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JiaYou wrote:
It's easier to choose and be effective with other spells than if you went as a melee Magus (but it obviously can still be done)

As the only person in the group focused on making ranged attacks I feel I'll need to focus on ranged damage a lot of the time.

Though spells that bring flying creatures down to the ground will be very useful.

JiaYou wrote:
The reason Point Blank Shot is arguably worth taking is that, unless you choose abilities that increase the range of your Spellstrike, Ranged Spellstrike is limited to the range of the SPELL, not the arrow/bolt carrying the spell.

Good point, I hadn't realised how short range many of the Magus' spells are.

JiaYou wrote:
I would say avoid multiclassing and dipping if you can unless you have a real goal in mind and you're not just trying to get a feat here or there. If you're dead set on avoiding having to take Point Blank Shot

I'll admit the main goal with dipping Monk and Rogue is simply to Get More Feats but it seems like everything I want to do requires at least two or three of them and without a dip I don't think I can get Precise Shot before level 5.

Not having that feat feels like a big problem with all other PCs being melee-focused.

The extra feats I think I'd get from a 2 level (Monk 1/Unchained Rogue 1) are:
Weapon Finesse, Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Hand Crossbow, Precise Shot, Improved Unarmed Strike, Quick Draw.
Getting all those feats (plus BPS) via regular advancement wouldn't happen until level 13 at the earliest.

Admittedly Quick Draw and Improved Unarmed Strike are more 'nice to have' than 'key to the build'.
Add in Sneak Attack and all those lovely Class Skills (especially Stealth and UMD) and it feels like it might be worth a 2 level delay in class abilities to be 10 levels ahead in Feats and opens up the option of taking 'Luxury' feats like Meta-magic or Arcane & Riving Strikes.

What're the main advantages of the Divine Hunter compared to the Far Shot Monk in terms of getting Precise Shot?
I don't think that the Monk loses anything if they become non-Lawful, merely preventing them from advancing Monk, which I wasn't planning to do anyway.
Staying Lawful Good will be challenging in the current group (and isn't how I envision the character anyway.

avr wrote:
Spell combat lets you make a full attack with one weapon. Sure it's its own kind of action but it pulls the amount of attacks you're allowed to make from the full attack rules. There's a FAQ here.

Thanks! That is just what I was looking for.

Do you have a reference or FAQ on the Holy Ice Weapon thing as well?
The only thing I've found in the rulebook is:
The type of weapon used determines the amount of damage you deal.
I can't really see how:
deals an extra 1d6 points of cold damage on a successful hit.
differs from:
The weapon deals normal damage for a weapon of that type, plus 1 point of cold damage per caster level (maximum 10)
It's definitely possible I'm missing something though.

Also, does anyone know any alternative methods to get scaling damage on a crossbow? They don't benefit from Strength or Dexterity bonuses but I don't want to go five levels into Bolt Ace just to keep up damage-wise.

Meirrel wrote:
Something to consider doing is switching your bonded object from a crossbow to a firearm at higher levels.

Thanks for the advice, but I don't think guns are available in the setting.

I can definitely see your point about needing more Attack Bonus. Between Rapid Shot and Spell Combat, he's starting at a -4. If he somehow got is Attack Bonus high enough, he could even two-weapon fight with a hand crossbow and Heavy Bolt Launcher for -6 for 4 shots a round.
Any other ways to address the accuracy issue?
Especially, how well does Arcane Accuracy Arcana work it play? It looks like a good option on paper but might be expensive in terms of Arcane Pool.


JiaYou wrote:
So Rapid Reload simply means you COULD shoot two bolts per round IF you have Rapid Shot. So you'll still need to blow a feat on Rapid Reload...

Wouldn't Ranged Spell Strike (Any ranged cantrip with an Attack Roll) + Ranged Spell Combat allow shooting two bolts at -2 a round (effectively duplicating Rapid Shot) and thus require Rapid Reload?

JiaYou wrote:
Crossbow Eldritch Archer isn't a terrible idea since Magi tend to get their damage from spells rather than from static strength bonuses, and the wider crit range of crossbows compared to bows may give you some nice results.

Glad it isn't a terrible idea, but which spells in particular would be good for the damage source? The two that immediately come to mind are Snowball and Scorching Ray, which you mentioned as uncommon choices.

Spells to enhance the weapon directly, like Sense Vitals or Greater Magic Weapon?

Hexcrafter does look great, especially early, easy Flight. But given the Magus seems to have so many uses for low-level spells, Spell Recall seems worth holding onto making it's a very tough decision.
I might end up deciding between the two on the flip of a coin.

avr wrote:
On holy ice weapon; you're still firing ordinary bolts so I'm not sure you'd get the cold damage bonus. The spell says nothing about bestowing the effect on your ammo.

If the Cold damage doesn't apply to ammo, that's obviously a major flaw in the plan. However, I couldn't see anything in the spell description that implies it doesn't work.

You're still firing ordinary bolts when you fire them from a +2 crossbow, but you still get the damage bonus then.
Is there a general rule or ruling elsewhere that I've missed that indicates it works differently?
I thought that spells that affect the weapon without affecting ranged weapons either clearly indicate that in the description (as per Reduce Person) or specified 'Melee Weapon' as their target.

avr wrote:
You're absolutely going to need point blank shot. Magus bonus feats don't bypass prereqs. On the plus side rapid shot works with spell combat, providing you can handle the attack penalties.

I think you misread what I had posted- I wasn't planning to take Precise Shot as a Magus Bonus Feat, I was planning to take it as a Monk Bonus Feat which does ignore prerequisites (unless I have missed something).

This makes the question not 'Can I take Precise Shot without Point Blank Shot' it's 'Should I take Point Blank Shot on it's own merits?'

If Rapid Shot works with Spell Combat, the ability to take Rapid Shot is an argument for taking Point Blank Shot but I don't think these two abilities work together:
Rapid Shot only works "when making a full-attack action with a ranged weapon".
As far as I can tell Ranged Spell Combat is it's own type of Full-Round Extraordinary Ability action, not a Full-Round Attack action.
Is there a ruling or FAQ somewhere that states Spell Combat counts as a Full Round Attack Action for purposes of Rapid Shot and similar feats?


