Build a Better Monster: Human Pikeman

Sometimes you just need a generic soldier, whether they’re part of the city guard, the royal army or just a sword-for-hire.  However, ‘generic’ doesn’t have to mean ‘unthreatening’.  Through use of Pathfinder’s Combat Maneuvers system, these CR 2 humans are an effective addition to any encounter, even against a mid-level party.

The combat maneuver system is another process Paizo adapted from the 3.5 edition of Dungeons and Dragons, streamlining the sometimes complex and cumbersome mechanisms to make resolving the maneuvers much quicker and easier, allowing GMs to keep the pace of combat going.  However, because they require taking at least two feats to use with reliable effectiveness (the ‘improved’ version of the combat maneuver, and the prerequisite feat, which is either Power Attack or Combat Expertise depending on which maneuver you want) many players choose not to pursue them, even when playing Fighters, the class with the most opportunity (thanks to its bonus feats) and the most to gain.  As such, they can often be surprised by having the feature used against them.  It’s an easy way to make lower-level creatures effective, as any given player character’s Combat Maneuver Defense is almost always guaranteed to be lower than their Armour Class, a difference that will only grow as they acquire more powerful armour or defensive spells to further boost their AC.

Read the rest of this entry »