Samurai Order

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David
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Samurai Order

Postby David » Wed Aug 06, 2014 1:43 pm

I'm a little green when it comes to Samurai, so I would love some extra eyes on it, mechanically. Just to remind, none of this has graced the desk of the editor yet, so don't be too alarmed if grammar or spelling errors are lurking within.

Skycrown Pledged(Samurai): Not an archetype, but an order that griffon samurai are often found in. Those pledged to the Skycrowns dedicate themselves to the cause of the species as a whole, rather than any one single lord, Skycrowns excluded of course.

Edicts: The samurai must protect the land of his people, which include all of griffonkind. The young and old must be sheltered from those that would do them harm, and the will of the Skycrowns must be carried out. Do not bring dishonor to the Skycrowns, and your personal honor is second only to theirs. Do not bring misfortune or discourtesy to griffons that have not broken the law of the Skycrowns.

Challenge: Whenever an order of the warrior samurai declares a challenge, They gain +10 ft land and air movement speed. At 4th level and every 4 levels beyond it, the challenged gains a -1 penalty to attack rolls towards any other than the samurai.

Skills: A skycrown pledged samurai adds Knowledge (history) (Int) and Knowledge (geography) (Int) to his list of class skills. An order of the warrior samurai can make Knowledge(geography) checks untrained. If he has ranks in the skill, he receives a bonus on the check equal to 1/2 his samurai level (minimum +1) as long as the check involves griffon lands.

Order Abilities: A samurai who belongs to the skycrown pledged gains the following abilities as they increase in level.
Swift Lessons (Ex): At 2nd level, the samurai learns rapidly from their mistakes. They may, having failed a given action since their previous round, attempt the action gain with a +4 insight bonus on any single d20 roll. They can use this ability once per day at 2nd level, plus one additional time per day for every four levels beyond 2nd (maximum of five times per day at 18th level).

Impossible Task (Ex): At 8th level, the skycrown pledged throws themselves into tasks that seem impossible, if it will serve the Skycrowns or griffonkind well. As an immediate action, they may roll an attack roll, skill check, or saving throw twice and take the best result. Using this ability expends one daily use of their resolve.

No Army Large Enough (Ex): At 15th level, gain Whirlwind Attack as a bonus feat, even if the samurai would otherwise not qualify for it. If Whirlwind Attack is already owned, gain a bonus combat feat instead. When using whirlwind attack, gain a +1 insight bonus to AC for every target struck until the start of their next turn.

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David
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Re: Samurai Order

Postby David » Wed Aug 06, 2014 10:36 pm

Impossible Task (Ex): At 8th level, the skycrown pledged throws themselves into tasks that seem impossible, if it will serve the Skycrowns or griffonkind well. As an immediate action, they may roll a skill check, or saving throw twice and take the best result. This ability must be used before the roll is made. Using this ability expends one daily use of their resolve.


Tweak!

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Re: Samurai Order

Postby Dulon » Thu Aug 07, 2014 4:14 pm

Few things to note, the Samurai is an alternate class to the Cavalier, similar to how the Ninja is an alternate to the Rogue, so you can use Cavaliers as an additional balance point for archetypes.


Both the Cavalier and Samurai have a mount by default, for pony/griffon friendly archetypes consider replacing it and associated abilities with something similar to Hunting Pack ability of the Huntmaster archetype. This replaces the rather useless mount (in regards to ponies) with a bird or dog that is much more likely to see play with a four legged character.


For the order presented here I do notice a few issues.


Edict: To me this reads as very campaign/setting specific, this is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does lock out anyone who doesn’t happen to be playing in a game that has a Skycrown faction to be loyal to. I recommend rewording this to be a more neutral “must protect griffon communities” similar to the Order of the Paw and their edict to protect halflings. This would also fit a little better compared to the other edicts which tend to be geared more toward upholding an idea like honor or knowledge than any specific group.


Challenge: I see two main problems here; first of all, most challenge abilities only grant one bonus that increases every four levels, this should either be a speed boost or an attack penalty to the enemy, not both. Second, the attack penalty should have something like “while the Samurai threatens the target” added to the end; this matches with a number of other challenge abilities that require you to be in threat range and forces the Samurai to actually engage their challenge target. Doing this also prevents what is known as a disassociated mechanic where there is no in-character explanation for an ability, if the Samurai is in melee range it is justified that he could deflect attacks and penalize the enemy, otherwise he could challenge someone across the room and arbitrarily make them worse at fighting.

