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Strength or Dex Magus


Advice


I'm trying to create a level 5 human Magus and I'm having a hard time deciding between a strength based Magus or a dex based one.

The strength one would use spells like Bulls Strength and Enlarge Person while using a bastard sword as a 1 handed weapon. The Dex build would use Cat's grace and Reduce Person while dervish dancing with a scimitar.

Strength version does more damage, and has reach especially when enlarged and reach seems to be really good especially when you are casting in combat. However he has a low reflex and AC, especially when enlarged. Dex version gets a slightly better chance to hit and a much better armor class and reflex save.

Would having mirror image be enough defense for the strength version? I'd like to limit the number of buffing rounds as well.

I'd like to get other peoples thoughts on this.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Your rounds spent buffing are also your rounds spent full attacking.

Go for something unique, and be a strength magus!

Andoran

Bear in mind that, as a Magus, the Strength guy eventually gets Medium and Heavy Armor (so does the Dex guy, but it only matters when he grabs Celestial Chain). So any lower ACs he suffers are, to some degree, temporary.

But honestly? Go with whichever you'll have most fun with. Whichever fits the idea and concept of the character.


If you like your DEX Magus with cheese, may I suggest Dervish Dance? It's practically tailor-made for this application.


Cheapy wrote:

Your rounds spent buffing are also your rounds spent full attacking.

Go for something unique, and be a strength magus!

Yeah I get that he would still be attacking, but the buff would still come at the cost of an attack, when I could be using shocking grasp or even a ray of frost with the right Arcana (I've heard about using Arcane Mark to attack with a 'Zorro' type effect. Does that really work? Seems silly but whatever).

This is being created for a 1-shot thing my DM is going to run. Although I'm not yet sure what's planned though if I had to guess a low magical item criminal of some sort - so I planned him out with only basic gear, but that might change. I guess I will go with Strength, it does seem fun.

loaba wrote:
If you like your DEX Magus with cheese, may I suggest Dervish Dance? It's practically tailor-made for this application.

Which is exactly as I described him to be - dervish dancing with a scimitar :).

Cheliax

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It depends on if you can afford 2 feats.

I'm playing an elf magus, blackblade, scimitar crit build, 15 buy. I couldn't afford 2 feats. And I've had to cast defensively a lot more than I'd hoped, so I did end up taking Combat Casting, much to my disgust. But ultimately, if I can't get spells off during spell combat, the class isn't very good, so I took Combat Casting.


Can you get an Agile weapon? If so Dex I guess.


I prefer STR by far. But also should be said than in all my gaming groups Magus can grip weapon with 2H even when spell combatting. 2 feat are really a lot when you have 2 word to cover.


Hawktitan wrote:

(I've heard about using Arcane Mark to attack with a 'Zorro' type effect. Does that really work? Seems silly but whatever).

This is being created for a 1-shot thing my DM is going to run. Although I'm not yet sure what's planned though if I had to guess a low magical item criminal of some sort - so I planned him out with only basic gear, but that might change. I guess I will go with Strength, it does seem fun.

1. Arcane mark is a touch spell. When you cast it you get a free touch attack to deliver it just like every other touch spell. A magus, via spell strike feature, can make a normal melee attack instead of the free touch attack. It's perfectly fine and not overpowered.

2. For a 1-shot at 5th you will want to have a high concentration check. You will want to pick up the regional feat giving +2 concentration as well as combat casting (for 11+INT check).

3. Go with whatever you prefer, but I'll say that DEX is nice for a long term PC. At low levels the AC difference is huge. At higher levels the INIT difference is huge. The damage difference is small in either case.

Build I would do:
STR 10
INT 18 (16+2racial)
WIS 07
DEX 20 (17+2racial+1bump)
CON 12 (14-2racial)
CHA 07

Feats: Weapon Finesse, Dervish Dance, Combat Casting, Arcane Strike

You will have 6 arcane pool points. As this is a one shot you can decide between using wands with spell combat (no concentration check, 50 charges) or adding your INT to hit for the round at the cost of one of those points.

The swift action in spending pool points competes with arcane strike. If you dislike that pick up weapon focus: scimitar instead.

Gear: +1 mithril scimitar, +2dex belt, mithril chain shirt +1, etc.

-James

Cheliax

i adamantly oppose all the dervish dance dex magus builds unless its on a kensai

Go str, pick up power attack, and arcane strike and a keen scimitar and tear stuff up


Deadmanwalking wrote:
(so does the Dex guy, but it only matters when he grabs Celestial Chain).

