The hell TRIP (Brown Fur Transmutter)

It’s a build based on shapeshifting and combat maneuvers (Trip and others), i plan to use it for my unfair run later when most of the bugs will be fixed, i already tried it in beta and it work well in the actual hardest difficulty.
i will also talk about builds you can make for some companions :Camellia, Seelah and lann to maximise things.

Race : Tiefling
Background : Oblate : martial discipline

STR : 20 (+4 lvl8 to 20)
DEX : 17 (+1 lvl4)
CON : 7 (the build can reach high amount of CON, don’t worry)
INT : 14 (it will be increase by +4 int. item to be able to cast up to lvl8 spell then +2 at the end from DD)
WIS : 10 (we don’t want to reduce too much our will saves)
CHA : 5 (we’ll don’t use arcanist exploits with DC, and 1 Consume spell per day is enough to fill our arcanist reservoir)

level 1 : BFT : (brown fur transmutter), martial weapon proficiency, arcanist exploit : wooden flesh.
MWP is needed to become eldrich knight later and it will allow us to use good reach weapons during the early game to deal massive damage, and a +2 natural armor buff for 1 min per arcanist level who stack with everything is always good, because it’s an abilty and not a spell, we can use it while shapeshifted.

level 2 BFT.

level 3 : BFT : combat expertise (don’t activate it, it’s just needed for trip).
at level 3 we get “Powerful Change” when we spend 1 arcanist magical energy before a transmutation spell who give a bonus to one or more ability, it increase the bonus by 2, now enlarge person give +4 STR, reduce person +4 DEX (+3 AC in total with the size bonus), when we shapeshift, only the 3 physical stats are affected, let’s say we take a form who give us +4 polymorph bonus to STR, -2 to DEX and 0 to CON, if we use it with Powerful Change, we’ll get +6 STR , 0 DEX, +2 CON polymorph bonus. Mental stats are not affected.

level 4 : BFT
now we get our +4 stats spells boost who will give +6 with Powerful change, a bull’s strength and a enlarge person can give someone +10 STR. (+4 size bonus, +6 enhancement bonus)

level 5 : BFT : Trip, arcanist exploit : dimentionnal slide, it’s basicaly a teleport ability we can use while shapeshifted for 1 magical energy as a move action. Situationnal but can be very useful sometimes.

level 6 : BFT
now we get our level 3 spells and Beast Shape I (wolf form),normally it give +2/0/0, with powerful change, that’s +4/+2/+2, we can now reach 36 str (20+ 6 enhancement with bull strength + 4 size with enlarge person + 4 polymorph with beast shape I + 2 moral with rage spell)
Wolf have a free trip attempt each time he hit with his bite.
we’ll get our first mythic hero level, demon is the best path for our build, but no need to take the first demon power, gore attack is useless while shapeshifted and it’s not mandatory to become a demon.
we will choose instead :
mirror image like ability who can be used while shapeshifted is nice.
for the mythic ability we take enduring spells.

level 7 : EK (Eldrich Knight) : fury’s fall (+DEX to CMB when using trip), Combat reflexe.
With martial weapons and level 3 spells, it’s time to increase our BAB, we’ll need it to get some important feats.

level 8 : EK : mythic feat : extra mythic ability : Greater enduring spell
we’ll get our 2nd mytic level around level 8, and now all our buffs with 1 or 10 min per level last 24H, it’s a huge upgrade it make everything easier after that.

level 9 : EK : Greater trip
we just reached 6 BAB to get it. we also get our lvl4 spells, reduce person and enlarge person, mass are nice.

level 10 : EK
we also gain our third mythic level and choose demon and “brutality incarnate” who bypass damage resistance for your naturals weapons.

level 11 : EK : pummeling style, improved initiative
level 5 spells, we get metamorphose spell who can transform allies into leopard or small elemental.
animal growth who give a big buff to pets (+10 STR, + 6 CON with powerful change and +1 size)

level 12 EK :
at this time we’ll get our level 4 mythic level and can take extra mythic ability :
on top of the base polymorph bonus of each shapeshifted form, we get now +6 to STR, DEX, and CON with this feat and Powerful Change, i could have taken that earlier and brutality incarnate now, i’m not sure what’s is best. and our first aspect during demon rage, the most important one :

level 13 EK : pummeling bully who give us a free trip attempt each round
we don’t need wolf form now than we have another source of trip and can take the strongest form available at each level, smilodon for pounce and 5 attacks, earth elemental for bonus to maneuvers
other form with built-in other maneuvers, etc
we also get our level 6 spells including 24H +6 stats party buff.

