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Need help with a Vanaran Pirate (PFS)


Hey all,

I've been wrestling with a concept for a few weeks and fleshed out over a half dozen builds, but am not yet satisfied with what I've come up with. So I'm looking for some help fleshing out a character for PFS which is going to inherit a bunch of boons, including one to make him a Vanara. Here's the rough basic backstory:

Since Vanaran culture is a little sparse, I'm going to play that this character was captured at a young age as a curiosity and forced into slavery in Cheliax. He'll be eventually 'rescued' when a pirate vessel attacks the slave ship transporting him between owners. The ship's Besmaran cleric takes a liking to my PC, and brings him into the crew which is easily supportable given his obvious knack for climbing rigging.

Some months/years later, the pirate ship will get lost in a storm, with my PC being the only survivor. He's rescued by a group of Pathfinders and he eventually joins the Society. While at the Grand Lodge, one of my retired characters, an enchanter wizard, sees some natural talent and takes the PC on as a protege. Enter level 1.

I'm looking for help with ideas on class and feat progression. I've already considered several options, but am hoping that what people suggest will either sway me to something I've already picked or encourage me to investigate something else.

Must Haves:

  • Vanaran (+2 Dex/+2 Wis/-2 Cha) with an additional +2 to any stat as a result of a boon
  • At minimum, venerates Besmara as a sort of 'patron saint' of slaves freed at sea. I have a bonus trait from a boon that mostly covers this mechanically (Ease of Faith, diplomacy is a class skill, +1 diplomacy), but if the class selected has religious aspects, consider Besmara as the diety selected.
  • Liberty's Edge faction, may not matter except trait selection, but feeds into the point above.

Should Haves:

  • Given his trainer is a wizard, this character should have some aptitude with magic, preferably arcane magic but I can be persuaded here especially if the alternative still included a spell book. Mechanically I think I would prefer 6th level casting, but 4th or 9th could work too.
  • Casting should be Wis or Int based, ideally. I've already got several Cha focused characters.
  • Build should have some way to capitalize on the natural climb speed of Vanarans. I've considered the following: Branch Pounce; shooting/throwing/casting spells from a high vantage; ki throw and blade lash to lift and drop opponents
  • Primary class features shouldn't clash with climbing without a means to compensate (Clinging Climber feat or just using a single hand)

Nice to Haves:

  • Use the Dex bonus to some degree -- Weapon Finesse would be good if it can be fit in. Ideally blending decent Dex with light or medium armor to maintain decent AC
  • Some way to save on standard character purchases during the PC's career (auto scaling weapon, no need for cloak of resistance or belt of X, etc). I've got dreams of saving enough for an airship by retirement to become a Sky Pirate Captain.

Extra Boons Available (not necessary to be used, but could be if it makes sense):

  • Arcane Ammunition: Can buy smaller amounts of +1 elemental arrows/bolts/ammunition
  • Fighting Off Corruption: Ghoul (my first character was killed by ghouls twice so his protege being infected would be thematic)

Thanks in advance for your help or ideas.

Edit: For those who are familiar with the Liveship Traders series by Robin Hobb, I'm using elements of Wintrow and Kennit's story as some inspiration.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

There's the Freebooter ranger archetype, with the "Besmara Faithful" combat style.
For a "scaling" weapon, look at the Blackblade Magus or the Phantom Blade Spiritualist.

Scarab Sages

I had great fun with a Venaran warpriest (sacred fist). Which seems to fit pretty well. No heavy armor or weapons to lose one a pirate ship (Ideal for fighting in the rigging) and you could be a warpriest of Besmara. Get an agile amulet of the mighty fists and you should be good. You could flavor his monk-like abilities as more like those of a brawler instead of a monk.

Also, while silly for a monkey person, the monkey style feat (you can get for free free at level six) gives you bonuses to climbing.

Silver Crusade

Stats on a vanara lend themselves well to ranger, inquisitor, or monk. I'm actually working on an archer ranger myself, and considered using my vanara boon for it.

But given your desire for a caster, maybe an inquisitor would be better. They're wisdom based casters, which would work well with your stats. They make good archers, so the dex bonus would work there, or you could melee, with a rapier, of course, since that's Besmara's favored weapon. She's got a couple of decent domains - Trickery would be very good if you go melee. My cleric of Besmara went Trickery and Chaos (Protean) to be a "bad touch" style cleric.

Actually, that's another idea. You could do a bad touch cleric of Besmara like mine, just with Weapon Finesse to use your dex on attack rolls instead of strength.

There was a thread a little while back dedicated to labeling each spellcasting class's stat, its casting type, and any archetypes that change these. Named something like: "Casting Classes and Variants in Pathfinder". Might give you an idea

Scarab Sages

Warpriest seems like it has just about everything on your list except being an Arcane caster. The combination of Trickery and War Blessings looks pretty strong for a melee character.

There's the Deep Shaman Archetype in Aquatic Adventures. It's unclear if it will be PFS legal, but on a quick glance I didn't see a reason why it wouldn't.

A lot of the pirate themed classes/archetypes rely on CHA, and they aren't casters. Swashbuckler, Daring Champion, etc. For a WIS based class with a nautical theme, you could go with Gunslinger. It's pretty easy to make that fit a pirate. Picaroon Swashbuckler also, but it's still CHA reliant.

EDIT: For something completely off the wall, this is based on a build I want to do for my Fighting Off Corruption (Ghoul) Boon...

Spiritualist. It's a WIS based 3/4 BAB class.

Backstory is that your boat was attacked by Lacedons, and your best friend / mate/ captain was killed. You were bitten and are fighting off the disease. Your friend returned as a phantom (phantom pirate!) and you began developing Spiritualist powers.

Someone suggested Phantom Blade, which is good mechanically and for saving you money, but I don't think a sentient weapon with the spirit of your captain (or whoever) is as cool as actually summoning up a ghostly pirate.

(My build is for a Tengu whose mate shows up as a tattered, ghostly Tengu. I'll be a natural attack build, with a bite to play on the ghoul corruption, and not pirate themed).

EDIT EDIT: Possibly the Scourge Archetype, to play up the tortured spirit aspect.

Thanks for the ideas all. Several I hadn't considered yet (Deep Shaman, Scourge Spiritualist). I think part of the problem I'm running into is how to take these pieces and put them into something that isn't a mess of class features.

E.g. Freebooter Ranger and Black Blade Magus

The other thing I think I'm still missing is how to actually take advantage of climb speed in a creative way with some of these ideas.

E.g. Being a magus and trying to use spell combat while climbing a wall.

One thing I'll point out too is that while Vanara's do tend to favor Wis casters, I do have a +2 I can assign elsewhere, which sort of opens up some options. It's pretty much not wasted as long as I don't put it in Charisma. It's an opportunity to also explore builds which might also be considered more MAD.

Given how many people are recommending War Priest, but I forgot to mention that I do actually like to have at least a few skill points ;). It's a reason I also hadn't mentioned Cleric previously. An alternative to cleric might be a Nature Priest of Besmara -- gets around the skill point issue a bit but would require only picking on domain. Do you think just Chaos (Protean) would be sufficient to make that concept work, Fromper? I'd lose out on the Trickery domain, but I wonder if the addition of wild shape and the druid spell list wouldn't make up for it.

I'm wondering if the Living Grimoire might be a nice half-way point, hauling around a spellbook/Besmara's Code which functions as a light mace and is finesseable. I could flavor the diety tattoos as sailor's tattoo's even. I'd lose out on some Inquisitor features and it'd minimize the impact of my Wisdom bonus (I could toss the +2 into Int) -- but it might be a decent compromise?

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