This page is a personal wish list for fixes, clarifications, and errata which I feel would make meaningful improvements to Pathfinder’s balance and playability. Many of the issues are relics from d20/3.5, but some are design issues, open questions, or typographical errors specific to Pathfinder.
- Blessed: A +1 bonus to all saves is great, even if it’s only for one round, but it’s impossible to know when to use this.
Fix Idea: Make it an immediate action. I would probably still take any of the other saving throw traits over this, but this would at least make it worth consideration.
- Bloodrager – Bloodrider Archetype: Blood Bond ends with “This ability replaces the bloodline feat gained at.”
- Bloodrager – Sacred Fist Archetype: Sense Motive is listed twice as a class skill.
- Bloodrager – Spelleater Archetype: Blood of Life text has some very obvious errors.
- Bloodrager – Undead Bloodline: How long does Frightful Strikes last? And how does it interact with Frightful Charger?
- Brawler – Steel-Breaker Archetype: Exploit Weakness needs to provide some bonus to the Wisdom check, or it becomes unusable by around level 12.
- Brawler – Wild Child Archetype: This archetype replaces the bonus feats gained at 5th, 11th, and 14th level twice.
- Fighter – Cad Archetype: This archetype replaces Weapon Training 3 and 4 twice.
- Fighter – Roughrider Archetype: This archetype replaces Armor Training 4 twice.
- Fighter – Tactician Archetype: This archetype replaces Weapon Training 1, but leaves 2, 3, and 4. This apparently means that you still get Weapon Training 1, 2, and 3, but you get them at the levels at which you would normally get 2, 3, and 4. The explanation for this is buried in the rules for archetypes: “If an archetype replaces a class feature that’s part of a series of improvements or additions to the base class’s ability (such as a fighter’s weapon training or a ranger’s favored enemy), the next time the character would gain that ability, it counts as the lower-level ability that was replaced by the archetype.” While the rule itself isn’t complicated once you find it, this is the only place I know of where the rule actually occurs. It’s extremely abnormal, which makes it confusing.
- Fighter – Thunderstrike Archetype: This archetype seems to be based on a questionable rules interpretation based on the idea that you can change your grip on a weapon as a free action, but doesn’t explicitly state that you can use a weapon two-handed in the same round in which you use two-weapon fighting to attack with your buckler. Can you do so? When you do, do you retain the buckler’s bonus to AC? Can characters wielding two-handed weapons remove one hand from their weapon at the end of their turn to get the buckler’s bonus to AC until their next turn? Does Knockback Smash stack with Shield Mastery?
- Fighter – Unarmed Fighter Archetype: This archetype replaces Weapon Training 2 and 3 twice.
- Gunslinger – Bolt Ace Archetype: The Bolt Ace retains several firearm related abilities, including the battered firearm and firearm proficiency. These should be removed. Also: “The bolt thrower swaps the following deeds.”
- Hunter – Verminous Hunter Archetype: The Vermin Focus (Leech) option says both “this bleed stacks with itself” and “Bleed damage from this ability does not stack with itself”. Which is it?
- Investigator – Steel Hound Archetype: The Steel Hound doesn’t receive Grit, but needs it to use its one shitty deed.
- Magus – Spell List: The Magus’ best spell is Shocking Grasp. Shocking Grasp is a first level spell. While it’s amazing how long a Magus can keep a 1st-level spell relevant, it severely limits the Magus’ effectiveness at high levels. Vampiric Touch is the Magus’ second good choice for Spellstrike, but its damage doesn’t match Shocking Grasp until 10th level, and won’t match Intensified Shocking Grasp until 20th level. The Magus desperately needs some offensive spell options added to their 4th and 5th-level spells. There are several area of effect options like Fireball, Cone of Cold, and Acidic Spray, but because the Magus typically won’t have Intelligence as high as a wizard and because their spell levels lag behind full casters, the Magus has serious issues with their spell DC’s. The Magus really needs options that normally rely on touch attacks instead of saving throws.
- Monk – Ki Leech and Hungry Ghost’s Steal Ki Ability: These abilities are fantastically helpful to the Monk, but they’re so powerful and abusable that the Monk can carry around a barrel of helpless creatures and use them as a pool of free Ki.