Skills: This looks fine as it is, grants two class skills and a situational +1/2 level bonus like a lot of the other orders. Personally I don’t find history and geography knowledge particularly useful, though I think that’s more a matter of opinion than game balance.

Swift Lessons: This seems fairly well balanced, though d20 rerolls are powerful (applies to attacks, saves, skills, etc.), especially with a +4 that stacks with almost everything tacked on, being limited to 1-5 of these a day and having to have failed the roll first seem to counter balance it reasonably well)

Impossible Task: I’m unsure about the “immediate action” wording on this one, typically that is used for an interrupt ability that can be used out of your turn, however saving throws are normally resolved as part of the action that required them (ie. someone casts a spell and everyone affected by it gets a save that costs no action on their part) and I can’t think of a situation where you would need to interrupt with a skill check.

Personally I’d rewrite this one completely due to its confusing wording and questionable utility. Perhaps as an immediate action attack that costs resolve, triggered by an enemy you threaten attacking an ally, this would work well with the challenge ability since it would give you free swings against enemies that ignored your challenge and attacked your allies at a penalty anyway, the immediate action wording would limit you to one extra attack per round and eat up your swift action on your next turn. I think having a second reroll ability is unnecessary since you will already have a few with Swift Lessons.

No Army Large Enough: Whirlwind Attack can be a great feat in the right circumstance, however I’m not sure griffons can really make much use of it. At level 15 they’re already getting about 6 attacks on a full round action (saddle rack sword/lance for 3 swings, bite for another at full BAB, and probably two secondary claws at BAB-5) so the option to get around 8 swings (assuming no enlarge person or reach abilities and assuming you’re totally surrounded) with every one against a different target seems questionably useful. However, the AC bonus and ignoring prerequisites is very helpful, especially for a class that doesn’t tend to move a lot and doesn’t really need Mobility or Spring Attack.

I’d actually recommend making this the 8th level ability since the other orders tend to have bonus feats at 8th and a special attack or ability at 15th. Also, at 8th level you’ll only have 3-5 attacks depending on when you pick up the claw feat so Whirlwind Attack will have a lot more chances to be better and more tactically interesting than just a default full attack

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Re: Samurai Order

Postby David » Thu Aug 07, 2014 4:42 pm

Thanks for the replies, though there are a few things in it that strike immediately as odd.

You start with archetypes, but this isn't an archetype, it's an order? Also this is for griffons, so balancing for pony thematics wasn't high on my priorities, that and ponies can ride horses, no matter how silly it may appear to be to humans nearby.

You mention the saddle rack, but that's for fingerless races, which a griffon is not.

The edict, and the order in general, is pretty setting specific, which is intentional.

I can work with that for the challenge, but it seems rather easy for any given monster to get around if they want to and makes it feel kind of weak?

I'll remove the immediate from impossible. It made more sense when it could be used for attacks, which is no longer the case.

All natural attacks are secondary when you use a manufactured weapon, combined with the above note on saddle racks and a griffon is not likely to have as many attacks as you envison.

Thanks again for the input! I appreciate it a lot.

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Re: Samurai Order

Postby Dulon » Thu Aug 07, 2014 5:28 pm

Was just mentioning the Huntmaster since its from a kinda obscure book and seems to fit that griffons would have falcon or eagle companions or something instead of a horse they're never likely to use. Would be worth looking into for any future Cavalier/Samurai archetypes.

Didn't realize the saddle rack had that restriction. I don't have my books handy (still in the middle of moving and just barely have internet capability) and I assumed it could be used by anything with the right body shape. As it is it's kind of a disassociated mechanic, I can think of no in-character reason a griffon couldn't wear one since having claws and a bird head doesn't seem like it would affect something strapped to their otherwise quadruped body.

As I said, there's nothing particularly wrong with the edict, just be aware that it is fairly restrictive for anyone using griffons in a non-ponyfinder or mixed species game.

