/aid other strategy is really cool. I had not considered it before, so I'm trying to understand how exactly it would work compared with other options.

    I definitely think the strategy has merit in some situations and at some times - what I'm trying to figure out where, when, and why you would use this strategy over other options.

    Quote Originally Posted by NightbringerGGZ View Post
    Regarding Demanding Challenge, the strength depends on how your GM interprets "whenever a cavalier declares a challenge, his target must pay attention to the threat he poses". If it's read as just fluff, then the ability isn't great. If it's read as a rules requirement, you've got a baked in Taunt mechanic.
    It's definitely fluff. If it wasn't, that's absurdly overpowered - it doesn't have a mind-affecting tag, it doesn't allow a save, it doesn't specify anything about the kinds of actions they can take...

    As for the Bodyguard feat, what's preventing your reaction from occurring prior to enemies attack roll? The people I've gamed with have always ruled that so long as you declare it prior to the enemy attack being resolved then you're interposing your weapon/shield before the attack hits. The feat's kind of useless otherwise. And 1 round of +5 or more AC as an AoO isn't exactly a bad thing to have for a mundane character.
    It's still only against 1 attack - not for 1 round. Yes, with the Bodyguard feat, you're using it when your opponent declares their attack, but it's still not amazing.

    With staggered condition with Intercept is a way to keep you from just getting bonus move actions. You're basically spending the move action before your turn and using the Standard Action on the next. Combine it with a maneuver that replaces your attack for the strongest effect.
    Blue for sarcasm. Trading an immediate action and a move action for a standard and a move action is pretty good action economy. I stand by my contention that Intercept still not that great a tanking ability.

    Edit: Also, added this thread to the Optimization Guide Compendium.
    Last edited by Novawurmson; 2013-12-13 at 01:54 PM.
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    Default Re: [PF] A Brief Guide to Martial Tanking

    Quote Originally Posted by Novawurmson View Post
    Before continuing this discussion, I want to be completely clear: I think your Bodyguard/aid other strategy is really cool. I had not considered it before, so I'm trying to understand how exactly it would work compared with other options.
    Warlords get to add their Cha mod when they aid another instead of just +2. Just saying.

    Quote Originally Posted by NightbringerGGZ View Post
    Regarding Demanding Challenge, the strength depends on how your GM interprets "whenever a cavalier declares a challenge, his target must pay attention to the threat he poses".
    I'd assume you're paying attention to all the enemies (you know of).
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    Default Re: [PF] A Brief Guide to Martial Tanking

    Sacred Shield Paladin is imho the best choice vs. evil BBEGs. Bastion of Good him, or let him suffer half damage on EVERYthing. Or Battle Oracle with Debiliating Portent.
    Last edited by Sporeegg; 2013-12-13 at 03:12 PM.

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    Default Re: [PF] A Brief Guide to Martial Tanking

    @Greenish: True, but 3.5 material isn't always allowed in PF games. I know one of the PF selling points was ease of conversion for such material, but a large portion of the PF community doesn't allow any 3.5 material.

    We've got the option of starting at +4 though, and then boosting it further through a Cavalier Order (where the bonus increased as you level) or with an Archetype that grants a static bonus. You can wind up providing allies a +9 bonus to their AC with an AoO by level 20. Which isn't terrible.

    @Novawurmson: No worries, I don't mind a debate over these kind of rules. I'll agree with you that any of these abilities on their own aren't particularly strong. It's the fact that as a Cavalier you can combine quite a bit of them together.

    Your mount gives you increased mobility and additional offensive power. Particularly if you use a small race and no longer have to consider ever dismounting. I have a fun build that combines the Honor Guard, Emissary and Beast Rider archetypes with a halfling. Despite only have 14 Str, I deal 3d6+6 damage by level 3 with a non-magical lance, gets 3 AoOs per turn and is setup for some really nice tanking options. The build is somewhat flexible and can allow for 13/14 Int if you want to go with a Manuever build. Oh, and if you do have to dismount you take no movement penalties for wearing medium armor, which is another plus. Oh, and you can get Combat Patrol at level 5 without having to pay the feat taxes.
    Last edited by NightbringerGGZ; 2013-12-13 at 08:15 PM.

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    Default Re: [PF] A Brief Guide to Martial Tanking

    Quote Originally Posted by NightbringerGGZ View Post
    @Greenish: True, but 3.5 material isn't always allowed in PF games.
    I was talking about the DSP Warlord. The only warlord in 3.5 is the Orc Warlord, and he sure doesn't hand out aid another bonuses.
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    Default Re: [PF] A Brief Guide to Martial Tanking

    Quote Originally Posted by Greenish View Post
    I was talking about the DSP Warlord. The only warlord in 3.5 is the Orc Warlord, and he sure doesn't hand out aid another bonuses.
    Oh good, I look forward to seeing it. I expect the DSP stuff will out shine what you can do with Paizo only PF material. That doesn't help me though, I'm the only GM in my group of players who allows non-Paizo material =P.

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    Default Re: [PF] A Brief Guide to Martial Tanking

    Quote Originally Posted by watchwood View Post
    centralize all of info I could find for non-magical ways to lock down or inhibit enemy actions (Which is what I mean by tanking, Grarrrg).
    Ah.
    So when you say "tanking" you really mean "lock-down/battlefield control", and don't actually mean tanking at all.

    Got it.
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