Pathfinder: Kingmaker Build Traps Guide and How to Avoid Them

Pathfinder: Kingmaker game guide focuses on build traps and how to avoid them. It gives you basic tips and tricks on building traps and how to avoid them in Pathfinder: Kingmaker game. The guide includes topics such as defense over offense, dual wielding, weapon focus, direct damage spells, and healing in combat. While writing this instruction, we pick up many pieces of information from several sites for you. We hope that this guide will help you.

3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons, which the Pathfinder system is based on, has been out for almost 20 years. Over the system’s lifetime, it has been made clear that not all options are created equal and several options that seem like good ideas are actually much worse than others. Very few of these inequalities have been evened out in the transitions to 3.5 and to Pathfinder, and when you’re not adding the numbers yourself it can be very easy to miss some of the blatant ones. This guide will cover some of the blatant ones so you can avoid falling for them.

Build Traps and How to Avoid Them

Defense over Offense

At level 1, a character with 18 strength (+4 bonus) wielding a longsword and a heavy shield will do 1d8+4 (~8.5) damage, or 1d8+6 (~10.5) with Power Attack. The same character wielding a greatsword will do 2d6+6 (~13) or 2d6+9 (~16) with Power Attack. This gap increases even further as power attack bonus increases and belts of strength are acquired: At level 8 with all the character’s levels in a full BAB bonus class (Fighter, Barbarian, Paladin, Ranger, Slayer, Monk), a +2 strength belt, a +2 weapon and both level up bonuses in strength (total 22 with +6 bonus) this becomes 1d8+9 (~13.5) or 1d8+14 (~18.5) vs. 2d6+11 (~18) or 2d6+20 (~27).

This comparison gets even worse with a barbarian, whose strength increase adds +2 damage to the sword and board character, but +3 to the two-handed weapon user or a Two Handed Fighter that adds double strength to damage instead of 1.5.

By using a shield, you’re giving up over a third of your damage to increase your AC by less than a fourth of its value: With 12 dexterity, full plate +1, Amulet of Natural Armor +1 and Ring of Protection +1 results in a character with an AC bonus of +12, which even a +1 shield (which you have to find/pay for) only adds +3 to this. This decreases to a fifth with a +2 armor, amulet and ring (+15) vs. a +2 shield (+4) and will just keep spiraling down when buffs and other sources of AC increase come into play while the bonus of high strength grows larger and larger.

If the increase in AC being inefficient for the damage lost were not enough, one also runs into the problem that AC only protects against attack rolls and a shield’s increase does not apply to touch AC while offering no protection against any spell effect in the game, so against some foes a shield is outright useless. What does offer protection against spell effects (and other save based hazards like a dragon’s breath) is killing their user before they can use them, an easier task when your damage is much higher.

Fighting defensively, Stalwart Defender and Aldori Swordlord are poor choices for the same reasons. Valerie is a pretty terrible fighter for this reason, and her alignment, deity and her low strength renders her difficult to salvage without DLC (Kinetic Knight) or mods (Bloodrager, Oracle, Respec).

Dual Wielding

Dual wielding has its uses, but is most often a trap feat chain. If you have the Two-Weapon Fighting feat, dual wielding trades -2 penalties on all attacks for another attack. While this seems nice, there are several problems here.

Firstly is that the feats require high dexterity to qualify for, meaning you can’t get attribute bonus to damage unless you have 3+ levels in Rogue (who adds dexterity to damage), or bypass the requirements with Ranger or Slayer’s bonus feats (allowing for a strength based dual wielder).

Power Attack is even less effective than it is for a sword and board character (see above), and you have smaller damage die from the smaller weapons you are using. Additionally, you need to actually get two weapons to two weapon fight, which makes your attack bonus lag even further. Most importantly however is that you need to stand still to full attack, which means you won’t be doing it till at least your second turn (unless the enemy is a melee attacker hitting you, which isn’t something you want).

At level 8 with Weapon Finesse, Two-Weapon Fighting, Improved Two-Weapon Fighting and Greater Two-Weapon Fighting a melee character dual wielding +1 agile short swords with full BAB, 22 dexterity (after belt), 12 strength will do 1d6+7 damage five times. Assuming all these hit (which they won’t with the penalties you’re taking) you’ll do ~52.5 damage. Our above mentioned two-handed fighter will be doing ~27 damage a swing for both of his swings, is more likely to hit both times, can deliver much greater damage on an opening charge while spending 3 fewer feats, requires one fewer weapon to do this and gets a lot more out of being buffed by Haste.

