I'll be playing in the Wrath of the Righteous adventure path soon. Ever since reading about the Riftwarden prestige class in Paths of Prestige I've been very excited by the role that these characters play in Golarion, and beyond. Now that I finally have the chance to play one I started looking into the class mechanics and have been increasingly disappointed.
At first I thought to play a cleric, but without access to dimension door, teleport, and greater teleport the Riftwarden's Counterport, Improved Counterport and Greater Counterport class features are much less valuable, especially with reduced spellcasting. Then I moved on to Wizard because they can access higher level spells with efficiency and can reach 17th caster level at 20th character level. However, they are not charisma based, which is important for Planar Channel, Planar Scourge, and Planar Purge. Wizards transitioning into the Riftwarden prestige class also do not gain their bonus spells so must spend gold or get lucky and find valuable spellbooks in order to cast higher level spells. So, a Sorcerer? This character couldn't be a 10th-level Riftwarden and cast 9th-level spells, but they can cast the helpful teleportation spells and they are Charisma-based. Spellcraft is very important to using the Riftwarden class features and a Charisma-based character is at a disadvantage. Lastly, the Planar Guide class feature's benefits to a non-skilled caster (favored enemy/favored terrain/terrain mastery) are minor. Add to this the nearly useless Spell Focus (abjuration) requirement and it just seems silly.
I deeply want the flavor of this class for my trek into The Worldwound, but I can't confidentially say that they are the caster a party needs, especially with 15 point buy.
Have I done a reasonable job of examining the class, or are there elements that I'm missing? If you were to houserule this prestige class from the perspective of a GM, what, if any, changes would you make? I'm thinking about approaching my GM with these issues to mitigate what I feel are unnecessary tradeoffs for flavor.
Well, at a 15 point buy, I have to admit that the Riftwarden can't excel as much as you might want them too, generally I tend to look at is as a higher point buy class..
there is a the following racial possibilities..
With the Ancient Lorekeeper Elf Oracle option, you can then sacrifice your mystery spells for some arcane spells ..
Two, if it's allowed by your GM, you could play a Samsaran, and a add a few extra spells to your spell list..
Three, the Peri bloodline Aasimar has a +2 bonus to Intelligence and Charisma, shoring up some of the charisma problem
All of that said, if your going this route, I recommend the Wizard, Abjuration specialist, just because it's making the most out of the prestige class, IMO.
I was thinking that a Conjuration specialist would make the most of the Riftwarden prestige class on account of preparing summon monster and teleportation spells to counter similar effects. I'll take a peak at your suggestions in the morning, though a Peri bloodline is something I've considered and passed up for flavor reasons and a Samsaran would most likely have traveled an unusual distance. Just so long as the Ancient Lorekeeper was able to gain meaningful spells in time for levels in Riftwarden it might work.
I'm not sure that the ancient lorekeeper can get the spells you want early enough, but it remains an option to consider.. you may be right about the conjurer being the better choice for the wizard, I chose abjurer because of the spell focus feat, seemed the best way to make that work for you. Still, if your GM is agreeable, it seems that you might be able to convince him to shift it to conjuring rather then abjuration for your spell focus feat.