Iconic Design: Sending Back the Dish

Welcome to Guidance, Private Sanctuary’s source for tips and techniques for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, written by Everyman Gamer Alexander Augunas. Today, we’re going to be looking at a revision for Alex’s kitsune hibachi chef, Hirokyu.

So I’m quite a few games into my swashbuckler’s PFS career; officially, he’s 7th level. Huzzah! But during that time, I had two rough adventures back to back that pointed out something to me: how I built Hirokyu was NOT beneficial to his long-termed survival. So after dying once and almost dying on two other occasions within those two adventures, I decided to spend what little prestige I had left to fix some of the problems with Hirokyu’s build.

I think its important for me to talk about how character builds that I show on Iconic Design grow and evolve based upon things that I didn’t anticipate for (like the fact that Philadelphia has almost no players with characters who can take a punch to the face playing in the 7–11 tier), and so for my Birthday Week that’s what I’m going to show you today!


This build is based on the character build that I showed in Order Up, which details my kitsune hibachi chef. Flavor-wise, after his brush with death I decided that my swashbuckler experienced Shelyn’s love firsthand and upon returning from the grave, devoted his life to serving Shelyn, both in the kitchen and in combat.

Build Concept

Al right, so let’s talk about the build concept for my character. First, I’m going to refer you back to the Order Up article if you don’t remember, because the concept is the same. Instead, I’m going to talk about the problems with my last build that I set out to fix with the new build.

  • Armor Class: Although Order Up lists fighter as my class, I ultimately went far strike monk instead. That archetype is incredible, but it came with one major downside: I had absolutely NO Armor Class. My Wisdom was only a 14, after all, and I didn’t invest enough into Monk to make that AC bonus matter. I was sitting at a 16 AC most of the time, a 20 if I got lucky with my wand of mage armor. After I was very easily knocked to dying (and dead in one case) throughout a module and a scenario back to back, I decided that I needed a change.
  • Wands: I actually really hated having a chance to not be able to use my wand of cure light wounds. It sucked. So I wanted to be able to use at least that spell, if not more.
  • Interesting Class Features: I’m sorry, but what I said about the swashbuckler in our class feature’s podcast is true: the swashbuckler has a lot of flavorful class features past Level 6, but nothing that’s really worth investing in long-term. At level 6, you get an extra use of charmed life and nothing more. Its incredibly boring and I had no interest in investing in a class that offered no more interesting returns on my levels.

After much debate and discussion with friends, my ultimate solution was to trade my monk levels for warpriest levels and advance thusly. Warpriests have a decent spell progression, more bonus feats than the swashbuckler (which is EXTREMELY strange), and class features that stay relevant and continue to advance at a rate where they continue to be useful throughout their career.

With that out of the way, let’s look at the revisions that I’m using for my swashbuckler build.

Since its my birthday, I can totally post illustrated pictures of my characters and YOU CAN'T JUDGE ME!  Illustrated by Jacob Blackmon, Copyright Everyman Gaming, LLC.

Since its my birthday, I can totally post illustrated pictures of my characters and YOU CAN’T JUDGE ME!
Illustrated by Jacob Blackmon, Copyright Everyman Gaming, LLC.

Early Levels (1–7)

  • Classes: swashbuckler (flying blade) 5, warpriest 2
  • Feats: Point-Blank Shot (1st), Precise Shot (3rd), Weapon Focus: dagger (Bonus), Weapon Specialization: dagger (Bonus), Point-Blank Master (5th), Quick Draw (7th)
  • Abilities: aura, blessings (minor; air, good), charmed life 3/day, deeds, fervor 1d6, flying blade training +1, panache, sacred weapon (1d6), swashbuckler’s finesse
  • Cleric 1st-Level Spells (2/day): Any two.
  • Cleric Orisons (at will): Any four.

This part of my build should look very similar to my original build, save I swapped some levels around for warpriest. Instead of following the build that I showed you in Order Up, I actually ended up taking a level of far strike monk (from the Ranged Tactics Toolbox) instead of fighter. While that archetype gave me tons of awesome benefits, I didn’t have the Wisdom to support going further into monk, and not being able to wear armor REALLY hurt my character. My AC was so bad that second and third iterative attacks were actually hitting me, which came close to killing me in Slave Master’s Mirror, prompting the retraining.