The challenge is weakened by requiring threat, I was balancing it against some of the APG orders like Cockatrice and Dragon that also require you to threaten your challenge target. Feats like Step Up that let you follow enemies are invaluable for Cavalier and Samurai because of these restrictions.

Limiting Impossible Task to only saves and skill checks seems to make it weaker than the earlier Swift Lesson ability, or at least redundant even if it can be used slightly more often.

Without the saddle rack griffons will have one fewer claw attack (since they're swording with it) and a slightly lower attack bonus to their bite. At level 15 they'll still be at +15/+10/+10/+10/+5 on a full attack (sword, sword, bite, claw, sword); this is before any buffs or ability bonuses too, at 15th level it's not uncommon to have Haste or a similar effect up constantly for an extra swing.

My main point was that Whirlwind Attack loses effectiveness as you get more attacks; you become increasingly unlikely to have enough targets to make it worthwhile when your full attack hits almost as many times and can be broken up however you want against targets allowing you to focus fire rather than being forced to spread out damage to everyone you can reach.

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Re: Samurai Order

Postby David » Thu Aug 07, 2014 5:49 pm

Saddle rack or not, the bite is still going to be secondary, so the only difference is that claw attack. If you want to let your players go with it, I won't complain too loudly, but, at least mechanically, the saddle rack is more of a recompense for not having hands. Allowing things with hands to use it is having your cake and eating it too. Ultimately, the strongest thing you could do with it is a two handed weapon and still have a shield ready, though anyone with a few levels in alchemist can likely pull off the same trick if they want it.

Whirlwind is something to use when faced with lots of mooks. It's a martial fireball, not really the thing for one big baddie, but so nice to throw out into a crowd. The bonus to AC is nice since you have a lot of things in range potentially swinging back at you, I think.

Do you have suggestions to spruce it up?

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Re: Samurai Order

Postby Dulon » Thu Aug 07, 2014 6:56 pm

At present I can see elements of two very different builds with this order.

First, you could use this as a strafing attacker, have the challenge grant the 10ft movement boost and scale it by another 10ft every four levels instead of the attack penalty. Instead of Whirlwind attack instead give Spring Attack (or it's flying variant) as a bonus feat. Impossible Task could work mostly unchanged, perhaps make it a swift action to roll twice on a skill or immediate to reroll a failed save, having two actions for it is a little clunky though I'm not sure of the best way to word it otherwise.

The idea behind this would be to challenge something, use your huge speed boost to chase it down (using Impossible Task to boost Fly checks if needed), then use Spring Attack to get off one huge attack and get back out of range.


The other option I see is to have a largely stationary fighter focused on crowd control. The challenge would penalize attacks of one enemy instead of the speed boost, scaling the same way as normal. I would move No Army Large Enough to 8th level, though perhaps reduce it to Great Cleave since Whirlwind Attack would be ignoring a lot of prerequisites, but ignoring just one or two feats seems common in other 8th level cavalier bonus feats. I'm not sure how useful Impossible Task would be in this build.

The main tactics for this option would be to challenge the toughest looking enemy then position yourself between him and your allies, using other abilities like Step Up and Stand Still to stop people rushing past you and setting up as many Cleaves as possible, pretty standard Fighter fare.


I guess it basically boils down to picking a specific fighting style you want Skycrowns to use and tweaking abilities to work around that. At present I think this feels like it's trying to do too many different things to be very effective in any one area.


Also, I do appreciate getting some input and getting to help improve the game; sorry if I come off as too critical sometimes, I'm used to discussion on min/maxing forums and stuff where its kinda expected to tear stuff apart.

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Re: Samurai Order

Postby David » Thu Aug 07, 2014 7:19 pm

In my head(A dangerous place), they would be little points of horror during a mass combat. The Skycrown's most elite single soldier, serving as a bulwark of the people when conventional soldiers aren't available or won't cut it. I hope that helps paint the picture I'm going for.

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Re: Samurai Order

Postby Dulon » Thu Aug 07, 2014 9:25 pm

That in mind I'd definitely go for the second option and keep them as mostly stationary fighters designed to block a chokepoint as opposed to the strafing build.

Edict: Keep the same, perhaps add an alternate option for players not in a campaign with the Skycrown order; this is mostly flavor and easy enough to leave for people to houserule though.

