Advice on building a STR Magus


Advice


Good afternoon everyone,

I'm trying to build a Magus (again..), but since there are so many options on how to go about it, and since I never played one for any decent amount of time, I would like to have your assistance with it please. Any feedback and tips are welcome.

First off, I don't want to build a one trick pony, or a guy that pools all its resources into one or two fights per day (Am I wrong off the bat playing a Magus?) - I want a balanced melee character who can stand decently on his own two feet without MUCH magic, and then uses said magic to complement his fighting prowess, with outstanding Action Economy.

(So far I am not delving into Archetypes until my understanding of my own characte is at least decent - I know Bladebound and Hecrafter and many others are good though)

What I have so far

- STR based Magus: This one by itself is a tough choice. My reasons for it are the fact I don't want to be tied to a single weapon, or dependant on an enchant or whatever of the sort (which I feel happens in most cases with Dervish Dance and the Scimitar, or Fencing Grace, or Agile enchantments on weapon A). I have the feeling being STR based makes me more versatile in this aspect. I may be wrong - again I admit my ignorance;

- Half-Orc: I know Toothy can be used in some combos (even if I don't know exactly what feats are needed, etc), but I am chosing Half-Orc more because of the Sacred Tatoo's boost to saves with Fate's Favored (which I can make use of with a Wand of divine Favor also);

- Stat spread at level 1, something like:
STR 17 (15+2)
DEX 14
CON 14
INT 16
WIS 10
CHA 08

- Traits: Fate's Favored and does it make sense to grab Gifted Adept (Frostbite) if feat is as below?

- Feats: Rime Spell

- Spells of choice would be Shield and Frostbite

- Weapon and Armor: Most likely Scimitar + Lamellar Studded Leather to start with

This is just my initial plan. Is it decent to start with? Am I beginning already fundamenally wrong somewhere? I have alot of follow up questions - is there a problem if I want to take Power Attack along the way? What about Combat Reflexes? Can I play the Magus under a logic of a Reach combatant? Etc, etc. But let's take things one at a time :D

Cheers, and thanks for any possible advice.


Not gifted adept - look at magical lineage. Otherwise there's nothing wrong with your plan so far.

Power attack is something you might use when you don't have a spell to spellstrike with, but it's a poorer bargain when your scimitar has a few charges of rime frostbite ready to go.

Enlarge person has too long a casting time to use with spell combat so you'd want to get the long arm spell if reach is your thing. Combat reflexes works with that of course.


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What you're going for is fine. I would pick human for the feat and flavor (I'm old fashioned, half orcs are mental midgets) but mechanically half orc is fine.

Also, you mentioned wanting to go for reach and combat reflexes, which is actually quite good if you take lunge. However, you mentioned wanting power attack which is generally inaccurate and poor for a 3/4 BaB character. You know what would help remedy that? Keeping the opponent prone with improved trip. Trip can be used all say Long and is effective if you take the maneuver Magus atcana. It also synergizes brilliantly with reach and combat reflexes. BRILIANTLY.

TLDR: if you want a go all day Magus who utilizes reach, combat reflexes and power attack, take improved trip and maneuver Magus. It ties together a concept that is otherwise a little dicey.


avr and Zolanoteph, thank you for the feedback.

avr wrote:

Not gifted adept - look at magical lineage. Otherwise there's nothing wrong with your plan so far.

Power attack is something you might use when you don't have a spell to spellstrike with, but it's a poorer bargain when your scimitar has a few charges of rime frostbite ready to go.

Enlarge person has too long a casting time to use with spell combat so you'd want to get the long arm spell if reach is your thing. Combat reflexes works with that of course.

I am assuming then Gifted Adept is only useful in the first few levels? To allow me to use Frostbite more times? Whereas Magical Lineage will allow me to apply Metamagic feats to it - is this correct? If so, what metamagic feats would eventually make sense?

Zolanoteph wrote:

What you're going for is fine. I would pick human for the feat and flavor (I'm old fashioned, half orcs are mental midgets) but mechanically half orc is fine.

Also, you mentioned wanting to go for reach and combat reflexes, which is actually quite good if you take lunge. However, you mentioned wanting power attack which is generally inaccurate and poor for a 3/4 BaB character. You know what would help remedy that? Keeping the opponent prone with improved trip. Trip can be used all say Long and is effective if you take the maneuver Magus atcana. It also synergizes brilliantly with reach and combat reflexes. BRILIANTLY.

TLDR: if you want a go all day Magus who utilizes reach, combat reflexes and power attack, take improved trip and maneuver Magus. It ties together a concept that is otherwise a little dicey.

Understood, and I do like trip builds a LOT - what concerns me about it is that I feel like I will have to continue investing in it forever to keep it relevant. I need Combat Expertise > Improved Trip > Fury's Fall > Greater Trip + maybe some other stuff to pile on as levels increase (True Strike works with maneuvers?).

That's 4 feats, and it makes me feel like it is tying up other options - am I wrong?

