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Archetype Tier List: A Guide to Picking Archetypes


Advice

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I realized that while the class guides have this in a way, I wanted to create a thread for new and old players as a comprehensive list of Archetypes for each class (Barring 3PP or Player Companion archetypes) and how they stand in regards to other archetypes for that class.

So in the replies below, lets discuss what could be considered to be generally good and generally bad archetypes. The criteria for determining this will be based on the general benefits given by an archetype and how much or how little those benefits outweigh the negatives associated with the archetype, and general strength overall.

Finally in no more then a paragraph, describe the reason behind the placement of that archetype. Evidence to support it's placement, and also it's place against other archetypes.

Note that no matter what this guide will be partially subjective based on these entries, but hopefully we can all band together to create a overall good list for archetypes.

I will try to edit this post as we get more information.


Not sure if we want to limit this to 1 archetype/class per reply so i guess i'll start with one.

Barbarian: Invulnerable Rager:

Gives up uncanny dodge/improved uncanny dodge and DR features to gain
DR = 1/2 barbarian level. You also lose trap sense for some bonus vs extreme conditions as well.

Reason it's good is you gain DR incredibly quick and it eventually ends at double what a normal barbarian gets and it doubles vs nonlethal which normal barbarian doesn't get. Best of all you're giving up fairly little for this.

Downside is as it replaces trap sense it doesn't stack with much else because many barbarian archetypes replace that.


Sounds great! I am currently waiting for the post to be edited. Also generally in these posts I don't mind number of archetypes picked, but in the same format you have provided, and general whether the archetype is in your opinion Good, Average or Sub-par.


Dot for reference. ;-)

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

You can't edit posts after an hour. Your best bet right now is to set up a google doc and and request that it get linked to your first post by a mod.

__________________________________

Back to archetypes. I don't like ranking archetypes because some are great in situational ways, and different sorts of players value tradeoffs differently.

As an example, I love the Evangelist Cleric Archetype because I love Bards. With the Evangelist, you can play a character who inspires courage like a bard, but you're a full clerical caster with a domain. You can have an animal companion (something no bard can do unless you mess with mauler familiars) via domain. You always have something to do to help the team.

My best friend on the other hand thinks that the Evangelist is awful. His complaint is that it trades off the second domain, the armor class, and a bit of its channeling. Just about everything he loves about the core cleric has been taken away.

Hmm


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I'll take an easy one: Arcanist.

Note that I really hate how archetypes don't say "you must take this special exploit/talent/revelation at level 1 and 3", they replace your exploits/talents etc. with other abilities, and prevents you from taking Extra Special Sauce feats until you actually have a sauce of your choice. I hate it, and it colors my valuation of archetypes that replace both the level 1, 3 and 5 archetypes.

Blade Adept (bad). Pay 3 Exploits to get a magic sword. On a ½ bab class. Also, you can pay more exploits to gain some magus abilities, but Spell Combat is not one of them, so nobody cares. Also, locks you out of other archetypes, except Unlettered, which is a terrible combo.

Blood Arcanist (good). You get the goodies of a sorcerer bloodline, except you're an Int-based prepared caster, which is much better.

Brown-fur Transmuter (average): Did I mention you're a half-bab class with no melee support abilities? Still, it doesn't cost much, and the level 9 ability is very decent for buffing your meat shield.

Eldritch Font (average): If you keep running out of spell slots and Arcane Pool points. The cost in flexibility is too steep for me, but it's not necessarily a bad trade.

Elemental Master (bad): Being forced to pick bad abilities with very little upside. Ugh. This archetype isn't even your third-best pick for making an element-focused Arcanist blaster.

Occultist (good): Awesome, even after the enormous nerf hit (Consume Spells limited to Cha/day). Even if you can't trade up all your low-level slots, being able to trade spell slots for equal-level standard action minute/level summons is a good use of a single feat-equivalent ability, and Extra Exploit is only pushed to level 3. The level 7 replacement is bad, but consider it payment for the other things you gain.

School Savant (average): Decent trade, but you really have to know why you're not just playing a Wizard instead.

Spell specialist (bad): Being forced to memorize your speciality spell at each spell level, then paying pol points if you want to use the very modest benefits of the archetype, should be cost enough. Not worth your level 1, 7, 13 and 19 exploits. Seems half-baked.

Twilight Sage (average): This archetype requires you to walk around after each battle, killing the wounded, if you don't want to nerf yourself. Make sure your party and GM is okay with this.

Unlettered Arcanist (the worst): Don't kid yourself, the Witch list is nowhere near as good as the wizard list. Also, you trade away cheap, easy spellbook scribing for the fragile, expensive Witch method. If you want a Familiar, just take the Exploit.

White Mage (bad): The ability to cast Cure Wounds spells with your spell slots is superfluous by level 3, and the White Mage isn't even good at it. Not worth the exploits.


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For Rogue, I think Scout is an almost automatic take. You only lose uncanny dodge and IUD, but at 4th level gain your Sneak Attack dice whenever you charge. At 8th level, any time you move 10+ feet and attack, the Rogue gets his Sneak Attack dice. Finding a reliable way of getting the Sneak Attack off is always a concern with Rogues, and this helps offset that issue with only minor losses.

For Cavalier, Beast Rider is a great Archetype. You lose just about nothing (the normal Mount and Expert Trainer), but you gain a significantly larger and more interesting array of mount options. (Though, it's a bit broken because most of the options can't be actually ridden by a medium sized character until after 7th level, so you're stuck with the normal Horse or Camel until then).

For Inquisitor, I really like Sanctified Slayer (unless it's been FAQ'd, and I didn't see it). In exchange for a 1/day Judgment, the Inquisitor gains the Slayer's Studied Target ability, which doesn't have a uses per day limitation (So, you have at least a +1 to hit and damage against any target your need it against, that increases as the Inquisitor goes up in level). In addition, in exchange for losing the rest of the normal Judgment abilities gained at later levels, the Inquisitor gains Sneak Attack dice and a total of four Slayer talents (some of which are effectively bonus Feats).


Hey, Icy, I'm making a guide sort of like this. Maybe we can join efforts?


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Casual Viking wrote:


Brown-fur Transmuter (average): Did I mention you're a half-bab class with no melee support abilities? Still, it doesn't cost much, and the level 9 ability is very decent for buffing your meat shield.

