Archetypes for All

Friday, June 22, 2018

Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

Over the years, we have added a wide variety of new rules to Pathfinder First Edition, but none has been so well received as archetypes. It's no surprise that archetypes found such universal appeal. Allowing you to play a more specialized character, they let you play the character you want to play in a way that a single class often cannot support.

When the time came for us to look at archetypes for the Pathfinder Playtest, we knew that we wanted to make them a more integral part of the game, built to be an option from the very beginning. We also wanted to open them up a bit, so we could build archetypes allowing more than one class to access their features and feats, as opposed to having to recreate a concept for every applicable class with an entirely new archetype. This doesn't prevent us from creating more specific archetypes as well, but it opens up the design space further. In opening archetypes up, we realized that they might be easily abused if a player dipped into a variety of archetypes just to grab the best rules bits to make an overpowered character. It was a tough set of challenges, but fortunately for us, the answer was already built into the game.

Archetypes in the Pathfinder Playtest consist of a series of feats you can choose in place of your class feats. Every class gets its feats at roughly every other level, making them a perfect cost for archetypes. So if an archetype appeals to you—say, the pirate archetype—the only thing you need to do to gain access to it is take the appropriate dedication feat. Each dedication feat gives you some basic abilities and adds all the rest of that archetype's feats to your list of available class feats. The only catch is that you cannot take another dedication feat until after you have taken a specified number of archetype feats from the first one. So you can dip into a single archetype without too much trouble, but if you want more than one, you really have to put a fair amount of your character into the concept. For example, let's take a look at the pirate archetype.

Pirate Dedication Feat 2

Archetype, Dedication

Prerequisites Dexterity 12, trained in Acrobatics and Sailing Lore

When you Balance aboard a ship, treat a success as a critical success. You also ignore any difficult terrain, uneven ground, or incline caused by the ship's movement. You are trained with the hatchet, scimitar, and spear. In addition, Acrobatics is a signature skill for you.

Special You cannot select another dedication feat until you have gained two other feats from the pirate archetype.

As you can see, this first feat gives you a fair number of advantages while on a boat, certainly helping should combat break out, but you need to take more pirate feats before you can pick up another dedication feat. Let's take a look at two that you might choose.

Sea Legs Feat 4

Archetype

Prerequisites Pirate Dedication, trained in Athletics

Athletics is a signature skill for you. Whenever you succeed at an Athletics check to Swim, treat your result as a critical success. Additionally, you can always hold your breath for a number of actions equal to double your Constitution score when in water (this is not increased by using the Breathe Deep action).

Sea Legs really helps when you are in the water, letting you swim faster and hold your breath longer. It's also a prerequisite for Roll with the Ship, a feat that lets you reroll your Reflex saves when you are on your ship!

[[AA]] Boarding Action Feat 6

Archetype

Prerequisites Rope Runner

Swing on a rope or Stride up to twice your Speed. As long as you either boarded or disembarked a boat during this movement, make a Strike and deal an extra die of damage if you hit.

Boarding Action is one of those feats that nearly every pirate can be expected to have, since setting yourself up to board and pillage the enemy ship is going to be vital! It lets you close the distance to your foes, and if you move from one ship to another during this move, you can make a strike that deals extra damage! It's a bit more limited than the fighter's Sudden Charge, but you deal bonus damage as a benefit if you pull it off.

The pirate archetype has six feats to choose from (in addition to the dedication feat), which gives you plenty of variety if you are looking to explore the archetype before heading to the next one. The great part is that these pirate feats are part of your options list for the rest of your character's career, so you can always go back to pick up a feat that you missed.

Lastly, I want to take a look at prestige archetypes. These are archetypes whose dedication feats come with some pretty hefty prerequisites you have to meet before you can select them. In the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook, we included only one such archetype as an example for you to play around with in your campaign: the Gray Maiden. Take a look at this dedication feat.

Gray Maiden Dedication Feat 6

Archetype, Dedication, Prestige

Prerequisites Strength 16, expert in Fortitude saves, trained in heavy armor and all martial weapons, member of the Gray Maidens

Your Gray Maiden training has steeled you against harsh physical conditions. You become a master at Fortitude saves. When you succeed at a Fortitude save, treat it as a critical success. You also gain access to special armor: Gray Maiden plate. Gray Maiden plate is a level 3 item that costs 600 sp, grants +7 AC and +3 TAC, and has a Dexterity modifier cap of +0; otherwise, it uses the same stats as full plate.

Special You cannot select another dedication feat until you have gained two other feats from the Gray Maiden archetype.

Becoming a master at Fortitude saves is not something you can easily do in most classes; in fact, level 6 is sooner than even a barbarian can manage, and that armor is some of the best you can find. Of course, joining the Gray Maiden organization is no simple feat either. Once you are in, this prestige archetype includes a variety of powerful feats that you can add to your character. Here is just a taste.

Unbreakable Feat 8

Archetype

Prerequisites Gray Maiden Dedication

You can endure a staggering amount of punishment. Increase your maximum HP by your level, increasing as you gain additional levels. You die at dying 5, or dying 6 if you also have Diehard.

This grants many of the benefits of the Toughness and Diehard general feats combined, and it stacks with both to make an incredibly resilient character.

That wraps up our look at archetypes. You'll find a number of them in the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook, and we can't wait for you to give them a try. And come back on Monday for a massive blog that I am sure will resonate with many of you!

