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Myrrh, Frankincense, and Steel: Kurald Galain's Guide to the Magus


Advice

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Yes, but Armored Battlemage is trash. You get stuff in return but it does not make up for the loss of spell combat.

Scarab Sages

Ouch. Yeah, that gives up too much.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Ferious Thune wrote:
Other than Skirnir, are there any archetypes that trade out spell combat?

Eldritch Scion doesn't trade it out but does limit it. There are some good bloodlines out there; with an earthbreaker I'd suggest Abyssal (which enlarges you as a swift action).

And yeah, Armored Battlemage is trash.


Kurald Galain wrote:
Backlash3906 wrote:
Will you be covering Words of Power or Firearms as options for the Magus?

Words of power? If I get convinced that they're commonly used in campaigns, then yes.

Firearms? Unless I'm missing a specific combo here, the Magus doesn't particularly benefit from those, seeing as they don't work with spell combat or spellstrike.

Firearms work if you are an eldritch archer.

Scarab Sages

Kurald Galain wrote:
Ferious Thune wrote:
Other than Skirnir, are there any archetypes that trade out spell combat?

Eldritch Scion doesn't trade it out but does limit it. There are some good bloodlines out there; with an earthbreaker I'd suggest Abyssal (which enlarges you as a swift action).

And yeah, Armored Battlemage is trash.

That might work. I'd dismissed it, because this is for a Vanara character with a CHA penalty. It makes the stat block look pretty ugly, but I've got a boon I could apply to boost something (likely strength) by an extra +2.

Would I be able to take a Bloodline Familiar? I wouldn't really need the claws. I had planned to go Beastblade if I can't find something else, potentially with a 2 level dip into Eldritch Guardian for a mauler familiar that shares my feats.

Extra Arcane Pool would add to the Eldritch Pool, correct? That would pretty much be a necessity with not being able to boost CHA up too high to start.

And when the Eldritch Pool gains the ability to act like an Arcane Pool, it's at full level? It doesn't get that ability until 4th, but at 5th I'd be able to add a +2 or equivalent?

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Ferious Thune wrote:
Would I be able to take a Bloodline Familiar?

Yes. Per the Familiar Folio, a character with a bloodline can replace his L1 bloodline power with a familiar.

Quote:
Extra Arcane Pool would add to the Eldritch Pool, correct?

Yes, the scion says that things that affect AP also work on EP. And yes, by level five you can put +2's worth of abilities on your weapon, same as the regular Magus.

(I've found that at L1, giving your weapon +1/+1 isn't that big a deal, especially once you have a masterwork weapon; it's nice but not great. Adding special weapon abilities by L5 is where it gets interesting for a Magus).

Scarab Sages

Thanks. One more question... The level 12 ability of the Abyssal bloodline increases the bonus to strength in a blood rage. Would that have any effect on an Eldritch Scion? Would I get +2 STR when I spend an Eldritch Pool point, or would I get nothing, since I don’t have a strength bonus to increase?

Scarab Sages

Ok, here's an attempt at a build. Man, that's an ugly stat line. This is for PFS. This does not include a potential +2 to any one stat from a boon.

Vanara Eldritch Scion 11:

Gabriel Peters
Vanara Eldritch Scion 11
Abyssal Bloodline
STR 16 DEX 10 CON 13 INT 10 WIS 9 CHA 15

1) Toughness, Bloodline Familiar ("Shock" the monkey - Mauler)
3) Power Attack, Arcana: Concentrate
4) Demonic Bulk
5) Mauler's Endurance, B) Weapon Focus (Earthbreaker)
6) Arcana: Disruptive
7) Extra Arcane Pool, Bonus Spell
8) Demon Resistances
9) Dimensional Agility. Arcana: Spellbreaker, Bonus Spell
11) Improved Critical (Earthbreaker), B) Weapon Specialization (Earthbreaker)

Traits: Two-World Magic (brand), Reactionary

The idea, since I'm not using Spell Combat anyway, would be to use Metamagic Rods for Intensify on Shocking Grasp. Swift action to retrieve the rod with my tail. There's some table variation around using a metamagic rod held by the tail, but since I don't need Spell Combat while doing so, I should be able to free action swap things around enough to make it work.

I could also go all-in on a Charisma build and dip a class for CHA to AC. Possibly Scaled Fist, so as not to lose BAB, but Oracle could work as well. The stat line looks even uglier.

Vanara Oracle 1/Eldritch Scion 10:

Gabriel Peters
Vanara Oracle 1/Eldritch Scion 10
Lunar Mystery, Tongues Curse - Abyssal
Abyssal Bloodline
STR 16 DEX 9 CON 13 INT 8 WIS 9 CHA 16

Oracle1 1) Noble Scion of War (+CHA to Init), Revelation: Prophetic Armor (+CHA to AC/REF)
M1 2) Bloodline Familiar ("Shock" the monkey - Mauler)
M2 3) Toughness
M3 4) Arcana: Concentrate
M4 5) Mauler's Endurance, Demonic Bulk
M5 6) B) Power Attack
M6 7) Extra Arcane Pool, Arcana: Disruptive
M7 8) Bonus Spell
M8 9) Extra Revelation: Eye of the Moon (Darkvision). Demon Resistances
M9 10) Arcana: Spellbreaker, Bonus Spell
M10 11) Improved Critical (Earthbreaker)

Traits: Two-World Magic (brand), Reactionary

EDIT: And just for the sake of completeness, the build I was looking at before I decided to try to fit Earthbreaker in.