School Savant (average): Decent trade, but you really have to know why you're not just playing a Wizard instead.

Disagree. Brown-Fur is AMAZING, it can grant transmutation boons that otherwise are personal to anyone. This allows Brown-Fur to share all sorts of buffs.

School Savant is also good. Arcanist has several ups over a Wizard.


Secret Wizard wrote:
Hey, Icy, I'm making a guide sort of like this. Maybe we can join efforts?

That sounds like a great plan! As for the mod thing, I will try to get a doc attached to it and hopefully we can all collaborate on it easier. Not really all that savvy when it comes to forums so it may take some time. Until then, this is a great starting discussion! Some archetypes I would like to add are part of the bard class.

Dirge Bard (Average): Having access to necromancy spells is nice, especially since bards already have a natural control based spell list. Coupled with some nice save boosts, and the ability to raise the dead, it makes them have high value.
Their weakness is that they do lose their versatile performance, which does hurt the skill monkey part of Bards, and jack of all trades.

Arcane Duelist (Good): While the requirements are steep, and you lose quite a fair amount of abilities, you gain some significant bonuses, which really gives this archetype the good quality.

Savage Skald (Bad/Average): This one really depends on your party composition. With literally any spell casters this transitions to bad, as rage is not really all that desirable for casters since it stops you from casting spells. For a majority of melee fighters however this goes into an average.

Also feel free to make multiple lists, even if someone has already started on a class, since I hope to aggregate results into a median ranking.


Secret Wizard wrote:
Disagree. Brown-Fur is AMAZING, it can grant transmutation boons that otherwise are personal to anyone. This allows Brown-Fur to share all sorts of buffs.

Yes, there probably isn't a better support build than the brown fur. While you can't start sharing the personal buffs till level 9, that's also about the same level you start getting a lot of personal buffs you couldn't normally share.

Brown-Fur also seems to stack with Spell Specialist, which could allow you to make an interesting Dragon Disciple. It does leave you very exploit starved. Even your remaining 5th level exploit will need to be spent on Bloodline Development.


Casual Viking wrote:
I'll take an easy one: Arcanist.

I find myself disagreeing with a few of these. I might even disagree with the others, I just don't know them well enough.

Blade Adept: If you loose more than 2 exploits from the archetype itself and have 1/2 BAB you are doing something wrong. Blade Adept should never reach 9th level instead paying a third exploit upfront to use their CL with a Magical Knack boost. Then, you are playing a PrC loving gish with a magical blade.

I don't feel adept enough with gish to even give this a rating. At high levels it demolishes Magus just because you are a high level caster and have higher BAB, but lack various class features. Where do you even begin with a build that does something the majority of archetypes and builds don't at the cost of having very few class features? Regardless, I don't think you can rate the best thing to ever happen to Gish as bad. Slow, yes, horrible early on, but it gets better, a lot better.

Bloodline Arcanist: You get the goodies you could've already gotten with a single level dip and an exploit. Yes, this doesn't sacrifice CL, but you don't get archetypes and you are paying 4 exploits just for bloodline powers. I think I would rather have Eldritch Heritage. Orange to very low Green.


Let me toss in some things:

Monk of the Healing Hand

Terrible archetype with an amazing capstone. This archetype does not stack with archetypes that can recover ki quickly, such as the Drunken Master. Your Wholeness of Body ability becomes limited to only other people instead of only yourself- it's like an incredibly terrible Lay on Hands that costs ki. You replace your immunity to poisons and your death touch for the ability to occasionally resurrect people, not that you should be using it frequently. But the capstone is amazing: You get to save a bunch of people in a pretty big radius and play a class besides a monk, while making everybody forget this ever happened.

Kata Master

Thoroughly mediocre. While it is the only Monk archetype with Panache, you aren't gaining much from it. You lose Stunning Fist, Still Mind, and Quivering Palm for Panache and Derring-Do, Dodging Panache, Menacing Swordplay, and Dizzying Defense. These are not particularly good ways to spend panache or actions in combat, considering that as a monk, you'll likely be spending your swift actions every round with ki or style feats. You also give up Wholeness of Body for Targeted Strike, but that's actually a pretty good deal, considering the power of Wholeness of Body. However, since Panache runs off of Charisma, it makes you into a 5-stat MAD character.


Casual Viking wrote:


I'll take an easy one: Arcanist.

Note that I really hate how archetypes don't say "you must take this special exploit/talent/revelation at level 1 and 3", they replace your exploits/talents etc. with other abilities, and prevents you from taking Extra Special Sauce feats until you actually have a sauce of your choice. I hate it, and it colors my valuation of archetypes that replace both the level 1, 3 and 5 archetypes.

Just going to throw my 2 cents on this one.

$0.02:

Casual Viking wrote:


Blade Adept (bad). Pay 3 Exploits to get a magic sword. On a ½ bab class. Also, you can pay more exploits to gain some magus abilities, but Spell Combat is not one of them, so nobody cares.

I agree with this one. Its a worse magus, and it would almost make sense to be some weird eldritch knight material if someone was going for that, but multi-classing is a dumb idea being that it uses the black blade statistics meaning its an intelligent magical blade that can't be enchanted and levels with you meaning lost class levels are lost black blade levels.

Casual Viking wrote:


Blood Arcanist (good). You get the goodies of a sorcerer bloodline, except you're an Int-based prepared caster, which is much better.

I could take or leave this archetype. Many of the bloodlines i like are wildblooded or crossblooded mixes, not to mention the wildblooded has arcana that let you be int or wisdom based. Not to mention I don't like many of the bloodlines, so i have a personal biased there anyways.

Casual Viking wrote:


Brown-fur Transmuter (average): Did I mention you're a half-bab class with no melee support abilities? Still, it doesn't cost much, and the level 9 ability is very decent for buffing your meat shield.

I agree with what you say, though i'd actually rate it lower than average.

Casual Viking wrote:


Eldritch Font (average): If you keep running out of spell slots and Arcane Pool points. The cost in flexibility is too steep for me, but it's not necessarily a bad trade.

I kind of like this one, i like the spell slots/school points stuff, and the surge can lead to some interesting stuff considering your pool + an exploit can get you a +2 CL, this can get you +2 CL, and some feats also can bump the CL, you can end up casting a maxed out spell way earlier than you should have (without eating higher slot).

