Arcane Duelist Question


Advice


Arcane Duelist two weapon fighter...is it functional or even worthwhile?

I am in a discussion with a co-player who mentioned he wanted to be a dual wielding arcane duelist in comparison to another player is is using a great sword. But it just seems like it would not work very well. Thoughts?


I agree with you, it doesn't work well. It adds dex to an already MAD build (str, cha, con). It's also quite feat-heavy for a bard.

It's more feasible if you are working with a 25 point buy and/or think you'll have access to Agile weapons for a large part of the campaign.


RumpinRufus wrote:

I agree with you, it doesn't work well. It adds dex to an already MAD build (str, cha, con). It's also quite feat-heavy for a bard.

It's more feasible if you are working with a 25 point buy and/or think you'll have access to Agile weapons for a large part of the campaign.

Yeah, I was thinking he should focus on one hander and build off that. I believe there is a rule to use a longsword with 2 hands under certain conditions?


I hate to say it, but Bards are nothing but Buff Bots. I don't even know why they have anything offensive when it's complete garbage for them to attempt to deal damage.

"I'm going to use my wimpy longsword to deal 1D8 + 1 point of damage. Oh wait, Swift Action for +2 damage instead (Arcane Strike lololol)." That doesn't work after 1st level.

All I can say is, Arcane Duelist is great in that you get an Arcane Bond (get a Gauntlet, because you'll probably want a Wand or Metamagic Rod in that hand) and can even cast with that hand occupied, you get Combat Casting as a bonus feat, as well as the ability to use Medium and Heavy Armors without issue. The other stuff you get with it can be very awesome, though Bladethirst is cool, it gets redundant by the endgame (since Inspire Courage is probably better anyway), and Mass Bladethirst isn't accessible until you reach the point where everyone has +10 weapons (who actually uses weapons; not you, of course).

I don't even see why it should be called "Arcane Duelist" when the class concept is hardly even viable to begin with.


Darksol, the numbers you're using are without buffs. If a bard with Haste, Good Hope, Inspire Courage, and Arcane Strike comes up against a fighter unbuffed, you'd start the rethink how "viable" the Arcane Duelist is.

The reason bards seem less impressive is because they're outshone by the party fighters - because the fighters have been buffed by the bard.


I built an archeologist bard with the first TWF feat. He used a rapier and a dagger as his off hand. It was mainly just for throwing or the rare occasion when I got a full attack action in melee. Other than that I would dual wield daggers and toss them like bird seed at a wedding! I got my DM to let me change the arcane archer into a dagger throwing PrC. It was nice. 2W throwing a bunch of magically enhanced daggers put me high in the dpr category.


Some good points made here.

As far as being MAD, I think the Arcane Duelist can be less so. Going TWF has already been pointed out as a sub-par choice between stats, 3/4 BAB and feat starvation, so that leaves you with str as you main attack stat. All you really need is str and cha with a slightly above average con. Buffing dex is pointless do to wearing heavy armor later on, you already have a ton of skill points per level, so int is whatever you want it to be, and wis is your dump stat.

A high str means a two handed weapon, and since many of your bonus feats do stuff with the area you threaten, you should go with a reach weapon. And Darksol brings up a clever point I had never thought of with using a gauntlet, its a weapon so arcane bond applies, can't be disarmed (unless you are literally (dis-armed"), and it allows you to threaten inside the range of your reach weapon.

As far as how viable the archetype is, "Arcane Duelist" may be a bit of a misnomer. Of course it won't out-perform a full BAB class, even at the same level with the same buffs, a fighter will out damage a bard. And while Arcane Strike may not be that great of a feat, you get it for free, I've never complained about free damage.

If you use the archetype for its strengths, which is pretty much an anti-mage character, I think it works pretty well.


RumpinRufus wrote:

Darksol, the numbers you're using are without buffs. If a bard with Haste, Good Hope, Inspire Courage, and Arcane Strike comes up against a fighter unbuffed, you'd start the rethink how "viable" the Arcane Duelist is.

The reason bards seem less impressive is because they're outshone by the party fighters - because the fighters have been buffed by the bard.

