Crunch (Mechanics)

A slang term, crunch refers to number crunching. The links below are all for the mechanical side of the game, and they include character builds, rule explanations, and item recommendations based on how advantageous you'll find them from a statistical standpoint.

January 27, 2017 Understanding Action Economy (And Why You Need It)
Action economy is one of those words that seems like made-up jargon for RPGs, but it is actually an important concept for players to understand. Especially if they want to maximize their potential on any given round.

2016


December 30, 2016 Gross! Combine The Tumor Familiar With A Familiar Archetype For Disgusting Results
The familiar archetypes gave us a lot of useful new toys to play with... but it's alchemists who can really bring the pain. All they need is a tumor familiar, vat grown for a very particular purpose.

December 2, 2016 Give Your Cleric A Healing Familiar (in Pathfinder)
We've all dealt with that frustration. A party member rushes into combat, or goes down, and the cleric just can't get there in time to help. Or, worse, the cleric could get there, but doing so would put him in serious jeopardy. Wouldn't it be great if you could just send your familiar out to deliver your spells? Well, here's how you can!

November 3, 2016 How to Finesse a Katana in The Pathfinder RPG
The katana is a popular weapon on Pathfinder, and not just among those who love Eastern-style weapons. Deadly, and with a high-crit range, the katana is a great way to leave your opponents in pieces. If you want to use your Dexterity modifier with this weapon, instead of your Strength modifier, though, this guide will show you how.

October 30, 2016 5 Barbarian Multiclass Characters (You'll Never Expect)
I did it with paladins, so I thought it was only fair to do it again with barbarians. Since these raging warriors are perhaps the second most pigeonholed base class in terms of roleplay, and expectations.

October 8, 2016 Corruptions (And Power) in Horror Adventures
Horror Adventures has been making waves ever since it's release. Now that the Halloween season is here, I delve into the stand-out new mechanic the book introduces; corruptions. A powerful, double-edged sword that can hurt characters just as much as they can help, corruptions add an intriguing new aspect to Pathfinder.

September 19, 2016 5 Paladin Multiclass Combinations (You'll Never Expect)
Multiclassing isn't something every player does, but if you're looking for a way to play some truly unique paladins, then these 5 character class combinations might be just what you're looking for.

September 10, 2016 Horror Adventures Settles The Argument About Evil Spells and Alignment
There's been this odd argument over the years that evil spells are not, inherently, evil. That it's the use they're put to which should be judged. Horror Adventures has finally filled in the gray area, and made it abundantly clear what happens to the alignment of those who dabble in evil magic.

August 12, 2016 You Cannot Contain Power Players (So Trying Working With Them, Instead)
Power players are the ones who've done their homework. They know which abilities fit together in order to let their characters achieve certain goals, and fulfill certain roles. They get a lot of hate, often because they can be seen as disruptive, and prone to grandstanding, but if you work with them, instead of trying to paint them into a corner, they can be phenomenal tools for you, and your game.

July 8, 2016 Bored Playing Regular Humans? Try Racial Heritage on For Size
Racial Heritage is a feat you either use all the time, or you've never heard of. If you fall into the latter category, well, then this post is for you. Here are some of the great reasons you should examine, and possibly use, this feat in your future concepts.

June 11, 2016 In Praise of Mage Armor
Mage Armor is one of those 1st level spells that you love for a little while, and eventually set aside because you've gotten your hands on better toys. But it's still perfectly functional, and it is great for all kinds of characters; especially ones who aren't spellcasters.

May 14, 2016 5 Ways to Make Up For Small-Sized Damage in Pathfinder
If you're running a small-sized character, you might feel frustrated that every time you hit it feels like you're stabbing your foes with a butter knife. So, instead of banging your head against the wall, check out these 5 methods for overcoming your small-sized handicap when it comes to bringing the pain.

April 20, 2016 How to Stop Rules Lawyers From Ruining Your Game
Rules lawyers are players whose powers of memorization and number crunching can be used for good, or evil. If you're a DM who wants to keep your game on track, instead of getting derailed for 20 minute conversations about grappling, or defense casting, then try instituting these simple rules at your table.

April 16, 2016 For a Change of Pace, Give Your Pathfinder PCs Some Monster Feats
Monster feats are one of those toys the DM typically keeps all to himself. However, if your PC qualifies, then you can take monster feats too. The prerequisites are stiff, but often totally worth the effort.

March 18, 2016 Natural Attacks Can Turn Your Pathfinder Character Into a Monster
If you've ever fought a monster with a lot of natural attacks, you were probably jealous that the DM was having all the fun. Fear not, for you have access to these toys as well!

February 21, 2016 The 4 Major Flaws of Character Building
We've all seen those impossibly powerful character builds. Before you get too intimidated, though, check them against these four flaws. You'll find that, many times, they aren't all they're cracked up to be.