Dual wielding does have one way to make it more useful however, and that’s by adding some consistent source of bonus damage. For example if our dual wielding character were a Fighter, he could apply his Weapon Training bonus (+1, +2 with Lesser Gloves of Dueling) and Weapon Specialization (+2) to add 4 damage to each of his five two weapon fighting attacks for a total of ~72.5, which becomes ~77.5 when Weapon Training improves next level. Compared to the two-handed weapon guy’s ~62/~64, you’ve come out ahead, but at heavy investment.

Fighter (Weapon Training, Gloves of Dueling and Weapon Specialization), Slayer (studied Target, sneak attack) and Rogue (sneak attack, finesse training) are the classes with consistent ways to add extra damage and Bard can add further extra damage to allies. The Slayer and Rogue both require some other melee combatant engage the same enemy before they do get the most out of their damage.

Weapon Focus

The game recommends Weapon Focus a lot. Don’t take it. All weapon focus does is add +1 to attack rolls. This means increasing your hit chance by a mere 5%, and this feat will only do something once every twenty attacks. You only want to take weapon focus so you can take other feats that require it.

Notable feats that require it are Slashing/Fencing Grace (add dexterity to damage when using only a single weapon and no shield, mandatory for most Magus and some melee bards), Dazzling Display (intimidate multiple enemies at once as a full round action, note that most of its support feats are absent from this game) and several Fighter only feats (some of which can be taken by high level Magus as well), most notable Weapon Specialization. If you’re not taking one of those feats, you only want to take it if you really have nothing better to take (which can be a problem for Kineticist).

Direct Damage Spells

Many spells, including some of the most iconic, only do direct damage. This is a problem because if the attack doesn’t kill the enemy, they are just as effective at striking back as if you did nothing. At level 8 a wizard throwing a Fireball will do 8d6 damage, a mere ~28 damage to a group of enemies that will have several times that HP, and they could make a reflex save to half the damage and/or have fire resistance that will reduce it even further.

Recall our the benchmark, the two-handed weapon user, who does over double that on each attack, and is fairly likely to hit on his first attack. It’s clear direct damage spells aren’t effective options.

This is not to say casters are useless however, in-fact they are far from it. Casters can absolutely cripple enemies with spells that are known as Save or Suck/Lose/Die spells, which inflict crippling status conditions on an enemy (and some such spells don’t even allow a save) leaving them at the mercy of your martial combatants. The saving throw for these effects is just as difficult as the save a target must make to avoid taking full damage from area spells, but the effect is much greater.

Examples of these spells include Cause Fear, Color Spray, Ear Piercing Scream (notice this one is a damage spell with a save or suck rider effect, which is the best kind), Grease and Sleep. If you read the descriptions of these spells you can notice these spells can target different saves (Fortitude, Reflex or Will). You can make these spells very effective by picking one that targets a save that an enemy has a low bonus in. Even if you can’t make the Knowledge checks to know what an enemy is weak to, it’s often possible to guess the weakest save by their general type. For example big stompy monsters (like trolls) rarely have high will and reflex saves, while enemy casters will have low fortitude saves.

The main exceptions to direct damage spells being a poor choice is Magus and Arcane Trickster/Eldritch Scoundrel. Touch spells are generally quite efficient in damage, since they were designed on the assumption that delivering the touch to an enemy is risky for the squishy wizard and have high power for their level accordingly, but the magus isn’t (as) squishy and can attack in melee while they throw out shocking grasp.

Arcane Trickster is similar, but gets Sneak Attack as bonus damage on touch spells, which can add a lot of damage. Arcane Trickster, like 3E but unlike PF, gets multiple sneak attacks on spells that give multiple touch attacks (Scorching Ray).

Buff spells are excellent, though note that for defensive boosts those that impose a miss chance (Mirror Image) are better than those that only add an AC bonus (Shield).

Healing in Combat

Unless an ally is in negative HP or you’re removing a nasty condition, don’t do it. Cure spells heal even less damage than direct damage spells (which are already low on damage) do, and to fewer targets. Instead have your caster help neutralize the threat so you take less damage overall, then heal once combat is over.

Potions are an especially inefficient method of healing. Ideally you’d be able to buy wands of Cure Light Wounds for very efficient healing, but no vendors offer them. If you have the crafting mod, you can put the Craft Wand feat on the cleric you’re not using actively and have them pump out Wands of CLW for you.

Without the mod though, you can still buy scrolls which are still more cost effective (if your party doesn’t have an Alchemist, Bard, Cleric, Inquisitor or, with mods, Oracle/Skald AND also doesn’t have someone with UMD you should rethink your party).

This is the ending of Pathfinder: Kingmaker Build Traps and How to Avoid Them guide. Hope it will help you. If there is wrong or you have suggestions, please let’s know and comment us. Have fun.

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