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The Comprehensive Kensai Magus Guide


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Lantern Lodge

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Hey!

I've been working on accumulating everything needed to make a very detailed guide for the Kensai Magus, and I've hit that point where's there's not much more to add other than your input! Let me know what you guys think!

The guide is here!

Lantern Lodge

Updated a bunch of random little things. Google Docs doesn't show the document very well, if you want it to look nicer, download it. Finally, Google Docs is currently having some issues with revisions, so clear your browser's cache to see any updates (at least until Google Docs fixes the issue)

EDIT: I'm posting this mainly to bump the thread, since it seems nobody noticed it at 1 am...


Good stuff. Useful for me as I'm just starting a Kensai In PFS.

You could mention that a Lore Warden dip works well, especially for the trip build. Also 'Infernal Healing' is on the Magus spell list. You have it in the UMD wand section.


First: Great stuff! Better than walter's guide.

Little note about the polymorphing section:

A lot of people (GMs) treat elemental body like wildshape, IE you cant cast spells, cant access items, etc. You mark the conclusion as definitive, by my own GM does not allow an elemental to wield weapons. So it might be worth noting that there is a debate on the subject.


Under silken cermeonial armor you mention the restrictions of bracers of armor...What restrictions are these?


williamoak wrote:

First: Great stuff! Better than walter's guide.

Little note about the polymorphing section:

A lot of people (GMs) treat elemental body like wildshape, IE you cant cast spells, cant access items, etc. You mark the conclusion as definitive, by my own GM does not allow an elemental to wield weapons. So it might be worth noting that there is a debate on the subject.

Actually by RAW, when you shapshift into anything that is not an humanoid, your items meld into your new form. This includes your pouch of components.

Lantern Lodge

Lazlo Woodbine: I will probably add that in a bit, gonna finish up the spells section and then move on to multi classing (Gonna mention Lore Warden there, as well as the Barbarian Dip, and a couple of other ideas for dipping).

Williamoak: I'll throw that it, I was a little definitive there, I made that section after looking around on the rules forum, although I do believe thoroughly that you can do what I mentioned. The restrictions are as what Gustavo mentions, namely the abilities in question are as the quoted paragraph says. Can you talk, make somatic movements, and access material components?

EsperMagic: The restrictions involve not being able to put flat priced armor enchantments on bracers of armor, and it seems there's a lot of good enchantments that are flat priced (such as resistance, stealth bonuses, Determination [which is amazing, hit 0 hit points and you get a free breath of life]). I'll clarify that.

Thanks for the input guys! Keep it coming :)


A few things I noticed.

A 15-20 weapon has a 30% chance to crit, not 25%.

You may be placing too much value on the brilliant energy property, a brilliant energy weapon is great against humanoid enemies that wear armor. But they deal no damage against undead or constructs and they don't ignore natural armor bonuses to AC, so if you fight monsters
(who have more then enough natural armor to compensate) it's not much help.

Something that bears mentioning (even though it's a high orange at best) is the maximized spell strike feat.

I don't see a Quick Runner's Shirt on that list of items, seems like a thing anyone would want.

the Elemental spell feat is a solid orange... unless you get the preferred spell feat, then you can convert shocking grasps to a different element in the event that what you are fighting has Resistance or immunity to electricity (I recommend acid as it is one of the less common resistances)

Something of note about the arcana that allows you to spontaneously apply meta magic feats to a spell, they don't increase the spells level. Usually this is unimportant but if you happen to have a spell storing weapon then it's worth considering for when you need something dead asap, drop an intensified + maximized + empowered shocking grasp in that bad boy and wait for when you need a thing dead and use it at the same time as spell combat.

a Haramaki has the same stats as silken ceremonial armor and costs a tenth of the price. And on the subject of armor mithral armor counts as one step lighter for every thing except determining proficiency, canny defense isn't that so takes a feat to not suck but it's at least food for thought, celestial armor doesn't even require that.


You could also consider doing a section on other archetypes that mesh well with Kensai. The Fiend Flayer archetype works well with a crit focused Kensai as you can summon your own blade with bonuses that stack with your arcane pool bonus. Makes for a very versatile weapon for getting through resistances/DR!