January 17, 2016 Marry Your Rules and Story in Pathfinder With Achievement and Story Feats
Achievement feats and story feats aren't a mechanic that lots of players are familiar with. So this week I talk about what makes them cool, and why you should take a look at them.

2015


December 18, 2015 Replacing Lost Limbs With Magical Prosthetics in Pathfinder
For players who aren't shy about PC mutilation, lost limbs can become commonplace. If you lose a hand, or a leg, or an entire arm, what are you going to do when it's time to go back out and adventure? Try one of these solutions on for size, is my recommendation.

November 21, 2015 5 More Rules Pathfinder Players Keep Forgetting
Here's another entry in the long-running series of rules that get forgotten, overlooked, or just plain mis-remembered. How many of these did you actually know?

October 16, 2015 How to Weaponize Your Intimidate Check in Pathfinder
Intimidate is the social skill that most players invest in, but it's one that has a limited use in combat. Limited, that is, unless you combine it with a certain set of feats I call The Bruiser.

September 18, 2015 4 Ways to Reduce The Amount of Sleep Your Pathfinder Characters Need
There ain't no rest for the wicked, and this short list of 4 method will help make sure your PCs spend as little time with their eyes closed as possible. No more than a few hours a night, in fact!

August 22, 2015 4 Common DM Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)
Being a DM isn't easy. With that said, here are four issues you're likely going to run into behind the screen, along with some basic strategies for avoiding them.

July 31, 2015 The Ecclesitheurge: Part One of a Powerful Mystic Theurge Build
The Advanced Class Guide is full of powerful hybrid classes, but one of the overlooked cleric archetypes just might be a way to supercharge your Mystic Theurge concept.

July 11, 2015 How To (Usually) Go First During The Surprise Round
If you've always wanted to go during the surprise round, but you don't want to play a character class like the Kensai who gets that ability as a class feature, you just need to take a very specific feat. Here's where you can find it.

June 21, 2015 How To Power Up Your Pathfinder Character With The Eldritch Heritage Feats
Eldritch heritage is a feat tree that doesn't get nearly enough love. Here are some of the reasons why. Try it out for yourself and see if it gives you that extra oomph you want in your PCs.

May 30, 2015 How to Create a Character Conversion in 4 Simple Steps!
Character conversions are one of the most common topics of discussion in RPGs. Whether it's Batman or Sparticus, how do you put them in your game? Well, this how-to guide should give you some solid advice for doing just that.

May 9, 2015 How to Shut Down Spellcasters in Pathfinder
Magic users are one of the biggest threats you can go toe-to-toe with in Pathfinder. If you want to come out ahead when you scrap with a sorcerer or battle with a bard, here are some tips that can really help you get ahead.

April 17, 2015 Some of The Best House Rules in Pathfinder
While we all have the same rule books, every DM likes to tweak the game a little to fit his or her style. House rules are extremely common, but there are some of the best ones I've run into in my gaming career.

March 28, 2015 Should You Use A DM Screen?
The DM screen is seen by many as an unnecessary barrier that gives the DM too much power. What's going on back there, after all? If you're willing to use it though, the screen can transform your game with nothing more than some simple sleight of hand.

March 7, 2015 How To Make Your Attacks of Opportunity More Effective (In Pathfinder)
Attacks of opportunity are a rule that never really comes into play in Pathfinder. Every now and again you get to hit an unwary spellcaster, or smash a bottle out of someone's hand, but they're rare and not typically what decides a combat. Unless, that is, you decide to force the opportunity for your attacks.

February 7, 2015 Some of the Best De-Buff Spells in Pathfinder
Taking away your enemy's advantages through penalties and status conditions, commonly referred to as de-buffing, can be a horrendously effective strategy. Here are some spells every de-buffer should have ready to hand when the big bad comes charging up.

January 16, 2015 Still More Rules Pathfinder Players Keep Forgetting
The fourth installment in a series where Improved Initiative points out obscure or often mis-remembered rules for your benefit. Whether you are the player or the DM though, well, that's up to you.

2014


December 26, 2014 A Pathfinder Build For A Dirty Trick Master
The dirty trick combat maneuver is something that almost no players use, despite the fact that it's a debuff with no save. For those who like the idea of making their enemies fight at a severe disadvantage, this build has some suggestions that you can take right to heart.

December 5, 2014 A Review of The Laying Waste Critical Hit System From TPK Games
Everyone loves critical hits, but what if they were even deadlier than they are now? TPK Games gives you a book that makes that dream a reality... just be careful it doesn't become a nightmare.

November 19, 2014 Even MORE Rules Pathfinder Players Keep Forgetting
The third installment in the series of obscure or often-overlooked rules, these 6 additions to your Pathfinder knowledge could make a big difference in your game.

October 30, 2014 The Best Drugs In Pathfinder
While we were all told not to do drugs, sometimes a little chemical enhancement is just what you need in Pathfinder. This list of drugs has a lot of potential, and they might be just what you need when it comes time to take on the big boss.