Color me ignorant but why does it even matter then? Celestial Armor specifically says it is considered light armor.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

Because the Dex Magus doesn't want to wear the armor that crimps his Dex mod to armor, generally. It just doesn't pay as much to wear full plate when you lose most of a large Dex mod as it does when you don't have much Dex mod to lose. Celestial Chain is 6+3 armor and up to 8 Dex; a mithral breastplate only gives up to 5 Dex. Celestial Plate Armor is good, though.

Also, on my Dex Magus, I have the attitude that I want to keep my speed up, and my ACP down. Part of my reason for going with Dex is that I dipped a level of rogue for skills and invested in stealth.

So largely, I would think about, especially for a one-shot, what you want your magus to do. Be a bruiser, or be a quick type? Sneaky? And so on. If you want him to involve a lot of things represented by Dex skills, go with Dex. Otherwise, go with strength. Obviously what you can get at later levels doesn't matter if the character won't progress any higher.

Andoran

Cibulan wrote:
Color me ignorant but why does it even matter then? Celestial Armor specifically says it is considered light armor.

Not for Proficiency purposes, so its -2 Armor Check penalty applies to attacks and such...unless you possess Medium Armor Profieciency.


This may sound strange but I was plainning out my next magus for a bit of fun. I was thinking of going up the middle a bit. Here is why.
20 pnt by in
str 14
dex 14
con 14
int 14 (+2 racial)
wis 10
chr 10
trait 1 focused mind
trait 2 deft dodger
human feat spell focus (evocation)
level one feat spell specialization (shocking grasp)
level three feat combate casting
level three magus arcane accuracy
level five feat intisify spell
level five bonus feat elemental spell

that should get you where you want to be.
can't argue with +2 caster level on shocking grasp
be careful to cast then move in and attack first round to avoid the chance your def cast check fails.
this gets you a +2 to hit str +3 bab +1 for weapon (ap or encht) and keen from arcane pool for a +6 taken down 2 for spell combate for a +4.
use a rapier for the 15-20 crit
have fun with your caster level 7 shocking grasp (2level spell slot) 7d6 + 1d6 + 2 + 1 and maybe a X2 (note if you have a +1 weapon of spell storing you get another +1 and a free spell ... say another shocking grasp.


Von Marshal wrote:


...STUFF
human feat spell focus (evocation)
level one feat spell specialization (shocking grasp)
level three feat combate casting
level three magus arcane accuracy
level five feat intisify spell
level five bonus feat elemental spell
...MORE STUFF

This is good advice for a one-shot adventure (although I'd still advise to choose between either STR or DEX; there's really very little to gain by starting with a 14 in your attack stat).

Please note however, that for a long-term character build, you definitely would NOT want to build like this. After level 10, (intensified) shocking grasp damage caps anyway, making spell specialization a dead feat. SF: Evo is already of diminished use considering a presumed focus on touch spells, which generally do not allow a save (some do, so it's still got value, more so if you use more ranged evocation spells). For long-term utility, I'd replace SF:Evo/SS with Heighten and Preferred spell, to let you memorize other spells, which you can swap out for SG.

Also, for a build with a decent focus on INT and a +2 concentration trait, you can easily cap out on concentration checks by the early teen levels. Prior to that, yes Combat Casting can be nice, but later on its also a totally dead feat. Personally, I'd make due with a good INT and a trait, and scrap CC. You can always use careful positioning/5ft. steps and/or warding weapon (level 1 spell) and/or Lunge (level 9+) to avoid casting defensively altogether.

None of this is of any concern in a one-shot or if you think the campaign won't last past level 8 or so, but if it will, build with caution.

EDIT: also, in general terms, one-shot or otherwise, any build investing in specializing in shocking grasp (or any particular spell) should DEFINITELY take Magical Lineage or Wayang Spellhunter as one of their traits.


you can switch your spell to another one i would get spell focus necro and switch to vampiric touch later. You are right in that is is a hit fast hit hard build with the least staying power.
i was also doing pfs witch those traits are band.
plus for this build i would get a mithril breast plate later on and then get the belt of physical perfection when i could.
Enduring blade helps as well and so does accurate strike later on.
i would also tend to try and avoid combate as much as possible, considering the exp award system with pfs and this build makes more since.
you may also want to consider broad study and pick up false life.
the must have iteams for this build are
+1 rapier of spell storing
mithral breat plate (pluses good)
belt of physical perfection
and headband of intelect
cloak of resistance
ring of protection
amulet of natural armor
and a ring of evasion(olny none upgradeable iteam)
but once again you will hit hard and fast and then have to fall back to defensive tactics and let the rest of your group keep you up and knock some things down.


