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Pathfinder 1E The Nimble Ninja versus the Armoured AntiPaladin

Metasyntactic

First Post
Greetings & Good Tidings RP’ers!

Saw some cracking debates going on – so thought I would wade in with our own mini-rift of discussion and get some seasoned expert views.

We’re debating the whole difference between a nimble character (high AC dex based) versus a full plated ‘tank’ style character.

The main points being that nimble characters will have feats to stop them being caught flat footed (so its not like they ever lose their dex bonuses), plus things like magical bracers that give +7 AC as long as no armour is worn.

So in our game, the ninja has an AC of 26-30 and 90-100 HP, where as the AntiPaladin in full plate and heavy shield has an AC of 24 and 80-90 HP.

The ninja has feets that boost this – and the AntiPaladin does have spells etc, but with a skill focus mainly on intimidation and the sort (so more skill driven than actual ‘tank’)

Without actually rolling it – theres a debate who would win in a fight. With poisoned katanas versus a sword/halberd, the damage is actually pretty even – perhaps slightly in favour of the AntiP, but it does seem a little too close – considering what the characters ‘are’.

Pros and Cons? Observations?

I dare say that if the AntiP unleashed even some Lv2 spells (Blindness, Scare) along with the Corruption Touch, this would certainly hurt, but with it being touch – then we’re back into CMB/CMD which is weighted in the favour of the ‘nimble’ ninja all jumpy and dodgy.

How do people perceive this sort of battle?
 

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Blackbrrd

First Post
This is my view:
Ninja > Samurai > Anti-Paladin > Paladin

No surprise that the ninja wins, although I do think that a game system that lets the lightly armored character have better defenses than the highly armored character has gone wrong at some point...
 

In theory, they should be balanced (if a ninja curbstomps a samurai, it's because Hanzo is a higher-level ninja than the samurai he just beat), but of course it's actually a team game.

Ninja (and rogues) are reliant on teams for "free" sneak attacking. But they get spells, depending on level. So, which level?

Greetings & Good Tidings RP’ers!

Saw some cracking debates going on – so thought I would wade in with our own mini-rift of discussion and get some seasoned expert views.

We’re debating the whole difference between a nimble character (high AC dex based) versus a full plated ‘tank’ style character.

The main points being that nimble characters will have feats to stop them being caught flat footed (so its not like they ever lose their dex bonuses), plus things like magical bracers that give +7 AC as long as no armour is worn.

So in our game, the ninja has an AC of 26-30 and 90-100 HP, where as the AntiPaladin in full plate and heavy shield has an AC of 24 and 80-90 HP.

How did the ninja get so many hit points?

The ninja has feets that boost this – and the AntiPaladin does have spells etc, but with a skill focus mainly on intimidation and the sort (so more skill driven than actual ‘tank’)

Without actually rolling it – theres a debate who would win in a fight. With poisoned katanas versus a sword/halberd, the damage is actually pretty even – perhaps slightly in favour of the AntiP, but it does seem a little too close – considering what the characters ‘are’.

Ninja with katana? *Sigh* Anti-paladins casting Blind... which is a very nasty spell against a Dex-monkey, but if the ninja can stay invisible the anti-paladin can't even find them. The anti-paladin shouldn't bother with touch spells, not against someone who can move like the wind.
 

Metasyntactic

First Post
Some valid points.

Not sure how he has so many HP. I would have to double check his HP dice, see if he has Toughness or the like – then assess. Just look to see if the rolls are viable (did he roll 10 8s in a row?)

These are level 12 characters by the by.

I don’t think the Ninja does have spells… Or at least I haven’t seem/witness him cast any. Perhaps he has some illusion things he hasn’t used yet.

I think most of the AntiP damage is from Touch, like Corruption. But spells like Litany of Sight would make his invisibility (if he had it) useless.

If we’re talking one-on-one (which I think they are), then yes, the chance of the ninja stealthing and flanking/backstabbing the AntiP is pretty long shot.

