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  1. #1

    Sword Saint archetype introduction guide and a dev question.

    THANK YOU Owlcat Games for making this game and for including the Magus class and its archetype, Sword Saint.
    I have never played Pathfinder PnP before. I have however played all the Black Isle, Troika Games, Bioware and Obsidion DnD 3.0 - 3.5 games (Icewind dale 2, temple of Elemental Evil, Neverwinter Nights 1-2+), so i'm confident in understanding the Pathfinder system (and love it).

    Background
    .. The Sword Saint. To my knowledge (or speculation) the origin of the Magus class, or more specifically the Sword Saint archetype, dates a few years earlyer than the 3.0-3.5 games. I'm talking about Baldurs Gate 2 and its 2nd Edition class kit Kensai (the class kit "Kensai" was first thought up in 1e's supplementary class-book: Oriental Adventures from 1985). In regards to Pathfinders Magus archetype- Sword Saint/Kensai - .. (In Pathfinder PnP it's called Kensai and has a few differences from the Sword Saint.. I think?) .. it plays very similar to how players in Baldurs Gate 2 liked to duel-class the (2ed) kit Kensai > wizard: Becoming an armor-less but magical sword wielding master.
    I myself never tried this because i did not like the duel-classing mechanics. I did however like the concept and have tried to make something similar in the 3.0 - 3.5 games without any satisfying result.

    So here we are and the concept has finally materialized. The Sword Saint has risen!

    Introduction
    How do you play it? Without armor (or very limited armor by choosing a light armor feat and risking arcane spell failure) you might be thinking you'll play it the way everyone is playing the Magus anyways: focus on rapier, taking weapon finesse feat and pushing up dexterity.....
    .. WRONG!!! ..
    We are playing a magical weapon master who has dedicated attack, power and defense to a single weapon (gaining Chosen Weapon lvl1), using her/his intelligence through study and exercise (gaining Canny Defense feat lvl1) to put this into practice. So what we want to do, at the start and early game (1-4) is "meditate" on our practice (push for high intelligence). At lvl 4, training in our art will bear fruit (gaining perfect strike feat) so choosing a weapon with powerful potential is ideal.

    Stats
    And how does this look on paper?

    Race
    My personal pick would be human because there is actually only one viable feat to pick at lvl 1 (toughness) so getting an extra feat "solves" this "problem"... But the balance in Pathfinder is awesome so it's not THAT important (to pick another race and not be able to take another feat).

    Ability Points
    ---
    STR: 14
    No need to go higher here. We'll gett attack bonus and dmg through magic and class-specific abilities.
    If we do go higher our vital defensive capability will suffer.
    ---
    DEX: 14 (/15 if Elf and develop at lvl 8)
    Why not push Dexterity more? Canny Defense feat is why. We get AC from our Intelligence modifier/level. Other Sword Saint specific feats also draw power from our intelligence!
    ---
    CON: 13 (/12 if Elf)
    develop at lvl 8
    ---
    INT: 17 (racial bonus)
    develop at lvl 4
    ---
    WIS: 12or13
    CHA: 12or13
    What we're left with are the last 5 points. You can place 14 in one or the other but it would be a one modifier-point loss in the long run. I would choose 13 in wisdom to get +1 will save when it's time to develop on lvl12 .. but at that period I don't know how big of an impact it provide. Go for personal role play? :P