Vanara Eldritch Guardian 2/Beastblade Magus 9:

Gabriel Peters
Vanara Beastblade Magus 9/Eldritch Guardian Fighter 2

STR 16 DEX 12 CON 14 INT 14 WIS 12 CHA 8

1 F1) Power Attack, Mauler Familiar (Monkey)
2 M1) Spell Combat
3 M2) Weapon Focus (Warhammer), Spellstrike
4 M3) Familiar Arcana (Monkey)
5 F2) Mauler's Endurance, Share Training, Steel Will
6 M4) Tandem Touch
7 M5) Outflank, B) Intensify Spell
8 M6) Arcana: Arcane Accuracy
9 M7) Paired Opportunist, Familiar Pool
10 M8)
11 M9) Improved Critical (Warhammer), Arcana: Hasted Assault

Traits: Two-World Magic (brand), Wayang Spellhunter (shocking grasp)

Technically, I could use an Earthbreaker in the last build, but I'd never be able to use Spell Combat with it.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Ferious Thune wrote:
Thanks. One more question... The level 12 ability of the Abyssal bloodline increases the bonus to strength in a blood rage. Would that have any effect on an Eldritch Scion?

No, as it increases a bonus that you don't actually have.

Quote:
Ok, here's an attempt at a build. Man, that's an ugly stat line.

Hm, how about 17/10/14/7/10/14? Spend your FCB on skill points, boost str at level 4. This means you can trade out toughness for something else.

I'm not a fan of concentrate and weapon focus, both of which are fairly weak. As an alternative, I'd say Lunge is really good on this build, and you probably want Step Up because of its synergy with disruptive and spellbreaker. And, of course, arcane accuracy or flamboyant arcana never hurts as an offensive or defensive boost.

I like the charisma/oracle version, although I'd prefer doing that in a non-PFS game so it can go with Desna's Shooting Star.

HTH!

Scarab Sages

Yeah, I guess that stat block could work. It'll end up with the same 2 skill points per level.

I'm taking Toughness as much because I have the Mauler Familiar as anything else. Even with that, I'll be averaging 8 HPs/level if FCB goes to skills until I can afford a +2 ion stone. Which means around level 6, I'll have 51 HPs with Toughness. The Familiar will have 37 with Mauler's Endurance. Without Toughness that drops to 34. Not a huge difference, but big enough. I'd almost rather just go 1 skill point per level and bump hit points to 9/level, which would give me 57 and the Familiar 40.

I don't think Concentrate is a very good use of an Arcana either, but I was focusing on things that don't use Arcane Pool Points. Close Arcana didn't seem necessary since I'm taking brand through a trait. I considered Flamboyant Arcana, and I might go that route. I'll only have 1 AoO/round, though, and it requires spending an arcane pool point. Arcane Accuracy is a good fallback to have, I suppose. If I understand the Eldritch Pool correctly, I need to spend a point every other round to stay enlarged. Plus spending a point to enhance my weapon as normal. So even a 3 round fight is going to cost me 2 or 3 AP points. At 6th, I'll only have 5 or 6 total. In fact, I'm wondering if I should push Power Attack to the 5th level bonus feat and take Extra Arcane Pool a second time at 3rd.

I don't know about Stand Still on this build. Since from 4th level on, I'll be large more often than not in combat. Stand Still only works for an adjacent opponent, and Disruptive works off threatened area. A 5 foot step isn't going to get a caster out of my threatened area. Also, on a crowded battlefield, there may not be room for me to 5-foot and follow. Maybe Phalanx Formation is the right call at 5th. It's not exciting, but neither is Weapon Focus. Especially if I'm taking Lunge at 9 instead of Dimensional Agility (maybe pushing that to 11, when I have enough spell slots to effectively use it). Or I could work the Extra Arcane Pool in again.

I think the Oracle version is probably too much to try to make work for PFS. I'd really want a higher starting CHA going that route, and I don't think I can make that happen. Plus the hit to BAB hurts.

One more bloodline question... what happens if I take a level of Bloodrager sometime before 12th? I know I'd have to choose Abyssal bloodline. Do the levels stack for bloodline powers? I'm guessing no. But would I get the benefit of the 12th level bonus while raging? If so, I could take Bloodrager at 11th, take Extra Rage, and at 12th (Magus 11th) use my bonus feat for Mad Magic. If they stack, I'd get the extra bonus then. If not, then at 13th. That's end of career stuff for PFS, but an interesting question. If they do stack, it might even be worth taking at 1st.

EDIT: It looks like the answer to part of my question is that no, the levels do not stack for determining Bloodline powers. I'm still curious what happens if an Eldritch Scion 12/Bloodrager 1 with Abyssal Bloodrage enter a Bloodrage. I've asked that question over on the rules forum, though. Thanks again for the advice!


I was wondering if I could get an 'equipment list' for a medium-sized Dex Magus build at start of play in PFS (150 GP, encumberance rules are in use, etc)... with Str 8.

I've been able to get very close, but I can't QUITE fit in enough to allow Str 8 on such a character. Perhaps seeing what exactly characters carry at start of play would help!

(Also, what this character's gear looks like after a few adventures is fine too)


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Honestly I wouldn't dump str to 8 for a Magus. Your starting levels will always be encumbered. Armor + weapon + spellbook + spell components, I think will put you over, assuming no other gear. Once you can afford mythril for your armor you'll have a bit of leeway (and/or the shoulder slot wasting muleback cords)... Your very first adventure might be ok but as soon as you upgrade to the chain shirt you'll be hurting. Eyeballing it, I'd think about a 12 is as low as you want to go as any armored melee combatant just for the normal gear you're carrying, if you want to stay light.

