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Noob question about Prestige Classes


Advice


Hey folks!

I'm fairly new to the Pathfinder scene - I'm currently playing a Chaotic Good bard in my first campaign. He's currently level 3, but I'm looking towards the future for how I will build him at higher levels, particularly any Prestige classes I will take.

Anyways, my two questions are:

1) How do Hit Dice / Base Attack Bonuses / Base Saves / etc. for Prestige classes work with said stats for your original class? Do they stack, does one take precedence over the other, or can you pick and choose what you use?

2) Which Prestige classes (if any) would you recommend for a support-oriented bard?

Sorry if my questions sound somewhat noobish, and thanks in advance for your help!


If you pick a prestige class all bonuses from that prestige class replace any benefits that you could get from taking further levels on your base class, unless the prestige class says otherwise.
P.ex. if you were a 5th level bard with 2 levels on a prestige class that says that its levels stack with your former class regarding to spells known and spells per day, you'd have all the benefits of a 5th level bard, plus all the benefits of the prestige class (but you wouldn't have the benefits that a bard would gain at 6th and 7th level), and in this case would have the spells of a 7th level bard, as the class specifically states that.
I'd recommend you to stay on the main class, through. Bards are great without having to take a prestige class and as you are new to the game it will be a lot more simple. Don't see.main classes as a weaker option, they are often as powerful or more than prestige classes.


1) They stack with your previous class. Taking levels of a prestige class is just like multi-classing, the only difference is there are certain requirements you have to meet before taking prestige class levels.

Let's say you're a 5th level bard, and now for your 6th level, you plan on taking a level of dragon disciple. Instead of the normal 6th level bard things, you just add all the stats you'd get from that 1st level of dragon disciple. So you'll get a d12 hit die, +0 to your BAB, +1 fort, +1 will, a natural armor bonus, the "Blood of Dragons" ability, and everything else the class spells out giving you for the 1st level.

2) Most prestige classes are kinda underwhelming, especially when compared to just keeping with your original class. What they're really for is exploring very niche character concepts, something I doubt you'd want to be doing for your first character.

I'd suggest just sticking with Bard, as you'll get better supportive abilities as you advance in that class. The Bard's inspire courage combined with a great spell list make for a very potent support character. Most prestige classes won't advance either of those abilities, so you'll be better off sticking to the one class.


Thanks for the tips folks =D

So, going by what you say, and assuming I do decide to take a prestige class in the future, would the best time to prestige be when I reach level 20 in my base class, thus having all my base class abilites?


123zane321 wrote:

Thanks for the tips folks =D

So, going by what you say, and assuming I do decide to take a prestige class in the future, would the best time to prestige be when I reach level 20 in my base class, thus having all my base class abilites?

Most adventures aren't going to get there, but if you are going to level 20 (and past), that'd be a fine time to take levels of a prestige class.


But given that PFS ends at 12th, published adventures end at 16th, most homebrews tend to peter out around the same time or before, and there are no rules for progressing past 20th level, the chances of that are vanishingly slim.


i would stay away from prestige classes especially if its your 1st character most of them are terible and you would be better off just sticking with your base class once you get more experrience with game mecanics you could start looking into prestige classes but it would mostly be for flavor purposes as most of them are really really bad


When you are a bit more into the game I suggest you to take a look into archetypes more than prestige classes if you want to play a special or different point of view of a class. You give up some class features to gain alternative ones and some of them are great roleplaying and mechanics wise.
But for now I'd probably stick to the bard main class. It's a great class and I'm sure you'll enjoy it as it is.


Base classes are the best mechanically with few exceptions. Meanwhile prestige classes offer unique abilities and flavor. If you want to be a powerful character stay bard. If you want to keep advancing your current abilities because they are fun keep with your base class. If you read a prestige class and it sounds fun to play go for it. You can find most prestige classes on the PFSRD if you want to read through some.


Thanks for the advice folks, I appreciate it. I have had fun playing as a Bard so far - our DM has even put me in charge of deciding on a suitable theme for the party, seeing as it would make sense for the Bard to decide on something music-y.

For the foreseeable future, I'm pretty sure I will indeed just stick with a regular Bard. I've had a look through the core rulebook prestige classes, and in the event that I was to end up picking a prestige class (again, not for the foreseeable future), the Pathfinder Chronicler seems like it would work nicely with the Bard class (Bardic Knowledge and Performance, which stack with the same abilities of the Bard - correct me if I'm wrong though)


Sundakan wrote:
there are no rules for progressing past 20th level

Yes there are: CRB pg. 406f. Multiclassing is even one listed possible option: "Multiclassing/Prestige Classes: The simplest way to progress beyond 20th level is to simply multiclass or take levels in a prestige class, in which case you gain all of the abilities of the new class level normally. This effectively treats 20th level as a hard limit for class level, but not as a hard limit for total character level."