Casual Viking wrote:


Elemental Master (bad): Being forced to pick bad abilities with very little upside. Ugh. This archetype isn't even your third-best pick for making an element-focused Arcanist blaster.

Agreed

Casual Viking wrote:


Occultist (good): Awesome, even after the enormous nerf hit (Consume Spells limited to Cha/day). Even if you can't trade up all your low-level slots, being able to trade spell slots for equal-level standard action minute/level summons is a good use of a single feat-equivalent ability, and Extra Exploit is only pushed to level 3. The level 7 replacement is bad, but consider it payment for the other things you gain.

This isn't bad, its actually better in the hands of an arcanist than a summoner, considering its a fairly under-utilized ability for summoners because you'd rather just dump out an eidolon than use it. this just gives you that and makes you pay pool points, with technically no daily limiter.

Casual Viking wrote:


School Savant (average): Decent trade, but you really have to know why you're not just playing a Wizard instead.

To be fair, this seems like enough reason to not play a wizard ever, its like the primalist for bloodrager, it just gives you the 1 missing component from the base class without taking away much.

Casual Viking wrote:


Spell specialist (bad): Being forced to memorize your speciality spell at each spell level, then paying pol points if you want to use the very modest benefits of the archetype, should be cost enough. Not worth your level 1, 7, 13 and 19 exploits. Seems half-baked.

Agreed.

Casual Viking wrote:


Twilight Sage (average): This archetype requires you to walk around after each battle, killing the wounded, if you don't want to nerf yourself. Make sure your party and GM is okay with this.

agreed.

Casual Viking wrote:


Unlettered Arcanist (the worst): Don't kid yourself, the Witch list is nowhere near as good as the wizard list. Also, you trade away cheap, easy spellbook scribing for the fragile, expensive Witch method. If you want a Familiar, just take the Exploit.

I agree with this as the benefit of witch is hexes, and the domains can help fill in spells you may want. Arcanist has neither of those things making the spell list somewhat pointless. The best reason i can see this exists was somone wanted to make a witch with sorcerer bloodlines, but once again, you're missing the main benefit of being a witch.

Honestly if this archetype said you could use get witch hexes that would be amazing.

Casual Viking wrote:


White Mage (bad): The ability to cast Cure Wounds spells with your spell slots is superfluous by level 3, and the White Mage isn't even good at it. Not worth the exploits.

I suuuper disagree.

1. I don't feel the loss of 2 exploits is that bad.
2. Their healing isn't that bad, honestly this archetype should be renamed the Redmage, because you have access to all the wizard nuke spells, while being able to either focus healing or play backup healer. If your group already had 3 solid people doing the heal/dps role you end up being a pretty good backup on 2 fronts.
3. The one bad thing which is 100% not replacing anything and is optional is fast healing, its just an optional exploit that opens up to you, it feels like it wants to be channel energy, but i wouldn't ever take it because best case scenario you can give out fast healing 4, for like 2 rounds (because you probably didn't use a huge amount of charisma), and i'm not going to drop an 8th level spell slot, when this archetype already lets me cast "cure critical wounds, mass" with an 8th level slot.

Edit: put it in a spoiler so it didn't take up the entire page.


Blade Adepts can get an exploit to level the blade based on caster level instead of class level.

There may need to be a different rating type for archetypes that are meant to be dips. For instance, Spell Specialist is good for qualifying for things that require spontaneous casting.


Oh hey, a ninja. Agreed with Ninja. There is one Cavalier that is trash, but makes a good 1 lvl dip for super face builds.

ranmyaku262 wrote:

Just going to throw my 2 cents on this one.

** spoiler omitted **

I feel like you haven't read the text on the new Exploits with Blade Adept. You key point there is contradicted by it. Hence, why I suggest it is better. If you have, well could've worded those 2 cents differently I suppose.

Silver Crusade

Is there a doc for this already, like is this actually planned as a guide or is it currently just discussion? I mean I'd be willing to make the framework for the guide as well as do the ratings for a few things (mostly my areas of expertise, non casters and 6th level arcane casters), although I'm not versed enough on all classes to take it all on by myself.

I'd probably be more free to do this next week since I'm finishing off some projects now (as well as hopefully starting a new guide soon), but it seems like a fun thing, maybe something more like a + or - system for how well the archetypes influence the class.


I started this and never really get to much with it... I think you could give it a more concise, less subjective build, Jolly: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ndw7Dw2ehjGwyfBLprQZ8kxyzKJiwreLeYvkHWc lZUA/edit?usp=sharing

Silver Crusade

Secret Wizard wrote:
I started this and never really get to much with it... I think you could give it a more concise, less subjective build, Jolly: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ndw7Dw2ehjGwyfBLprQZ8kxyzKJiwreLeYvkHWc lZUA/edit?usp=sharing

I'm not getting a file here. Although really, I'm not looking to take control of this project since it seems like I'm the late arrival on the scene. While I'm fine helping out, I think it'd be better for someone else to helm this and kind of learn more about guide writing. I know you've done quite a few guides yourself Secret (I do enjoy your brawler guide), I just like to see new people working on things like this. Plus, my 8th guide is already in the works.


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Usually you can just cut off the /edit part and replace it with /pub

Edit this might work for viewing


Why not chip in with my opinions?

arcanist archetypes:
Blade Adept: Bad/Orange. I want to like this, and it's not impossible if you take the eldritch blade exploit and go eldritch knight ... but it's definitely a downgrade to the arcanist proper.

Blood Arcanist: Good/Blue. Many good uses for this, but it's not essential; losing the early exploits is a better than fair price to pay for the good stuff.

Brown-Fur Transmuter: Average/Green: Low costs - since you've still got a level 1 exploit you can take extra arcanist exploit at level 1 if you really want lots of exploits. The bonuses are useful. Probably a better entry to eldritch knight than the blade adept. The support idea is interesting at least.

Eldritch Font: Bad/red. Being Raistlin may seem cool, but the loss of flexibility is crippling, and losing the ability to run away is also crippling (in a fight which is too tough you will have used that ability), and you're also paying two exploits and a greater exploit. Just no.

Elemental Master: Bad/Red. The Focus would be OK, as is the 15th level ability, but you're paying for it with two entirely wasted exploits and a wasted greater exploit. That's too high a cost.

