Any thoughts on the combination on the Herb Witch archetype and the Thuvian Alchemist prestige class? Thematically, it seems like it would be perfect, but I'm wondering what the prestige actually provides here. As far as a I can tell, it would let me burn 2 1st level spell slots to make a single extract of Cure Light Wounds, that has to be used within the next turn... instead of just casting cure light wounds twice - am I reading that right? I guess this is a sort of 1:2 trade-off to heal without preparing the cure spell - 1 for two, over 2 rounds, for what is essentially the cleric's spontaneous healing ability, right?
It also allows a short list of alchemist discoveries, but it says that they stack with alchemist levels - but no mention of the levels stacking with 'other arcane' class levels, if that route is used to enter the prestige class. So if I'm With 5/Thuvian Alchemist 2, would the Spontaneous Healing discovery do 10 hp of spontaneous healing per day (as level 2 Thuvian alchemist), or 35 hp of spontaneous healing (as level 7)?
I wish this was more beneficial, but I guess it just backs up my thoughts that archetypes simply make most prestige classes redundant. If my above interpretations are correct, I'd be FAR better off staying witch, and adding the Hedge Witch archetype as well, to get spontaneous cure spells without the 1 for 2 tradeoff.
3.5e had a serious love of prestige classes. Pathfinder almost goes out of its way to be the opposite. You're not wrong in your assessment.
What surprised me was this isn't a carryover prestige class from 3.5 - it's a 'new' pathfinder specific prestige class from People of the Sands (2013).
Almost all prestige classes in Pathfinder are weak. Most offer a few neat things but pale compared to 3.5 prestige classes. My old group and I complained about that lack of power. Had a friend who wanted to be a Hellknight the prestige class perfect for his character. The problem was he lost a lot of power switching to it. He found being a straight fighter was better then the prestige class. Later on we just said he was while he switched the four levels of that prestige class back to fighter.
Pazio has tried to limit multiclassing and prestige classes wanting players to stick with a single class all the way to at least sixteenth, the level most adventure paths end at. From the posts I've read and my own experience people prefer mutliclassing. Pazio introduced the Hybrid classes as a result.
I have found about three prestige classes that are actually worth taking. Shadow Dancer for two or three levels is pretty sweet. Dark vision, Hide in plain sight and at third a Shadow for a pet. The drawback to this prestige class is the cost of three feats to get it. Holy Vindicator is another that is nice for a few levels. One channel and you get a boost to AC. Granted until you actually get hit but still pretty nice. One of the rare prestige classes that not only allows your spell level to increase but your channeling as well. The other abilities are nice but one prestige class I'd only take for half then go back to a base class. Lore Master for casters is a pretty nice prestige class. The abilities offered make it worth taking for Wizards more then any other class. The loss of wizardly abilities are nicely offset by the abilities granted by this prestige class.
There are other neat prestige classes but you need to read them. I have found what looks good at a glance doesn't hold up after a bit of study. Some seem to offer all these seemingly great abilities but consider what levels you are losing in your base classes.
I agree with you about Pathfinder designers and prestige classes Derek.
But I think I can expand on it a bit. I think the idea was to make effective characters simpler. If a majority of the most effective characters take one class and stick to it, it is simpler and easier to grasp to those new to the game than if the power builds consist of six different classes taken in one specific order.
I don't mind the policy, I just think they overdid it. There are a huge number of PrCs in print that are rarely if ever played as they are under powered.
Another thing that weakens PrCs is that for a spellcaster, little compensates you for giving up a casting level.
I started this thread not to determine IF prestige classes were viable in Pathfinder - I accept their general niche flavor but underpowered nature, and I agree in general that this is how they should be. I do feel you should be able to play the flavor you want from the beginning, not have flavor drasticly change once your PC class gets to a certain point and then start growing in a completely different way with the prestige classes. The only places I think this mechanic makes sense is for things that are only unlocked with a general change in-game to the character as well - things like organizational prestige classes (I always think of the old Red Wizard of Thay prestige class in this example). In this case, there's an in-character REASON the path changes after a certain point.
The Thuvian Alchemist, however, just mechanically doesn't do what I think it was intended to do. Even the 'breath of life' option that is gained at higher levels, I don't see as even being viable. Your friend gets knocked down and is now dead in round 3; on your turn in round 3 you spend a full-round action to whip up the breath of life extract. Their round 4 goes by and they are still dead. On your round 4, you move over to them and administer the extract - the character has been dead at this point for less than 1 round, and the extract has no effect.
Most of the Prestige classes now are for RP more then anything. I've seen like half a dozen that offer a PC nothing to be in it. I mean seriously nothing that one or two sessions of RP could grant them. Some are Organization based Red Mantis assassin, Hell Knight and a few Pathfinder Society. Yet oddly enough when you look at the more prominent or powerful members of this organizations you will notice they don't even take more then one level at most three. Hell I've seen prominent member who have no levels in their organizations prestige classes.
The Red Mantis Assassin is a nice prestige class and there are a few others that are not bad. But my old group and I rarely ever took more then a few levels in any prestige class. Shadow Dancer after third in my mind doesn't justify the other seven levels. Holy Vindicator after fifth level hurts a cleric because you lose about four levels of spell casting with this prestige class.
Crazi on paper a lot of classes, archtypes and prestige classes look cool. Then you begin playing them and most times they don't hold up well. I get the thematic element for a lot of archtypes but most times RP playing a base class does the same. Most archtypes I look at and ask what do I los from the base class? A few actually balance out but not many in my mind. Almost none of the rogue archtypes are worth taking. Most take away Trap finding. While a lot of people say Rogue and trap finding is useless they can always bypass a trap or set it off without getting hurt. They clearly have not faced some of the traps I have seen both in Pathfinder and D&D. Some traps have to be disabled to proceed further in the adventure. Others if not disarmed can kill an entire party.