Technically, I included a buff you would have access to at 1st level, Arcane Strike, and while it's nice to have at early levels, you're going to want to switch to a Quicken Metamagic Rod. Haste won't be until you reach 3rd level spells, which will take a while (by that point you're going to have access to Quicken Rods, which makes Arcane Strike useless), and while adding a 2nd Highest BAB attack is nice and the +1 to Hit, AC, and Reflex Saves is also good, it becomes a party thing before you can actually use it. IIRC, Good Hope and Inspire Courage will not stack, assuming both are Morale bonuses. If they do, Inspire is limited by days, Good Hope by casts, which may instead be used instead to lockdown other enemies while the frontliners are plugging away at the Big Bad.

Well, there does become an issue to be had; the Bard is too MAD to be competent with any given frontliner. You need good striking power (Strength), good casting capability with your crowd control and buffs, plus UMD is nice (Charisma), and you're going to need some AC and Reflex Saves to avoid dying really quick for being a buff bot (Dexterity).

Unless you have access to Scimitar proficiency (which you don't as a Bard) plus Dervish Dance, you don't have an excuse to dump Strength and be a double-primary stat character, which is much more viable [but not optimal]. Even so, that is just as feat intensive as any given TWFer, which I find would be better spent on Extended Arcana (getting access to extra spells at given levels, and can be selected multiple times with stacking effects is a heck of a lot more worthwhile than some melee antics, which can be solved more easily with a second frontliner added to the party). Also considering the factor that it isn't in the Hardcovers (which some if not most players don't have access to) does discourage its availability, and even in PFS gameplay, you're going to need a legitimate reason for your character in-game to take the feat outside of "Well, I want to not rely on Strength anymore!"

Charisma is your most important stat. It determines your casting DCs, extra spells per day (not spells learned; Expanded Arcana feats help with that), Party Face Skill Bonuses [Intimidate, UMD, Diplomacy, Bluff, etc.], and other useful goodies.

Dexterity is great because you get a higher Initiative (allowing you to start buffing and casting sooner), you get more AC (which applies to Touch AC, a very common AC creatures attempt to hit you with), better Reflex Saves (let's face it, you can't buff when you're dead by a Fireball), as well as Acrobatics and/or Escape Artist checks, because you can bet the enemy is going to lock down the buff bot making the frontliners big and nasty.

@ Bearlock: The reason I nabbed a Gauntlet was because for my PVP gameplay I used a Heavy Darkwood Shield and a Quicken Metamagic Rod in the same hand as the Gauntlet. Since the ability says I can fulfill somatic components with the bond equipped, I can use Metamagic Rods and Shields while also using my Gauntlet at the same time. (Even so, some would argue that I could just go to a Light Shield and just put the Quicken Metamagic Rod in the same hand as the Light Shield.)

And there's an issue with the Arcane Strike feat. It would be better if it were as a Free Action; if as a Swift, I cannot perform the Quicken Metamagic Feat (or use a Quicken Metamagic Rod) and apply Arcane Strike at the same time. That Swift I can use to deal +5 Damage on a given attack can instead be used to apply another debuff or crowd control spell, essentially throwing another creature out of the fight, or making the Big Bad not so tough for the frontliners to cleave anew. Of course, I can argue that you won't always have access to the Quicken Metamagic, especially starting off, or that you may not always want to use the Quicken Metamagic, freeing that Swift for Arcane Strike. Simultaneously, Bards are still pretty fragile, meaning they may instead want to invest in a bunch of Quicken Metamagic Rods.


An arcane duelist is NOT a caster bard. They don't need high DCs because they shouldn't be focusing on the crowd control spells. Buffs and no-save debuffs are their forte and should be the entirety of their spell list. A 14 charisma is more than enough for an an arcane duelist which helps to limit the MADness. A 14/14/12/8/10/14 build is a good 15 point buy for an arcane duelist who puts a +2 to Str (you need to buy a +2 cha item by the time you reach 13th level to cast all your spells, easily done).