Occultist: Good/Blue. Like the Blood Arcanist, what you get is worth more than the cost.

School Savant: Bad/Orange. The Focus is OK, but the better wizard school abilities can be got with just one exploit rather than 3, and you're delaying exploits until 5th level. Maybe red.

Spell Specialist: Bad/Orange. The cost is high but the benefits are solid. Spell Bender and Spellwarp don't technically have wording which requires them to be used on your signature spell, though it is implied; if your GM goes with the literal reading, call it Average/Green.

Twilight Sage: Good/Blue if evil is OK, Bad/Red if not. You have to be a murderer to use this well, but it has no limit to the number of times/day it can be used unlike Consume Spells/Magic Items. Yay for obscurity escaping nerfs.

Unlettered Arcanist: Bad/Red. Any 3 wizard schools are probably worth more than the entire witch list, any 4 and it's a no brainer. Arcanists get all 8.

White Mage: Bad/Red. In combat unspecialised healing isn't usually worth it, out of combat get UMD (class skill, and your Cha doesn't suck) and use a wand, or just cast Infernal Healing.


Banned in PFS but the Primalist archetype for Bloodrager is pretty much a given, you lose nothing, and can only gain from it. Take it every time if you can.

Empricist from Investigator is basically just superior to the base version, unless you care about poison for some reason.


@The Mortonator:

Blood Arcanist gives the bloodline arcana, the exploit doesn't. That's a huge difference. Not every bloodline arcana is worthwhile, but if you're taking this archetype you presumably choose one that is. The later exploits are traded for other bloodline powers rather than wasted too.

I'm not a fan of losing your spell progression for a dip either.


avr wrote:

@The Mortonator:

Blood Arcanist gives the bloodline arcana, the exploit doesn't. That's a huge difference. Not every bloodline arcana is worthwhile, but if you're taking this archetype you presumably choose one that is. The later exploits are traded for other bloodline powers rather than wasted too.

I'm not a fan of losing your spell progression for a dip either.

Actually, Arcana is exactly why the archetype sucks. Aside from Psychic all bloodlines effect ALL your casting classes, not just Sorcerer. You are giving up wildblooded and crossblooded with the archetype, the two best.

Furthermore:

Quote:
A crossblooded sorcerer has one fewer spell known at each level (including cantrips) than is presented on Table: Sorcerer Spells Known.

No longer applies. You aren't as far behind as you might feel.

Silver Crusade

Melkiador wrote:

Usually you can just cut off the /edit part and replace it with /pub

Edit this might work for viewing

Damn SW, that is one hell of an undertaking. I can see why you talked about me being more concise, that mock up is already massive for only that amount of classes. Like it's painfully thorough, to the point where it might be TOO comprehensive. The idea I had for this was far more subdued.

Again, I don't want to 'helm' this, but I'm willing to assist someone else if Icy and you would like to work with me, I can get a more simplistic framework (I don't see a 'theme' working for this myself, so keep it generic), and the three of us can work on it together, take suggestions from the general public about archetypes and such that we're not as clear on.

I'm not super certain it's a guide that's needed, but I could be see it being fun to work on, so both of you let me know if that's something you'd be interested in.


Mort, If you're arguing in favor of a dip (sorcerer 1/arcanist X) then yes, you do lose a level of your arcanist spell progression when you take a sorcerer dip level. Your quote is irrelevant to that. If you're arguing in favor of something else please clarify what.


Sanctified Slayer - Inquisitor - Very solid archetype, especially for an archer or TWF. Give up the versatility of judgements for a pretty much always active bonus to hit and damage, which is basically what you were going to use judgements for. The ability to pick up Slayer Talents, which are going to be used for Ranger Combat Style feats allowing you to bypass requirements on those feats is pretty stellar. You also get Sneak Attack which is nice if you're TWF. You basically get to poach the best parts of ranger and slayer but you get 6th level spell casting. Congratulations.


avr wrote:
Mort, If you're arguing in favor of a dip (sorcerer 1/arcanist X) then yes, you do lose a level of your arcanist spell progression when you take a sorcerer dip level. Your quote is irrelevant to that. If you're arguing in favor of something else please clarify what.

I was pointing out crossblooded already has -1 spells. And it's generally considered optimal. That's why the exploit is better.

Loosing a level absolutely is not pulling teeth out on this one. You end up with a net gain period for 90% of the builds that want a full bloodline. I know there is the old superstition that loosing a caster level will result in gremlins roasting your bones, but I need to keep these gremlins fed somehow! I mean, that's clearly wrong.

Either way, I read the archetype as, "Here, have half the exploits, half the arcana, half the choices, no extra spells, and no other archetypes, but at least you don't loose a single spell level!" Would you spend all your character level feats on +1 CL and having higher level spells slightly earlier?

Power to you if yes, but no way should that be above a low orange for optimization. Probably red.


Claxon wrote:
Sanctified Slayer - Inquisitor - Very solid archetype, especially for an archer or TWF. Give up the versatility of judgements for a pretty much always active bonus to hit and damage, which is basically what you were going to use judgements for. The ability to pick up Slayer Talents, which are going to be used for Ranger Combat Style feats allowing you to bypass requirements on those feats is pretty stellar. You also get Sneak Attack which is nice if you're TWF. You basically get to poach the best parts of ranger and slayer but you get 6th level spell casting. Congratulations.

It has serious downsides though. It's not up as often as you might think before you get swift action studied target (and then it starts competing with spells) or if you get sneak attack.

Also, you don't get many feats so it's not really THAT useful (though it's better than nothing for archery).

TWF still sucks for Inquisitors due to Bane interactions.

Also, a lot of cool spells/items work upon Judgement.

Silver Crusade

Another thing to note for a 'guide' like this:

Is the base class supposed to be considered neutral ground, like archetypes go up and down based on their relative value to the base class, or would the base class in itself be treated like an archetype?

I ask because core fighter non archetyped would probably be orange/red to me, and it's difficult for it to go a lot worse with archetypes, as most tend to buff it in some way (a lot of the APG archetypes not withstanding), so it's something to wonder for a 'guide' like this.


N. Jolly wrote:

Another thing to note for a 'guide' like this:

Is the base class supposed to be considered neutral ground, like archetypes go up and down based on their relative value to the base class, or would the base class in itself be treated like an archetype?