Jason Bulmahn
Director of Game Design

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
MerlinCross wrote:


Debatable. If your Pirate Archetype yes made you more Piratey, but also kept/enforce what your main class role was on the ship, to me that's good. I could easily see a more Piratey version of Alchemist - Chirurgeon that fills the role of a Ship's doctor(maybe being able to use booze/rum as pain killers or put together a makeshift healer's kit. Better chance at healing Drown/suffocate damage).

If all they did was just add "Ship movement/balance easier" to all of them, that can go. Though I would rather see such feats as more Background than actual Feats.

They could potentially create a chirurgeon archetype later down the road that grants you access to pirate feats as well as "this archetype" specific feats. Would be a fun way to spread the love and gain access to archetype feats more freely as design progresses.

Scarab Sages

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Cyrad wrote:

Now each archetype has hefty prerequisites, a feat tax, and a feat tree associated with it? That feels like one step forward and two steps back.

So much hinges on that dedication feat granting you an ability to make it all feel worth it.

I really don't get why everyone is whining about a feat tax here. Archetypes replaced class abilities in PF1. So if you wanted to take Archetype X, you lost Class Ability Y and replaced it with Archetype Ability X.

In PF2, if you want to take Archetype X, you take the Dedicated Feat X for the archetype instead of the Class Feat Y. There is no difference in what's going on here. And the dedicated feat we've seen so far is pretty good. Certainly the equivalent of many PF1 feats and the equivalent of many class features from PF1.

Exo-Guardians

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To be frank it kinda looks similar to 5th Edition "Archetypes", which in that case were not optional in any way and have less options, so a win for PF2.

I'll be one to speak up for keeping the name Archetype, as the class feats you swap out for are always fitting to a theme, however if people insist on not calling them something else, we could always bring back 'Kits" from Second Edition D&D,.


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One thing I like about this is how homebrew friendly this is. It'd be easy to give a free dedication feat if you want to incentivize players to deepen their character concept with archetypes, or you could give out a free archetype specific to the campaign/setting you're playing. Houseruling with PF1 archetypes was much more difficult without breaking things, and campaign-specific archetypes were a disaster waiting to happen since only certain classes could use them.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Childeric, The Shatterer wrote:

Am I the only one that absolutely hates that practically EVERYTHING in 2nd edition has been reduced to a freaking feat.

racial abilities: nope, they're ancestry feats now so you have to be a 7th level dwarf to get what 1st level dwarves used to get for free.
automatic improved skill abilities: nope, they're now skill feats that you have to take in order to do the same stuff you could do for free just for putting ranks in the skill.
class features: nope, they're now class feats that you have to take just to acquire the class features you used to get for free.
archetypes: nope: they're now feats you have to take instead of taking one of your limited class feats.

I realize that one of the goals of 2nd edition was to simplify and streamline character creation, but there must have been a better way to accomplish that goal.

probably not the only one, but i think that your probably in a small mminority


Never used Archetypes in PF1 and I doubt that will change in the new edition, but at least the mechanics do seem a bit easier to integrate.


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Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Childeric, The Shatterer wrote:

Am I the only one that absolutely hates that practically EVERYTHING in 2nd edition has been reduced to a freaking feat.

racial abilities: nope, they're ancestry feats now so you have to be a 7th level dwarf to get what 1st level dwarves used to get for free.
automatic improved skill abilities: nope, they're now skill feats that you have to take in order to do the same stuff you could do for free just for putting ranks in the skill.
class features: nope, they're now class feats that you have to take just to acquire the class features you used to get for free.
archetypes: nope: they're now feats you have to take instead of taking one of your limited class feats.

I realize that one of the goals of 2nd edition was to simplify and streamline character creation, but there must have been a better way to accomplish that goal.

While I'll give you racial abilities feeling weird as level-based options (and there are plenty of other things that I still have misgivings about), it's a bit misleading to consider all of PF1's things "free", as that implies PF2 requires spending resources that you had in PF1.

Rather, PF2 is just taking most things in PF1 and making them optional. In the space that those features used to be is a "feat". You still have your general feat slots, just like in PF1. Now you also have a separate space for class feats, which are just the next evolution of Rogue Talents, Arcanist Exploits, Magus Arcana, Alchemist Discoveries, Ki Powers, Revelations, Rage Powers, Hexes, Implement Schools, or Wild Talents. About half the classes in PF1 already worked the way all PF2 classes work. Classes with modular talents had the most design space, and didn't require archetypes for significant customization. Making every class work that way seems like a pretty obvious design choice.

Skill ranks haven't changed the way you're implying. When you put ranks in a skill, your proficiency increases, which opens up some new options with that skill. Now you also have skill feats, to further customize how your skills work. Your skill ranks still matter, you now just also have skill feats (which are in their own "feat slots", independent of your general or class feats). You're only spending things you didn't have before.

Archetypes also haven't changed much. Now you just select archetype feats instead of class feats. You know, the same way PF1 archetypes give you... archetype abilities instead of class abilities. PF2's system is just more flexible, but is still nearly the same thing.


Thinking about it, I expect this also means there will be archetypes that are especially dippable (only 1 other feat required) or require dedication (3 others required). It'll be interesting to see how they line up, and which archetypes are more or less flexible.


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Interesting idea...I am getting a little feat fatigued...but we will see how it plays out.,,

One thing I really hope the pirate archetype is not in core...it is really you circumstantial and reliant on one type of campaign. There nothing wrong with it but it should be saved for a more specific book.

