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Need advice on building a STR magus as the main frontliner


Advice

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Hi all, i need some advice on building my magus for a STR build. I have read walters magus guide and its very helpful but there are a lot of options to pick. So what would be the most optimal. Also i know dervish dance and the DEX build is a little more power at lower games, but the GM only allowed the CRB, UM, UC, APG, and so forth. That is why i am a STR build. Also we just hit level 2 and here are my stats.

Human Magus lvl 2

Str: 18
Dex: 14
Con: 18
Int: 16
Wis: 11
Cha: 10

Weapon: scimitar
Feats: toughness, improved initiative

I know my stats are high, we rolled 1d12+6 and i got 2 18s :). Also when i made the character at that moment i chose human for the extra feat. However, i know i messed up big time optimization wise and should have gone with an Elf. I dont think i can change races :(, so i ask for any wisdom on making the character as best as he can be for a frontliner. Thanks! And Happy gaming! :)


Are those stats including your +2 racial bump for being human? Or have you yet to put that in? I don't know that (given the role you're trying to play) human is all that weaker than elf.


Actually, for a STR magus, human is way better than elf.
It could even be argued that human is better for a dex magus as well.


What specifically are you looking for guidance on? Spells? Feats? skills?


Eben TheQuiet wrote:
Are those stats including your +2 racial bump for being human? Or have you yet to put that in? I don't know that (given the role you're trying to play) human is all that weaker than elf.

Forgive me, i put the +2 in Dex(12), because i read that the Str magus is weaker at AC in the low levels. However, i could have done the same thing with an elf and boost my Int and lower my Con just a little plus the +2 bonuses would have help too. Sadly i didnt realize it until it was too late =/ so thats why i need help boosting him to an optimal level. Thanks :)


Eben TheQuiet wrote:
What specifically are you looking for guidance on? Spells? Feats? skills?

My bad again, all of the above. Thanks :)


Here are a few of my thoughts, but I'm far from really savvy in terms of Magus optimization, but I just started playing one similar to yours. My thoughts.

You said you're playing the main front liner, which means you need to be able to balance AC with damage output.

Your stats support this fairly well, as long as your crew has a healer.

AC: Get in the best light armor you can find, and always have at least one casting of Shield prepped. With you dex, your AC will be 20 assuming a chain shirt. This should be fairly easy to do in most combats because you should be able to either pre-cast Shield if you win initiative, or you can use your Spell Combat class feature to Attack, 5' step, then get shield up (or do it in reverse order). Bottom line, with Shield prepped, AC should be fine.

Offense spells: Since you're the front-line guy, you should be focusing on spells that help you do just that. Enlarge Person is nice. Control a big area, and take AoO's when people try to move to/past you. At level 2, Shocking Grasp is a good offensive option in concert with Spellstrike. Self-buffing should be easy and fun as you level, keep an eye out for those spells.

Feats: Every build is different, but every build like this needs Power Attack. Get it at 3. I plan on using Enlarge a lot with my magus, so Combat Reflexes may be in the cards for me. But I'm not sure if that's "optimal" or not. Just seems fun. :)

Other thought: At low levels (and especially against non-boss opponents), you actually have the INT score to try out a crowd-control spell or two. Sleep or Color spray (are those on your list) can change a fiht fast.. and can do so non-lethally.

Just my thoughts. Would love to hear from the board's more magus-savvy members.


Eben TheQuiet wrote:

Here are a few of my thoughts, but I'm far from really savvy in terms of Magus optimization, but I just started playing one similar to yours. My thoughts.

You said you're playing the main front liner, which means you need to be able to balance AC with damage output.

Your stats support this fairly well, as long as your crew has a healer.

AC: Get in the best light armor you can find, and always have at least one casting of Shield prepped. With you dex, your AC will be 20 assuming a chain shirt. This should be fairly easy to do in most combats because you should be able to either pre-cast Shield if you win initiative, or you can use your Spell Combat class feature to Attack, 5' step, then get shield up (or do it in reverse order). Bottom line, with Shield prepped, AC should be fine.

Offense spells: Since you're the front-line guy, you should be focusing on spells that help you do just that. Enlarge Person is nice. Control a big area, and take AoO's when people try to move to/past you. At level 2, Shocking Grasp is a good offensive option in concert with Spellstrike. Self-buffing should be easy and fun as you level, keep an eye out for those spells.

Feats: Every build is different, but every build like this needs Power Attack. Get it at 3. I plan on using Enlarge a lot with my magus, so Combat Reflexes may be in the cards for me. But I'm not sure if that's "optimal" or not. Just seems fun. :)

Other thought: At low levels (and especially against non-boss opponents), you actually have the INT score to try out a crowd-control spell or two. Sleep or Color spray (are those on your list) can change a fiht fast.. and can do so non-lethally.

Just my thoughts. Would love to hear from the board's more magus-savvy members.

I agree that I will pick up Enlarge Person for my next new spell and also I have a couple of scrolls of shield, so that should help me out in the battles.

However, Power attack at level 3? I know its different now in pathfinder (-1, +2) but wouldnt it be better to go weapon focus to hit more often?

Also what are the best magus arcanas for this type of build? Should I get acrane accuracy at lvl 3 or something else?


Here's my thoughts on Weapon Focus and Power Attack.

I've never been that much a fan of Weapon Focus from a mechanical perspective unless I"m a fighter, I want it for thematic purposes, or I know I'm up against a DM who intentionally throws high AC opponents at my melee characters. Since you're not a fighter, you won't really ever see any additional feats you want/need that require weapon focus as a pre-req. Given this, it's ONLY ever going to be a +1 to hit. You're a magus, if you need a +1 to hit, get it through buff spells or good tactics. Now, if your team doesn't have any support buffers (no bards, clerics, mages, etc.), this becomes a little better because you'll have to supply your own buffs. But -- as I said earlier -- providing your own buffs as a magus is less painful than as a melee bard or some such.

But that's just me. It's the same reason I don't ever take dodge unless the thematics of the character call for it or I want Spring Attack or something.

Power Attack, however, I build into every one of my melee beasts. The name of the game for melee guys (who aren't melee controllers) is 'hit 'em hard... hit 'em again." You should be able to find the buffs/tactics to keep your attack roll high (especially given your class features and high strength score), so the trade-off shouldn't be too painful.

At the end of the day, I just think any melee person who can depend on hitting in melee should have Power Attack.