I ask because core fighter non archetyped would probably be orange/red to me, and it's difficult for it to go a lot worse with archetypes, as most tend to buff it in some way (a lot of the APG archetypes not withstanding), so it's something to wonder for a 'guide' like this.

Changes with the release of Weapon Master's Handbook though.

Silver Crusade

Secret Wizard wrote:
N. Jolly wrote:

Another thing to note for a 'guide' like this:

Is the base class supposed to be considered neutral ground, like archetypes go up and down based on their relative value to the base class, or would the base class in itself be treated like an archetype?

I ask because core fighter non archetyped would probably be orange/red to me, and it's difficult for it to go a lot worse with archetypes, as most tend to buff it in some way (a lot of the APG archetypes not withstanding), so it's something to wonder for a 'guide' like this.

Changes with the release of Weapon Master's Handbook though.

I'm just using that as an example, although if that's the case, let's say Chained Rogue instead. Is the Chain Rogue the baseline, or is it treated as another archetype since I figure Rogue and Unrogue are treated differently for this.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Ranmyaku262 wrote:

I suuuper disagree.

1. I don't feel the loss of 2 exploits is that bad.
2. Their healing isn't that bad, honestly this archetype should be renamed the Redmage, because you have access to all the wizard nuke spells, while being able to either focus healing or play backup healer. If your group already had 3 solid people doing the heal/dps role you end up being a pretty good backup on 2 fronts.
3. The one bad thing which is 100% not replacing anything and is optional is fast healing, its just an optional exploit that opens up to you, it feels like it wants to be channel energy, but i wouldn't ever take it because best case scenario you can give out fast healing 4, for like 2 rounds (because you probably didn't use a huge amount of charisma), and i'm not going to drop an 8th level spell slot, when this archetype already lets me cast "cure critical wounds, mass" with an 8th level slot.
Edit: put it in a spoiler so it didn't take up the entire page.

I would agree with you were it not for one important point: White Mage doesn't get the cure spells added to its spell list. So in order to heal, you have to burn both a spell slot and your pool points. Now it may just be because my main arcanist is an Occultist and therefore burns through pool points like it's going out of style, but considering just about every decent exploit uses them that seems like I'm giving up a lot of resources to do something that a well balanced party should already have someone on hand to do while using less. Add in the fact that you give up two exploits and it just isn't worth taking unless absolutely no one else at your table wants to take someone capable of healing.


With regards to the Blade Adept, I don't think it's a particularly good archetype if you go full Blade Adept, but if you build into a proper gish it can work out very well. Toss in say Inspired Blade Swashbuckler dip, or some form of fighter, go blade adept, then go deep into Eldritch Knight and/or Hellknight Signifier, and you got a pretty competent gish.


The Mortonator wrote:

I was pointing out crossblooded already has -1 spells. And it's generally considered optimal. That's why the exploit is better.

Loosing a level absolutely is not pulling teeth out on this one. You end up with a net gain period for 90% of the builds that want a full bloodline. I know there is the old superstition that loosing a caster level will result in gremlins roasting your bones, but I need to keep these gremlins fed somehow! I mean, that's clearly wrong.

Either way, I read the archetype as, "Here, have half the exploits, half the arcana, half the choices, no extra spells, and no other archetypes, but at least you don't loose a single spell level!" Would you spend all your character level feats on +1 CL and having higher level spells slightly earlier?

Power to you if yes, but no way should that be above a low orange for optimization. Probably red.

A Crossblooded dip is considered optimal for blasters. Not in general! And blasters are considered suboptimal.

Yeah, losing levels of your spell progression is actually decidedly suboptimal. You're being distracted by the shiny exploits. As an arcanist you're already one level behind the best, and a dip makes that 2 levels = a full spell level. It's like casting every spell with still spell and wearing heavy armor and a tower shield - not usually a good idea.

It's interesting that your idea of optimisation snorts at the idea of losing caster levels being bad, but I think you're just wrong in an absolute sense.


avr wrote:
It's interesting that your idea of optimisation snorts at the idea of losing caster levels being bad, but I think you're just wrong in an absolute sense.

It's not that, it's that I firmly believe that's a solid arguement to never play the Arcanist.

If I'm playing an Arcanist, I want Arcanist things.

If I'm going for Arcana the ONLY Arcana that good are good for Blasters and Wildblooded. I litterally can't think of an Arcana other than Psychic that good if you don't get extra spells. Possibly Fey? But then I would play Kitsune Sorc.

If that's your number one concern, Play an Exploiter Wizard. Heck, if you are going to hold up everything against Caster Levels Wizard is the only class for you, period.


Saldiven wrote:
For Rogue, I think Scout is an almost automatic take. You only lose uncanny dodge and IUD, {. . .}

Of course, some people might object that being a Scout means that you better not develop an allergy to Night Tea . . . .

* * * * * *

Another thread similar to this one has developed around the same time. Maybe merge?

* * * * * *

For Blade Adept Arcanist, it looks like you could first dip 1 or 2 levels in Bloodrager, then take the Arcanist Exploit Bloodline Development to advance the Bloodrager Bloodline, and the feat Mad Magic to enable spellcasting while in Rage, each as soon as possible, and when you have 2nd level spells to spare or preferably a Wand use the Rage spell (works with Bloodrager Bloodline Powers) and/or a friendly Skald's Inspired Rage (doesn't work with Bloodrager Bloodline Powers unless the Skald is 20th level, but still provides the other benefits) to extend your limited Bloodrage (you might also want 1 application of Extra Rage if you can afford the feat). More thoughts on this in this post and the one following it, including a rating of Bloodrager Bloodlines and archetypes for the dip level(s), as well as exploiting VMC Magus.


I'd rank archetype along this subjective scale:

Awesome: These archetypes do more than just give you bigger numbers or improvements to the class's existing capabilities; they fundamentally expand on the class and what it is capable of doing. These archetypes allow you to build characters that can tackle more roles with a single build than would be possible vanilla, while still being just as effective at everything the vanilla class can do. These archetypes do not involve serious compromises, and whatever they trade off can be easily worked around without significant consequences. Archetypes like these are a very rare breed; think Mutation Warrior or Razmiran Priest (aka False Priest).