Dark Archive

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Personally, I don't see what was wrong with the 1e archetype system. I haven't heard anyone complain about it, and I felt like it was one of the best parts about 1e. That's what brought me over to pathfinder from 5e.
These any-class archetypes seem like a mistake, just like the ones in starfinder. The pirate archetype shown above and the starfinder archetypes (including the pact worlds' ones) are so weak because they don't make you better at what your class does, they just give you random, almost always worst abilities.
I hope this doesn't make it past the playtest, but I'll trust your judgment if it does.


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Cyouni wrote:
On specific details, I'm not sure if I like how that pirate one (Sea Legs) is essentially a skill feat that is going into your class feat slot. That generally seems like it'd be weaker and limit you quite a bit, but I'm going to have to see the comparisons that can be made.

I don't want to pile in on the 'this is underpowered / i wouldn't want to take it for my own PC' stuff, IMHO it is clearly thematic/situational Archetype meant for characters who can use it regularly, if that means NPCs then so be it. For them, having it be overpowered would be more disruptive, since they weren't going to be away from the water much anyways.

EDIT: As far as Pirate archetype not applying out of water, that isn't strictly true, it does grant some broadly usable benefits, but I believe it could be made to work more generally: Upgrade ALL Balance checks. Ignore ALL Difficult Terrain, Uneven Ground, Incline, or at least specify a broader subset than just on Ships (I could see not applying vs. Difficult Terrain from vegetation for example). Holding Breath bonus applies whenever you want, not just swimming (why would you get worse at holding breath just because you aren't in water? hell, you could be standing on a SHIP, right? this applies mostly to holding breath vs smoke/stinking cloud/etc). Broaden the Boarding Action bonus damage... It could apply to simply first attack in encounter, and/or whenever you enter new area (not just ships, could be room in building). These changes would benefits Pirates just as much when they are fighting on land in the pirate port etc.

But to the general point, it does seem like if a given Dedication Feat is deemed appropriate to focus on skills... Why not classify it as a Skill Feat? I think that would rectify alot of complaints in this area, and be a workable outcome. I don't see problem with 'entering' Archetype via Skill Feat, Skill Feat vs Class Feat are just elements in standard alternating progression.

As far as class-agnostic goes, it seems pretty obvious that some will be better for some classes than others. An archetype that offers no combat abilities will directly undermine something like a Fighter, while being OK for caster like Wizard. I can see the value in something like "recommended classes: XYZ" like Barbarian Archetypes gave suggested Rage Powers. Rather than having pretense it's good archetype for everybody, better to focus on who it is good for, and make sure it is really good for them. P2E structure makes it simple to target multipe classes with this, but that doesn't need to equate to ALL classes.

I wanted to comment on somebody else's suggestion... Feat Pre-Reqs for multi-classing. That's a hell of an idea. Would encourage roleplaying of out-of-class education before taking new class levels. Multi-classing tends to allow cherry picking for freebies, but if you have to 'buy off' that content anyways then the balance seems more reasonable. Smells like potential I think. Details are in implementation, whether fulfilling any from a list, or even depending on what you already have from class (i.e. not just Feat Pre-Reqs but also depending on existing proficiencies etc no matter from Feat Class whatever). I'm not wanting to make multi-classing overly onerous, but IMHO this has merit in consideration.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

A couple thoughts.

First, I am hoping you include a "Vigilante Archetype" for campaigns similar to Hell's Rebels where it is beneficial to disguise who you are and work secretly. I have to admit that was one of the failings of the Intrigue rulebook that several classes just didn't have any archetypes for vigilante-type stuff and it didn't make much sense for their exclusion.

Second, I think these Archetypes also make sense for another reason: you can use them in lieu of the old Campaign Traits. In fact, bonus Archetype Feats can also be added at later points for more thematic adventures - say a Skull and Shackles-style game, players might get three Archetype Feats to spend for free, the first given at 1st level, then each new free Feat given at 4th and 8th levels for instance.

Of course, a player can always choose to forgo the Campaign Archetype Feats but they wouldn't get any extra Feats at all in that case. And they still have a selection of Archetype Feats they likely could choose from so it's not just railroading them on how to advance.


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Cyrad wrote:

Now each archetype has hefty prerequisites, a feat tax, and a feat tree associated with it? That feels like one step forward and two steps back.

So much hinges on that dedication feat granting you an ability to make it all feel worth it.

Come on, really. Prestige Archtypes are replacing Prestige Classes which always had those.

And the "feat tax" is the same as the "feat tax" for getting non-Archetype Class Abilities via Class Feats.
Don't like the intro abilities? Well that's no different than not liking the first ability of archetype in P1E, right?

Liberty's Edge

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I like them, they seem fun thematically and fine mechanically (Pirate Dedication is actually really good mechanically, IMO).

I, too, hope that some Archetypes are available at 1st level, but there's nothing stopping that, and many Archetypes in PF1 don't kick in until 2nd or 3rd, so the example is fine as long as that restriction isn't universal.

As for 'Feat Taxes'...both Dedication Feats look really excellent mechanically to me, so I'm not sure what people are talking about there.

Mark Seifter wrote:
There is still design space for archetypes that morph something specific in a class. However, putting out several of them for each class would take a pretty big footprint in the playtest book, and the thing we have less testing on is these types of archetypes anyone can take.

Thank you so much for this information Mark. This is something a lot of people have been worried about long term, and I'm very pleased that something that lets, say, an Alchemist trade their extra bomb damage for something more melee oriented is a possibility.