Maybe that's just me.


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At such low level and with a 3/4 BAB, I think you should take weapon focus.

You shouldn't take Power attack with such a build. Ever. You will usually spellstrike and take -2 to all attacks - and you really, really want your spell to stick.

Think about it this way: would you rather hit for 1d6 + 10d6 or risk a miss for 1d6+10d6+2 ?


Lol. Then you get that. As I said before, take my advice with a grain of salt... definitely not magus-savvy.


Hmmm so how about arcane accuracy with power attack? Would that be optimal? What magus arcanas go well with this build? Then maybe it might help on the choosing between power attack or weapon focus for my feat.


Grenouillebleue wrote:

At such low level and with a 3/4 BAB, I think you should take weapon focus.

You shouldn't take Power attack with such a build. Ever. You will usually spellstrike and take -2 to all attacks - and you really, really want your spell to stick.

Think about it this way: would you rather hit for 1d6 + 10d6 or risk a miss for 1d6+10d6+2 ?

I don't mean to seem like I'm picking on you Eben, but I agree with Grenouillebleue here. Power attack is better on a character with full base attack, and preferably a two handed weapon. I do agree with your other recommendations. Weapon focus is less optimal. The plus 1 to hit may seem useful at low levels, but the higher your level gets the less useful it will be. I need more info on what you want to recommend anything. Do you intend to take any archetypes? Do you have any arcanas that you really want? Arcane accuracy is better on characters that intend to make intelligence there primary stat. Where do you want to allocate your stat bumps at levels 4,8,12,etc?


Here is Varrel. 4th level Magus. Currently playing Crimson Throne.

Now, Human and elf are.about equal. The bonus human feat is countered by the elf bonus to SR. I doesn't matter at low levels but mid and high you will need it. 90% of Magus spells allow SR so consider that an eventual feat tax.

I would change your Con and Int. Why? Because 16 con + Favored HP is enough for a melee.
Int for a Magus is HUGE. It sets save DC's and you need a high one beacause while Most magus spells target reflex (generally a weak save) you only get 6th level spells.
Int also affects how many arcane pool points you have.
Screw Weapon Focus for now, use your first arcana for Arcane Accuracy. That's +4 to hit, not +1 and it will scale as you pump Int higher.

Also, give strong consideration.to hexcrafter. Here's why. For a Magus to shine you need to nova spells.
Sleep Hex and Flight Hex will save you alot of spell slots which can instead be used for Blasts.
Hexcrafter also gets you all Curse Spells.
Brand is a better replacement for Arcane.Mark since it does damage.
Bestow Curse, Blindness/Deafness, Major Curse are great to put on low fort enemies (the BBEG wizard)
Also, Improved Falimilar (Nosoi) can use a wand of ILL OMEN which hexcrafter gives you.

Definately take power Attack about level 5 and use your first fighter bonus feat for weapon focus (You can 2 hand a spellstrike you know and between, arcane pool buffing your weapon, then arcane accuracy, your just as likely to hit as the fighter.)

Gotta go now. Have fun.


Lol. Don't worry about picking on me. I prefaced with what I was saying with "i'm not magus savvy and you should get the advice of those who are". :)

I'm still taking PA on my own magus, but i'm stubborn like that.


Arcaleth wrote:
Grenouillebleue wrote:

At such low level and with a 3/4 BAB, I think you should take weapon focus.

You shouldn't take Power attack with such a build. Ever. You will usually spellstrike and take -2 to all attacks - and you really, really want your spell to stick.

Think about it this way: would you rather hit for 1d6 + 10d6 or risk a miss for 1d6+10d6+2 ?

I don't mean to seem like I'm picking on you Eben, but I agree with Grenouillebleue here. Power attack is better on a character with full base attack, and preferably a

two handed weapon. I do agree with your other recommendations. Weapon focus is less optimal. The plus 1 to hit may seem useful at low levels, but the higher your level gets the less useful it will be. I need more info on what you want to Darkghost to recommend anything. Do you intend to take any archetypes? Do you have any arcanas that you really want? Arcane accuracy is better on characters that intend to make intelligence there primary stat. Where do you want to allocate your stat bumps at levels 4,8,12,etc?

Ok well i did explain in my first post that im the main frontliner, so im focusing on getting in front and attacking the enemies. Also im going straight magus, no archetypes, since its too late. For magus arcanas, i definitely will get spell bending for one time to get some good wizard spells, but besides that dont know which ones would be most effective for my character. I thought arcane accuracy is good because it offset your 3/4 bab. At last, for points im going Str for my level bumps, since i need to hit hard, right? Lol


Wait a minute. Let me get this straight. The general consensus is to NOT take power attack because you're not benefitting from a full BAB. But everyone pretty much agrees that Arcane Accuracy is a must-have to basically make your attack bonus equal-to or higher than that of a full bab class.

Don't these seem to cancel each other out? Wouldn't' taking both mean your hitting as often AND as hard as a full bab melee class?

EDIT: Oh, no, i see, Arcane Accuracy is only 1 round per arcane pool point spent.


Why is it too late? Your level 2 you can still take em. Can't be bladebound till level 3, hexcrafter till level 4. If thats the preference you have... cool. No sweat. Vanilla magus is still pretty good. I have to agree with Varrel though. I think he's pretty dead on from a optimization perspective. Intelligence over strength equates to the following. With arcane accuracy you'll hit just as often if not more. More arcane points, higher chances spells will stick, and more bonus spells. Str over int your attack is higher(offset with arcane accuracy), and your damage is a point or 2 higher (offset by the additional use of a number of spells, which again you have more of with int). With a magus you'll always be front liner with additional options. Thats the default role. Spell blending is a great option. What spells are you looking at for that?


Grenouillebleue wrote:

At such low level and with a 3/4 BAB, I think you should take weapon focus.

You shouldn't take Power attack with such a build. Ever. You will usually spellstrike and take -2 to all attacks - and you really, really want your spell to stick.

Think about it this way: would you rather hit for 1d6 + 10d6 or risk a miss for 1d6+10d6+2 ?

Your math seems to be a bit more than just a little off.