Lantern Lodge

Robot Nachos: Thanks for all of that, I got it in. As for the mithril, the main issue is that you want to avoid as much arcane spell failure chance as possible, and mithril doesn't really help (since none of the items with a 10% ASFC or lower are made of metal, and the equivelant leather material doesn't drop the ASFC below 5 (or 10)%.) Though it is worth mentioning...

Lazlo Woodbine: There's only three Archetyps that work... but I put a section in on that. Thanks!


Hmmm can't get this to load on the IPad...bummer.


My bad thought kenai still ignored asf in light armor.

Shadow Lodge

Great job FrodoOf9Fingers!

One thing though, I would say Pool Strike is a solid orange arcana personally, at least for the Shocking Grasp magus. It allows you to do elemental damage when you face one of the several creatures [plenty of evil outsiders and some dragons, along with others] that are immune to electricity damage. Not a green arcana, but an orange one.


FrodoOf9Fingers wrote:
Williamoak: I'll throw that it, I was a little definitive there, I made that section after looking around on the rules forum, although I do believe thoroughly that you can do what I mentioned. The restrictions are as what Gustavo mentions, namely the abilities in question are as the quoted paragraph says. Can you talk, make somatic movements, and access material components?

Elementals do talk, so yes, you can talk. Somatic components are GM decision as we don't have anything that says yes or no. You can't access to material components unless you have a polymorphic pouch


How do I save this file. Normally I would Print and have a PDF printer and it would work that way. When I click on Print(PDF) I get a screen, File Not Found Error 404.

I'm logged and I can't seem to email this to myself either.


Notes as I read through

Gish as a concept has been around since Githyanki Fighter / Mages showed up back in the AD&D days. Players have been trying to make useful ones for almost as long, and 3.X has had many ways to build them. The Magus is just the first decent (imo) "gish in a can" class.

Pathfinder doesn't have a Player's Handbook.

Fighter Training also gets you Critical Versatility if you're human, and Critical Mastery. Both of which are nice for a character that's pretty much always going to be crit fishing with a 15-20 weapon.

The formatting in the weapon section is screwed up. The text for the katana goes off the edge of the page. The whip text does as well, and the image is covering up part of the text too. Ditto the ECB.

You rated Dueling highly, but don't forget the Other Dueling from the Field Guide which should be bright blue for a trip build.

Lantern Lodge

ZanThrax: Didn't involve the Field Guide when I made the guide for the most part, just took the most commonly used materials from there (such as dervish dance), But I'll throw dueling 2.0 in. Thanks for catching the players handbook mistake, critical versatility is mentioned in the race area.

It seems that there are a lot of issues with google drive and how it's handling the word document. I'll get it working right and post a new link.

ngc7293: I'll try to change some settings around and see what I can do from my end.

gustavo iglesias: CRB: "and can only cast spells with somatic or verbal components if the form you choose has the capability to make such movements or speak, such as a dragon." Honest question, do you think that an elemental in humanoid form can perform somatic componets? if you do, where do you think the confusions lie for other people / GM's?

ArmouredMonk13: I want to agree with you and say that pool strike has a use... but to be fair there are other ways around that, such as a rod of elemental spell or preparing another, less effective spell to recall with pearls over and over again. I'll take a second look though, but the damage is so low on it in comparison...

Lantern Lodge

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Ok, fixed a lot of the issues with google docs. Here's a new link as a result:

The Exhaustive Guide to the Kensai Magus

Shadow Lodge

FrodoOf9Fingers wrote:
ArmouredMonk13: I want to agree with you and say that pool strike has a use... but to be fair there are other ways around that, such as a rod of elemental spell or preparing another, less effective spell to recall with pearls over and over again. I'll take a second look though, but the damage is so low on it in comparison...

Yeah, I get that it isn't green or blue, but it isn't a total trap option, since it is an easy, clearly non-cheese, all-hands-free way to get flexible elemental damage. So I'd say it isn't nearly as much of a trap as dispelling strike or arcane redoubt.


FrodoOf9Fingers wrote:

Ok, fixed a lot of the issues with google docs. Here's a new link as a result:

The Exhaustive Guide to the Kensai Magus

You changed a lot of things, including the ability to print/save. I would think that if you are going to submit this to the guides that would be one of the things wanted.

The guide looks great, but I would rather view it as a pdf file. Good job so far.