Great: Like the awesome archetypes these also expand the class's capabilities and let it do things it otherwise couldn't, but either don't do enough to push them into awesome territory or make steep tradeoffs elsewhere that may make them less powerful or less reliable in some ways. Some of these archetypes might require very specific builds or support to get around their weaknesses. The Exploiter Wizard is a perfect example of a great archetype; it offers you unique class features that let you do things that other Wizards simply cannot, but at the cost of locking you out of school specialization and leaving you with less daily spell power.

Good: A good archetype is one that makes unambiguously beneficial trades; the class features you gain are clearly better than the ones you gave up. Unlike great archetypes, however, these improvements don't fundamentally change what you can do. They make you better and more reliable, but you're still doing the same things as a vanilla character. The Musket Master for the Gunslinger is a perfect example; positive trade-offs all around, but you're still a Gunslinger doing everything that regular Gunslinger do. Alternately, a good archetype might make very substantial modifications such that it's no longer directly comparable to vanilla, but definitely very powerful at what it does. The Master Summoner is a good example of this; it's very different and fulfills a different role from the vanilla Summoner, but if this is what you want to do it's a very good archetype.

Average: Average archetypes offer a balance of good and bad. They hinder you in some ways by taking away key abilities, but substantially help you in others. Average archetypes tend to only be worth taking if they specifically fit in with your build, and for a typical character are usually not worth using if they are incompatible with a better general-purpose archetype. Most archetypes are distinctly average.

Bad: A bad archetype trades off more than it gains, and is rarely worth using even if they fit with your intended build. Some of these archetypes may actually offer reasonably powerful class features, but the price is so steep that it doesn't matter. This is not to say that bad archetypes are completely without use, but often require very specific or unusual builds to get around their weaknesses or sufficiently exploit their strengths. The Spellslinger Wizard is a perfect example; it has some very cool abilities, but the downsides vastly outweigh the benefits.

Terrible: These archetypes aren't just bad, they have flaws that literally prevent the class from functioning properly and render them effectively unplayable. They may actually be deceptively appealing at first glance, but have serious downsides that make them complete liabilities. The Overwhelming Soul is a perfect example, doing something interesting on the face of it but interacting so poorly with the base class features that it simply does not function.

Silver Crusade

The ranking scale I was thinking of for this would go along the lines of (assuming base class is 0)

+2: This greatly increases the class's abilities or adds new abilities that far surpass the base class.
Example: Beastmorph Alchemist

+1: This is a step above the base class, considerably better in some areas without losing much of what the base class did.
Example: Empiricist Investigator

+0: This is equal to the base class, there is no significant increase or decrease to the class's power.
Example: Blood Kineticist

-1: The features added and taken away from this class make it weaker than its base version, although not by a large amount.
Example: Gun Tank Gunslinger

-2: This greatly weakens the base class, removing key features and not replacing them with anything that comes close to the base class.
Example: Driver rogue

Really, it's similar to the tier system for archetypes of 3.5, which is what I was thinking of when I saw this thread.


Instead of Driver Rogue, I was thinking Spellslinger Wizard, Arcane Bomber Wizard, or Sleuth Investigator. Driver Rogue gives up situationally cool things and replaces it with trash, but something like a Sleuth Investigator gives up pseudo 2/3 casting and replaces it with a handful of bad swashbuckler deeds.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

I'd be extremely hesitant to call Empiricist a straight upgrade. Swift Alchemy is one of the best features out there, and it allows you to cook up an answer to most problems really quickly.

Plus, you are trading Poison Resistance on a low Fortitude class, all in exchange to be better with some skills (you are already ridiculously good at skills) and a bonus against illusions (on a good Will save class).

Gun Tank Gunslinger is another example. I don't think it makes the Gunslinger weaker... I think it modifies the role of the class considerably instead.

I'd categorize them as:

- Specialized: Makes the class better at a specific aspect of its arsenal. For example, Grenadier Alchemist trades out poison features for improving on melee/bomb switch-hitting.

- Thematic: Makes the class focus on a specific theme. For example, Undead Scourge Paladins are meant to focus, thematically, in killing undead creatures.

- Expansion: Enables strategies that would have been otherwise impossible or extremely awkward for the class before. Zen Archer Monk is a good example.

Inside these categories, we find:

- Positive: Trades out stuff for a very good package of features that is effective.

- Neutral: Trades out stuff for a competitive package but it has some flaws.

- Negative: Trades out stuff for an incomplete, dysfunctional package.

Examples:

- Strategist Cavalier is a Neutral Specialized archetype. The new package is good, but Tactician is still awkward for several levels.

- Beast Rider Cavalier is a Positive Thematic archetype. You trade the regular mount and heavy armor for a bestial, battle-ready companion. Overall a good choice.

- Daring Champion Cavalier is a Positive Expansion archetype. Focused on making the Cavalier an able unmounted melee combatant, it provides all you need to enable this new strategy.

- Lashunta Outrider Cavalier is a Neutral Thematic archetype (with some Thematic on it). The class still accomplishes the same objectives, but there's a different set of tools to do it.

- Musketeer Cavalier is a Negative Expansion archetype. It trades some features for gun proficiency, but it doesn't get to be good at ranged attacking because it still cannot Challenge from a distance and it keeps a lot of features that are useless to a ranged attacker, like Charge features.


@Secret Wizard: Wow quite the undertaking but love the look of it. It would prolly greatly benefit from referencing other guides.

As to ranking Archetypes I find this very difficult. Sure there are some (actually fairly few) Archetypes that can be seen as a straight upgrades to the base class. The Invulnerable Rager and Empiricist are prolly the prime examples.

Then there exist a lot of Archetypes which are just flat out terrible which will simply gimp you for no real reason. It's my impression that these are actually rather plentiful and often tend to be very flavorful. I don't have any examples cause I'd never play them...

And then there is a lot of shades of grey which is why I disagree with a ranking scheme as proposed by N.Jolly above. There exist plenty of Archetypes which force you into more specialized roles but in turn give you a bit more power. Sometimes they will make you way more powerful (Zen Archer) but totally force you into one build or play style.

Then there's those archetypes that are complete game changers and fundamentally alter the way the class works (I'm thinking of stuff like Daring Champion or Stonelord but there's prolly even better examples).

