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So what're the least-optimal options these days?


Advice

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I've never found a more certain way to judge whether a build would be fun than to see if people shout about how unplayably bad it is.

I've had my fair share of chained monks and rogues, Int-Fighters, melee 1/2-BAB types, pyrokineticists, and recently a couple of throwing builds, though. Time to try something new.

So what can't possibly be made viable? What's bad, and should never be used by anyone, ever? What's my next fun build going to be?

To clarify: I'm not talking deliberately-crippled builds, like the Wizard with Int so low that he can't cast spells. Just 'bad' stuff like the chained rogue that I'm going to try to make a fun and useful character out of (and succeed at).


1 level dip into every caster


I'm give to understand slingstaffs don't really work.

The brut vigilante archetype is also supposed to be bad.


LittleMissNaga wrote:
chained monks and rogues, Int-Fighters, melee 1/2-BAB types, pyrokineticists, and recently a couple of throwing builds

You may have exhausted the supply of "unplayables". There are several archetypes considered to be serious downgrades from their base class, but that's about it.

So how about a "healbot"? The heals, all the heals and nothing but the heals. That's usually derided.

Scarab Sages

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A very tough mono class option would probably be the "Drake rider" Cavalier archtype.
You give up basically everything to get a drake, and if said drake die you'll be without a new one for 7 years, add to it it's not necessary better than your original mount(and at high level it might be troublesome moving around due to size)

If you go for a party you could play a "Weapon Bearer Squire" more or less focusing on making sure your knights gear is in top shape, a squire without a knight now that would be unfortunate


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Chromantic Durgon <3 wrote:

I'm give to understand slingstaffs don't really work.

The brut vigilante archetype is also supposed to be bad.

Brute was literally first thing that came to my mind.


Hmm. Few side notes.
Note: Most Unplayable Trash builds actually have two problems.
#1: They are front or back loaded. (Chained Monks)
#2: People over do it. (Int-Fighters)
#3: Not understanding the point in the first place. (Chained Rogues)
#4: One Trick Ponies can be useful but really boring. (Pure HP Battery/Heal Clerics will make you almost unkillable, but they are useless in almost every other way)
---------------
Monks are fine.. after about level 5-6? Actually they can be super handy in a party as really mobile attack dogs for lower AC problems. (I.E. Tank Killers)

Rogues are fine.. As long as the person playing them understands that no.. that Sneak Attack damage will never make you a primary melee damage dealer. Your more a skill monkey that can be pretty useful in a fight to punish the enemy for making mistakes.

Int-Fighters. There is no such thing as a Int Fighter... There is a Fighter that's going to need 13 Int... There is no reason for a Fighter to have more then 14 Int. Because that's all you need to the Int feats.
----------------
As far as useless Trash? Oh boy.

Well you already stated Throwing Builds.. Yes they are terrible.

Almost anything that tries to do Unarmed Melee that is not a monk...

SlingStaffs don't work.. Actually a WHOLE but load of Exotic Weapons don't work. And even the Pazio staff have said that they actually only put some in because they felt like they (Had to) Because of 3.5

Pure AOE Damage Casters should be team killed on sight.

About half of the Bard Archtypes (And that's from some one who loves bards)

About half Druids.

A lot of Monk Archetypes.

Most Rogue Archetypes.

Any Type of 1/2 BAB Melee build. (Think you already said that)

A lot of Alchemists, Cavaliers, Gunslingers.. Actually just a ton of the Archtypes from the "Base Classes"

Gunslingers are Cancer if the game is not built for them.

Anything that needs a mount to work is really annoying unless the GM works with you.

Sovereign Court

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blackstarraven wrote:


As far as useless Trash? Oh boy.

Well you already stated Throwing Builds.. Yes they are terrible.

Fairly sure you can make an effective throwing build using either


  • Flying Blade swashbuckler with Starry Grace; Precise Strike and dex to damage on starknives can go pretty fast.
  • Far Strike monk with deer horn knife
  • Barbarians, emphasizing thrown weapons until people come close which is when you just do the typical barbarian melee thing. Lesser Belt of Mighty Hurling can help. Switch-hitting is much easier for thrown characters that don't need to worry about holding on to a bow and a melee weapon at the same time.
  • Halfling fighter/alchemist with slipslinger style and a good supply of splash weapons to apply Throw Anything damage to. Long range touch attacks across the elemental spectrum shouldn't be underestimated.

blackstarraven wrote:
Almost anything that tries to do Unarmed Melee that is not a monk...