As stated, the AntiP is very skill based and not tank’ish. So Perception etc is incredibly high (although would most DMs out there allow a Stealth Check versus Targets Perception?)

I do think that a game system that lets the lightly armored character have better defenses than the highly armored character has gone wrong at some point...

I used to remember this (way back when) as pure DR. Plate would have 5-6/DR or something. But the mentalitiy has changed now that an Armour Class is your ability to be hit.

So if you’re a “Dex Monkey” (cracking term!) then you are harder to hit – where as Full Plate is easy to hit but harder to penetrate for an actual ‘hit’ (i.e. damage).

But with those ridiculous bracers plus feats boosting AC, it does seem a little biased. I play quite a lot of Rogue/Archers, so stick out of trouble mostly, so don’t get into many of these problems understanding how two other characters will play out. Saying that, my Elvish Archer/Rogue still has 20-something AC at level 8-9.

Just seems bizarre.

I think with the AntiPs Fiendish Boon weapon (+3 at Lv12) that does give a +19/+14/+9 to hit on a full round of attacking – so you’d think even against the 29AC (ish) of the Ninja, that could still be 1/2 hits a round at D10+9

Just depends on what the Ninja is hitting for. Plus, poisons wouldn’t have any affect on the AntiP // Plague Bearer benefit.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
So the Ninja has more hit points (higher level?) and more magic? And one of the anti-paladin's big tools is useless because he's facing another evil character?

Seems sub-optimal for a general tank versus dex comparison.
 

Metasyntactic

First Post
The Ninja isn’t Evil, I think he’s CN… But fairly sure he’s Neutral something.

Both characters are Level 12.

But magic is unknown, as I don’t know Ninja build that well (so don’t understand what they get). I just about know AntiP from years of knowledge of Paladins.

But this isn’t a mere Tank versus Dex Monkey.

More the argument of Armour versus Nimble’ness in terms of AC.

The AntiP isn’t by any means a tank, more an agent of corruption (skill focus, Intimidation, Bluff, Sense Motive, Perception, so more a Clever Manipulator). Plenty of ‘Fear’ based magic too, which coupled with their auras (Fear, Evil etc). Hmm, whilst I'm writing it – sounds a bit more Darth Sidious! Haha. Uses morale as a weapon. Blindness, Disease, Stun, Paralysis, Shaken, Frighten, etc.

But if you take the ‘extras’ out of it and went for a hit-for-hit, I think the Paladin would have it, due to better base attack (number and bonus). Without whipping the book out, I couldn’t confirm if a ninja is better than +12/7/2

But in my own mind, you’d think that if an AntiPaladin landed a hit on a no-armour ninja with an unholy instrument of fear (haha) then it should do more damage than a ninja flailing at full plate with a Katana.

Arguably, finding the gap in the armour to land the hit, would be less of a hit then an overhead strike with a two handed Halberd on un-armoured-adversaries.

I think I'm just struggling to play it out in my head.

I think we might have to homebrew some rules concerning damage reduction or something… Just to even up the ‘taking damage’ side of things.

Taking out the AC argument, if the two above characters took a hit from a long sword – surely they would both be able to take a different level of punishment.

Or perhaps they are both not fighting to their advantages. Perhaps the Paladin (with weight/strength) would do well grappling – but getting a ninja in a grapple would be difficult.

Hmm… I don’t think theres a definitive answer out there :D
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
No surprise that the ninja wins, although I do think that a game system that lets the lightly armored character have better defenses than the highly armored character has gone wrong at some point...

I think that's just a fundamental issue with wrapping "evasion" into the same number as "hard" or "tough". The way AC and HPs are traditionally defined is so abstract its almost non-sense. I mean, one could make a case for almost any of the ability scores to affect either one or both of them.

The only method I've seen that makes sense of it is taken in Dungeon World and FATE:Accelerated Edition. In those games, when something puts you at risk of harm, you have to describe how you are responding. So your evasiveness, inherent toughnesses, and armor don't end up stacking in ways that make you scratch your head.
 

Both characters are Level 12.