Grand Lodge

I am currently playing an Arcane Duelist (longsword/buckler) in our Jade Regent campaign and am having fun. While I am in no way as effective as the fighter or the inquisitor (Str/two-hander build) I do have a decent attack bonus thanks to enchanted weapon, Weapon Focus, and a "belt of physical might". Add to that, Inspire Courage, haste, and heroism and it is a good total.

I will admit that TWF costs a little too much in terms of feats required, and would take some sacrifice, but could be flavorful.


Arcane Duelist with 4 levels of Dragon Disciple and Eldritch Heritage can be a beast. Matter of fact, I'd just do the same with straight bard, because I wouldn't sacrifice Versatile Performance and armor is over rated, just grab a longspear and Lunge

Of Course goodies won't come until 10+, but if you aren't in it for the long run YMMV.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
IIRC, Good Hope and Inspire Courage will not stack, assuming both are Morale bonuses.

Not true, Inspire Courage gives a competence bonus to attacks and damage so it stacks with Good Hope. Only the bonus to saves is a morale bonus.


RumpinRufus wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
IIRC, Good Hope and Inspire Courage will not stack, assuming both are Morale bonuses.
Not true, Inspire Courage gives a competence bonus to attacks and damage so it stacks with Good Hope. Only the bonus to saves is a morale bonus.

Then the fault is mine. Apologies.

@ Magikot: A bard is a caster. Not a full caster since they have other (equally useful) class features, but a caster no less. If I wanted to play a melee casting class, I'd roll a Magus. They are much more effective at doing what the Arcane Duelist can do; the only reason why I suggest Arcane Duelist is that it makes the Bard a bit more combat savvy, granting armor proficiencies so they can be in the front lines and not get auto-hit, Bladethirst bonuses for allies (which becomes obsolete once you get +10 weapons, and Inspire Courage is better anyway), an Arcane Bond that allows you to cast ANY spell from your list at any given time 1/day, as well as a couple useful Bonus Feats (Combat Casting for free! Sign me up!), and all it costs is knowledge garbage.

It's no offense to the Bard; they are still fun characters, especially when bubbling a smoke pipe in hand while laughing at all the enemies that are uncontrollably crying when the big bad frontliners go and beat them senseless. That's definitely a character I'd enjoy playing for sure, but the issue is that they must focus one or the other, and the Bard's casting capabilities (and Bardic Performance features) are one of a kind, whereas being a frontliner ignores such powerful and useful capabilities, and the party (as well as the character, especially if poorly played) suffers as a whole because of it.


magikot wrote:
An arcane duelist is NOT a caster bard.

This.

If you're in it for the big numbers go for it; if you want to tell the BSF why he should attack what when and with which weapon - go bard.

Ruyan.


Actually, 14 charisma may be excessive. If you can rely on getting access to a big city you can start with 12. You won't need 13 charisma until level 7, by which point you can easily have a headband of charisma +2 and +4 by level 13 by WBL.

Stat-wise anything you can do with a paladin you can do with a bard, except the bard will have less charisma and more wisdom.

TWF is expensive in feats, but doable. Your damage will be less than two handing with power attack, but just bringing inspire courage to the party will give you more combat contribution than a rogue.

You will have accuracy problems at low level at low point buy, but will have better defenses, especially if one of your two weapons is a shield, though that's more feats you can't well afford -- and a different look, which may defeat the whole point of TWF for some people.

Grand Lodge

Another neat thing that Arcane Bond does is that it allows you to enchant it without burning feats on Craft Magic Arms and Armor... so that will also allow you to boost it up at essentially half price.

EDIT: Also consider burning a 2nd level spell known for Bardic Masterpiece - Dance of 23 Steps. This will help you with your AC, especially if you take Perform (Dance) as your primary. It will end up being a +4 AC with no penalty to attack by 12th lvl (assuming you max ranks in Perform.)


Of note, You probably only want to get the first two TWF feats. Don't bother with the 3rd it IS NOT worth it. So that cuts a little with feat heavy nature.

IMHO Dimensional Agility feat tree is a MUST for this build. You gain charge with a good deal of flanking.