Like Brawlers or Phantom Blade spiritualists?

blackstarraven wrote:
SlingStaffs don't work..

They do work with Slipslinger Style.

blackstarraven wrote:
Actually a WHOLE but load of Exotic Weapons don't work. And even the Pazio staff have said that they actually only put some in because they felt like they (Had to) Because of 3.5

Some weapons are exotic simply because they're weird. Some are trash. But I think about 30% can be made quite effective. After all, static bonuses matter so much more than base damage value. If the weapon has an interesting property that can be exploited, then it's viable.

blackstarraven wrote:
Pure AOE Damage Casters should be team killed on sight.

Unless they're actually good at their job of clearing away mook shields so the barbarian can go directly towards the BBEG. A good AoE caster does crowd control by killing the crowd. It requires significant powergaming to get the required damage output though, and you need backup plans for solo enemies.

blackstarraven wrote:

About half of the Bard Archtypes (And that's from some one who loves bards)

About half Druids.

A lot of Monk Archetypes.

Most Rogue Archetypes.

Any Type of 1/2 BAB Melee build. (Think you already said that)

A lot of Alchemists, Cavaliers, Gunslingers.. Actually just a ton of the Archtypes from the "Base Classes"

Well, the options can be useless, but "unplayable" is probably too strong for most of them. If you can make a working build that beats the benchmarks (i.e. typical AP/scenario difficulty, or your local GM's campaign) then by definition it's not unplayable.

blackstarraven wrote:
Gunslingers are Cancer if the game is not built for them.

Conversely, gunslingers break many published adventures that aren't built to cope with them.

blackstarraven wrote:
Anything that needs a mount to work is really annoying unless the GM works with you.

Builds that depend on charge lanes, those are fragile. If you use a mount just for sheer mobility, there's often not so much problem. Small races using a mount to overcome low base movement, or a climbing/flying mount are much more robust.


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A Chaotic Good Paladin who retains their Paladin abilities.

You didn't specify why they were too be unplayable. :P

Dark Archive

The universalist wizard who uses Hand of the Apprentice to swing a greatsword across the battlefield.

My Intimidatrix build was pretty good, but I'll let you figure it out on your own. It's a martial build and the idea is to demoralize your opponents.


the David wrote:

The universalist wizard who uses Hand of the Apprentice to swing a greatsword across the battlefield.

My Intimidatrix build was pretty good, but I'll let you figure it out on your own. It's a martial build and the idea is to demoralize your opponents.

See I feel I could work with that theme. upgrade to bigger swords and more weight *throws colossal great sword using combo of gravity control and telekinesis.*

Liberty's Edge

The drake rider archetypes aren't unplayable, but they're pretty garbage. Certainly something that lines up with your MO.


The Dandy Lion wrote:
The drake rider archetypes aren't unplayable, but they're pretty garbage. Certainly something that lines up with your MO.

Its funny in my games I probably would of just let a player take a drake mount as a feat (exotic mount or some such.) or maybe make em do a quest or something. that archetype is not my preferred way for sure.

Liberty's Edge

I wouldn't disagree. They only begin to outstrip animal companions very late on, and even then that's debatable.


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The Hand of the Apprentice build is not meant to primarily use a Colossal greatsword as their thing. It's meant as a flavor option.

A really, really mean one once you get Quicken true strike online at 9th level, earlier if you invest in it. Strap on Vital Strike at 11th or 13th level. You keep your mobility and can dish out a truckload of weapon damage.

A Mystic Theurge Universalist Wizard/Cleric of [deity with Magic Domain] gets two pools of "I cast helicopter blade". If both INT and WIS are a +3 bonus, that's 12 helicopter blades/day. It gets more entertaining the higher your pair of casting scores get. Alternatively, one can dip a single level into Cleric to snag the extra pool and a vastly expanded repertoire of spell trigger item access, such as 'pixie sticks' aka wands of cure light wounds. No need for UMD.