I'm fine with not worrying too much about these for the playtest, though.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Quandary wrote:
I wanted to comment on somebody else's suggestion... Feat Pre-Reqs for multi-classing. That's a hell of an idea. Would encourage roleplaying of out-of-class education before taking new class levels. Multi-classing tends to allow cherry picking for freebies, but if you have to 'buy off' that content anyways then the balance seems more reasonable. Smells like potential I think. Details are in implementation, whether fulfilling any from a list, or even depending on what you already have from class (i.e. not just Feat Pre-Reqs but also depending on existing proficiencies etc no matter from Feat Class whatever). I'm not wanting...

This is an excellent idea. It would also mean that a character would do a slower swerve... though a more dedicated roleplayer might include such things as their Fighter being in her 30s because she's been studying magic on the side for quite a few years but had to put aside the book for a sword to protect their home or the like... but never gave up on magic. In some cases multiclassing might be something you start building at 1st level with a Multiclass Feat taken at that point so you already have an early concept as to how the character will grow.

The problem with that of course is sometimes players multiclass because the party needs a specific class so they switch to Cleric to provide healing or to Rogue to provide trap-detection or to Swashbuckler because their Rogue is now on the front line after the previous Barbarian player quit the game. But in that case the GM can be lenient.


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Upon more thought, I'm wondering why the protection from dipping is required. If it already takes a feat to buy into an archetype, you'd have to spend two feats for each feat you wanted to pluck from an archetype, in addition to any other prerequisites. That seems a steep enough cost on its own. Unless you just want the dedication feat itself, but hopefully those are tuned to be useful without being so powerful they're balanced only by scarcity.


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Quandary wrote:
Cyouni wrote:
On specific details, I'm not sure if I like how that pirate one (Sea Legs) is essentially a skill feat that is going into your class feat slot. That generally seems like it'd be weaker and limit you quite a bit, but I'm going to have to see the comparisons that can be made.

I don't want to pile in on the 'this is underpowered / i wouldn't want to take it for my own PC' stuff, IMHO it is clearly thematic/situational Archetype meant for characters who can use it regularly, if that means NPCs then so be it. For them, having it be overpowered would be more disruptive, since they weren't going to be away from the water much anyways.

But to the general point, it does seem like if a given Dedication Feat is deemed appropriate to focus on skills... Why not classify it as a Skill Feat? I think that would rectify alot of complaints in this area, and be a workable outcome. I don't see problem with 'entering' Archetype via Skill Feat, Skill Feat vs Class Feat are just elements in standard alternating progression.

Another option is to leave the Dedications in class feats, and certain Archetype abilities go into skill feats instead.

Right now, if I chose to play a Pirate Rogue, Sea Legs is unlikely to be on the map for me given I have enough skill feats to make up the difference.


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Pandora's wrote:
Upon more thought, I'm wondering why the protection from dipping is required. If it already takes a feat to buy into an archetype, you'd have to spend two feats for each feat you wanted to pluck from an archetype, in addition to any other prerequisites. That seems a steep enough cost on its own. Unless you just want the dedication feat itself, but hopefully those are tuned to be useful without being so powerful they're balanced only by scarcity.

Agree, seems like an unnecessary restriction


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Tallow wrote:
Cyrad wrote:

Now each archetype has hefty prerequisites, a feat tax, and a feat tree associated with it? That feels like one step forward and two steps back.

So much hinges on that dedication feat granting you an ability to make it all feel worth it.

I really don't get why everyone is whining about a feat tax here. Archetypes replaced class abilities in PF1. So if you wanted to take Archetype X, you lost Class Ability Y and replaced it with Archetype Ability X.

In PF2, if you want to take Archetype X, you take the Dedicated Feat X for the archetype instead of the Class Feat Y. There is no difference in what's going on here. And the dedicated feat we've seen so far is pretty good. Certainly the equivalent of many PF1 feats and the equivalent of many class features from PF1.

It's a niche case yes but here's an example of tax, though it's more a restriction I suppose. Calling things Feat Tax when not Feat tax is bad, but I don't know what else to call them.

I was playing an Alchemist(Shocker). I pick Preservationist as my Archetype. By the end of book 1 of the AP, I realized that we didn't have enough Frontline power. To solve this, or help till my summons came online better, I was going to take Fighter - Unbreakable.

Wait. Under the new system, I would need to take 2 Preservationist feats before I could. Which would stall my attempt to shore up my/party weakness for what, 2 levels? Maybe more if I didn't already pick up a Preservationist feat already or it's dedication count is higher.

In this case, I would have been better retraining them or just retiring them to make a new character.

I also don't buy that Pirate Dedication is equivalent to "Many PF1 feats and class features".


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Vessa wrote:
Personally, I don't see what was wrong with the 1e archetype system.

The new system isn't hinged on a claim there was anything wrong with 1e archetype system. The new system is hinged on fact the 1e system cannot work with over-all structure of 2e classes, which have very few fixed elements to replace. (the ones it does have are theoretically compatible with 1e-style archetypes which alter them, but that doesn't seem focus at this time... which isn't a change vs 1e, because 1e didn't include such archtypes in CRB either)

Tangent101 wrote:
First, I am hoping you include a "Vigilante Archetype" for campaigns similar to Hell's Rebels where it is beneficial to disguise who you are and work secretly.

What are you envisioning? Basic Vigilante supernatural disguise ability seems to be about ONE Skill Feat, maybe with pre-req of other general/skill feat or 2. Other Vigilante abilities aren't obviously tied to that in hierarchical tree, e.g. maintaining base of operations doesn't have obvious relationship to fast-change Supernatural disguise.