then it’s time to go dragon disciple for extra stats, i will not detail from here, the only mandatory mythic feat is mythic trip, finaly there is room to take different routes from here, another maneuver for the creatures who are immune to trip maybe, mythic mage armor for extra AC, etc
Don’t forget Demon get spells included demon form I to V each allow you to choose between 2 or 3 demon form and some of them are nice and maneuvers oriented.
at level 7 spell you’ve got legendary proportions who give +8 str +2 dex +6 con and+6 natural armor for 24 hours as a size bonus instead of enlarge person. greater polimorph to change allies into smilodons, dragon I or large elementals, etc

For the companions

Lann will be amazing as a Drovier druid who can share his aspects with the group instead of his ability to shapeshift, but we can shapeshift him at level 11, his high str and dex allow him to be very good at trip too and a dog as a pet who can trip too. the aspect of gorilla at level 4 give +4 to all maneuvers check to everyone.

Seelah who will be built as a tank for the first part of the game can become a battle sion at level 2, a skald who can share not only his rage powers but can choose a teamwork feat to share instead of a rage power if she want, it’s very good, this way she can share coordinated maneuvers, outflank, seize the moment, etc with her good STR, she can be efficient for later with some maneuvers.

Camelia can take another level of shaman to get iceplant (+4 natural armor with an item you’ll find quickly in the game ) then go bloodrager primalist with serpentine bloodline and she can take the crane style route, this way she’ll be able to take the first bloodline power at lvl4 (+1 natural armor which increase by 1 every 4 levels) then at level 8, 2 rages powers instead of bloodline power to get small and medium beast totem (to get +1 armor at first primalist level then +1 at level 4 and each 4 level after).
Because she can cast mage armor on herself, she can use mage armor mythic ability to get extra armor.
She will get also a mythic feat a her level 8 (2 sham + 6 primalist) mythic finesse who give dex to damage with every type of attack (weapons, natural attack, touch etc).
She can take master shapeshifter too, this way at level 11, the transmuter can turn her into a air or fire elemental with massive dex and natural armor bonus. and she’ll become an amazing tank. (thanks to improved uncanny dodge, never flat footed)
As bonus feat, she can acces to trip, combat expertise (who give also more armor same scaling as beast totem if needed but that’s unlikely, that’s 3 things who can give +1 AC every 4 levels), improved initiative, etc
1 level of kinetist knight will give her the prerequisite for trip, this way she can gain it with her bonus feats and will be very good at it.
you can take at level 12 primalist reckless stance and inspired ferocity instead of bloodline feat, to give everyone up to +5 hit but with a -5 malus to AC, but it’s not a big deal, because of the insane AC scaling on Camelia once you start to shapeshift her. Don’t forget all bonus to attack all apply to maneuvers too.
at level 16 she’ll gain an hydra form, with 5 attack / turn + pounce.

one last thing, Nenio can use this spell :

the save only affect the part where the creature fall prone at the end of the bull rush. For the bull rush it’s just a maneuver roll where you can have a big bonus with the extra projectiles, if you take the blood rush feats, they work with the spell, and generate opportunity attack with greater bull rush from the melee around the target . you can’t get imp. bull rush before level 12 (need 6 BAB), but it’s very powerful then because at level 13, you can get 3 projectile. force damage cannot be reduced by resistance to damage, another good thing, and of course buff to attack and maneuvers such as aspect of gorilla, inspire ferocity, hope etc will still apply to it.

in conjonction with any of the pits spells

you can see that the reflex roll is denied when the creature is bull rushed into the pit, it only work on large max creatures but it’s extremely good on thoses. spell resistance doesn’t work against pits.

Everybody can cast mage on themselves with potions and scrolls. So you do not need class that casts mage armor to make use Archmage Armor.

If powerful change is raising every ability it is bugged, it has been confirmed from Paizo that it only effects one ability score.

I get that the point here is to be buffed via a Transformation Spell at all times, but is the duration boost from Greater Enduring Spell really better than extra daily casting slots from the Abundant Casting line? Sorcerous Reflex could also let you cast as a swift action in the various ambush encounters. Just seems like you would have more flexibility this way.

This build would also work really well with Azata, and I’m planning on doing a variant like that. The superpowers, especially Incredible Might, would work well here.