One option in terms of gear is to Craft a charged Wondrous Item (Monocle of the Guided Propeller) that works exactly as Quickened true strike does. SL 5th x CL 9th x750 as a spell trigger item with 50 charges: 33,750 gp base price, so 34 days and 16,875 gp out of pocket materials cost to make one yourself.

If it is use-activated by hand of the apprentice and/or hand of the acolyte as a free action prior to the attack roll, then it no longer has charges and has a price of 90,000 gp = 45k gp and 90 days' down time. Cut this in half if it has 50 charges. A fairly hefty upcharge for getting your swift action back...


the David wrote:

The universalist wizard who uses Hand of the Apprentice to swing a greatsword across the battlefield.

My Intimidatrix build was pretty good, but I'll let you figure it out on your own. It's a martial build and the idea is to demoralize your opponents.

Intimidatrix builds are distressingly effective in a hurry if you're willing to dip a lot of toes into multiple classes. Especially in an Evil campaign. It doesn't take very long to ramp it up to where you're tearing a foe down all the way to cowering within a round, assuming that they survive the damage.


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Illusionists. They're effectively unplayable since, depending on the GM, they're either omnipotent or useless.

Sovereign Court

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VRMH wrote:
Illusionists. They're effectively unplayable since, depending on the GM, they're either omnipotent or useless.

I've had no trouble with mine in PFS, across a range of GMs.

The trick of course is not to limit yourself only to classic "show something that isn't there" illusions.

Greater Invisibility on the rogue is also illusion. And the Illusion school gives you a L1 power that continues to work at higher levels to blind mooks (any critter of which there's more than 3 in an encountter will probably not have more HD than you). The real prize is the L8 power though: swift action Greater Invisibility is extremely handy. It makes it much harder for enemies to "geek the mage first", and makes ranged touch spells very likely to hit.

And then there's brutally crippling illusion spells like Phantasmal Web.


Magical Child and The Brute Vigilante archetypes are pretty flavorful and hard to play. Have at them!


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BARBARIAN CORDIALLY REQUEST TRUE PRIMITIVE OR BRUTAL PUGILIST.

AM LIKE THOSE TWO COUSINS NOBODY IN FAMILY WANT MENTION.

Scarab Sages

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

Sling Staff can work, if you are a warslinger halfling with slipslinger style.

Dark Archive

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Nothing is truly unplayable, unless the chosen stats are horrendous for the chosen build (like you already mentioned, the no-Int Wizard).

There are however a lot of sub-optimal choices, some less optimal than others, that require one to play either differently or smarter. They usually have a lot of flavor, but force a build in a certain direction if you wish to remain on the same functioning level as the other players. As Imbicatus already said, Sling Staff can work, but you need to build around it, as it needs more resources than the normal ranged builds (race, feats, racial traits). I still have a Slinger on the bench, which is going to be a Halfling Vigilante, which will be introduced the moment my Swashbuckler (Mysterious Stranger) retires in PFS.

But back to the topic, here are some sub-optimal choices for characters:

  • Any Archetype that gains a Drake Companion (Drake Rider, Dragonic Druid, etc). You usually swap out a lot of class features to gain an ally that isn't as combat viable as other Companion choices until midgame when it grows medium sized. Special shout-out for the Drake Warden, whose Drake is at Ranger lvl-3 and doesn't grow larger than small.
  • The Psychokineticist plays quite differently than a regular Kineticist, and his penalties are severly worse. All penalties go to Wisdom checks and Will Saves, and it is unable to do anything when someone badmouths it. And if you ever get immune to that last thing, you lose all Kineticist powers... This one needs to be played a lot smarter than a regular Kineticist, and requires a significant boost in Will Saves from somewhere. But playing a character who gets progressively irrational/impatient as it uses its power can be fun (but dangerous).
  • You already mentioned the 1/2 Bab martial builds, but the Mutation Mind Psychic is also considered an option. It is also capable of becoming huge at lvl 11, which can be quite decent on a martial build (reach and Whirlwind Attack on a huge character can be devastating).
  • Although I cannot find the creature online, you could also try to make a Katroome Improved Familiar viable. It is a small sized familiar that was introduced in the Gallows of Madness module. They are capricious little caterpillars who believe their master is the familiar and they kinda suck. It has subpar stats, and due to his Verminous body type, has almost no gear slots. But it does have the Web ability (although a Con score of 10) and 3/d Command and 1/d Suggestion (although a Cha score of 13). If you can make it more viable (stat boosting Ione Stones, Eye for Talent, Spells) it can be a roleplay blast, and it can do something during combat.
  • I do not know why, but I've always been intrigued by the Artillery Team teamwork feat. Now I know this feat is kinda bad, but you can make it work. Either a fellow player who is up for a good laugh, or a Summoner/Eidolon combi who use it together.
  • I have also always wanted to make a Blade Boot build, but it is hard to get around that difficult/impassable terrain problem without serious investment. Still tinkering with that one.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber
Mr. Bonkers wrote:

