Welcome to Iconic Design, Private Sanctuary’s source for innovative and evocative character builds for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, written by Everyman Gamer Alexander Augunas. Today, we’re going to be looking at a build for an aid another master.
One of the most common requests that I get on Iconic Design is an aid another build. So since I’ve discovered that absolutely nothing I can do can save Shardra, the Iconic Shaman, from being absolutely terrible at Level 1 I’ve decided to instead fulfill a common request. Here’s my take on an aid another JUGGERNAUT!
Any information important to understanding the build or its roots goes here.
- Brawler (Exemplar): At 3rd level, this brawler archetype gets the inspire courage bardic performance in all but name, which is one of our prerequisites for the battle herald prestige class. You might get some table variance on whether or not you can use inspiring prowess (the exemplar ability) to meet the prerequisites of the battle herald class. My interpretation is that the prestige class doesn’t care if you have bardic performance or not so long as you have inspire courage, and the exemplar gives you inspire courage. Furthermore, the inspiring prowess ability says that its bardic performance for all purposes and effects, so there’s really no good reason to disallow this.
- Cavalier (Honor Guard, Strategist): We need challenge to get into battle herald, and only the cavalier has that. We’re also going honor guard because it gives one of the best aid another abilities in the game as a bonus feat, Bodyguard. As extra gravy, we’re taking the order of the dragon for more aid another goodness and the Strategist archetype for more uses of tactician in the long run (you’ll see).
- Battle Herald: This is what we’re working towards. Battle herald has a super awesome ability that boosts the bonus provided by aid another, which is what we’re looking to do. Huzzah!
- Aside: If you want, you can take the helpful trait (or Adopted > Helpful), but its usefulness isn’t as prominent in this build, especially once you get the Virtuous Creed feat at Level 5. I’d grab this trait only if you’re planning on doing a LOT of ATK assists with aid another, or if you simply can’t wait for Virtuous Creed (which you should be able to because this build doesn’t get Bodyguard until Level 3).
Alright, with this out of the way let’s look at the build, shall we?
Early Levels (1–7)
- Class: brawler (exemplar) 3, cavalier (honor guard, strategist) 3, battle herald 1
- Feats: Combat Reflexes (1st), Combat Expertise (Bonus), Lingering Performance (3rd), (Bonus), Virtuous Creed: protection (5th), Bodyguard (Bonus), Swift Aid (7th)
- Abilities: brawler’s cunning, brawler’s flurry, challenge 1/day, improved leadership, inspiring command +1, inspiring prowess (inspire courage +1), intercept, martial flexibility (3/day; move), martial training, order of the dragon, sworn defense, voice of authority
- Inspiring Command: teamwork (1st)
- Order Abilities: aid allies (2nd)
- Total Aid Another Bonus: +7 AC / +4 ATK
So the basics of the early game is to start getting the aid another bonuses allied and also find ways to use aid another fast. First, I plan on taking advantage of brawler’s cunning for this build by taking Combat Expertise early on. I also want Combat Reflexes for when I get to 6th level (cavalier 3) and pick up Bodyguard; I’ll need a lot of attacks of opportunity to become REALLY annoying. Swift Aid is a bit of a confusing feat, but I take it as reducing the initial aid another action from +2 to +1, which means my normal aid another bonuses apply as normal. Swift Aid is mostly for assisting attacks since Bodyguard is AC only.
Now, you might not have seen the Virtuous Creed feat before, and that’s okay. It basically requires you to take up a code of conduct for a benefit. Protection’s benefit is protecting people, which is right up our ally, and it boosts the bonus for using aid another on AC from +2 to +4. Sold! This benefit actually stacks with our aid allies bonus from the order of the dragon (which is a flat +1 modifier) and our intercept ability (which is also a flat +1 modifier). This means that by Level 7, we’ve got a monstrous +7 bonus to AC when we use Bodyguard to give an AC benefit to our allies. GEEZ.
