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The maneuver system is interesting and cool, despite some of the powers being broken or overpowered. The book has the most balanced approach to Dexterity-to-damage I've seen -- way better than the mess that Slashing Grace is. I've seen lots of eye popping and thematic stuff during the time I've played with PoW. It's disappointing that your warlord just used it to boost his numbers and be another boring full attacker. The paladin responded by drawing a piddly backup dagger and flailing away.
The warlord used Acrobatic Gambit to arrogantly show off his superiority and dance around the paladin untouched, refreshing Blade of Breaking in the process with the gambit. Then he disarmed the paladin a second time!
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At level 4, my party of 3 players had to infiltrate and destroy a watchtower with soldiers and 7 named NPCs that were higher level than them. The dervish defender warder, who had a much higher intelligence than most barbarians, paladins, and bloodragers, pretended to be a visiting sage, and had the knowledge and social skills thanks to Student of Philosophy to back up the ruse.
With an absolutely massive AC and damage potential while completely naked and armed with only a quarterstaff, she took out a room full of 10 guards all by herself, mostly with her huge amount of AOOs from Defensive Focus. Also at level 4, same situation. The Veiled Moon ghostly ninja themed stalker was impossible for the soldiers to pin down.
She was like Batman from the Arkham games. Awesome at stealth and info gathering, but also great in combat, and could easily retreat in unexpected directions. She learned the layout of the watchtower, then took out isolated enemies in surprise rounds with Deadly Strike via the Deadly Ambush stalker art. She took out two guards at once standing next to each other in the same standard action with Flurry Strike.
When an archer on a nearby rooftop spotted her doing this, she easily won initiative thanks to Combat Insight, then teleported over to the archer with Fading Strike and took him out. One of my players was an insinuator antipaladin, but I allowed her to use the Black Seraph and Eternal Guardian disciplines. Eternal Guardian is in beta testing by Dreamscarred Press, and you can find all their upcoming PoW content in this link. They're both disciplines that emphasize fear and control, perfect for a lawful evil antipaladin.
She was so terrifying that she could make people freeze in mid-swing with terror as they attacked her by using Intimidating Force. She could grow a pair of black feathery angel wings with Razor Wings of the Black Seraph, fly over a unit of enemies on a battlefield, and rip em all apart with a flurry of unholy black feathers with Circle of Razor Feathers. On the Eternal Guardian side of things, she protected her squishy teammates with Intruder's End to give her huge reach and more AOOs much like the warder's Defensive Focus , and captured an Avoral Agathion with Shackles of the Condemned.
Spectral chains extended from the antipaladin and latched into the Avoral, preventing her from fleeing even by teleportation.
I don't know what to tell you if you don't find all that eye popping and thematic. Mechanically speaking, all a paladin really does is heal itself swiftly, hit evil creatures with really big numbers, have high saves, and cast the occasional utility spell. And I say that as someone whose 2nd favorite class is paladin.
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The real selling point of PoW is not how big the numbers can get -thou they can get collosal- but how the maneuvers and subsystems allow for otherwise non functional concepts to be used easily and without hoop jumping. Singletons, throwers, sword and board, wierd weapons, finesse wariors, TWFers, etc all can now be competitive through stances and intuitive feats. Furthermore, it finally offers a good aggro class in the warder, so whats not to love.
To be fair, if it was that obvious, more folks would be screaming "broken". That said, the whole system allows a good degree of customization. Each class isn't locked to one particular tactic or build because there are a variety of maneuvers to select from. For instance, in our Wrath campaign, my psion had a faerie dragon cohort who was built from PoW. Her "schtick" was repositioning opponents. All she needed to do was hit, and she could slide someone five feet, ten feet, and eventually a move worth of movement.
Why this mattered was because another player had a character built to deliver massive single hits. So giving them an AoO was a force multiplier. It was very cool on the battlefield, but on her own, Pervenche was exactly what she looked like; a mostly harmless tiny dragon. So it's all in how you use the materials. You can play selfish, you can play tactical, there are options. Golden Lion is the "Tacticool" Discipline. Has a bunch of neat stuff like giving your allies free Move actions on a strike to safely reposition or flee, and granting them the use of your Combat Feats and so on.
Iron Tortoise is the "I can tank ALL that" Discipline, allowing you to counter attacks, counter-attack, counter spells, and toss your shield like Captain America. Veiled Moon is the "So I heard martials have a mobility problem?
Black Seraph is the "You scared bro? That's the ones that are on the SRD. I'd give breakdowns of the ones released with Harbinger and Mystic but one step at a time. So I think I might be able to shed some light on this for you. So the question is: What does the Warlord bring to the table that the Paladin, Barbarian and Bloodrager do not? Quite a bit actually, though it's sometimes not apparent from just glancing at the class. First off, let's establish what the Warlord is generally good at.
The Warlord is primarily a damage dealer, though they have strong secondary focuses on in combat buffing and social interaction. They can also pick up additional focuses depending on their discipline selection, but more on that later. So primarily, the Warlord is a front line combatant that relies on a couple unique features to get their party into fighting shape.
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First among these is the Warlord's Gambit class feature. Gambits, in addition to being the Warlord's maneuver recovery method, also function as their primary means of in combat buffing. Gambits add the Warlord's Charisma Modifier to the d20 roll associated with the gambit which can be things like attack rolls, skill checks, or CMB checks depending on the gambit in question , greatly increasing their chance to succeed. If the Warlord succeeds, then he and all allies within 60 ft. Gambits like to be spammed, they're always available to use and they only cost a swift action. Between boosts and gambits, Warlords really should be using their swift action every turn.
Second, the Warlord gains the Tactical Presence class feature.
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These are 30 ft. They're passive benefits that can boost saving throws against common problems, or provide temporary hit points whenever the Warlord kills an enemy. Third is the Warleader class feature, which allows the Warlord to share a teamwork feat he knows with his party, or learn a teamwork feat an ally knows. It's limited by uses per day, but there are plenty of uses available for the average adventuring day.
Rogues will obviously love this, but who doesn't want to be more accurate?
Tactical Assistance is another great class feature, which boosts the benefits of the aid another action and allows it to be used as a move action. Even if the Warlord isn't an expert at a skill, he is still an expert Cheerleader! Those are just the class features available to the base Warlord. What really makes Path of War Classes shine though are their maneuvers.