Need help optimizing a Magus


Advice


It's been a while since I've had the opportunity to play in a Pathfinder game. Our group decided to switch over for a longish campaign, and we're starting at 4th level. I've never played a 'gish' type character before, and actually I've never much cared for the archetype, but something about Magus really intrigues me. I've read what few posts there are on the boards about the class (including Walter's guide) and this is what I've come up with:

Build:

Books allowed: Pretty much all of them

Human Magus level 4
15 point buy

Str 18 (racial +2, +1 level increase)
Dex 12
Con 14
Int 14
Wis 10
Cha 07

+1 Longsword (2,315 gp), +1 Chain Shirt (1,250 gp) (2,436 gp left)

Traits: Magical Lineage (Shocking Grasp), Reactionary (+2 init)

Feats: Arcane Strike, Extra Arcane Pool, Weapon Focus (Longsword)

Magus Arcana: Arcane Familiar

Spellbook (4 cantrips at will, 4 1st level, and 2 2nd level spells per day)

4 Cantrips prepared
Dancing Lights, Daze, Detect Magic, Mage Hand

9 first level spells
Color Spray, Enlarge Person, Expeditious Retreat, Feather Fall, Grease, Shield, Shocking Grasp, True Strike, Vanish

2 second level spells
Frigid Touch, Mirror Image

Our GM is a stickler for 3 to 4 encounters per day, and this is a military campaign, meaning we'll be spending most of our time (at least to start) fighting against humanoids with metal weapons and armor so I expect I'll get a lot of mileage out of Shocking Grasp. I've done a couple of mockups, though, and I'm a little concerned with resource management over a long day of fighting. With only 6 points in my Arcane Pool it seems like most of those will have to go towards enhancing my weapon. Are there wands or other magic items that I should look into to help my longevity? Is it worth it picking up +1 armor or is that money better spent elsewhere? Should I try and boost my Int with my base points? Are there other spells I should seriously consider? And I'm not totally sold on the Familiar, but it seems like the most useful of the low level Magus Arcana and it doesn't cost me anything from my already limited pool. This is also the first martial character I've ever played that didn't get Power Attack as soon as humanly possible, so that feels a little strange.

I welcome your comments and critiques as this is quite a departure from my usual play style. What I'm hoping for in the end of all this is a character that can really hold his own, and possibly bring something useful to the group.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Convict #24601 wrote:


Our GM is a stickler for 3 to 4 encounters per day, and this is a military campaign, meaning we'll be spending most of our time (at least to start) fighting against humanoids with metal weapons and armor so I expect I'll get a lot of mileage out of Shocking Grasp.

Keep in mind you may not get the bonus for armored targets if using this with spell strike. My dm ruled it only worked with just touching so thats something to ask the dm about.

Quote:


I've done a couple of mockups, though, and I'm a little concerned with resource management over a long day of fighting. With only 6 points in my Arcane Pool it seems like most of those will have to go towards enhancing my weapon.

Remember that you wont have to use an arcana point every time you do something, most of the time you will use one a combat to enhance your weapon, then use spells with spell combat and spell strike as your boost, not more points.

Quote:


Are there wands or other magic items that I should look into to help my longevity? Is it worth it picking up +1 armor or is that money better spent elsewhere?

You definately want better armor as fast as you can get it. Spell combat means getting in the thick of things, and you dont have a great AC at the moment.

Quote:


Should I try and boost my Int with my base points? Are there other spells I should seriously consider? And I'm not totally sold on the Familiar, but it seems like the most useful of the low level Magus Arcana and it doesn't cost me anything from my already limited pool.

Close Range is good- combine that with acid splash and have unlimited touch spells to use with spell strike (thus getting a slightly boosted free two weapon fighting).

Quote:


This is also the first martial character I've ever played that didn't get Power Attack as soon as humanly possible, so that feels a little strange.

You may not ever want to get power attack. You are 3/4 bab class that is essentially taking two weapon fighting penalties. Your damage comes from spell strike not from power attack. You will likely miss too often if you use power attack.

I would recommend looking at the dervish dance feat. With 15 points you are a little short to go strength based. If you build towards dervish dance and use a scimitar you dont need stength much and can focus on dex. This has the added benefit of upping your relatively poor AC.

Silver Crusade

Channing to a higher threat range weapon will help your damage. Increasing your ability to cit increase your damage more then a 1 point by the higher dice damage because of spell strike.

Scimitar / Rapier > Longsword

Arcane Strike : a little extra damage is never a bad thing.
Extra Arcane Pool : The effectiveness of this feat starts falling off as you level up and gain more base points. Replacing it with improved initiative is not a bad idea.
Weapon Focus (Longsword) : Every little bonus to hit helps for a 3/4 BAB combat character.

