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Guide to the very best traits


Advice

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I'm going to compile a list of the very best traits, and I'll be happy to take suggestions.

The benchmark I'm going for is "unique ability" or "better than half a feat". Conditional bonuses - with the conditions being outside the player's control - will be rated very low.

"+1 to skill X and it's now a class skill" won't be in the guide. They're good traits, but they're a subject all of their own.

I'm going with RAI over RAW. See First Memories - by a mechanistic reading, it will give you an additional set of SLAs if you've traded away Gnome Magic for Magical Linguist, but that's not the interpretation I'll be assuming.

Magic Traits:

Beast of the Society: For a level 4 or 5 Druid, doubles your one daily Wild Shape.

Gifted Adept: +1 CL is a useful boost. Not a Trait bonus, for purposes of stacking.

Havok of the Society: 1 point of force damage is very useful to ensure that a "rider" effect on the spell works.

Magical Knack: The +2 CL for multiclassed characters.

Magical Lineage: The -1 SL adjustment for metamagic.

Naturally Gifted (Gnome): An additional daily use of one racial SLA, floating. Very useful in some builds, like low-level Summoners.

Two-World Magic: Mostly used to get Touch of Fatigue for a Magus, but has other uses.

Faith

Birthmark: +2 vs charm and compulsion is probably more than 50% of Iron Will. An holy symbol that's concealable, theft-proof, disarm-proof and sunder-proof is just gravy.

Unnatural Presence (Old Cults): Intimidate vs vermins, animals.

Combat

Accelerated Drinker: Even with all the limitations, it's an action economy booster.

Armor Expert: Useful for offsetting non-proficiency penalty as well.

Bullied: +1 on unarmed AoO. Marginally worth it for specialized builds, for example Snake Fang, but not as a general ability.

Defender of the Society: Trait bonus to AC all the time? Nice.

Dueling Cloak Adept: Specialized, but big bonuses for a trait.

Strong Arm, Supple Wrist: Extra range on thrown weapons, if you're not making a full attack. Nice for an Alchemist.

Threatening Defender: If you're taking Combat Expertise anyway, this trait is free +1 AC.

Equipment

Dealmaker: Buy magic items anywhere. But high risk of being straight out GM-blocked.

Heirloom Weapon: Very useful. Note that races with "treat X as martial" can use this.

Rough and Ready: Any weapon you want, except the crit is 20/*2 and you can't get a magic weapon version. +1 trait bonus to hit.

Race

Beast Bully (Tiefling): Use Intimade to push or handle - but not train - an animal. Free maxed out skill for a few concepts.

Blessing of Darkness (Tiefling): +1 CL for a self-buffing Cleric.

Bred for War (Shoanti Human): +1 CMB.

Chain Master (Tiefling): +2 to trip with a whip is very nice.

Color Thief (Goblin): +2 to a high-value skill, under circumstances you control and would probably be in anyway.

Helpful (Halfling): Giving +4 with Aid Another.

Shield Bearer (Ulfen Human): +1 damage to shield bash is 50% of Weapon Specialization: Shield, and it comes with a small daily ability.

Suicidal (Tiefling): Nice tanking trait.

Sczarni

HERE's a good place to start. I don't think it's been updated in a while, but you can use it as a helpful guide.


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I'm seeing a distinct lack of Reactionary on your list. +2 Initiative goes a long way.


About Unnatural Presence, that allows you to intimidate animals & vermin. I'm pretty sure animals can already be intimidated. In fact, the trait Unnatural Revenge gives a +2 on intimidate versus animals & other creatures. In other words, is being able to make vermin shaken really a trait worth mentioning?

Never Stop Shooting is an unbelievably good trait for a guy with firearms. Basically the diehard feat without any prereqs. I'd ban it outright in any campaign I ran.

Nice list btw! I noted a couple I had not known or thought about. Though there will always be the issue that "the best" traits lack in creativity. I'm sure that'll spark a few arguments.


Outlaw Corwin wrote:

About Unnatural Presence, that allows you to intimidate animals & vermin. I'm pretty sure animals can already be intimidated. In fact, the trait Unnatural Revenge gives a +2 on intimidate versus animals & other creatures. In other words, is being able to make vermin shaken really a trait worth mentioning?