Important Life Advice::

When writing up things on the internet, do not type them directly into the forum window, even if it makes the formatting easier, for you will accidentally close the window when your mouse glitches out and thus you lose all of your work.
Apologies if this is a little hurried and less polished than many such requests, I've had to re-write it from scratch and it's late here.

Hello Paizo Forums,

I have come here seeking your aid, for I am attempting to create an Eldritch Archer Magus and I have never played an archer or Magus in Pathfinder before.
I am hoping some of you could take a look over my plans and share any comments, suggestions or (constructive) criticisms that occur to you, especially with regard to the viability of the spell and multi-class options I'm considering.
This is a non-PFS game, although I would prefer to avoid 3rd Party resources.
Also let me know if I've got any of the rules wrong and am inadvertently preparing to cheat.
Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Background
I was originally going to be playing an Eldritch Scion, however on showing up to the game it turned out that all of us were melee-focused characters, with even our Wizard sporting a Great Axe. The other players are a Death Touch-based Cleric and a Cavalier.
In order to have a little more balance to the group, I've offered to switch to a more ranged archetype and been given the go-ahead to rebuild by the GM.
We're only level 1 and have had one session, so there's not a lot set in stone about the character yet but I'd still like to make things as similar as possible to the original character.

Concept and design goals
Talen the Knife is a former soldier, a covert-operations type warrior (state-sponsored assassin) who believed he was serving his country by secretly eliminating unsavory elements, only to find out he was working for unsavory elements and becoming violently unemployed.

Themes are Shadowy Magic, magically-enhanced mobility and stealth to protect himself whilst providing long-ranged support, using spell-carrying crossbow bolts to distract, disrupt and destroy enemies.
A bit like an arcane magic using Ninja, except I couldn't work out how to get Thrown Weapons to actually work in this game.
I'd like him to be able to do respectable damage but I'm not aiming for Intensified-Shocking-Grasp levels of destruction every round (although one or two 'Kill it, Kill it NOW!' type spells for emergencies would be useful).

The Games Master has advised this game will have an above-average amount of in-town activities and recommended all characters have at least some social skills.

Race, Class, Ability Scores and Traits:

Name: Talen the Knife
The Eldrich-Scion version wielded a Starknife, hence the name.
Sadly Talen the Heavy Wrist Launcher doesn't have the same ring to it.

Race: Fetchling
Fetchling was originally chosen for the Eldritch Scion, so I could change this, but thematically it fits really well: Shadow Blending is amazing, Shadow Walk as a Spell-Like fits the concept perfectly.
I'm not sure if the lower starting Int is going to be crippling or not.

Eldritch Archer Magus 1
Eldritch Archer seems a better choice on first read, compared to Card Caster or Myrmidarch. They seem focused more on short-range or switch-hitting than long ranged support.
Are there any other archetypes that complement this one? I'm considering Hexcrafter Magus, but Spell Recall seems hard to give up. It would adds Night Blindness to the Magus Spell List though, which would have excellent synergy with the Fetchlings Shadow Blending ability. And the Flight Hex, of course.

Ability Scores (20 point buy:
Strength 7 (-2)
Dexterity 18 (+4)
Constitution 12 (+1)
Intelligence 16 (+3)
Wisdom 8 (-1) I'm hoping the Outsider (Native) immunity to the various Person spells will compensate for this long enough to get some gear or feats to boost Will saves.
Charisma 14 (+2) A bit of a legacy from his Eldritch Scion origins, though the bonuses to Charisma skills will be handy
Low Wisdom is terrible but I'm hoping the fact he uses a Light Crossbow will compensate for the terrible strength score. Not sure if Int 16 is sufficient for a Magus who plans to use Debuff spells, any advice on tweaking these would be welcomed.
I thought about dumping Cha and taking the Intimidating Bruiser or Student of Philosophy Traits that would allow adding Int to social skills, but that would stop me taking Adopted for Holy Ice Weapon, plus I could only take one of the two as they are both Social traits.

Traits
Magic: Magical Knack
Social: Adopted (Human): Magaambyan Arcana (Holy Ice Weapon)

Magical Knack feels almost mandatory if I'm planning to multi-class.
Magaambyan Arcana I'm less sure about: Holy Ice Weapon should allow him to summon a magical crossbow with a damage bonus scaling at his Caster Level.
I think this will go some way to make up for the Crossbow's lack of Str and Dex to damage.
However, I've not played enough Pathfinder to say for sure- the opinions of those that are more experienced than I would be welcome.
Also, is a 2nd Level spell (and 25gp) per fight too high a price to pay?

I definitely want to play a range-weapon attacking spell-caster using Arcane magic. Eldritch Archer seems the best way to do this, though Eldritch Scoundrel seems like it could be good as well?
The rest of the options here are things I could be flexible on if I'm told they're not viable. I'm especially interested in Archetype suggestions and any alternate trait choices.

Arcane Bond, Weapon Choice and Feat Selection:

1st Level Feat: Rapid Reload: Light Crossbow
Although Rapid Reload does nothing much useful at level 1, at level 2, I believe it is possible to to combine Ranged Spell Combat with Ray of Frost to fire the Crossbow twice per round, effectively turning Rapid Reload into Rapid Shot.

I'm planning to use the Light Crossbow as primary weapon for the first few levels.
I've picked it for the following reasons:
1. Although bows areclearly much better, crossbows allows me to dump Strength and this character is MAD.
2. It's a simple weapon, therefore can be created with Holy Ice Weapon
3. It has a slightly better crit range for Ranged Spellstrike
4. Better range and much less feat intense than throwing weapons

The main disadvantage seems to be the terrible damage and complete lack of Stat-to-Damage without multiple levels in Bolt Ace or extensive feat chains. I'm hoping that damage and debuff effects from spells (especially Holy Ice Weapon) will make up for the poor basic weapon damage.
Advice on which spells can do this or just letting me know if this is an unrealistic assumption, would be appreciated.