On top of all this, you can actually cycle between bardic performance and the battle herald’s teamwork inspiring command. According to the rules, you can only e performing one of the two abilities at a time, but you can have both effects active if you have the Lingering Performance feat. (That’s literally what the ability says.) So when you get high enough level to perform the performances as a move, swift, or immediate action your general battle plan is to perform one performance, then immediately stop performing it the very next round to perform the other one. You are constantly and unrelentlessly barking orders at people, which is pretty cool! Let’s see if this build keeps it charm into the mid levels.
Mid Levels (8 –14)
- Class: brawler (exemplar) 5, cavalier (honor guard, strategist) 3, battle herald 6
- Feats: Combat Reflexes (1st), Combat Expertise (Bonus), Lingering Performance (3rd), (Bonus), Virtuous Creed: protection (5th), Bodyguard (Bonus), Swift Aid (7th), Harrying Partners (Bonus), Gang Up (9th), Team Up (11th), Practiced Tactician (13th), Coordinated Charge (Bonus)
- Abilities: banner, brawler’s cunning, brawler’s flurry, challenge 1/day, close weapon mastery, easy march, field instruction, improved leadership, inspiring command +2, inspiring prowess (inspire courage +2), intercept, knockout 1/day, martial flexibility (3/day; move), martial training, order of the dragon, sworn defense, voice of authority
- Inspiring Command: teamwork (1st), pincer maneuver (3rd), shake it off (5th),
- Order Abilities: aid allies (2nd)
- Total Aid Another Bonus: +8 AC / +5 ATK
The build REALLY starts cooking in the mid levels, especially after 5th level when it gains field instruction. This nifty little ability is basically tactician, but you can share any teamwork feat that you know. And yes, you can use both abilities at the same time as written. And more yes, battle herald’s voice of authority boosts your effective level with both abilities, meaning that at Level 12 (typically when Pathfinder Society ends), you’ve got two uses per day of field instruction and three uses per day of tactician (you have three uses because of the strategist archetype, which changes the uses per day progression of tactician to +1 every 4 levels after 5th). Now, I also took Practiced Tactician for this build to get more uses of my teamwork sharing abilities, but I’m less confident about how this works. According to the Core Rulebook FAQ, Extra Channel doesn’t get duplicated for each instance of the channel energy ability that you have; you effectively get a floating pool of channel energy uses that are split between all abilities. Common logic says that Practiced Tactician probably works this way, but you might get a generous GM who gives you +1 to both abilities. Talk with your GM about it to see what works for your game. Another fun thing to note, I took Coordinated Charge as my 6th-level battle herald bonus feat, and that ability allows the feat I choose to be shared via tactician. And since both field instruction and tactician apply, I can actually share it with both abilities. (Technically I can share Outflank with both as well.) This gives me massive flexibility in which of these two very powerful feats I want to give my allies.
Another advantage of taking a quick break from the battle herald class is getting to pick up a brawler bonus feat, and I chose Harrying Partners as mine. This is REALLY the feat that I want to share with my field instruction ability. Because seriously? Now my aid another actions last for an ENTIRE round. That’s insane! After that, I used the fact that I have Combat Expertise to pick up Gang Up and Team Up. Now I’m always flanking no matter where I am in relation to my allies so long as I have a bunch threatening with me and more importantly, Team Up allows me to use aid another as a MOVE action as long as I have at least two allies adjacent to my opponent. With that, I can use aid another as a swift action (Swift Aid), a move action (Team Up), and a standard action, plus I can use it in place of attacks of opportunity (Bodyguard).
I could explain my inspiring command choices, but I don’t think I really need to. I’m almostn ever going to use them anyway. Why would I? I can practically give a +8 to AC at will and a +5 on attack rolls to an ally as a move action (+4 if it’s a swift action). My party will never want for anything. Ever.