Lantern Lodge

@ngc7293 Yeah, the format I had it in had color issues, print issues, save issues etc... You can save the webpage itself by right clicking and saving it that way.

If you know how to make it saveable and printable in an easier way, let me know and I'll do it. The best I can think of right now is a link embeded inside the document to a printable version, but that might make maintaining the guide a lot more difficult.

I thought you had issues with printing and saving before I made the changes, were you able to find out what was wrong beforehand? The current way is the same as Walters...

@ArmouredMonk13 Here's exactly why pool strike isn't that good:

1. It uses a standard action to use, so say goodbye to spell combat, although you'd still get spell strike.

2. It doesn't do that much damage in comparison to other spells.

3. It uses up arcane pool points to use, and it's an arcana.

Considering those points, pool strike just isn't up to par as an option. When facing a resistant monster, there are the options of getting the Elemental Spell meta magic feat or as a rod, having an inferior spell prepared (frostbite or chill touch comes to mind, since having one of those spells prepared can last an entire fight), getting the wand wielder arcana and using a spell from that, or even just sucking it up and just whack away without the extra damage. Because a magus is so flexible between physical and magical damage, it's really not that huge of a problem for your magical damage to be partially or entirely shut down by resistances. Your weapon will still do quite a bit of damage, you won't be useless. If you were useless, then it'd be an orange.

Lantern Lodge

@ngc7293 found a cyclic way of linking the document to itself, so you can print and save at will. And it seems the coloring issues is non-existent too...

Shadow Lodge

FrodoOf9Fingers wrote:

1. It uses a standard action to use, so say goodbye to spell combat, although you'd still get spell strike.

2. It doesn't do that much damage in comparison to other spells.

3. It uses up arcane pool points to use, and it's an arcana.

Oh, wow. I thought it said you could use it with Spell Combat. Hm, I guess this does suck more than I had thought, thanks for clarifying that.


FrodoOf9Fingers wrote:

@ngc7293 Yeah, the format I had it in had color issues, print issues, save issues etc... You can save the webpage itself by right clicking and saving it that way.

If you know how to make it saveable and printable in an easier way, let me know and I'll do it. The best I can think of right now is a link embeded inside the document to a printable version, but that might make maintaining the guide a lot more difficult.

Frankly, I have no idea how it works. The only thing I can suggest is to try to contact one of the other people that have used google docs to upload their guides. There many of those things with the same formatting with print to pdf. Chances are what ever you are doing different they have had to go through or thought of.

When I do the Print as a HTML page I get broken pages. Usually when you print to a pdf it breaks it up properly.


I seriously think Lingering Pain is possibly one of the most powerful arcanas on the list, on par with Arcane Accuracy. Being able to completely negate a caster for a turn, or stop the Greater Teleport at will outsiders from escaping is really a game changer. All magi I've ever played have taken it, and I've never once regretted it. My GM even banned it in my Rise of the Runelords game, when he realized I could use it to make quite a few bosses unable to take any useful actions.

The Empowered Magic and Maximized Magic ones I've never been a fan of, on the other hand. It's only 1/day, and the over impact really isn't that impressive. Take Empower for example, if you use a 5d6 shocking grasp, on average, you're increasing damage by 8.75 once per day, or by 17.5 if it's intensified at 10th level. A Maximized intensified shocking grasp on the other hand is an average of 25 extra damage once per day, which isn't really that impressive. They have a bit more oomph when used on powerful AoE spells like Chain Lightning, but those are best left to wizards and sorcerers anyway.

Also, I feel like Samsaran is a really powerful choice for the kensai magus. Immediate access to mage armor if you select wizard, summoner, or witch, and then you can do other neat things like take Calific Touch, or early access summoner spells (Stoneskin, Dimension Door, etc).

And I know the spell list is still under construction, but Bladed Dash should definitely be included. It's possibly the best second level spell on that list (even compared to Frigid Touch).

Dark Archive

Aside from the immunity to fear problem, Frostbite has several other weaknesses. It also doesn't work against enemies with immunity to nonlethal or cold and even cold resistance has a god chance of stopping it from working.
When it works, it's a very good debuff, but considering the investment, it might be too situational.

Lantern Lodge

@Mechalibur Thanks for the input!

I'll bump Lingering Pain up to green or blue and mention the math behind it, your right, it is good. Do you know if spell like abilities require concentration checks?