I've been going with strength build in the 16s and I feel weight limits... then again I have one backup melee weapon and a bow for range, so that's three weapons, armor, plus a good assortment of adventuring supplies, sitting right at 75 lbs (so one shy of a light load limit).


I've been able to make it work on Str 10 (barely) and Str 11 (comfortably), but several others insist they've made it work with Str 8 so I want to hear them out on this; my own math is either missing something, or my characters are carrying junk they don't need but I think they do, or I've found something others are overlooking.

Would love to figure out which of these it is, because I admit being able to rearrange a few more points on stats I like more would be fun.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

They aren't carrying anything necessary for exploration, sleeping on the ground, not cooking their food, etc.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

NielsenE wrote:
Honestly I wouldn't dump str to 8 for a Magus. Your starting levels will always be encumbered. Armor + weapon + spellbook + spell components, I think will put you over, assuming no other gear.

Ok, let's run some numbers on that.

It's very easy if you're a small Magus, because most of your equipment will only weigh half as much. Scimitar (2), chain shirt (12.5), spellbook (3), components (2), masterwork backpack (1) adds up to 20.5. This means that with a strength as low as six, you'd have 2.5 pounds left for other gear.

For a medium Magus, you start with lamellar cuirass. This is only +2 to AC, but with your high dexterity you'll still have a better armor class than a strength Magus. Scimitar (4), cuirass (8), spellbook (3), components (2) adds up to 17 pounds. Again, with a strength as low as six you'd have 3 pounds left for other gear.

What if you need lots more gear? City campaigns are pretty common at low level, and in that case you simply leave your stuff at the inn, no problem. If you do need to travel, you can (A) have your stronger teammates carry your gear; (B) bring a pack mule; (C) put it in a bag that you'll drop as a free action as soon as combat starts; or even (D) accept a lower movement rate for the first level, and carry scrolls of Expeditious Retreat for when you really need them.

So since a strength of six is feasible, I have no problem recommending a strength of eight. It pays off pretty quickly, as with standard WBL you can afford a minor bag of holding or a mithral chain shirt by level two.


or a wand of anthaul for free using 2PP during level 1.


A Kensai Magus adds INT to his AC, which should also add to his CMD. So a DEX based Kensai should still have a decent/better CMD than a regular STR-Based Magus.

Concerning the Myrmidarch, I think you are undervaluing the benefit of Advanced Weapon Training, specifically Warrior Spirit, which alone is more than worth the 3 Magus Arcana. It's effectively the equivalent of Bane Blade, Ghost Blade, Devoted Blade, Planar Hunter, etc all at once.

Plus, combined with your Arcane Pool, you can effectively take any weapon and boost it up to +10, with literally any weapon special ability you wish. That's an impressive amount of versatility. Speaking of Versatility, the Myrmidarch can also pull of fighter tricks like abusing the "Training" weapon enchant, or grabbing Abundant Tactics and Barroom Brawler for a pseudo-Martial Flexibility.

Then there's the original benefits of Weapon Training. Considering the fact that the Magus doesn't actually have very many buff spells in their inventory, a constant +3-+5 (w/ Gloves of Dueling) bonus to attack and damage is a pretty good thing to have.

If VMC Fighter is allowed, you get a better Weapon Training bonus than the actual Fighter, and can use that to grab Fighter's Reflexes and Armed Bravery, furhter patching up your reflex save while also boosting your Will save (perfect for Magi who don't invest much in WIS).

With that out of the way, I also think you're overvaluing Eldritch Scion. Spending one of your paltry few pool points just to get 2 rounds of use out of your bloodline ability is, quite frankly, a terrible trade.

Most of what the archetype gives you is a terrible trade, actually. And Mystic Focus doesn't even count as rage/bloodrage, so you can't even benefit from all of the Rage support. I certainly wouldn't rate this higher than Myrmidarch, IMHO.


Kaouse wrote:
A Kensai Magus adds INT to his AC, which should also add to his CMD.

Why should it? Ah. Got it. Counts as Dodge.

Edit: Oops. Ninja'd.


Perfect Tommy wrote:
Kaouse wrote:
A Kensai Magus adds INT to his AC, which should also add to his CMD.
Why should it?

Canny Defense, the ability that allows kensai to add their Int bonus to AC, is counted as a dodge bonus as noted in the ability description in the duelist PRC. Dodge bonuses to AC add to CMD, as per the CMD rules.


Thank you for posting that math, it comes very close to satisfying my concerns! There's just one last thing... magic items.
Typically speaking, how many magical items will a Magus be wearing from levels 1-8ish? For this purpose, I mean items other than the handy haversack, scimitar, and armor.

I'd think they'd have their +Stat items (So 2 more pounds), a wayfinder perhaps (1 more pound, I think a Shining Wayfinder is a REALLY good idea), +1 resistance cloak (1 more pound)... that's 4. Anything else a Dex Magus really ought to have?

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Kaouse wrote:
Concerning the Myrmidarch, I think you are undervaluing the benefit of Advanced Weapon Training, specifically Warrior Spirit, which alone is more than worth the 3 Magus Arcana.

Warrior Spirit is good, but out of the four arcana you mention, I'd really only take one (Devoted or Bane). So WS is worth one arcana, not three. And unlike the arcana, it's a standard action, which is a major downside.

Quote:
Plus, combined with your Arcane Pool, you can effectively take any weapon and boost it up to +10,

+8, since myrm weapon training only goes up to 3. The Abundant + Barroom combo is interesting for many classes, but the Magus has a spell for that (Tactical Adaptation) so he has no need to spend feats or arcana on it.

