Looking for advice with an Arcane character


Advice


Greetings,

I am looking for guidance on building an arcane character. The group I plays with needs one but I am very unfamiliar with them. My normal go to is martial characters with a little bit of divine characters now and again.

I've look at the Magus and did like it. But I want advice about expanding out beyond my normal go to of melee or archery style. I'd like some advice on creating an Arcane character.

Often I see Arcane characters as either utility people with little combat or full on total combat and no utility.

I'd like to figure out how to make a character that has options in combat and options out of combat. I like the idea of attacking targets at range but do not enjoy the idea of them getting a save against my spells nor getting into hand to hand to cast spells. I'm not a fan of crafting and I doubt we will have time to craft our on stuff. We are permitted guns but only early age firearms.

We are building the characters at a 15 point build and we are allowed to make custom races with a max of 12 points. We are permitted all classes published by Paizo that are not in playtest. Currently we are at level 3 but plan to end the game around level 16.

If you could offer guidance it would be appreciated. I want to try to figure out other Arcane characters for me to play and hope the community here could make suggestions or advice for me.

Thank you for any assistance you can offer,

Mr. Nasty Butler

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

The term "arcane character" is a lot more ambiguous these days as opposed to when it just meant wizard and sorcerer.

You've got your straight caster in these two classes which takes the roll of damage or control, You've got your skills, support, and buffer in the Bard, and the magic enhanced melee in the Magus.

So it really depends on what kind of role you want to play.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

You don't want the enemy to save against your spells , you want to play an arcane character with utility in and out of combats...heh just play a summoner.

Summon monsters in and out of combat, can do everything, just choose the right monster for the job. Ah you also have an eidolon that you can make it look like whatever you want.

If you want a bit more fluff with your summoner, the shadow caller, fetchling archetype is actually a very nice one.


LazarX wrote:
You've got your skills, support, and buffer in the Bard

I know about the Bardic performance for Bards but what other support do they have? As I stated, I'm not very familiar with arcane characters full range of abilities. I have not seen a bard in any parties I've played with before so I do not have much of a frame of reference on them. As for roles I'm comfortable with, normally I'm in the thick of combat melee range. I want to try and broaden my self on roles so I am open to support, skills, buffer, damager, controller (never seen one of these before), or other role.

Eltacolibre wrote:
You don't want the enemy to save against your spells , you want to play an arcane character with utility in and out of combats...heh just play a summoner.

I thought ray wizards did not have to worry themselves as much about saves instead of just hitting touch AC and penetrating SR? I admit, I don't have any experience with arcane characters and I could be wrong on this.

I have considered a summoner and have seen them played before. They are interesting. I assume they are similar to a druid in play?


I'd say go either witch or arcanist. I find one of the potentially biggest challenges of using spell casters is knowing what spells to take and even then you have the whole 'but I might really need it later' when deciding what spell to cast in a given situation. Both of theses classes mitigate these issues with the witch having hexes and the arcanist having the point pool and exploits.

Most of the witch's hexes are typically unlimited in uses per day but can only be used on a given target once in a 24 hour period. When it comes to offensive hexes this isn't really an issue for most encounters since enemies don't last that long. Other hexes grant useful utility abilities and bonuses e.g. the Flight hex grants at will feather fall and a +4 swim bonus at level 1, at level 3 you can cast levitate 1/day and at level 5 you can cast fly for 1 min per witch level and these minutes do not need to be used consecutively. I got a lot of use out of this hex and it meant I didn't have to prepare those spells/get items.

The arcanist combines the wizard and the sorcerer and while it might seem complicated on the surface I think it's easier going for a player new to arcane casters then either of the parent classes would be. Personally I'd take the Quick Study exploit asap as this gives you a great deal of flexibility - prep your spells for combat/emergency situations and when you need a utility spell such as phantom chariot expend a point to change a spell, cast said spell and then use another point to change it back (the same goes for casting long duration spells such as mage armour).

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Spells, and by extension things such as cure wands. Knowledge skills, and various tricks with Versatile Performance.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
MrNastyButler wrote:


Eltacolibre wrote:
You don't want the enemy to save against your spells , you want to play an arcane character with utility in and out of combats...heh just play a summoner.