Ok, after reading everything about this I've settled on building a str magus. I'll be trying to 'abuse' Enlarge Person for the reach, which will hopefully make casting in combat less of a hassel. Guess we will see how it goes.

Creating him with an Elite NPC Array for stats, so no dumping stats to 7 unforutnitely.

Str 16 (15+1 Level)
Dex 12
Con 13
int 16 (14+2 Human)
Wis 10
Cha 8

Feats-
Arcane Strike
Combat Reflexes
Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Bastard Sword)
Furious Focus
Power Attack

Arcana (5 Arcane Pool)-
Arcane Accuracy

Planned spells for daily memorization (obviously not a full spells known list though)

Spells (level 0)
Arcane Mark
Detect Magic
Light
Read Magic

Spells (level 1)
Enlarge Person
Shield
Shocking Grasp
True Strike
Vanish

Spells (level 2)
Bulls Strength
Glitterdust
Mirror Image

22 str with Enlarge Person and Bull Strength and assuming Power attacking and spellcombat+spellstrike attack routine looks like-
+6/+5 2d8+8 damage + spell effect, 2d8+8

Additional modiferies like Arcane Strike or abilites using Arcane Pool for further enchancements.

Any suggestions or modifications to this build? Am I depending too much on the reach from Enlarge Person?

Also feel free to continue discussing str vs dex magus builds. I find it interesting :)


For a str build i would go wit stats
str 18 (16+2trait)
dex 12
con 13
int 15 (14+1level, next boost here to then stop)
wis 10
chr 10

If you must get arcane strike; Remember you only get one swift action.
For go arcane accuracy for a Blade Bound (black blade) to add more to your weapon.
Forgo gliter dust and get bear's endurance (true strike will allow you to hit the invise guy.
Don't forget to take enduring blade as your first or secound magus and get bane blade aswell.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Cibulan wrote:
Color me ignorant but why does it even matter then? Celestial Armor specifically says it is considered light armor.
Not for Proficiency purposes, so its -2 Armor Check penalty applies to attacks and such...unless you possess Medium Armor Profieciency.

I can see that logic, coming from the precedent set by mithral armor. In 3.5 mithral armor let you treat the armor as one step lighter by passing proficiency. In Pathfinder they added special language for that. That language is not included in Celestial Armor.

Mithral:
Most mithral armors are one category lighter than normal for purposes of movement and other limitations. Heavy armors are treated as medium, and medium armors are treated as light, but light armors are still treated as light. This decrease does not apply to proficiency in wearing the armor. A character wearing mithral full plate must be proficient in wearing heavy armor to avoid adding the armor's check penalty to all his attack rolls and skill checks that involve moving.

Now contrast that with Celestial Armor:

Celestial Armor:
This bright silver or gold +3 chainmail is so fine and light that it can be worn under normal clothing without betraying its presence. It has a maximum Dexterity bonus of +8, an armor check penalty of –2, and an arcane spell failure chance of 15%. It is considered light armor and allows the wearer to use fly on command (as the spell) once per day.

Your answer is very true of Mithral armor, but less clear regarding Celestial. Was the restrictive language omitted by mistake or is Celestial Armor in a different class and to apply Mithral's restrictions is punitive? Celestial Armor costs a lot more than Mithral so to me it does not make sense to apply Mithral's restrictions onto it.


Dex bases magus have a problem with thier movment being cut down due to wieght is all. Profieciency has only the level in witch you wear it matter. the celestial armor thing is because it doesn't hamper your movement. Thats why I would as a magus go chain shirt, mithral breatplate, then celestial armor (unless i have a belt of physical perfection +4 and can afford Mithral full plate +3 or higher).


o yeah and dex bonus before i forget


Von Marshal wrote:

For a str build i would go wit stats

str 18 (16+2trait)
dex 12
con 13
int 15 (14+1level, next boost here to then stop)
wis 10
chr 10

If you must get arcane strike; Remember you only get one swift action.
For go arcane accuracy for a Blade Bound (black blade) to add more to your weapon.
Forgo gliter dust and get bear's endurance (true strike will allow you to hit the invise guy.
Don't forget to take enduring blade as your first or secound magus and get bane blade aswell.