I guess this gets into why call these Archetypes in first place? Thematic Feats seems about as accurate.

Liberty's Edge

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Pandora's wrote:
Upon more thought, I'm wondering why the protection from dipping is required. If it already takes a feat to buy into an archetype, you'd have to spend two feats for each feat you wanted to pluck from an archetype, in addition to any other prerequisites. That seems a steep enough cost on its own. Unless you just want the dedication feat itself, but hopefully those are tuned to be useful without being so powerful they're balanced only by scarcity.

Currently, Dedication Feats are actually really powerful. I'd much prefer if they kept that and kept the restriction than reduced their power and removed it. That way I can grab a Dedication Feat and really feel like I'm getting value out of my investment.

Liberty's Edge

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MerlinCross wrote:
I also don't buy that Pirate Dedication is equivalent to "Many PF1 feats and class features".

It gives you Proficiency with three weapons, a Signature Skill, an advantage on Balance checks and lets you ignore one kind of difficult terrain completely.

Those are each small benefits individually, but the number of them is still very impressive, and all of them are legitimately good small benefits.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Pandora's wrote:
Upon more thought, I'm wondering why the protection from dipping is required. If it already takes a feat to buy into an archetype, you'd have to spend two feats for each feat you wanted to pluck from an archetype, in addition to any other prerequisites. That seems a steep enough cost on its own. Unless you just want the dedication feat itself, but hopefully those are tuned to be useful without being so powerful they're balanced only by scarcity.
Currently, Dedication Feats are actually really powerful. I'd much prefer if they kept that and kept the restriction than reduced their power and removed it. That way I can grab a Dedication Feat and really feel like I'm getting value out of my investment.

Eh, I really think sidegrade should be the design goal. If dedication feats are powerful and limited only be scarcity, then your character is likely weaker if they don't invest in archetypes. That hits too close to the 3.5 you must prestige mentality. If they're replacements for class feats, they should be on a level with them. Of the two we saw, however, the pirate one didn't seem all that powerful. Nice, but not something I'm going to go out of my way to take. The Gray Maiden is a different story, and hopefully prestige options will be limited to specific contexts if they're going to be that much more powerful.


I was initially a little worried, but I'm coming around to this format. I do wanna see more examples, but I can see this being a really good way to set up stories for adventure paths - it tells you what people around here are likely to be and guides you towards building a character that fits into the word without being unnecessarily prohibitive, while also setting you up with what you're likely to need to be able to do. I'm glad everyone has basically agreed that "You get 1 Free Dedication Feats" as a potential way to Homebrew things.

I do think that "A Failure is a Success" is better than "A Success is a Critical Success" although that's without having played around in the new skill system so maybe that'll change.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
MerlinCross wrote:
I also don't buy that Pirate Dedication is equivalent to "Many PF1 feats and class features".

It gives you Proficiency with three weapons, a Signature Skill, an advantage on Balance checks and lets you ignore one kind of difficult terrain completely.

Those are each small benefits individually, but the number of them is still very impressive, and all of them are legitimately good small benefits.

If it were all balance checks, I'd probably agree, but it just being balance checks on ships, that narrows it significantly. Also, it's not very appealing if you already had proficiency with the weapons, and Acrobatics as a signature skill. I still agree on a nautical themed campaign, this might not be that bad, but I think if the idea is that archetypes should be viable for, if not all classes, at least many different classes, then the entry feats should at least give you something else if you already have parts of it. Maybe similar to ancestral weapons, where you are proficient with those weapons, but also treat thematic exotic weapons as martial, and maybe giving the choice of two signature skills.


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Cyouni wrote:
Quandary wrote:
But to the general point, it does seem like if a given Dedication Feat is deemed appropriate to focus on skills... Why not classify it as a Skill Feat? I think that would rectify alot of complaints in this area, and be a workable outcome. I don't see problem with 'entering' Archetype via Skill Feat, Skill Feat vs Class Feat are just elements in standard alternating progression.

Another option is to leave the Dedications in class feats, and certain Archetype abilities go into skill feats instead.

Right, I mean the Blog example puts the Skill stuff in Dedication Feat, but if another Archetype tree had Skill stuff in subsequent Feats, then it's reasonable to consider classifying that as a Skill Feat. That brings up broader topic of inter-dependencies of Skill Feats & Class & General Feats as a whole, which IMHO is a valid design structure to exist, although obviously Paizo doesn't want them TOO universally interlinked.


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MerlinCross wrote:
[complaint re: hypothetical scenario of deciding to change Archetype focus]

As you bring up, retraining exists to cancel previous decisions you no longer prioritize. But I do think you point to valid issue, re: exclusivity of Archetype Dedication. To me, the justification for that would be if Archetypes are relatively front loaded. But as far as I can tell, they aren't, so somebody choosing to adopt new Archetype before completing Dedication requirement isn't gaining any advantage.

If anything, it is the Prestige Archetypes which seem potentially front-loaded, and IMHO it is the Prestige Archetypes which seem to actually have valid justification for Dedication exclusivity. I guess if the non-Prestige Archetypes are going to have Dedication exclusivity, they should genuinely present front-loaded (not necessarily in just the 1st, but in all Feats previous to fulfilling Dedication requirement) stronger-than-average benefits. And honestly I'm not sure if the game really benefits from 'stronger than average' Feats in order to justify this exclusivity, especially without heavy pre-reqs and roleplaying implications of Prestige Archetypes.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
MerlinCross wrote:
I also don't buy that Pirate Dedication is equivalent to "Many PF1 feats and class features".