In any case, let's see if this progress would be acceptable then for a tripping Magus:

Level 1 Feat: Rime Spell
Level 3 Feat: Combat Expertise
Level 3 Arcana: Maneuver Mastery
Level 5 Feat: Improved Trip
Level 5 Bonus Magus Feat: Power Attack
Level 6 Arcana: ???
Level 7 Feat: Fury's Fall
Level 9 Feat: Greater Trip
Level 9 Arcana: ???
Felling Smash
Etc

Looks solid?

My main concern is that if I get too focused on the Trip maneuver and its associated 'stuff', and I may be missing out on other cool stuff which could be amplified by taking other, better choices (comes with not knowing the class well, I guess).

--------------

That being said, what would be a 'normal' feat progression for a Magus not wanting to overfocus on a specific role (or maybe it is a mistake)?

Can I combine for example...

Rime Spell > Enforcer for debuffs
+
Power Attack + Combat Reflexes for reach tactics and protect other 'squishies'
+
Dimensional Agility chain to pop next to the bad guy wreaking havoc from a distance, and maul him
+
Defensive Spells (Mirror Image, Shield, Displacement) + Offensive Spells to go toe to toe with a BBEG if it comes down to it?

Is this feasible? Where would metamagic feats fit? Which ones? Am I asking too much? :D


The obvious feat to use magical lineage with in your plan is rime spell on frostbite. Later on maybe empower. Gifted adept just isn't going to be useful past ~2nd level.

One useful trick for a magus who likes maneuvers is to take the wand wielder magus arcana, then get a wand of true strike. You can skip feats intended only to boost CMB (like fury's fall) in that case; a dabbler might use long arm to escape AoOs from medium-size enemies and take no trip feats at all. It beats maneuver mastery IMO.

Around about 5th level is the low point in power attack's usefulness to you. You're not as prone to running out of spells (5 touches per frostbite spell), PA is still only -1/+2 and you have 101 other feats you want to take in its place. You don't need it and I'd reconsider taking it at all. Combat reflexes with a sword loaded with rime frostbite is better without PA for protecting squishies.

BTW, a a magus you don't need dimensional agility. Spell combat works without it.


Thank you again avr - let's assume then I overcome my obsession with Power attack. Back to the build:

Level 1 Feat: Rime Spell
Level 3 Feat: Enforcer
Level 3 Arcana: Flamboyant Arcana

And I'll stop right here - questions time:

- Flamboyant Arcana is great, or am I looking at it wrong?
- Assuming I start wielding a reach weapon (such as a Bardiche) -> It is 'legal' to hold it in one hand, cast Frostbite, and grasp it back in two hands ready to do AoO if someone approaches? All this in one round? Correct?

- As far as tactics go, I can start a fight as above, and if/once engaged simply drop the bardiche, draw the scimitar and go to town with Frostbite if it has charges left. Is this correct?

- Last but not least, assuming I start the round wielding a 2h weapon - I cannot hold it one hand, use Spell Combat to cast Frostbite, re-grasp it in two hands, and attack. All in the same round. Correct?

--------

Some additional details at level 3:

- Baseline damage assuming STR18 and Scimitar 2h = d6+6 [Average: 9.5]
- If I had Power Attack: d6+9 [Average: 12.5]
- Damage with Frostbite: d6+d6+6+3 [Average: 16 with some non-lethal]
- Can use Frostbite for 6 rounds day (assuming 4x level 1 spells at 3rd Magus lvl, and half of those being Frostbites). Seems like very few rounds, doesn't it?


If you start an action that requires you to have a hand free, it has to be free for the entire action. So if you do a full round action you need a free hand for the entire action.

i.e. the Magus' full round attack + free spell won't work with a 2 handed weapon. Just forget about it.

I'm a little leery of power attack. You're already taking a -2 to hit from the Magus' special action and you're 3/4 BAB. But power attack does synergize with Frostbite/Rime spell, and its only 1 feat.

Consider picking up weapon focus, the extra +1 to hit helps shore up your class ability. Also at low level you'll be a bit dependent on cantrips, so investigate them. Daze is amazing for 2 levels, then kind of useless. Acid Splash has the most longevity for combat.


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Meirril wrote:

If you start an action that requires you to have a hand free, it has to be free for the entire action. So if you do a full round action you need a free hand for the entire action.

i.e. the Magus' full round attack + free spell won't work with a 2 handed weapon. Just forget about it.

I'm a little leery of power attack. You're already taking a -2 to hit from the Magus' special action and you're 3/4 BAB. But power attack does synergize with Frostbite/Rime spell, and its only 1 feat.

Consider picking up weapon focus, the extra +1 to hit helps shore up your class ability. Also at low level you'll be a bit dependent on cantrips, so investigate them. Daze is amazing for 2 levels, then kind of useless. Acid Splash has the most longevity for combat.

When will people realize the glory of trip + power attack? Prone oponents are at -4 vs melee attacks, not to mention that you're not taking spell combat penalties on attacks of opportunity when they try to get up.


The Blade Tutor's Spirit spell can be used to reduce voluntary attack penalties (such as from Power Attack) by 1 + 1 per 5 levels.

