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Our party

I have formed a party to play in Pathfinder Society Organized Play with. It contains 7 players, including me.

  • Me, a Conjuration School Savant Arcanist. I've just hit level 2 and am allowed my last respec.
  • My friend, another Conjuration School Savant Arcanist, however, they might respec because it was a bit hard for them.
  • A party face Sorcerer with Charm Person and Color Spray (it was the player's choice to play with this spell set).
  • A Summoner with Augment Summoning and Cha 20, generally focusing on actually summoning stuff.
  • A blaster, see this question to learn about their build.
  • An Inspired Blade/Empiricist X. The build is not set in stone yet, but it will most likely be a generalist doing some damage, and a second party face.
  • A Skald, about whom I am currently asking.

An eighth player has recently joined us, but they will play different characters depending on their mood, they are an active PFS player.

The Skald's player desires

The Skald's player clearly wants to:

  1. Be a Skald, as they love the theme.
  2. Deal damage using a bow.

Current experience of the said player

The said player has only played two sessions now, and has never played Pathfinder or any other tabletop RPG before.

Which combat and non-combat roles can their character take?

Basically, I ask for the list of options trimmed to things possible in such a party.

Dealing damage

While the character will deal some damage using a bow, it will eat a significant amount of their wealth and feats. Due to no Ranger bonus feats and medium BAB, the character will not be able to keep up with other classes.

Bardic knowledge

This seems nice, and might actually help a lot. However, a Skald cannot afford to have an Intelligence score above 12, maybe 14, because they need Dexterity, Strength, and Charisma a lot, and they cannot dump Constitution (brings HP) or Wisdom (garners Will save). At the same time, an ability to roll ALL Knowledges is nice. I might ask the Skald player to roll the first so they have more chances to succeed before the Int-based casters bring their rolls.

Lore Master

Well, kicks in really late. Still, it's something helpful.

Raging Song

A really cool buff... but almost nobody needs Strength in our party, and almost everybody wants to remain concentrated. The Investigator will use a Dex-based build, and hence won't care about Strength. Essentially, only Summoner's units will like this buff. I have not learned much about the Rage Powers yet, but I doubt that more than a couple of people will benefit from them.

Versatile Performance

Well, allows to be another party face. But the Skald cannot afford a full focus on the Face stat, so they will fall behind the Investigator and the Sorcerer. Anyway, since the Discipline of our players is not very good, another person at least semi-capable of being a party face should be nice.

Spell Kenning

Nice and cool, but only one per day, and the Skald is kind of short on spell slots, and falls behind Arcanists, and the Arcanists can Quick Study... BTW, how can one even optimize for Spell Kenning?

Current build (subject to changes)

Race

Half-Elf. Player's choice, this is not to be changed. Arcane Training as an alternative racial trait (it's the only thing for which we can trade Multitalented (2nd Favored Class) without trading something else too.

Class

Skald (Fated Champion). We lose practically nothing, but get the ability to cast lots of Divination spells with a discount and a bonus to Initiative.

Ability scores

STR: 14

DEX: 16 (14+2 for being a Half-Elf)

CON: 12

INT: 12

WIS: 11

CHA: 14

Deity

Shelyn. The best Deific Obedience, access to Persuasive Performer. Alternatively, worship Irori and get a bonus to all Knowledge checks, but be a worse Party Face.

Skills

  1. Perform (Sing)
  2. Knowledge (History)
  3. Knowledge (Local)
  4. Knowledge (Planes)
  5. Knowledge (Religion)
  6. Use Magic Device
  7. Perception

Might sound sub-optimal, but I actually had to choose the skills in a hurry, as I owed a build to the Skald player and had to go already.

Traits

Reactionary, Talented (Sing). Yes, the choice of the second Trait was almost random.

Feats

Here is a list of feats that I have found to be fitting this concept.

Archery feats

Well, easy. Being an archer consumes lots of feats in Pathfinder. 1. Point-Blank Shot. This feat was the one chosen for the said character. 2. Precise Shot 3. Rapid Shot 4. Deadly Aim 5. Arcane Strike 6. Manyshot 7. Deadly Aim

I don't know which of those to take, as a Skald cannot take all of them.