That AC seems low for level 12.

But magic is unknown, as I don’t know Ninja build that well (so don’t understand what they get). I just about know AntiP from years of knowledge of Paladins.

The ninja is a controversial class in Pathfinder because it has magic (and basically has all the rogue stuff). Unless you meant the ninja archetype of the rogue.

But this isn’t a mere Tank versus Dex Monkey.

More the argument of Armour versus Nimble’ness in terms of AC.

We would need breakdowns of AC. Before 4th Edition, AC was based mainly on ability scores and magic items. In 3rd Edition this is only somewhat predictable. It's very easy for a DM to not give out the right amount of magic items. Shields complicate the issue.

Given the ninja's lack of optimization, it's quite possible the players didn't optimize their AC properly either. For instance, it's not a good idea to buy a really good magic armor and then a weak ring of protection. Splitting the costs as evenly as possible is more optimized than that (even if it's not necessarily the most optimal way of boosting AC). The anti-paladin has a pretty low AC score for being 12th-level. The ninja should also not be using +7 bracers of armor, that's 49,000 gp on one item. They should split that cost between cheaper bracers (+3 goes for 9,000 gp, +4 goes for 16,000 gp) and spending the rest on Dex-boosting items (up to +3), ring of protection (+1 goes for 2,000 gp, +2 for 8,000 gp) and an amulet of natural armor (same prices as the ring). With +3 bracers, +2 ring and +2 amulet, you spend 25,000 gp and get the same benefit. Now put the rest into gloves of Dexterity and you can boost your AC by another 3 points and +3 to hit, provided he took Weapon Finesse, and why wouldn't he?

But if you take the ‘extras’ out of it and went for a hit-for-hit, I think the Paladin would have it, due to better base attack (number and bonus). Without whipping the book out, I couldn’t confirm if a ninja is better than +12/7/2

How does a ninja have such a low attack bonus? They should have taken Weapon Finesse. The anti-paladin probably won't win just by swinging, they need to use their actual abilities. Blind and then use Corrupting Touch.

But in my own mind, you’d think that if an AntiPaladin landed a hit on a no-armour ninja with an unholy instrument of fear (haha) then it should do more damage than a ninja flailing at full plate with a Katana.

Oh right, the ninja is using a katana. Unless ninjas can finesse katanas, that was a really unoptimized choice on the player's part. It's not even thematic.

Taking out the AC argument, if the two above characters took a hit from a long sword – surely they would both be able to take a different level of punishment.

The anti-paladin should have had more hit points. I don't know why he doesn't.

Or perhaps they are both not fighting to their advantages. Perhaps the Paladin (with weight/strength) would do well grappling – but getting a ninja in a grapple would be difficult.

It's Pathfinder. Noone actually wants to use the grappling rules. Trust me on this.

I think, from what I'm reading, the battle will actually be boring. The anti-paladin might forget his abilities, complain that he can't smite the ninja, and just swing, eventually (probably) winning. It'll be a slow DPS race. The ninja's oversized weapon will just bounce off the anti-paladin, and there will be no sneak attacking if he doesn't use his spells to turn invisible. (And even then, he can only attack once or twice per round, as the anti-paladin will probably start moving to keep down the number of attacks.)
 

Metasyntactic

First Post
Some more cracking points.

I too thought the AntiP looked low. Even the other fighter in the party claims a ridiculous AC and he too is wearing Full Plate, but no shield.

I have the AntiP character sheet (hence my better knowledge of this character) but the Ninja one was left at where we play. Doh.

The AntiP AC is Base 10 + Folding Plate +10 + Max Dex +1 (From +3) + Dodge +1 + Large Metal Shield +2 = 24 AC

And from memory, the Ninja is something like Base 10 + Bracers +7 + Ring/Amulet of Protection +2 + Dex +5 + Dodge +1 + Size Bonus +1 (Halfling) = AC 26 (off the top of my head – I dare say theres more somewhere)

Even if the AntiPaladin was level 4, he would still have the same AC – I don’t see how AC can improve over levels, unless the DM grants some magical loveliness :D

As for hit points, a level 12 Anti-Paladin, with D10 hit points x 12 (+12x +1 Con Bonus), if they rolled an average 5 per roll, that would be 60 + 12 + Toughness 12 = 84.

