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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Tags: Pathfinder Playtest Wayne Reynolds
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Voss wrote:
Nathanael Love wrote:
This feels incredibly 4th edition.
How so? I don't care for it much, but prestige classes in 4th were 'pre-select a package of six abilities you'll get spread out over 11th-20th level' and the pirate thing doesn't resemble 'lack of flavor text edition' at all. Though I'm not sure why anyone would burn feat slots on abilities so narrow they're essentially flavor text.

Having archetypes replace feats seems pretty similar to leaving the 3 spots open that the "archetype" fills in.

The universality of what you replace.

(5th ed has the same, but better implemented than 4th ed, but still fairly bland).

Silver Crusade Contributor

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Meophist wrote:
If a similar class is desired without Sneak Attack, that's probably better served as a different class rather than an archetype.

On the other hand, there's no need to reinvent the wheel. It's far better to spend half a page creating an archetype that gives rogues a whole new dimension than spend several creating an all-new class, plus new class feats, and then having to support that class separately for the rest of the system's lifespan. ^_^


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Kalindlara wrote:
Meophist wrote:
If a similar class is desired without Sneak Attack, that's probably better served as a different class rather than an archetype.
On the other hand, there's no need to reinvent the wheel. It's far better to spend half a page creating an archetype that gives rogues a whole new dimension than spend several creating an all-new class, plus new class feats, and then having to support that class separately for the rest of the system's lifespan. ^_^

Exactly. Many such archetypes simply emphasize and expand on a different aspect of the flavor of the Class, such as Alchemist archetypes which go the route of Dr Jekyll instead of the Unabomber. Others only get rid of /some/ of the base advancement of an ability, like an archetype that reduces sneak attack advancement by half or reduces its damage die without getting rid of it entirely. Or replace an ability like sneak attack with a similar but weaker ability that still has some combat utility to "make room" for another cool concept.

With PF2 rogues in particular, I could definitely see leaning into the "tricksy skill masters" aspect to have archetypes that, for example, trade out sneak attack for Investigator abilities, or for bonuses to combat maneuvers like Trip and Dirty Trick to "fight smarter not harder" in other ways.


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Kalindlara wrote:
Meophist wrote:
If a similar class is desired without Sneak Attack, that's probably better served as a different class rather than an archetype.
On the other hand, there's no need to reinvent the wheel. It's far better to spend half a page creating an archetype that gives rogues a whole new dimension than spend several creating an all-new class, plus new class feats, and then having to support that class separately for the rest of the system's lifespan. ^_^

I mean, "If you don't want sneak attacks because sneak attacks are fiddly and unreliable, just play a slayer" was a thing that people said in the not so distant past, but in the intervening 5 years the seams have not really been bursting with slayer archetypes and slayer talents which can fulfill a wide variety of purposes.

I mean, I know I am going to have to wait to play my Astomoi "GentleThing Thief" in the new edition, but I'd like to do so eventually.


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber
Franz Lunzer wrote:
John Lynch 106 wrote:
... Paizo have quite proudly said we only ever have to refer to 1 table even if we multiclass. ...

Thinking of the Druid Reveal at the banquett of PaizoCon, I don't remember seeing a table of progression in the Druid section. (I might have missed it, might not remember it, it could be on a page not shown.... a lot of reasons really).

But: could it not be, that Paizo is refering to the 1 table detailing the progression of all classes (the one in PF1e named: "Character Advancement and Level-Dependent Bonuses" detailing when you get that feat every odd level and the ability score increases).
That table in PF2e would probably show the progression of Ancestry feats, Ability score increases, maybe Skill-Feats.

Well, I was wrong.

(And re-watching that banquett-Stream, the druid's advancement table wasn't shown.)

Back in the "Leveling up!"-Blog, we were shown part of the cleric's class advancement table:

Leveling up! wrote:

...

For instance, at 2nd and 3rd levels, the cleric gets the following:

2 Cleric feat, skill feat
3 2nd-level spells, general feat, skill increase

(Wait... what if I multiclass? We'll cover that in a future blog, but let's just say you'll still be referencing only one advancement table.)
...

Well, that 'one advancement table' could still mean a host of things.

Yes, it could point to a VMC-like multiclassing.
But it could also just work the way multiclassing does in PF1e.
(I don't know how you are working out your characters when multiclassing, but I typically only reference the class table of the class I'm leveling up in.)


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
I mean, I know I am going to have to wait to play my Astomoi "GentleThing Thief" in the new edition, but I'd like to do so eventually.

On a quasi-related note, if you crave sneakattacklessness, you might want to have a little look at Planar Adventures. ^_^


So mostly stuff that is getting reprinted with cannon changes in a few years anyway. Maybe I'll pick it up when some early adopter drops all their "old" books off at the local Bookmans.


And pilfering/porting over from previous editions is something I have always done (since 2nd Ed AD&D came out, I did not like the ranger, so used the 1st Ed one, and retained the monk class), 3rd Ed and PF1 are like the secret ingredient to spice up 5th Ed.

I can see pulling from PF1 for PF2, and vice versa; I have already adjusted my 3rd Ed/PF1 houserules, due to some information in the playtest.


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Cantriped wrote:
So mostly stuff that is getting reprinted with cannon changes in a few years anyway. Maybe I'll pick it up when some early adopter drops all their "old" books off at the local Bookmans.

Pages 10-55 have archetypes, feats, spells and magic items. Pagges 224 - 253 is bestiary [including playable races].

For the player, it gives you around a softback's worth of info. IMO, it has some nifty archetypes and Ganzis have a cool table of new abilities that could have: one lets you be proficient with all simple and martial weapons, and they can qualify for feats normally available only to fighters!

Lantern Lodge Customer Service & Community Manager

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Removed a handful of posts and replies.

Lantern Lodge Customer Service & Community Manager

Thanks for all the lively discussion so far in this thread. At this time we've decided to close up the blog discussion thread. If you have comments, questions or other things you want to post that do not fit into any currently open threads, you are welcome to start a new thread. Thanks!

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