Never Stop Shooting is an unbelievably good trait for a guy with firearms. Basically the diehard feat without any prereqs. I'd ban it outright in any campaign I ran.

Nice list btw! I noted a couple I had not known or thought about. Though there will always be the issue that "the best" traits lack in creativity. I'm sure that'll spark a few arguments.

I'll look into that animal intimidation thing. And yes, I expect the list will grow a lot when I get to Ultimate Campaign.

Grand Lodge

There is one or two that give +2 to Diplomacy. +1 is nothing special but that extra +1 makes it nearly as good as skill focus for levels 1-9.

There is another out recently that gives a Masterwork Longsword, ability to cast light as a cantrip AND when light is cast on the sword itself its twice as good.

Dark Archive

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Outcast's Intuition :

- (Ultimate Campaign) You are able to sense the motives of others and use that sense to bolster your magic against dispelling. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Sense Motive checks, and Sense Motive is always a class skill for you. In addition, your caster level is treated as 1 level higher for the purposes of any attempts to dispel your magic.

Seeker:

- (Ultimate Campaign) pg. 61
You are always on the lookout for reward and danger. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Perception checks, and Perception is always a class skill for you.

This is good because the other perception traits are either Campaign only or require worship of Abadar.

Ambush Training

-(Pathfinder Society Primer) You’ve learned that taking an enemy by surprise can end a combat before it begins. You gain a +1 trait bonus on initiative checks and a +1 trait bonus on weapon damage rolls during any surprise round in which you act.

This is good because Reactionary is a bit boring, far too many PCs have it, half the party were bullied, cowardly children.


Among the Social traits Seeker is quite good and i belive lots of folks will take it if perception isent on the class list.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Glory of Old (Regional): +1 trait bonus on saving throws against spells, spell-like abilities, and poison.
- as far as I can tell you have to be from a dwarven region but don't have to be a dwarf. This trait is crazy good, basically a +1 to all saves.

Defensive Strategist (Religion: Torag) You are not flat-footed when you are an unaware combatant. This includes a surprise round that you don’t get to act in, and before you get to act at the start of a battle.
- amazing

Blade of Mercy (Religion: Sarenrae) When striking to inflict nonlethal damage with any slashing weapon, you do not take the normal –4 penalty on your attack roll, and gain a +1 trait bonus to any nonlethal damage you inflict with a slashing weapon.
- Couple this with the Enforcer feat.


I'm building a debuffer witch (and I never play caster classes) what are good trait choices?

Sczarni

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River Rat: the +1 damage with daggers goes a LONG way. Considering that it apples to ALL attacks made with a dagger, including off-hand attacks, it is certainly better than "half a feat".

A character with 10 STR who takes this trait does the same damage as a character with 12 STR (+2 to 1 ability score is worth a feat & 1 skill point/level, according to the Human alternate racial trait) and Double Slice.... So that's 2 feats right there...

I've done the math for a 3/4 BAB character up to level 12 and Daggers w/River Rat provides more DPR than a Kukri - even on a High STR build. Considering that Kukri's are a Martial weapon and most Rogue's would need to burn a feat on it, that puts us at 3 feats...

Sczarni

I'm making a Thassilonian Specialist for my next Wizard. Their caveat is that they can't use spell trigger or spell completion magic items if the item in question contains a spell on their restricted list. To mitigate that I'll be taking the magic trait Pragmatic Activator (use INT instead of CHA for Use Magic Device) and the religion trait Underlying Principals (+1 Use Magic Device, becomes class skill). I think the combo is golden.


As a general rule, I'd give a very high rating to any trait that gives a flat +1 bonus to a save type. Plenty of traits give narrow bonuses (only vs. compulsion, only vs. undead, only in social encounters with lefthanded Chelaxian merchants, etc.), but a few traits give a clear +1 with no strings attached. Those are always good.


Krodjin wrote:

River Rat: the +1 damage with daggers goes a LONG way. Considering that it apples to ALL attacks made with a dagger, including off-hand attacks, it is certainly better than "half a feat".

A character with 10 STR who takes this trait does the same damage as a character with 12 STR (+2 to 1 ability score is worth a feat & 1 skill point/level, according to the Human alternate racial trait) and Double Slice.... So that's 2 feats right there...