Last but not least one has to consider archetype combos especially for the Monk and Ranger this can get really messy but also bring forth the strongest builds.

In sum I'd advice against a standard rating scheme (or maybe 3 colors Blue, Neutral, Red) and instead describe some of the best builds one can pull off with each archetype.

Edit: Ninja'd by Secret Wizard but full agreement...

Silver Crusade

Alex Mack wrote:

And then there is a lot of shades of grey which is why I disagree with a ranking scheme as proposed by N.Jolly above. There exist plenty of Archetypes which force you into more specialized roles but in turn give you a bit more power. Sometimes they will make you way more powerful (Zen Archer) but totally force you into one build or play style.

Then there's those archetypes that are complete game changers and fundamentally alter the way the class works (I'm thinking of stuff like Daring Champion or Stonelord but there's prolly even better examples).

Really there's tons of shades of grey in normal guides but they're all rated the same way (for the most part), so I'm not really seeing a problem keeping in tone with that.

SW's way is interesting, I will give it that. It almost feels more like an archetype alignment system more than a grading curve. The thing is for the most part, when Paizo makes a 'specialized or thematic' archetype, that's code for 'only valuable in that circumstance.'

Really, I don't know how many people picking an archetype will particularly care if it's specialized or thematic if it's just not good (especially if they're going to a guide to check this out), meaning it's generally only going to get hit with a neutral or negative tag, and a singular level of negative isn't really as telling as "is this -1 and I could play it but know I'm weaker" or "is this -2 and why did my GM let me play a Rage Chemist, this was such a bad idea?"

I'm not 100% opposed to it, hell I think the first set of tags could actually work with my system for "Neutral +1" "Thematic +0" or "Specialized -2" to help people out, with the initial tag being more window dressing as to what the archetype is intended to do.


Secret Wizard wrote:

I'd be extremely hesitant to call Empiricist a straight upgrade. Swift Alchemy is one of the best features out there, and it allows you to cook up an answer to most problems really quickly.

Really? Can you give me an example? Because I'm really not seeing it.


I ranked the Wizard archetypes.

Spoiler:

Arcane Bomber - Terrible (-2)
Bombs are a pretty cool class feature, especially at level 1. Unfortunately this archetype just gives up way too much to do it, and to make matters worse you cannot apply discoveries to those bombs in any fashion. You lock yourself out of school specialization and have less spell power, you don't get cantrips, you don't get an arcane bond, and as this wasn't already bad enough you have to take a whopping four opposition schools. Just be an Evoker if you want to blow things up.

Exploiter Wizard - Great (+2)
The sheer number of options afforded by Arcanist Exploits is dazzling, and the Wizard can put them to excellent use. What holds this archetype back is that you're locked out of the arcane school, and as such get fewer spell slots per day and miss out on all the cool class features that can afford. It's a steep tradeoff but with excellent rewards.

Familiar Adept - Terrible (-2)
So let's see... lose three bonus feats, take an extra opposition school, you must use a specific familiar archetype and that archetype gets nerfed, you have to use the Witch familiar rules rather than the Wizard spellbook rules resulting in higher cost to learn spells and a catastrophic point of weakness... uh, where are the benefits? Oh, here they are at the bottom! Once per day your familiar gets to use a nearly-useless spell-like ability! Absolutely atrocious.

Pact Wizard - Bad (-1)
This archetype doesn't even have the decency to give you the Sacred Summons feat for free, making you purchase it yourself. Ultimately it's all too little to be worth giving up an extra opposition school, but you could make it work if you really wanted to.

Primalist - Good (+1)
An interesting archetype that offers some cool options, but only if you're the gambling sort. While the benefits aren't really that outstanding, the tradeoffs are relatively low. Although on the other hand, maybe my standards have been lowered a bit after reading Familiar Adept... shudder...

Scrollmaster - Good (+1)
While the stuff you get at level 1 is interesting, using fragile magic scrolls as weapons and armor proves to be about as practical as you'd expect. The real meat of this archetype is what you get at level 10, Improved Scroll Casting. Although it's only one class feature, the tradeoffs for this archetype are very mild and make it overall a good selection. I

Scroll Scholar - Good (+1)
Trading away little of value in return for some cool abilities, it's a solid archetype. The biggest downside is that it locks you into being a Diviner specialist, with the other tradeoffs being unambigious upgrades.

Shadowcaster - Good (+1)
Good tradeoffs across the board that will suit any darkness-oriented wizard quite well, and all without affecting the arcane school class feature and thus leaving it perfectly compatible with almost any wizard build. It is held back from a "great" ranking by the fact that it only really shines on illusion specialists, and while other wizard builds can benefit they won't to quite the same degree.

Siege Mage - Terrible (-2)
This archetype is so outlandishly impractical outside of siege combat as to be laughable. It might be useful for an NPC who will only ever be encountered on an open battlefield with a siege engine at his disposal, but for an adventurer the practicality of this archetype is a big fat zero.

Spellslinger - Terrible (single-class) / Bad (multi-class) (-2/-1)
The deep tradeoffs of the spellslinger are somewhat redeemed by some very cool benefits. The lack of a specialty school, the extra opposition schools, the lack of cantrips, and some utterly draconian misfire rules really hold it back. However, with multi-classing the Spellslinger can sidestep most of the downsides the archetype imposes while still grabbing the main benefits and can perform much better.

Spell Sage - Good (+1)
This archetype is defined by insanely good abilities tempered by limited usage per day and steep tradeoffs. It greatly expands on what the Wizard is capable of, but with steeply limited usage per day and trading off significant class features for access.

Spirit Binder - Average (+0)
Essentially this archetype gives your bonus feats to your familiar, with everything else being mostly fluff. It's a neutral tradeoff if there ever was one.

Spirit Whisperer - Average (+0)
While this archetype offers severe downsides, including trading off the spellbook for the inferior witch-style familiar and the loss of the arcane school, it does offer some very unique and promising abilities.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
N. Jolly wrote:
Alex Mack wrote:

And then there is a lot of shades of grey which is why I disagree with a ranking scheme as proposed by N.Jolly above. There exist plenty of Archetypes which force you into more specialized roles but in turn give you a bit more power. Sometimes they will make you way more powerful (Zen Archer) but totally force you into one build or play style.

Then there's those archetypes that are complete game changers and fundamentally alter the way the class works (I'm thinking of stuff like Daring Champion or Stonelord but there's prolly even better examples).

