The Secrets of Tactical Archetypes (PFRPG) PDF

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Not every leader rides into the face of the enemy on a shining steed.

The Secrets of Tactical Archetypes offers six new options for conflict-oriented cavaliers, gunslingers, magi, rangers, samurai, and summoners who want to do more than just win battles-they want to win the war! Create a celestial commander (summoner) and call forth the devout against heresy! Play an inspiring commander (cavalier) and show your allies how to lead by example. Design a mechanist (gunslinger) and let spellcasting foes try to claim your sidearm from cold, calculating fingers. Give a howl and let your pack hunter (ranger) loose his wolves against any foolish enough to contest him. Epitomize the serene, unflinching resolve of bushido with the shogun (samurai) or weave a cloak of protective magics around your allies with the war warder (magus). Each archetype offers a distinct and complete theme, shifting your character's emphasis towards the wise command of allies operating as a unit. Show the enemy that good leadership doesn't discriminate—master The Secrets of Tactical Archetypes today!

Author: Will "Cheapy" McCardell
Cover Art: Joe Calkins
Pages: 7

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The Secrets of Tactical Archetypes


This product was brought to my attention by the author, who was kind enough to provide a copy of the pdf for me to review.

The writing itself is good. Few errors or misspellings which always helps prove the quality of a product in my eyes. The art is sparse and fairly generic -- unfortunately it just doesn't seem to jive with the rest of the product. To be fair though at the price and with the page count only going to twelve It is about what I would expect from a product of this type.

What this book promises is the means of having characters where tactics lend themselves to strong mechanical outcomes. Instead of simply sitting there and saying, "I swing again and deal this much damage" the idea is that with this product you'll spend more time setting everything up and because of the set up will have an easier time with the fight.

The first Archetype is one of what is perhaps the most complicated class in the game: The summoner. The first thing I noticed was that it dropped the Eidolon completely -- for some this will be a game breaker for others the one thing that allows it into their game. However this isn't the only major change going on with the Celestial Commander archetype, spell casting gets changed to divine, spells are added and removed from the spell list and a domain is gained. In many ways it almost feels more like an alternate class than an archetype. The summons stay however and if the celestial commander focuses on having only a few creatures out at a time he is rewarded with more bonuses on the few creatures he has. This seems like a great idea on the surface, however it really worries me. Getting out 5~7 lantern archons with this ability and giving them up to +7 to hit and damage off the bat with the focused divine energy ability can quickly cause the party's main damage dealer to question his place in the party -- especially if a haste comes down on top of that. The bonuses are higher than what a bard gives at higher levels and I'm always concerned when that happens, having seen the amount of havoc high level bards can inflict. The fact that the summoned minions also gain the use of teamwork feats (changeable each day) and other bonuses could cause an unprepared GM to question allowing third party publishers in his game. The wording on focused divine energy leaves something to be desired as well since it says, "all his summoned creatures" instead of just "creatures summoned with his summoning mastery ability" leaves a large loophole for using the class feature, then summoning with items or spell slots. However for a savvy player and GM this archetype could produce a lot of fun out of what can normally be a very frustrating class.

The next archetype is for the Cavalier with the title, "inspiring commander". This archetype offers up many reasons to really boost a martial character's intelligence modifier. It gives the intelligence modifier as a modifier onto the bonus from using aid another and makes it easier for the cavalier to do so. combined with the order of the dragon this can easily give a +6~+8 bonus at level 1 to someone's attack rolls or AC. Enough of a boost to really cause a player to think about doing so. However if it was combined with the bodyguard feat from advanced player's guide it could easily lead to everyone constantly having that bonus to AC each round so long as they are adjacent to the cavalier. All in all the abilities here aren't over the top, or hitting too far below the cavalier's normal power curve. While the inspiring commander is unlikely to have the sheer martial presence to drop an opponent on their own in one round they have the buffing capacity to strongly influence how much their allies are hurt and how much hurt their allies do.

The mechanist seems incorrectly named -- it has little to do with machines and a lot to do with stopping casters. It's abilities are extremely focused and in that focus fairly powerful... unfortunately what is given up is much of the same. All in all I would call this archetype even -- some people that like their gunslingers shooting down spells and spell casters are going to love this archetype, those that hate guns in their games in the first place... well they'll simply see more to not use.

The fourth archetype is the one that got me interested in this product -- the pack hunter. It's a fairly standard ranger archetype that grants two animal companions with a few extra bonus feats and the ability to learn specific combat tricks and teamwork feats without needing an intelligence boost. For this you give up your favored enemy all together and both evasion and improved evasion. Honestly I like the fact that the archetype allows a combat capable animal companion for the ranger right off the bat even if you are specifically limited to wolves. The only parts I didn't like mechanically were the revitalizing frenzy and the pack master death attack. I wouldn't say they are too powerful... simply too gamey for my tastes.