If your swinging with a 10d6 Shocking grasp than it's safe to assume you're level ten. So your attacks are at 1d6+10d6+6 plus relevant bonuses with a -5 to attack (2 for spellcombat 3 for power attack). But than you're not counting for things like Arcane Pool (+3 to attack and damage assuming you go that route) or arcana like Accurate Strikes (resolve all attacks as touch attacks) Arcane Accuracy (An insight bonus on all attacks equal to int modifier which is easily a +4 for this level), Ghost Blade (add brilliant energy to arcane pool which becomes available at 12th).

This math also doesn't assume spells that boost attack rolls either directly or circumstantially such as invisibility, alter self, tactical acumen, or monstrous physique to name a few.

Now granted at level 1 you will not have much if any of these things or even at level 3. However by 5-7 you should get it as it'll work out much better for you in the long run as you start seeing more critical hits. Not to mention it opens the door for other potentially handy feats like improved sunder.

Plus there are plenty of times when a full attack with spellcombat simply wont be feasible and having that extra damage from power attack is not only optimal but necessary to remain competitive.

Now I like weapon focus. But only on fighters or guys I know are only going to be using one kind of weapon anyway such as kensai. However in the case of a regular magus who may find himself using different weapons based on the situation I'm more reluctant.

So my thoughts?

1 Toughness
1 Improved Init.
3 Arcane Strike or Extra Arcana
5 Intensified Spell
5 Power Attack
7 Furious Focus
9 Spell Penetration

Edited for missing feat.


Varrel wrote:

Here is Varrel. 4th level Magus. Currently playing Crimson Throne.

Now, Human and elf are.about equal. The bonus human feat is countered by the elf bonus to SR. I doesn't matter at low levels but mid and high you will need it. 90% of Magus spells allow SR so consider that an eventual feat tax.

I would change your Con and Int. Why? Because 16 con + Favored HP is enough for a melee.
Int for a Magus is HUGE. It sets save DC's and you need a high one beacause while Most magus spells target reflex (generally a weak save) you only get 6th level spells.
Int also affects how many arcane pool points you have.
Screw Weapon Focus for now, use your first arcana for Arcane Accuracy. That's +4 to hit, not +1 and it will scale as you pump Int higher.

Also, give strong consideration.to hexcrafter. Here's why. For a Magus to shine you need to nova spells.
Sleep Hex and Flight Hex will save you alot of spell slots which can instead be used for Blasts.
Hexcrafter also gets you all Curse Spells.
Brand is a better replacement for Arcane.Mark since it does damage.
Bestow Curse, Blindness/Deafness, Major Curse are great to put on low fort enemies (the BBEG wizard)
Also, Improved Falimilar (Nosoi) can use a wand of ILL OMEN which hexcrafter gives you.

Definately take power Attack about level 5 and use your first fighter bonus feat for weapon focus (You can 2 hand a spellstrike you know and between, arcane pool buffing your weapon, then arcane accuracy, your just as likely to hit as the fighter.)

Gotta go now. Have fun.

Ok one thing and ill cap it lol, I CANNOT RETROACTIVELY change stuff. Hence i clarified i made a big mistake in not getting elf lol. I agree on the high Int would benefit me more than the high con. The only thing i can change is the future of what this build will be. The suggestions sound interesting, so thank you very much and ill definitely use that type of stuff next time.

For the power attack and weapon focus, i agree on that they both will help me out, but the power attack sounds good when i really need to do damage and i could use arcane accuracy to help me out there, but it still spends points so its more like a trump card. Also i could get weapon focus later but that +1 wont be much in the higher levels....what else could i get? Is spell shield the magus arcana worth getting with my low Int score? Thanks guys, keep them coming :)


Arcaleth wrote:
Why is it too late? Your level 2 you can still take em. Can't be bladebound till level 3, hexcrafter till level 4. If thats the preference you have... cool. No sweat. Vanilla magus is still pretty good. I have to agree with Varrel though. I think he's pretty dead on from a optimization perspective. Intelligence over strength equates to the following. With arcane accuracy you'll hit just as often if not more. More arcane points, higher chances spells will stick, and more bonus spells. Str over int your attack is higher(offset with arcane accuracy), and your damage is a point or 2 higher (offset by the additional use of a number of spells, which again you have more of with int). With a magus you'll always be front liner with additional options. Thats the default role. Spell blending is a great option. What spells are you looking at for that?

Really? You cant take the archetypes til level 3 or 4?.....i did not know that, i would have to ask my GM, i heard the bladebound is really good to have? Is that correct? Also not sure but most likely the good buff spells that i cant get with a magus.


Bladebound is ok. Hexcrafter and having a familiar.is better.

Why? Pick raven.
Instant airborne scout
Can rely messages
Can sit on your shoulder and double your perception/spell craft checks
Eg:
Upon seeing 2 skeletal large snake bodies with human heads,

Varrel wrote:

Knowledge: Religion1d20+8

Knowledge: Dungeoneering1d20+8
Chatterbeak, my familiar, what the hells are they?

Chatterbeak Knowledge: Religion1d20+3
Chatterbeak Knowledge: Dungeoneering1d20+3
Chatterbeak puffs up and hisses at the snake things, Chatterbeak:Not sure, Master maybe, Chatterbeak sees picture from your books, once?

Varrel and his pet spies the creatures and tries to place what they are.

Forget the acid, the trap is safe, Now we fight!
Varrel will wait.to see if.he knows.anything about the creatures before stating an action.

You can BOTH make perception checks to spot stuff as well.

Later, Improved Familiar.to upgrade to a Nosoi, which has invisibility at will and can use wands!!!

Now.the power attack thing.
Work it out. Arcane pool on your weapon stacks with the weapon enchancement. This means your weapon is netter than a fighters. Erasing his BAB advantage. Using arcane accuracy takes you beyond that. So power attack away.

Typical round.
1. Swift arcane pool enchant, Use Sleep Hex. (If they fail save, next round CdG with a 3x crit weapon)
2. If enemy has closed, Swift Arcane Accuracy and Spell combat, Power Attack with Shocking Grasp.
Or if enemy hasn't closed.
Cast shocking Grasp (touch spells grant free touch attack), move up to target and use Spellstrike to deliver that free touch attack 2 handed power attack with your weapon.


TarkXT wrote:


Your math seems to be a bit more than just a little off.

If your swinging with a 10d6 Shocking grasp than it's safe to assume you're level ten. So your attacks are at 1d6+10d6+6 plus relevant bonuses with a -5 to attack (2 for spellcombat 3 for power attack). But than you're not counting for things like Arcane Pool (+3 to attack and damage assuming you go that route) or arcana like Accurate Strikes (resolve all attacks as touch attacks) Arcane Accuracy (An insight bonus on all attacks equal to int modifier which is easily a +4 for this level), Ghost Blade (add brilliant energy to arcane pool which becomes available at 12th).