I thought ray wizards did not have to worry themselves as much about saves instead of just hitting touch AC and penetrating SR? I admit, I don't have any experience with arcane characters and I could be wrong on this.

I have considered a summoner and have seen them played before. They are interesting. I assume they are similar to a druid in play?

The good rays all have saves. Rays are also all over the place, as in in many schools of magic. I'm sure some people can help you with making a ray build around here but heh, don't think it's worth the time and effort.

Summoners are basically an easy and strong class, as in, it is hard to screws thing up. They get summon monsters as a SLA, which lasts 1 minute/summoner level that they can use multiple times per day. So even at level 1, a summoner can actually use Summon Monster 1, unlike most other casters, who can only cast a creature for 1 round. They have spell known, who are essentially cherry picked to be the good ones, Haste , teleport etc...the eidolon is kinda make your own monster and best part, it can't die. If the eidolon is defeated, he will simply not be available for the rest of the day but you can just summon monsters when it isn't there. The caster summoner is the popular ones but summoner can be made to do different things, like making your eidolon into your tag team partner or make a stealth based eidolon etc...Some archetypes of summoner are ridiculously strong too but well just read the forum for more details.


Ray wizards still have to worry about saves in some cases, but mostly for status effects (such as most of the necromancy rays). I find that most rays tend to be under evocation, though Conjuration, Transmutation and Necromancy have several as well, and illusion can mimic evocation spells. I would recommend taking Spell Focus to better deal with the saves (which don't usually half the damage, but negate the secondary effect). Personally, whenever I play a ray specialist, I play an arcane trickster. I like adding in the sneak attack. I use invisibility and improved invisibility to maximize the damage. Also, for this build, since there's not that many ranged touch spells, you end up using Intensified Spell and Reach Spell.

For example, a Rogue3/Wizard3/ArcTrck4 taking Shocking Grasp, a 1st level spell, making it into a third (one to make it short range and one to make it do up to 10d6) and you will be dealing 4d6 sneak and 7d6 electricity; no save just SR and hitting their touch AC. I prefer the dual rays of Scorching Ray, with each doing 4d6 and the sneak attack (since you're likely using Imp Invisibility) and getting 8d6 for both rays (4d6 sneak and 4d6 fire). Just make sure you're within 30 feet until you get Sniper goggles (or even improved version, and their wonderful +2 damage per sneak attack die).

This, assuming of course, you like shining with damage. If you are genuinely looking for a completely new experience, and want to shine in non-combat more, then a bard will shine fantastically in roleplay situations. (this rant wasn't meant to say I don't like bards, just that their trickier to min/max in combat)


Arcane characters of any kind have but one indisputable truth... They are more dependent on their spells than anyone else. Divine classes need their spells also but if they never cast a spell in an encounter they still had something to make em worthwhile, arcane casters have a hard time with this.

A magus is a competent marshal combatant but his bread and butter is his spells. Up to double digits the magus is capable of doing great "novas" of damage that make anyone happy but be eventually loses his awesomeness because full casters take over. Bards are far less reliant on their spells than any arcane caster but they are often looked at as support characters and having a bad list (debatable). Full casters is where it's at for arcane... After a while you get access to the best spells in the game and let loose. Some say that if not for the power of those spells arcane would stink and others say the class features had to be weaker because of the power of the spells. In either case spells are the key to arcane characters.

Utility vs. Combat: unless your a magus, a EK, DD, bloodrager, or the 60 strength sorcerer don't ever try to go combat with the arcane characters. Just use your spells to control the situation. If you must do damage the. Find a good blaster build and go with it.


You might want to consider making use of alchemical power components from the adventurers armoury and alchemy manual.


I would recommend wizard or witch for a first arcane character, if you want 9th level spells, and a summoner if you don't. I rank wizard over witch, since I don't like the vulnerability of her "spellbook" at all. The hexes of the witch are a far sight better than the low level school abilities, though.
The wizard has the big advantage of being able to have all spells (theoretically at least) and even carry obscure stuff with him, which a limited caster won't ever bother with. He can also try out anything he can lay his hands on to see how well it works.

