Tanks Without Aggro

Many computer games have an “aggro mechanic,” which determines who NPCs are going to attack. This makes it easy to design “tank” classes, who have the tactical role of encouraging people to attack them( and surviving that attack) simply by giving them a power that causes the NPC to do that.

In tabletop there are mixed feelings on aggro mechanics. I’ve done some myself, but they were in the context of WarQuest World, a microsetting designed to use a tabletop game to simulate the genre of real-world people stuck playing in a fantasy world that modeled the rules of an MMO.

Some people love tabletop aggro rules, because they feel fighters and related classes need *some* way to encourage foes to attack them. This helps fighters do one of the things they do well (soak up a lot of damage) even when facing foes they have trouble damaging.0

But within a typical Pathfinder campaign, the rules shouldn’t be as heavy-handed as WarQuest World’s are. Otherwise they feel too bolted-on, and too much like the rule exists to be a rule, rather than existing to be an option that makes sense within the context of the game’s reality. So, here are two ideas IF you want to make tanking a broader option, but don’t want a formal aggro mechanic. I present them as feats, but they could just as well be class features for archetypes, magic abilities placed in weapons, and so on.

(A quick aside — these first two feats assume the officially-revised Antagonize feat, found here)

Improved Antagonize (Combat)

You are skill at raising your foe’s ire.
Prerequisites: Antagonize.
Benefit: You gain a +2 bonus to Diplomacy and Intimidate checks required to employ the Antagonize feat, and may make such checks as move actions. You can use either skill to produce either effect, and can target a creature with each once per day. You can use these on creatures that do not the understand you. If you have wild empathy, you can use them on animals, magical beasts and vermin with an Intelligence of 3 or lower.

Greater Antagonize (Combat)

No one is better than you at royally pissing someone off.
Prerequisites: Antagonize, Improved Antagonize.
Benefit: Your bonus to Diplomacy and Intimidate checks required to employ the Antagonize feat increases to +4, and you may make such checks in place of an attack when you take the full attack action. When you successfully damage a foe you have used Antagonize against in the past 24 hours, you reset how soon you can next use this feat on them as if you had not used it in the past 24 hours.

(This next ability works off the same principle as a witch’s cackle — it’s not that there’s any artificial forcing of foes attacking you, it’s just that you get so annoying GMs think it’s smart to attack you).

Champion’s Benediction (Combat)

When you focus your will against a foe, things go badly for them.
Prerequisites: No access to casting spells or spell-like abilities from class features.
Benefit: As a swift action, select one foe that has a spell or effect or condition with a duration measured in rounds that was placed upon it by an ally. The next round does not count against that effect’s duration, causing it to last one more round than normal.

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About okcstephens

Owen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the publisher and lead genius of Rogue Genius Games. Owen has written game material for numerous other companies, including Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games and Upper Deck. He also consults, freelances, and in the off season, sleeps.

Posted on February 10, 2017, in Microsetting, Pathfinder Development and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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