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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Survivable, Low-Maintenance Arcane Caster

    Hello Playground,

    here's the deal: I'm toying with the idea of grabbing the Leadership feat for sake of the Cohort. My Main is the beatstick, but due to in-party changes we have lost most spellcasting support and I'm thinking to fill that gap. Basically they should be an Arcane caster as font of buffs and utility, as well as provice crafting services.

    In combat, they should get out the required spells quickly and not overshadow the PCs. Also, and this is important, they shouldn't be too vulnerable - I don't want to spend the better part of combat keeping a fragile finger-wiggler from dying.
    So in general, should be easy to play. Limited spell selection would be fine.

    PCs are level 11 so the cohort would be level 9. Assume a casting stat of 20 or at best 22 due to NPC build limitations.

    Desired spells include:
    - Resist Energy
    - Haste
    - Fly
    - Phantom Steed
    - DimDoor
    - Stoneskin
    - Teleport

    Some slight offensive capability would also be fine, if mostly for flavour.

    So, how to best go about it? Sorcerer, Wizard, or other class? (Hybrid classes are out btw.)
    Int or Cha based depends a bit on which characters the other players are gonna go with, so I'd like to keep both doors open. (Previously we've had rather a lack of Int, highest party score being 13.)
    Let me give you a brief rundown of an average Post-3E Era fight: You attack an enemy and start kicking his shins. He then starts kicking your shins, then you take it in turns kicking until one of you falls over. It basically comes down to who started the battle with the biggest boot, and the only strategy involved is realizing when things have gone tits up and legging it.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    upho's Avatar

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    Default Re: Survivable, Low-Maintenance Arcane Caster

    From an optimization perspective, I'd probably make a wizard with a couple of different "preset" lists of memorized spells for low maintenance, perhaps leaving a few slots open for on-the-fly prep of more situational utility stuff.

    Though of course depending on the rest of the PC's in your party, I believe you'll typically get more out of a wizard than a sorcerer, mainly because a wizard using their high Int and many skill points (in preferably more obscure skills) to be a bit of a "background sage" every now and then can typically be made to feel a lot less intrusive than a sorcerer making good use of their high Cha acting as a party face. I wouldn't recommend a bard for the same reason, on top of the class lacking full casting (even though they could make for a better low maintenance party combat buffer), and a witch would have to sacrifice a lot of the class' potential in having to avoid most offensive and/or personal buff hexes.

    When it comes to durability, all arcane full casters can pretty easily be built into some of the most difficult to kill characters in the entire game by mid level. Just make sure they have a decent Dex, initiative and some good personal defense/buff stuff (mirror image, invisibility, heightened awareness, blur, blink, dimension door, wind wall, maybe a beast shape, etc). And it's of course a very good idea to have all PCs pitch in to give your caster cohort a few cheap complementing wands and rods.

  3. - Top - End - #3
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    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Survivable, Low-Maintenance Arcane Caster

    Makes sense.

    I suppose you mean "optimization" in the "easy maintenance" sense. Power wise, it's probably more of a challenge _not_ to have a single feat's worth make an entire party redundant. Just from looking at some cornerstones, it quickly becomes utterly obscene what a single wizard can do.

    BTW, just in case -- I think I remember there's a feat that allows the caster to exclude individual squares / creatures from AoE spells, can you give me a pointer what that was?

    Anyway, so I guess I'm looking at a Wizard, Conjurer / Teleportation, with 2 or 3 crafting feats (Wondrous, A&A, and possibly Wands), Opposition Necro and Ench.

    We used to have a Wizard in the group in the early stages of the campaign, however the player wasn't very good at it. He basically spent the entire combat self-buffing (Mirror Image et al), and by the time he was done, we had cleared the encounter without him. Every single time. So there'd definitely need to be a quicker way to handle that, but then again, min/level duration should be plenty for pre-buffing by our current level.
    Let me give you a brief rundown of an average Post-3E Era fight: You attack an enemy and start kicking his shins. He then starts kicking your shins, then you take it in turns kicking until one of you falls over. It basically comes down to who started the battle with the biggest boot, and the only strategy involved is realizing when things have gone tits up and legging it.

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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Survivable, Low-Maintenance Arcane Caster

    Selective Spell is a +1 metamagic feat that allows one to exclude targets from an AoE spell.
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    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Survivable, Low-Maintenance Arcane Caster

    Another question: I was thinking to just pick a Bonded Item for simplicity's sake, but: are there any familiars that can fill the Rogue role, including picking locks and trapfinding? Since we don't have one of those in the party either.
    Let me give you a brief rundown of an average Post-3E Era fight: You attack an enemy and start kicking his shins. He then starts kicking your shins, then you take it in turns kicking until one of you falls over. It basically comes down to who started the battle with the biggest boot, and the only strategy involved is realizing when things have gone tits up and legging it.

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    Ramza00's Avatar

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    Default Re: Survivable, Low-Maintenance Arcane Caster

    These are 3.5 spells but

    1st level Benign Transposition either with spell slots or a wand.
    3rd level Dimension Step if you have any free 3rd level slots per day. (Yes most of your 3rd level slots are going to Haste, and a lesser extent Fly and Phantom Steed.)