I've done the math for a 3/4 BAB character up to level 12 and Daggers w/River Rat provides more DPR than a Kukri - even on a High STR build. Considering that Kukri's are a Martial weapon and most Rogue's would need to burn a feat on it, that puts us at 3 feats...

While I agree its a good trait is is pretty much exactly half a feat... Its obviously half a weapon spec feat.

Easier to get (no prereqs or class restrictions.) but none the less exactly half of that feat.


Krodjin wrote:

River Rat: the +1 damage with daggers goes a LONG way. Considering that it apples to ALL attacks made with a dagger, including off-hand attacks, it is certainly better than "half a feat".

A character with 10 STR who takes this trait does the same damage as a character with 12 STR (+2 to 1 ability score is worth a feat & 1 skill point/level, according to the Human alternate racial trait) and Double Slice.... So that's 2 feats right there...

I've done the math for a 3/4 BAB character up to level 12 and Daggers w/River Rat provides more DPR than a Kukri - even on a High STR build. Considering that Kukri's are a Martial weapon and most Rogue's would need to burn a feat on it, that puts us at 3 feats...

Pretty much a must have goblin rogue trait. River rat is great!

Sczarni

Perhaps, if the OP is making a full-fledged Guide, you could include a section on good traits to combine together for different builds. For example, most of the halfling Bodyguards I've seen all have the same two traits: Helpful Halfling and Threatening Defender.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

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Sound of Mind: +2 trait bonus on saving throws against mind-affecting effects. Almost as good as Iron Will.


There's one that lets you use Int for Bluff(except feinting) and Diplomacy (except gather info).

Student of Philosophy, from Quests and Campaigns.

Also, the human racial for +1 to all knowledges, for those who go the Kirin Style or Lore warden route, as well as the Archivist bard. Pretty much 10 skill points for a trait. Believe it's called Historian or somesuch.

All have effects based on successful creature ID.

Silver Crusade

Shoanti tattoo. 3 weapon proficiencies and a useful saving throw bonus. Wonderful for characters without martial weapon proficiency especially if they want to get Thunder and Fang


A few of the Dreamscarred ones

Psionic Knack: The +ml multiclassing one for Psionics. "+1 manifester level" also can be substituted for a blade enhancement level or Aegis CP/DR growth, so it's versatile enough.

Clairsentient Talent: Detect Psi, always on in your square, though you have to concentrate on it to get more than a hunch that something's up. Still, that hunch gets you started there.

Sczarni

pauljathome wrote:
Shoanti tattoo. 3 weapon proficiencies and a useful saving throw bonus. Wonderful for characters without martial weapon proficiency especially if they want to get Thunder and Fang

My Rogue in Jade Regent did this =D


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Document is up, about 6 books searched so far. Thanks for the suggestions, keep them coming!


I notice Armour Expert made your guide; there's also Sargavan Guard, which is a regional trait that does the same thing, and since both are written as untyped, they should stack.

I'd second everything minoritarian suggested. Defensive Strategist especially.

Fate's Favoured is stupidly good for an archaeologist or a sacred tattoo half-orc

Silver Crusade

Regional: wayang spellhunter

Sczarni

ZanThrax wrote:
Fate's Favoured is stupidly good for an archaeologist or a sacred tattoo half-orc.

+1,000

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

Honestly, Fate's favored is too good and worth way more than a feat let alone a trait and is thus banned in the groups I'm in. They kind of really dropped the ball on it since it is way too good for halflings, half-orcs, archaeologists, and clerics using divine power/favor.

Sczarni

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Agreed. Half-Orc Paladin with Sacred Tattoo and Fate's Favored using Divine Favor = OMFGROFLSTOMP.


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Thank you Nefreet; I knew there was another trait that I thought needed mentioning.

Fey Foundling massively increases the survivability of any Paladin.

Fey Foundling + Fate's Favoured together for a half-orc Redeemer? Insanity.


Fay foundling is pretty damn great on a life Oracle as well.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Fey Foundling is a feat not a trait though isn't it?

Sczarni

Indeed. I believe the conversation was simply taking the road down to Tangentville.


Trifler - cast Prestidigitation 3/day as a spell-like ability. Turns any character into a minor spellcaster.