So could just have been bad rolls.

In those games, when something puts you at risk of harm, you have to describe how you are responding. So your evasiveness, inherent toughnesses, and armor don't end up stacking in ways that make you scratch your head.

That’s a brilliant system, I might have to try and steal an element of that when I next DM. Actually describing the defence! Brilliant. People tend to describe how they are attacking, styles, cleave etc, so why not defence. I like it.

I have mocked up the character sheet for the AntiP on PCGen and I have a HTM File (and TXT) file of the character… If theres a way to attach here – would love to do that. Give everyone a look – they might point out something missed – or something foolish!
 

Metasyntactic

First Post
Muhahaha!

Just worked out how I could attach it!

Heres the AntiPaladin. I think ive accurately transferred his sheet.
 

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Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Paladin had bad HP rolls (would be at least 100 with toughness and 12 con if it used the 6hp/level after 1st that the society does, depending on what he took for his favored class bonus)

Ring of Telekinesis = 75,000 gp <- Is this the main decider? The Ninja has +7 bracers (49,000gp), while the Anti-Paladin has this and a bunch of much smaller things. Does he have some tactical purpose in mind for the ring? It and the +3 Halbred are worth almost as much as a +5 Halbred of wounding, or it and Iron Man's suitcase are worth +5 plate with 2 plusses of special combined with a +5 shield with plus of special.
 

N'raac

First Post
I too thought the AntiP looked low. Even the other fighter in the party claims a ridiculous AC and he too is wearing Full Plate, but no shield.

I have the AntiP character sheet (hence my better knowledge of this character) but the Ninja one was left at where we play. Doh.

The AntiP AC is Base 10 + Folding Plate +10 + Max Dex +1 (From +3) + Dodge +1 + Large Metal Shield +2 = 24 AC

First thing I note is pretty much no magic for AC. He has focused whatever wealth he has in other areas. I didn't do the math, but he intuitively seems well below the WBL for a L12 character. [EDIT - no, it's the Ring of Telekinesis - again, not an AC focus.] The ability to keep advancing AC is contingent on the ability to direct wealth to that purpose, as AC does not otherwise bump up as levels are gained. A few feats can help a bit (he has Dodge; there are some shield feats) but not a lot. Plus, as you note, his DEX bonus is capped. Special material for his armor is a common approach to getting around that, but again requires money. He also doesn't look to use spells to enhance his AC. His focus is clearly not on defense.

And from memory, the Ninja is something like Base 10 + Bracers +7 + Ring/Amulet of Protection +2 + Dex +5 + Dodge +1 + Size Bonus +1 (Halfling) = AC 26 (off the top of my head – I dare say theres more somewhere)

Looks like a lot more money spent here - maybe he's closer to WBL?

As for hit points, a level 12 Anti-Paladin, with D10 hit points x 12 (+12x +1 Con Bonus), if they rolled an average 5 per roll, that would be 60 + 12 + Toughness 12 = 84.

He starts with 12 hp at 1st level (10 + 1 for CON + 1 for toughness, since he gets 1/level at this point). 72 over the next 11 levels is an average of 6.55 per level, so rolls averaging 4.55, almost 1 below average. He has about average hp for a L12 character with d10, 12 CON and no Toughness. Of course, if the Ninja consistently rolls high, and/or has a better CON, he can quickly outstrip the antipaladin. A CON 12, d10 character, on average, will have the same hp as a CON 14, d8 character (6.5 per roll each; d10 gets a 1 hp advantage at L1).

Looks like he realize his hp were sucking wind, so he took Toughness. With more games switching to point buy, hp is the last random chance aspect of characters.
 
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Metasyntactic

First Post
Some valid observations there.

I hadn’t noticed the ring (nor the cost), but it has been useful for certain things.