Nothing is truly unplayable, unless the chosen stats are horrendous for the chosen build (like you already mentioned, the no-Int Wizard).

There are however a lot of sub-optimal choices, some less optimal than others, that require one to play either differently or smarter. They usually have a lot of flavor, but force a build in a certain direction if you wish to remain on the same functioning level as the other players. As Imbicatus already said, Sling Staff can work, but you need to build around it, as it needs more resources than the normal ranged builds (race, feats, racial traits). I still have a Slinger on the bench, which is going to be a Halfling Vigilante, which will be introduced the moment my Swashbuckler (Mysterious Stranger) retires in PFS.

I have also always wanted to make a Blade Boot build, but it is hard to get around that difficult/impassable terrain problem without serious investment. Still tinkering with that one.

Six levels of aero kineticist should do it. Difficult terrain doesn't matter when you have at will flight. It is an even bigger investment than the staff sling, and the sea knife would be better for the always flying than the blade boot, but it's an interesting idea.


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Unplayable garbage?
I think the answer is an Otyugh.
It's not playable and definitely I would put it into the category of garbage.


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I dunno ... maybe an Otyugh Vigilante, social identity is Sir Stinksalot Lord of Poobury, Esq.

At night .. in the sewers ... in the dark ... it becomes ... The Cyst.


I know you've said you've done plenty of rogues but have messed with the phantom thief archetype? It's really cool but as a rogue archetype that gives up sneak attack it's gotten a few funny looks.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
the David wrote:
The universalist wizard who uses Hand of the Apprentice to swing a greatsword across the battlefield.

If you want a "swing a greatsword across the battlefield" wizard option, the sword binder archetype isn't bad. Titan fighter 1/sword binder wizard 8/eldritch knight can even use a Large greatsword (3d6 damage) and have a semi-decent BAB.


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Have you done a mystic theurge yet?


A few concepts I find rather hard to pull:

* Rely primarily on bleed damage
* Improvised weapons user
* Performance combatant
* Parry build
* Someone who makes good use out of many racial SLAs and level 0 spells from feats etc.

I guess any of these can be made viable, though.


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Core rogue is unplayable garbage?

I mean it's not the greatest but I think that's a little much.


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Lady-J wrote:
1 level dip into every caster

Done this. It worked really well. I could use every wand in the game and had a much easier chance of using any scroll than with UMD.

In my experience most "garbage" or "unviable" options are fine, if you use a little cleverness, imagination, and tactical acumen.

And now, having lobbed that out there, I'm leaving this thread, never to return.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Darigaaz the Igniter wrote:
Have you done a mystic theurge yet?

Not for a Hand of the Acolyte/Hand of the Apprentice focus.

I'd probably be more inclined toward a mind sword paladin 7/myrmidarch magus 4 or 6 (depending on if I really want Broad Study or not)/mystic theurge (with a katana or scimitar) and at least be decent in melee/ranged combat (instead of focusing as much on spells). I might consider VMC wizard (Universalist school) to gain Hand of the Apprentice in addition to Mind Arsenal, but I'd probably prefer the feats.


Bloodrager/Paladin/Mystic Theurge. Its 'unplayable' before level 15 (as you can't meet the requirements for MT until then).

Gnome core rogue that uses the Haunted Gnome and Illusive Gnome Style feat chains with a battle ladder as their main form of offense.

Dark Archive

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SheepishEidolon wrote:
*Performance combatant

Ooh, I wanted this to be a good option, but, frankly, I don't think I ever really 'got' it.


My opinion, a "white-haired witch"......