Quote:
Considering the fact that the Magus doesn't actually have very many buff spells in their inventory,

Wait, that's not right. Among others, you've got Blade Tutor's Spirit, Greater Magic Weapon, and almost every polymorph spell in the books; you can even use Spell Blending to take Heroism.

Quote:
If VMC Fighter is allowed,

If VMC Fighter is allowed, then the myrm is redundant. VMC gives you the same options for cheaper. The myrm is basically an archetype that looks really good at first glance, but upon scrutiny is much worse than it seems.

Quote:
I also think you're overvaluing Eldritch Scion. Spending one of your paltry few pool points just to get 2 rounds of use out of your bloodline ability is, quite frankly, a terrible trade.

The math on this is pretty straightforward: around level four you can have this ability running during every combat of the day. Casting two or three buff spells on yourself as a single swift action is a very good deal; action economy wins combats. This is precisely why enchanting your weapon as a swift action is much better than doing so as a standard action.

Perfect Tommy wrote:
Why should it? Ah. Got it. Counts as Dodge.

Generally speaking almost all bonuses to AC also count towards CMD, except armor/shield/natural bonuses.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

RickDias wrote:
Thank you for posting that math, it comes very close to satisfying my concerns! There's just one last thing... magic items.

Good question. The nice answer is that quite a number of magical items don't weigh anything.

Of course the cloak, belt, and headband are useful things for a pound each. Other than these, your first priority should be enchanting your weapon and armor, which doesn't add to your weight. Your second priority, as an arcane caster, is a set of good wands and scrolls, and pearls of power. All of these have negligible weight.

Pretty much all rings, amulets, gloves, eye lenses, spellbook rituals, and ioun stones are effectively weightless; so you are free to splurge on those.

So how does this add up? Scimitar (4), mithral chain shirt (12.5), components (2), minor bag of holding (3); belt, headband, cloak (3 total); two rings, amulet, spellbook ritual, eyes, ioun stone (0); wayfinder (1); that's 25.5 pounds. That's decked out with magical items, and it fits precisely in the 26 pounds of carrying capacity you'd get for strength 8.

Ta dah! :)


Two things come to mind, one good and one bad. Good: Isn't it slightly better than that? Chain shirts are 25. When you halve a value in Pathfinder, don't you round down? Wouldn't that make it 25 / 2 = 12.5, then round down = 12.0?

Bad: Are your numbers leaving out Clothes? Pathfinder, stupidly enough, did away with the rule about clothes not counting for encumberance. Typical outfit would be 4-6 pounds, won't this put you a few pounds over?

And doesn't this omit a backup weapon?

Everything else checks out, but those two points made me go 'huh?'

Grand Lodge

I've found most GMs ignore the clothes weight. Otherwise you just end up with naked PCs other than their cloak of resistance.

Worst case scenario, pick up a hat of disguise. Voila, you now look like you're wearing clothes.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

RickDias wrote:
Chain shirts are 25. When you halve a value in Pathfinder, don't you round down? Wouldn't that make it 25 / 2 = 12.5, then round down = 12.0?

Possibly. I don't see this in the rules either way, so ask your GM.

Quote:
Pathfinder, stupidly enough, did away with the rule about clothes not counting for encumberance. Typical outfit would be 4-6 pounds, won't this put you a few pounds over?

Arguably a set of armor includes all the necessary underclothing as well. But if your GM insists, add a monk outfit (2 lbs) and put the wayfinder inside the bag of holding, and you're exactly at 26.

Quote:
And doesn't this omit a backup weapon?

You can put that in your bag of holding.

But anyway, if you need something specific that makes you go slightly over, you could replace the chain shirt by studded leather to save a few pounds, or grab yourself a wand of Mage Armor. You have some leeway to tweak your equipment, after all.


Just to check your math on one other thing, what about the Spellbook? does that go in the Bag of Holding too, or are those 3 pounds supposed to be on your person? (I'd worry about someone sundering your bag, and causing your spellbook to be lost)

Scarab Sages

A small magus with an 8 STR only has a 19.5 pound carrying capacity, so even with half weight on equipment, he would be encumbered.

Carrying Capacity wrote:
Bigger and Smaller Creatures: The figures on Table: Carrying Capacity are for Medium bipedal creatures. A larger bipedal creature can carry more weight depending on its size category, as follows: Large ×2, Huge ×4, Gargantuan ×8, Colossal ×16. A smaller creature can carry less weight depending on its size category, as follows: Small ×3/4, Tiny ×1/2, Diminutive ×1/4, Fine ×1/8.

EDIT: Encumbered at level 1, that is. Eventually affording mithral armor might get things down low enough.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Ferious Thune wrote:
A small magus with an 8 STR only has a 19.5 pound carrying capacity,

Check out the masterwork backpack I listed above, it helps.


Kurald Galain wrote:

{. . .}

If VMC Fighter is allowed, then the myrm is redundant. VMC gives you the same options for cheaper. The myrm is basically an archetype that looks really good at first glance, but upon scrutiny is much worse than it seems.
{. . .}

Well, as I mentioned quite a while ago, it depends upon how far up the campaign is going in levels. VMC Fighter doesn't get its first rank Weapon Training until level 11 (when Myrmidarch has had it for 5 levels and is one level short of getting its second rank), and eats the general feat at level 11 (Magus gives you a bonus feat there, but still . . .), meaning that if your campaign is going to wind up shortly thereafter (PFS or Council of Thieves), you don't get much out of it (and you also won't get much use out of the Bravery that eats your 3rd level general feat in most campaigns). On the other hand, if you are going to level 20, then Magus VMC Fighter becomes a LOT better.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

UnArcaneElection wrote:
Well, as I mentioned quite a while ago, it depends upon how far up the campaign is going in levels.

