Arsonist (Rogue)


Round 2: Design an archetype

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 aka metaDM

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Arsonist (Rogue)
Torching the scene of the crime has long been the hallmark of a sloppy criminal, but when you need to make an example of a shopkeeper who refuses to pay protection without disturbing your paying clients—that’s when you need an arsonist. Honed to perfection by the Daggermark Assassins’ Guild, the dark art of the arsonist inspires universal fear. These masters of flame can turn a single building in a crowded city block into a blackened husk then melt into the shadows without a trace. Their fighting style is repulsive, but effective. Oil-soaked projectiles and hidden vials of flammable liquid allow them to set their screaming victims ablaze. Many are the gambling debts settled by a charred corpse in a back alley.
Spark (Sp): At 1st level, an arsonist can cast Spark three times per day. The save DC for the spell is 10 + the arsonist's Intelligence modifier. This ability replaces trapfinding.
Immolating Strike (Ex): At 3rd level, whenever an arsonist deals sneak attack damage, she can choose to forgo 1d6 points of sneak attack damage to set the target on fire. In each subsequent round, a burning target must either succeed in a DC 15 Reflex save to extinguish the flames, or immediately take 1d6 points of damage and continue burning. This effect does not stack with itself. This ability replaces trap sense.
Rogue Talents: The following rogue talents complement the arsonist archetype: favored terrain (urban), hold breath, sniper’s eye and weapon training.
Advanced Talents: The following advanced rogue talents complement the arsonist archetype: deadly sneak*, hide in plain sight, and unwitting ally.

The Exchange Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

Congrats on making the Top 32, Jobe! Your quiver of spiderkind scratched a definite fan-favorite itch, and showed off a tight design on a popular theme.

This Arsonist name alone is intriguing. I know plenty of characters with pyromaniacal tendencies, and let's face it, it could be fun to turn that into a defining archetype theme. As this is one of 5 rogue archetypes, let's take a look and see how it stacks up!

What we have here is a thug who loves to play with fire, and gains a little bit of magic. Setting creatures on fire is ... vivid and unsettling. The immolating strike is a something players will definitely want. At 3rd level, it's still useful. I'm not sure how to picture it as part of a sneak attack, exactly, but sometimes it's fine to slip right past the practical or simulation aspects.

Designwise, though, this archetype trades trapfinding and trap sense for two offensive powers. That's a little too good, though most of the other rogue entries make the same sort of unbalanced trade.

Overall, this is just 260-some words, dropping almost half of the allowed wordcount. This makes for a compact, focussed design, but it leaves the Arsonist with very slim arsenal of new abilities. I wish at least a little of that word count had been spent on flavor or an additional ability.

I will come back to this when I try to choose a Top Rogue archetype.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

Spark: Spark is a spell, and should be in italics, and not capitalized. You can't let yourself make little formatting mistakes like that. This isn't giving you anything you couldn't get from taking the minor magic rogue talent (though you're getting it a level earlier than you could). And you'd think a rogue that sets fires in buildings wouldn't want to lose the trapfinding ability...

Immolating Strike: This doesn't require you to prepare your weapons with flammables, and it's extraordinary instead of supernatural, so that's a weird combo (the rogue can just set people on fire, nonmagically, with no source of flame). Same combat about trap sense as I said about trapfinding.

And that's the only two abilities the archetype has. You had nearly 200 words left and plenty of abilities you could swap out for them. I think you've fallen short of your potential here.

I do NOT recommend this archetype for advancement.

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

Jobe, I was concerned the quiver was covering up poor design with some flash. Still, you were a big fan favorite. I'm not sure what happened here. This really looks like a first draft to me. Both Sean and Wolfgang noted the wordcount issue. Maybe real life and a time crunch hit you hard here because it sure doesn't look like your best work to me. The guy who gave us the quiver, even with my suspicions, can do better than this. That's one of the big things about Superstar (and frankly the reason I say I couldn't win it) you literally have to bring it hard every round. A Supserstar just doesn't leave 200 words on the table. But I wish you the best of luck.

I DO NOT Recommend this archetype for advancement.


I have writen Arsonist archetype for rogue some time ago so I was particularly interested after seeing the name and general idea.