Challenge: When a Skycrown Samurai issues a challenge the target of his challenge takes a -1 penalty to attack rolls against any target except the Samurai as long as the Samurai threatens his space. This penalty increases by -1 for every four levels the Samurai possesses.

Skills: Keep the same.

Swift Lessons: Keep the same.

No Army Large Enough: At 8th level the Samurai receives Great Cleave as a bonus feat even if he does not meet the prerequisite. The Samurai gains a +1 dodge bonus to AC for one round for each enemy struck by his Great Cleave. Additionally, if the Samurai has challenged the first target of the Great Cleave, attacks made against all secondary targets are made at a +1 bonus.

(dodge bonuses to AC always stack, not sure if insight ones as originally written do)

Impossible Task: 15th level ability, not sure what to do with it, thinking maybe either a 30ft aura to boost allies in some way like a lot of other orders get, or maybe an interrupt attack for when enemies attack the Samurai’s allies, similar to the Order of the Star’s Retribution ability.

Alternatively, a lot of orders get some kind of special charge attack at this level, could give Skycrowns a flying/diving attack here. Being elite shock troops of a flying race it makes sense for them to be able to launch themselves to where they’re needed most.


I think these abilities would lead to a character that would call out the enemies' best soldier and apply some pretty strong debuffs to them to keep them tied up and away from other party members, while at the same time having a very nice cleave ability to deal with weaker opponents and survive wading through waves of them to get to the highest threat target. Additionally the Samurai still has many strong defensive abilities like Resolve and his Banner as well as a mount to further block space, though riding it is a very viable tactic as the larger space potentially allows for more cleave attacks.

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Re: Samurai Order

Postby David » Sat Aug 09, 2014 11:43 am

Let's spit out what we have and give it a fresh look.

Skycrown Pledged(Samurai): Not an archetype, but an order that griffon samurai are often found in. Those pledged to the Skycrowns dedicate themselves to the cause of the species as a whole, rather than any one single lord, Skycrowns excluded of course.

Edicts: The samurai must protect the land of his people, which include all of griffonkind. The young and old must be sheltered from those that would do them harm, and the will of the Skycrowns must be carried out. Do not bring dishonor to the Skycrowns, and your personal honor is second only to theirs. Do not bring misfortune or discourtesy to griffons that have not broken the law of the Skycrowns.

Challenge: When a Skycrown Samurai issues a challenge the target of his challenge takes a -1 penalty to attack rolls against any target except the Samurai as long as the Samurai threatens his space. This penalty increases by -1 for every four levels the Samurai possesses.

Skills: A skycrown pledged samurai adds Knowledge (history) (Int) and Knowledge (geography) (Int) to his list of class skills. An order of the warrior samurai can make Knowledge(geography) checks untrained. If he has ranks in the skill, he receives a bonus on the check equal to 1/2 his samurai level (minimum +1) as long as the check involves griffon lands.

Order Abilities: A samurai who belongs to the skycrown pledged gains the following abilities as they increase in level.

Swift Lessons (Ex): At 2nd level, the samurai learns rapidly from their mistakes. They may, having failed a given action since their previous round, attempt the action gain with a +4 insight bonus on any single d20 roll. They can use this ability once per day at 2nd level, plus one additional time per day for every four levels beyond 2nd (maximum of five times per day at 18th level).

No Army Large Enough (Ex): At 8th level the Samurai receives Great Cleave as a bonus feat even if he does not meet the prerequisite. The Samurai gains a +1 dodge bonus to AC for one round for each enemy struck by his Great Cleave. Additionally, if the Samurai has challenged the first target of the Great Cleave, attacks made against all secondary targets are made at a +1 bonus.

Impossible Task (Ex): 15th level ability, Charged with defensive positions that others would call impossible for lesser griffons to hold, skycrown pledged seem to become everywhere at once, somehow always in position to foil the enemy's movements and attacks and holding the line. When an enemy attacks an ally or object within single movement range of the pledged, they may spend a resolve to, as an immediate action, relocate to the closest available square to the attacker and deliver a single melee attack. The damage dealt becomes a penalty to the attack roll. If there is no attack roll(attacking a stationary object), the penalty is instead applied to damage.


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