If you want to make some use of combat manoeuvres than instead of taking Combat Expertise I'd suggest Dirty Fighting which does many wonderful things; it allows you to sacrifice your flanking bonus to perform combat manoeuvres without provoking attacks of opportunity, if you have a feat or ability that allows you to perform manoeuvres without provoking an aoo you get a +4 bonus and finally Dirty Fighting counts as having Combat Expertise, Improved Unarmed Strike, 13 dex and 13 int for the purpose of taking the various Improved combat manoeuvre feats as well as for taking feats that have Improved combat manoeuvre feat as a prerequisite.

I know you're not yet looking into archetypes but what I will say is that witchcraft is awesome and the Hexcrafter gives you some really nice utility and combat options.

Something you might want to consider is taking Cornugon Smash. It allows you to make an intimidate check as a free action to demoralise (applies the shaken condition for a -2 penalty to attack rolls, saving throws, skill checks, and ability checks) an opponent when you damage them with Power Attack. Personally I'd drop dex to 12, Increase cha to 10 and take Intimidating Prowess (adds str mod to intimidate), combined with the Intimidating trait you have a good chance of landing the demoralise; the high intimidation score provides you with a strong opportunity to play an effective social role outside of combat and Conugon Smash maximises your action economy in combat.


If you want to do some tripping, you should look into the Blade Lash spell. It's a level 1 spell that improves your ability to trip, and allows you to do so from 20 feet away. Could be useful for knocking an opponent down, then moving next to them to grab the AoO for them standing up.


At 3rd level (& lower) you've got a potential spell shortage, yes. You might like to get a 1000 gp pearl of power to mitigate that. At 4th level you get spell recall unless you take an archetype which loses that, and you don't have a shortage any more.

With rime frostbite you add fatigued and entangled on a hit as well as damage. That's why landing a hit is more important for protecting others than another +2-3 damage.

Flamboyant arcana is great, but watch you don't use up your arcane pool. Unlike a swashbuckler you have no way to recover it during the adventuring day, and you also use it to enchant your weapon - that's your 'No, really I have full BAB' ability. 1 arcane pool point per parry attempt is inefficient even though its impressive.

(Thinking about it this is one big advantage of a blade adept arcanist. I'll have to think about how to use that.)

Correct on the other 3 questions.


Ok, so by the numbers, and going with a simple build since this is my first time playing a Magus. Let me know your thoughts.

Race: Half-Orc
(Because I am planning on taking Sacred Tatoo + Fate's Favored to shore up my saves. Also, would eventually get a wand of Divine Favor for an easy +2 to hit and damage - makes sense?

Class: Level 5 Hexcrafter Magus

Traits: Fate's Favored + Magical Lineage [Frostbite] (I may drop Fate's Favored for a Campaign Trait. Perhaps one that will give me Survival as a class skill. Would this be a mistake?)

Abilities (I'm not happy with dumping Wis and Cha but...):
STR 15+2
DEX 14
CON 12
INT 16
WIS 8
CHA 8

Feats:
Level 1 - Toughness (or Improved Initiative)
Level 3 - Power Attack (I am aware of all the reticence about using it but... Since I am planning on playing more like a melee character who complements his abilities with magic instead of the other way around (I understand this may be considered wrong for a Magus), I won't be Spellstriking all the time unless I really want to nova somehow, so Power attack is an 'always on' ability that simply increases my damage, mainly if I 2h my weapon - is it that ludicrous?)
Level 5 - Improved Trip (or Extra Arcana something - familiar maybe?)
Level 5 Magus bonus - Combat Expertise/Dirty Fighting (is it too late to try and start using trip maneuvers?

Arcana:
Level 3 - Arcane Accuracy (or Flamboyant Arcana because Arcane Accuracy feels so dull. though probably not because of I think I agree with avr here - no way to recover Arcane Pool used for the Deeds is just bad...)

Hex:
Level 4 - Flight

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How does it look so far?

I'm not sure I am profiting enough of being a Hexcrafter, maybe I should take Extra Arcana and stuff like Evil Eye, etc?

Also, I would really like to use the Prehensile Hair hex but what I ready about it was a long time ago, and I am not sure it works as I would like it to (due to the whole 'Secondary Natural Attack' thing).

Last but not least, should I just go with regular Magus, and that's that?


I feel the 16 int isn't needed. Before you get to 13th level you should be able to get a +2 int or better headband. The difference between a 14 and a 16 for you is 1 arcane pool point, and 1 third level spell, and 1 skill point per level. Switch the 16 to Str for the extra +1 to hit and damage at first level, and peel the 15 back to 14 for int. The extra 2 points can be used to pick wis or cha back to 10.

I don't see Combat Casting among your feats. You'll be casting in melee most of the time, you should have this feat. Probably at first level. I think power attack can be used successfully, but it needs to be used with purpose, not just assumed to be on constantly. At low level you won't have a lot of spell resources to spend, so using PA when you aren't taking the negatives from spell combat is a good idea. Just make sure you don't use it on the first round of combat so you can get an idea of how hard it is to hit the opponent. Once you know what your chance of hitting is, you can figure if you can afford to take the extra penalties.

