I was wondering if the build posted on Order of the Stick 216 is still valid in pathfinder, and how to better implement in terms of:

  • Better races, preferably, being a common (medium sized) race, don't know if a oversized weapon would be needed.
  • Better classes, I think figher is best suited in order to get all the feats earlier
  • Better weapons and enchanments, if any weapon is best suited than spiked chain, or there are enchantements for enhancing the combo execution
  • Better feats and traits, and the optimal order to pick them
  • Better buffs from the party to support the character, like Enalrge Person, and alike

So, is it still valid? If so, how to better implement it?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Pathfinder makes it so ranged characters can try and participate! d20pfsrd.com/feats/combat-feats/improved-snap-shot-combat \$\endgroup\$
    – Colin D
    Mar 5, 2013 at 19:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ The spiked chain build dose not work nearly as well in Pathfinder as it loses the reach property. \$\endgroup\$
    – user7707
    Mar 8, 2013 at 14:42

2 Answers 2


Order of the Stick only references the actual rules tangentially

First of all, that joke relies on the rules of Order of the Stick being slightly different from those in both 3.5 and Pathfinder: in the actual rules, you cannot provoke an Attack of Opportunity from a given enemy more than once per action, so after you first leave an opponent’s threatened square and provoke an Attack of Opportunity from him or her, you are free to continue moving without provoking again for that movement.

Rich Burlew has stated repeatedly that he sticks to the actual rules only when he thinks it’s funny to do so, or it advances the plot.

Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 options

Nonetheless, similar tactics do work, and in 3.5 at least, the Spiked Chain is a pretty good weapon for it (the feat cost hurts quite a lot though). The typical approach is to use a Reach weapon that can Trip (Guisarme or Spiked Chain are the typical choices), take Combat Reflexes and Improved Trip, and trip anyone who tries to move around you too much. This is one of the most effective tactics available to most mundane warriors in 3.5.


Combat Reflexes and Improved Trip, as already mentioned, are key here.

Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Spiked Chain) is a pretty good feat here since you can threaten adjacent squares, but you can also use Spiked Gauntlets, Armor Spikes, and so on with a Guisarme to accomplish similar results. Depends whether or not you have room for another feat.

The Stand Still feat is also quite good for this kind of build, and Knock-Down is also pretty good. Stand Still gives you a good option against those you cannot trip for whatever reason, and Knock-Down effectively doubles your damage against those you can. If you have Tome of Battle, Evasive Reflexes brings you quite a bit closer to how the Order of the Stick character actually works, since it allows you to move back instead of taking an Attack of Opportunity (and it doesn’t count as taking your Attack of Opportunity, which means you still can and he still provokes if he moves forward – you still are only going to get to make one AoO per movement action, though).


Strength or Dexterity bonuses are good, Bonus Feats are great, and Large size is awesome but usually over-priced. I’d probably go with Human (or a Human variant that still gets the Bonus Feat, like Azurin or Silverbrow or whatever), Orc (ideally Water Orc), or a Goliath from Races of Stone for Powerful Build and the possibility of gaining true Large size from Mountain Rage (see below). Half-minotaur is very good template here, also netting you Large size, though like Goliath the LA hurts.

Note that if you do not get Improved Trip as a bonus feat (see Wolf Totem Barbarian, below), you’ll need Int 13 to get Combat Expertise. Note that if you go for a Psychic Warrior or War Mind build, you’ll want some Wisdom.

Specific classes

Barbarian 2 with the Wolf Totem is a great start for such a tripper: you get Improved Trip without taking Combat Expertise, which is great. Rage is useful since Strength covers your Trip checks, and you could switch to Ferocity to get a Dexterity bonus (read: more Attacks of Opportunity) instead of a Constitution bonus. The Lion Spirit Totem alternate class feature from Complete Champion gets you Pounce, which is a great option for any melee build (though it does not directly improve your Trip-lockdown ability).

If you are a Goliath (Races of Stone), you could instead take Mountain Rage, which makes you Large for the duration of your Rage: this is excellent for a Trip-lockdown build.

Also look into the Knockback feat, also from Races of Stone, and consider combining it with Fighter 6 using the Dungeoncrasher ACF from Dungeonscape: you’ll broaden your abilities to do both Bull Rush and Trip. So Barbarian 2/Fighter 6 is not bad for a pretty simple build that has a few options. A couple of levels of Fighter are pretty common for such a character just because you do want a lot of Fighter feats. Don’t take too many, though; after you get your core feats, additional feats frequently matter less and less and you want to get real class features.