Arcane Bond: Heavy Wrist Launcher
This is a bit that touches on shenanigans- I plan to take the Heavy Wrist Launcher as my Arcane Bond, primarily because of the more urban nature of this game.
I couldn't find any rule anywhere that says you have to be proficient with your Arcane Bond weapon and bringing your bow or crossbow into a largely social encounter is problematic at best.
I've already discussed this with my GM- he's agreed that Crossbow-related feats can be taken for Heavy Wrist Launchers due to their using Hand Crossbow proficiency.
I'm reasonably certain he will rule that wearing it on your wrist will count as having it available for casting spells as well, but I'll be double checking this.
I do intend to make the character proficient with it as soon as he can afford to upgrade it with the Shadowshooting enchantment but the Feat Chain to get Crossbow Mastery seem too long to be affordable.
Whether I then re-train Rapid Reload (Light Crossbow) will depend on the viability of the Holy Ice Weapon spell.

I'm not sure if I've made the best choices here, could it be worth still trying to use a bow even with the -2 damage penalty? Or completely changing my stats to have higher Strength? Throwing weapons like daggers or shuriken would also have the concealable advantage but also require Strength (and I'm not sure they count as long ranged support)

Spells:

Level 0 Spells in combat are primarily going to be Daze and Ray of Frost, used with Ranged Spell Combat.
Daze will be useful on it's own, but Ray of Frost is basically an excuse to fire another crossbow bolt.

Level 1 Spells:
Snowball (1 Memorized)
Dancing Darkness (1 Memorized)
Mudball
Vanish
Web Bolt
Shield

I am far less confident in my level 1 spell choices compared to my level 0 spell choices.
Dancing Darkness seems to pair brilliantly with the Shadow Blending racial ability of the Fetchling although it might need the Night Blindness spell (either grabbed from the Wizard list with the Spell-Blending Arcana or added via Hexcrafter) to work on the many enemies with Darkvision.
I've picked Snowball as my other memorized spell for a damage burst, but there may well be better choices.


Most of the Magus list appears heavily skewed towards melee combat and disappointingly Eldritch Archer doesn't have any options to acquire range-related spells from more ranged-combat based spell-caster's lists, such as the Ranger or Hunter lists.
Are there any hidden gems in the Magus list that are especially good for Eldritch Archers or any priorities that I should be stealing from the Wizard list via Spell Blending?

Multi-classing and Advancement:

This is probably the area I need advice the most. I have a lot of ideas for directions I could take this character in, but not enough experience with Pathfinder in general and Magi and Archers in particular to know what's worth taking.
Magical Knack reduces (though sadly does not eliminate) the cost of multi-classing, so I was thinking of adding a dip or two to the build to help it with it's sneakiness and improve range-combat effectiveness.
It's worth noting I think we are using Factional Base Attack Bonus, so mixing with other 3/4 BAB classes won't completely ruin the ability to shoot straight.

Two dips I was considering were:
Far Shot Monk:
Only plan to take one level of this, but that level gives a lot:
Precise Shot, skipping Point Blank Shot requirement, Quick Draw (doesn't compliment the build directly, but often useful) and Improved Unarmed Strike with D6 Unarmed Strike.
Also throws in shuriken proficiency for sneaking weapons into places and adds a ninja-theme.
The real draw is the Precise Shot, which every Archery guide I've looked at suggests I acquire as soon as possible. However, Improved Unarmed Strike combining with Weapon Finesse from the Unchained Rogue and an Agile Amulet of Mighty Fists would turn the character into a competent (if not overwhelming) dex-based fighter if he is cornered or can't bring his weapons somewhere.
Sadly, I definitely do not have the Wisdom to make the Wisdom to AC useful. However, I don't believe you subtract Wisdom penalties from your AC.

Unchained Rogue:
A quick and simple way to provide both the Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Heavy Bolt Launcher feat (via Hand Crossbow Proficiency from the class) and Weapon Finesse so he can switch-hit in an emergency. It obviously works best with an Agile melee weapon (or Amulet of Mighty Fists) of course.
It also makes almost every skill a Class Skill (including Stealth and the social skills) and provides a huge number of Skill Points with a Int 16 character.
Finally given the sheer variety of ways a shadow-stealth focused Magus with access to the Wizard list has to either turn himself invisible, blind his opponent or render them flat-footed/denied their Dex to AC the Sneak Attack would probably get a lot of use as well - it seems far, far easier for a Magus to get Sneak Attack to activate than it does for a Rogue.

Both of these options seem like they would add to the character's versatility without costing *too* much from their power, especially as the game is unlikely to go to the sixth-level spell anyway.

I've a few ideas of my own for advancement, but I don't know when to take the alternate class dips- probably either first thing, to get Precise Shot and Hand Crossbow proficiency before I can afford Shadowshooting at around level 4-5 or at level 6, so I have a couple of uses of the Holy Ice Weapon.
I could use advice on Feat Choices (Rapid Shot is normally key, but seems like it doesn't work with Ranged Spell Combat, do I need Point Blank Shot if I skip straight to Precise via dip? etc) and to be pointed towards any interesting Prestige classes that seem to fit the concept.


I should emphasize that I never finished the build I was looking into, so these thoughts are all largely untested.

Inspiring Blade VS Masked Avenger
I don't know a lot about Swashbucklers (they didn't really come up when I was planning my own murder-teleporter) but at level 1, it really comes down to Rapier with 3 or 4 extra Panache vs the Whip.
Whip is really, really good once you get SpellStrike, as it allows touch attacks with considerable Reach, but that takes a lot of feats to use at full power and you don't have many.
On the other hand, the Rapier requires far fewer feats to use effectively and the Inspired Panache will probably give you more than double the starting Panache.
How often do you expect to need to use your level 1 deeds, bearing in mind Parry and Riposte is heavily based on your (fairly low) BAB?
Also, do you think it's cooler to use a whip or a rapier?

Blade Adept VS School Savant (Teleportation)
I like the concept behind the Blade Adept a lot. It's flavorful and very cool, plus it gives Spellstrike much earlier than the Magus VMC.
However, look at the number of Exploits you are wanting here:
You need School Understanding (Conjuration), Spellstrike (Presumably the point of the Archetype), Eldritch Blade (to keep the Blade progressing with Eldritch Knight levels) and perhaps Arcane Barrier, Arcane Weapon and perhaps a few Feats or Magus Arcana. And that's just the ones that support the Archetype, not the ones generally useful for all Arcanists.
You'd have 1 Exploit as a level 6 Blade Adept Arcanist, from level 5, so the rest would either have to come from feats or be left out entirely.
Also note you cannot enchant a Black Blade with Craft Arms and Armour- you can boost it temporarily with Arcane Weapon, but this does not allow you to add a number of useful properties (including the Agile and Bane properties) until the 'Alter Enchantments' Greater Exploit.