The big change, of course, is the warpriest levels. For a character like Hirokyu, who specializes almost solely in dagger-based combat, being a warpriest is a great benefit because sacred weapon boosts my weapon’s damage dice right away at Level 1. Instead of doing 1d4+4 plus precise strike, I’m doing 1d6+4 plus precise strike. Additionally, Shelyn’s blessings are AWESOME for my build. Good is a fantastic blessing, as most enemies that we fight in Pathfinder Society are evil, meaning my dagger will deal an extra d6 of damage for the entire combat. And the air blessing is amazing; it allows my swashbuckler to flat-out ignore the ranged attack penalties for his daggers. Thanks to my swashbuckler abilities (namely flying blade training and precise throw), my daggers have a 20-foot range, so for 1 minute I can attack from up to 100 feet away with perfect accuracy with my daggers, though Point-Blank Shot will obviously turn off.

The number of cleric spells that I currently have may be low, but I also have fervor to make up for it. If I want to spend a round buffing and preparing myself, fervor is fantastic. I can spend one of my uses of fervor in order to cast a spell as a swift action, so I could activate a blessing and cast, say, divine favor on myself all in a single round to prepare for next round’s full attack.

The big thing that I’m missing here that my original build has was the ability to take a penalty for an additional attack via flurry of thrown weapons, but luckily, that’s easy enough to regain starting at my very next level. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Mid Levels (8 –14)

  • Classes: swashbuckler (flying blade) 5, warpriest 9
  • Feats: Point-Blank Shot (1st), Precise Shot (3rd), Weapon Focus: dagger (Bonus), Weapon Specialization: dagger (Bonus), Point-Blank Master (5th), Quick Draw (7th), Rapid Shot (Bonus), Perfect Style (9th), Improved Precise Shot (Bonus), Unfolding Wind Strike (11th), Critical Focus (13th), Greater Weapon Focus: dagger (Bonus)
  • Abilities: aura, blessings (minor; air, good), channel energy, charmed life 3/day, deeds, fervor 3d6, flying blade training +1, panache, sacred armor +1, sacred weapon +2 (1d8), swashbuckler’s finesse
  • Cleric 3rd-Level Spells (3/day): Any three
  • Cleric 2nd-Level Spells (4/day): Any four
  • Cleric 1st-Level Spells (5/day): Any five
  • Cleric Orisons (at will): Any four.

So this stage of the game is more of a hypothetical planning stage, seeing as PFS basically ends at 12th level aside from a few random scenarios and seeker missions. As soon as I get Level 8, my build qualifies for a bonus feat, which will be Rapid Shot for me. Rapid Shot is basically going to give me back the extra attack that I had going monk, which will be sorely missed in the three sessions that I’m going to have to go without it, I’m sure.

From there, I had a few different options available to me, but the one that I really liked was grabbing Perfect Style, from Inner Sea Combat. Perfect Style itself is pretty weak; for me, it’ll grant me electricity resistance 5. But at Level 11, I’m going to use it to pick up Unfolding Wind Strike, which has two awesome effects. First, while I’m in Perfect Style, the range increment of any thrown weapons that I use DOUBLES. I’m not sure if this is taken into consideration before or after my other modifiers; order of operations says multiplication before addition, but Pathfinder is somewhat dubious in that regard. Assuming that order of operations is right, my dagger’s 10-foot throwing distance would double to 20 feet, then my other modifications would be added for a total of 30 feet, which means my air blessing would allow me to attack anyone I want with my daggers within 150 feet with no penalties. Additionally, Perfect Style gives a small ki pool to non-ki users to activate subsequent feats’ effects, and Unfolding Wind Strike’s special ability allows me to spend ki to give my weapon either the returning or seeking ability. Returning is redundant for me because I bought a blinkback belt, but seeking can be situationally amazing. The other option that I’m keeping an eye on is the possibility that Slashing Grace might be altered to be applicable to light slashing weapons, in which case I could pick my dagger with Slashing Grace. (There’s a line in Pathfinder Unchained that makes this look likely.) If that errata comes out, I would likely drop Critical Focus and grab Slashing Grace instead. I’d likely drop Perfect Style and Unfolding Wind Strike to do that as well, since making this change would push Unfolding Wind Strike back to Level 13, where I may never get to play with it in PFS anyway.