I agree, you'll have plenty of ways to increase your to-hit at level 10.

However, it still looks like a bad deal to me.

Let's assume your typical STR magus at level 10 (20 str + belt of 4 str and a +3 scimitar).

He'll use arcane pool to get +1, keen and bane on his weapon.

Without PA, his attacks would be 7(bab)+ 7 (str) + 4 (enh) +2 (bane) so +20/+15.

If he's using spellcombat, that's +18/+18/+13.
His damage would be 1d6+7 (str) + 4 (enh)+ 2d6 (bane) + 2 (bane) = 3d6+13.

For shocking grasp, his damage would be 13d6+13.

Without arcane accuracy, my DPR against AC 25 would be 34,5 from regular attacks and 52,8 from shocking = 87,3 DPR.

With arcane accuracy (+4), this would be around 114.

Now let's use PA (-2/+4).
Without arcane accuracy, my DPR against AC 25 would be 33,4 from regular + 48,36 from shocking = 81,7 DPR.

With arcane accuracy, it would be 111 DPR.

So basically, Power Attack is a waste of a feat for the magus. The only time it would be worthwhile is with accurate strike (which costs 2 pool) or when you have loads of buffs on you.


Seriously? Alright We're talking about a level ten magus but there's so much wrong here I hardly know where to begin. So let's take this step by step.

Grenouillebleue wrote:


Let's assume your typical STR magus at level 10 (20 str + belt of 4 str and a +3 scimitar).

He'll use arcane pool to get +1, keen and bane on his weapon.

Except this is impossible. You can't get bane added to your weapon until level 15 at the earliest.

Quote:
Without PA, his attacks would be 7(bab)+ 7 (str) + 4 (enh) +2 (bane) so +20/+15.

So this changes to +17/+14

Quote:

If he's using spellcombat, that's +18/+18/+13.

His damage would be 1d6+7 (str) + 4 (enh)+ 2d6 (bane) + 2 (bane) = 3d6+13.

And this changes to +17/+17/+12 1d6+12

Quote:
For shocking grasp, his damage would be 13d6+13.

And this changes to 11d6+12

Quote:

Without arcane accuracy, my DPR against AC 25 would be 34,5 from regular attacks and 52,8 from shocking = 87,3 DPR.

With arcane accuracy (+4), this would be around 114.

Why is your arcane accuracy only a +4? In OP's above example it can easily be a +5 with a headband. Perhaps the typical magus only starts with a 14 int.

Quote:

Now let's use PA (-2/+4).

Without arcane accuracy, my DPR against AC 25 would be 33,4 from regular + 48,36 from shocking = 81,7 DPR.

With arcane accuracy, it would be 111 DPR.

Power Attack is -3/+6 at level 10

Quote:

So basically, Power Attack is a waste of a feat for the magus. The only time it would be worthwhile is with accurate strike (which costs 2 pool) or when you have loads of buffs on you.

Sure if you get your math confused and forget how your abilities work you are correct power attacking is a waste when you're not buffed and only using shocking grasp.

Really this sounds more like you don't know how to play a magus.

Let's take a look at this scenario for a start.

The reason why I generally dislike DPR exercises is that more often than not they assume you are next to your target just slapping away. Your example doesn't bother to include things like DR, Energy Resistances, and Spell Resistances all of which are far from uncommon as you get into higher levels. Nor do they take into account the rest of the group, the environment, or sheer simple mobility.

So you're spending your first round using Arcane Pool and a shocking grasp. That's your first round. And really as first rounds go for a Gish class this was a terrible round. Why? Well assuming you are up next to our 25 AC friend you're swinging with a +17 so just about a 60% chance to hit. This isn't bad, but really we can do better so why not instead of shocking grasp we throw down a greater invisibility? That's more our style. So now are we not only smacking against flat footed ac (which we'll say for the purposes of our exercise is about a 22-23) but we'll most likely get a +2 bonus to attack to boot. So with our +19 against a 23 our chances jumped from 60% to about 80%. If I'm power attacking that's around a 65% chance or higher depending on just how flatfooted our friend is here. This is just round 1.

Round 2 things get more interesting. So now I'm invisible, unless our friend here blew an action to take me out of invisibility, I should probably go ahead and shocking grasp. That's a nice big jump in damage I'm sure you'll agree and I still have that 65-80% chance to hit. But why stop there? Let's go ahead and pop arcane accuracy as well. Now we have an 85%-95% chance to hit (you can't ever get above 95% chance as you always miss on a 1) but it can get even better than that if we include other simple buffs like haste or if we crit.

The point I'm trying to convey here is that the magus is not a fighter and he does not operate in a vacuum. His bonuses to hit and damage change from round to round depending on the resources he feels the need to use. In the above example 25AC turned into a joke very very quickly with the application of just one buff and resources I might normally use anyway. And this is just one scenario assuming that he can even get a full attack. If he can't get a full attack he might simply be better off two handing his scimitar (which is the appeal behind it over rapier) and getting a +9 damage bonus from power attack.

tl;dr: Power Attack is not a joke if you plan on going into melee and have lots of bonuses to hit than turn them into bonuses to damage. that's what power attack does.

Cheliax

Well first, you actually made quite a few math errors yourself there TarKXT.

First, at 10th level the Magus only has a +7 on his Bab so he doesn't qualify for the next level of power attack so it IS -2/+4. If he's 2handing it then it's -2/+6 so better then you're saying.

Second you're also wrong on the math for his to hit and damage as well.

He'd be at +18/+13 normally and +16/+16/+11 when using spell combat.
With damage of 1D6+14 per hit (1d6 +7(str) +3 (2hd str bonus) + 4 (enh) = 1d6+14)

Now back to the Power Attack question... Don't take it. It CAN be a significant increase in damage the penalties on your attack bonus will significantly reduce your chance to hit.

(If you did decide to power attack it would shoot your damage up to 1D6+20 but drop your hit chance another 2 pts (16/11 & +14/+14/+9).
This would REQUIRE you to burn an arcane point every round to get above a 50% miss chance on each attack. )

At your level you will have about 10-12 arcane points per day to use. With 3 encounters (avg) per day and 3 pts going into boosting your weapon each day leaves 7-9 (about 3 points per combat per day if your lucky).
Look at that again, you have maybe 3 points to burn on each fight every day, spending them on arcane accuracy instead of maximize or dispel magic or any of a dozen other arcana.

