How necessary is it to frighten enemies for Shatter Defenses?

In Kingmaker the easiest way to win almost every battle was just using Dazzling Display to scare everyone and using Shatter Defenses to reliably hit the enemies and trigger sneak attacks. Without using much magic I felt this was also necessary or else the fights would drag on for too long and the damage my characters were taking increased to an uncomfortable level. But it did took a lot of feats to do so. Can someone tell me if it is worth it to invest in those feats in this game and perhaps also answer the following questions?

Is it still possible to intimidate the enemies with Dazzling Display/Cornugon Smash/Dreadful Carnage or are the strong enemies immune to it?
Also, is it necessary to do so to get a realistic chance to hit the enemies (in Kingmaker Shatter Defenses effectively debuffed enemies by up to 10 AC I think)?
Finally, is a dedicated intimidation character necessary to intimidate reliably or is it enough to just max out persuasion and get Intimidating Prowess to pass the intimidation checks?

Use frightful aspect all day with Greater Enduring spells. Easy for any divine caster except Druid.

It is possible and useful at every stage, but it is not a solution for every situation, because some enemies will be immune.

That depends on the difficulty. Starting with core, you’ll need to build a team that can boost itself and debuff enemies in multiple ways.

This is only one puzzle piece, and in terms of action economy, feat investment and effectiveness questionable. Bring a Bard or a Skald for Dirge Song (no action needed, no saving throw). Bring a Brown-Fur-Transmuter that casts Frightful Aspect on your melee fighters once you get to level 8 spells (happens at appr. half game, AC boost, strength boost, automatic shaken without saving throw).

Melee chars will need their feats to boost their hit + crit chance more than spending them on persuasion etc. Casters will want to cast spells or hexes instead of doing dazzling display. Unlike Kingmaker, you won’t run into a situation that a caster has nothing better to do than dazzling display, because spells are aplenty and hexes never run out.


Thank you for the reply.
I thought it would maybe enough to have Intimidating Prowess on my MC with buffed strength to apply the shaken condition through Dreadful Carnage and Cornugon Smash (I never used Power Attack in Kingmaker because it seemed really bad just by looking at the numbers, but I wanted to try out mythic power attack). I play on core so your response does indicate that this would not be enough and I have to rely on magic. Perhaps I will just try to go without Shatter Defenses alltogether.

The problem is that you need to hit first, aside from spending the feats on something more useful. There is an optional boss in the midgame where shatter defenses + a dirge song or another source of shaken helps a lot, but without a lot of buffs and the right build you won’t hit him in the first place (hint: AC 67 while you are at level 14 or 15).

It is possible to get your AB high enough so that power attack makes sense, even against bosses, but you’ll need the right builds and team support.
One simple example is a Magus who uses Dimension Strike to hit touch AC. A lot of bosses have sky high AC, but abysmal touch AC (hint: dragon boss, AC 76, touch 13).


I agree with Solaufein.

It is very useful in many cases.
It is good to have a bard/skald or someone with frightful presence in the party because there is no save against those. But there is no bard companion and frightful aspect comes late without merged spell book.
For cornugon smash you have to hit with power attack and both cornugon smash and intimidate/dazzling require a skill check (your intimidation skill + d20 vs 10 + enemy HD + enemy wis, and some enemies have more than twice as many levels as your party and very high stats)

So yes, it can help a lot to give all chars who do mostly attacks shatter defense. Unless you have a bard song or someone who can cast frightful aspect you should have one char with high intimidate skill in your party.

I have beaten this one yesterday.
But I was a merged angel oracle so I had frightful aspect and I could cast greater magic dispel with a high caster level, plus angel buffs are great in general.
But otherwise it may have been very difficult to beat him.

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Dirge isn’t an answer because it requires turning off the performance that’s the reason you have a Bard/Skald in the first place and of course Brown Fur is extremely narrow.

You can get there with Demoralize/Dazzling once you understand how Intimidation works. It’s a skill check so no saves or resistances involved (outside of straight fear immunity). There are a LOT of ways to boost skills in general and Intimidation in particular.

Don’t forget your seashell!

Frightful isn’t available for much of the game. Learn how to Intimidate effectively.

Daeran and Ember also have access to autoshaken abilities much earlier.

You can get there with Demoralize.

Lingering Song will allow you to keep up both songs. The Brown-Fur is still an arcanist and can do decently well as control and debuffer etc. with potent magic. Skill checks can fail, dirge or frightful cannot. And for my frontliners I like to concentrate on other things than maximizing persuasion checks.

The Brown Fur buffs your frontline with Frightful Aspect, Transformation and Dragon Form III if relevant, all giving +4 more to attributes than the base spells at level 20, then kill all adds with weird, and spends the rest of fights with dispel magic and Sirrocco or polar ray or whatever, or kill swarms with fire. No complaints about missing flexibility here.
There are a couple of spells on each level that are always useful, you don’t need to slot 10 different level 9 spells for flexibility, especially if it is not a blind playthrough.

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Not to mention that you probably want to have one person with high Diplomacy anyway, so I’d say it’s not much of a waste to have that one ready for Dazzling. But I would bring alternatives anyway. And Frightful made Dazzling obsolete for me later on, but yeah, merged spellbook.

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Does effective intimidation mean to dedicate a character for intimidation only? How extreme do I have to go for intimidate to make it worthwhile?
In Kingmaker I gave Valerie a level of Thug and all persuasion boosting items/feats. I did the same with my MC in Varnhold’s Lot and both times this was really strong. Actually too strong, because it effectively meant that everyone who was caught up in the dazzling display (or normal demoralize if an enemy was alone or too far away) stopped participating in combat, just waiting to be shot down by my archer or kineticist. I do not want to do such a build again, because in the end the other members of the party were only supporting characters to help my dazzling character to survive the first round of combat. At least in all cases when the enemies were not immune to fear.

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No, Lingering won’t. They fixed that at the end of P:K.

Skill checks can’t critically fail. There’s very little cost to getting Intimidation up on a character with reasonable Charisma who has Persuasion as a class skill. Mostly items/food/buffs you already want.

Wrath is just harder overall. I don’t think Hard/Unfair is going to be trivial even if you can consistently pull that off and if it is you’re a better player than me. No reason to have a character for intimidation only - they can still fight or cast - but sometimes I’ll pick up Mythic Dazzling just to make things smoother.

I’ll have several characters with Dazzling anyway on the road to Shatter then just load them up with Persuasion/Intimidate items. Don’t forget the seashell. But I’ve only even used the Thug version on Regill (he gets it as a HK ability). Thug splash on Daeran probably wouldn’t be awful if you want the effect.

Anyway the main thing you need is to Intimidate bosses to turn on Shatter, and unless you’re Merged or want to play a Bard/Skald (a massive cost on it’s own) AND turn off the song that makes them worth playing in the first place that means doing the work to get there with Demoralize (tough but doable) or picking up Phantom Touch on Daeran (available lvl 7) or Delicious Fright on Ember (lvl10).

there certainly is a Bard companion, it’s called a mercenary.