    Combine with the "Ready Action." Dimension Step at CL 6 allows you to teleport two people and give them an instant move action. At CL 9 this is 3 people. Thus you can use this spell both for Offense and Defense and you can do so simultaneously for at CL 9 you can move 3 people and thus you can make your squishy wizard move out of combat while simultaneously moving 2 people into combat such as your Beatstick.

    And the Ready Action is important for you can act like a "Blue Magic player" in Magic The Gathering and "interrupt" the flow of enemy combat and choose then when you have the best knowledge of what is going to happen for you are seeing the "flow" of combat precisely where to move your allies to put them in the best position to attack, and where to put you the squishy wizard in the best position to not get attacked.

    Likewise the simple and super cheap Benign Transposition is the same thing but you need to swap the position of two willing allies which means you need to use your familiar, or summoned monsters, or two allies to be in the right place before you do "the swap." But yeah Benign Transposition goes with everything due to how cheap it is from a casting standpoint. Even casting a summon minor monster to summon 1d3 Tiny Ravens (40 ft flight) to fly directly above your enemies and then have your Benign Transposition teleport right next to the enemy is a wonderful use of actions for very cheap spell slots.

    -----

    Of course Haste is far more important of use of a 3rd level spell slot. As are many of the buff spells you do outside of combat to increase offense and defense such as Resist Energy. My point here with this post is playing your wizard as a chessmaster can be easy for low investment, and not take much work if you internalize the combat routine of your wizard job is to give your beatstick more actions, deny the enemy actions, or to give it the super buff and allow the beat stick to do something that was not normally possible.
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  7. - Top - End - #7
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    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Survivable, Low-Maintenance Arcane Caster

    Yeah, that's pretty much exactly what I have in mind. ^^
    Unfo 3.5 spells are not on the cards.
    The PF Dimensional Step also doesn't allow porting in different directions-- the description clearly says "bring ... with you".

    Also, in most published modules quarters are extremely cramped anyway, can be happy if you get 15ft between caster and frontline.
    Let me give you a brief rundown of an average Post-3E Era fight: You attack an enemy and start kicking his shins. He then starts kicking your shins, then you take it in turns kicking until one of you falls over. It basically comes down to who started the battle with the biggest boot, and the only strategy involved is realizing when things have gone tits up and legging it.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Survivable, Low-Maintenance Arcane Caster

    I looked through the list of NPC of level ~9, but didn't see any arcane casters that fit; though I realize in hindsight the spell lists could be easily altered to match what you want, so the only real question is whether their build is survivable enough, and whether the spells can be altered without any violations.
    A neat custom class for 3.5 system
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=94616

    A good set of benchmarks for PF/3.5
    https://rpgwillikers.wordpress.com/2...y-the-numbers/

    An alternate craft point system I made for 3.5
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showt...t-Point-system

  9. - Top - End - #9
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    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Survivable, Low-Maintenance Arcane Caster

    Yeah, the problem with the NPC codex is that it offers exactly 1 NPC per level per class. So if you want a level 9 Conjurer, you have the choice between de-leveling the Conjurer(15), or completely rebuilding the Evoker(9) -- either option doesn't really give any benefit or time-saving comparing to making one from scratch. And most of these builds seem rather gimped to me, but what else is new. :p
    Let me give you a brief rundown of an average Post-3E Era fight: You attack an enemy and start kicking his shins. He then starts kicking your shins, then you take it in turns kicking until one of you falls over. It basically comes down to who started the battle with the biggest boot, and the only strategy involved is realizing when things have gone tits up and legging it.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    upho's Avatar

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    Default Re: Survivable, Low-Maintenance Arcane Caster

    Quote Originally Posted by Firechanter View Post
    I suppose you mean "optimization" in the "easy maintenance" sense.
    Yes, but also in the sense of "most useful for the apparent purposes without stepping on PCs' toes". And AFAICT, "most useful" would in this context refer to something along the lines of "strong arcane spells and skills primarily for enabling/buffing the PCs and providing the party with nifty general adventuring utility".

    Power wise, it's probably more of a challenge _not_ to have a single feat's worth make an entire party redundant. Just from looking at some cornerstones, it quickly becomes utterly obscene what a single wizard can do.
    Yeah, that's the potential downside of T1 classes. However, as long as the majority of the wizard's spells intended for combat target allies and few/none of them have a primarily directly offensive use, there should be minimal risk of your cohort accidentally ending up stealing the show.

    Just be careful with BFC stuff, especially as a conjurer, as quite a few conjuration spells indirectly hindering enemies' offense and/or reducing their number of viable actions can trivialize combat when used with just a modicum of tactical sense (notably AoE spells like pits, walls and clouds). IOW, generally speaking, you should prioritize spells like heroism, dimension door and fly, not spells like black tentacles, solid fog or wall of force, and stay far away from combat worthy summons/binding or personal polymorphs, and basically anything directly targeting enemies (with the possible exception of dispel magic).