You are a caster first and a melee second. Everything about you is magically empowered and without it you will be woefully ineffective.
Magus is all about resource management (even moreso then a wizard), so always look at hoarding them and spending them wisely.


Mathwei ap Niall wrote:


Well first, you actually made quite a few math errors yourself there TarKXT.

First, at 10th level the Magus only has a +7 on his Bab so he doesn't qualify for the next level of power attack so it IS -2/+4. If he's 2handing it then it's -2/+6 so better then you're saying.

Second you're also wrong on the math for his to hit and damage as well.

He'd be at +18/+13 normally and +16/+16/+11 when using spell combat.
With damage of 1D6+14 per hit (1d6 +7(str) +3 (2hd str bonus) + 4 (enh) = 1d6+14)

The +17 was assuming anther +1 from arcane pool since we don't have the +2 from bane.

The power attack error is an honest mistake though.

I still stand by my argument otherwise.


@OP: I dn't know if there is a definitive "right" or "wrong" here. I'm sticking with Power Attack, though i think i've been convinced to pick it up a few levels later.

I tend to agree with Tark that it's easier to find ways to find buff or situational bonuses to attack rolls, which then allows me to pump out more damage... which in turns makes me a better front-liner.

Cheliax

The real question for you is when you say "front liner" what does that mean? Are you planning on being the first line of defense protecting the squishies behind you or do you mean the guy up in melee putting out massive damage OR just the guy in melee trying to survive while hindering the opponents so everyone else can beat the target to death?

The magus can pull off any ONE of these jobs for a few rounds then he's pretty much done for the day.
The dirty secret about the magus that you only learn when actually playing one is that the vanilla magus is only effective a few rounds out of the day and the rest of the time he's actually pretty weak.

At base he's a Multiple Attribute Dependent, 3/4 Bab, D8 hit die, light armor wearer who is restricted to using the most basic 1hd weapons in the game.
In other words you're making a rogue ...with better spellcasting.

And just like a rogue he is dependent on a specific resource to be an effective damage dealer (a rogue without sneak attack is ignored, a Magus without spells is also ignored)
When he runs out of spells and/or arcane pool points (which he will QUICKLY) his damage goes down to base weapon (1D6) plus his relevent stat (+4/+5) and by mid game (8th-10th level) your opponents will easily be over 100 HP's and will laugh at your 7-10 damage per attack (IF you hit, and that's a big if). Any attempt to increase your base unenhanced damage is counter-productive . The more you increase your minimum damage the more you lower your maximum damage (every martial feat you take is a caster feat you didn't and THAT is where all your damage is).

I will say it again, you are a SPELLCASTER who fights, not a fighter who casts spells. Focus your limited feats/magic items/tactics on increasing your spellcasting power and leave the martial junk to the mundane fighters.


The whole arcane pool resource management thing (and only getting 6th level spells) is why hexcrafter os so potent.


my advice for you is, get chain shirt with shield(spell) at level 1.

get your dex up as high as you can.

take magical lineage(shocking grasp) then at level 7 take the meta magic feat intensify spell.

screw taking concentration based boosters.

up grade your armor to the best you can wear as often as possible.

use a high crit range weapon, and improved crit feats the deeper you get into levels.

i would personally take hexcrafter magus with the feat improved unarmed strike with hex strike. how this buildworks is, you punch someone in the face as your fist attack, deal damage, hex them, then spell strike shocking grasp through a 15-20 threat range weapon making your 10d6 shocking grasp have a 25% chance to turn into a 20d6 shocking grasp. at 12th if you confirm the crit, as a swift action you can toss a new 10 d6 shocking grasp, or of you're very lucky a 20d6 shocking grasp lol. the hex lowers their ac by 4 for one round on a failure making the threat confirmation have a higher chance of success.

its pretty nasty and with magical lineage it makes your shocking graps a level 1 spell that can hit for 10d6 at tenth level. i also love dispelling strike, which can be used in conjunction with hexstrike leting you dispell an ac buff off of the target, or what ever is available.


Problem with hex strike is need improved unarmed strike and amulet of mighty fists.


@ OP

For the immediate future (lv 3) I would take arcane strike. Sure, it eats a swift action, but you're only spending swift actions on arcane pool points, and, at low levels, the enhancement is only a +1 anyway. Arcane strike can be used all day, every day. Plus, when you really need it (BBEG, guy w/ SR, etc.), you've still got your arcane pool , so start with that, and 2nd round and beyond use Arcane strike. Plus it scales with your level and doesn't decrease your chance to hit.

I'm also a big big fan of intensify spell, but I wouldn't pick it up until at least 7th level. Really, it's wasted as a 5th level feat, because it doesn't help until 6th. At 6th, you only get 1d6 extra on a few select attacks. From 7 and beyond, it's great, but you'll still do respectable damage even before you pick up intensify.

The Only problem that I have with hexcrafters is the loss of Spell Recall. Maybe the hexes are more powerful, but the flavor that I so desire in my magi is lost.

The bladebound archetype is pretty nasty, especially in a low magic setting. The reduction to arcane pool hurts, but since the black blade has it's own arcane pool, it's not really that bad. The only other detriment is the loss of your 3rd level arcana. That one will probably sting a bit more than a slight reduction in Pool points.

Speaking of Arcanas, I highly recommend the familiar arcana. Choose the Compsagnathus for a sweet +4 to initiative and ALWAYS go first. I'm also a fan of the wand wielder arcana, if you have access to wands that you use all the time (shield, true strike, touch of (anything), etc.) The Arcane accuracy is very nice, but I'd save it for my second arcana, in order to make use of it with more attacks. Of course, it has a bigger impact at lower levels, where a +3 is way bigger than at lv 10 or so, so, really, choose situationaly : if you find yourself missing a lot, get arcane accuracy. If you want to go first more often, pick up the familiar. If you need a better weapon FAST, see if you can get the bladebound archetype.

For spells, my favorite spell in the game is Grease. It targets the reflex save, has additional checks after the save, DOESN'T ALLOW SR, is a 1st level spell, and EVEN IF YOU MAKE THE SAVE, has hindering effects. It lasts for a decent period of time, too.

