First Pathfinder Game - Making a Gestalt Character


So for my first ever Pathfinder campaign I'm going to be making a Gestalt character. I know how to play 3.5 so it isn't a huuuuge jump but I don't know the classes well at all, let alone picking two.

Doing preliminary research a Scarred Witch Doctor Barbarian sounds interesting. But... I can't cast spells while raging, right? And hexing (usually) would use up my action. So is it really a viable combo?

It seems like it would be better to pick an active and a passive class. Maybe like a barbarian/fighter?

If you play a Bloodrager instead of a Barbarian you can take the Mad Magic feat and be able to cast Witch spells while bloodraging.

Thanks, I didn't know about that one!

Another question: if barbarians are melee and I'm primarily up close, won't my spellcasting provoke AoO's? Or is the idea to cast spells and THEN rush in?

You'll have to either cast defensively or as you said, cast then rush in.

Spellcasting in melee DOES provoke AoO, and if it is a ranged spelled it provokes 2! Which is crazy!

But with your witch the Hexes don't provoke. So a good tactic can be to use Evil Eye to lower your targets AC and then slam 'em with your sword/axe/hammer!

Not that a barbarian has much trouble hitting things.

You won't be able to do both at the same time. It seems like a good combo at face value but there is very little synergy. Basically you'll be switching back and forth between party roles, which is still fun but not really what you seem to be wanting.

Bloodrager can do what you want with one class though. For the other class, try Warpriest. Fervor and Sacred Weapon stack well with a Bloodrager's abilities.

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Depending on stat generation methods you may also want to consider how MAD a concept makes you. A bloodrager/witch combo, means that charisma, con, strength, and int are important, while you'll need at least some dex to fill out armor. Thats rough with everything but the most generous stats.

A charisma based caster for the caster side (oracle, sorceror etc) would mesh better with the blood rager. Remember the fact that witche's are primarly de-buffers means their save dcs are very important. Where as if you were focused on buffs from your casting side, you dont need as high a stat.

The OP is suggesting a Scarred Witch Doctor, which casts off of constitution. Works very well with the raging classes.

You can also roleplay the rage and go Witch doctor+Fighter.

Skald, i think, can invoke a rage condition that does not prohibit casting.

Doomed Hero wrote:

You won't be able to do both at the same time. It seems like a good combo at face value but there is very little synergy. Basically you'll be switching back and forth between party roles, which is still fun but not really what you seem to be wanting.

Bloodrager can do what you want with one class though. For the other class, try Warpriest. Fervor and Sacred Weapon stack well with a Bloodrager's abilities.

Yeah you pretty much have me pegged. That's a great way to describe it - I'd really like to have synergy as opposed to filling two different roles. Also for my very first game I'd prefer something easier (I'm okay with complex but I don't want to go overboard). I'm not looking to be OP but I also don't want to be weak.

Any Gestalt suggestions to fit those needs?

How complex is complex?

Easy mode: Fighter Rouge. Shore up the weaknesses of both classes, except for Will saves, and go mulch things in melee.

Warpriest Paladin. There is a lot to manage but so far as I can tell the only overlap is Channel energy. Smite smite, self buff, self heal, smite smite smite some more.

Druid Fighter. Be a rather owerwhelming force on the battlefield, whatever form you choose to take.

Cleric Bard. Your entire purpose in life is buffing. Your backstory is that you learned to cast guidance before you learned to talk, and you never stopped casting it on everyone you knew. Mommy loved it when you cast bulls strength and bears fortitude on daddy before they sent you to bed.

Magus bloodrager. You dont need a lot of intelligence to make Shocking grasp do a lot of damage.

Sorcerer/Magus Slayer. Spells and sneak attack are a good combat style.

In general, you want a class that is good at getting its class features into play as a swift action or by combining something with another action. For example, Magus can cast spells during melee attack´s, a natural combo for a melee character. Bard can activate bardic performance before a fight, and at later levels as a move or swift action. Rouge, Fighter and Monk all have class features that are "allways on", so it is easy to build somethings else on top of them. Full casters can use quicken spell at later levels to perform both of their roles at the same time. Warpriest, Cavalier, Inquisitor and Paladin have class features that are activated with swift actions. Druids can wild shape to take advantage of Martial class features, even features as simple as having a good BAB. Ranger, Druid, Summoner and Hunter all have pets, pets are "allways on", so thats a good gestalt option.

This basicly means that the "worst" gestalt characters are full casters, but still thats not quite true. Squishy full casters can gain a lot by going gestalt with a class that has strong defenses, the "best" gestalt full-caster I can think off is: Caster+Hunter/Slayer. Casters usually only have high will saves, which clicks well with Hunters and Slayers who have good fort and ref, Slayer has D10hp while Hunter has an Animal companion. Hunters add several spells to your already substantial repertoire of magic, and they are proficiant with ranged weapons that you normally dont get as a caster. Slayers have sneak attack which can become a huge asset when coupled with the right spells and they have full bab, so you can go fight in melee or at range quite effectively. Finally both classes net you a much greater assortment of skills then full caster classes get. Both classes are decent in Light armor, so Arcane armor training is an option.