Also once you get a magic weapon your arcane pool should be like power attack. Against low AC opponents use the enchantment ability to add mods like flaming and frost to add damage. Against hard to hit opponents just pump the enhancement bonus.


WIs 10? ...8?

I'm getting the impression that your GM doesn't target the PCs with will-saves very often. ...even in a class granting "fast" will save advancement, you're going to be an aggregate +1 at 1st level.

In any event, your stats look like 25pt-buy. --The primary problem you'll face as a strength-build magus in point-buy is that you'll be MAD with respect to dexterity in a melee class limited to light armor and also needing Intelligence to be high. In other words, you'll be a punching bag with only a 14 in your primary defensive stat. Your AC is -2 to -5 lower, INIT will be lower, Acrobatics lower, Escape Artist lower, Reflex save lower, etc. You're giving up a lot to save one feat (finesse) and a little money (Agile).

Hmm....

STR- 9
DEX+ 16 (halfling, 15,14,14,14,12,11 25pt-array)
CON 14
INT 15 (all bumps)
WIS 12
CHA+ 16

Traits: Magical Knack[magus], (anything else interesting)
01 Swashbuckler1 [Mouser][Underfoot Assault][Finesse][Panache], FEAT(g)
02 Magus1 ...etc.

Over the OP human straight-class, the build above offers INIT+1, AC+2, Fort+1, Ref+2, Will+2, Attack+2(+4 versus Underfoot opponent threatened by allies), AC+2 (plus Opportune Parry and Riposte avoidance), etc. Dmg is -4 (weapon attacks only) prior to Agile, then only -1.

It's an interesting thought exercise, but strength is the least-needed attribute.


Slim Jim wrote:


In any event, your stats look like 25pt-buy. --The primary problem you'll face as a strength-build magus in point-buy is that you'll be MAD with respect to dexterity in a melee class limited to light armor and also needing Intelligence to be high. In other words, you'll be a punching bag with only a 14 in your primary defensive stat. Your AC is -2 to -5 lower, INIT will be lower, Acrobatics lower, Escape Artist lower, Reflex save lower, etc. You're giving up a lot to save one feat (finesse) and a little money (Agile).

The OP quoted a 20 point buy. Your build not only requires an extra feat to work, but also costs 1 level of spell progression on an already slow as molasses class. You did solve the power attack question and the two handed weapon thing...by disqualifying the character. While you'll have a higher AC with a dex build, you won't have any punch.

Prove me wrong. Try a 20 pt buy and make it up to 5th level to see how it turns out.


For a strength build magus, my personal preference would be to do mind blade archetype with a 1 level dip to get heavy armor (battle host occultist, fighter (to qualify for +1AC med/hvy armor trait), knight of the arnisant cavalier (trades out tactician for shield focus), etc).

This way you can wear heavy armor with no spell casting failure. You can spell combat with a 2H weapon at level 14.


Meirril wrote:
Slim Jim wrote:


In any event, your stats look like 25pt-buy. --The primary problem you'll face as a strength-build magus in point-buy is that you'll be MAD with respect to dexterity in a melee class limited to light armor and also needing Intelligence to be high. In other words, you'll be a punching bag with only a 14 in your primary defensive stat. Your AC is -2 to -5 lower, INIT will be lower, Acrobatics lower, Escape Artist lower, Reflex save lower, etc. You're giving up a lot to save one feat (finesse) and a little money (Agile)
The OP quoted a 20 point buy.
Original Post wrote:

STR 17 (15+2)

DEX 14
CON 14
INT 16
WIS 10
CHA 08
That's 25 pts. The Int alone is costing 10.
Quote:
Your build not only requires an extra feat to work,
It requires no "extra" feats. (Swashbuckler's Finesse is a freebie granted by the class.) It would forfeit a human's bonus feat...but then again all of this:
Slim Jim wrote:
...INIT+1, AC+2, Fort+1, Ref+2, Will+2, Attack+2(+4 versus Underfoot opponent threatened by allies), AC+2 (plus Opportune Parry and Riposte avoidance), etc.
...doesn't come free. (Albion's OP build was a half-orc, so a feat isn't being lost with conversion to another race since the initial concept wasn't a human to begin with.)
Quote:
but also costs 1 level of spell progression on an already slow as molasses class.

Magus is a melee class. The spells are there to augment the melee, but they're not the only way. Sure: there are a ton of spells on the magus list that don't have anything to do with melee, but if you were chiefly interested in those, you'd be a wizard, not a magus. The magus wants to look cool with a blade in one hand and crackling energy in the other, and assuming that's not just for show, it implies a melee combat orientation (aside from ranged-touch applicability, which will require dexterity). That being the case, you're going to need at least one attack stat and at least moderate levels of Con. Which means your Int is unlikely to be a 20 or even an 18 anytime soon, and hence saving-throw DC magic won't be front-burner material. In fact, you can build a no-slouch-at-all magus who skates by on the minimal intelligence necessary to get his spells, similar to a "reach cleric" build who starts with Wis 14 and uses his spells to buff, summon, heal, or for OoC utility.

That "slow as molasses" feeling as regards to the endless wait for painless casting in heavier armors disappears entirely when you don't need them in the first place.