The reason Maximized magic is so high is for spell storing weapons. Since you cast the spell into the weapon, and the maximized arcana doesn't increase it's spell level, you can place a maximized vampiric touch into the weapon.

Taking a second look at Samsaran, I'll put in some comments about it. Probably a blue.

Bladed Dash is certainly good, but I'm not completely sold on it. It's attack bonus doesn't stack with arcane accuracy, and it only works on one attack. In the end, it gives you one extra attack with the benefit of arcane accuracy for that attack. You can get the same effect with casting any touch attack spell and spending one arcane point. The main benefit I can see from it is the movement it grants, making it an earlier version of the force hook charge. I'll still toss it into the mix :)

@Jadeite Your right, I need to include that. I've been planning on making a list of monster types that it won't work on. So my thoughts so far on the subject:

1. Immunity to non-lethal and fear effects takes away about 50% of the debuffs automatically.
2. Immunity/resistance to frost damage is a hindrance, but it can be completely overcome by the elemental spell feat.

Does Rime spell not work with elemental spell if all of the spells damage is turned to acid? I think it does still work, because the spell's descriptor is still cold. What do you think about that?

Thanks everybody for the input! I'll be throwing in a comment about how much the community is helping :). I'll make all of changes in this post by the end of today too.

Dark Archive

Bladed Dash with Spell Combat is pretty much Pounce (with an extra attack).

Immunity to non-lethal takes away all the debuffs since they work only when a spell deals damage.


FrodoOf9Fingers wrote:

@Mechalibur Thanks for the input!

I'll bump Lingering Pain up to green or blue and mention the math behind it, your right, it is good. Do you know if spell like abilities require concentration checks?

The reason Maximized magic is so high is for spell storing weapons. Since you cast the spell into the weapon, and the maximized arcana doesn't increase it's spell level, you can place a maximized vampiric touch into the weapon.

Taking a second look at Samsaran, I'll put in some comments about it. Probably a blue.

Bladed Dash is certainly good, but I'm not completely sold on it. It's attack bonus doesn't stack with arcane accuracy, and it only works on one attack. In the end, it gives you one extra attack with the benefit of arcane accuracy for that attack. You can get the same effect with casting any touch attack spell and spending one arcane point. The main benefit I can see from it is the movement it grants, making it an earlier version of the force hook charge. I'll still toss it into the mix :)

Spell Like abilities do require concentration checks in some situations. Taking damage is one of them, so Lingering Pain works.

Oh, that makes sense on Maximize.

As for bladed dash, the best part about it is that it gives you a full attack when you're at a distance, without provoking attacks. Especially when you start going against monsters with reach, and frequently have haste up, it's a huge help. You can also use it to full attack, then retreat so your opponent can't follow up with a full attack against you.

Lantern Lodge

@Jadeite Thanks for catching that as all, consider it added in.

@Mechalibur Bladed Dash is added in.

After this weekend, when I get my own computer back, I'll be working on the spells section


Great guide, FrodoOf9Fingers!

Just wondering why the rapier didn't make the weapons list. Its damage and threat range are as good as the Scimitar or Wakizashi, and like the Wakizashi it's finessable.

Plus I think that the character at the top of your guide is holding one.


marked for future use...


Excellent little guide Frodo. I especially like the bodyguard use of the ludicrous number of AoOs that a kensai gets at higher levels.

Shadow Lodge

@Gisher:Just taking a wild guess here, but it seems like both the Scimitar and the Wakizashi are superior to the rapier, since scimitars can take a feat for Dex to damage, and Wakizashis can be used with Piranha Strike, but a Rapier can do neither. Its still a cool weapon to have.

Lantern Lodge

@Gisher hehe, I completely forgot about the rapier to be honest :P. As you said, it's identical to the wakishazi except it's not a light weapon, so it doesn't qualify for piranha strike as ArmouredMonk said. But I think the main reason I didn't have it in the guide is because I never use one. I personally don't like it's flavor (I know, such a great sin!) But I'll throw it in with the relevant notes :)


Good stuff so far! Good job!

Dark Archive

Deadly Stroke should work pretty good for a kensai. While it doesn't work with Spell Combat, but double damage plus constitution bleed isn't bad.

Could a Kensai chose Unarmed Strike as his chosen weapon? That would make it possible to treat all natural weapons as his chosen weapon (Feral Combat Training + Martial Versatility).