It gives you Proficiency with three weapons, a Signature Skill, an advantage on Balance checks and lets you ignore one kind of difficult terrain completely.

Those are each small benefits individually, but the number of them is still very impressive, and all of them are legitimately good small benefits.

Weapons you might already have(I don't expect Hatchet and Spear to be that hard to have proficiency with), a Signature skill you can either get away with not using or using Skill Feats to pick up(Or background), and lets you ignore a terrain you might not be on.

Yeah, no. I'll take "Let me hit all things better" feat, or "Let me deal with Wood/Cave Terrain better" feat.

Number of benefits is meh if you can just as easily live without them.

Liberty's Edge

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Tholomyes wrote:
If it were all balance checks, I'd probably agree, but it just being balance checks on ships, that narrows it significantly.

In a nautical campaign, that's probably the most common type of Balance check you're ever gonna make.

Tholomyes wrote:
Also, it's not very appealing if you already had proficiency with the weapons, and Acrobatics as a signature skill.

This is true. I'm not sure any Class meets both those requirements, though (maybe Barbarian? Rogue and Monk get the weapons, and Fighter and most other martials get the Signature Skill). We also don't know what happens when you get a Signature Skill twice. It's possible that gives you a very cool bonus of some sort (or that it gets you nothing, of course).

Tholomyes wrote:
I still agree on a nautical themed campaign, this might not be that bad, but I think if the idea is that archetypes should be viable for, if not all classes, at least many different classes, then the entry feats should at least give you something else if you already have parts of it. Maybe similar to ancestral weapons, where you are proficient with those weapons, but also treat thematic exotic weapons as martial, and maybe giving the choice of two signature skills.

I could definitely see the latter. I think the former (ie: already having the weapons) is one reason that it has so many small benefits, so that almost no character will miss out on more than one of them.

Liberty's Edge

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Oh wow, there are... a lot of implications to this system. I think I like it though, but yeah there is a lot to take from this.

My first gut reaction was that I didn't like it. I hated how fighter archetypes used all your first bonus feats. And I remember how as much as I liked the psychometrist vigilante, the fact that it replaced the 6th level vig talent meant I would never actually play one.

So I thought, "Replacing feats? That's awful - it cripples customization, not enhances it. It even competes with my ability to thread together my character's style!"

But the more I think about it, the more I like it - with the new system, hopefully we'll see less of the long feat chains (outside of these archetypes) and while I know this is going to compete heavily with the 'must-have' feats, being able to delay archetype features is a wonder.

I love how this works for prestige classes, by the way. Loss of scaling for base class features turned me off most of them, so this route rocks.


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Only semi-expected to have archetypes absorb prestige classes complete, yet here they are. And now I don't have to give up my current main class' core features, sweet...

Paizo Employee Designer

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Lucas Yew wrote:
Only semi-expected to have archetypes absorb prestige classes complete, yet here they are. And now I don't have to give up my current main class' core features, sweet...

That's one of the key benefits; you get to keep full spellcasting, capstones, and other major features that allow you to progress in your class's main thing while still gaining prestige class style benefits.


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Step 1: Buy collapsible boat.
Step 2: Teach monkey familiar to deploy said boat when combat starts.
Step 3: Profit!

OR

"Why do those pirates keep running back into their boat every six seconds?"
"I don't know, but they sure do hit hard!"
(2 actions to deploy/attack, 1 action to return to boat, repeat)

Oddly, getting a bonus weapon die encourages pirates to wield large weapons, which doesn't seem very pirate-y.
Maybe a set precision damage might be more thematic?
Then again, Conan was a pirate for a long while...


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Vessa wrote:

Personally, I don't see what was wrong with the 1e archetype system. I haven't heard anyone complain about it, and I felt like it was one of the best parts about 1e. That's what brought me over to pathfinder from 5e.

These any-class archetypes seem like a mistake, just like the ones in starfinder. The pirate archetype shown above and the starfinder archetypes (including the pact worlds' ones) are so weak because they don't make you better at what your class does, they just give you random, almost always worst abilities.
I hope this doesn't make it past the playtest, but I'll trust your judgment if it does.

I think the biggest issue with archetypes was the amount of development time and space they took up. As the number of classes increased, it also increasingly spread thin the number of archetypes you can get for each class in any given supplement.

As Mark was saying earlier, there's also design space for alternate class features or class specific archetypes to make a return, but in a core product, they want to make the options applicable to as many classes as possible. The strength of the feats can always be tuned during the playtest if any of them seem to weak (but I wouldn't expect a pirate-themed archetype to be particularly strong outside of a naval/sea campaign, and that's perfectly fine by me). I hope to see some archetypes that adjust class features in the future, but I'm fine with that not being able in the core rules (which weren't in PF 1st edition core either, for what it's worth).

And a bit of a derailment, but the biggest issue with Starfinder archetypes wasn't necessarily that they applied to all classes, it was that each class gave up different things of varying value to have an archetype. Soldiers had a much easier time of being a Phrenic Adept than a Solarion who loses a massive chunk of their class features. If the actual benefits of the archetypes were made stronger, and the classes had similar opportunity costs, I would have been completely fine with them. In Pathfinder 2E, losing a class feat should be about the same opportunity cost for each class, but we'll see when the playtest rules are out.