I personally prefer sorcerer and arcanist, but both need some knowledge about playing as arcane caster and a clear vision of what you want to do. The sorcerer has only limited spells, but the power to use any one of them at any time while tacking on any metamagic he knows is the thing which makes him work. So you need to know what spells and feats to get to create a versatile caster without wasting slots. The arcanist works best, if his exploits tally with his feats and spells.

Back to the original question...
When you say your group needs an arcane caster, our question is: what for? Answering that one should point to one of the classes in question.

If it is just to have arcane utility, wizard is your best bet. If it is for damage, magus, summoner or sorcerer look good. For buffs and support/healing, you want bard or witch.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Vatras wrote:
I would recommend wizard or witch for a first arcane character, if you want 9th level spells, and a summoner if you don't.

Summoners get Ninth Level Spells that wear Sixth Level clothing. And they get them before Wizards do.


Vatras wrote:

Back to the original question...

When you say your group needs an arcane caster, our question is: what for? Answering that one should point to one of the classes in question.

The group wants it cause they like to have as many roles as possible cover. Their opinion not mine, respectively.

I am looking at it more from the perspective of the versatility and usefulness the arcane spells bring to a party. We currently have a cleric, barbarian, rogue, archer. I don't have a character finalized so I'm looking at the arcane as per their request and to challenge myself to branch out.

Also, please remember I won't have access to 9th level spells. We are ending at level 16.

I have been reading up on this Arcanist class. It is rather interesting. I like that I can swap stuff out on the fly with power points.


Vatras wrote:

I would recommend wizard or witch for a first arcane character, if you want 9th level spells, and a summoner if you don't. I rank wizard over witch, since I don't like the vulnerability of her "spellbook" at all. The hexes of the witch are a far sight better than the low level school abilities, though.

The wizard has the big advantage of being able to have all spells (theoretically at least) and even carry obscure stuff with him, which a limited caster won't ever bother with. He can also try out anything he can lay his hands on to see how well it works.

I personally prefer sorcerer and arcanist, but both need some knowledge about playing as arcane caster and a clear vision of what you want to do. The sorcerer has only limited spells, but the power to use any one of them at any time while tacking on any metamagic he knows is the thing which makes him work. So you need to know what spells and feats to get to create a versatile caster without wasting slots. The arcanist works best, if his exploits tally with his feats and spells.

Back to the original question...
When you say your group needs an arcane caster, our question is: what for? Answering that one should point to one of the classes in question.

If it is just to have arcane utility, wizard is your best bet. If it is for damage, magus, summoner or sorcerer look good. For buffs and support/healing, you want bard or witch.

The vulnerability of the witch's familiar while troubling can be mitigated. While the wizard is very good, at lower levels you can run into situations where you can't do anything. With the witch you can always throw out a misfortune hex. Unless you're going against elves or similar you'll definitely want the with for the slumber hex (unlike the sleep spell there's no HD limit). I think a witch's real strength lies in their ability to debuff and cripple opponents. Another strong point to the witch is that hexes do not require concentration checks to use them (good if you're grappled or in a hurricane), don't provoke attacks of opportunity (which imo reduces the need to take combat casting) and they don't have verbal or somatic components you can use them when bound and gagged.

While I would agree that the sorcerer requires a degree of knowledge and clarity of vision I don't think the same can be said for the arcanist. Don't know exactly what spells to take for the day? Quick Study. Do you really want use that spell slot to prepare a silent spell metamagic (just in case)? Metamixing. A Metamagic you know will be useful today but not tomorrow? Greater Metamagic Knowledge. Unsure in which school to take Spell Focus? Arcane reservoir and Potent Magic. So with these exploits and abilities the arcanist is more forgiving then the wizard with just as much utility and gets UMD as a class skill.


I am going to recommend something a little different. Necromancy.

Necromancy does a lot of different things, and to keep things simple I suggest going for a wizard necromancer, or a sorcerer with a lot of necromancy spells and feats towards necromancy.

Necromancy makes for great no save suck attacks. You are going to cast a lot of rays so you will want point blank and precise shot.