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber
Jadeite wrote:


Could a Kensai chose Unarmed Strike as his chosen weapon? That would make it possible to treat all natural weapons as his chosen weapon (Feral Combat Training + Martial Versatility).

Based on Clerics of Irori, I would allow it, but RAW, Kensai get proficiency in a single martial or exotic melee weapon of his choice, with no mention of IUS.

Silver Crusade

Imbicatus wrote:
Jadeite wrote:


Could a Kensai chose Unarmed Strike as his chosen weapon? That would make it possible to treat all natural weapons as his chosen weapon (Feral Combat Training + Martial Versatility).
Based on Clerics of Irori, I would allow it, but RAW, Kensai get proficiency in a single martial or exotic melee weapon of his choice, with no mention of IUS.

The Kensai Archetype does not state that the weapon you choose (by selecting Weapon Focus in it) must be the free Martial or Exotic weapon. Since Unarmed Strike is a simple weapon, the Kensai is already proficient in it. Assuming that you must use a Martial or Exotic weapon as a Kensai would be a mistake. Usually it's just better.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Jadeite wrote:

Deadly Stroke should work pretty good for a kensai. While it doesn't work with Spell Combat, but double damage plus constitution bleed isn't bad.

Could a Kensai chose Unarmed Strike as his chosen weapon? That would make it possible to treat all natural weapons as his chosen weapon (Feral Combat Training + Martial Versatility).

It's not bad but while I think the feat has promise for a single class fighter (or another martial class with 8 levels of fighter), I don't see as many good uses for a magus. Magi who are high enough level to qualify for Deadly Stroke have much better opening and "I'm limited to a single attack" moves and even have better "my opponent has high AC and DR so I want to make a single attack moves."

Bladed Dash and force hook charge (and arguably Dimension Door) all enable full attack with spell combat as an opening move. No doubt there are some situations where you would want to use Deadly Stroke instead but it doesn't have the opening move utility that it does for characters without the Magi's options.

Likewise, magi have better options than fighters when limited to a single standard action and can use Deadly Stroke (having a flatfooted opponent within range while limited to a standard action--when would that happen? Maybe you intimidate a foe and use shatter defenses in the previous round then they stagger you? Or maybe during a surprise round when used vanish or invisibility to actually sneak next to the foe) so those edge cases carry less weight. A magus can use Spellstrike to deliver an empowered/maximized shocking grasp or other touch spell. While that will sometimes not be as good as double damage+constitution bleed, it's good enough that spending a feat to improve your options in that situation looks less attractive.

The same holds true when DR and AC are concerns. Magi have more ways to avoid DR (situational spell pool enhancements, spells, etc) and improve their full attack chances to hit (arcane accuracy, using spell pool for a brilliant energy weapon, etc) than fighters do. Also, since a single use spell combat spell like shocking grasp will stick around until you hit, they are not as limited to single attacks when trying to land one big hit. Making lots of attacks and knowing that whichever one hits will deliver the big damage also works.

The feat is less attractive for magi than fighters across the board. I don't see it adding enough to a magi's potential--not even a Kensai's.

Lantern Lodge

Deadly Stroke... hmmm.. I wonder if the damage from shocking grasp would be multiplied from that. If so, then it has -some- potential. I'll crunch some numbers on it, but since it requires a lot of feats it'd be used by the frostbite build (which shatter defenses is actually used for).

Silver Crusade

FrodoOf9Fingers wrote:
Deadly Stroke... hmmm.. I wonder if the damage from shocking grasp would be multiplied from that. If so, then it has -some- potential. I'll crunch some numbers on it, but since it requires a lot of feats it'd be used by the frostbite build (which shatter defenses is actually used for).

I hadn't considered that. If it could work then it would probably be worthwhile. Still I think the action economy might be too challenging for it to be effective. Since Deadly stroke is its own standard action, you would have to have shocking grasp pre-cast--you couldn't cast shocking grasp then deliver it with a deadly stroke in the same action. (You could cast a quickened shocking grasp but you would then give up the attack to deliver it with spellstrike and I don't know that it's worth a feat to trade shocking grasp+ attack + quickened shocking grasp+ attack for (Shocking grasp+attack) x2 +1 con bleed. The first level spell is pretty small potatoes by the time you can get deadly stroke and I'm not certain that the relevant situation would come up enough for the con bleed to be worth a feat.