123zane321 wrote:
So, going by what you say, and assuming I do decide to take a prestige class in the future, would the best time to prestige be when I reach level 20 in my base class, thus having all my base class abilites?

The time to take a prestige class very much depends on the prestige class itself, as well as the base class or base classees. The most common situation is probably taking a prestige class as early as possibly (for most of them, that's starting with your 6th level). Other times, you'll want to wait for a certain class feature of your base class to gain ASAP, and only take levels in the prestige class afterwards (for instance, a Witch will probably want the Major Hex class feature at 10th level before taking levels in the awesome Stargazer prestige class, while a Cleric would want to take that prestige class at 6th or 7th level to get the aditional domain and thus the Overland Flight spell at 9th level).

123zane321 wrote:
the Pathfinder Chronicler seems like it would work nicely with the Bard class (Bardic Knowledge and Performance, which stack with the same abilities of the Bard - correct me if I'm wrong though)

Those would stack, yes, but you'd lose spell casting progression, which is an important part of the bard.


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I think that due to being new to the system you do not understand a couple of things. First and most importantly is the game does not go beyond 20th level. There are a couple of suggestions for the GM who want to try and continue past that but almost never happens. The game really is not designed to go that high and every attempt to go past that that I have seen never worked well.

The second thing is that most games don’t even get to 20th level. If you are playing PFS you don’t go past 12th. Even published adventures are designed to end around 16th level. Some homebrew campaigns may go on until 20th level but that is extremely rare. Designing an adventure for characters past 16th level is extremely difficult. For the most part the rules for characters past that point are usually used by the GM to provide opponents for the party. If you are lucky you may get a character or two who actually gets to 20th level but that is extremely rare.

Prestige classes are kind of a holdover from 3rd edition D&D. In 3rd edition most of the classes were front loaded and by taking a prestige class you became more powerful. Most classes did not gain additional abilities as they leveled up and they had few if any level dependent abilities. Why play a single classed wizard who only gets more spells and higher level spells? Instead you played a prestige class that not only gave you the same spell casting ability as the single classed wizard, but gave you a whole bunch of other cool abilities.

Pathfinder changed all of that. Now every class gains class abilities as they level up. Most if not all of them are level dependent. This means that multiclassing of any sort usually severely weakens a character. In almost every case you lose more than you gain when you multiclass, including prestige classes.

Take the Pathfinder Chronicler for example. At first it seems like it would be a good idea for a bard, but after looking it over you lose a lot more than you gain. Your BAB, saves and HP are the same as the bard so that pretty much breaks even. Your spell casting does not increase so that is a huge loss of power. Your bardic knowledge does stack so that is about the same as the single classed bard. You are two levels behind on your performances so a minor loss of power but still a loss. What you gain are some bonuses to skill, the ability to write down a bardic performance to be used latter, and some minor summoning.

Compare a 5th level bard with 10 levels in Pathfinder Chronicler to a 15th level bard. Combat wise they are about the same. The Pathfinder Chronicler will have more skills and some bonuses to skills the bard does not. The Pathfinder Chronicler will be two levels behind the bard in bardic performance. The Pathfinder Chronicler will be able to cast 2nd level spells with a caster level of 5. This not only means you get less spells but they also will not last as long and weaker. The straight bard is casting 5th level spells and even the lower level spells are far more powerful.


Mysterious Stranger wrote:

I think that due to being new to the system you do not understand a couple of things. First and most importantly is the game does not go beyond 20th level. There are a couple of suggestions for the GM who want to try and continue past that but almost never happens. The game really is not designed to go that high and every attempt to go past that that I have seen never worked well.

The second thing is that most games don’t even get to 20th level. If you are playing PFS you don’t go past 12th. Even published adventures are designed to end around 16th level. Some homebrew campaigns may go on until 20th level but that is extremely rare. Designing an adventure for characters past 16th level is extremely difficult. For the most part the rules for characters past that point are usually used by the GM to provide opponents for the party. If you are lucky you may get a character or two who actually gets to 20th level but that is extremely rare.