Because he’s a Dhampir/AntiP, he uses the stealth a bit (whilst not iron man’d), so its more a dual purpose character – as the party doesn’t really have a scout.

The ring plays a part in underhand things as well as the spell in full force (for pushing). Was also a pivotal in one battle where the party was panicked, dropped all weapons and were 120ft away from the battle. So the AntiP picked up all the weapons (can lift 12 items upto 300lbs total) and flung them all to the back of the room – essentially saving the party. So ill give him that one! haha

I was surprised to see they get pluses to Stealth, but like I said before, it seems more Agent of Manipulation.

Spot on above, there isn’t a focus on AC, and there are a few spells in the arsenal I believe, such as Defile Armour?

Theres a lot of focus on attach (improved initiative, critical etc).

To clarify, its not a Halberd +3 (well, it is) but it’s the AntiPs Fiendish Boon weapon. So becomes +3 at Lv12. The shield is used with the Morningstar in ‘normal’ scenarios and the shield is animated to allow the Halberd in 2H mode.

Hmm, perhaps the AntiP has gone ‘over’ tactical, with their strengths in the bark not the bite?

But working as a type of Infiltrator, he’s playing really well.

Special material for his armor is a common approach to getting around that, but again requires money.

Buy special material? How so?
 

The character sheet shows this lack of optimization I was mentioning earlier.

For instance, a paladin doesn't generally need a high Dex. In Pathfinder, a fighter can get an advantage out of this due to Armor Specialization, but a paladin cannot. By trading his armor for mithral plate, he could get another +2 AC for minimal cost. Also, he needs to get in enhanced to at least +3. That's only 9,000 gp. Also, he has no other AC-boosting items, specifically a ring of protection and an amulet of natural armor.

I'm pretty sure an animated shield must be magical, so he's lost at least 1 point of AC somehow.

Take a look at the NPC Codex. The NPCs are available for free on one or two SRDs. See if the named paladin is available too; they have PCs at 7th and 12th level. The wealth breakdowns (in terms of offense and defense) are not well understood by a lot of player, and DMs need to learn this and then teach players about it.

Link: http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/npcCodex/iconic/seelah.html

Seelah has not optimized her AC but has still gotten 7 points of magical AC (costing her only 25,000 gp since she has both armor and shield).

While a Ring of Telekinesis might seem useful, that's something any PC could use. I don't see anything suggesting it's particularly useful to this anti-paladin. It's taking away 75,000 gp; he should sell it for more useful gear, and leave telekinesis to a wizard PC who can cast it by this level.

The ninja's AC-spending isn't perfectly optimized, but at least they made an attempt. While we don't have their sheet yet, it seems they really did badly in the attack area. Someone needs to get that ninja a magical ninja-to or short sword!

Defile Armor won't work: As sanctify armor (You imbue your armor with a righteous aura. It gains a +1 enhancement bonus per four caster levels (maximum +5 at 20th level). When using your judgment or smite ability, you gain DR 5/evil.), except you gain DR 5/good when using your judgment or smite ability. (Since the anti-paladin cannot smite the ninja.) Although I suspect this is useful in most encounters, if it's an evil party.
 
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Lord Pendragon

First Post
The anti-paladin's armor and shield appear only slightly enchanted, whereas the ninja has purchased +7 bracers of armor, an item worth 49,000gp. If the anti-paladin were to invest as much in his own AC, it would be on par with the ninja's.

My current PC is a dex-based magus, and as far as I can tell, dex-based characters have no special advantage over heavy armor builds until you get into super-high dex levels (we're talking +10-+11 here). Until that point, max dex bonus restrictions on armor will keep the two even.

I do wonder what the anti-paladin has done with all that extra money that the ninja spent on his bracers. Does he have a crazyawesomesupersword? Is he riding a dragon? Something?
 

Metasyntactic

First Post
I do wonder what the anti-paladin has done with all that extra money that the ninja spent on his bracers. Does he have a crazyawesomesupersword? Is he riding a dragon? Something?