Sure, and the answer is still that it's not about the +1 to hit (because you could have gotten that from a feat, and it's a rather weak feat). Rather, it's about the advanced weapon options, and Myrm does not get those five levels earlier. Both options require a high enough level that they may well not do anything in the average campaign, and have drawbacks starting much earlier than that.


^And it's still true that being able to use the Advanced Weapon Training options starting at level 9 instead of 11 makes a huge difference when the campaign quits at 12. (And not spending 2 feats on the VMC by that time is also a pretty big deal.)

Kurald Galain wrote:

{. . .}

The Abundant + Barroom combo is interesting for many classes, but the Magus has a spell for that (Tactical Adaptation) so he has no need to spend feats or arcana on it.

That's a pretty good spell. I should go back over my Magus builds and see how many feats I can save with it.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

UnArcaneElection wrote:
^And it's still true that being able to use the Advanced Weapon Training options starting at level 9 instead of 11 makes a huge difference when the campaign quits at 12. (And not spending 2 feats on the VMC by that time is also a pretty big deal.)

Yes, you do get it two levels earlier. And instead of two feats, you're paying (1) spell recall, (2) an arcana slot and a second at L12, (3) knowledge pool, (4) improved spell combat, and (5) a spell slot of each level, starting right from level one. You should really drop the idea that myrm is somehow cheaper, it's clearly nothing of the sort.

But yes, IF you have a campaign that ends exactly at level nine or ten, AND you're willing to eat a big penalty from level one, AND you're not playing PFS (because it prohibits all good AWT options) THEN you can take Warrior Spirit by level nine. Which is certainly a nice ability, but at quite a large cost. Focused Weapon would be a nice choice, but isn't really worth it until level 15.


^I should have expected PFS to ban most of the good stuff . . . of course, last time I checked, they also ban VMC Fighter (or VMC anything), leaving Myrmidarch the only game in town if you want Weapon Training on a Magus (Mmmmm . . Ace Trip -- which IS PFS-legal according to Archives of Nethys).


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

@Kurald Galain:
Not sure if you missed my explanation a while back, but your guide still has the incorrect assumption that things other than damage or drain are multiplied on a crit (Ray of Enfeeblement, Enervation, etc.).

Per RAW, only damage (HP or ability) and (ability) drain are multiplied on a critical hit, not inflicted direct penalties nor negative levels.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

UnArcaneElection wrote:

^I should have expected PFS to ban most of the good stuff . . . of course, last time I checked, they also ban VMC Fighter (or VMC anything), leaving Myrmidarch the only game in town if you want Weapon Training on a Magus (Mmmmm . . Ace Trip -- which IS PFS-legal according to Archives of Nethys).

My favorite option here would be Smash From The Air, but that requires level 14.

PFS does ban variant multicalssing, but the Martial Focus feat is still allowed. So by level 8 you could conceivably have (1) Deadly Aim, (3) Ranged Trip, (5) Martial Focus plus bonus feat, (8) Ace Trip. This combination is arguably best on a Card Caster, who can attach any non-ranged touch spell to his thrown weapons (myrm and eld.archer can only do this with ranged touch spells unless they spend an arcana on it). The thrown chakram's range should usually be sufficient.


Just because you only like 1/5 of the weapon-boosting Arcana doesn't mean that Warrior Spirit doesn't give you the same options as all 5 weapon-boosting Arcana. And it's far superior to Devoted Blade, since it doesn't have an alignment restriction.

Yes, the standard action activation kinda sucks, but even then I'd say it's worth at least 2.5 (i.e. 5/2) arcana on it's own. And more than even that, since you can add weapon abilities not found on those arcana for even more versatility. I personally like the Sharding weapon property for a switch hitting Magus who doesn't need to switch hit.

Myrmidarch Weapon Training only goes up to +3, but you are a legal candidate to take Gloves of Dueling, so your bonus actually goes up to +5. This also ties into my point concerning saves. Fighter's Reflexes mean you get a +3-+5 bonus to your weakest save. With VMC, not only do those bonuses increase by two, but you can also get Armed Bravery, granting you a similar bonus to your Will saves (and not many Magi I know specifically boost those).

As for the prevalence of Magus buffing spells, I'd like to point out that Blade Tutor' Spirit doesn't increase your attack rolls, it just reduces penalties to them.

Arcane Pool specifically stacks with weapon enhancement, but Greater Magic Weapon specifically doesn't so unless you are ONLY adding weapon special abilities via arcane pool (chosen from a rather barren list at that), Greater Magic Weapon isn't much help to you. I find it better to use Arcane Pool for the +5 enhancement, then use Warrior Spirit for the weapon abilities.

Greater Magic Weapon also can't be used with Polymorph spells, since they require a manufactured weapon, and the Magus lacks Greater Magic Fang, the natural weapon variant. That said, I must admit that I've generally overlooked them in the past for a misguided belief that they wouldn't work with Spell Combat.

As for using Spell Blending to grab stuff like Heroism, doesn't that just directly prove my point that there are notoriously few spells that give direct bonuses to attack and damage in the Magus spell list, forcing you to poach from the much better outfitted sorcerer/wizard list?

Hence, gaining a +3-+5 bonus (+7 w/ VMC) to both attack and damage that stack with almost everything should be worth something on a 3/4 BAB class that eats an inherent -2 penalty whenever it wishes to use it's class-defining feature.