Enduring you can't get until level 6 and Bane not until you are level 15.

Good point about true strike and glitterdust. Having bear's endurance with bull strength is kind of like a barbarians rage with no side affects :). Although we are getting to the point of having a ton of self buffs and probably not enough time to make good use of them all before combat ends. There is the blindness of glitterdust to consider. Must think on this.


Magi tend to be slot-starved at early levels. More than 2 buff per combat is not really doable. Ad i strongly suggest mirror image and shield to paltry +4 cos, or even to +4 str. Magi have strong offensive capabilities, but thye lack defenses without spells.

Andoran

Dex magus is mechanically better both early and in the long run. If you're concerned with being as powerful as possible go that route.

Dex is the god-stat for a reason.


And man if your gonna spend a feat on an exotic weapon at least pick the best one... Go with Falcata over a bastard sword as it is heads and tails better.


forgot the level restrictions on those two magus but get them when you can. As was stated above mirrior image and shield will be your go to defence for sure. The bears endurance is for later use. stick with elarge person for your offensive and shocking grasp. Untill, you can afford better options. I myself play a dex based but do see the advantage to being str based sometimes.

Andoran

Cibulan wrote:
Your answer is very true of Mithral armor, but less clear regarding Celestial. Was the restrictive language omitted by mistake or is Celestial Armor in a different class and to apply Mithral's restrictions is punitive? Celestial Armor costs a lot more than Mithral so to me it does not make sense to apply Mithral's restrictions onto it.

Elven Chainmail specifically notes that it does count as Light for Proficiency. I'm of the opinion that Celestial Armor would say the same were that true of it.

Cheliax

Hawktitan wrote:

Ok, after reading everything about this I've settled on building a str magus. I'll be trying to 'abuse' Enlarge Person for the reach, which will hopefully make casting in combat less of a hassel. Guess we will see how it goes.

Creating him with an Elite NPC Array for stats, so no dumping stats to 7 unforutnitely.

Str 16 (15+1 Level)
Dex 12
Con 13
int 16 (14+2 Human)
Wis 10
Cha 8

Feats-
Arcane Strike
Combat Reflexes
Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Bastard Sword)
Furious Focus
Power Attack

Arcana (5 Arcane Pool)-
Arcane Accuracy

Planned spells for daily memorization (obviously not a full spells known list though)

Spells (level 0)
Arcane Mark
Detect Magic
Light
Read Magic

Spells (level 1)
Enlarge Person
Shield
Shocking Grasp
True Strike
Vanish

Spells (level 2)
Bulls Strength
Glitterdust
Mirror Image

22 str with Enlarge Person and Bull Strength and assuming Power attacking and spellcombat+spellstrike attack routine looks like-
+6/+5 2d8+8 damage + spell effect, 2d8+8

Additional modiferies like Arcane Strike or abilites using Arcane Pool for further enchancements.

Any suggestions or modifications to this build? Am I depending too much on the reach from Enlarge Person?

Also feel free to continue discussing str vs dex magus builds. I find it interesting :)

lol, thats quite close to the 3rd level blackblade magus I have in a PbP with rolled stats

Strength: 17 +3
Dexterity: 12 +1
Constitution: 14 +2
Intelligence: 16 +3
Wisdom: 12 +1
Charisma: 12 +1

feats
Combat casting, arcane strike, weapon focus (scimitar)

1st Level: Chill Touch / Shield (2 preped)/ Color Spray (1 preped)/ Shocking Grasp (1 preped)/ Floating Disk / True Strike / Expeditious Retreat / Grease / Infernal Healing / Frostbite / True Strike / Mirror Strike

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

If you want to get the most out of that Chill Touch, Grick explained a good way to get the most bang for your buck.

Shadow Lodge

magus is better as dex based. strength based is awesome for a 2 hander build. they hit harder then dex based by far.

cast spell, run, smash, hit for tons of damage when not full attacking. play an elf or an orc and get your free ewp with a 2 hander.

i enjoyed mine.


it's a free action to take your hand off a weapon and a free action to put it back on. so a STR magus can abuse this with the katana assuming your DM won't let you 2hand a scimitar. good reason to play an oriental descended human too if it flies.

a katana also works for a black blade and gets more benefit out of enlarge person.

otherwise, use a scimitar.

i know a few DMs who allow certain human ethnicities to treat specific regionally appropriate exotic weapons as martial ones.

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