D&D Proposals: Bolt Ace, Student of War

I don't know if I am allowed to make proposals or if this is the right format but I would like to start the dialogue on these two topics.

Gunslinger (Bolt Ace): LINK
I have always found the Gunslinger mechanics to be very flavorful but including guns in every setting is far from appropriate. My proposal is to allow Gunslingers but only ever with the Bolt Ace archetype. It replaces guns with crossbows in all class features and does a lot to make crossbows viable in Pathfinder. There was a somewhat notorious hiccup in the editing of the archetype in that they still get the Gunsmithing class feature despite not using firearms.

To address this I recommend using an adaptation of the 'Guns Everywhere' alternate rules found here: LINK, where Bolt Ace would lose Gunsmithing and gain Crossbow Training at first level. Alternately, if that makes the class too much of a target for dipping, it could be replaced with a bonus feat. Far Shot, Point-Blank Shot, or Precise Shot are all likely candidates, as is leaving it a flexible bonus combat feat.

Student of War: LINK
A favorite prestige class of mine, it gives players more of a reason to play intelligence based fighters. While highly effective against single opponents, I know from experience it suffers some against multiple foes giving it a nice balance. The class features are all dependent on knowledge checks to use so builds tend to be a bit specific but they still have great flavor.

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Hi, grumblyarcher! I know it's been said before, but not by me, so . . . welcome to LPF!

You are surely allowed to make proposals, and we welcome them! Anyone in the community can join the discussion, citing opinions, pros, cons, number crunching, etc. Eventually, the judges will put our heads together to discuss it ourselves and vote on the proposals, and will then publish the decision(s).

Nice to have new blood sparking some discussion!


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Unfortunately, my rules-fu isn't quite what it should be to contribute meaningfully to this discussion. I haven't looked over many of the peripheral publications Paizo has put out and my home game doesn't use the Gunslinger either so I haven't done more than skim it.

However, I wouldn't object to some crossbow love or an intelligence-styled fighter type.


My initial read-through leads me to think the Bolt Ace is interesting, but won't bring up the utility of the crossbow by much. I find it disheartening they strip out straightforward hit and damage bonuses out of the class and replace it with a critical enhancement.
Dex to damage does a lot for it. Previously, there were few ways to keep the crossbow competing with composite bows or even thrown weapons in the damage department. To-hit can be compensated for with the Sharp Shoot deed, grit might be a bigger commodity with this archetype but crit-fishing is always a big part of crossbow builds so you should regain it pretty well.


Ah, OK. I didn't see the Dex Modifier applied to damage part, which changes things around a bit. Although, it makes it hard to math out because the individual character's Dex modifier is an unknown in the equation--although I'd assume it must be pretty decent.


I'm fine with allowing the Gunslinger/Bolt Ace combination, as they come out of approved sources and do not bring up the gun issue. Replace Gunsmithing with Point Blank Shot, on the argument that it is such a basic prerequisite for so many other things. I'd vote yes to this.

I'd still be interested hearing discussion of Student of War. I'm leaning towards yes on it as well, but would love to hear from others.
Alright, the run-down on Student of War:
A intelligence based martial archetype, it straddles a line between the main features of Inquisitor and Slayer in terms of features. The idea is that after making the relevant knowledge check against a foe (DC equal to HD+10) the SoW can use its Know Thy Enemy feature gain a scaling bonus one against that foe that can be utilized one of three ways: Attack, Defense, or Combat Maneuvers. The bonus is an insight bonus that maxes out at a modest +3.

They pick up three combat feats as well, not counting the feats and pseudo-feats they can get through the more advanced version of their Know Thy Enemy stances. They get some other nice abilities such as a limited use Evasion-like ability for any effect that has a partial effect on a successful save, the ability to ignore a limited amount of typed DR, and a once a day Bane effect. The most notable other ability in my mind is their Mind Over Metal feature, which allows them to substitute their Intelligence bonus for Dexterity when determining AC while wearing armor. This makes it a tempting two level dip for high Intelligence classes restricted to light armor.

Mind Over Metal and Know Thy Enemy are the two major features in my mind. Know Thy Enemy seems effective enough and it is easy to pump knowledge checks to keep it relevant. Mind Over Metal might be abusable by die-hard munchkins but with a three feat tax, that would be unoptimized for most builds apart from an optimized Student of War.

What strikes me is that this is a combatant that is most effective against single foes but not groups. I played one in a Jade Regent game and found the mileage varying between the two situations distinctly. On one hand I managed to disarm and embarrass the uber-badass samurai bodyguard of the King of Hongal in a one-on-one fight well above my lone CR before getting my hubris fed to me on a platter, on the other I nearly got ganked by a bunch of flanking ninja mooks.

I have a mid-level build if anyone wants to see

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I have to vote NO on the Student of War PrC. We've said from the beginning of LPF that we'd be official Paizo Pathfinder products only - no third party stuff.

However, you might check out the Lore Warden archetype for an Intelligence based fighter type. It's already been voted on and approved, and is from official sources. It seems to be Paizo's answer to that PrC. ;)
Student of War is a Paizo creation and even cleared for Pathfinder Society play. If I remember correctly it was actually written by Paizo for Pathfinder Society (maybe to mitigate the number of meathead fighters).

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My bad, grumbly! I'll take a look at it then. Was thinking it was from a third party, but I see it's from Seekers of Secrets.


That keeps the discussion open on SoW then. (I actually have a copy of that book, so was able to double check and it's in the very back.)

I'm OK with SoW overall, having just finished reading it through. I don't think the level 10 ability (Deadly Blow) is very well thought out, because it pretty much ignores WHY certain creatures are immune to critical hits/sneak attack. (Really, try to find the 'chink' in the slime puddle's armor. Really. Try.) But, it's not unplayable by any stretch, so I'll give it a pass.

Now that I've had the chance to familiarize myself with SoW, I'm pretty comfortable with it. Still letting others chime in in case I have missed something pertinent.
The way I read it, by 10th level, the Student of War is so adept at applying her knowledge of physiology, mechanics, planar physics, or (in the case of a slime or ooze) macro-cellular biology to her technique that she can strike in such a way as to disrupt and damage even the strangest foes.

A skeleton's DR/bashing means little if the SoW knows how to strike in such a way that it disrupts the very necromantic energies holding it together.

Sure that demon might be resistant to mundane blades, but a knowledgeable man knows how to strike where the skin is thinnest.

That ooze may have just consumed the party's rogue but it won't have time to digest if bookish elf keeps splitting the exterior membrane like that and breaking up the nearly imperceptible clusters of organelles suspended within.


It isn't that some sort of quasi-plausible explanation could not be offered, but that the ability is sufficiently questionable that it would be the sort of thing that pulls me enough out of the moment enough to wonder how the heck the guy is doing it in the first place.

Certain abilities just mesh better with the artificial reality of the game than others... this one is just a little less meshy than most. However, it's clearly defined and arbitrate, so I am not against it. I was just noting it carried that feel for me.

Or, another way of looking at it: there is probably a level of silly implausibility that I would hold against a proposal, but this isn't that bad.

Does that make sense?