Mother's Teeth
Benefit: You can make a bite attack for 1d2 points of damage as a secondary attack.

A trait to gain a natural attack. I'm not sure if this rule applies, but if so this trait is incredible.

"If a creature has only one natural attack, it is always made using the creature’s full base attack bonus and adds 1-1/2 times the creature’s Strength bonus on damage rolls. "


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Since they provide full-category save bonuses, I'd add these:

Deft Dodger (Combat), Grounded (racial/dwarf), Youthful Mischief (racial/elf): +1 Reflex

Resilient (Combat), Forlorn (racial/elf), Freed Slave (regional/Katapesh), Heart of Clay (regional/Lingshen), Xa Hoi Soldier (regional/Xa Hoi), Orphan (regional/Isger), Survivalist (regional/Mana Wastes): +1 Fortitude

Indomitable Faith (Faith), Purity of Faith (religion/Iomedae), Auspicious Tattoo or Carefully Hidden (racial/human), Legacy of Sand (racial/half-orc), Animal Friend (racial/gnome), Freed Slave (regional/Andoran): +1 Will

.

Also, consider Warrior of Old (racial/elf), Elven Reflexes (racial/half-elf), and Paragon (regional/Hermea), which provide the same +2 initiative bonus as Reactionary (Combat).

Sargavan Guard (regional/Sargava) gives the same armor-check penalty reduction as Armor Expert (Combat).

Lessons of Chaldira (religion/Chaldira-halfling): Reroll any failed save, once/day.

Defensive Strategist (religion/Torag): You're never flat-footed, even in surprise rounds.

Scarab Sages

Since you ended up including traits that give a +1 to damage with a specific weapon, Mizu Ki Hikari Rebel and Quain Martial Artist are regional traits from the Dragon Empires Primer that provide +1 to damage for Unarmed Strikes. They don't stack with each other, since they are both Regional traits and trait bonuses, but taking one is a nice boost for a Monk, and anything that boosts a Monk's damage is almost a necessity to take (unless it's a maneuver based build).

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Anything that changes the stat used for a skill.

Clever Wordplay comes to mind, but there are others.


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minoritarian wrote:
Fey Foundling is a feat not a trait though isn't it?

That'll teach me not to post while half asleep. (Well, probably not.)


No one's mentioned the APG Sacred Trait Sacred Touch? It lets you stabilize a dying person with just a touch. Sure, it may be meaningless at higher levels when damage becomes auto-kill, but for a 1st-level party, having someone touch you when you're -9 hp to stabilize is pretty good.


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No one took Second Chance? Reroll a failed save 1/day is huge!


"The benchmark I'm going for is "unique ability" or "better than half a feat". Conditional bonuses - with the conditions being outside the player's control - will be rated very low. "

That is a good metric to go by, there's too damn many traits to sort through and the names seldom help to ID what they actually do. A nice, SHORT list of the truly stand-out traits is needed.

*Reads guide, first trait listed is Reactionary*

Well...so much for that... (-_-)


SotS, Reactionary while not unique or better than half a feat its still probably one of the best traits available.


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Not sure I like how it's divided up, but maybe that is best.

Some suggestions...

Pragmatic Activator: Use Int instead of Cha for Use Magic Device. [Magic, Stat Switch]

Student of Philosophy: Use Int instead of Cha on Diplomacy (except for gathering info) and Bluff checks to lie. [Social, Stat Switch/Bluff/Diplomacy]

Defensive Strategist: It's basically Uncanny Dodge, as a trait! [Religion, "Anyone"?]

Armor Master / Sarvagan Guard: It's identical to Armor Expert, but in a different category. [Regional, Armor Wearers]

Second Chance / Lessons of Chaldira: Reroll any save 1/day. [Religion, Anyone]

Blade of Mercy: Do nonlethal with slashing as you please, and get +1 damage when doing so. Only comparable feat is Bludgeoner, which is a different damage type and still inferior to this. [Religion, Warrior]

Defender of the Society: Flat +1 to AC, arguably for touch and flatfooted. Either it's as good as a feat, or better than a feat (Dodge / Imp. Natural Armor). [Combat, Warriors]

Wayang Spell Hunter / Metamagic Master: As Magical Lineage, but 3rd level or lower spells only. "Stacks" w/ ML. [Regional, Casters]