School Savant also takes a lot of Exploits away, but it doesn't add any must-haves in either. It can, however, be almost entirely replaced by the School Understanding exploit and a single level of Wizard- but it won't progress if you multi class into Eldrich Knight. It also sets your spell-casting back that little bit further, which might be worth it if you're happy to focus on low-level spells support spells for a while longer, but if you're in a hurry to get the the game-changing spells, it's one more delay.
If you do do this, take mostly buffs or no-save options with your non-Arcanist spells- Long Arm is a fine place to start, if you decided against taking a whip, or Enlarge Person if you are buffing a Strength based warrior instead of yourself.

Magus:
Magus is awesome. But it works best as whole unit. You get the wonderful Spell Recall at Level 4, spell strike at 2, Spell Combat at 1. I do think it would be fun to play a Magus 6 (for Broad Study)/Arcanist but I think that plan has a lot of hurdles that would need to be carefully steered around. There is an option using Fame in one of the Inner Sea books that allows you to add +3 effective levels (including gaining extra spellslots!) to one of your classes and +1 to another, which would even give this plan 8th level spells, but I think that's one of those abilities that most DM's would disallow.

Entry to Eldritch Knight:
Remember there are hybrid classes that add Martial Weapon Proficiency- heading into Eldritch Knight as a Magus, Skald or similar will get you an extra couple of spellslots and a related ability or two in exchange.
However, you won't get that +1 BAB and the feats/abilities you'd get from taking a level in fighter/swashbuckler etc. With all the Archetypes here, there are far too many options to list but you will almost certainly find something useful that gives Martial Weapon Proficiency.


I've looked at trying to implement a similar build fairly recently, I came up with another idea in the end, but I do have some 'research' that might be useful.

Out of the Arcanist's Dimension Slide, the Conjuration level 8 Wizard School power and the Teleportation level 1 Wizard School power, only the Teleportation level 1 power, 'Shift' has the magic words 'as if using dimension door' and therefore definitely unlocks and is usable with the Dimensional Agility feat chain.
If you want to use this via School Understanding Exploit, remember it takes a Swift Action to enhance the Exploit so you'd need to do it a round before you intended to use it (and have a decent +cha bonus, so it lasts long enough).
The other two abilities, whilst excellent for other purposes are not guaranteed to allow or work with the feat chain, so these would be a 'check with your DM' situation.

Until the VMC Magus or Blade Adept levels get you SpellStrike an Arcanist won't have any action efficiency enhancements to allow magic and spells to be merged in a single turn (e.g. a Magus gets Spell Combat, a War Priest gets Swift Action buffs).

On the good side:
You are going to have amazing mobility and that will allow you to position yourself in such a way to help keep you alive.
However: Unless you are using a Quickened Spell (or Lesser Metamagic Rod, which is awesome but very expensive) you can only use one 'part' of your build in any given turn- either using your sword/combat maneuvers or using a spell. You can still pull in things like Dimension Slide or Shift, but a lot of one of your 'sets' of class abilities is going to be wasted that turn- generally, using your spells is going to be the better option.

If you go for Maneuvers, you'll need a way to address your lack of accuracy, until/unless you start getting levels as an Eldritch Knight. True Strike is your best bet to guaranteed it lands when it matters, but without the Magus' Spell Combat you'd only be able to use it every other round- the fact you need a lead-up time and the very poor action efficiency means it's best saved for something really dangerous where it's worth two of your turns to prevent a Full Attack of theirs.
A single level of Magus, with your high intelligence, would allow you two Spell-Combat + True-Strike Maneuver successes each day, if you take the feats to integrate them into a Full Attack. It is probably not worth it, but it's an option IF want to invest that much in melee and maneuvers- in terms of raw power you'd be better off with an extra Arcanist level.

Look for those spells that replicate maneuvers quite successfully, if you can make the saves hard enough. I'd start with Touch of Blindness at low levels, to replicate Dirty Trick (Blind).
In fact, Touch spells that last multiple touches are fairly potent for this build- if you take Two Weapon Fighting and Improved Unarmed Strike you can in theory apply touch spells that have multiple uses (such as Touch of Blindness or Chill Touch) as part of a Full Attack Action that merges unarmed strike (or Natural Weapon) attacks with your sword.

Back to accuracy and making your blows land:
Weapon Focus you have already mentioned, and you can use the Shadow Veil Arcana or a Blur spell to activate Moonlight Stalker and you'll be mobile enough to get use out of Desperate Battler (but this is a Morale bonus, so skip it if you have a bard or similar) almost every turn but it will still be an uphill battle to keep pace with the dedicated melee combatants.

Most buff spells that boost accuracy and damage you will find it better to use on others - it's good to give yourself a +2 Attack and +2 Damage on your one attack every turn, but it's great to give that same bonus to the Fighter who gets three attacks each round or the Rogue who gets an explosion of damage on every hit.
You can use Polymorph spells to get around this to a degree- a form with lots of natural weapons will get enough extra attacks to make it worth using some buffs on your own attacks and damage. The Shift Caster/Lepidstadt Shifter is probably vital if you want to do this.

If you really want to go into melee to stab things, I recommend the Sense Vitals spell (level 2), which gives a nice chunk of Sneak Attack damage on your attacks as long as you are flanking- you should have the mobility to be flanking on every attack with maybe a swift action to escape after the stab is done. Twilight Knife is also nice to set this up.

That is all I have at the moment, if I think of anything else I'll add it in.


*Khan* wrote:
Dex-based polearm builds are difficult because of feat tax, penalty for using enlarge person to increase reach. A strength build is much easier and you can skip the rogue levels

Absolutely agree that a strength-based build would be much, much simpler. The Dex path is the harder one and I don't get much power back in exchange, but I'm hoping to make it work despite that.