Quote:
You did solve the power attack question and the two handed weapon thing...by disqualifying the character.
I built a melee character who can cast spells (albeit not at 1st level). This specifically addresses the OP's chief listed concern:
Albion, The Eye wrote:
I don't want to build a one trick pony, or a guy that pools all its resources into one or two fights per day (Am I wrong off the bat playing a Magus?) - I want a balanced melee character who can stand decently on his own two feet without MUCH magic, and then uses said magic to complement his fighting prowess, with outstanding Action Economy.
In short, he isn't even sure he wants to play a Magus, let alone a character that needs to cast a ton of spells.
Quote:
While you'll have a higher AC with a dex build, you won't have any punch.

Until Agile is put on one weapon, or by taking Dervish Dance (which my suggestion qualified for at 2nd level, but I didn't hard-code it since scimitars aren't my favorite weapon), at which point he'll slash just as hard and be considerably better at everything else. --That is, if you even care about your numeric attribute score bonus contribution to damage, since it will rapidly dwindle to a minuscule percentage of overall damage. When a magus is up to casting 15d6 Intensified Empowered Shocking Grasp, does he really give two flips about another +3 in damage from a 17 starting attribute score bonus that he spent 7 build points on and devoted his racial boost to obtaining? No. By that point, the stat may as well be a 7 as a 17. So don't be MAD for tiny damage. It's just begging for unnecessary pain and disappointment. When over 95% of your damage comes from dice, all you need out of your attack attribute is to be able to hit with it.

Yes, there are some opponents that respond better to 2hPA attacks, but is magus really the guy who'll be well-suited to that job even if built like Schwarzenegger? You probably don't want to be the party's frontliner versus the nasty golem anyway, no matter what your attribute spread (unless you have some panache, in which case you might get away with it). Guide's like Walter's have their place, but they seldom account for multiclassing synergies. A magus with a Risky Striker and Piranha Strike-applicable light weapon (it's easy-peasy to get your favorite wakizashi) and with Swashbuckler's OPAR also on-demand, you can really rack it up while negating some in-bound damage. And negation is very important, because the moment you demonstrate that your character can really dish it out, your GM will get it into his head that you can take it too -- so that had better be true.

As a strength-MAD magus with dumped wisdom and charisma to pay for it, you'll be a dour, clueless, and charmless lump most of the time if skill-checks have anything to say about it out of combat. The other way? Much better. Hell, with a 16 charisma, you can even talk to girls and make 'em giggle.

So don't flush your entire OoC oeuvre (thereby becoming the one trick combat-pony status you specifically sought to avoid) just to be able to 2hPA the few creature types that fold easier to that.

~ ~ ~

Albion, ignore the Magical Knack trait suggestion in my first post that I can no longer edit. Take Magical Lineage.


Albion, The Eye wrote:

Ok, so by the numbers, and going with a simple build since this is my first time playing a Magus. Let me know your thoughts.

Race: Half-Orc
(Because I am planning on taking Sacred Tatoo + Fate's Favored to shore up my saves. Also, would eventually get a wand of Divine Favor for an easy +2 to hit and damage - makes sense?

Class: Level 5 Hexcrafter Magus

Traits: Fate's Favored + Magical Lineage [Frostbite] (I may drop Fate's Favored for a Campaign Trait. Perhaps one that will give me Survival as a class skill. Would this be a mistake?)

Abilities (I'm not happy with dumping Wis and Cha but...):
STR 15+2
DEX 14
CON 12
INT 16
WIS 8
CHA 8

Is the last build the OP posted. That is a 20 point build, and a half-orc. If you read the entire thread you might actually realize the OPs goals have shifted a bit since then.

If you are giving advice, you might want to make sure its going along with what the OP is thinking. Or do a better job of explaining your thoughts.


Meirril wrote:
Is the last build the OP posted. That is a 20 point build, and a half-orc. If you read the entire thread you might actually realize the OPs goals have shifted a bit since then. If you are giving advice, you might want to make sure its going along with what the OP is thinking. Or do a better job of explaining your thoughts.

So "The OP quoted a 20 point buy" but NOT in the OP's Original *POST* (where it was 25pt buy)? Well, isn't that just sweetness and light, and my goodness why am I not being paid far more to read every single word in a thread before posting? (I am getting paid for this, right boss?)

Instead of hissing at me over the one cherry you think blemished in my bunch, wouldn't it make more sense for you to ask Albion why his OP build was 25 points and a later build 20pts?

--If he's in a 25pt campaign, then he's shorting himself by 5, and he might like to know that.

~ ~ ~

Other topics:

Tripping: The percentage of your opponents who are humanoid-shaped will quickly drop as you level, and you'll need to keep chasing with feat after feat as they get bigger. And then they'll have lots of legs, or be swimming or flying or incorporeal or be amorphous blobs, swarms, casters-at-range, etc. All the trip fun is at low-level unless you're a 'roided barbarian who eats size-difference penalties for breakfast and can thereby play that game awhile longer. I'd be prepared to just retrain out Improved Trip around 6th or 7th, give or take.