Some good spells that have no save at various levels that are not melee attacks:

1:cause fear (partial save), ray of enfeeblement (partial save, potentially very nasty)
2:scare (partial save)
3:ray of exhaustion (partial save)
4:fear (partial save), enervation (no save)
5:waves of fatigue (no save)
7:waves of exhaustion

Now that's not a lot, but you have some very strict requirements. However there are some ways to get around them. Take the reach metamagic then for a +1 level touch spells become close range. Now look at the spells that qualify for your requirements:

1:chill touch (partial save, long lasting)
2:stricken heart (no save)
3:vampiric touch (no save)

The main problem is that most spells require a save as part of the balance of the spell, it's sort of a cost of doing business. However with these spells you do a fair job of control and damage (the best ones being strength damage)

Now the best spell in your arsenal is enervation, with a few metamagics it is very powerful. Empowered/maximized it deals 6 negative levels per shot, no save. This shuts down most enemies regardless of level. Of course that is a 9th level spell slot so it should be powerful, but with a feat and a trait it is instead a 5th level spell at lvl 15 (the earliest you can take spell perfection). If you have a reach metamagic rod you can make it medium and another metamagic can let you affect immune creatures. At low(er) levels enervation on it's own is strong, or with just empower is very strong.

There are a few defensive necromancy spells such as false life, and of course there is definitely utility in necromancy.

If you campaign will allow a little evil raising the undead is very effective. Put a few zombies in front of you to prevent attacks from easily closing, use them to go in front of the party 'looking' for traps. What? They're already dead. As long as they aren't destroyed (somewhat inevitable) they are easily repaired. Stronger undead are serious combatants even at higher levels. Remember gentle repose is on your spell list. Use it and you can pass of zombies for monks with a vow of silence (have a good bluff check). Also carrying loot is never again a problem for you.

You may want to take spell focus necromancy to qualify for varisian tattoo, and spell specialization. spell pen is important for you, and being an elf would go a ling way for your build for so many reasons.

If you want more spells per day you could be a thassilonian wizard (sin specialist) just be sure you are willing to lose abjuration and enchantment.

I would consider yielding a bit on your 'no save' policy it really restricts you. You would be better off boosting your save dc's than just pushing the issue away. Still this is a viable option.


When you say that the group wants to cover things and have chosen their classes based on the "iconic four" they might as well twist your arm into being a wizard. No one but the rogue will have any knowledge skills and don't have arcane on top of that. Find you any arcane based on intelligence but frankly wizard is what you are going to be pressured into here.


With regards to the necromancy suggestion an arcanist taking Spell focus, Greater Spell Focus and Potent Magic would have a +4 to spell DCs. If you could make a character with 18 int your level 2 necromancy spells would have a DC of 20. I think even a fighter would have a hard time making a save against your necro spells.


Since you like the arcanist and there is no specific requirement, go with it ;)

@LazarX:
A 9th level spell has a 9th level slot (and the save DC for it) and has obviously more room for manipulation than a 6th level slot.
A 9th level spell effect in a 6th level slot like Dominate Monster has a weaker DC (by 3!) and the summoner still gets it only at 16th level, when the saves are stacked towards 9th level DCs. Therefore I don't count that as having 9th level magic.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Vatras wrote:

Since you like the arcanist and there is no specific requirement, go with it ;)

@LazarX:
A 9th level spell has a 9th level slot (and the save DC for it) and has obviously more room for manipulation than a 6th level slot.
A 9th level spell effect in a 6th level slot like Dominate Monster has a weaker DC (by 3!) and the summoner still gets it only at 16th level, when the saves are stacked towards 9th level DCs. Therefore I don't count that as having 9th level magic.

Who cares about flipping DC's when you've got access to the following at 16th level? The Wizard gets access to this at 17th, but he's going to only have one lousy spell slot, maybe two, while the Summoner has enough to spam.

Summon Monster 9. (As both Spell and Standard Action SLA)
Gate as SLA.
Teleportation Circle.
Maze. (Not level 9, but still damn effective at taking someone who's not a minatour out combat)


I'd like to thank everyone for all the information and ideas. I am going to go with the Arcanist class. I found it offered abilities that I liked the most and allowed me to mitigate some of the things I dislike about spells. Mainly being locked into a set of them each day with no ability to adapt or change. In addition, I liked the meta magics abilities power points options.

As for the suggestion of the necromancer, it was shot down by our DM before. He's not a fan of the "evil" energy thing. But it was on my list of interesting Arcane character ideas.

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