The shogun has the ability to grant attacks and move actions to his allies on his turn. Honestly I'm not sure what to make of this archetype. It's not bad... but it never really said much to me.

The War Warder is an interesting take on the Magus however. By giving up spell strike you gain the entirety of the abjuration school of magic to your spell list... including clerical spells. Unfortunately it does leave a question of what to do if the spell is under seventh level on one list but over on another list... however this is something that could be easily FAQ'ed. The other abilities offer the means of locking enemies down and bolstering the defenses of allies within an aura radius. The war warden gives up offensive prowess for more defense and battle field control.

All in all I enjoyed this product. The side bars help provide insight as to why changes were made and what the author was attempting to achieve, as well as warning of potential complicated portions of the product. This was a very welcomed addition and serves to reinforce that while every option should be possible, not everyone is ready for every option at the same time or at the same table.

I would say this is solid work that I would allow at my table. It isn't going to wow the jaded gamer, but it isn't going to break the table apart either and it does offer many options that simply were not satisfied in my opinion.

Some well done new archetypes


The Secrets of Tactical Archetypes by Rite Publishing

This product is 12 pages long. It starts with a cover and credits. (2 pages)

Archetypes (7 pages)
It starts off talking about the reasons the product was made and listing the new six archetypes in the book. Which are...
Celestial Commander: Summoner – This makes the summoner into a divine casting class. They give up some spells for other spells, gain one domain, gains some bonus feats, boosts single summoner creatures(or groups if summoned with a single spell), boost allies, make pets blow up like a divine bomb, etc.
Inspiring Commander: Cavalier – loses heavy armor, gains limited bardic performances, gain bonus teamwork feats, temporarily grant others teamwork feats, buff allies.
Mechanist: Gunslinger – uses Int instead of wis for grit, gains disable device class skill and trapfinding like a rogue, can increase dmg done with firearms, swaps out some deeds.
Pack Hunter: Ranger – Gains a wolf animal companion like a druid would. Later adds a second wolf, if you and all your pets hit in a single round you all get healed some, etc.
Shogun: Samurai – slight change to resolve ability with two new options, gains diehard feat, can spend resolve to do bonus dmg based on con, can grant others a move action a few times a day.
War Warder: Magus – slight change to weapons and armor, can spend acrance pool for armor bonus, gains abjuration spells to their spell list, force push, causes foes to stop if hit by a AoO.

It ends with a OGL and ads. (3 pages)

Closing thoughts. The art work is a mix of black and white and color. It ranges from meh to ok. Editing and layout was good. All and all the new archetypes are pretty good, I do have some critics and comments though on them. Mechanist and Shogun where pretty narrowly focused, I thought a bit to much so. Inspiring Commander and War Warder where solid builds. Pack Hunter, love the idea but thought it could have been better. I would have liked for a option to take more kinds of animals even ones of a different kind (ala Beastmaster) and I would have rather them given up more abilities to get more pets. Two wolves was just not enough to invoke pack hunter in my mind. So this one I consider a great concept that wasn't taken far enough. Celestial Commander for me was easily the best of the bunch, I really liked that one. So what's my rating? I am going to give this one a solid 4 star, good but I would have liked a bit more on a couple of them.

Trust me, I'm a Succubus.

Secrets of Tactical Archetypes review


The basic guideline I’ve noticed with Archetypes is that they generally replace something for everything they add, and, in some cases, the stuff added is more specialized and not necessarily as generally useful.

This product intends to offer more tactically specialized archetypes for six classes. Some archetypes do this by making the modified class better at functioning in a group and sharing bonuses, others, like the celestial commander and pack hunter, by making the class better at coordinating his own minions, and possibly sharing bonuses between them.

Reading the premise, I’d expect to see use of bardic inspiration mechanics, Teamwork Feats and enhanced use of the Aid Other action, and I am not disappointed, as all three of these options make an appearance.

First up is the celestial commander, a summoner archetype that does away with the eidolon (and all of the class features dependent upon the eidolon), the summoner’s defining class feature, in favor of increased uses of summon monster, the ability to have more than one casting worth of summoned monsters out at a time, better armor, a cleric domain, free Augment Summons, free Superior Summons, the ability to grant all summoned creatures one or more teamwork feats, etc.

It’s quite a lot of nice stuff, with some vastly needed utility (free language of celestial, and the ability for all summoned creatures to understand celestial) and a novel class ability that enhances the power of a single summoned ally, to encourage a summoner to focus on one strong creature, instead of ‘spamming the board.’