Two-World Magic: Add a 0-level spell from any list to your own spell list. Great for many; my favorite use is for Druid to get Ghost Sound to communicate in Wild Shape. [Magic, Casters]

Bred for War: +1 on all CMB checks makes this potentially better than a feat, and it boosts intimidate, too. [Race: Human, Combat Maneuvers]

Fate's Favored: +1 to all luck bonuses. Amazing with Archaeologists, Halflings, tattooed Half-Orcs, or anyone wearing a Jingasa of the Fortunate Soldier and/or using a stone of good luck. [Faith, Anyone]

Savant: For a Bard w/ Versatile Performance, this is a +2 to 3 skills. [Social, ???]


I used the ease of faith trait on my Ranger in order to make diplomacy a class skill for him and give him a +1 as well. And with his cha 14 he has quite a bonus of diplomacy, handle animal as well as the feat that will let him influence animals to a better behaviour.

I used the scion of Abadar trait on my Aasimar paladin in order to make perception a class skill and gain a +1. He has a bonus of +11 at level 3 on perception and a bonus of +13 on diplomacy, making him the beloved negociator of the party as well as the 'what do your elven eyes tell you Legolas' kind of detector. He actually detected a minute fey prankster and managed to diplomacide the hell out of the creature and get some serious information regarding the surroundings.
GM, so what's your diplomacy roll (hehehe)
Me(paladin level 2), I rolled a 16 making it a 27
GM, *bleep* that's higher then 25, so I actually have to provide you with some information and friendship from the fey creature

If you use traits smartly on skills that are not class skills the actual gain will be +1 from the trait directly and an added +3 from becoming a class skill, making a nice total bonus of +4.


Two-Worlds magic also lets a Witch enter Arcane Trickster (not the best method of entry, but there are much worse).


That's actually an interesting idea deuxhero. Two-World magic plus any of the various SLAs that are being used for early entry MT would let any casting class get into Arcane Trickster.


My go to trait is Lessons of Chaldira. It's the best of the best IMO.
*edit* Wasn't aware of Second Chance. That's even better with no diety requirement.

Scarab Sages

Havoq wrote:

My go to trait is Lessons of Chaldira. It's the best of the best IMO.

*edit* Wasn't aware of Second Chance. That's even better with no diety requirement.

Second Cance IS Lessons of Chaldira. Second Chance is just what pfsrd calls if to avoid copyright issues.


There are lots of nice traits that are situationally awesome.
Shoanti Tattoo nets you prof. with an earth breaker, klar, and bolas.
Hunters Eye + Andoran faction nets you prof with bows.
Fate's Favored as already mentioned to buff any luck bonuses by +1.
Desert Shadow + Qadira to ignore penalties for moving full speed steathed.

They all suck if they don't apply to your situation.

I guess that's why I like Lessons of Chaldira. No matter what you're building for, it makes sense.

A friend likes Childblight Emmissary. DR1/cold iron. If struck by C.I. you're sickened fron one round.


Krodjin wrote:
River Rat: the +1 damage with daggers goes a LONG way. Considering that it apples to ALL attacks made with a dagger, including off-hand attacks, it is certainly better than "half a feat".

...Or it brings your average damage to the same as a short sword (3.5=2.5+1). Admittedly, that is still very good since daggers are far, far more versatile, and it would have a tighter damage dice range (2-5 instead of 1-6) which makes them reliable. So improving on the baseline standard for TWF is great for a trait.

Anyway, how about this trait for humans: Trifler. It provides Prestidigitation as an SLA 3/day. Not worth too much on its own (although a smart player could work with 3 hours of prestidigitation) but it is an arcane spell, which actually qualifies you for casting feats such as Arcane strike. There are other traits that give SLA's, and not race based, but I like this one the best.

The CL for trait SLAs works off of your highest CL gained, which would normally mean it would be stuck at 1 for a martial character, making this tactic useless, but it serves as a fantastic move for Rangers, who are casters in their own right. The additional damage to each hit from Arcane Strike is particularly valuable to Rangers since their typical fighting styles tend towards having many attacks.


doesnt purity of faith give both +1 will and +1 (to ALL saves) against evil effects or stuff from demons? seems pretty useful.

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