    Feats
    FreeChosen Weapon
    There are, in my opinion, two options here:
    --
    Bastard Sword:
    First of all it looks awesome! More importantly it has the highest single-handed damage potential (1-10). This is important when we reach lvl 4 and get the bonus feat Perfect Strike. Using it makes all hits (cost of 1 arcane pool-point at hit) do max damage and that means it's essential to have high damage potential.
    Did i mention that it looks glorious? :D
    --
    Estoc:
    The estoc has a 2die4 (2-8) damage, so that's gonna' do good average damage. The real potential is its threat range (18-20) in combination with the Sword Saints focus on mastering the art if crit-hit'ing at lvl 9. To be more precise we get Critical Perfection. But to understad what this does i need to first explain how the Pathfinder-system deals with critical hits..To successfully make a critical hit we are making two separate die checks/rolls; the first is a hit WITHIN a vital area (when rolling a 18-20 for the estoc in this case). And after that we make another die check/roll to see if it "penetrates into" the vital area (this time we roll and try to hit a "normal hit") successfully. If the second check fails we still hit, but it's not critical. And if success we of course crit (2x damage for hitting that bandit SUCKER in the liver .. D: .. )! So what Critical Perfection does is help the second die roll by adding your intelligence modifier to it. On top of this when gaining Critical Perfection, we also start qualifying for Critical related feats by using our lvl instead of base attack bonus.. AND ON TOP OF THAT we earlier (lvl5) got the possibility of infusing our blade with the keen property, which double our threat range (making estoc's TrRa: 15-20 .. :O ... ).. AND WE ALSO have the possibility at lvl4 if using Perfect Critical (1 arc. pool cost at successful crit-hit) to ad 1 to the damage multiplier (2x damage becomes 3x damage!!!).. OUH MY GOOOOOHHHHSSH..!!!
    The potential is ... great.

    Despite my solid selling points for the estoc i'm for aesthetics so i'd personally go for the reliable and magnificent bastard sword. And I think it's probably gonna' be the stronger choice early to nearly mid game, in combination with Perfect Strike.

    Toughness
    The Sword Saint has one HUUUUGE weakness.. And that weakness won't ever really go away...
    CLOSE COMBATANT WITHOUT ARMOR .. :O
    We are totally exposed to undefendable attacks against us (flat-footed), and those attacks will happen sooner AND later. Our only option is to souk it up. So we have no choice but to take the toughness feat at lvl 1 and develop CON at lvl8. We can't go higher on CON earlier because STR, DEX and INT are too important from the start. Sacking WIS or CHA will mean losing modifiers long term, but if you HAVE to i suppose that's were the gutting's gonna' happen.

    EDIT: Go for light armor proficiency and arcane armor 1 and 2 instead. It's really strong.

    ---


    I think i'll actually stop here! Part of the fun is finding out for yourself what character you want to build and how to use it. Think this is a good introduction to the sword saint and how it works. But I really could go on!
    Would be nice to see someone do something similar to this (Class-introduction) just to push up the will to play around more in the beta.


    Question to the developers

    Is Diminished Spellcasting working in the background? If so, what amount of intelligence modifier (through natural or enchantment) do you need to be able to cast a single 6th level spell when you reach that spell-level?
    Also if it is there, maybe show it in the open more clearly and how it works?

    When infusing your weapon in different ways and/or using Arcane Weapon Enhancement this really should be shown somewhere more clearly (time left etc.), but i'm guessing this is all in the works :)
    Last edited by KensaiGrandMaster; 10-01-2018 at 05:12 PM.

  2. #2
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    Thanks for the primer, as relative noob to Pathfinder the stats spread was really useful.

    A warning on taking estoc as your chosen weapon, you won't get one at the start of the game. My character came equipped with a Rapier that she can't equip. I had to use magic to get through the first combat to get a dagger I could equip for later fights. Sidenote: Acid Splash is great!

  3. #3
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    One minor quibble - the estoc is a 2 handed weapon. That means you can't spell combat, which is a prime advantage of playing a magus. Spell combat requires 1 hand to be free, as you effectively count as two weapon fighting, but your second weapon is a spell. The rapier (and weapon finesse) is your friend.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Yesterday's Hero's Avatar
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    I don't agree (at all) with the stat distribution. I think you should either go full STR (with a DEX of 12-13, to benefit from the eventual proficiency with heavy armor) or full DEX (dumping STR as much as you can, to benefit from Agile Weapons). Going 14/14 is a big mistake. Also, you most likely won't need CHA (unless you have a high score it's not worth it; just use other party members for this role), so dump it as much as you can to get extra points.