Spark (Sp): I think it should use existing Rogue mechanics, namely Minor Magic talent as it's basis. I'd go with the approach taken by the Advanced Race Guide Eldritch Raider. (no, I have not given my arsonist anything similar, it's just a thought that occurred to me while reading).

I have no problem with Trap Sense being replaced with something more useful in River Kingdoms but I am not exactly seeing how Sneak Attack starts to ignite people just because without becoming some sort of magical ability (I would not have problem with magic augmented sneak attack).


I'm a huge fan of rogues. This is the only entry I would actually consider using at the table. It's solid, simple and more important I could see this entry right next to the other rogue archetypes in the APG.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Personally I don't have as much of a problem with having a lack of new abilities, but at that point I expect quality over quantity. And although the abilities you gave are solid, they feel lonely. Both are great starts, but will become dismissable at best as a character reaches the mid and higher levels.
Can't give my vote to this one, but I'd definitely like to see it return as something more fleshed out later on.


DMchowder wrote:
I'm a huge fan of rogues. This is the only entry I would actually consider using at the table. It's solid, simple and more important I could see this entry right next to the other rogue archetypes in the APG.

I'm not sure that's much of a compliment - in my opinion most of the rogue archetypes that are in the APG should have just been new talents.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8 aka nate lange

good use of the template; your writing is okay, but feels (to me) a bit like you're trying to force the point ("universally feared," really? is it feared by efreeti, or red dragons, or any of the slew of creatures immune to fire? or, by paladins who are just immune to fear? then its not universal. that's fairly nit-picky, but you hit a pet peeve of mine), and be careful about run-on sentences.

in terms of game balance: i think you did fine. as has been pointed out, by mid levels this is probably weaker than an ordinary rogue- but it gives options for rogues not interested in traps without changing the class' power level too significantly. immolating strike should clearly be (Su), or else include a statement about becoming adept at applying burning reagents to an opponent caught off guard (in which case it should require expending some material component- like a flask of alchemist's fire or something). you should also clarify the burn effect- it seems to follow the standard rules for "catching on fire," if that's true just say so instead of rewriting those rules (1. it saves wordcount, not that you needed it, that could be used elsewhere; 2. it avoids questions like whether or not that save requires an action, like it does for some spells and whatnot).

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Locke1520

I'm sorry to say nothing about this archetype jump up and says play me. Sure burning things can be fun but arsonist didn't scream PC to me. Like I noted on another entry it seems more like an NPC archetype. I want to see more versatility in Superstar entries.

Besides loosing the two key trap abilities for a character who should be skulking around indoors (which is a big problem) you also gave us an archetype that was short. In fact before I read a word I noticed how short it was. I don't know if that was a conscious design choice or if time was an issue but it hurt you here. If you make it to round three you'll really have to step it up because it only gets harder.

Congratulations on making it to the top 32 and good luck with the voters.

Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Clouds Without Water

I will give general impressions, but with 3 areas of particular focus that suit my personal interests. Archetype and ability names: do they show flair? How closely tied to the River Kingdom is the archetype? And last but certainly not least, do I want to play this archetype?

Archetype and ability names: Below average. Thematically coherent, but lack any flair and not tied to RK.

River Kingdom tie: None. This could be in any urban environment anywhere in the game world.

Desire to play: Below average. I would rather play a base rogue in almost any situation. Something could be done with an arson rogue, but I don't think this archetype found it.

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9

It feels like you didn't get this done on time, but submitted what you had anyways. Which is honorable, in it's own way, but it doesn't excuse it looking incomplete.

You have twice as much descrptive text as any other archetype I've read here, and only two abilities to back it up - none of which back up the description enough. I'd have loved the ability to contain a blaze - so that it won't damage adjacent things - like you talk about, but don't deliver on.

Good luck in this round - I'm afraid you'll need it.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka theheadkase

You had me at the name.

You started to lose me when I saw the description had more words than the abilities.

You lost me when I realized that you didn't have tight enough design and only 2 powers that are not designed the best.

You really, really did not do a favor to yourself by going with ultra-concise design here. You had a good concept, but it never got out of the concept phase. Maybe some Su for applying oils ability, or making flashbang abilities, or...etc.

I do NOT recommend advancement.