Fix Idea: Add a restriction similar to Grit and Panache that you can’t get Ki from helpless/unconscious creatures or creatures with less than half of the character’s Hit Dice.
- Oracle – Possessed Archetype: This archetype replaces the Mystery spell at 1st level, but no spells are granted at first level.
- Paladin – Holy Guide Archetype: This archetype replaces the Mercy gained at 5th level, but the Paladin doesn’t get a Mercy at 5th level.
- Ranger – Hunter’s Bond (Animal Companion): The limited list of animal choices available to the Ranger is hugely limiting, and it has never been expanded, whereas the Druid’s list expands every time a new Bestiary is published.
Fix Idea: Either expand the Ranger’s list of choices, allow Boon Companion to open up the list of choices, or add a new feat to allow the Ranger to choose some new options.
- Ranger – Hunter’s Bond (Companions): This options is awful. Everything about it is awful. It takes a move action, which is crippling for a combat class like the Ranger which needs their Full Attack to do damage. The duration is awful; most Rangers probably have a Wisdom modifier between 1 and 4. The bonus is very situational due to the limitations on Favored Enemy, and the bonus is tiny because the Favored Enemy bonus is already fairly small. The only redeeming quality of the ability is that it can be used an infinite number of times per day.
Fix Idea: Change the ability to be usable as a Swift Action, but limit it to 3/day + Wisdom modifier. You might also consider awarding the full Favored Enemy bonus because the bonus will already be fairly small unless the Ranger happens upon whatever type of enemy he has chosen to devote all of his resources to. Of course, if a Ranger chooses to only increase his bonus against one type of Favored Enemy, he should be rewarded for doing so on the rare occasions that he faces that enemy. One-trick ponies should be rewarded when their trick finally comes into play.
- Rogues: The Rogue really needs some love. From day 1 of Pathfinder, people have complained that the Rogue really didn’t matter anymore, and time has only worsened the problem. Rogues have always been reliant on two-weapon fighting to do damage effectively, but Slayers are better for it because they have the feats to fill out the two-weapon fighting tree and enough BAB to hit things with their iterative attacks, thereby outpacing the Rogue despite their slower Sneak Attack progression. Rogues can’t depend on feint because it eats about half of their damage output. Rogues can’t depend on ranged combat because they can’t flank or make their enemies flat-footed. The Rogue can snipe, but that reduces them to one attack per round, assuming that they can overcome the -20 Stealth penalty, and even then they still need to be within 30 feet. The Scout archetype provides some extra options for Sneak Attack, but they still limit the Rogue to one attack per round, which limits them to very slightly more than half as much damage as a comparable blast spell. If you can’t compete with a poorly optimized fireball, what is your role on the battlefield? The Rogue needs new and simpler ways to get Sneak Attack, or they need considerably improved Sneak Attack damage.
- Shaman – Stone Spirit: Wall of Stone and Stoneskin appear to be reversed.
- Swashbuckler – Signature Deed: Do Swashbucklers qualify for Grit feats like Signature Deed? Several places in the class text mention Signature Deed, but the class doesn’t provide a way to qualify for it.
- Warpriest – Luck Blessing: Lucky Presence needs a duration. As written it is permanent, which makes it absurdly powerful.
- Devastating Strike: The +6 damage cap really handicaps both this feat and Vital Strike as a whole. The cap doesn’t actively encourage the player to pursue additional damage dice, which is really the most important part of vital strike. Take a look at my Practical Guide to Vital Strike for insight on my usage of Vital Strike.
Fix Idea: Instead of a +2 damage per extra die and a +6 cap, I propose +1 damage per extra die, and no damage cap. Even with an effectively Gargantuan Bastard Sword, the maximum bonus damage is only 12. This isn’t enough to be unbalancing, but it encourages the behavior which will make Vital Strike viable, especially at high levels. Admittedly, there may still be issues with very big creatures using Vital Strike.
- Improved Two-Weapon Feint: Two-Weapon Feint is not a listed prerequisite. This appears to be an obvious error.