Prestige classes are kind of a holdover from 3rd edition D&D. In 3rd edition most of the classes were front loaded and by taking a prestige class you became more powerful. Most classes did not gain additional abilities as they leveled up and they had few if any level dependent abilities. Why play a single classed wizard who only gets more spells and higher level spells? Instead you played a prestige class that not only gave you the same spell casting ability as the single classed wizard, but gave you a whole bunch of other cool abilities.

Pathfinder changed all of that. Now every class gains class abilities as they level up. Most if not all of them are level dependent. This means that multiclassing of any sort usually severely weakens a character. In almost every case you lose more than you gain when you multiclass, including prestige classes.

Take the Pathfinder Chronicler for example. At first it seems like it would be a good idea for a bard, but after looking it over you lose a lot more than you gain. Your BAB, saves and HP are the...

Agreed with most of what you said. It is a well known fact that PRCs for the most part are suboptimal. However you did fail to mention any of the Pathfinder Chronicler special abilities. Do they add up to bard spell casting? Of course not. However they do get stuff like deep pockets which is the funnest ability in the game in my opinion


the only good prestige classes i can think of are souleater and maybe dragon disiple


For the most part, the presence of Prestige Classes in Pathfinder is a legacy artifact from how Pathfinder started out as an extension/continuation of 3.5th edition of Dungeons and Dragons, and 3.5 was *all* about Prestige Classes.

In Pathfinder, some of the operative design principles was that classes would not have "dead" levels (i.e. levels at which a class gains nothing interesting) and to encourage people to stay in a single class for their entire career (though level 20 capstones and favored class bonuses.) But Pathfinder needed Prestige Classes, because 3.5 had them and Pathfinder was designed to be backwards compatible.

So you don't need to take a prestige class, you might even not benefit as much from one as you would if you just stayed in one class for your whole career. For the most part, I would encourage new players to stay away, since a lot of them are either vastly more flavorful than they practical or kind of require you to know what you're doing (there are people out there still looking for Mystic Theurge builds that are viable at every level, I suspect).

In short, you can stay in bard. Do not feel pressured to branch out to any other classes.

Dark Archive

Plus, you are usually way better off taking an archetype that gives you what the prestige class you are looking at gives you, like taking the bard archetype archaeologist instead of taking levels of rogue or a rogue like prestige class.


Cory Stafford 29 wrote:
Plus, you are usually way better off taking an archetype that gives you what the prestige class you are looking at gives you, like taking the bard archetype archaeologist instead of taking levels of rogue or a rogue like prestige class.

...unless you have enough system mastery to use those rogue levels to do something you couldn't do otherwise, or if you were pursuing a prestige class that REQUIRED sneak attack dice your class didn't give (like Arcane Trickster as a Wizard or Sorcerer).

Basically, just stick with a single class for the most part right now. Take a Prestige Class if it tickles your fancy - some are really good, and most are really flavorful. However, once you've gotten more system mastery and know the ins-and-outs of the game better, THEN start digging into multiclassing and prestige class dips and what-have-you.

(An example of something you might dip for because it does something you otherwise can't: Playing a paladin, you dip a level of Oracle to get a revelation that gives CHA to AC. Boom, quick dip, lots of glorious cheese to add onto your build.)

Dark Archive

Inlaa wrote:
Cory Stafford 29 wrote:
Plus, you are usually way better off taking an archetype that gives you what the prestige class you are looking at gives you, like taking the bard archetype archaeologist instead of taking levels of rogue or a rogue like prestige class.

...unless you have enough system mastery to use those rogue levels to do something you couldn't do otherwise, or if you were pursuing a prestige class that REQUIRED sneak attack dice your class didn't give (like Arcane Trickster as a Wizard or Sorcerer).

Basically, just stick with a single class for the most part right now. Take a Prestige Class if it tickles your fancy - some are really good, and most are really flavorful. However, once you've gotten more system mastery and know the ins-and-outs of the game better, THEN start digging into multiclassing and prestige class dips and what-have-you.

(An example of something you might dip for because it does something you otherwise can't: Playing a paladin, you dip a level of Oracle to get a revelation that gives CHA to AC. Boom, quick dip, lots of glorious cheese to add onto your build.)

Yes. There are a few good dips like crossblooded sorcerer (orc/dragon) on a blaster or a level of swashbuckler on any dex-based character.

Liberty's Edge

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Lady-J wrote:
i would stay away from prestige classes especially if its your 1st character most of them are terible and you would be better off just sticking with your base class once you get more experrience with game mecanics you could start looking into prestige classes but it would mostly be for flavor purposes as most of them are really really bad

Wow, that was one *really* long sentence! ;)

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