    We used to have a Wizard in the group in the early stages of the campaign, however the player wasn't very good at it. He basically spent the entire combat self-buffing (Mirror Image et al), and by the time he was done, we had cleared the encounter without him. Every single time. So there'd definitely need to be a quicker way to handle that, but then again, min/level duration should be plenty for pre-buffing by our current level.
    Ah, seems like a textbook case of OCPPCD (Obsessive Compulsive Personal Protection Casting Disorder).

    Thankfully, OCPPCD can be avoided just by adding a teeny bit of the most basic behavioral therapy methodology to the character generation/development process. For example by dedicating ten minutes or so to the creation of one or two default opening combat action sequences for your character. Helps ensure your build options actually jam together, and helps keep priorities straight and maintaining combat usefulness. Even when the monsters are really scary and you just feel like running back to mommy unless you get three more prep rounds...

    (Seriously though, I really do recommend you plan a few default opening combat action sequences for your cohort; it'll greatly reduce their in-game maintenance.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Firechanter View Post
    Another question: I was thinking to just pick a Bonded Item for simplicity's sake, but: are there any familiars that can fill the Rogue role, including picking locks and trapfinding? Since we don't have one of those in the party either.
    Many improved familiars and a few normal ones would be able to get very high Disable Device and Perception skill bonuses. In addition, they'd typically also need to have an ability to grasp items (which you definitely want them to have anyways), but that's all you need for finding traps and disabling non-magical ones). If the familiar also needs to be able to disable magical traps by itself instead of, say, your cohort dispelling the trap, simply give the familiar a wand or some scrolls of trapfinder's focus.

    Of course, you probably also want the familiar to handle the usual rogue scouting/spying stuff. Fortunately, many familiars are fantastically sneaky thanks to size bonus to Stealth and often a high Dex, and many of the improved ones also have good senses aside from normal eyesight. And of course, many of them look - or can be made to look - like inconspicuous and pretty harmless animals. Overall, I think two of the most suitable "rogue familiars" for a typical non-evil cohort/party would be a lyrakien azata or a faerie dragon, both coming with fitting stats, skills, defensive spell/SLA, good fly speed, etc, and both having the speech and grasping appendices needed to use wands and other items. (IME, the faerie dragon is more popular thanks to having UMD (and being silly cute), but the Lyrakien has some nifty magical senses and a few other perks which may be more useful when going rogue.)

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Survivable, Low-Maintenance Arcane Caster

    Quote Originally Posted by Firechanter View Post
    Yeah, the problem with the NPC codex is that it offers exactly 1 NPC per level per class. So if you want a level 9 Conjurer, you have the choice between de-leveling the Conjurer(15), or completely rebuilding the Evoker(9) -- either option doesn't really give any benefit or time-saving comparing to making one from scratch. And most of these builds seem rather gimped to me, but what else is new. :p
    the overall collections on the srds are a bit bigger than that; I guess they draw from a bunch of other sources. the one with level 9's has maybe 50 entries by the looks of it.
    https://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/npc-s/npcs-cr-8/

    but they do tend on the weak side; ofc that's the expected balance level.
    Last edited by zlefin; 2019-11-16 at 09:00 AM.
    A neat custom class for 3.5 system
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=94616

    A good set of benchmarks for PF/3.5
    https://rpgwillikers.wordpress.com/2...y-the-numbers/

    An alternate craft point system I made for 3.5
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showt...t-Point-system

  12. - Top - End - #12
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    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Survivable, Low-Maintenance Arcane Caster

    Dayumit, I've hit a snag with the details.
    So I've veered towards going for Improved Familiar, and just when I decided to go Lyrakien for the Rogue role... I realized I can't.
    Since my main is a Paladin, he can only accept LG followers and cohorts. Kinda stupid limitation but what can you do. A LG Wizard can't have a CG familiar. So, back to the drawing board...
    Let me give you a brief rundown of an average Post-3E Era fight: You attack an enemy and start kicking his shins. He then starts kicking your shins, then you take it in turns kicking until one of you falls over. It basically comes down to who started the battle with the biggest boot, and the only strategy involved is realizing when things have gone tits up and legging it.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: Survivable, Low-Maintenance Arcane Caster

    If you have a cohort with Aram Zey's focus/trapfinder's focus then they should be able to disarm traps themselves well enough. If they're LG and they want a familiar to do it then they could take an aether wysp if desired. A wysp would also be good if they wanted to do it together via aid another.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Survivable, Low-Maintenance Arcane Caster

    After reviewing the list, I'm prolly gonna go for either Pseudodragon or Sylvanshee. Both are pretty cute. ^^ The trap thing was only an afterthought, not too important I guess. Pseudo can prolly UMD and the cat can't (no opposable thumbs), but the cat seems to be the better scout. Hmm.
    Let me give you a brief rundown of an average Post-3E Era fight: You attack an enemy and start kicking his shins. He then starts kicking your shins, then you take it in turns kicking until one of you falls over. It basically comes down to who started the battle with the biggest boot, and the only strategy involved is realizing when things have gone tits up and legging it.

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