Shaking your enemies: It'll be tough with an 8 Cha.


Slim Jim wrote:
Until Agile is put on one weapon, or by taking Dervish Dance (which my suggestion qualified for at 2nd level, but I didn't hard-code it since scimitars aren't my favorite weapon), at which point he'll slash just as hard and be considerably better at everything else. --That is, if you even care about your numeric attribute score bonus contribution to damage, since it will rapidly dwindle to a minuscule percentage of overall damage. When a magus is up to casting 15d6 Intensified Empowered Shocking Grasp, does he really give two flips about another +3 in damage from a 17 starting attribute score bonus that he spent 7 build points on and devoted his racial boost to obtaining? No. By that point, the stat may as well be a 7 as a 17. So don't be MAD for tiny damage. It's just begging for unnecessary pain and disappointment. When over 95% of your damage comes from dice, all you need out of your attack attribute is to be able to hit with it.

Yep, its an interesting build. But in my opinion it will be hell playing from first level till you get to purchase your first +2 weapon so you can get the Agile enchantment, which would typically be somewhere between 6th and 8th level. That is an awfully long time to go with a melee character that only performs well when you dump your daily resources and sucks the other 4-5 encounters per day. This will all be fixed with levels and items but its a lot of playing to go through before that.

Or is Slim going to claim that his build is fun at every level? And for 10th level, the first time you can pull off a 15d6 intensified, empowered Shocking Grasp you'll get to do it 4 times per day at most. When you do pull it off you'll have 3 attacks that round with 2 at your best to hit. You'll cast Shocking Grasp at 1st level with just Intensify so you can get the 10d6 and the extra attack, that is if you have a trait that makes Shocking Grasp cheaper to meta magic. Its a good choice.

If the Magus can power attack through all of this (I'm not convinced he can spare the BAB, but lets see where this gets us), that is an extra 4 damage a swing, so 12 per round or only 8 if the Magus isn't casting a touch spell this round. But if the magus isn't casting this round they can 2 hand the weapon and bring up the bonus to 6 per swing plus half their strength bonus.

Oh sorry, did I say the Magus can pull this off at 10th? Slims build puts this off till 11 since it dips into swash. And by 11th level power attack would be doing 6 per swing, or 9 with 2 hands. Not too shabby. Now factor in that the agility could of been a 1d6 damage adding enhancement and we're looking at the equivalent of 6d6 damage being lost per round by going dex.

Now this does mean a lower AC. The dex build is fine, but don't kid yourself into thinking strength is a bad stat. Especially if you have to play from first level till your build actually kicks in.


Meirrel, if you want a knuckle-dragger who casts spells, then Warpriests and Bloodragers have it all over the Magus. 2hPA polearm delights for days with a Furious/Fortuitous fauchard.

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in my opinion it will be hell playing from first level till you get to purchase your first +2 weapon so you can get the Agile enchantment, which would typically be somewhere between 6th and 8th level.

A low-level dex-magus who gets some extra d6s every so often is comparable to a dex-rogue who gets some extra d6s every so often. --Neither are BSFs, and neither should be played like one.

Know what one of the most useful things a magus can do in low-level combat is? Cast Enlarge Person on the actual BSF of the party. (Suggest to him that he buy the wands of that and other cheap buffs and loan them to you. "They're a lot cheaper than 'Breath of Life', which I can't cast!" )

The magus will get to look every bit as cool as his Paizo artwork a little later on, and the initial numeric bonus to damage of his primary physical attack stat will have almost nothing to do with it.

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Or is Slim going to claim that his build is fun at every level?

Yes, I will claim that { relative-to-the-OP-build INIT+3*, Fort+1, Ref+5*, Will+2, Fear+4, Attack+1(+3 versus Underfoot opponent threatened by allies), AC+4* (plus Opportune Parry and Riposte avoidance), +3 all dexterity skills*, +4 all charisma skills, Perception +6(!), Sense Motive +4, Acrobatics +5 } ...will be more "fun at every level".

(*In the Mouser/Magus build submitted previously, shift the 15 to Dex and racially bump to 17, then 18 at 4th + belt for 20; build then starts with a 14 in Int and raises with headband as needed.)


Guys, all I can say is thank you for the feedback you've given me so far. My apologies for the mix up between the 20/25 point buy thing - I may have posted incoherently, so let us assume the 20pt buy, since that was my last example.

Also, I would rather not turn this into a debate about STR vs DEX Magus, but a few of my own musings about this:

- In my head I prefer the STR approach, and I would like to have a character who is strong :D
- I always get the feeling Dex builds are too dependent on gear, and I honestly dislike that;
- And then I feel the STR build can just pick up any weapon he can use, and go to town;
- As for Dervish Dance, I know it has not been errata'd but I feel it will raise eyebrows if I use it, due to the whole free hand available thing. I would rather avoid that, and as for the Agile enchant it will take ages to come online. Even worse if (see next point)
- Let us assume I am going to play in a game where there is no magic mart, where I cannot be guaranteed to have an Agile enchantment available to me at any point. From my perspective, this hinders the Dex build much more than the STR one - am I wrong?