Really there's tons of shades of grey in normal guides but they're all rated the same way (for the most part), so I'm not really seeing a problem keeping in tone with that.

I think Secret Wizard actually said what I wanted to say with far more precision and analytical clarity. Ultimately the choice of an archetype in many situations will have a massive impact on your character, hell it's prolly the second most important decision in building a character after choosing a class.

However the decision to choose archetype A) versus archetype B) often doesn't come down to A) is more powerful than B) [and this is credit to the developers] but actually A) will help me to better realize the concept I have in mind for this character than B).

Now of course one could argue that the fully speced build for A) is always superior to B) (hi invulnerable rager) but in many situation you will end up comparing apples to oranges (Vanilla Cavalier vs. Daring Champion) thus I don't think one dimensional rating scale will do.


N. Jolly wrote:
Melkiador wrote:

Usually you can just cut off the /edit part and replace it with /pub

Edit this might work for viewing

Damn SW, that is one hell of an undertaking. I can see why you talked about me being more concise, that mock up is already massive for only that amount of classes. Like it's painfully thorough, to the point where it might be TOO comprehensive. The idea I had for this was far more subdued.

Again, I don't want to 'helm' this, but I'm willing to assist someone else if Icy and you would like to work with me, I can get a more simplistic framework (I don't see a 'theme' working for this myself, so keep it generic), and the three of us can work on it together, take suggestions from the general public about archetypes and such that we're not as clear on.

I'm not super certain it's a guide that's needed, but I could be see it being fun to work on, so both of you let me know if that's something you'd be interested in.

Apologies for the late reply. That sounds like a grand idea. My idea was less about getting into the vast minutia of archetypes and give them a page of what they do and all that, but rather a nice document where you can glance over the ratings and see what general consensus is about an archetype.

For example, you could go to Bard, see the quick paragraph or less for an archetype on strength and weaknesses, maybe at most what type of Bard would find it useful, and leave it to players to figure out the crunch. Hopefully I'm making sense. I had also started a google doc, which you can find here

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1hiQ4naLEsyVU81YRDJIP6yjAcFMIjMfpFZ6O_Cr bJC0/pub

If we want to collaborate, however, I am more then happy to let this one stay in the rough phase and continue with another document.


Secret Wizard wrote:
Claxon wrote:
Sanctified Slayer - Inquisitor - Very solid archetype, especially for an archer or TWF. Give up the versatility of judgements for a pretty much always active bonus to hit and damage, which is basically what you were going to use judgements for. The ability to pick up Slayer Talents, which are going to be used for Ranger Combat Style feats allowing you to bypass requirements on those feats is pretty stellar. You also get Sneak Attack which is nice if you're TWF. You basically get to poach the best parts of ranger and slayer but you get 6th level spell casting. Congratulations.

It has serious downsides though. It's not up as often as you might think before you get swift action studied target (and then it starts competing with spells) or if you get sneak attack.

Also, you don't get many feats so it's not really THAT useful (though it's better than nothing for archery).

TWF still sucks for Inquisitors due to Bane interactions.

Also, a lot of cool spells/items work upon Judgement.

It is a downside the prior to level 7 you need to spend a move action, but that's no worse than the buffing that most classes need to get something good. Yes it could potentially interfere with spells, but there aren't many good swift action spells until you start talking about using quickened spell on buff spells.

3 feats that ignore prerequisites can be huge. Like being able to pick up Point Blank Master which an Inquisitor wouldn't normally qualify for.

And the TWF issue is somewhat solved by Double Bane.

Overall, this is why the archetype is exceptionally good for archers. You only have 1 weapon, but you get as many attacks as TWF up until they get Greater TWF. You only need to apply bane once. You get bonus feats to allow you to Ignore Prereqs for things like Point Blank Master and Improved Precise Shot.

The only downside is the action economy problem of having to activate bane on the second round of combat after you spend the first round activating Studied Enemy and casting a buff spell like Divine Favor or Divine Power.


Perhaps the archetypes should be ranked on two axes: versatility and power. Rankings would go from -2 to +2 ("great", "good", "average", "bad", "terrible") on each axis.

The versatility axis measures how much the class can do, particularly within any single build. To get maximum ranking in versatility an archetype must not only allow the build do things that the vanilla class could not, but without sacrificing any of the capabilities of the vanilla class. Those that make strong gains but sacrifice key abilities elsewhere will only get +1. To get a -1 a class must not only give up important class features, but what they get in return is either very specialized or much more limited than what they gave up. A -2 in the versatility category means the class's ability to fulfill its intended role is compromised, and while they may still function in some limited respects they are poor substitutes for their vanilla class.

The power axis measures how effective the class is at its intended roles. To get a maximum ranking in power an archetype must be an unambiguous improvement to the base class without any significant tradeoffs. The benefits should be broad and applicable to many different builds. Those with significant drawbacks, or whose power is only applicable to very specific builds merit only a +1. To get a -1 the archetype not only makes tradeoffs, but significant ones that eat into its primary abilities without comparable gains elsewhere. To get a -2 the class has to be significantly less powerful, to the point at which it simply cannot compete with the vanilla class in the same roles.

Revisiting my Wizard rankings from last night (the full text is in my previous post):

Spoiler:

Arcane Bomber: -2 Versatility, -2 Power
Exploiter Wizard: +2 Versatility, +0 Power
Familiar Adept: -2 Versatility, -2 Power
Pact Wizard: -1 Versatility, +0 Power
Primalist: +0 Versatility, +1 Power
Scrollmaster: +1 Versaility, +0 Power
Scroll Scholar: +1 Versatility, +0 Power
Shadowcaster: +1 Versatility, +1 Power
Siege Mage: -2 Versatility, -2 Power
Spellslinger: -2 Versatility, -1 Power (note: goes to +0 versatility if multi-class)
Spell Sage: +0 Versatility, +1 Power
Spirit Binder: +0 Versatility, +0 Power
Spirit Whisperer: +0 Versatility, +0 Power


Icy Turbo wrote:

{. . .}

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1hiQ4naLEsyVU81YRDJIP6yjAcFMIjMfpFZ6O_Cr bJC0/pub
{. . .}

That link doesn't work if you copy and paste it as is -- try this.

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