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The question is born from:
Does taking the form of a Muse using Fey Form gain you the Sound Strike attack?.

Is 20d6 sonic damage every turn overpowered compared to other 5th- to 7th character-level abilities?

Specifically, this would be accomplished by turning into a muse using the fey form spell and obtaining the Sound Strike attack, which we can break down to 5 ranged touch attacks that deal 4d6 sonic damage each.

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It may be achievable otherwise too, but sounds overpowered

It's hard to assess because obviously, you can not know all the cheesy or min-maxed build out there. But as a point of comparison, let's look as an actual group I know of (i.e. mine).

At level 5 to 7, a +16 to touch attack is almost guaranteed to hit. We will just flatly ignore the chance of hitting for this purpose, and assume you will land all hit, except on a 1.

20d6 average to 70 damage per turn, so 66.5 damage per turn (if you factor the crit fail).

Now, let's compare that to an actual group.

My lv 14 magus dishes out 11d6+5 (~38.5) on average, and has a hit chance of around 60% on average CA. With three attacks per turn (one gained from Haste), this amounts to roughly (60% x 38.5) x 2 + (35% x 38.5) = 59.675 damage per turn.

I'm oversimplifying the maths by not facturing the crits, but this is just a ballpark estimation.

My magus can produce that half a dozen times a day, since he is spell limited.

The other big hitters are, from bottom to top: A ranger (~65 average), a swashbuckler (~75 average) and a crit samurai (~80 average)1. All are loaded with magical items and are fairly efficient at min-maxing (it's not unusual for them to one-shot the bosses as presented in the AP).

So you would hit harder than some 14th level characters with approximately 95% chances of hitting at level 5. Ranged. At will. This is higher and more reliable than our 14th level ranger.

I'm not saying that there isn't some cheese or extremely powerful builds that can accomplish that by 5th or 7th level. But from a balance point of view, it sounds broken and overpowered. You will crush most encounters, which isn't fun nor rewarding for you or your group. My advice: don't.

This estimation is based on experience. It would be incredibly hard to produce the average damage per turn a character is supposed to output at a level, so I had to approach the problem from a simpler angle. If anyone can compute more accurate numbers, I'd be interested to see them. No doubt there are people knowledgeable enough on SE to do that.

1: This numbers are from the top of my head and rough figures. I don't know their exact average damage output, so I rounded it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ minor note on phrasing: I understood "on the strong end" as "on the strong end of acceptable" and to me it suggested that it is ok, but a bit powerful, contrary to your actual conclusion that it is way OP. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Oct 22 at 10:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Szega I know, I'm a bit torn on the issue. It's possibly doable, I can't rule out it exists a way to achieve that in the system (don't make me say Paizo publish broken rules, I wouldn't dare). But from experience, it sounds overpowered. I'd welcome any edit to improve the phrasing towards this idea. \$\endgroup\$ – Nyakouai Oct 22 at 11:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, "balanced" does not mean "cannot be surpassed" and not even "average of all possibilities". It is a bit nebulous, but comparison to actual play experience is as close as we can get tbh. I do not think it would be in error to just call it OP right from the start. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Oct 22 at 12:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Edited the title to better reflect the answer content, sorry to all those that upvoted the first version. \$\endgroup\$ – Nyakouai Oct 22 at 12:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I recommend "achievable otherwise too" \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Oct 22 at 12:27
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No, it isn't

When compared to other effective builds that are available this is not too strong. I can not stress this strongly enough, a caster of equal level would be able to own you and be more effective against most emenies.

Example Fey Form build

Let's look at a partial build using the Fey Form spell.

15 point buy, human, level 5 Shifter (Feyform), 18 Dexterity & 16 Wisdom. B.A.B of +5.

Feats: Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot (No -4 if your target is engaged in melee), Undersized Mount (You can ride creatures of your size category), and Weapon Focus (+1 to Atk). This will give you a ranged touch attack of +10 (within 30 feet +11 with a +1 damage to each attack). Because the Muse is medium size you will not get a boost to Dexterity from the Fey Form spell.

Ranged 5 sound strikes +10 ranged touch (4d6 sonic)

Percentage that all attacks will hit touch AC for the +10 attack: \begin{array}{|l|r|r|r|r|r|r|r|} \hline \text{Hits} & \text{AC 14} & \text{AC 15} & \text{AC 16} & \text{AC 17} & \text{AC 18} & \text{AC 20} \\ \hline \text{1} & 85\% & 80\% & 75\% & 70\% & 65\% & 55\%\\ \hline \text{2} & 72\% & 64\% & 56\% & 49\% & 42\% & 30\% \\ \hline \text{3} & 61\% & 51\% & 42\% & 34\% & 27\% & 17\% \\ \hline \text{4} & 52\% & 41\% & 32\% & 24\% & 18\% & 9\%\\ \hline \text{5} & 44\% & 33\% & 24\% & 17\% & 12\% & 5\%\\ \hline \end{array}