    A good array for lvl 1, DEX build (this is the build I recomend):

    STR 7
    DEX 16+2 (human)
    CON 14
    INT 17
    WIS 10
    CHA 7

    And for a STR build:

    STR 16+2 (human)
    DEX 12
    CON 14
    INT 16
    WIS 12
    CHA 7

  5. #5
    Is there a way in game to get dex to add to damage? Currently gave up on an early dex/finesse based char to reroll with str and lower dex/int
    Last edited by messel@gmail.com; 05-08-2018 at 12:58 AM. Reason: Typo

  6. #6
    Senior Member No One of Consequence's Avatar
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    I think Agile weapons allow the wielder to use Dex for both Attack and Damage. Not absolutely sure, though.

  7. #7
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    They do. Slashing Grace is also a thing, and rogues are unchained so you can level dip 3 levels in them

  8. #8
    Got it, special magic weapon enhancements if I wanted to stay single class, or 3 level multi
    Last edited by messel@gmail.com; 05-13-2018 at 07:42 AM. Reason: Typo

  9. #9
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    Or spend 3 feats - Weapon Finesse, Weapon focus, Slashing Grace. There's a good chance you want the first 2 feats for a Dex build anyway.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by RogueOne View Post
    Thanks for the primer, as relative noob to Pathfinder the stats spread was really useful.

    A warning on taking estoc as your chosen weapon, you won't get one at the start of the game. My character came equipped with a Rapier that she can't equip. I had to use magic to get through the first combat to get a dagger I could equip for later fights. Sidenote: Acid Splash is great!

    Yeah, you're right. You can get a masterwork estoc at the trading post but you'll have to get past a few encounters. What you can do is equip a spear early that really helps.

    A masterwork bastard sword can be snitched when you get Valerie for the first time (after the burning encounter, before the Banquet Hall battle).


    Quote Originally Posted by davross View Post
    One minor quibble - the estoc is a 2 handed weapon. That means you can't spell combat, which is a prime advantage of playing a magus. Spell combat requires 1 hand to be free, as you effectively count as two weapon fighting, but your second weapon is a spell. The rapier (and weapon finesse) is your friend.
    Nope! Estoc is one-handed.


    Quote Originally Posted by Yesterday's Hero View Post
    I don't agree (at all) with the stat distribution. I think you should either go full STR (with a DEX of 12-13, to benefit from the eventual proficiency with heavy armor) or full DEX (dumping STR as much as you can, to benefit from Agile Weapons). Going 14/14 is a big mistake. Also, you most likely won't need CHA (unless you have a high score it's not worth it; just use other party members for this role), so dump it as much as you can to get extra points.

    A good array for lvl 1, DEX build (this is the build I recomend):

    STR 7
    DEX 16+2 (human)
    CON 14
    INT 17
    WIS 10
    CHA 7

    And for a STR build:

    STR 16+2 (human)
    DEX 12
    CON 14
    INT 16
    WIS 12
    CHA 7
    You don't eventually get heavy armor proficiency with sword saint. You can take a feat in light armor and still retain sword saint specific abilities, but you will incur the normal arcane spell failure for the specific type of light armor. Padded armor works nicely (only 5% arcane spell failure) if you want to use armor.

    Going 14/14 - STR/DEX is good because you'll eventually get perfect strike and all the other sword saint battle abilities. Going high on DEX at the cost of STR is a waste on those abilities that need high damage potential. Going low on DEX will make everyone hit you all the time early when you don't have defensive spells at your disposal. The sword saint is first and foremost a physical damage dealer. Reaper is a puny weapon early game. You get the same threat range (and with higher normal damage) with an estoc if you want to focus on crit'ing. There is no need to take weapon finess feat. You get to use that feat-point on something better like maybe a defensive feat.

    Dumping stats is boring and unnecessary, especially for sword saint that need good use magic device capability. The gain is trivial and/or damaging in the long run with the pathfinder system.

    .. well, that's just, like, my opinion, man..
    Last edited by KensaiGrandMaster; 05-16-2018 at 01:55 PM.

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