Cheliax

STR Ranger wrote:
Problem with hex strike is need improved unarmed strike and amulet of mighty fists.

AND the bigger problem is Magi are crit based fighters and unarmed/natural attacks have the WORST crit range in the game.

But really, every who thinks the magus is OP is ignoring just how important Resource Management is and just how limited those resources are. I really don't see how anyone can play anything OTHER then then a Hexcrafter.

As for the spell recall ability eh... it's not that important. I used to think it was too important to let go until I realized if you just manage your resources right you should NEVER need to use it. If you absolutely need that ability just invest in a couple of pearls of power and move on.


STR Ranger wrote:
Problem with hex strike is need improved unarmed strike and amulet of mighty fists.

no you dont, greater magic weapon** + permancy. the punch is a set up for the free hex. that sets up your next round for a full attack with you 15-20 crit weapon.

oh and if you're concerned about a lack of damage, the shockin grasp makes up for the movement +d4 unarmed strike.


Mathwei ap Niall wrote:

The real question for you is when you say "front liner" what does that mean? Are you planning on being the first line of defense protecting the squishies behind you or do you mean the guy up in melee putting out massive damage OR just the guy in melee trying to survive while hindering the opponents so everyone else can beat the target to death?

True, it is vague to a point....darn my non-specifics! lol. Anywho....yes to all those questions. I am going to be the main melee/tank character for the group. Our group makeup is a halfling fighter(archer type), gnome ranger, elf summoner, elf wizard, and half-elf druid. So the only other frontliners in the group are the animal companions and eidolon.

Yes I concur with your further description of the fact that i am a spellcaster that can fight instead of a fighter that can cast spells. However, that puts me in a bad position and sadly I guess I cannot be the frontliner. How can I survive throughout the day? I understand I will have a finite amount of resources, but is there any tactics to help me the up most with using them and being the frontliner? I know I need to figure out some new tactics that will work with my party, because I definitely realized that last session when I got knocked out being the frontliner =/.


Darkghost316 wrote:
Mathwei ap Niall wrote:

The real question for you is when you say "front liner" what does that mean? Are you planning on being the first line of defense protecting the squishies behind you or do you mean the guy up in melee putting out massive damage OR just the guy in melee trying to survive while hindering the opponents so everyone else can beat the target to death?

True, it is vague to a point....darn my non-specifics! lol. Anywho....yes to all those questions. I am going to be the main melee/tank character for the group. Our group makeup is a halfling fighter(archer type), gnome ranger, elf summoner, elf wizard, and half-elf druid. So the only other frontliners in the group are the animal companions and eidolon.

Yes I concur with your further description of the fact that i am a spellcaster that can fight instead of a fighter that can cast spells. However, that puts me in a bad position and sadly I guess I cannot be the frontliner. How can I survive throughout the day? I understand I will have a finite amount of resources, but is there any tactics to help me the up most with using them and being the frontliner? I know I need to figure out some new tactics that will work with my party, because I definitely realized that last session when I got knocked out being the frontliner =/.

i just want to point out, that you can actually fight as well as a twf fighter, actually better until they get double slice.

so now the on thing that your maus can do very well, is cast shield (+4) ac, chain shirt (+4) and dex (up to +5) and have a better ac then a fighter. you can actually tank as a magus. will spells like hold person, hideous laughter, etc.. you wil be able to control the battle field.

you dont NEED to use spell combat, its just a cool feature that you can use if you want to. i mean s!&* roll with a great sword. you can cast your spell move into position smack them up side the head with a spell+2d6+ 1.5 strength,

shoot multi class into fighter and take 2 handed fighter for over hand chop. make that your build. cast move chop, cast move chop, cast move chop. it would be a huge chunk of damage. at a 20+ ac at level 5


Or just two hand the scimitar as suggested.


Eben TheQuiet@: I was looking at the interesting discussion of power attack and I have concluded its good to have for extra damage, but you just need to keep your resources in check to provide the buffs you need to compensate the hit loss. Also I agree that its worth getting for later levels instead of the beginning of your career since you don't have that much resources and BAB.

galahad2112@: Hmmm, interesting thing about Arcane strike it only gives you +1 to damage, but its nice that it scales, I'll definitely consider it. Also I think Arcane Accuracy would be good to get as my first magus arcana since I'll be up in the front fighting most likely and will definitely fight the boss guys from time to time.

I am not sure about the hexcrafter, I check it out and it look cool. Some of the witch hexes are interesting but they don't feel that great, but maybe its because i never played a witch before. It kind of sucks that you would lose spell recall for a little bit of hexes throughout your levels. I understand that resource management is important, but spell recall helps you mitigate that if you are in need of reusing important spells in a crucial time. Because you never know what is going to be thrown at you, you know?

Here is what I was thinking for feats in my next levels. Tell me what you guys think and thank you for the input as well :).

3rd lvl: Arcane strike or weapon focus
5th lvl: Power attack or Extra Arcana(spell bending) or Extra AP
5th lvl: Furious Focus or Extra Arcana(familiar) or Extra AP
7th lvl: Intensify spell
9th lvl: Spell Penetration

Is Heighten Spell and Preferred Spell good feats to have? Base off the fact you can switch any 1st spell for shocking grasp?


level 7 is very late for intensify spell, I usually get it at level 3 (having already hit my cap on damage from shocking grasp at level 2 or 3), also 10d6 shocking grasp only requires level 7 magus or level 8 if you want to cast it as a level 1 spell still (no multiclassing) meaning your BAB is still pretty terrible hence why delaying powerattack till after arcane accuracy is a good idea.

Building a STR magus is a combination of building a blaster and building a frontliner, feats like toughness and improved initative slow down the casting/combat feats you need to have (and honestly with an 18 con toughness is kind of overkill), with your current build I would focus on getting the feats in quickly to amp up your spell and melee damage even if you cant use them immediately

which traits did you pick for your magus?


Michael Foster 989 wrote:

level 7 is very late for intensify spell, I usually get it at level 3 (having already hit my cap on damage from shocking grasp at level 2 or 3), also 10d6 shocking grasp only requires level 7 magus or level 8 if you want to cast it as a level 1 spell still (no multiclassing) meaning your BAB is still pretty terrible hence why delaying powerattack till after arcane accuracy is a good idea.