- Slashing Grace: I really just want to be able to use this with a rapier. As cool as it is to use Weapon Finesse with a Scimitar, I really like the concept of rapiers, and using a piercing weapon instead of a slashing one doesn’t seem like a problem. You might even allow it to be used with any one-handed weapon which is usable with weapon finesse, but I wouldn’t open it up to every one-handed piercing weapon, or two-shield builds will become even more absurdly effective than they already are.
- Signature Deed: Can Swashbucklers use this? It isn’t explicitly stated, though the Swashbuckler class description implies that you can.
- Bastard Sword / Dwarven Waraxe: These weapons are awful. They are an average of 1 damage better than the Longsword / Battleaxe, making Exotic Weapon Proficiency a laughably poor feat choice where these weapons are concerned. Other exotic weapons have cool things going for them: special rules, cool critical ranges/multipliers (Falcata), reach (whip), etc. These weapons really need something cool.
Fix Idea: Introduce the “Heavy” special rule (name is negotiable): “When wielding this weapon one-handed and using Power Attack, calculate the bonus damage as if the weapon were wielded two-handed.” This adds a maximum of 6 additional damage to attacks (7 with Reckless Rage), which isn’t unbalancing, but is enough to justify considering using these weapons.
- Crossbow, Double: Crossbows have been a problem since the early days of 3.5. They take more feats and do considerably less damage than bows. No weapon is more indicative of this issue than the Double Crossbow. Even with Rapid Reload and Crossbow Mastery, the Double Crossbow limits the user to a single shot per round firing two bolts at a horrific -4 penalty. A level 11 Bolt Ace can manage two shots provided that they make no other actions that round, but even that falls behind a level 11 Fighter with Rapid Shot and a Longbow. The action economy of crossbows needs to be fixed, and Double Crossbows need to be made considerably better to justify that -4 attack penalty.
Fix Idea: Rewrite the reload speed action progression: Full Round Action (Double Crossbow) > Standard Action (Heavy Crossbow) > Move Action (Hand Crossbow, Light Crossbow) > Free Action. Rapid Shot, Crossbow Master, Inexplicable Reload, and other similar effects should each lower the reload action by one step, and should stack. Note that I have intentionally omitted the Swift Action step. This is consistent with firearms, and if crossbows are to be relevant in any way, they need to be reloadable at least as fast as firearms, especially considering you need two feats to make it work (three with Double Crossbow). Even with all three effects, the Double Crossbow still imposes a very stiff -4 penalty, which I think is enough to compensate for firing an extra bolt compared to Multishot, which allows you to fire an extra arrow at no penalty.
- Crossbow, Double: How does this thing work with Vital Strike?
- Double Weapons: Consider the Double-Bladed Sword. It is functionally two longswords taped together, and using it allows you to deal Longsword damage without the -4 penalty for not using a light weapon in your off hand. This amounts to one point of extra damage per attack over using two shortswords, which is essentially nothing. Something needs to be done to make double weapons useful for something beyond looking cool.
Fix Idea: Allow double weapons to be purchased as masterwork and in special materials on both weapons for 1.5 times the cost of a single weapon, provided that both ends are the same material. This makes double weapons an option for most two-weapon fighting characters, but still leaves using two separate weapons as an option for characters who prefer to have weapons of different materials.
- Whip: How do whips work at larger sizes? Whips list a specific reach of 15 ft., but no mention of different size characters is made. Can a Tiny or smaller creature use a whip to gain 15 ft. reach? Can a Colossal creature use a whip and only have 15 ft. reach?
Fix Idea: Update the wording to specify that using a whip triples the creatures natural reach. This fixes the issue of creatures below small size using whips, and makes the whip extend the reach beyond that of a reach weapon for Large and larger creatures as intended.
- Eastern Armor: Eastern armor is hugely broken. Most types of eastern armor are both considerably better and considerably cheaper than their western counterparts. Many types of eastern armor have other versions which are superior in every aspect, considerably cheaper, and listed adjacent to each other in the armor table (Do-maru vs. Kikko). These costs should be adjusted for balance and to make meaningful, if minor, differences in the benefits of each armor type.
- Charge: Does charging provoke attacks of opportunity? The Actions In Combat table says no, but does that just apply to declaring the charge action? Do you still draw attacks of opportunity for leaving threatened squares? If you don’t provoke attacks of opportunity for charging, reach weapons are considerably less useful because people can just charge at/past you.