I kind of love the idea, particularly the celestial language bit, and the ability to make a single summons more potent, to discourage multiple summons, but I think the celestial commander places far too great a weight on the value of the eidolon, and is quite a bit ‘too good.’

The inspiring commander, a cavalier archetype, comes next, and fits the theme nicely. For the cost of some bonus feats, the mount, charge-related class abilities and banner/greater banner, it adds bardic inspiration and the ability to share teamwork feats a bit faster at lower levels and a bit slower at higher levels (front-loading tactician, greater tactician and master tactician, a bit). I like the addition of bardic inspiration, and there’s an ability that makes Aid Other useful at a short range that also fits the theme very well. Replacing Banner/Greater Banner was an interesting choice, as, apart from the ability to share Tactical Feats via tactician, I consider it the most ‘tactical-friendly’ class ability.

The only quibble I’d have with the inspiring commander is a class ability called ‘Put Your Heart into It,’ which grants temporary hit points to allies, similar to a bard’s inspire heroics. It’s far, far better than what it replaces (expert trainer) and grants a lot of temporary hit points, to all allies in 30 ft.

The mechanist is a gunslinger archetype, and I’m not familiar enough with how gunslingers work to know how it compares, balance-wise. There seems to be a ‘guns vs. mages’ theme at play, with abilities like ‘Can’t Outcast a Bullet’ and Deeds like ‘Dispelling Shot’ and ‘Explosive Counterspell,’ which is interesting. In Golarion, where gunslingers are more likely to be based around Alkenstar, where magic is unreliable at best, this could be either very thematic (gunmen don’t trust magic, which destroyed their lands) or very un-thematic (why be good at fighting mages, when they don’t come anywhere near this place anyway?) depending on your interpretation of the setting.

I like the archetype’s flavor, and the mechanics ‘feel’ balanced, although it doesn’t feel terribly ‘tactical’ to me. There’s no Aid Other stuff, no gun-centric (or ranged fire-centric) Teamwork feat uses, no sharing of bonuses or ‘covering fire’ to render foes vulnerable to allies attacks, etc.

The pack hunter is a ranger archetype that is short and sweet. I’m finding the shorter ones to benefit from the tighter focus. It’s the ever-popular ‘pet guy with multiple pets’ archetype, focused on a pair of wolves. Wolves (and riding dogs) are great for these archetypes, because they are really not the best animal companions in the world, making it less likely to be unbalanced if somebody has a pair of them (unlike, say, velociraptors or tigers).

It’s, again, better than your basic ranger, with his one wolf, as the archetype abilities of Pack Bond and Pack-Wide Quarry are strictly better than the class abilities of Nature’s Bond and Quarry, that they replace. Still, if that’s a problem, it’s easy enough to balance them back a notch by getting rid of the bonus feat at 1st level, or slowing advancement of Favored Terrain.

Much like the inspiring commander cavalier archetype, with the replacement of Banner and Greater Banner, I’m surprised at the loss of Favored Enemy and the Hunter’s Bond option to share FE bonuses with allies, as that, again, feels like something that fits the theme of this product, sharing bonuses and coordinating attacks among allies. Still, the pack hunter does inspire all sorts of new ideas, such as a Two-Wolf Rend feat option (if both wolves hit, they get a rend effect equal to their standard bite damage) or an Opportunistic Trip option (if the wolf with the feat threatens someone who is tripped, they get a free attack of opportunity on the victim, sort of like Greater Trip, but available to an animal with the Trip ability and only applying to that animal).

I know bupkiss about the samurai, so the shogun archetype is a mystery to me. It replaces the mount with the ability to share the benefits of resolve with allies, which seems completely on theme for this product. Ignore the Pain, Ordered Strike and Battlefield Strategist all seem like very useful abilities. Having been in many situations where the map isn’t conducive to getting everyone into place (cramped rooms, narrow tunnels, etc.), Ordered Strike, which allows the shogun to give up his action for the round to grant an ally within 30 ft. a single additional (and immediate) melee attack, sounds very useful.

The final archetype is the war warder for the magus, another class I haven’t played yet, but the abilities seem appropriate to the theme. Better armor, added abjuration school access, a few defensive options for arcana, and the ability to reposition or entangle foes on the battlefield add up to a halfway decent ‘controller,’ potentially. As the base magus seems limited to being more of a ‘striker,’ that pretty much doubles the range of the base class, which is pretty impressive for an archetype! The war warder, however, isn’t nearly as front-loaded as the celestial commander or pack hunter, so it may play quite similar to a standard magus, for the first levels.