Lantern Lodge

Cool, guide's been updated with a few random things, did the math on Deadly Stroke, and as we determined it'll only be beneficial in a few random circumstances. I put a way to Two-Weapon fight in the special tactics section, would anyone mind reading through it and double check that I didn't miss some rule somewhere?

Silver Crusade

Have you considered a 1 level dip in Wizard?

You can get:

Touch of Fatigue as a cantrip for the less cheesy spellcombat
Admixture School Power - Turn your shocking grasp into flaming/freezing/acid grasp 3+int mod times per day to get around those electric immune monsters
Familiar - +4 to initiative or some other bonus? Yes please
Or instead go Shadowcaster and get bonus spells equal to the highest Wizard spell you can cast. Guess what you have alot of?

Also you get access to the full wizard spell list for the use of scrolls and the like

The downside of course is you are 1 spell level behind which hurts but any multiclass will do that to you. You will also miss out on 1 BAB

Silver Crusade

Hey, checked out the guide, reading through it now. It looks pretty good, I appreciate the build section, as frostforcer wasn't something I'd thought of myself, and the idea seemed pretty sweet.

But I did want to add that for a better reach weapon, you could go with the Fauchard, an 18-20 reach weapon that also has trip, which is pretty nice. At least better than the Bardiche for reach weapons, although I myself advocated one handed reach weapons, as the visual is cool (and worth the -2 penalty for incorrectly sized weapons, which I allow to be removed for a custom trait)

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber
Velxir wrote:


Also you get access to the full wizard spell list for the use of scrolls and the like

You have to make a caster level check from a value of 1 for any wizard scroll that's higher than first level. Magi have UMD as a class skill for a REASON.


Hi guys, I've fallen in love with the magus class since the beginning of Pathfinder. I've wanted to create a kensai magus but I never found a build that corresponds to what I'm looking for in a magus.

Could any of you answer this :
What would make the kensai archetype better than, say, a hexcrafter or even vanilla magus? I feel that loosing spells per day ,spell recall and armor proficiency is a very hard trade for what you gain. Any thoughts on this?

Lantern Lodge

@Velxir Thanks for the ideas! One more thing to add though, you can't use spells from another class' spell list (and in this case, spell slots) without the broad study arcana. Sad day :(

@N. Jolly Thanks! I'll definitely add that in. By the way, since you've done a barbarian guide, is there any good benefits from being a barbarian level 2 that would be good for a magus? Can you cast spells while raging? (I'm pretty sure it's no, but if you off the top of your head that'd be great!)

Faskill wrote:

Could any of you answer this :

What would make the kensai archetype better than, say, a hexcrafter or even vanilla magus? I feel that loosing spells per day ,spell recall and armor proficiency is a very hard trade for what you gain. Any thoughts on this?

Well, first off, what are you looking for in a magus? Vanilla/Kensai/Hexcrafter Magi focus on different aspects of being a magus.

Vanilla Magi are.. well... Vanilla.
Hexcrafters have hexes, and can do a lot of neat stuff, but they lose spell combat and attacking every round that they do. They become closer to wizards and witches because of this.
Kensai, instead of going towards the magical side of the magus, lean more towards the physical side.

Here's the benefits of a Kensai:
When built right, Kensai will have great AC. He can still wear silken ceremonial armor without issue and enchant it, so the only difference between his AC and a traditional strength based magus is his intelligence +1 (+1 because of wearing silken ceremonial) versus the base armor of a regular Magi. Assuming dexterity is the same, light armors add up to 4 armor (So you'd need an intelligence of 16 to break even), medium up to 6 armor at level 7 (intelligence of 20 to break even), and up to 9 armor at level 13 (intelligence of 26 to break even).

Realistically though, as they get heavier armors, they lose their dexterity. You never do. You also benefit greatly from Mage armor (A wand lasts 1 hour per charge), and from the spell "shield". The hard part is the first few levels, since you can add only up to your level in AC from your intelligence bonus. Level 5+, your above and beyond what other Magi are at considerably when it comes to AC.

Hexcrafters lose spell recall too, and while it's a powerful ability, it's not the end of the world. A frostbite build will reduce the number of spells you cast each day, or pearls of power can give you the boost your looking for. Planning ahead becomes more important now too.