October 15, 2014 How to Increase Spell DCs in Pathfinder
Spellcasting in Pathfinder is robust and powerful, but every little bit helps. For those who don't want their enemies to make their saves, here are some prime ways to raise the bar.

October 2, 2014 How To Build An Effective RPG Character Every, Single Time
Building an effective character looks easy; it isn't. This list of questions from Improved Initiative will help you make sure that your next character is the best there is at what he or she does, though.

September 9, 2014 MORE Rules Pathfinder Players Keep Forgetting
The first list was so popular I decided to take some of the suggestions and put together a second list. For Pathfinder players who don't want to overlook potentially hazardous rules, here's 6 more that you might want to keep in mind.

August 12, 2014 The Best (Non-Magical) Equipment For Your Pathfinder Party
While there's no denying the puissance of a Holy Avenger or the power of a Rod of Wonder, often the day-to-day activities of an adventurer require more humble items. This list has some of the most often overlooked items that players should really bring with them into the dangerous dungeons and hazardous hellmouths of Golarion.

August 5, 2014 The Best Alchemical Items For Your Pathfinder Party
Alchemical items are typically discarded by level 5 or so, but that might be a mistake for parties that want to keep a monkey wrench up their sleeves. Here's a list of some of the best alchemical items your party can bring to any adventure.

July 23, 2014 Aid Another in Pathfinder is More Useful Than You Think
A semi-constant complaint about the Aid Another action is that it just doesn't give a good bonus. Those making this complaint now have a step by step guide to prove that they're simply not being creative enough.

June 24, 2014 Playing By The Book: Some Pathfinder Rules Players Keep Forgetting
There are a lot of rules in Pathfinder... a lot. Here are a selection of five rules that people just keep forgetting, misquoting, or otherwise insist work differently than they do.

May 15, 2014 Look Upon Me and Despair: The Most Striking Changeling Build
Taking a break from Pathfinder, we explore how to build a social sledgehammer in changeling. For those who like to use the Striking Looks merit, this build has it in spades.

April 18, 2014 A Spider-Man Pathfinder Build
In honor of the second Amazing Spider-Man movie, Improved Initiative has brought you a great meta-human build. Have fun, and remember to make it your own!

March 11, 2014 How to Get a High Armor Class in Pathfinder
While it's one of the most important stats on a character's sheet, there are some players who never take the time to increase their armor class. Here's a basic list of some of the easiest ways to make sure your character is as hard to hit as possible.

February 14, 2014 Seen and Not Heard: Tips and Tricks For Stealth-Based Characters
Every Pathfinder party has that one, irritatingly stealthy character. Have you ever wanted to be that guy or gal? Well, here's a handy list of stuff you're going to need to pull it off.

January 18, 2014 The Best Roleplaying Games (You've Probably Never Heard Of)
Games like Pathfinder, Dungeons and Dragons, and the World of Darkness are big enough that they dominate gaming store shelves, and are even sold in standard bookstores. For those seeking a bit of variety in their gaming though, here are some new favorites you probably didn't know existed.

2013


December 20, 2013 How to Top The Initiative Order (Almost) Every Time
We were going to get around to this eventually. Improved Initiative now presents every tip, trick, gadget, feat, and spell for helping you go before the bad guys do.

November 24, 2013 One Hit Wonders: Building a Bigger, Badder Brute
Ever wanted to play that fighter or barbarian that drops an enemy on practically every turn? Here are some tips on making great weapon wielders who carve a path through the bad guys.

October 25, 2013 The Bullyboy
Have you ever wanted to use the Intimidate skill effectively in combat? Effectively enough to render enemies frightened, as well as flat-footed? Then the tips and tricks you need to build a proper bullyboy might be just what you need.

October 6, 2013 The Best Two Weapon Fighter Build
When it comes to the optimal two weapon fighter build for protecting the fighter while still getting the maximum number of attacks, there are some necessary feats said character has to have. Here's the break down.

October 2, 2013 The Avengers
An experiment where I list builds and suggestions for all of Marvel's Avengers. The Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Widow, and even Loki are found here.

February 21, 2013 Calling in the Cavalry: Mounted Mayhem in Paizo's Pathfinder
Mounted combat is a thing that lots of players simply do not get involved with. It's cumbersome, and it takes a lot of feats and skills to pull off. When done properly though, the results are devastating.

2012


December 6, 2012 Laying on Fists: Feats and Features for Clerics and Paladins
Paladins and clerics are the classes the party looks to when battling real, out-of-the-pit evil. Will you be ready when it comes for you? Here's some suggestions.

September 7, 2012 More Bang For Your Bomb: Making a Walking Conflagration
Alchemists are one of the most versatile classes in all of Pathfinder. While they might lack the sheer, destructive capability of an evoker, they can hold their own if built to go boom.

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