Building a STR magus is a combination of building a blaster and building a frontliner, feats like toughness and improved initative slow down the casting/combat feats you need to have (and honestly with an 18 con toughness is kind of overkill), with your current build I would focus on getting the feats in quickly to amp up your spell and melee damage even if you cant use them immediately

which traits did you pick for your magus?

School evocation [electricity]; Level magus 1, sorcerer/wizard 1

CASTINGCasting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S

EFFECTRange touch
Target creature or object touched
Duration instantaneous
Saving Throw none; Spell Resistance yes

DESCRIPTIONYour successful melee touch attack deals 1d6 points of electricity damage per caster level (maximum 5d6). When delivering the jolt, you gain a +3 bonus on attack rolls if the opponent is wearing metal armor (or is carrying a metal weapon or is made of metal).

i dont think you and i are talking about the same spell then, shocking grasp caps at caster level 5,so the fastest you can get a CL5 is at level 5. the earliest you can take this meta magic feat and benefit from it is at 7th.

and to clerify something to the op, a dex build is still better then a strength build with just the CRB, APG, UM and UC.


Gifted adept trait + 1 Caster level for 1 spell (I dont always take this)

Spell focus (+1 DC)
Spell Specialisation (+2 CL 1 spell)

Total +3 CL meaning you cap out shocking grasp damage at level2, if you swap gifted adept for magical lineage (shocking grasp) you cap out at level 3 (3+2 from spell spec) but intensified shocking grasp only counts as a level 1 spell this way.

CL = actual level is very subpar for a blaster


Yeah, got carried away thinking magus could add bane to a weapon.

This doesn't change anything, though: unless you're going 2h, power attack with a magus is a liability and a waste of a feat in a feat-starved build.


Michael Foster 989 wrote:

Gifted adept trait + 1 Caster level for 1 spell (I dont always take this)

Spell focus (+1 DC)
Spell Specialisation (+2 CL 1 spell)

Total +3 CL meaning you cap out shocking grasp damage at level2, if you swap gifted adept for magical lineage (shocking grasp) you cap out at level 3 (3+2 from spell spec) but intensified shocking grasp only counts as a level 1 spell this way.

CL = actual level is very subpar for a blaster

why in gods name would you waste that many resources for 2d6 damage?


2 feats at level 1 and 1 trait isnt much, spell focus is good for making your spells harder to save against anyway, plus with free intensify at level 3 and empower at level 5 your looking at 10d6 shocking grasp as a 2nd spell slot (and 7d6 as a first level spell slot).

Also Spell specialisation can be changed every even level to a different spell if needed (incase you need it on a better spell at higher level) so the only "lost" resource is magical lineage (shocking grasp) and honestly intensified shocking grasp as a level 1 spell is insanely strong as a magus (as you can spam it and then use spell recovery to get it back when you have AP left).

It might seem like alot of resources but with the flexibility of the feats chosen you wont even notice the feat cost.

Cheliax

Well first things first, to quash some poor advice given out in this thread let me address a few things:

@truesidekick, A magus CANNOT use spell combat while wielding a greatsword. That ability is strictly limited to light or 1hd weapons. Following your advice would ruin this toon.

@Michale Forester, Burning 20% of your entire lifetime supply of feats (and half of which does NOTHING for your main spell) for an additional 7 points of damage a few times a day is worse then useless, it's actively counter-productive.

@Galahad, Arcane strike is a level limited feat and a sub-par choice. Every round you use it you can't use arcane accuracy (or any other reflexive arcana) and trading +4 or better to hit for +1 damage is usually a bad trade. By the time the +damage is meaningful you have so many other things to do with your swift action every round you'll never have the desire to use it.

Now, to address the Hexcrafter question, it is an INSANELY potent combo if you look outside of just the damage options.
Evil Eye hex is effectively a (+2/+4 to hit and/or save DC's for your entire party) helping out with that 3/4 bab you have.
Flight Hex is godly; you will never suffer falling damage again, can fly for EVERY combat you have on any day (+1 to hit for high ground, easier flanking bonus & who cares about terrain modifiers now) and unheard of out of combat flexibility.
Prehensile hair lets you use scrolls, wands & rods while still wielding your weapon and spell combat (as a magus you can't use any of those while fighting since you have to keep one hand full with your weapon).
Not to mention you now have a potent REACH weapon allowing you to trip, disarm, bullrush, steal,etc anyone who comes near you or your party and your target can't do anything at all about it.

Hexes are at-will combat options that give you powerful scaling choices that don't cost ANY of your finite resources. It frees you up from worrying about managing your resources and focus on being effective and having fun.
Spell recall is useful for recovering spells after battle but since it costs arcane points to use it you are actually trading one finite resource for another (at a loss by the way). When you use spell recall you are trading staying power for nova potential and making the big fight at the end of the day HARDER. Use pearls and save your arcane pool for more important things.

Finally lets address your play style question. You want to be the tank, protecting your party and keeping your target focused on you while still contributing to the fight? It can be done (pretty easily too actually) but it requires you to change the way you think about tanking and the Magus class. You are a spellcaster, you tank by using status effects, battlefield control & debuffs, Damage is NOT what you ever need to worry about. Let the rest of the party work on the HP's you just make it easy for them to do it.

First step, take Intensify & Shocking Grasp off of your plate, you won't be using them anymore. From now on you'll be using Rimed Frigid Touches in it's place. (This combo hits your opponent with Entagle and Fatigue locking them in place and dropping their AC's, saves and damage output PLUS the spell lasts on your weapon for multiple rounds saving you resources).

Second, if you can talk to your DM and see if he'll let you take the Hexcrafter archetype. I know it's late but it's a HUGE help for tanking builds (not NECESSARY but very desired) . Take Prehensile Hair as your first Hex and use it to Trip anyone who tries to get past you. Best protection you can give your party is Prone, Fatigued, Entangled enemies laying at their feet.

Last, get a familiar with a few wands (Shield, prot evil, ill omen & Cure Light) to ride in your backpack. It will use it's actions to keep your AC and HP's up while throwing the occasional de-buff on the big nasty who tries to kill you. This will put you defensively at or above where any other tank type would be while also keeping your finite resources available for unique events.


@Michael Foster 989: I agree that toughness was overkill, but at the time I wanted to protect my party and since we are low level and doing the slow level up progression =/, I thought I needed as much HPs to survive the levels, but yeah sadly I shouldnt have taken it with my 18 con, but at least I can say I am tough! lol :D.