- Class: brawler (exemplar) 7, cavalier (honor guard, strategist) 3, battle herald 10
- Feats: Combat Reflexes (1st), Combat Expertise (Bonus), Lingering Performance (3rd), (Bonus), Virtuous Creed: protection (5th), Bodyguard (Bonus), Swift Aid (7th), Harrying Partners (Bonus), Gang Up (9th), Team Up (11th), Practiced Tactician (13th), Coordinated Charge (Bonus), Practiced Tactician (15th), Practiced Tactician (17th), Practiced Tactician (19th)
- Abilities: banner, brawler’s cunning, brawler’s flurry, challenge 1/day, complex commands, easy march, demanding challenge, field instruction, improved leadership, inspire greatness, inspire last stand, inspiring command +4, inspiring prowess (inspire courage +2), intercept, martial flexibility (3/day; swift), martial training, order of the dragon, persistent comands, sworn defense, voice of authority
- Inspiring Command: teamwork (1st), pincer maneuver (3rd), shake it off (5th), sound the charge (7th), keep your heads (9th)
- Order Abilities: aid allies (2nd)
- Total Aid Another Bonus: +10 AC / +7 ATK
Featwise, all this build needs is more uses of its tricks, so I picked up Practiced Tactician a few more times. By 20th level, you’re a 13th level cavalier for tactician (4/day) and a 17th level cavalier for field instruction (4/day). Its almost like I planned this combination PERFECTLY! You get new inspiring commands, but you don’t care because your inspiring command bonus goes up to +4, meaning you can up the bonus that your allies get from your aid another actions even more.
After maxing out battle herald, you can basically do whatever you want. As you can see, I went into brawler again to get more uses of field instruction and to increase my close weapon mastery bonus. (I don’t really know what weapon I’d use with this build; it doesn’t really matter.) I also like being able to use martial flexibility faster because I like the versatility of the feat.
I don’t usually do magic items for builds, but we can make this build even sillier with the right equipment. Here’s some suggestions:
- Benevolent Armor: This cheap enhancement allows you to aid your armor’s enhancement bonus to the AC of any ally that you use aid another on. Chances are this isn’t super useful because your allies are likely wearing magic around already, but this is cheap and awesome. I’d invest into it personally, especially in a home game.
- Benevolent Weapon: Now THIS is exciting, because the language is TOTALLY different. Unlike the armor ability, which is a flat gp increase, this ability is a +1 enhancement bonus ability. And it deserves it. Why? Because it increases YOUR aid another bonus by the enhancement bonus of the weapon. Totally different wording from the previous ability that ultimately means that this ability STACKS with any enhancement bonuses that your allies have. Considering how much lower our aid another to ATK is, this is an AMAZINGLY useful ability.
- Ring of Tactical Precision: Although expensive at 11,000 gp, this ring is SUPER useful. You can either use it to increase your aid another bonus by +1, or you can imbue a teamwork feat into it (probably Outflank) and give it to an ally so that ally has your teamwork feat. Super helpful and is a great way of ensuring that someone in your party always as the benefits of one of the fantastic buffs that you bring to the table.
There are a lot of fantastic aid another options out there, but this is how I’d build an aid another monster. What do you think? Did I forget to talk about anything cool? Do you have a build like this already? What would you/did you do differently? Leave your comments below, and tune in next week for a special Holiday installment of Iconic Design!
Alexander “Alex” Augunas has been playing roleplaying games since 2007, which isn’t nearly as long as 90% of his colleagues. Alexander is an active freelancer for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and is best known as the author of the Pact Magic Unbound series by Radiance House. Alex is the owner of Everyman Gaming, LLC and is often stylized as the Everyman Gamer in honor of Guidance’s original home. Alex also cohosts the Private Sanctuary Podcast, along with fellow blogger Anthony Li, and you can follow their exploits on Facebook in the 3.5 Private Sanctuary Group, or on Alex’s Twitter, @AlJAug.