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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
It's no offense to the Bard; they are still fun characters, especially when bubbling a smoke pipe in hand while laughing at all the enemies that are uncontrollably crying when the big bad frontliners go and beat them senseless. That's definitely a character I'd enjoy playing for sure, but the issue is that they must focus one or the other, and the Bard's casting capabilities (and Bardic Performance features) are one of a kind, whereas being a frontliner ignores such powerful and useful capabilities, and the party (as well as the character, especially if poorly played) suffers as a whole because of it.

The logic of "Magus does melee caster better" isn't much of a point. Wizard does caster better, so does that also mean that bards shouldn't try to be good casters?

There's nothing about the Bard's spellcasting that's unique, aside from the spells that directly relate to Bardic Performance (I'll come back to that). Wizard has been a superior spellcaster from day one, and Witch is hot on his heels for the "arcane buffer" spot, and already surpasses him in numerous ways. So, no, a Bard need not concern himself with being the best caster he can be to stand out. (I'm not saying no one should play caster bards. I'm just saying your statements about a melee bard are rather misguided. "Magus does melee caster better," true, but Wizard and Witch do stay-back-and-focus-on-casting better.)

Next point: being a frontliner doesn't ignore the thing that actually separates the Bard from his contemporaries: Bardic Performance. Being in melee doesn't hurt this at all.

Next, experience teaches one the finer points of playing a "flank buddy" role. Having an extra melee presence is more than just "I do damage." Proper positioning leads to the establishment of meta-control over enemy positioning and movement. Bards may not be full-on tanks, but they can still hold their own quite well if they need to; enough to be a solid skirmisher, and that's all that's needed here.

Lastly, there are ways to achieve other sources of control without even needing to focus on saving throw DCs, however this often requires creativity. The classic example is using the spell Silence. Don't cast it on an enemy caster, because he gets a Will save, and his Will is most likely his best save. Don't cast it on an area near the enemy caster, because he'll just leave the area. Cast it on the Fighter, and let him get in the caster's face. Doing this effectively silences the caster, and circumvents the saving throw.

There are other examples of how to use soft-control and meta-control to turn the tide in a fight, but I'd have to be writing a guide to really go into great detail about it. Point here being, there's nothing suboptimal about a Bard who doesn't focus fully on casting. You just have to know what you're doing.

Grand Lodge

What I have realized is that the Arcane Duelist is troublesome for enemy casters, but he either needs someone to help him flank the caster, so that he cannot 5' step away to cast, or take the Step Up feat. He gains Disruptive, and later Spell Breaker, but unless he is threatening his opponent it won't help.

Kazejin has a point. The bard is the true Jack of All Trades. The different archetypes will tilt that one way or another, but ultimately the bard will be good at a lot of things and with a little work, can excel at one thing or another. He will be at a disadvantage to truly specialized classes, but will do the job.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

If I may butt in with my own question: Since Disruptive only works while you still have attacks of opportunity available, is it worth it to take Combat Reflexes? I'm using a longsword and shield with a 14 Dex, so it's not exactly a build where you would normally take the feat.

Grand Lodge

It would help, especially if you intend to take Spellbreaker. As that will eat up your AoOs...


Aeshuura wrote:

What I have realized is that the Arcane Duelist is troublesome for enemy casters, but he either needs someone to help him flank the caster, so that he cannot 5' step away to cast, or take the Step Up feat. He gains Disruptive, and later Spell Breaker, but unless he is threatening his opponent it won't help.

You don't really need Step Up, there are other ways - you can hold a reach weapon and then:

1) use spiked gauntlets (the easy way to threaten adjacent)
2) get a natural attack (Ring of Rat Fangs is 5K, and gives you a natural attack you can use while full attacking)
3) take Improved Unarmed Strike if you want to burn a feat

Any one of them would let you force a concentration check on an adjacent caster, even if he 5-foot-steps away.

Grand Lodge

True, you can do that, but that means you have to build the character up that way. I cannot simply do that now, that I have invested 12 lvls in the longsword. So, I am just putting it out there that the OP can take that into account. ^_^

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