Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Bard of Three Archetypes

Andrew West, whose Pathfinder stories I mentioned last month, has started a forum challenge. What can each class best contribute to a tenth-level party?.

The challenge includes five enounters through which to showcase a sample character's contributions.

Here is my silly and fun entry, designed to be a companion to a tenth-level sorcerer similar to a lower-level version of Andrew's own Camulus.

This Fun Bard

Foxisyu is a tenth level Kitsune bard that blends three archetypes: Dirge Bard, Sound Striker, and Geisha.

(His ability scores without item bonuses are STR 9, DEX 14, CON 14, INT 10, WIS 12, and CHA 20. Only the last really matters. His headband increases his Charisma to 22.)

(All of the important standard bardic abilities are replaced by the archetypes, except for the bardic performances Inspire Courage, Inspire Greatness, and Dirge of Doom.)

His traits are Ghost Sight and Omen.

His feats are Toughness, Allied Spellcaster, Fox Shape, Fleet, and Swift Kitsune Shapechanger.

(Toughness brings him to 79 hit points, due to 39 Bard + 20 CON Mod + 10 Favored Class + 10 Toughness.)

As he gained experience he kept five skills maximized: Perform (percussion), Perform (dance), Diplomacy, Perception, and Stealth. His other ten skill points are spread around less important skills, including Craft (calligraphy), Knowledge (Religion), Perform (strings), and Perform (sing).

His equipment is a Doomharp, Headband of Alluring Charisma +2, Ring of Feather Falling, Staff of the Master, and Lesser Extend Metamagic Rod. He also has 12,800 gold pieces worth of other less significant equipment.

His spells are:

His sorcerer partner also knows the four big "control you" spells: charm person, command undead, charm monster, and apparent master.

Before a Big Encounter

He prepares himself and his sorcerer partner in many ways. He gathers information using commune with birds. He performs a geisha's tea ceremony to grant them Inspire Greatness. Using his rod he casts arcane concordance, coordinated effort, and good hope. Then he casts acute senses on both of them, anticipate peril on his ally, and expeditious retreat on himself.

(For the rest of that day he still has 22 rounds of bardic performance and can do four first-level castings, two second-level castings, one third-level, and two fourth-level.)

Now he and his ally both have two extra hit dice, a bunch of temporary hit points, +20 to perception checks, +3 to Fortitude saving throws, +2 to Reflex and Will saving throws, +4 to hit, and +2 to ability checks, skill checks, and weapon damage. His ally has +5 to the next Initiative check.  Moreover, while they are within 10 feet of each other the ally gains +1 to spell DCs and free silent metamagic. Finally, when they are adjacent the ally gains +2 to overcome spell resistance—and those four big "control you" spells gain +4 instead, and an additional increase to caster level.

Then he hands his ally his staff (so the ally has three free uses of dazing metamagic), shapechanges into a fox, and has his ally use spider climb to make the fox sticky.  He rides in his ally's shoulder so they remain adjacent.

Having a fox's keen nose and the ability to see Undead very well also keep him useful, especially since he can survey the surroundings more calmly than his busy ally.

(His base movement rate with the Fleet feat and expeditious retreat spell is now 65' in his own form or 75' as a fox.  He is weak in combat, but flees really well!) 

(Before a really big fight they find a Druid ally. Preparing an additional person only requires four more rounds of bardic performance and one more casting of acute senses.)

During Combat

His ally fights as an invisible, flying sorcerer using dazing spells and those four "control you" spells

He rides his ally as a tiny fox, often barking a few high-pitched notes, ether using Wordstrike for a small amount of automatic damage at any range or Weird Words from up to 30 feet away to cause about 100 damage.

(The Weird Words are ten sonic missiles that probably each hit for 1d8+6 damage.  They are ranged touch attacks, and he not only has that +4 to hit from Inspire Greatness and good hope, but also a +2 to hit from his fox form's extra Dexterity and a +2 to hit from his shrunken size.  Some enemies will succeed on a DC 21 Fortitude saving throw to halve damage.)

More help is seldom needed.  Yet he has several useful tricks to use in his normal shape, from a place of safety, when appropriate. He can maintain a silent zone in which his ally can still cast spells.  Using Dirge of Doom while up to 60' away is a safe way to help his ally's spells work. Once a foe is slain, he can perform the Dance of the Dead to create distractions.  While performing, he can also stomp or beat on his harp so the percussion intimidates one foe each round.

(His skill bonus for Perform (percussion) is 31, from 10 ranks + 3 Class skill + 6 CHA mod + 10 Geisha Knowledge +2 Masterwork Item. When he uses it to demoralize foes it increases to 33, beacuse of + 5 Haunting Refrain + 1 trait − 4 smaller size. This is guaranteed to each round make a new enemy shaken for several rounds, as the DC is a lowly 10 + target hit dice + target WIS Mod.)

During emergencies he uses his daily swift action intimidation, the two finale spells (granting his ally a saving throw reroll or an extra standard action), or liberating command. Occasionally casting distressing tone might also help. He can also use the four "control you" spells, but not as well as his ally.

Finally, in some circumstances it is very helpful to diplomatically gain permission from a charmed enemy to target it with a spell, and surprise it by casting marionette possession.

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