However, being dex based (or at least being fairly harmless in appearance when not carrying around the Sinister Scythe of Cursed Doom) is an important part of the concept. The idea is to switch between 'harmless' and 'terrifying' when various abilities get activated- I have trouble imagining someone with 16+ Strength as looking harmless.
Although, to be honest, I always just preferred dex characters to strength ones in general.

I'm hoping the U-Rogue levels will help with more than just Dex-to-Damage (although that is of course a large part of it). I should be able to get out-of-combat utility with a frankly silly number of Skill Points, boost the all-day damage output by using Sneak Attack to replace some of the D6's removed by taking Magical Lineage off of the table and provide some useful tricks to make low-level spells more likely to land.
A thug rogue looks like a good way to lower Saving Throws for Spell Combat. A Shaken and Sickened foe would be at -6 to saving throws the turn they are hit by a Riving Arcane Strike, for example.

Oh, and before I forget- If anyone else reading this in the future wants a similar but less-roguey build, I did find another way to get the Dex-to-Damage Agile property on a Black Blade Magus using the Warrior Spirit Fighter Advanced Weapon Training that Gisher told me about. A 10th Level Magus counts as a 5th level Fighter for purposes of feat qualifications, therefore can take the start taking the Martial Focus and the Advanced Weapon Training feats to access a single Fighter Advanced Weapon Training option, including Warrior Spirit. Other types of Magus, like Kensai or Myrmidarch can do this even earlier with their own version of Fighter Training (Level 8).
Of course, you'd be level 11 at the earliest by the time this comes online, so I decided not to go for it as it's longer than I want to wait. But it's an interesting option to expand the Arcane Pool weapon enchantment ability, if nothing else.


Chris Lambertz wrote:

Hi Cael,

I've gone ahead and adjusted your account and you should have just received a password reset email because of this change. If you run into any other issues, please let us know!

Great, that's fixed it. Thank you.

Oh, except I was hoping to keep Cael Immortalis instead of CaelImmortalis. Ahh well, not the world's biggest issue.


I played a Dex-based Urban Bloodrager recently, which plays extremely like a Barbarian at low levels game. Unchained Barbarian is slightly worse than an Urban or Technologist barbarian in some ways, as it gives +2 to hit and damage and not +4 to dex (which translates to +2 to Hit (and +damage with an Agile weapon) AND +2 AC).
You have full BAB, so you can also convert to-hit into damage with Piranha Strike against lower AC foes.

If you have 20 or 25 point point-buy it may even be worth starting with a Dex of 20, since you only really need to worry about Dex and Con stats. That means you can get a lot of use out of Combat Reflexes and things that play off Attacks of Opportunity, like Greater Trip or Bodyguard.

Also remember Weapon Finesse works on Natural Attacks, so an Agile Amulet of Mighty Fists can go well with rage powers granting natural attacks, such as Beast Totem, Fiend Totem and Animal Fury.
Grabbing a level of Alchemist for a Dex-Mutagen (Vivisectionist Archetype is nice) is a very good dip that boosts dex by another +4 for ten minutes.


Gisher wrote:
When fighting undead, Close Range + Disrupt Undead + Spell Combat + Spellstrike isn't a bad combo. And an often overlooked property of Chill Touch is that it can be used to impose panic on undead.

Cantrip choices are limited, but as Daze will be less useful than normal as well, I think Disrupt Undead will make a campaign-appropriate replacement. Chill Touch was on my list already, seems very good against both the living and the dead, albeit in different ways.

Gisher wrote:
Looking back over your OP, I see that you wanted a way to get Agile on your Blackblade.

Wow, this is exactly the kind of thing I was looking for. Advanced Weapon Training > Warrior Spirit actually possible by feat on a pure Myrmidarch Magus, but not until level 8. Might be a bit long to wait and once again it sacrifices spell recall but it would allow me to single-class and still get the Dex-To-Damage eventually. I think Myrmidarch is a bad idea though, and the Ranged Spellstrike would be mostly wasted on my character concept.

Occultist though, that looks really interesting. I have high intelligence anyway, so I could get by with only one Extra Focus feat and six uses/per day. It seems it would combine extremely well with Arcane Pool and would also allow me to Mage Armour myself and thus not drain the sorcerer's spell slots. I'm not sure how I'd get the polearm finesse one-handed this way though- I think I'd still need the bonus feats and the full Spear Dancing Style, so I'd need Fighter or Rogue II for that.

I've not found a polearm that innately has Finesse (I don't think Weapon Trick (Polearm) works with the Elven Branch Spear), but if there is one hidden in a book somewhere I can drop the whole Spear Dance Style entirely for a -2 from Weapon Trick (high penalty, but I'm sure I can compensate for it with the multiple feats or extra spells it would give me for not needing the Rogue levels.
I could also ask my DM if Swashbuckling Finesse would work with a Polearm wielded one-handed via Weapon Trick (Polearm) and if Weapon Trick (Polearm) is enough to qualify for one-handed slashing black blade polearms. It's a bigger request though, as I'm dropping from my original six-feat chain down to just one feat.

Of course, Sneak Attack + Spell Combat + Touch of Blindness (through Spell Blending) does seem like a great way to deal damage, so I'm not sure keeping a little rogue is a terrible idea.


Gisher wrote:
If your GM is fine with you converting an already existing weapon into a Blade Blade and is also fine with that weapon being the wrong type for a Black Blade, then why is there a problem with Blackblade stacking with Hexcrafter? It seems to me that you're already pretty deep into customized character creation. Why not just keep going?

The difference is in the cost/reward ratio compared to other options available:

For the Black Blade Polearm, I've done the 'legwork' and feat-payments needed to have the Polearm as a one-handed slashing weapon when I use it, so having it count as one-handed slashing weapon for purposes of being allowed to be a Black Blade has been paid for by taking the extensive feat chain- it's mostly for flavour.
It's also very feat inefficient compared to, say, just using a Black Blade Whip with Improved Whip Mastery, which would be much less feat intensive and more powerful (slightly less base damage, but most damage will be sneak attack or spell damage anyway, plus it would have Reach at all times and far lower cost in feats).
Basically, it's a sub-optimal but flavorful choice, which he is fine with and perhaps in favor of.