Oh, and FYI, but Dragon Disciple currently cannot advance Arcanist casting. They qualify for the 1st level of DD, but can’t select Arcanist to advance if they try to take a 2nd level.

i prefer enduring spell because with the extra spells from abundant casting, with only 6 level of BFT (to get enough BAB for feats), i won’t have enough magical energy to enhance all of them. i prefer the enhanced ones to last longer. With 24 hours spells, you’ll be buffed when a ambush encounter happen. another nice thing is that even when you sleep, you’ll still be buffed when you wake up.
there’s only 2 enduring feats instead of 3 abondant casting ones, that allow you to take one more extra feat.
In the game actually, you can do everything while shapeshifted, like talking to NPC for quests, athletic check, disarm a trap, etc. it’s probably not something who would work on tabletop, but i don’t think it will change to not cause bugs with triggered dialogues, etc.

i took demon because it suits well my “combat maneuvers” themed build and i want to try the demon form spells. but if you don’t focus on combat maneuvers and rely on raw power, Azata can be really effective and the pet is really nice.

i’m aware for DD, there is a lot of bugs right now, for BFT, when you buff with powerful change, you gain the extra stats correctly, but as soon as you save (any type of save), the buff lose his extra stat.

I’ve always thought the BFT’s biggest strength was the ability to cast personal spells on others and to provide a higher enhancement bonus late game, rather than being a shifter himself. His low hp and low BAB don’t synergize well there.

For a shifter build, I’ve always thought straight druid was superior. It will have the same BAB as a Lvl 20, BFT 10/EK10 build, but have higher BAB for the entire game beforehand. It comes with a pet, which works well for tandem trip abilities, and will have full casting.

That said, shifting is underpowered in this game and combat maneuvers are traps (imo). I’d probably just go full BFT and treat him exactly like an arcane caster with some extra buff benefits.

Ran a Monk 1 / Feyspeaker 19 through Kingmaker and even with 1/2 BAB & using Power Attack, hitting things was never an issue. BAB matters a lot less in these builds than you think it would since you are getting 5x attacks at your best number.

Low HP is probably more of an issue than BAB will be, but between spell bonuses (varies), BFT bonus (+2), & Master Shapeshifter (+4), you get quite a bump when transformed.

Edit - I should add hitting wasn’t a problem in later levels, once it was really fully online. Early levels weren’t the most fun thing I’ve ever done. That playthrough I was also doing Crane Style / Wing to fix AC. The HP thing here is probably the thing that concerns me the most, especially given true sight & demons that dispel buffs. For an Azata, I was strongly considering Marvelous Endurance over Supersonic speed for exactly that reason.

It depends what you mean by “not a problem”. The difference between natural attacks on a 1/2 BAB class and 4 weapon attacks from a full BAB class is pretty substantial. Roughly speaking, enemy AC is balanced around the assumption that a martial will have a 50% chance to hit at their full BAB. A 1/2 BAB will have one-half a martial’s BAB—or a 25% chance to hit on a primary natural attack and a 0% chance to hit on a secondary natural attack. In contrast, a martial will have a series of iterative attacks with different chances to hit based on their BAB declining by 5 with each subsequent attack: 50%, 25%, 0%, -25%. As a practical matter,
however, the martial’s attacks have much higher to hit chances because weapons increase to-hit by +5 end game and give percentages closer to: 75%, 50%, 25% and 0%. Many of the other attribute buffs offset or are comparable at a to-hit level, but the martial will again have substantially better scaling on the damage associate with each hit: power attack and a 2H weapon will convert an extra 50% strength to damage, power attack will provide a +3 damage bonus for every attack bs only primary natural attacks, the crit ranges and crit multipliers are almost always better than a 2x20 natural attack, the base weapon die will be larger, and the weapon will provide bonus damage. I’m not saying it isn’t doable on some difficulties; I am saying it’s not really optimal, which is a shame becomes I love the RP and flexibility afforded by shifter builds and wish they were stronger.

That feyspeaker MC, when fully buffed, was roughly on par with a buffed full-BAB Amari in terms of that first to-hit number. The difference was that the MC’s BAB never went down with the 5 remaining iterative attacks. This screenshot is him, partially buffed at 18th level. I don’t have Frightful Aspect and a few other things activated.

Same playthrough Amari, though in fairness I could get her up quite a bit more too.

