My answer to all of those who don't think that Aid Another is worth looking at is to take a second look using this week's guide. You might be surprised at what you find.
What Is The Aid Another Action?
|Quick, while he's not looking at you!|
The Aid Another action, for those who don't want to look it up, is a standard action where one character helps another achieve a certain task. In combat a player and the target of the aid must both be in melee with an enemy; the player rolls an attack against an AC 10, and if he hits may grant the target a +2 to hit, or a +2 to armor class against the target they both threaten. Details for this action are on page 197 of the Core Rulebook.
The other way someone can use Aid Another is on page 86. It states that if two characters are making a skill check then one can aid the other. Simply roll the die, and if the character hits a DC 10 then he helps his companion with a +2 bonus. The bonus from Aid Another is untyped, and as such it stacks with everything. That's going to be important later on in this article.
The big complaint seems to be that sure, at level 1 or 2 a +2 to AC or to an attack is a nice bonus. The higher in level a party becomes though, the less useful such a bonus is. Even if the whole party goes in to give the fighter with the specialized weapon a big boost, that's only a +6 (assuming a 4 person party). It's nice, but how often will the whole party sacrifice their actions to give even this mediocre a bonus?
|More often than you think, less often than you'd believe.|
I'm not going to disagree that giving even a level 6 character, much less a level 10 or 12 character, a +2 is a pretty paltry use of one's turn. That said, Aid Another can be made a lot more powerful if you're actually planning on using it.
As with any other bit of mechanical wooge it's important to start stacking the numbers right from character creation. If a character is a halfling then he or she can take the helpful trait, which says that whenever the character successfully uses the Aid Another action that the bonus is a +4 instead of a +2. If a character is not a halfling then there's a universal helpful trait that allows them to provide a +3 instead of a +2.
Pro Tip: If you're willing to get creative with your backstory you can take adopted, which gives you access to traits for races you don't possess, and then take the helpful version that is usually only available for halflings. Adopted is in this case a placeholder, allowing you to pick the better version of helpful.
|This is just the tip of the ice berg, my friends.|
Classes and Prestige Classes
A surprising number of classes and prestige classes offer a bonus to the Aid Another action. Some are bigger than others, which is why it's important to keep your character's final destination in mind. Is this character a battlefield commander, helping his troops achieve victory, or is she someone who knows when she's out of her league and isn't shy about assisting others in getting the glory some of the time?
Something to think about.
Cavaliers (Advanced Player's Guide) are an often-underutilized class (lots of players aren't willing to bring mounted characters into a game that so traditionally is full of dungeon crawling), but one of the most under-utilized abilities is the bonus to Aid Another granted by the Order of the Dragon. Starting at level 2 the cavalier can provide an additional +1 when using the Aid Another action to assist allies with armor class, attacks, saving throws, or skill checks. For a cavalier with one of the two helpful traits that's either a +4 or +5 bonus at level 2. Not too shabby. This bonus increases by +1 at level 8 and every 6 levels after.
Surely an Aid Another bonus in a class as popular (and let's face it, necessary) as the cleric would have been noticed by now? Not exactly; you see the bonus comes from variant channeling (Ultimate Magic), which is something not a lot of players use. For clerics who take the Strategy option for variant channeling, and who channel positive energy, all Aid Another actions used by her allies during the turn add the cleric's channel bonus (+1 at level 1, +2 at level five, and increasing by another +1 every five levels) to the usual Aid Another bonus delivered. Certainly not something to sneeze at.
The very rarely played prestige class of the Pathfinder Chronicler (Core Rulebook 388) reflects the idea of a scribe, scholar, and tale-teller who accompanies great heroes and records their deeds. These Chroniclers also pitch in when needed, and that's where their improved aid ability comes from. At level 3 a Pathfinder Chronicler provides a +4 bonus when using the Aid Another action.
Andoran's Eagle Knights are famed far and wide for reasons that are alternatively good and bad. Because they must act together as a unit, particularly when facing slavers and other enemies of freedom, the Steel Falcons (Pathfinder Companion: Andoran, Spirit of Liberty) gain superior aid at level 2. This ability allows them to grant a +4 instead of a +2 on Aid Another actions.
While it's out of order alphabetically, the Battle Herald (Advanced Player's Guide) is a class that is geared almost expressly toward helping the party achieve its full potential. A combination bard/cavalier (Order of the Dragon is a good base to work with, as well), the Battle Herald gains the Inspiring Command ability. While there's a laundry list of commands it's the Teamwork command that applies to this guide. This ability provides anyone using the Aid Another action with a competence bonus equal to the Battle Herald's inspiring command bonus, and if the ally is successful then the Aid Another bonus also increases by the Battle Herald's inspiring command bonus. That's an additional +1 at first level, and another +1 for every 3 levels after.
|Seriously, just kiss it. It gives you a bonus.|
Normally the meat of any build comes from feats, but in this case if someone really wants to add some solid numbers to their Aid Another the bonuses tend to come from magic items (and the above class features). The two items you're going to want on your side are:
This +1 enchantment (found in Ultimate Equipment) can be placed on both weapons and armor. When placed on a weapon it adds the weapon's numerical bonus to the Aid Another bonus that's provided on attacks. When placed on armor it has the same effect, but only for Aid Another actions meant to increase someone's armor class.
Ring of Tactical Precision
While it's hugely expensive, the ring of tactical precision provides a +1 to the bonus anyone wearing it provides through the Aid Another action. It also provides a +5 on profession (soldier) checks, and it allows a teamwork feat to be stored inside of it. 11k still seems a hefty price to pay, but if you find it in a horde you might not want to just pawn it at the local emporium glorium, sight unseen.
Gloves of Arcane Striking
While not typically used unless one is a straight caster, the gloves of arcane striking are useful for bards, magi, and others who intend to be using Aid Another. These gloves allow the user to transfer the bonus from the arcane strike feat as a bonus to Aid Another. That's a +1 for every 5 caster levels the user possesses, to a maximum of +5.
It All Adds Up
So how much of a bonus can you really give another player with the Aid Another action? What do the numbers really look like? Well, here's an example using the above rules and focusing on combat bonuses.
Let's begin with a halfling character who takes the helpful halfling trait. Right out of the gate he can provide a +4 bonus to his allies.
Take 3 levels of bard.
At level 6 take a level of Battle Herald. Learn the Teamwork Command for a +5 on Aid Another. This goes up to +6 at 10th level and +7 at 13th level.
Purchase a benevolent weapon (preferably a lance or whip so you can aid from a distance). If you have a +1 weapon at level 6 it provides a +6 bonus. If you advance this weapon to a +3 item then at level 10 you can provide a +9 bonus to your allies in combat. If you use your arcane strike to add onto your aid another bonus, that's more than a +10.
I cannot think of a single level where a +10 bonus to either attack or armor class is not a major game changer.
Post Edit Suggestion: Bodyguard
I continually thought this was part of the guide, but apparently it wasn't. The Bodyguard feat (Advanced Player's Guide) allows you to use attacks of opportunity to provide an aid another action to a party member you're adjacent to. Since the prerequisite is Combat Reflexes it's entirely possible that you can save the entire front line from a world of hurt without even taking up your actual action during the round.
Who's useless now?
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