Which brings me to my final point concerning Eldritch Scion. You need attack and damage bonuses to actually hit things, especially when you want to use Spell Combat. Spending your swift action on gaining "mystic focus" precludes your ability to enhance your weapon, making you weaker at actually hitting things.

What's worse is that you HAVE to spend pool points entering mystic focus everytime you want to use Spell Combat until you reach level 8. Considering the fact that Spell Combat already spends a resource (the spell you cast), you are literally being double-taxed in terms of resource expenditure, just to use your class-defining ability!

Heaven forfend that you want to use Spell Combat more than once or twice in a fight, since it's very likely that you'll need to spend a second pool point to enter Mystic Focus again, since average combat lasts 4 rounds, but mystic focus only lasts 2.

And none of this talks about the things you lose in going from a Int-based prepared spellcaster to a CHA-based spontaneous spellcaster. Most people agree that the wizard is stronger than the sorcerer for a reason, you know.

Scarab Sages

Kurald Galain wrote:
NielsenE wrote:
Honestly I wouldn't dump str to 8 for a Magus. Your starting levels will always be encumbered. Armor + weapon + spellbook + spell components, I think will put you over, assuming no other gear.

Ok, let's run some numbers on that.

It's very easy if you're a small Magus, because most of your equipment will only weigh half as much. Scimitar (2), chain shirt (12.5), spellbook (3), components (2), masterwork backpack (1) adds up to 20.5. This means that with a strength as low as six, you'd have 2.5 pounds left for other gear.

Here’s what you had for starting gear for a small magus. A small magus with STR 6 and a Mwk Backpack has a carrying capacity of 17.25, not 23, and would be encumbered with this equipment.

Breakdown:
A small Mwk Backpack weighs 2 pounds, not 1. The base Mwk Backpack weighs 4 pounds. It also costs 50 gold, so you can either afford the chain shirt or the Mwk Backpack, but not both (assuming you buy a scimitar). At least for the very first session.

A small magus with an 8 STR and a Mwk Backpack would have a carrying capacity of 22.5, and 21.5 in equipment, so would have a little room to spare. But clothes adds 1 pound if they aren’t handwaved. If clothes are handwaved, a dagger adds .5, and an Alchemist’s Fire or Acid flask adds .5, and you’re at capacity. Sling bullets add 2.5 and are right out of the question. You’re essentially making choices about being prepared or being unencumbered.

For a medium character, the above quipment weighs 38 pounds, and carrying capacity with 8 STR and a Mwk Backpack is only 30 pounds (34 with clothes, a dagger, and an alchemical Weapon). Even if you go with the minimum chain shirt (25) scimitar (4) and spell component pouch (4) you’re encumbered with a carrying capacity of 26 pounds (Mwk Backpack breakable even at 8 STR medium character when you aren’t already wearing a Backpack). So you’d end up having to wear lighter armor until you can afford a mithral chain shirt. After that, you’ll probably be ok. Hide is the closest to a chain shirt at +3, but weighs only 18 pounds. It’s also only 20 gold, so you can afford it with a weapon and other items at 1st level. I’d just stick with that until you’ve got the 1,100 gold together for a mithral chain shirt.

Mainly I wanted to point out that the carrying capacity is lower for small characters, because that part wasn’t in your post. An 8 STR can work, but you have to be very careful with it, and you will occasionally have to leave off an important item (like a ranged weapon - in PFS spend prestige on a wand of magic missile). A 6 STR just isn’t going to be practical. A Kensai might be able to pull it off, since they are unarmored.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Does PFS require that you carry trail rations, torches, a bedroll, rope, and various other sundry items? These aren't in any of the calculations that I can see. Obviously home games can hand-wave some of this (you drop your pack during combat as a free action, for example).

As noted above, if you're staying in an inn and day-venturing, many of these things can be left behind, but if you're on the trail, you're carrying everything you need for days at a time.

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Ferious Thune wrote:
An 8 STR can work, but you have to be very careful with it

Well, I had missed that small characters have lower carrying capacity. And yes, you do have to be careful with it; like many things in the game, this is a tradeoff. At least you've got spells to cover for your weaknesses. Like you said, use a wand of Magic Missile instead of a sling; you can likewise use a scroll of Burning Hands (at CL2) instead of alchemist fire. Instead of a torch, cast the Light cantrip. And items like food or bedrolls you can often leave at an inn or with a teammate.

The point is that it can be done; bear in mind that this is a response to an earlier claim that str 12 would be the bare minimum for a character. I don't claim that no dex Magus should ever have a strength of 12, but I do want to make clear that it's certainly possible for a dex Magus to have a strength well below that. I should probably add a section in the handbook on that, the question comes up quite often recently.

taks wrote:
Does PFS require that you carry trail rations, torches, a bedroll, rope, and various other sundry items?

PFS allows you to bring a pack mule, and many low-level adventures are city-based so you can leave things at an inn, or caravan-based so you leave things in the wagon. Instead of a torch, cast Light. Instead of a rope, bring a scroll of Monkey Fish. It's good to be a caster :)

Kaouse wrote:
Just because you only like 1/5 of the weapon-boosting Arcana doesn't mean that Warrior Spirit doesn't give you the same options as all 5 weapon-boosting Arcana.

Ok, you should realize that there are good arcana and bad arcana. Furthermore, certain arcana overlap: e.g. Arcane Accuracy and Prescient Attack serve the same purpose and you can't use them at the same time, so it's pointless to take both. So claiming that an ability "gives you five arcana" is completely meaningless; you need to consider if these are useful arcana or not, and if they overlap or not. Turns out that in the case of WS, most of those arcana overlap, and a few of them are just bad in the first place.