And that guy really wasn’t fully maxed out. His strength started quite a bit lower than was optimal for example. The OP’s trip build starts with high Str from the get go, and the BFT & Master Shapeshifter will be brutal.

One thing I wonder about is how a BFT will do without Natural Spell. Part of how Feyspeaker did it’s thing was stacking buffs, but sometimes order mattered. For instance Legendary Proportions could be cast before or after Wildshape, but Fearful Aspect always had to be cast after.

Dunno, that is lower than my Amiri without buffs at level 18.

Those seem incredibly low for a lvl 18 barbarian, who should have +18 from to-hit from class levels alone. It seems highly unlikely to me that she’s only picked up another +7 from a magical weapon, size bonuses, enhancement bonuses, base strength, weapon focus, rage, etc., even if these numbers include a reduction due to power attack. But setting that aside, in this example, the MC hits for 23.5 on average and the barbarian hits for 41 on average–nearly double–before accounting for crit ranges and crit multipliers. That’s a substantial difference in overall damage output.

Both characters had power attack active, and Amari had Ovinrbaane which has a penalty for being oversized.

I don’t really feel like debating this, but I’ll say that, against foes with DR, your analysis was spot on in Kingmaker regarding damage output. However, against foes without DR, there was less of a gap than you might have expected. It will be interesting to see how things are in WotR with Brutality Incarnate.

Going to add that the more I think about the lack of Natural Spell, the more concerned I am with BFT though. The single +2 to modified attributes isn’t going to compensate for things like the ability to recast Mirror Image while transformed. Further, some of the better transformation spells, like Frightful Aspect, are never going to be affected by Enduring Spell. That strikes me as a problem for the OP’s build.

Weapon +3(5-2)
HD +18
STR +9
= 30- 5 Power = 25 Still unbuffed. 27 with normal weapon.
Seems like she is without buffs, or stat points are not in strenght, or/and you did not give her STR belt.

Concerning WotR beta, stronger Demons have inherent True Seeing. Mirror Image will be almost completely useless in act 4.

First of all i only take 6 level of BFT 3 BAB lost then EK (full BAB and very good warrior like hit-points per level) then DD (same but with 3/4 BAB, the +4 STR make up for it and +2 CON and INT, and some armor). then i can still change companions with polymorph spell and improved polymorph, no need to gimp our BAB for other forms, the improved one get smilodon with pounce, and both spells get elementals form, like air or fire for DEX and armor bonus for tanks or earth elemental for combats maneuvers bonuses). Finally if you can make your BFT a very powerful fighting machine with trip, why not?
Again, with +6 CON enhancement buff + 10/12 CON polymorph buff (depending on the form) + 6 CON size + 2 CON morale from Rage spell + 2 from DD, i don’t think lack of hitpoints will be a problem.

Then i don’t know yet about wotr, because i didn’t went post the chapel (but was able to kill and trip all the bosses and lich until this point). i restarted then from a trip build like the one i used on kingmaker to the BFT one when i had this idea), but when i played kingmaker, i saw lot of people like Ineffect and others saying that combat maneuvers were bad with unfair, while they obviously didn’t tried, i decided to try it and it was the smoothest unfair run i made, after the usual (few) reloads during act 1 when your tank could be one shoot with a bad crit. (before mirror image, etc), you were able to be sure to beat each encouter 99/100 as long as you used the right strategy. The strenght of the build is that it’s very strong early and goes even stronger as time goes (like you want an unfair build to be)
Trip is definilety not a trap, it a very good and powerful control ability and it add damages thanks to the 2 AOO per trip you gain.
i know that in tabletop, someone can stay on the ground and keep fighting whit maluses, but the fact in the game, they always goes up on their feet make Trip very good.

I talked a bit about the kingmaker unfair build on this post (my nickname on reddit : vintagemtg) ( it was soon after starting it then, i finished it since, and it was very strong, because on top of trip it was also probably the build who could deal the most damage per round (2K+ average per round) making all the end with the wild hunt and everything trivial.

This seems about right to me. Again, it’s really beside the point because Amiri isn’t a well-built character, and even she’s dealing twice the damage output per hit. It’s not a close comparison.