As for the strengths of the Kensai, well, they are arcane-ninja-fighters. Because of thier high AC, they won't get hit nearly as often as others. Later, they will have the best possible initiative in the game (with a high intelligence and dexterity, that is) making them perfect scouts (especially since they have spells!). Critical confirmation rolls become a joke, which also allows them to use tripping strike (or any other -blanking- strike feats) very effectively, and they get lots of AoO's.

To summarize, the strengths of a Kensai are:
High AC (Very high touch AC too)
Best Possible Initiative
Criticals (Earlier access to feats, insane confirmation rolls)
Attacks of Opportunity

Downsides:
No spell recall
Fewer spell slots (I don't have any issues with this after level 6).
A few less spell utilities

After all that, Kensai's are a great choice, if you want to focus a little more on being a fighter than a wizard. Probably my favorite thing is the flavor they bring with them :)

Dark Archive

FrodoOf9Fingers wrote:
After all that, Kensai's are a great choice, if you want to focus a little more on being a fighter than a wizard. Probably my favorite thing is the flavor they bring with them :)

This is why I chose Kensai. I love the flavor they bring. This is my first pathfinder character and I chose to be a tiefling with the maw or claw racial, choosing claws.

I'm having a blast creating the character and hope he is just as fun to play. I'm struggling quite a bit on feat selection though, especially at the earlier levels.

For my level 1 feat I chose improved initiative, not sure if that's a good choice or not, however since we had our first game night, I'm locked into that one -_-.

Build:
Bladebound Kensai Tiefling

Str 17 17
Dex 15 +2 17
Con 13 11
Int 16 +2 18
Wis 10 12
Chr 12 12

1. (Improved Initiative : Normal Feat), Spell Combat, Canny Defense (+1 int to AC/magus level), Bonus Feat: Exotic weapon proficiency Katana, Bonus Feat: Weapon Focus Katana

2. Spellstrike

3. Magus Arcana (Black Blade), (Power Attack: Normal Feat), Alertness (Blackblade), Telepathy (Blackblade), Unbreakable (Blackblade)

4. Perfect Strike (+1 Arcane pool)

5. (Normal Feat;? ), ?(Combat, Item Creation, Metamagic), Energy Attunement(Blackblade)

6. Magus Arcana (Wave of Mutilation)

7. (Weapon Spec: ), Fighter Training (Magus level - 3 = Fighter level), Iajitsu

8.

9. (?: Normal Feat), Magus Arcana(Charge of the magi), Teleport Blade (Blackblade)

10.

11.(Dimensional Agility: Normal Feat), Weapon Specialization(Combat, Item Creation, Metamagic), Superior Reflexes

12.Magus Arcana (?)

13.(Dimensional Assault: Normal Feat), Iajutsu Focus, Transfer Arcana (Blackblade)

14.

15.(Normal Feat:Dimensional Dervish), Magus Arcana(Bane Blade)

16.

17.(Normal Feat:Greater Weapon Spec), Bonus Feat(Combat, Item Creation, Metamagic), Spell Defense (Blackblade)

18.Magus Arcana ?

19.Normal Feat ?, Iajutsu Master, Lifedrinker (Blackblade)

20.Weapon Mastery

Feats under consideration:
Additional Traits, Intesify spell, armor of the pit, fiendish sight, improved natural attack, eldritch claws, extra arcana, extra arcane pool

I was going to take the line of feats for step up and strike, but after learning you can only do it once per round, decided against it. Now I'm not sure what to fill those slots with. I was considering getting Imp Natural Attack, since one of my characters traits is to not use his katana unless he deems something worthy of unsheathing it.

Anywho, if anyone has any critiques or suggestions I would love to hear them.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber
Faskill wrote:
What would make the kensai archetype better than, say, a hexcrafter or even vanilla magus? I feel that loosing spells per day ,spell recall and armor proficiency is a very hard trade for what you gain. Any thoughts on this?

Nothing. the archetypes involve trading something to get something. The kensai is about giving up some of the magic to be an unarmored fighter. The hexcrafter is mainly about being something different from the standard magus with more of a witch feel. Paizo has worked very hard to make the archetypes different approaches to get a different flavor experience, not "IWIN" buttons that make one trump all the others.

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