I think you missed the prior comments, but he has a 75,000GP Ring of Telekinesis. Its been used a bit, so seems valid. But I'm suspecting this could have been well spent elsewhere.

He does have a crazyawesomesuperhalberd though, but that’s due to his AntiP talents.

I think that’s the short and curlies of it. Its only marginally about the skills points/feats, but more “investment”.

May have to mention this and see if they’ll perhaps do some metagaming, or give the character the opportunity to sell it off (usually the DM is pretty strict with this, and even stricter when it comes to lead times on magical items).
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I think you missed the prior comments, but he has a 75,000GP Ring of Telekinesis. Its been used a bit, so seems valid. But I'm suspecting this could have been well spent elsewhere.
<snip> May have to mention this and see if they’ll perhaps do some metagaming, or give the character the opportunity to sell it off (usually the DM is pretty strict with this, and even stricter when it comes to lead times on magical items).

I actually think him having the ring is cool in game and wouldn't try to get him to switch -- it seems like he has an interesting picture in his head for role-playing his anti-Paladin. It's just that he doesn't fill the traditional fighter slot entirely and so isn't great for roll-playing a tank.
 

Lord Pendragon

First Post
I think you missed the prior comments, but he has a 75,000GP Ring of Telekinesis.
D'oh! I did indeed miss that. But now that you point it out, yeah, that explains a lot! :p

I think that’s the short and curlies of it. Its only marginally about the skills points/feats, but more “investment”.
Yep. Given equal investment, most PCs are going to come out with roughly equal defenses, unless their class is particularly defense-oriented. If one PC puts a lot more of their resources into defense, well...

May have to mention this and see if they’ll perhaps do some metagaming, or give the character the opportunity to sell it off (usually the DM is pretty strict with this, and even stricter when it comes to lead times on magical items).
I somewhat agree with Cadence. Is the anti-paladin's weaker defense becoming an issue? I mean, if he's endangering the group because he's too squishy it might be an interesting in-game RP discussion to have between PCs. On the other hand if the group is trucking along just fine, there's little reason to try and convince him to get rid of the ring.
 

N'raac

First Post
I think you missed the prior comments, but he has a 75,000GP Ring of Telekinesis. Its been used a bit, so seems valid. But I'm suspecting this could have been well spent elsewhere.

He does have a crazyawesomesuperhalberd though, but that’s due to his AntiP talents.

I think that’s the short and curlies of it. Its only marginally about the skills points/feats, but more “investment”.

I think it's about investment in all areas. I can invest attribute points, skill points, feats, featured class bonuses and wealth in various aspects of my character. I don't think this character is being designed as a tank. A tank focus would suggest higher CON (more hp), more wealth (and maybe feats) spent on AC enhancing armor (maybe a CON item given his low hp rolls), and directing his favoured class bonus to hp (he has 56 skill ranks, and gets 4/level, so he's spent 8 FC bonuses on skills, not sure where the other 4 went - maybe his hp rolls were even worse than we thought).

Given the poor hp rolls, it's just as well he didn't focus on being a tank!

I echo the sentiments above - the current structure is only an issue if the goal was to be a tank, and he's not able to fill that role, but he wants to. It looks like he has chosen to focus on a different role, which is great. Let the Ninja be the guy that's hard to hit and let the AP fill the niche he has chosen to fill.

There's no "wrong way to play". AC can be maximized by spreading bonuses over armor, shield (animated if need be), amulet of natural armor and ring of protection (maybe DEX, etc.), but there is no reason the game must be played as an exercise in maximizing the math, with the characters popping down to the Local Magicks Shoppe to pick up a Ring of Protection 3.0 for each character on its release day.
 

brvheart

First Post
The 16 in Dex is wasted with the Full Plate and would have been better used in CON giving him another 24 HP. As others have pointed out he has done nothing to improve his AC at level 12. It should be around 30. No magic for the armor, nat armor or ring of protection all to get a ring of telekinesis. Not sure how such a poorly optimized character even made it to level 12.
 

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