There’s a lot to chew over in seven pages of archetypes, and it’s interesting how some grabbed the theme by the throat (inspiring commander, shogun) and others carved their own niche, and focused more on tactical options that enhanced their own companions, more than their party (celestial commander, pack hunter), making them, as mentioned in the PDF, ideal for solo play.

Interesting, well-crafted archetypes


This pdf is 12 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 2 pages of advertisements, leaving 7 pages of content for the new archetypes, so what exactly do we get?

Essentially exactly what we would expect from such a file - we get archetypes centering on smart fighting.

The first of the archetypes gives some direly needed support for the summoner base-class by providing the archetype of celestial commander, a kind of divine commander of good-aligned outsiders who does not have an eidolon, but gets access to divine spells and even domains. As an interesting mechanic, the celestial commander grants bonuses to his summons when he employs a low number of them, rewarding the player for not spamming x summons and bogging down the game while granting significant bonuses to both his summons and allies. An interesting archetype that at least looks well-balanced. I have not yet had to opportunity to see one in action, but I gather, the archetype should work fine. I do regret that there's no evil counterpart for NPCs that demoralizes foes etc., though.

The next archetype takes the Cavalier-class and removes the mount from the equation, replacing it with commands that work as bardic abilities as well as the abilities to grant allies temporary HP and grant allies access to teamwork feats he has as a move action. A rather smart and extremely well-crafted archetype, this makes for a nice alternative o Super Genius Games' War Master as a kind of fighter who leads from the front-lines.

The Mechanist Gunslinger-archetype takes the old trope of technology vs. magic we know from games like Arkanum and applies it to the Gunslinger-class, essentially providing 4 new special deeds that make him the dreaded foe of casters (dispelling shots, counter spell via bullet to the head etc.). He also gets the ability to disable magical traps as well as the ability to use his engineering prowess to improve his aim.

The Ranger-archetype of the Pack Hunter takes the tried and true Guy-hunts-with-ot-of-animals-trope and makes it actually work - better than the similar PrC from Necromancers of the Northwest. The wolves the pack lord gets gain teamwork feats, additional spells, shared spells and the cool ability to gang up on foes to devastating effect, culminating in a capstone ability that lets the pack tear asunder foes that have been hit by all members of the pack.

The Shogun is an archetype for the as of yet mostly neglected Samurai and gets 2 new ways to use resolve (via his bountiful resolve ability) and a very cool ability to grant allies move actions - truly something rather strategic and useful in certain situations.

The final archetype is rather interesting - the War Warder, a modification of the Magus base-class, the one class that hits hard and is rather fragile, is rather atypical in that it focuses on defense and has the ability to reposition foes on the battlefield via a force push, grant a protective aura to allies and even wear heavy armor at 7th level without spellcasting failure. The coolest ability, though, would be the chance to halt foes in their tracks and entangle them via eldritch chains when hit by the Warder.

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to the full color, two-column standard by RiP. The artworks are stock, but fit the respective theme. The pdf comes fully bookmarked. This is an interesting pdf to say the least - several boxed texts provide illuminating comments on design decisions and the archetypes feel very distinct in their diversions from the base-classes, often taking the central mechanic and replacing it with something rather interesting. that being said, the Shogun and Mechanist felt rather singular in their focus and design when compared to the other archetypes - I would have loved to see a bit more complexity there, as the other archetypes aptly display author Will McCardell's knowledge of the rules. I also would have loved some more love and mechanics for the notoriously hard to design and balance teamwork feats, as some of the archetypes utilize them better than others. That being said, due to the low price this is still a great recommendation for anyone interested in playing some kind of non-conventional smart fighting character, resulting in a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4. Were the two aforementioned archetypes more complex or if we had gotten more archetypes, I would have went 5.I'm looking forward to seeing more!

Endzeitgeist out.

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Hey, Cheapy, on the Celestial Commander, this line looks out of place under the Domain ability:

If the celestial commander has cleric levels, one of his two domain selections must be the same domain selected as an inquisitor.

Should that by chance be "selected as a celestial commander" instead of inquisitor?

I also see the same error that Thunderforge brought up earlier, so I'm guessing that it is still awaiting errata to make that particular correction.

Responded in PM, yes it's a mistake :)

Hello Cheapy!
I have a question about your excellent archetype, Celestial Commander. In Summoning mastery you wrote "Like a cleric, a celestial commander can only summon creatures of his alignment." But cleric has restrictions only about good/evil or law/chaos spells. Is it a mistake on intended feature?
For example, can CC summon elementals? Can NG Celestial Commander summon CG or LG outsiders?

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