Lose all your hexes to get attacking hair. While you get int to attack, you are still a a witch trying to do melee with your crappy BaB


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SheepishEidolon wrote:
* Improvised weapons user

Life just got MUCH easier for them with a new magic item that grants enhancement bonuses to any improvised weapon you use, both in melee and thrown. Actually, it's more effective to play a thrown improvised weapon user than it is to play any other thrown weapon build at this point because of them.


Crossbowman fighter?

Been meaning to try it out in PFS someday.


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Cavall wrote:

Core rogue is unplayable garbage?

I mean it's not the greatest but I think that's a little much.

I've had great fun with rogues. That was sort-of the point. Rogues spent quite a while with a very bad reputation, so I made a bunch and enjoyed them.

These suggestions are great. I'm getting so many ideas here!


Aldizog wrote:

Crossbowman fighter?

Been meaning to try it out in PFS someday.

I'm sorry this archetype has been deleted since bolt ace game out :P


Unless you use Overwatch Style, but that's been banned in PFS because...I don't actually know why...


Garbage-Tier Waifu wrote:
Unless you use Overwatch Style, but that's been banned in PFS because...I don't actually know why...

I believe it either has to do with complexities and table variation of readied actions, or with the power available in having a wide variety of readied actions available at interrupt speed. It's been a while, though, so I don't remember precisely. Try searching John Compton's posts.


The Drake companion rules have been mentioned a few times, but not with a very important caveat. These archetypes are only unplayably bad at low levels. The power scaling of the drake companion is very weird, and they actually catch up to where they need to be by level 11 or 13 (depending on your build). By 20th the drake is a proper upgrade over comparable animal companions and the archetypes tradeoffs make sense. These archetypes are still regarded as terrible since most players do play at the lower level range, but for tables that are playing at higher levels it actually works.

Dark Archive

Imbicatus wrote:
Mr. Bonkers wrote:


I have also always wanted to make a Blade Boot build, but it is hard to get around that difficult/impassable terrain problem without serious investment. Still tinkering with that one.
Six levels of aero kineticist should do it. Difficult terrain doesn't matter when you have at will flight. It is an even bigger investment than the staff sling, and the sea knife would be better for the always flying than the blade boot, but it's an interesting idea.

Flying huh, kinda forgot about that solution (I was busy trying to ignore difficult terrain). However, 6 levels of Kineticist is a huge investment for kicking...

But I could also be a Alchemist with the Wings Discovery, allows me to be functional several times a day. I know that this is still a 6 level investment, but the Kineticist doesn't really strike me as a Blade Boot user that much (blasts/kinetic swords and all that). There might be other solutions, but I'll have to look into those. Thanks for the flying tip though, this character is a little closer to his introduction in PFS.


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GM Tyrant Princess wrote:
Garbage-Tier Waifu wrote:
Unless you use Overwatch Style, but that's been banned in PFS because...I don't actually know why...
I believe it either has to do with complexities and table variation of readied actions, or with the power available in having a wide variety of readied actions available at interrupt speed. It's been a while, though, so I don't remember precisely. Try searching John Compton's posts.

First one it seems.


Technically, Reanimated Medium is unplayable garbage. As it's written, it falls into a coma every other day and can never perform a seance (good RAI interpretations of what the archetype was probably supposed to do have been posted, but RAW, it doesn't work.)

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Imbicatus wrote:
Sling Staff can work, if you are a warslinger halfling with slipslinger style.

So what am I missing? I have a vigilante using it as his ranged option.


slipslinger style allows the halfing warslinger to work on sling staff, you don't provoke for reloading, and get +1 damage

halfling warslinger alt racial trait allows you to reload as a free action

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

I just use Ammo Drop.

Sovereign Court

Quite honestly like most people said...there isn't really an unplayable choice. There are suboptimal choices...but that's normal. Even suboptimal choices depending on tables and GMs, are fine to play.

If you really want to play the unplayable garbage...ask your GM which kind of campaign you are doing and play something that doesn't work at all. Like for example: "this is a campaign about Elemental everywhere" make a crit build and class that relies on precision damage, now you will feel like unplayable garbage.


ya well feat for move/swift reload isn't as good as feat for free action reload, but if you're not a halfling warslinger it's what you're left with

it's still never going to be as good as bow, but it closes the gap a lot for a classic weapon

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