I have no problem with the Immolating Strike ability. A skilled rogue may well be able to cause sparks and set their opponent alight. I'd suggest some restrictions on it however (like striking metal armor, having two metal weapons, one hand holding flint). I am concerned that there is no real abilities directly related to arson or the use of chemicals or any ability related to controlling fire (rather than just causing it). There is also no further mention regarding their fighting style, oil soaked projectiles and vials of flammable liquids. I look forward to hearing what sort of difficulties you encountered in getting the archetype done as there is a lot of polish missing from this one.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka GM_Solspiral

Good: Name and theme are fairly cool.
Bad: Execution seems lackluster to me, spark not awesome
Ugly: Its just missing something for me maybe its a genuine RLs tie instead of something that feels tacked on but then again I'm really sick of water themes.
Overall: Solid idea, lackluster execution, not getting my vote.


I really want to like this, but it does seem unfinished. I'd recommend making the immolating strike a supernatural ability to fit with the fire magic theme and have the DC follow the generally formula of 10 + power stat (charisma, maybe?)+ 1/2 level. Otherwise it'll become useless too fast.

It's got my vote because I think you can revise it into something really fun.

Star Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8

I'll be honest - I came into this topic expecting a reverse-vivisectionist, a Rogue that trades out sneak attacks for firebombs. While I like the ideas of spark as a spell/spell-like ability and a sparking/igniting sneak attack, I feel like firebombs would have been something to add... or replace one of those with.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka JoelF847

Unfortunately, the name is the best part of the arhcetype. I was expecting some cool fire powers, either nonmagical or perhaps similar to alchemist bombs but to a single target only or something.

Instead we get a cantrip that doesn't do any damage (and can be taken with minor magic, so not really anything a rogue couldn't already do), and a non-sensical immolate ability that a rogue can do to light someone on fire, without doing any fire damage.

I had really wanted some stuff about making their weapons flaming, using alchemists fire, torches, fire resistance, and actually having ways to deal fire damage better than the average joe, etc.


The Golux wrote:
I'll be honest - I came into this topic expecting a reverse-vivisectionist, a Rogue that trades out sneak attacks for firebombs. While I like the ideas of spark as a spell/spell-like ability and a sparking/igniting sneak attack, I feel like firebombs would have been something to add... or replace one of those with.

... that's actually a REALLY cool idea.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka motteditor

I agree with a lot of the others -- this was one of the first archetypes I looked at based on the name, but I wanted more.

The Golux is right. Adding some bombs to this would have helped, along with some other fire control powers of some sort. I could see an arsonist having an ability to control WHERE fire flows -- maybe some ability to let a fire she sets spread to an adjacent hex each round/set a target's allies ablaze?

Also, I thought it was a strange link to the River Kingdoms. Sure, one of these could certainly fit there but I don't really remember anything in the Guide talking about fire/arson. I don't think you had to go quite as linked as some people did, but this just didn't make me think of RK at all.


Bombs instead of Sneak attack, now that would be an arsonist, especially if he got a related discovery.

Star Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8

Again taking the cue from Vivisectionist, maybe allow the Explosive Bomb, Immolation Bomb, Smoke Bomb, and/or Inferno Bomb discoveries to be taken as rogue talents, with certain level thresholds?

Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8

It's a simple idea and in that, closer to the earlier examples of rogue archetypes than certain others in this lineup.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8 aka DeathQuaker

The idea has fantastic potential. The execution is lacking, unfortunately. I was sad that the description mentions "hidden vials of flammable liquid" and the like and the class had no abilities related directly to throwing bombs or alchemical weapons or the like. I like the others' suggestion of replacing sneak attack with something akin to the alchemist's bombs.

As written, I would like to have seen immolating strike replace or be an option for a rogue talent, as like many rogue talents it enhances sneak attack. (I do get how they set them on fire, I'd see it as an extension of their spark ability, but then it should be at least an Su ability).

I think trap sense could have instead been replaced by an appropriate ability that improved the character's own resistance to or saves versus fire--after all, you want to be able to survive your own handiwork.


I was not expecting the class to have abilities related to throwing bombs, etc so I am not disappointed about execution. At the same time rogue is my favorite character so adding perks to his talents would be so good!

William Peterson
custom writing

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