You will also want to increase your size as much as you can. Trips involve Touch attacks, which means BAB is not super-important to you: consider levels in Psychic Warrior to get the excellent expansion, not to mention being a fantastic alternative to Fighter for Bonus Feats. The War Mind prestige class is also pretty good for this. Cleric is a great dip in general, and can also get you righteous might, a pretty good size increase. Note that you have to be careful about when you Rage if you are a Barbarian and a spellcaster or manifester.

Pathfinder options

In Pathfinder, you can still do it, but not with a Spiked Chain, and you need two feats to do what Improved Trip used to do for one, and you’ll burn through your Attacks of Opportunity twice as fast. In short, Paizo decided that one of the few functional mundane tactics in 3.5 was somehow “too good” and nerfed the hell out of it. They also decided that “just because it costs a feat to use” is not a sufficient reason for an exotic weapon to be be better than a martial one, in one of their most derided and bone-headed fiascoes to date, and thus made the Spiked Chain now pretty much useless and in no way worth a feat. It was only barely worth a feat in 3.5.

Being Large would have helped the Pathfinder Spiked Chain situation somewhat since you’d get Reach that way, but it’s still much better off with a Reach weapon than with a non-Reach weapon even when Large, and more importantly there’s still nothing about the Spiked Chain that actually makes it worthwhile. So use a Guisarme or Heavy Flail instead of a Spiked Chain, and still try to increase your size.

Pathfinder also has Stand Still; it’s slightly different (Combat Maneuver check instead of attack plus Reflex Save), but the two are probably close to equal in usefulness. I’m not sure if there are any Pathfinder feats that serve as stand-ins for Knock-Down or Evasive Reflexes, though.


Answering from a 3.5 perspective, as that's where my experience is. Only noticed after writing that the whole point of the question was PF comparison. Well, I hope it's useful anyway.

Assuming that the goal of the exercise is to create a build that can effectively hit back (with a spiked chain) and dodge out of harm's way when charged, we have a few options.

The core of the build is probably going to be the Sidestep feat (Miniature's Handbook). It allows you to move back after having made your normal attack of opportunity. It is usually better than the Evasive Reflexes feat (Tome of Battle) due to Sidestep both explicitly allowing more than one 5' step and it allowing you to attack as well. Evasive Reflexes (probably) doesn't eat from your AoO quota, though.

But, while Sidestep is nice, we need to hit at least twice on each charge the opponent makes, and move at least 10' away each round (to prevent them from making a 5' step + full attack combo). Here are some options to help you do that:

  • Improved Combat Reflexes and Greater Combat Reflexes (Dragon Magazine 340), rather obscure but powerful feats. They alone can generate enough AoOs for you to make the build work. The last bonus AoOs can be nicely used to fuel Evasive Reflexes.
  • Robilar's Gambit (Player's Handbook 2) and/or Karmic Strike (Complete Warrior) generate AoOs when you're struck or swung at.
  • Hold the Line (Complete Warrior). When an opponent charges you, you get an AoO upon them entering "an area you threaten". Probably overkill with the number of other AoO-generating options you have, and you likely being capped on your Dexterity modifier with respect to AoO numbers anyway, but it's there.
  • The Bracers of Opportunity (Magic Item Compendium) grant extra AoOs and a bonus on all AoOs when worn. Cheap, and a must for any AoO-build.
  • Press the Advantage (Tome of Battle), a Stance that allows you to take double 5' steps. The Sparring Dummy of the Master (Arms and Equipment Guide) may be of interest to you too.
  • Wolf Pack Tactics (Tome of Battle), a high level Stance that allows you to take an extra 5' step with each successful attack you make.

The Half-Ogre in the comic says he's using Spring Attack. I don't see a reason to. I'd use Readied actions instead.

I'll leave it as an exercise for you and your DM to figure out how to integrate 5' steps and charges into the combat order of operations.

Pick and choose your options, about half of the ones I listed should be sufficient for you to run in circles around people who charge you. @KRyan's answer has lots of general info on how to make a tripper that should be useful, too.

And beware - like the Half-Ogre demonstrated, one-trick pony builds like this one may look really cool, but still be ultimately destined to fail.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Wow, I'm impressed. Seems like Thicket of Blades deserves a mention, by the way. I forgot it too though. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Mar 6, 2013 at 2:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Wow, good head for feats and sources \$\endgroup\$
    – RMalke
    Mar 6, 2013 at 2:45

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