That being said, and picking up on Meirril suggestions (thank you again), I am probably reshuffling the stats to (it is a 20pt buy):

STR 15+2
DEX 14
CON 14
INT 14
WIS 10
CHA 8

Which maybe means I can drop the Toughness at level 1 and pick up Combat Casting. I'll be honest here though, I have rarely seen Combat Casting in a Magus - why is that?

Slim Jim wrote:
As a strength-MAD magus with dumped wisdom and charisma to pay for it, you'll be a dour, clueless, and charmless lump most of the time if skill-checks have anything to say about it out of combat. The other way? Much better. Hell, with a 16 charisma, you can even talk to girls and make 'em giggle.

Believe me, I am on board with this, and the ONLY reason which ever got me to hesitate about playing a Magus was exactly the 2+Int skills per level.

On top of that, Acrobatics, Bluff, Disguise, Diplomacy, Perception, Sense Motive, Stealth, Survival, I mean... Really? None of these are class skills? So again believe me, I know what you mean.

I also know I can go back and forth and focus on changing this - be a Human, grab specific traits, specific Feats, etc - I've seen it done with success. But there is definitely some back and forth to do - this being my first Magus, I want to take it easy :D

Also, I expect my roleplay of a naturally ill-tempered half-orc, haunted by loss, and usually quick to jump into battle, could be accepted as 8 Cha and Wis. Not making him immediately charmless and lump. Personally, I love the movies around it, but I am not a fan of the swashbuckling attitude as a player - I do not wish to play such character.

---------------------------

Bottom line, after all this:

- Stat reshuffle looks solid?
- I am REALLY sad about the lack of skill points (probably investing in Intimidate, Kn Arcana, Perception, Sense Motive/Survival/UMD). Any ideas?
- Do I keep Toughness?
- Is Combat Casting that important (I have 2 spells per day :D Maybe as I get more spells per day, by then it is not as important?)
- If Trip is not a very good option, what should I look into in the long run? Again, I don't want to be a one trick pony, I am looking for versatility - I welcome a nova or two a day, but I don't want to build my character all aroond it
- Last but not least, any input on the Arcana choices and the Hexcrafter Archetype?

Cheers!


You could look into "Improved Dirty Trick" instead of going with the tripping line? It lies within the Advanced Player Guide and I can see it working really well with your big, surly half orc. Even in a rp sense.


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Acrobatics, Bluff, Disguise, Diplomacy, Perception, Sense Motive, Stealth, Survival...

Bottom line, after all this:
- Stat reshuffle looks solid?
- I am REALLY sad about the lack of skill points (probably investing in Intimidate, Kn Arcana, Perception, Sense Motive/Survival/UMD).

If you think you're sad now, just wait until you're actually asked to make rolls, and realize that most of them not only aren't class, but are also based on your two dumped attributes. Points thrown at 'em are almost pure waste.

If it were PFS, you'd get sick and tired of failing will saves and blowing "easy" skill checks before halfway through 2nd level with that race/stat/class combo, and wish you'd taken advantage of the free redesign at the beginning of 2nd level.

Realize that Magus is Paizo's first, oldest attempt at designing a "gish" class, dating from 2011's Ultimate Magic. The theory was that Magus would start in light armor and gradually work their way to casting in heavier armor. In PFS practice, they just got splattered in their crappy armor at low level. Unless they min-maxed for dex to enjoy high AC right from the start as well as higher Initiative staving off that flat-footed flavoring that all ambush monsters crave. Then they did fine.

IMO, if you want strength melee + casting subject to point-buy, then make a Bloodrager (better) or a Warpriest (better yet) with a big beatstick. You'll have more fun on and off the battlefield.


Wolven18259 wrote:
You could look into "Improved Dirty Trick" instead of going with the tripping line? It lies within the Advanced Player Guide and I can see it working really well with your big, surly half orc. Even in a rp sense.

not good for a magus.

dirty tricks are standard action. trip is a melee attack.


I do agree with Slim Jim that will saves are important, that said STR Magus are perfectly fine. A general Magus trick I like is to pick up preferred spell at lvl 5 and take either shocking grasp or frostbite. You can then load up on utility or defensive spells (mirror image is awesome). If you're worried about defence you can pick up flamboyant Arcarna for parry and repost.


Now that Accomplished Sneak Attacker is a thing, you could be a [uRogue1 or Brawler(Snakebite Striker)]1/Wizard3/Arcane Trickster, and only be only one spellcasting level off full-wizard while enjoying all of a rogue's class skills and getting 4 skills/level in the prestige class.


Slim Jim wrote:
Now that Accomplished Sneak Attacker is a thing, you could be a [uRogue1 or Brawler(Snakebite Striker)]1/Wizard3/Arcane Trickster, and only be only one spellcasting level off full-wizard while enjoying all of a rogue's class skills and getting 4 skills/level in the prestige class.

with low AC and poor HP you are trying a melee that will die .


666bender wrote:
Slim Jim wrote:
Now that Accomplished Sneak Attacker is a thing, you could be a [uRogue1 or Brawler(Snakebite Striker)]1/Wizard3/Arcane Trickster, and only be only one spellcasting level off full-wizard while enjoying all of a rogue's class skills and getting 4 skills/level in the prestige class.
with low AC and poor HP you are trying a melee that will die .