Whereas allowing a disallowed archetype combination is a considerable benefit compared to someone following the rules as clarified and has no disadvantage or costs to balance it out- it's more optimal than just straight out optimizing within the rules.

But, having said that, the real dealbreaker on the Hexcrafter is the Evil Eye Hex not working on Undead.
Our campaign is about tracking down and stopping a cult of Undead Necromancers, so the renewable, every-round Hex not working on the most commonly encountered opponents makes the Hexcrafter much less appealing.


Rylden wrote:
I'm curious, how exactly do we go about getting a "blackblade" spear/polearm? Isn't a blackblade only a 1h or light weapon? I get that weapon training polearm, or small polearm and 1h it, but neither of those fall into the "1h or light weapon". I was under the assumption that the weapon itself had to be one of those types, not the wielder treating the weapon as that.

You are right in general, in this particular case I have the DM's permission to use the combination due to events which have occurred in game (I picked up a sentient scythe then got a natural 1 on certain rolls).

However, it's only the Bladebound bit which doesn't work by the book, the rest is book-legal.

Rylden wrote:

Second question, spear dancing style turns a polearm into a double weapon. What does this mean in terms of a blackblade now being a double weapon? Does the shaft/haft of the spear keep the blackblade enhancements/enchantments? Or is it just a "stick"/mace?

I don't think there is an official ruling on this, it's going to be down to table-by-table-ask-your-DM. However, it's largely irrelevant for Magus unless you take the Improved Two Weapon Fighting feats or head further down that chain, as you can get what's effectively two-weapon fighting with the larger end of the polearm by using Arcane Mark + Spell Combat (providing you pass concentration checks or use a Warding Weapon spell with a dagger or something).


Thank you for the help.
That seems to have fixed my ability to log in, although unfortunately when I was trying to get it to work I think I opened a second Paizo account- Same E-mail address but CaelImmortalis instead of Cael Immortalis as the username.
Any way the .pdf I purchased (Horror Adventures) on that account can be transferred to this account and the other one closed?


As someone currently building a polearm-magus with varying success success (though luckily the people on this forum have been very helpful) I can share what I've learnt so far:
I've found Spear Dancing Spiral a tricky road - it's a lot of Feats to get the Polearm one handed and even more if you want to put Reach back in (even then to do so is a Swift action, which the Magus is has a lot of uses for). Weapon Trick (Polearm) is much easier, but doesn't allow dex/Weapon Finesse as the Elven Branch Spear is a Spear, not a Polearm.

I've not found any official conclusion on the double-weapon Black Blade though, unfortunately.

However, based on what you're looking for, if you're willing to drop the 'Arcane' part of your requirements a Vampiric Aasimar Cult Leader War Priest would be incredibly cool in a in a Horror-based game. It's also very similar to the Magus/Arcane Striker whilst being different enough to make a change.

You have:
Better Will saves to resist your Corruption (due to greater focus on Wisdom).
Swift Action casts of buffs and free weapon proficiency in your god's favoured weapon. This means you can Spell Casting whilst in Melee Combat and although you don't get the Spell-Combat + SpellStrike combo War Priest gets various other melee boosts (including Fervor).
For Trickery, this archetype gives you a number of bonuses, starting with have 4+ skill points instead of the 2+ of the Magus or Warpriest (though that might be a wash as a Magus would probably have higher Int).
At level 3 you'd get Sneak Attack and you end up capable of Enthralling and Hiding In Plain Sight.

And that's without choosing your Blessings, which depending on what you pick could make you better at any of the Melee/Casting/Trickery themes.
Darkness, Curse and Trickery all look both strong and in-theme for an Aasimar turning vampire, but there are plenty more benevolent blessings that could increase damage or allow other tricks.


MrCharisma wrote:

Honestly, it's only breaking the rules if you read them in one extremely strict way, and most people don't.

Also as cool as Hexcrafters are, I think this thread has convinced me that perhaps they are not the best choice for this character.

Because on my first read though, I missed that Evil Eye was mind-affecting- and almost everything we've fought so far has been undead of one form or another. Given the foreshadowing so far, I suspect undead will continue to make up a large percentage of our opponents (I suppose the 'Carrion' in the name was the clue).
I hadn't noticed soothsayer, but it looks really good.
Kurald Galain wrote:
Also, note that the Misfortune hex has a similar effect but isn't mind-affecting.

Good point, but it's also massively more limited in use and has no effect on a successful save. Which means worrying about keeping up Int and so on, where with Evil Eye it's still useful even if you have a terrible saving throw DC.

Overall, I think that although Hexcrafter has the right flavour and the seems powerful, it is also likely to take a lot of Arcana and Feats to make it work properly as part of the build and the best part of it (Evil Eye on almost every attack) won't work against the very-common-in-this-campaign Undead anyway.
I think that spreading feats and Arcana too thin is going to end up very inefficient, given I'm sacrificing a lot of feats on the altar of flavour in order to use the Scythe already.
Simpler and more focused could be the order of the day, so I will chat to my GM about dropping Hexcrafter.


Kurald Galain wrote:
Elven branched spear is a finesseable polearm.

Cool, I would need to find a way to get an Exotic Weapon Proficiency to use it though, feats are extremely tight at low levels of this build.

Kurald Galain wrote:
Hex strike requires "one hex that you can use to affect no more than one opponent". Prehensile hair affects yourself.

In this case, Hex Strike is for using Evil Eye by using Feral Combat Training and Natural Spell combat to apply Evil Eye via natural attacks with Prehensile Hair, rather than using Hex Strike to activate Prehensile Hair.

Kurald Galain wrote:
That said, a one-level dip of witch won't give you flight (that requires 5 levels) nor evil eye (at least not with a meaningful DC).

And the hair would only be one minute, once a day. Overall the only thing that might be worth it is Evil Eye applies for one round even if saved, and can be reapplied round on round if applied via Hex Strike. And that is not worth the multiple feats it would require.

MrCharisma wrote:
Strict reading of RAW says bladebound & hexcrafter don't stack, but nearly everyone is ok with them stacking. Check with your DM, but it sounds like the Bladebound part is woven into the story, so I doubt you'll have problems there.