Magus Arcana: Arcane Familiar this is not one to ever take. Unless your taking it for flavor. The over all usefulness of this ability is nill.
Arcane Accuracy (Su) Is a good way to give your self a bonus to hit.
It only last for one round but can provide you with as much as a +5 to hit. (Base Int 14 + 6 Item = Int 20 Mod +5)

One thing in the guide that I do not agre with is the ability's of the Hexcrafter. Over all this is one of the most useful Archtypes IMO. It gives the Magus ability's they normally do not have. With the ability to Cherry Pick what Arcana and Hexes you want. You can have very nice ability's that add to your over all effectiveness.


I don't have time to look at any of this, but here's a good guide


You could also consider getting Wand Wielder as an arcana, and a wand of true strike to extend longevity. Whether via wand or cast normally it synergizes well knowing you will get a hit on your next attack when combined with something like Frigid touch.

Combining that with a keen scimitar, and you have a 1 in 4 chance of causing 10 rounds of stagger with no save, while dealing something like 2d6+12+8d6 (?) damage in one hit.

I'd rather have keen than a +1 if you are fighting primarily humanoids since you have your arcane pool and arcane strike if you encounter a monster with DR.


grab a pearl of power or 2


Great advice all, much appreciated.

subgenius wrote:
I'd rather have keen than a +1 if you are fighting primarily humanoids since you have your arcane pool and arcane strike if you encounter a monster with DR.

Unless things have changed a LOT since I last played Pathfinder, I thought you had to have a base enhancement bonus of at least +1 before you could add any special qualities to a magic weapon or armor?

Liberty's Edge

Convict #24601 wrote:

Great advice all, much appreciated.

subgenius wrote:
I'd rather have keen than a +1 if you are fighting primarily humanoids since you have your arcane pool and arcane strike if you encounter a monster with DR.
Unless things have changed a LOT since I last played Pathfinder, I thought you had to have a base enhancement bonus of at least +1 before you could add any special qualities to a magic weapon or armor?

you do

Shadow Lodge

Convict #24601 wrote:

It's been a while since I've had the opportunity to play in a Pathfinder game. Our group decided to switch over for a longish campaign, and we're starting at 4th level. I've never played a 'gish' type character before, and actually I've never much cared for the archetype, but something about Magus really intrigues me. I've read what few posts there are on the boards about the class (including Walter's guide) and this is what I've come up with:

** spoiler omitted **

Our GM is a stickler for 3 to 4 encounters per day, and this is a military campaign, meaning we'll be spending most of our time (at least to start) fighting against humanoids with metal weapons and armor so I expect I'll get a lot of mileage out of Shocking Grasp. I've done a couple of mockups, though, and I'm a little concerned with resource management over a long day of fighting. With only 6 points in my Arcane Pool it seems like most of those will have to go towards enhancing my weapon. Are there wands or other magic items that I should look into to help my longevity? Is it worth it picking up +1 armor or is that money better spent elsewhere? Should I try and boost my Int with my base points? Are...

if i were you i would get rid of the strength 18 turn it into a ten, give myself an 18 dex and use the feats...

weapon finesse (rapier), and get an enchantment of agile weapon OR the feat dervish dance. turns your +4 dex into a +4 damage. use shield and give myself a better ac then the fighter. chain shirt + dex 18 + shield =22 ac at level 1 then increase it by adding enhancements to your chain shirt.

i believe a level 1 magus (human)with dervish dance , im pretty sure you can take dervish at level 1, would do 1d6+4+1 18-20 crit range. but you would be pretty generic seeing as though EVERY magus uses a scimitar or rapier

and i would say get rid of the familiar and get wand wielder, at low levels where you cant guarantee a full success on your concentration check you can put a wand in your hand and really screw someone up.

lets say you change your stats around a little:

str 7
dex 18
con 12
int 14
wis 10
cha 14

and then i took UMD. at 4th level i could walk around with a wand of CLW and a wand of ILW with a +12 (skill focus) would mean a 40% failure vs at 4th level concentration check of a dc 17 with a +6 modifier (55% failure) so you would have a better chance of sucessfully casting a wand of inflict moderate wounds (2d8+3) then a shocking grasp.

i know a 7 strength on a melee fighter seems scary, but you dont need strength at all if you take dervish dance OR agile weapon enchant. also doing this negates the need for combat casting.. a feat that becomes worthless once you pass level 7.


I agree with going dervish dance. The Ac and bonuses to reflex will really help.