@Mathwei ap Niall: I must say looking at hexcrafter and the spell recall. I can see why its definitely helpful more so, for tanking purposes. The spell recall will hurt and definitely at higher levels, but definitely I can see my resources being used somewhere else. But how would I use hexcrafter if I went that way? I think evil eye is good and so is flight, but thats it. I think presentile hair isnt that great because for tripping it would use my INT bonus instead and my STR is like +4 compare to the +3. Also how can a familiar help me use wands and so forth, do they have the mind capacity to use the magic out of the wand and cast it on me?

Also frigid touch is a level 2 spell and it only does 4d6, do I use magical lineage on that spell so it won't boost up my spell level when I put the metamagic feat Rime on it?

Here is the build with hexcrafter in mind. Thanks for the input, I think I am getting there :D.

Feats are bold, magus arcana/hex are italics
3rd: Extra Arcana(arcane accuracy), evil eye
4th: presentile hair maybe not sure yet
5th: Rime spell
5th: Extra Arcana(Familiar)
6th: Flight
7th: spell penetration
9th: spell blending, open slot

Taldor

I'm going to offer some nebulous advice here, since it's your build in your campaign with your coplayers, and I've none of that information.

Build your magus for action economy. Arcane accuracy? With an 18 strength? YOU CAN CAST TRUE STRIKE as a SWIFT ACTION anyways!
Nice work on the familiar. Between delivering touch and using your HP, it'll be a real help. But... IMPROVED FAMILIAR. I cannot overstate the incredible awesomeness of having an ELEMENTAL delivering touch attacks. I don't know the environment you're in, but I recommend air or earth elementals. Air elementals have ludicrous fly speeds, and earth elementals have earth glide. Give them wands, or even scrolls.

My Magus used combat expertise to devastate large swaths of the battlefield, and prehensile hair helps you do this. Give serious consideration to a buckler- it'll up your AC when you don't cast. Put three ranks in acrobatics- it'll help you move at low levels, and at higher levels, you can fight defensively with a -4/+3, or total defense with a +6.


@ Mathwei ap Niall

You are correct that using arcane strike means that you won't use arcane accuracy, but at lv. 3, he's only got 4 pool points anyway. I'd think that AS is great for mook encounters, and once you've run out of pool points, you've still got some extra damage to call upon at will. Also, Arcane strike is useful with ranged weapons, if that becomes a tactically superior choice.

@ Darkghost316

The problem with your hexcrafter build is that you can't get hexes AT ALL until lv. 4 The extra arcana feat at lv 3 only lets you get the regular magus arcanas until you get hexes as a class feature.


Mathwei ap Niall wrote:

@truesidekick, A magus CANNOT use spell combat while wielding a greatsword. That ability is strictly limited to light or 1hd weapons. Following your advice would ruin this toon.

first off let me squash someones inability to read my post.

@ Mathwei ap Niall: i never said he could... it was an alternate suggestion to the suggestion i mentioned about an unarmed hexcrafter.

now once you hit tenth level on your magus, you could punch someone in the face with your hex and encase them in ice for ten rounds... thats badass if you ask me.

Cheliax

1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.
Darkghost316 wrote:

@Michael Foster 989: I agree that toughness was overkill, but at the time I wanted to protect my party and since we are low level and doing the slow level up progression =/, I thought I needed as much HPs to survive the levels, but yeah sadly I shouldnt have taken it with my 18 con, but at least I can say I am tough! lol :D.

@Mathwei ap Niall: I must say looking at hexcrafter and the spell recall. I can see why its definitely helpful more so, for tanking purposes. The spell recall will hurt and definitely at higher levels, but definitely I can see my resources being used somewhere else. But how would I use hexcrafter if I went that way? I think evil eye is good and so is flight, but thats it. I think presentile hair isnt that great because for tripping it would use my INT bonus instead and my STR is like +4 compare to the +3. Also how can a familiar help me use wands and so forth, do they have the mind capacity to use the magic out of the wand and cast it on me?

Also frigid touch is a level 2 spell and it only does 4d6, do I use magical lineage on that spell so it won't boost up my spell level when I put the metamagic feat Rime on it?

Here is the build with hexcrafter in mind. Thanks for the input, I think I am getting there :D.

Feats are bold, magus arcana/hex are italics
3rd: Extra Arcana(arcane accuracy), evil eye
4th: presentile hair maybe not sure yet
5th: Rime spell
5th: Extra Arcana(Familiar)
6th: Flight
7th: spell penetration
9th: spell blending, open slot

Blargh, I meant Frostbite not Frigid Touch (Frigid touch is my go to after 10th level). Magical Lineage (frostbite) allows you to use Rime spell metamagic on it and use it as a first level spell. That's an additional 1D6+level damage on your next level number attacks.

As for spell recall you still get it, it's just delayed till 11th level and THEN you get spell recall in place of the improved spell recall normal Magi get at 11th level. Till then use pearls, they are dirt cheap (especially if you make em yourself).

Yes prehensile hair uses your Int score (which is only 1 pt lower then your strength but a headband of int keeps it in step with your Str) and but since Trip is a CMB check not a regular attack roll the difference is marginal at worse. Also when you make the trip attempt it applies a charge of your frostbite to your target too.

Your familiar uses your skill ranks as it's own and you have Use Magic Device as a class skill. It is smart enough to use that skill to try to use those items and there are dozens of ways to get it's score high enough to routinely succeed all the time.
If you'll look at the Familiar chart they start with an Int of 6 and it goes up based on your level.

Try this progression instead:
3rd: Arcana(arcane accuracy), Feat: Rime spell
4th: prehensile hair
5th: Flight
5th: Extra Arcana -> Evil Eye
6th: Arcana(Familiar)
7th: Lunge
9th: spell blending, Combat Reflexes

This gives you all your main tricks by 5th level and allows you to control everything within 25ft of you (Enlarge Person gives you 10' reach, prehensile ups that to 20ft and lunge makes it 25) so you are constantly getting AoO trip attempts on anyone you meet with your hair. Once they get into melee range THEN you beat them with your sword.

(Generally you want your first level feats to be Rime Spell and Combat reflexes or extra arcane pool but too late for that).

As for spells focus on the ones that last more then 1 round (enlarge person, grease, color spray, FrostBite, etc), you'll get much better returns on those then you ever will from direct damage spells and it will help stretch your limited castings further.

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