The odds for the +11 attack are slightly better:

\begin{array}{|l|r|r|r|r|r|r|r|} \hline \text{Hits} & \text{AC 14} & \text{AC 15} & \text{AC 16} & \text{AC 17} & \text{AC 18} & \text{AC 20} \\ \hline \text{1} & 90\% & 85\% & 80\% & 75\% & 70\% & 60\%\\ \hline \text{2} & 81\% & 72\% & 64\% & 56\% & 49\% & 36\% \\ \hline \text{3} & 73\% & 61\% & 51\% & 42\% & 34\% & 22\% \\ \hline \text{4} & 66\% & 52\% & 41\% & 32\% & 24\% & 13\%\\ \hline \text{5} & 59\% & 44\% & 33\% & 24\% & 17\% & 8\%\\ \hline \end{array}

List of enemies this build will struggle against

This list isn't exhaustive by any means. I mainly checked CR 5 enemies. I barely looked at other CR's and only added a bare minimum of their strengths, assumed to be ran by a semi competent GM! Look at each monster and the percentages to hit seen above to see that Fey Form Shifter is not overpowered! Average damage will be 17 sonic per hit, consider other factors by each enemy that will significantly change this! For a monster that doesn't have the Dodge feat, trade one of their feats for it. GM's have been encouraged to tweak monsters on many occasions.

Things to consider about a 5th level build using Fey Form (Muse)

As you can see above, enemies with a good touch AC or better, is definitely a weak point for Fey Form (Muse) You will need to consider that it's a ranged natural attack. So each attack will provoke an attack of opportunity if you are threatened, you know some monsters actually have 10 ft. reach or more (gasp). If you move more than a 5-foot step you may only make a single attack (a mount will take care of this) Also in some situations your enemy may have cover (+4 to AC) due to terrain (e.g. closed in spaces) with allies possibly getting in the way. Spells such as a high DC Colorspray (Awesome Display), Mudball, or Stinking Cloud will own your @$$. Mirror Image is a common spell that would buy a character a round against Fey Form (Muse). If intelligent enemies learn about your tactic, Resist Energy, Communal (Sonic) on a enemy team could change the outcome of the battle.

A stronger comparison build

Here is a build to compare it to (This will be a long post, so I'm just posting one comparison build with a particular regard to damage. I could have made this build more optimal, but purposely chose not so.).

15 point buy, human, level 5 Fighter (Dragoon), 18 Strength & 16 Dexterity. B.A.B of +5.

Feats: Mounted Combat, Ride by Attack, Spirited Charge, Power Attack, Furious Focus, Weapon Focus, and Weapon Specialization.

Item +1 lance.

Mount Dire Bat Combat trained.

Charge Attack +14 (+15 if flying above) (3d8+51)

Percentage that attack will hit AC of 19, 21

\begin{array}{|l|r|r|r|r|r|r|r|} \hline \text{Attack} & \text{AC 19} & \text{AC 21} \\ \hline \text{1st +10} & 80\% & 70\%\\ \hline \text{1st +15} & 85\% & 75\%\\ \hline \end{array}

Average damage 64.

Closed in spaces. Charging limitations and many of the spells listed above.

While Fey Form (Muse) is good, it's not overpowered. Well built casters generally have variety and power.

A Summoner spirited charge build will be more powerful than the Fighter build above. Mainly due to the eidolon and the spells.

Ultimately, a caster with top spell selections (mainly battlefield control/save or suck) could shut these guys down, and be more valuable in most situations.

*I'm assuming a competent GM. If he's running a Paizo adventure, then not running it as is. Their adventures are heavily skewed toward the PC's (e.g. weak enemies, poor combat advice for running monsters) and any effective 5th level build would be overpowered if such adventures are ran without changes.

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    \$\begingroup\$ No worries. But another thing though, i remind you that this form is also an option for a Feyform Shifter, and so the character would have an higher BAB (5 instead of 3). For such a character it would be a possible option even at level 4 \$\endgroup\$ – Elmoserpe Oct 22 at 17:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, good stuff. I'll check it out. Thanks for the info! \$\endgroup\$ – Zarus Oct 22 at 17:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Elmoserpe Would you like the question to be edited to say 4th-7th level character abilities? If so, would you rather me do a comparison to a 4th level Feyform Shifter? \$\endgroup\$ – Zarus Oct 22 at 18:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nah, i asked specifically about that level range. But i'm guessing that it gets a little stronger with the possibility of doing this kind of damage at level 4. \$\endgroup\$ – Elmoserpe Oct 22 at 18:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Caldrun I made a pretty major formatting edit to make your answer easier to read. I don't have time to finish the rest of your very long list, you may like to do that. If you can try to use proper headers and formatting it makes your answer much easier to read. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Oct 23 at 23:57

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