To the OP’s build, however, two additional downsides (which haven’t been mentioned) are the delayed spell progression throughout most of the game and delaying share transmutation until level 19. An arcanist already lags 1 level behind a wizard for spell progression, and snagging EK will cost another level of spell progression. When a wizard is grabbing 5th level spells at lvl 9 , this build will be getting 4th level spells at level 9. That’s a fairly large loss in the party’s arcane power. You could always grab another full arcane caster, but then why bring the BFT when a full martial would likely add more damage output and tankiness? And because of the way in which the levels are allocated (6 BFT, then EK, rather than 9 BFT, then EK), you’re missing out on the ability to cast personal spells on an ally–which can be immensely powerful for buffing, depending on which spells make the game’s final cut. If the order in which the build takes levels is changed to BFT 9/EK10, however, then you’re playing most of the game as a BAB disadvantage to both a martial and a druid shifter (which also brings an AC).

I don’t see how you will qualify for DD–you need a draconic sorceror bloodline (although currently I believed bloodrager/scion draconic bloodlines also qualify. I don’t know whether that is intended or a bug).

If you go dragon disciple, you’re delaying casting substantially level (1 from arcanist versus a wizard, 1 from EK 1, and 1 from DD 1, 1 from DD 5 and presumably 1 more from grabbing a class to obtain the draconic bloodline). You’ll never qualify for 9th level spells, and you’ll be a full 2 or more spell levels behind a wizard or even a straight BFT (i.e., when a wizard gains access to lvl 9 spells, you’ll still be at lvl 6 spells and waiting an additional level to gain your lvl 7 spells). That’s a massive power differential. And it will delay the levels at which you get beast shape/form of dragon spells, so you’re attribute bonuses will be lagging. Shifters depends upon buffs/shifting spells, and your build delays your access to those spells.

You’re double-counting constitution buffs. The polymorph/shifting buffs are typically “size” buffs. They won’t stack with a separate size buff. And you’re overestimating the constitution buffs. Dragon III can reach 10, with the BFT bonus, but you won’t be able to cast lvl 8 spells with this build (and the forms will be delayed much later).

As I see it, this build will be a weak caster and a weak melee. It would be much better to do a straight druid with an AC–higher BAB during most of the game, faster spell progression, and AC whom you can buff–or to just do a straight BFT who works as a DC caster who CC’s enemies and supplies strong enhancement buffs and personal buffs to the party. That BFT could have a reasonable set of physical stats and shift as needed

And while trip can be useful, I suspect it won’t be in this game because enemies receive a CMD bonus to resist trip with more legs. Last I checked, Deskari had a lot of legs. And his size might prohibit trip attempts by PCs in general. IIRC, trip is limited to creatures one size larger than the tripper. And if you’re building a trip party, you really need to have characters who capitalize upon the trips with attacks of opportunity. The companions aren’t well geared for that, imo, because they lack a strong, 2H melee. And remember that trip attempts trade-off with your attacks–usually–so you have to make back all the lost damage from your trip attempt and then some just to break even with losing your attacks.

the need of draconic bloodlines is only for classes with bloodline like sorcerer who need this bloodline to be dragon, if you’re another type of spontaneous caster of arcane spells, like bard or arcanist, you don’t need it, you choose the draconic bloodline once you go DD. there is a lot of exemple of arcanist DD builds for tabletop you can search on google.

i’m not double-counting, i’m not a specialist of tabletop, but on WOTR right now, shapeshifting bonus are applied as polymorph bonus, not size bonus and it always was like that in Kingmaker, i don’t see that changing now, another thing, with my researchs online, in tabletop, you can still use a size buff on someone shapeshifted and it work (in term of gaining size).

i can totaly understand you can use an arcanist as a traditionnal caster with good buffs spells, and it should work, my build is just something different and it will probably work too.

About the CMD of mobs, someone told me on the discord game that he find out with datamining than last boss is immune trip, but in the tabletop campain he isn’t while having an extremely high DMD while taking acount the +8 bonus from extra stats of unfair. but this build fully optimised around trip (the companions are builds to be optimized too) should be able to overcome that kind of DMD. and there mutiple ways to get free trips attempt while full attacking.

I just checked. The polymorph effects are being described as a “polymorph” buff and it stacks with a size buff (at least based on limited testing with the beast shape spells). I wonder whether that’s working as intended. The spell text for beast shape and the other spells specify that they are size buffs and therefore they should not stack with other size buffs.

Similarly, I checked whether BFT qualifies for DD. It apparently does, which is odd since it’s not a spontaneous caster. IIRC, only the spell specialist archetype of the arcanist is supposed to squalify as a spontaneous caster for DD. I’ll revisit this when the game is closer to launch to see whether Owlcat has changed the design here.