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Blog wrote:
Boarding Action is one of those feats that nearly every pirate can be expected to have

That's three feats deep. If you're expecting most pirates to have it, then they're level eight before they can think about the Sea Legs chain. I realize pirate is niche, but I'm hoping that most archetypes don't have too many chains of two feats plus the starter.

Really, a lot of the pirate stuff has me kind of nervous. The opener feat seems pretty weak on anybody not benefitting from the weapon proficiencies. It's pretty much only the balance feature at that point, because even in a pirate game, I'm not expecting the GM to tip the ship outside of a storm.

I feel like the intro feat should take pains to give a consolation prize for things you get anyway, because you're forced to take the feat to get at whatever you want. If I want two feats from separate archetypes, I have to commit half my class feats to that- I'd really like everything in there to be useful.

I definitely like this for the prestige class replacement. It avoids the problem where they had to be balanced around the extremes of Wizard, Fighter, and Core Rogue.

I'm looking forward to checking these out! The examples aren't ones that really do it for me, though.


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re: class-agnostic 'universal' archetypes and non-universal benefit to class feat 'replacement',
I think that also brings up relative value of feats depending on how much that class depends on feats vs. non-feat advancement,
and in fact how classes are balanced, whether consistently on both Feat/non-Feat basis, or allowing those to diverge...
Is Wizard non-Feat advancement (Spell Levels + ?) being designed equivalent to Fighter non-Feat advancement (Wpn/Armor proficiency + ?)?
I don't think we know enough to say that yet, or even if Paizo is INTENDING that to be the case...
They could very well not intend that, but simply allow Fighter-aligned feats (unique or General) to be relatively stronger to compensate...
But that begs question of 'universal' Archetype Feats, and whose Class Feats are they being balanced against?


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This is some good game design. There were a lot of hints previously that this is the direction things where going. It is good to see a nice preview.

Good to hear that archetypes that do swap out class features are in the works, albeit someway down the pipe. I think an armour specialist fighter would make some people happy.

I really like that there is some dip restrictions, but they are not too punishing.


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I actually really like this archetype system, which feels like those "more recent" prestige classes that add onto your base class rather replace the progression. A lot of crazy things could be built with this! For example, the Hellknight one wouldn't be a "downgrade" from Fighter anymore if you could just cherry pick the stuff that works for you and still keep your core fightan stuff.

However, It does feel like the developers think we get 50 class feats to work with, when it's actually not that many at all. Taking one of these archtypes is a huge investment, like half of a character's career! And I'm not sure if it's really worth it unless eveyrone also gets some good stuff at the odd levels without class feats.

I think it would be nice if archetype feats had both CLASS and SKILL feats, even some could have ANCESTRY ones. After all, these archetypes seem to be packed with both combat and non-combat stuff (at least one of the pirate feats should just be a skill feat, and race-locked archetypes could use the still kinda unexplored ancestry slots.) and it takes some of the weight off the very limited CLASS feats resource which feels rather strangled right now with pretty much everything good requiring one. Would also make it a lot more viable to take multiple archetypes if you can double or triple down on them with your different feat slots and "finish" them in reaosnable time.

Either that, or making those entry feat tax ones less rough, perhaps being able to get one free or they coming with a choice of another archetype feat as a bonus.


Mark Seifter wrote:
That's one of the key benefits; you get to keep full spellcasting, capstones, and other major features that allow you to progress in your class's main thing while still gaining prestige class style benefits.

I definitely like the prestige classes restructured as prestige archetype feat paths. I've never played a prestige class character in Pathfinder (and only one multiclass character), because so many class abilities fall behind so quickly.

And I like the idea of the themed, class agnostic, archetype feat paths. They can provide a campaign theme or regional flavor, without derailing a character concept.

As long as the classes are flexible enough that a fighter can be a heavy tank, a nimble archer, a dragoon lancer, or a quick witted swashbuckler*, without getting wasted generic class abilities (like tower shield for the last three) then I'll be happy.

* The swashbuckler is of particular importance to me, as we might convert our current campaign to the playtest rules, after playing the test adventures.


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The Prestige Archetypes seem fine, just matter of balancing them properly.

The others... I'm really thinking something like Pirate as 'Universal' Archetype should tie in / build upon the Background system. So if you take that as your Background, you already have the "Opener" (if you chose something else as Background, you can "Open" Pirate Archetype via Feat later too). The follow-on Feats should be able to be selected via Skill Feats, General Feats as thematically appropriate, which Class Feat slots can also select AFAIK. This seems like more appropriate for 'universal' Archetypes (and beneficial to low-mid level NPCs making effective use of them)

Apart from those, single-class or multi-class-but-not-universal (e.g melee combatant classes, Ftr/Brb/Pal/Rng/Rog/Mnk agnostic) archetypes do seem more obviously suited for Class Feat exclusive (or heavily weighted) structure.

There doesn't have to be strict line between those, an Archetype can have mostly General Feats, or mostly Skill Feats, but a few Class Feats, for example, which are more equivalent of melee/ranged/magic class feats. That alone also eases burden of finishing a Dedication by allowing all Feat slots to potentially count towards it, although I am dubious about concept of Dedication exclusivity to begin with... Having that apply only re: Prestige Archetypes seems less problematic, although even there I'm not sure of necessity.


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Quandary wrote:

The Prestige Archetypes seem fine, just matter of balancing them properly.