Other cool feats I've found

  1. Improved Initiative -- obvious.
  2. Skald's Vigor -- fast healing.
  3. Greater Skald's Vigor -- fast healing for everyone.
  4. Persuasive Performer -- choose Sing, still use it for Diplomacy, get a +2 bonus. Even with a rather low Charisma, this build can accumulate a lot of bonuses to Diplomacy, Bluff, and Sense Motive.
  5. Deific Obedience. +4 to Perform, which turns out to be +4 to Diplomacy, Bluff, and Sense Motive.
  6. Battle Cry +1 to Attack Rolls, +4 to saves against Fear, and ability to reroll one save.

My actual question

What is it a good idea to optimize in such a party so that the Skald's player doesn't feel useless? Is the way I have currently chosen a potentially good way?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is this something you decided to do for the new player? Or did the new player ask you to critique and "optimize" his/her build? \$\endgroup\$ – DanceSC Feb 18 at 0:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DanceSC People in the party don't know the rules of the game, including the chargen rules, and we agreed that they choose character concepts, like "I want to be a half-elf Skald with a bow", and I choose the numbers. If they decide something, it will be included in the build even if sub-optimal. \$\endgroup\$ – Baskakov_Dmitriy Feb 18 at 7:05
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Well, you seem to have already narrowed it down yourself. To say it clearly...

Your party already fill most of the roles you need to have
You have two faces, damages (the blaster), more damage and some tanking (summoners).

What I don't see (though it may be present, just not pointed out in the question) is some skill monkey, heal and support.

In this list, a Skald with low Int won't be a skill monkey, but your player can effectively be decent in the remaining spots. Bards are excellent supports and can handle some healing. The avantage here is your summoner will make its invocation do the tanking, allowing your healer to be less focused on that role. (Namely, you don't need a cleric like some groups crave for).

Hence...
Making him go Librarian is a good option in this case, but it could be double edged, from a playing point of view. Your character will be useful (lots of players underestimate the importance of knowledge checks) but your player might not feel the same.

Some players enjoy lore and reading the bestiary over and over, and as a player that fall in this category, I love to play knowledge character. I'm not often restricted by my character knowledge on topics and the GM fills in the blank when I'm the one lacking.

But if your player do not care about lore, or is hesitant as a new player (I've seen it happens), he/she might block when the time to share knowledge will come. Moreover, just repeating what the GM just said can seems pretty pointless after a while.

Advice
I'd follow your build (but pick Irori instead of Shelyn, since being the 3rd face is really redundant) and spew knowledges around. Being able to try all knowledge checks is invaluable and if Skald have the same kind of bonus than Bards (can't remember at the moment), investing only a few points could go a long way.

Then, does your player wants to deal a lot of damages using a bow, or just use a bow? If it is the former, go for a classic archery build centered on what the player likes to do and your party dynamic (who goes where and what is useful for a ranged character).

But I'd suggest to focus your spellcasting on healing. First, you don't seem to have that in excess. Second, it's easier to heal people than to kill things, and it is just as useful. You already have supporting abilities as a Skald, put a few common buffs in your spell list and you should be good to go. (Select according to what your party lacks). So Skald's Vigor (normal and greater) and Battle Cry are great options, if you want that player to feel useful and actually bring something to the group.

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Go into it with the correct mindset

If you are worried about the player, either because you believe that this combination of Skald and Archer cannot work, or that the other classes are just too strong and he wont have any real role, I think the problem is with that mindset.