That said, Warrior Spirit is still a nice ability. It's just that by taking it you pay (1) spell recall, (2) an arcana slot and a second at L12, (3) knowledge pool, (4) improved spell combat, and (5) a spell slot of each level, starting right from level one. That's quite a large cost, and you have to be willing to eat a big penalty from level one to get an ability at level nine. Overall you're clearly paying more than what you get, which is why it's ranked yellow.


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Gotcha. I don't play PFS, so I prefer to ask first, assume later. :)


Kurald Galain wrote:
Ok, you should realize that there are good arcana and bad arcana. Furthermore, certain arcana overlap: e.g. Arcane Accuracy and Prescient Attack serve the same purpose and you can't use them at the same time, so it's pointless to take both.

This makes zero sense. These Arcana reduce AC in opposite ways. One allows you to ignore all armor and shield type bonuses and the other allows you ignore all dex and dodge type bonuses. The former allows for most big AC creatures to be hit, the latter gives a smaller reduction to most monsters' AC but allows for actions that only occur vs targets without their dex bonus.


I admit that the cost for Myrmidarch is high, but to be fair, Eldritch Scion shares much of that same cost. Eldritch Scion also gives up Spell Recall & Knowledge Pool. And while you might come away with more spells per day, you end up with less spells known, since prepared casters can always add to their spellbooks but spontaneous casters cannot. Then there's the issue of not having particularly many skills, since you're no longer INT based.

But really though, I'm just pretty hung up on the ludicrous 2 round limit for Mystic Focus. I love me some bloodrager bloodlines, but having to spend a swift action and a pool point just for 2 rounds of bloodline power is an affront to my basic sensibilities, and I can't even imagine having to do so before I can even use Spell Combat for the first 8 levels.

If a basic combat lasts for 4 rounds, that's 2 spell points I'd have to spend if I wanted access to the bloodline for the entire fight, or to Spell Combat for the first 8 levels. Then, if I want to use my Arcane Pool to enhance my weapon, that's another spell point I'd have to spend, on a round where I'm not using Mystic Focus.

That's 3 spell points spent per battle. Average of 4 battles a day means I spend 12 pool points. And this precludes the use of stuff like Arcane Accuracy or other Magus Arcana, since almost all of them activate as a swift action and require further resource expenditure.

I'd say that this archetype gets better at 8th+, where you no longer need to spend a point to use Spell Combat, but certainly not before IMHO. If it was something more reasonable like rounds = to CHA-mod or something, I would have a lot fewer issues with it. As it stands now, it just adds to the Magus's issues of swift action bloat and nova-ing through resources too fast.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think Myrmidarch is a particularly great archetype, comparable to Bladebound/Kensai/Hexcrafter, but I just think that it's better than Eldritch Scion, which I feel is rated a bit too highly.

I just think Myrmidarch's constant Weapon Training bonus that doesn't cost you anything from your main resources (spells/pool points) and doesn't cost you anything from action economy (swift actions), should be rated higher than Eldritch Scion, which taxes you heavily in both areas.

Scarab Sages

I keep changing my mind on this Vanara Earthbreaker Magus build... I'm not sure I can bring myself to make him an Eldritch Scion. The penalty to CHA on top of everything else that's suboptimal about the character feels like more than I'm willing to do.

What about Mindblade? The only thing I think I don't understand about how the class works is this line, "When a psychic weapon vanishes, the mindblade regains the psychic energy used to create it. She can maintain only one weapon at a time." Does that mean I recover the Psychic Pool points when my weapon is dismissed?

So, say I summon an Earthbreaker for the hefty cost of 3 psychic pool points. First, there's no duration on it, so I could just summon it after the mission briefing, and carry it around. Correct? But if I do dismiss it, then I get the 3 psychic pool points back, and I can just summon it again later with the same 3 points?

Do all of the Arcana work with psychic pool points?

I'd be looking at something like this:

Mindblade Build:
Gabriel Peters
Vanara Mindblade 13

STR 18 (+1 4th) DEX 13 (+2 Race) CON 14 INT 16 (+1 8th, +1 12th) WIS 12 (+2 Race) CHA 5 (-2 Race)

1) Toughness
3) Power Attack, Arcana: Familiar ("Shock" the monkey - Mauler)
4) Psychic Spells
5) Mauler's Endurance, B) Step Up
6) Arcana: Disruptive
7) Extra Arcana: Arcane Accuracy, Psychic Spells, Dual Weapon
8) Rapid Manifest
9) Dimensional Agility. Arcana: Spellbreaker, Bonus Spell
11) Improved Critical (Earthbreaker), B) Following Step
12) Arcana: Hasted Assault
13) Open Feat, Dual Manifest

Traits: Accelerated Drinker, Focused Mind

So if I get in a situation where I really need to use Spell Combat, I can switch to a Warhammer by spending a standard action (not great action economy to start, edit: at 8th I could do this as a swift). I won't really have much to do with my swift actions until 7th level when I get Arcane Accuracy. I wish I could take Arcane Strike, but I don't think that works, since I'd be a psychic caster. So mainly the swift action would be to take things out with my tail. Accelerated Drinker lets me drink a potion as a move action provided it's in hand at the start of my turn, so I could take a potion out with a swift action (say, enlarge person), then drink it at the start of the next turn with a move, cast shocking grasp and attack with my standard, and swift action take out another potion (shield of faith, maybe) to repeat the next round if needed.

I wouldn't get Spell Combat with my Earthbreaker until 13th level, beyond the normal scope of PFS, but at least I would get it, eventually.


Kaouse wrote:

I admit that the cost for Myrmidarch is high, but to be fair, Eldritch Scion shares much of that same cost. Eldritch Scion also gives up Spell Recall & Knowledge Pool.