The others... I'm really thinking something like Pirate as 'Universal' Archetype should tie in / build upon the Background Feats. So if you take that as your Background, you already have the "Opener". The follow-on Feats should be able to be selected via Skill Feats, General Feats as appropriate, which Class Feat slots can also select AFAIK. This seems like more appropriate for 'universal' Archetypes. Apart from those, single-class or multi-class but not universal (e.g melee combatant classes, Ftr/Brb/Pal agnostic) archetypes do seem more obviously suited for Class Feat exclusive (or heavily weighted) structure. There doesn't have to be strict line between those, an Archetype can have mostly General Feats, or mostly Skill Feats, but a few Class Feats, for example, which are more equivalent of melee/ranged/magic class feats.

Yeha agreed 100% I forgot about General feats too! haracters do have a LOT of feats to spend if you don't count just "Class Feats" so there's a lot of design space in putting other types in the archetypes too. The Sea Legs ability in particular would be a solid archetype-themed SKILL feat that wont make it so taxing to grab this archetype.


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These aren't archetypes as we have come to know them. These are themes.

Archetypes are great because they let you swap out class features for different class features. Feats are already modular and swappable. Quarantining a bunch of feats into a package is very underwhelming. I'm disappointed they're attaching the name "Archetype" to these and would much rather have had them called theme, prestige class, paragon path, whatever and instead had the name Archetype unused so we could get PF1e style archetypes at a later date.


QuidEst wrote:
Blog wrote:
Boarding Action is one of those feats that nearly every pirate can be expected to have

That's three feats deep. If you're expecting most pirates to have it, then they're level eight before they can think about the Sea Legs chain. I realize pirate is niche, but I'm hoping that most archetypes don't have too many chains of two feats plus the starter.

Really, a lot of the pirate stuff has me kind of nervous. The opener feat seems pretty weak on anybody not benefitting from the weapon proficiencies. It's pretty much only the balance feature at that point, because even in a pirate game, I'm not expecting the GM to tip the ship outside of a storm.

Agreed on the first part - and not only is it three feats deep with a minimum level requirement of 6, but it would presumably mean an example pirate wouldn't have taken any of the other feats from the same archetype, and that pirates who took any of the feats couldn't have boarding action. I don't know what kind of pirates the Blog is expecting, but they're mighty fearsome.

As to the second part, it can also benefit PC's in providing a Signature skill. No word yet on what a duplicated Signature skill would provide, or if NPC pirates would even benefit from having one.


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The fact these seem to replace prestige classes and replace multiclassing into them and instead simply get feats after taking a gateway feat is a strong indication this will be how multiclassing works. You'll take a multiclass feat and then you can take class feats of the second class in place of your own class feats.

This style of multiclassing is very shallow and was one of they reasons I stopped playing 4e and played PF. Not looking forward to that blog.


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Aramar wrote:
I don't know what kind of pirates the Blog is expecting, but they're mighty fearsome.

"Pirates" is actually the new name for Balors.


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I like the idea of these archetype feats. The flexibility is great. I only have 2 objections:

I hate the idea of them replacing the type of archetypes we had in PF1 rather than simply being a separate thing with a similar function (which could still happen at some point).

And I hate the dedication mechanic, particularly if this is going to be the way all archetypes work. One of the great things about archetypes was making them stack, making an even more unusual character that combined concepts. In this otherwise very flexible system, I go from being able to do two things at level 1, to doing two things at level 8 (based on the feats shown so far anyway). And all because you don't want someone dipping those archetype feats one after another, as though they weren't costing you a feat or were somehow just better than regular feats. It's not like we didn't have feat trees before, what would be so bad about letting someone take the entry feat for one archetype at level 2, a different archetype's entry feat at 4, and if they are so inclined, another one at 6?


I've never liked Archetypes to be honest. Too many of them, particularly for the Rogue (See Roof Runner), feel like they should have been either selectible feats/ talents, or simply built into the base class from the get-go.


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Some archetype feats (like sea legs) seem like they could use a skill descriptor in addition to the archetype descriptor. Indicating it could be taken as a skill feat or class feat.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Starfinder Maps Subscriber
Neume wrote:

I like these, this is much more flexible than SF and I'm happy about that. I Bard Bard Bard Bard Bard Bard. Bard Bard Bard Bard Bard Bard Bard Bard Bard. Bard Bard Bard Bard Bard, Bard Bard Bard Bard.

~Bard

Neume —

Sing it, brother!

By the way, just because everyone has been saying it’s awful, I think I want to be a pirate bard now. Yarr.

Mark —

Also because I am a bard, I want to encourage you to write up the bard. It’s time, Mark!

♫ It's time to play the music
It's time to Fight the Fights
It's time to meet the Pirates on the Playtest Show tonight

It's time to swap class feats up
It's time for archetypes
It's time to raise the yardarm on the Playtest Show tonight

Why do we always come here
I guess we'll never know
Each new blog teases us —
Look, thar she blows!!!

To analyze the new blogs
That's what I am here to do
So it really makes me happy to analyze you

Ahoy me maties let’s go
Starting with posts with some snark
Reading treatises from Mark
Chumming waters for the shark
Heh. Bite’s worse than our bark

On the most sensational inspirational celebrational Playtestsational
This is what we call the Playtest Show
It's the most sensational inspirational celebrational Playtestsational
This is what we call the Playtest Show ♫


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I like this idea but they will need to be really careful about what becomes a class feat , skill feat and an archetype feat.

Take as an example a hypothetical Roof Runner archetype. How many of the feats would be similar or the same as Rogue class feats? How much of it should be general skill feats? They are going to need strong design guidelines for when something is in each category.

I am wary about the implementation and maintenance of these linked concepts, especially as staff turn over happens.

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