- Feint: Can you Feint at range? There isn’t anything in the rules which specifies that you need to be in melee reach. If you can feint at range, do you need to expend ammunition to do so?
- Cones and lines: The wording for cones and the diagrams don’t appear to match up, especially for 15-foot cones. And why does the 30-foot cone suddenly become 10 feet wider when aimed straight instead of at an angle?
Fix Idea: To simplify the logic for measuring cones, instead of measuring from a corner, allow lines and cones to be measured from one edge of the spellcaster’s square. This gives 15-foot cones the intended shape within the specifications of the existing rules text. Spellcasters could then choose to aim from any of the four corners of their space at a diagonal, or straight out from the edge of one square of their space.
- Raise Dead: The ability to raise the dead is one of the most iconic and important abilities available to the Cleric. As more content has been published, other classes have gained the ability to cast or reproduce the effects of Raise Dead, and almost none of them require expending 5000gp to do so. This makes the Cleric’s version considerably less appealing.
Fix Idea: Remove or reduce the cost to cast Raise Dead, or make all of the class abilities which replicate Raise Dead have a cost of some kind. It might also be cool if the cost was a factor of the character’s level or something like that.
- Sunbeam/Sunburst: These spells are hard to understand. The Paizo rules forum has several threads discussing their interpretation, and no one appears to have settled on an answer, and no one official has chimed in with an official response.
Fix Idea: Rewrite the descriptions to be much more specific. They’re a fucking mess.
- Disruption, Glorious, Ominous, and Thundering Weapons: The DC’s are terrible, and will be easily overcome by enemies at high levels unless they happen to roll a natural 1.
- Fix Idea: Add the weapon’s enhancement bonus to the DC.
Magic Item Creation
The rules for creating magic items was basically copy+pasted from 3.5, and I understand why that was done. Assuming that that players only craft items listed in the rulebooks, this system works well because published items are reasonably balanced for their cost. However, opening the rules up to custom items allows some extremely obvious abuse cases.
- Charges Per Day: I like that this is an option. However, there is no way 5 charges per day is as powerful as being usable an unlimited number of times. Take the Quick Runner’s Shirt as an example: it is usable 1/day at 1,000gp, so a 5/day version would cost 5,000gp, the same cost as an unlimited use item. 5 times per day is fantastic, and I would probably pay 5,000gp for such an item, but unlimited uses is miles better. The ability to move your speed as a swift action turns Pathfinder’s combat tactics on it head, and is such a serious problem that Paizo had to brutally errata the original version of the Quick Runner’s Shirt, and they still ban it from organized play.
- Skill Bonuses: Magic items which provide skill bonuses are ludicrously cheap considering how effective they are. The cost of the bonuses should be increased, or a cap should be placed on the bonus. A +5 bonus is a perfectly reasonable cap, and wouldn’t require changing any items.
- Use-activated or continuous: The difference between a a use-activated item and a continuous item is huge, and should be reflected in the cost. A Ring of Protection +1 is considerably more effective than a Ring which you need to spend a Standard Action to activate which casts Shield of Faith.
- Ultimate Campaign – Retraining Feats: There is not enough limitation on meeting prerequisites for retraining feats. This means that for 50gp per character level, you can retrain feats you took at first level for considerably better feats which you now qualify for. For a paltry sum, you can take a whole slough of high level feats, making you considerably more effective than a character who sticks to their original feat choices. The intent of these rules is to allow players to reconsider their character options, or to replace options which aren’t working as well as they had hoped. This is not supposed to be this powerful; it is supposed to allow players to recover from choices they made which are no longer paying off.
Fix Idea: Limit newly selected feats to whatever the character could have qualified for at the level at which they gained the feat. This requires some knowledge of the player’s choices as the character levelled, but it’s not hard to calculate things like BAB and skill ranks based on the maximum that they could have at any given level.
- Bleed Damage: Is all bleed damage ongoing? Or is there bleed damage which only applies once? The Glossary seems to imply that all bleed damage is ongoing, but some bleed effects specifically state that they are ongoing, while others don’t.