The other feat that I’ll definitely get is Improved Precise Shot, which will be my 6th-level warpriest bonus feat. Warpriests treat their level as their BAB for meeting bonus feat prerequisites, so I’d just meet Improved Precise Shot’s prerequisites when I get it, and that feat is AWESOME. It basically turns off cover for your ranged attacks, which is something that I REALLY want.

Aside from those feat choices, my sacred weapon damage increases as does my sacred armor and sacred weapon bonus. Class feature wise, this stretch of my build looks a lot like my Monkey, Snake, Fox, Crane build last week, except with one less level of warpriest. On the plus side, this build can make much better use of sacred armor, as I can actually wear armor on Hirokyu. Fun!

So everything after this point is 100% speculation on my part, as I won’t get to high levels in PFS using this build, but let’s look at potential end-game builds for Hirokyu anyway!

Endgame (15+)

  • Classes: swashbuckler (flying blade) 5, warpriest 15
  • Feats: Point-Blank Shot (1st), Precise Shot (3rd), Weapon Focus: dagger (Bonus), Weapon Specialization: dagger (Bonus), Point-Blank Master (5th), Quick Draw (7th), Rapid Shot (Bonus), Perfect Style (9th), Improved Precise Shot (Bonus), Unfolding Wind Strike (11th), Critical Focus (13th), Greater Weapon Focus: dagger (Bonus), Deadly Aim (15th), Greater Weapon Specialization: dagger (Bonus), Dodge (17th), Mobility (19th), Unfolding Wind Rush (Bonus)
  • Abilities: aura, blessings (major; air, good), channel energy, charmed life 3/day, deeds, fervor 5d6, flying blade training +1, panache, sacred armor +3, sacred weapon +3 (2d6), swashbuckler’s finesse
  • Cleric 5th-Level Spells (3/day): Any three
  • Cleric 4th-Level Spells (4/day): Any four
  • Cleric 3rd-Level Spells (5/day): Any five
  • Cleric 2nd-Level Spells (5/day): Any five
  • Cleric 1st-Level Spells (5/day): Any five
  • Cleric Orisons (at will): Any five.

When you’re a thrown weapon specialist, there aren’t that many feats to choose from. As a result, my last few feats in the end game are sort of filler feats that I reserve the righ to change. Don’t get me wrong, Unfolding Wind Strike is cool. Basically, whenever I make a full attack with thrown weapons, I can move up to my speed as part of the full attack. Additionally, if I move during a full attack, I can spend a ki point to leave a wind wall effect in my wake. Isn’t it super useful? Maybe, but there are other feats that could be more useful, like an Improved Critical feat (assuming that I don’t rejuggle my feats for Slashing Grace, as described above), Clustered Shots, and Combat Reflexes. Since this stage of the game isn’t a reality for me, I’m not really focused on it all that much.

This is also the point where my blessings upgrade to their major forms. I get the awesome “summon good monster for one minute” ability from the good blessing and the “let people fly” ability from the air blessing. Other then that, bonuses go up and that’s that.

As of this article, I haven’t had a chance to check out these changes in PFS, but I’m feeling pretty good about them. Its fun, it gives me more options at my fingertips, and my storyline reasons for the change make sense. Plus I get to wear armor again, you have NO IDEA how much I missed that!

Got questions or comments about this build? Leave’em below. If I end up changing Hirokyu again, I very much doubt that I’ll take the trouble to make an article about it (two is enough, am I right?), so I may just note any changes that I do in the comments section below. In any case, stay tuned for two more Alex-themed characters for the rest of BIRTHDAY WEEK!

Take care!

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’s favorite color is blue, his favorite Pathfinder Race/Class combination is kitsune hibachi chef, and he may or may not have locked Anthony in the cellar so he could post another article for his birthday on Wednesday. You guys can’t prove anything! ANYTHING!

Alex Augunas

Alexander "Alex" Augunas is an author and behavioral health worker living outside of Philadelphia in the United States. He has contributed to gaming products published by Paizo, Inc, Kobold Press, Legendary Games, Raging Swan Press, Rogue Genius Games, and Steve Jackson Games, as well as the owner and publisher of Everybody Games (formerly Everyman Gaming). At the Know Direction Network, he is the author of Guidance and a co-host on Know Direction: Beyond. You can see Alex's exploits at http://www.everybodygames.net, or support him personally on Patreon at http://www.patreon.com/eversagarpg.

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