If you are worried that this new player would not have fun, I would focus more on techniques to improve player/party chemistry. Pathfinder is a role playing game, and there are many ways to have fun, both in and out of combat. After looking at your party composition my first impression was that the 5 mages would get tired of fighting over what to kill, but that is just me :)

Here are some optimization choices I would suggest. Ideally you are going to want the feats that you listed (Although it looks like you listed Deadly Aim twice). Here is the order that I would recommend going for them and why:

Feats

Point Blank Shot - Pick this one up first, as it is required for Precise Shot and Rapid Shot.
Rapid Shot - Extra attack at a -2 penalty to each shot, very good and it is required for Many Shot
Precise Shot - More often than not you will be shooting into combat, -4 penalty is rough.
Arcane Strike - This doesn't just apply to melee weapons, I would recommend this for bards who chose the same path of Archery.
Deadly Aim - Your primary source of damage, not good to take too early for accuracy reasons, and damage is not usually an issue your first several levels due to the low price of composite bows
Many Shot - Requires Dex17, you are going to want a high dex for archery based builds

Ability Scores

Str: 14 - Strength will be going into your bow damage with a composite bow
Dex: 18(16+2) - This is the source of your accuracy and 17 is required for manyshot
Con: 10 - I would normally recommend 12, and 10 in int, however it is preference to the player, you are playing a backline character.
Int: 12 - Interchangeable with con, essentially extra skill points. If you were going to dab into a switch-hitter style and thinking of using the 13 int for combat expertise I would recommend Dirty Fighting instead (Not sure if it is PFS friendly)
Wis: 8 - Normally I do not like dumping wisdom, however it doesn't really benefit this class in anyway other than for will saves, and the class has a high in Fort/Will and a low in Refl, so nothing to be worried about. You are also playing a half-elf so Dual-Minded alternate racial ability can also be used to boost will saves.
Cha: 14 - You will never need more than 16 for casting, better to use items.

Equipment

The nice thing about playing an archer is that it does not eat a significant amount of wealth. You can add strength into damage fairly early on with a composite bow (100gp per strength point), and weapon blanches aren't bad: 20gp cold iron, 5gp silver per 10 ammunition.

Skills

As far as skill checks, I wouldn't even invest in the Knowledge skills, you have two wizards who should have that role covered two times over. Keeping in mind also that players can assist. Instead though, I would focus on things that play to the Skalds strengths: Intimidate, Bluff, or Diplomacy (Probably intimidate for demoralization, if this was a rogue I would suggest bluff instead for feint) and UMD (one of the most versatile and powerful skills in the game).

To fully answer your question. No, the most important thing is to play to have fun, the game isn't about winning :) Even an intentionally useless character can still contribute in more ways then not, it just requires a bit more creativity and role playing.

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Your party has an absolute TON of damage already thanks to the summoner, the blaster, and the arcanists. I'd go for something else, like knowledges and skills.

Try this array: STR: 13 DEX: 16 CON: 12 INT: 14 WIS: 8 CHA: 14 (+2 from your racial bonus goes here)

You'll want an Adaptive bow ASAP, obviously, because your strength fluctuates with your Raging Song. Then, for feats, take:

1: Point Blank Shot 3: Precise Shot 5: Focused Shot 7: Improved Unarmed Strike 9: Kirin Style 11: Kirin Strike

You absolutely NEED to take Precise Shot as soon as possible, which, unfortunately, means taking Point Blank Shot. After that, your focus is on cranking your INT: in Pathfinder Society, you get Extra Performance at lv1 instead of Scribe Scroll. You will have enough rounds of performance, especially in this party, and your spells are gravy as opposed to something you need to spam every round. You'll be avoiding things with saves in favor of things that buff your party; Saving Finale, Liberating Command, that sort of thing.

Beyond that, the feats focus on leveraging your INT bonus to make your attacks hurt more; Focused Shot works off a Standard Action, and Kirin off a Swift. This means you've got your move action free every round, which is a good thing for someone who's new; they aren't going to be as good at positioning, so having the ability to move fairly freely and not suffer damage-wise is nice. They can also play around more with special ammo types since they only fire one shot a round. Kirin Style shores up the weaker Wisdom when it comes online, and until it does a -1 as opposed to a 0 or +1 isn't much difference; it's still your good save.

It's a simple build, which means it's fairly easy for a new person to pick up, and it slowly eases them into Swift and Immediate action economy with Saving Finale, Kirin Style, and Kirin Strike as they level. Plus, it's not something you see every day, which is nice.

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