Fortunately for the Arcane Trickster, he's not stuck in melee by the architecture of his class. (And he'll have Greater Invisibility at 8th if he wants it, two levels before a straight-class magus.)

Grand Lodge

I think strength magus works better with a two handed weapon (forfeiting spellcombat) with multi charge spells like frostbite. Run it like a debuff. (Rime spell + cruel weapon)
Skirnir archtype would match great. Use a polearm and shield focus + shield brace.


Thank you all for the feedback so far - it has been definitely a learning experience :D

@Wolven18259: I am going to keep that in mind further down the road, and see if at the time I want Expertise or Dirty Trick (or not, after reading 666bender post :D)

@Slim Jim: On Bloodrager and Warpriest - Bloodrager is on my sights, that's for sure :D And I have played a Warpriest up to... level 7 on a 25 pt build - he was one of my 'strongest' characters so far. Brutal combatant, resilient and packed with options (due to spell list). Skills were less than sad because of the 25 pt build, but still... Have also played a Rogue/Wizard who would go into AT, but never got that far - he was fully ranged, attacking from hiding with touch spells - I was having a great time with him.

But this time around I want to try a Magus, and I am most likely not going Dex because of the reasons I pointed out - you think they make sense?

@FangDragon: I like that idea a LOT, though I also need Heightened Spell, do I not? It is looking like a lot of tax at level 5...

@*Khan*: That is 'kinda' my plan, though maybe I don't need to forfeit Spell Combat, if I shift between 1h or 2h wield on my scimitar, or morningstar, or bastard sword, or longsword, or... Right?

--------------------------

That being said, I went with a completely crazy set of choices - the character is starting at level 1, and I built him like:

Half-Orc Hexcrafter
Sacred Tattoo (+1 to all saves)
Traits: Fate's Favored + Magical Lineage
Fort +6, ref +6, Will +4
HP: 10

STR 15+2
DEX 14
CON 14
INT 14
WIS 10
CHA 8

Feats: Additional Traits (yep, I took Additional Traits) = Outcast (+1 and Survival as a class skill) + Seeker (+1 and Perception as class skill)

Skills: Intimidate +5, Kn (Arcana) +6, Perception +5, Spellcraft +6, Survival +5

For now I will play him straightforward - probably daily spells will be Shield + something utility (Grease most likely). He will most likely be second line fighter, so we'll see how he manages swinging either a scimitar or a morningstar with AC16 (20 the one time a day Shield is up)

I will be sure to keep you guys updated as to how he fares for now, and where I take him.

Cheers!


Yeah Heighten is basically a feat tax. Human makes it more palatable and the flexibility is glorious.

2h is a bad idea imo on a Magus. Spellcombat is what it's all about.


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WIS 10, CHA 8

Feats: Additional Traits (yep, I took Additional Traits) = Outcast (+1 and Survival as a class skill) + Seeker (+1 and Perception as class skill)

Skills: Intimidate +5, Kn (Arcana) +6, Perception +5, Spellcraft +6, Survival +5

I just love-me-to-death some Additional Traits. --It's one of my favorite feats. ...I'd quibble with your choices, however.

With a Wisdom of 10, and no racial bonus, your trait-bought class Perception score might let you notice a few more things if you roll high, but you'll still have little chance of spotting opponents purpose-built for Stealth. (You won't be as bad at it as a paladin, but, as Dirty Harry Callahan said in "Magnum Force", a man's got to know his limitations. (Your Perception with the Seeker trait would still be -2 behind the Mouser/Magus submitted earlier, and that build wasn't even trying.) I guess it mainly depends upon who else is in the party.

And then we come to that sad, negative-bonus charisma score and the points you're shoveling into Intimidate. Yes, there are feats that will let you swap to another attribute -- but that'll be a feat you'll then have to take. As well as another feat to improve the action-economy of Intimidate to better-than-useless standard-action. That's two feats now, just to subject an opponent to a -2 condition. If the feat you went for is Cornugon Smash, well, it has Power Attack as a prerequisite, so you'd need to take too. (Up to three feats now.) Finally, if you actually want to capitalize on the Shaken condition you've given the opponent, for example with the Hurtful feat....well, now you're to four feats invested in making Intimidate work in a class that doesn't get free feats. Better idea: skip all that and concentrate on being a better blaster who dumps a bucket of d6s on the table every round.

What I'd be spending skill points on as a melee-oriented magus: Foremost, Acrobatics, because you'll find yourself wanting to move through threatened zones constantly (and, as I noted earlier without being blunt: the Magus was Paizo's first attempt at a gish, and they did a mediocre job, because this class absolutely needs Acrobatics and doesn't get it. But the Swashbuckler gets it...and <point to Mouser/Magus again, now saving on two traits>).

Spellcraft and Kn(Arcana) are fine (unless there's another straight-class, high-INT arcane caster in the party). Survival you shouldn't need at all (that's what mundane equipment and spells are for).

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