I'll mention it but I'm a bit compulsive about rules and I'm already bending things slightly to use the Bladebound in the first place. Spell Recall is an amazing ability to keep regardless.

MrCharisma wrote:
I feel like going Prehensile Hair is a mistake. Don't get me wrong it's a really cool ability, but you're putting so many resources into your scythe (you've delayed magus 2 levels & spent 2? feats getting it online, and you're only level 3) that adding prehensile hair feels like you're not making the most of that. Any time you use PH you're losing a turn just to activate it, and then every attack with your hair is essentially a missed attack with the scythe (also you can't use hair with spell combat without the right arcana). If you really like it for flavour, it's definitely fun, but mechanically it doesn't seem to add much.

It's partly for flavour- I was planning to re-fluff it as wild and failing streams of blood rather than literal hair for the darkness elemental taint I mentioned in the background. But also with Natural Spell Combat and Feral Combat Training it's an extra sneak attack whilst spell combating that also applies a -2 to AC or Saving Throws for 1 round, which is nice. Plus allows Reach on AoO's even when Spear Dancing Style has removed Reach from the weapon. Although it's definitely not worth dipping Witch for only one minutes use a day.

MrCharisma wrote:

Personally I am a fan of arcane/riving strike for a magus, although it depends on your build. Riving strike helps your spells land more easily, and since you can be attacking & casting it helps the synergy of the class. I will note though, that the build I have them on doesn't take many of the swift action arcana, & it uses Gloves of Arcane Striking & the Bodyguard feat, so I'm building around them a lot more than you probably want to.

I guess the trick is to look at what you want to be doing with your character, and then build around that.

I do like the idea of the Bodyguard feat, although as a dex-based D8 hitpoint class I'm not sure my character would survive the attention it would earn her.

The goal has been more stylistic than mechanical so far, getting the Scythe doesn't add a huge amount to power, but takes up a lot of feats, but generally I was planning to aim for short range support- via either Debuff or Control.
I was also thinking of a side-objective goal to have a high-pwer combat mode option for emergencies - my thoughts to achieve this were to combo urban rage with alchemical mutagens. It would cost 2 levels, but give +8 dex, which would be +4 AC, +4 to hit and +4 damage for what would effectively be one fight per day. Not sure if that's worth lowering spell progression for or if there are spells that replicate that level of combat boost.
I like the idea of an average BAB, moderate hitpoint character who mostly just weakens, distracts and irritates opponents suddenly turning into a frenzied killing machine when pushed too far, although I'm not sure it's very practical.


I am not sure if this is the right place to post this, but I'm experiencing technical difficulties with logging in to my Paizo account.

It seems to auto-log-in OK on the PC I created the account on, but when I try and log-in on other PCs I get a user/password error.
I'd normally assume I'd just mistyped the password when setting up the account, but when I try to reset the password via my e-mail address I get this message:

There are no paizo.com accounts for that email address.

Is this the right place to ask for help with this issue, or is there a way to change/confirm which e-mail address I used when setting up my account, in case I mistyped it?


Gisher wrote:
Yes. Sadly, Bladebound and Hexcrafter don't stack.

So, given that Bladebound is somewhat a conceptual requirement for the build, is it better to give up on Hexes entirely or take a single level of Witch (with an Archetype that trades out the familiar) to regain access to Prehensile Hair, Flight and possibly Evil Eye? I think these three are both usable with low saves, although less effectively in the case of Evil Eye.

And if I do that, is there anyway to increase the Saving Throw DC for the hex through feats or similar, or would it be stuck at the starting DC 10+Int mod?


I've just noticed that Lunge+Trip feats doesn't work for area lockdown, as Lunge doesn't allow for AoO's, so that's one path removed.

KuraldGalain wrote:
If you want a reach weapon as a Magus, the straightforward approach is to wield an undersized one, or take the feat Weapon Trick (polearm), or use a whip; the latter two also work with Bladebound.

Would Weapon Trick (polearm) require a Strength build or is there a non-Spear Dancing Style way to get Weapon Finesse on a Polearm?

Yes- I worked out early on that my character would probably be much easier to make using a whip than a polearm. Unfortunately, she picked up a cursed scythe and not a cursed rope.

Abraham spalding wrote:
Now if you have the time and want to you can then go ascetic style to apply unarmed strike feats and abilities to go hog with medusa's wrath and frigid touch (the spell) to get two extra attacks in.

This would require at least one level of Maneuver Monk, and the first two swift actions of a combat yes? In order to have two styles active at once, I mean?

Though I would then be able to use Hex Strike without a standard action to grow hair and the Natural Spell Combat Arcana and the Feral Combat Training Feat. Swapping a Standard Action for a Swift action seems like an improvement, except actually using Hex Strike itself is a Swift Action.

We are playing Carrion Crown, so I don't think we'll get to the point where I have a +11 BAB on a Magus. Medusa's Wrath seems like a really nice ability and definitely worth retraining into if we get that high, but not worth planning towards.


I like the idea of mixing this with Bodyguard and the various Aid Another enhancements. You'd need to get a fairly high number of Attacks of Opportunity and a Reach Weapon from somewhere, but if they attack you, you get an AoO, if they attack your allies, they have to beat a higher AC.
Lose-Lose situation for your opponents, there.


Kurald Galain wrote:
I'm unclear what the rogue adds here; it strikes me that straight Magus would be more effective.

Thank you for your reply.

I agree that a pure Magus would be a strong option, but thematically and mechanically it would not allow a Polearm to be selected as a Black Blade. It is necessary to have the Spearing Dancing Spiral and Quarterstaff Master Feats in order for this to be allowed and level 3 is the fastest I've been able to work out a way to get this. Although any class that gives plenty of bonus feats could do this, Unchained Rogue is one of only two ways (that I've found, the other being a high level Arcanist) to get Dex to Damage on a Black Blade used during Spell Combat, which gives +4 damage on each attack (before buffs).
As I said, if anyone knows a better way, I'd like to know it.

Kurald Galain wrote:

Note that by using a two-handed weapon, you're giving up the strongest ability of the Magus, i.e. spell combat. I'm not sure how you intend to wield a quarterstaff in combination with your polearm?