{. . .}

To be fair, leaving Spell Recall and/or Improved Spell Recall on a spontaneous caster is mostly redundant, the exception being when you have run out of spell slots of one level.

Ferious Thune wrote:

{. . .}

What about Mindblade? The only thing I think I don't understand about how the class works is this line, "When a psychic weapon vanishes, the mindblade regains the psychic energy used to create it. She can maintain only one weapon at a time." Does that mean [/b]I recover the Psychic Pool points when my weapon is dismissed[/b]?
{. . .}

That's what it sounds like to me.

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Kaouse wrote:
But really though, I'm just pretty hung up on the ludicrous 2 round limit for Mystic Focus. I love me some bloodrager bloodlines, but having to spend a swift action and a pool point just for 2 rounds of bloodline power is an affront to my basic sensibilities, and I can't even imagine having to do so before I can even use Spell Combat for the first 8 levels.

That's a good point, let's see what we can do with that. In my experience if you get more than three combats per day, there'll be some short ones. So the average amount of combat rounds per day is probably less than sixteen (based on modules and adventure paths; clearly this depends on your GM).

First off, enchanting your weapon with arcane pool is really not so great until you hit level 5 (as it doesn't stack with a masterwork weapon). Second, you should probably invest one feat in extra arcane pool. Then at level 4 you'd have six or seven points, which should be sufficient for 12-14 rounds of combat per day. At lower levels than that, well, there are plenty of classes that can't use their main ability all the time yet, either.

But what do you get in exchange? Well, you basically get a quickened spell without the level increase (and without requiring a spell slot). At higher levels, you get two quickened spells at the same time. Abyssal gives quickened enlarge, and a claw/claw/bite routine at low level (using a trait or race for the bite). Destined gives Protection from Evil (with fate's favored), and a free reroll every two rounds (!) by level 8. Aberrant gives a nasty debuff on a crit, and quickened long arm. Arcane gives a wide choice of buffs. You've got a pretty big action economy advantage right there; there's a reason why quicken is normally +4.

You are limited in your arcana choice; thankfully there are numerous good arcana that don't require pool points (e.g. Familiar; Wand Wielder; Empower). Note that the Spell Blending arcana directly adds to your spells known, making it a very good choice for any spontaneous Magus; and you can get more spells with Pages of Spell Knowledge.

And yeah, the scion is pretty bad at skills; no argument there.

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Ferious Thune wrote:
Does that mean I recover the Psychic Pool points when my weapon is dismissed?

Yes, it works the way you describe, and all arcana work with psychic pool points. There are two downsides. First, creating your weapon is a standard action until level 8 (so if you create a e.g. flaming weapon before combat and it turns out you need a frost weapon, tough luck). Second, you can't carry a pre-enchanted weapon. At level 9, a regular Magus would carry a +3 weapon and pool-enchant it to +6; whereas the mindblade is limited to a +4 weapon.

Using a tail for potions is pretty good. I'd recommend brass knuckles or something for in case you need to really use spell combat. And as you say, you can't use arcane strike. Note that dim.agility requires level 10, and that the Spell Blending arcana is very good for spontaneous casters.

Scarab Sages

Yeah, I was planning on wearing a cestus and carrying some kind of backup weapon (probably a warhammer or a cold iron slashing/piercing weapon).

I missed that Spell Blending adds the spell as a known spell. I was thinking it only gave access to the spell, and Mindblade already gets access to lots of Psychic spells.

I also missed (several times) that Magus/Bard doesn’t get 4th level spells until 10th. So Dimensional Agility would probably move to 13th level or replace Following Step st 11th.

I’m going to revisit one more build... Skirnir with a buckler. But right now, I think Mindblade is looking like the best option.

Scarab Sages

Skirnir Build:
Gabriel Peters
Vanara Skirnir 12
STR 18 (+1 4th) DEX 10 (+2 Race) CON 14 INT 18 (+1 8th, +1 12th) WIS 10 (+2 Race) CHA 5 (-2 Race)

1) Toughness, Spellstrike
3) Power Attack, Arcana: Arcane Accuracy
4) Shield Pool
5) Unhindering Shield, B) Shield Focus
6) Arcana: Disruptive
7) Step Up
8) Shielded Spell Combat
9) Following Step, Arcana: Spellbreaker
11) Dimensional Agility, Improved Critical (Earthbreaker)
12) Arcana: Hasted Assault

Traits: Accelerated Drinker, Focused Mind

Having an Arcane Bond Buckler means I’ll be able to boost AC cheaply. Losing Spell Recall on top of Diminished Spellcasting still hurts. The bigger thing for me is having to give up the familiar (can’t have Arcane bond and a familiar).

So I think Mindblade is probably the direction I’ll go.


In a recent thread on getting a Familiar and an Arcane Bond, the only place I could find a rule saying you can't have both is the Sorcerer Arcane Bloodline. Skirnir says you can't use the Arcane Bond class feature it gives to pick a familiar, not that you can't have one some other way, like the Familiar arcana. I might have to make a thread for this.

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Ferious Thune wrote:
So I think Mindblade is probably the direction I’ll go.

Yeah, Skirnir is rather crappy at most of the levels you're suggesting, Mindblade would be a better pick.

Azten wrote:
In a recent thread on getting a Familiar and an Arcane Bond, the only place I could find a rule saying you can't have both is the Sorcerer Arcane Bloodline.

Skirnir works like Arcane Bond, but the familiar arcana also works like Arcane Bond. The way this is written suggests that you get one bond, not two.

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