Even during the brainstorming and initial design for the Pathfinder RPG Advanced Class Guide, the bloodrager was the "weird" class. The concept was strong—a mix of the barbarian and the sorcerer that used bloodlines to fuel its arcane rage—but the weirdness came from the lack of precedent for the class. Hunters, investigators, shaman, and swashbucklers were all over history, folklore, and were even mentioned in Golarion before they were added to this book, but the bloodrager was created out of whole cloth. We thought about toying with the name or forcing it into some kind of classical archetype, but when we tried either of those, something got lost along the way.
While we liked the initial proof of concept, marrying it with another story idea did not solve the problem. There was still something missing. Then it came like a thunderbolt—spells! The bloodrager needs spells!
Like the sorcerer, the bloodrager needed to be a spontaneous caster, but we wanted the progression to look something like the ranger or the paladin (the bloodrager was a full BAB class after all), both of which are prepared casters. The first order of business was to design a similar progression for spontaneous casters. Once that was done, we had to find the right spell list. Spell lists are tricky beasts, and we knew substantial shifts would occur with each design iteration, but we needed a starting point. To that end, we chose a modified version of the magus list. We knew it wasn't perfect—far from it—but it was the best place to start.
The overall design goal was to create a class that was both easy to build and fun to play. Even before we unleashed this most metal of classes to the general public, I had a good feeling we were on track. Ryan Macklin decided to give this bruiser a whirl during our internal playtests, and loved the feeling of playing a character that basically felt like a character off the cover of an old heavy metal album, without flipping though a number of sources to get him just right. In other words: mission accomplished.
When the bloodrager reached the public playtest, this sentiment was echoed by a great number of playtesters. Were there issues? Sure. As we figured, that spell list wasn't cutting the mustard, but it gave us handholds to make the climb toward the class's own spell list. There was some fiddling to be done with a number of class features, both those that were standard for the class, and those nestled in the bloodlines, but the excellent playtest data gave input on where to expand, where to pull back, and which ones just needed a little finesse to get right.
After some playtest chatter, we looked again at renaming the classes or to give it a focus that fit better with lore, but in the end the class is what it is called, and named what it does. So bloodrager stuck.
With the development of the bloodrager completed, the next step was the creation of archetypes. This is always difficult for classes that basically have archetypes in their design (bloodlines, I'm looking at you) but we came up with some exciting options. In Advanced Class Guide you'll find the bloodrider (a mounted bloodrager that transfers some of his power to his mount) the rageshaper (a rager that gains extra features when it changes shape) and the untouchable rager (which replaces spell progression with spell resistance). All together, mixing bloodlines with archetypes, you'll be able to play a variety of bloodragers!