Ah, I think you've missed the 'trick' of the build here- I can use Spell Combat and Spellstrike with my polearm (or whichever polearm I end up going with), so I'm not losing that feature at all (although I am delaying it to level 3).

Spear Dancing Spiral allows me to use a Polearm with feat or ability that can normally be used with a Quarterstaff- this includes all the Staff Magus abilities, but it also includes Quarterstaff Master, which allows me to use a Quarterstaff as a one-handed weapon. This means I can use the polearm one-handed with Spell Combat (and Spellstrike, for that matter).

Kurald Galain wrote:
Arcane strike is not good on a Magus because you have better ways to use your swift actions. Prehensile hair is not so useful because it requires a standard action to activate. The other feat chains are solid.

Which other Swift actions should I look into? I need to spend the first on Spear Dancing Style and the second on Arcane Pool Enchantment, but I traded away Spell Recall to get Hex access.

Kurald Galain wrote:


Here's a Magus guide for more info.

Thank you, I'll read through it. I've looked at a number of Magus guides, but a lot of them either predate the errata ruling Dervish Dance/Fencing Grace/Slashing Grace not working with Spell Combat or very heavily recommend the traits that lower metamagic spell slots, which are disallowed in the game I'm playing.


Hello all,

I'm rebuilding my character following a incident with a cursed magic item during a Carrion Crown game, which has led to her becoming the bearer of an haunted and semi-sentient executioner's scythe.
I'd like some help getting this to work mechanically, advice on how to develop the build and also ask whether my planned build progression has any major unnoticed flaws.

Background:
She was originally an Arcane Bloodrager/Esoteric Magus (Bloodrager because when I first joined the party there was no front-liner and Magus because by the time I hit 2 we had a proper tank and I wanted more magic), and is just about to hit level 3, but with this build she can't use a Scythe with Spell Combat and she is far more a front-line fighter than I intended her to be. The goal is someone who mostly provides debuff and support but I would like to have the option to do big damage numbers via temporary buffs for a short duration in an emergency.

I've been given permission to rebuild her in such a way as she can actually use scythe effectively, and I can also treat the Scythe (stat-wise) as an appropriate Polearm (which allows it to be used with Black Blade Magus via Quarterstaff Master).

She is converted from a non-D20 game, where she was in-play exposed by possession by an elemental creature of blood and darkness so I'd like to have some hint of that taint to the character as well- I think Hexcrafter should cover this though.

The group consists of a Cleric (melee with Greatsword), Sorcerer (Ice Magic/Control), Brawler (Front-line focused) and Investigator (Questioner/Bard Magic).

I have the current plan for level 3:
Race: Human
Traits: Ancestral Weapon (Specific Polearm, haven't decided which), Blood of Dragons (Low-Light Vision)
Level 1: Unchained Rogue 1: Weapon Finesse, Two-Weapon Fighting, Spear Dancing Style
Level 2: Unchained Rogue 2: Weapon Training: Weapon Focus (Some Kind Of Polearm That Is A Bit Like A Scythe (pref with Reach))
Level 3: Bladebound Hexcrafter Staff Magus 1: Black Blade (SKOPTIABLAS): Quarterstaff Master, Spear Dance Spiral, Spell Combat
Probably Magus from there, but potentially going to Rogue 4 for Dex-to-Damage, Uncanny Dodge and the ability to combing Debilitating Injury with Riving Strike or Hex Strike

20pt buy
Str 8, Dex 18, Con 12, Int 16, Wis 8, Cha 12

The following rules are in effect, which between them invalidate a lot of the advice given in Magus guides:
Spell Combat (or other two-weapon fighting) cannot be used with Slashing Grace/Dervish Dance/Fencing Grace feats for Dex-to-Damage
No Traits or Feats which modify Metamagic spell level
No Slumber Hex
No Summoners
No Gunslingers
Using Spear Dance Spiral to make a Polearm work with Quarterstaff Fears and then using it one-handed Quarterstaff Master has been OKed by the GM. It will also count as a one-handed slashing weapon for purposes of being a Black Blade.

To get around the inability to roll huge numbers of D6's on Intensified Shocking Grasp, I was planning to use Touch of Blindness (Spell Blended as soon as I hit Magus 6) to get a decent Sneak Attack going on multiple attacks, lowering enemies AC with the Evil Eye Hex, Blindness and Debilitating Injury to ensure I can actually hit.

I have a lot of potential feat chains to choose from though and I am not sure which ones are most likely to be effective:
Prehensile Hair (Hex) + Dirty Fighting (Or Improved Unarmed Strike) + Hex Strike + Feral Combat Training (Hair)
Dirty Fighting (Or Combat Expertise) + Moonlight Stalker (+2 Attack and Damage) + Blur (Spell) (Possibly also improved feint + Moonlight Stalker Feint for things immune to Blindness)
Arcane Strike + Riving Strike
Lunge+Improved Trip+Greater Trip+Combat Reflexes (combines well with Prehensile Hair to shut down a huge area)
Combat Reflexes + Bodyguard

Other options I've considered are: Urban Bloodrager or Urban Barbarian, 1 level for +4 Dex (2+ Attack, Damage and AC sounds like a good investment, though Extra Rage might be needed), Vivisection Alchemist (The same via Mutagen, plus more Sneak Attack). Both would improve saves, and cover the 'big numbers in an emergency' option, especially with Moonlight Stalker and a Blur spell.

The main problem is spell progression is very slow on the magus already, after the rogue levels and I can't see any way to speed it up, though grabbing Wand Wielder Arcana and burning money on Wands may help significantly- the Black Blade should give me some money spare due to not needing to buy a weapon.

So, my main questions:
1. Aside from the polearm black blade, which the GM has already OKed, is there anything I've missed that makes this character against the rules?
2. Does the theory sound like it could be effective? Are there any gaping and obvious weaknesses I've left unaddressed?
3. Which of the feat chains listed above is likely to be most useful and in what order?
4. Is there any other way to get Dex to Damage to work with Spell Combat on a Black Blade (which cannot be given the Agile enchant), other than Unchained Rogue 3 (or the Arcanist Exploit Alter Enchantment)?