Liberty's Edge

Starting at level 4 you're at the sweet spot for Dervish Dance (it can't be taken at level 1 do to the skill prerequesites) so that's something to consider as the others have said. And the scimitar is a better weapon than the long sword.

Don't forget, if not using spell combat you can 2 hand a 1 handed weapon to get improved strength bonuses.

Change one of your cantrips to arcane mark. Its a touch attack spell so it works with spell combat by RAW (and I believe RAI, but not everyone does) so its a free attack every round if you want it.

And Kolokotroni your DM put in a house rule, that's definitely not RAW.


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calagnar wrote:


One thing in the guide that I do not agre with is the ability's of the Hexcrafter. Over all this is one of the most useful Archtypes IMO. It gives the Magus ability's they normally do not have. With the ability to Cherry Pick what Arcana and Hexes you want. You can have very nice ability's that add to your over all effectiveness.

This deserves repeating. The guide linked above is very good but it tends to devalue the hexcrafter. This is mainly due to a perceived loss of action economy and diverting character resources away from optimizing spellstrike. Optimizing shocking grasp with spell combat/spellstrike is the easiest and most direct way to get the most bang for your buck from the magus' class abilities. You start right away at 1st level dealing a ton of damage.

Hexcrafters tend to play a bit differently than a normal magus. Here are some of the finer points of what hexcrafter gives you:

addition of all curse spells (not just sor/wiz) to your magus spell list. This includes -
-- brand, cantrip. You now have unlimited spell combat/spellstrike to simulate two-weapon fighting all day. Don't want to waste a spell slot on a mook but want to get all your attacks? No problem, now you can. (without causing any debates about arcane mark with your GM)
-- ill omen, 1st lvl. This is a decent debuff when you're teaming with party members on a bbeg. Requires accursed strike to use w/ spellstrike.
-- blindness/deafness. 2nd lvl. This is a great debuff and can be spellstriked with the accursed strike arcana.
-- bestow curse, 4th lvl. Awesome debuff to use w/ spell combat/spellstrike.
-- curse of magic negation, 4th lvl. A nice way to handicap casters, but cannot be used in PFS. Requires accursed strike to use w/ spellstrike.
-- major curse, 5th lvl. A bestow curse that now requires accursed strike to be used w/ spellstrike and takes up a higher level. The +5 DC is nice, however.
-- disfiguring touch(2), feast of ashes(2), cup of dust(3), curse of disgust(5), reprobation(5). These could see use in long-term campaigns, but are not useful for PFS or similar style play.

accursed strike arcana - I like this. It's a bit specialized and only affects a few spells, but being able to spellstrike an ill omen or blindness is useful. Especially since a prepped blindness/deafness can still be thrown on someone 100+ ft. away if necessary.

hexes - you're getting one at 4th level and can pick up more. I like
--flight. Take this at 4th level and you're flying one level later. Considering a magus is an offensive (mostly melee) striker, battlefield mobility is important. Anything that lets you dish out the hurt while minimizing the damage you take in return is good.
--prehensile hair. You effectively have a third limb to do somatic components, spellstrike with a 10 ft. reach, etc.
--slumber. See comments below about attributes and hexcrafter play style. I find this works great without hurting action economy much. Put an isolated enemy to sleep as you approach them, coup de grace them next round.
--healing(*honorable mention*). I don't really like but thought it deserved some mention. Specialized but could be useful depending on your style and party composition. You can cure moderate wounds on yourself in combat once per day. A magus probably shouldn't be focusing on healing people at all, so again, highly specialized. Do note it lets you touch attack undead for 2d8+lvl damage and conserve spell slots. If it worked with spellstrike this hex would be more than just a sidenote.

arcana - Most of the magus optimization guide's arcana comments apply to hexcrafters. Changes to note:
--arcane accuracy - See attributes below. You may need this more than the average magus, and your Int is probably high enough to make this a must-have.
-spell blending - Since you have higher DCs than the average magus, some save/suck spells are more useful to you. Ghoul touch works nicely with a hexcrafter.

attributes - You will probably want a higher Int than the average magus, primarily because you've sacrificed some of your non-save melee touch DPR ability for debuffs and save/suck that will need a DC boost. Because of this, you are either going to have less hp (Con) or attack ability (Str/Dex) than the average magus.

hexcrafter play style - you make surgical strikes to incapacitate and coup de grace enemies, or to dish out a sudden blast of damage if incapacitation is not achievable. You are best in melee, but always melee on your terms... maneuverability is your friend. You are not optimized for spellstrike damage, so if you can't significantly debuff or incapacitate an opponent don't overestimate your ability to stand to-to-toe with them in melee.

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