Warpriest is a great second class to a full bab for gestalt because it gets all the buff spells of a cleric while being able to quicken them with fervor so you dont have to use your actions that could be spent full attacking

i was making a character for a gestault game and it came down to fighter/warpriest barbarian/alchemist and finally chose fighter/skald

Magus (and now Bloodrager) are really great for Gestalting purposes, since they are already Gish-in-a-can base classes. They are also great combinations with each other, especially with Mad Magic and/or Broad Study. Magus with full BAB and access to accuracy boosters such as bloodrage is easily a great combo.

If you are missing other players and want your own 1 man army, then a Skald/Master Summoner is easily the best for that role. Don't be a Totemic Skald though, since Augment Summoning and Animal Focus both give enhancement bonuses (though you CAN give them improved evasion, which is nice, but I think you give up Spell Keening, which is awesome on it's own). Take the abyssal bloodline for greater strength (+6 Inherent) and, at level 17, the ability to add +1 demons to whatever demons you summon (+2 with Superior Summoning, so you can Summon 3 Nafalsheen simultaneously with the same SMIX spell).

The real benefit to your summon hordes though are the rage powers. Superstitious, Witch Hunter, Reckless Abandon, Spell Sunder, Eater of Magic, Come and Get me. Tons more accuracy and damage, as well as tons of spell/melee defense and even your Skald DR. Then you can use your Bard spell list to add stuff like Heroism/Good Hope or use Spell Keening to steal Cleric/Druid/other buff spells.

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My experience in gestalt is that one half for combat is generally enough. It's certainly tempting to do some super combat, but using the second half for breadth can result in greater overall satisfaction.

So even if you can't cast your spells while raging, you can have a bunch of utility to contribute before/after combat.

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When you're making a gestalt character there are (IMO) 3 important things to consider...

1. Being well rounded. You're going to be facing more difficult challenges, you don't want any glaring weaknesses that can be exploited. Make sure you have at least 2 good saves, some decent skills, probably at least a little casting... Full BAB/d10 hp if you can... There's a lot of options that'll get you full BAB, all good saves, and at least 4+Int skills: fighter/bard, bloodrager/bard, ranger or slayer/any caster, swashbuckler/magus, gunslinger/inquisitor, paladin/ninja just to name a few...

2. Synergy. Do the abilities from your classes work together/support each other, or do they force you to function differently at different times? Something like fighter/wizard seems cool but you only get 1 standard action per round so you're either attacking or casting, and either have to invest in feats to let you cast in armor or miss out on some benefits of fighter... Barbarian/Druid on the other hand may not be able to attack and cast in the same round either but the ability to stack rage and wild shape can be pretty awesome. Something like fighter/bard is nice because your bardic performances make you better at fighting at the same time that they buff others (and they can cast in armor so they can still benefit from armor training too).

3. Action Economy. Everyone gets the same number of actions per round but not everyone is equally good at using those actions... Try to make sure that every round you'll be able to use your standard action, your move action (or your full round action), and your swift action. A class like Magus that has a bunch of options for swift actions and can already bend action economy with spell combat/spellstrike is a potent option for this, be careful though- if you take two classes that make a lot of use of the same types of actions you won't be able to reap all those benefits... Something like a paladin/magus could be good, but you need your swift action for Lay Hands to make you impossible to kill, and you need those same swift actions for Magus to up your combat output with arcana, arcane pool, and arcane strike... But you're limited to one of those per round.

Conclusion- there's a lot of good options and ultimately the most important consideration is what you'll enjoy playing, but there are some solid straightforward combos that will be effective if you're into them... A ranger/warpriest has full BAB, all good saves, 6+ skill points, some wisdom synergy, the synergy of being a self-buffer and capable combatant, and has options for every type of action (once fervor comes online at 2nd); a gunslinger/inquisitor has all of those things too- their swift actions are a little more limited (largely goIng towards judgements, and bane after 5th) but they get to attack against touch AC a lot of the time; a slayer/magus hits pretty much all those marks too but with Int replacing Wis (and arcane spells). Fighter/Bard or Fighter/Investigator can take a little more effort (or patience) to make sure that they're getting good use of swift actions but both are solid and relatively simple.

That ended up being much longer than intended... hope there was something useful for you in there.

Speaking of synergy, gestalting a hybrid class archetype with a hybrid class archetype can allow you to cherrypick the best features from four different classes.

For example, I'd totally pick Sacred Fist Warpriest + Eldritch Scrapper Empyreal Sorcerer, with a 1-level dip in Master of Many Styles Monk somewhere.

You have semi-full BAB like a monk with flurry, Pummeling Charge (think clustered shots+improved critical) to charge+flurry by level 2 or 3, and doubled casting classes keyed to Wis. You can cast two spells in the same round using Warpriest fervor for divine as a swift action.

Otherwise you basically have all the important features of a Monk/Cleric/Sorcerer/Brawler.

My second choice would be Inspired Blade Swashbuckler/Blade Adept Arcanist.

You get Full BAB, dex-to-damage with the Fencing Grace setup, your level to damage via Precise Strike and a scaling Black Blade rapier like a Bladebound Magus. Oh, and lots of spells and exploits keyed to magus arcana.

Essentially you're an Eldritch Knight, except better. Something like a glorified Fighter/Wizard/Sorcerer/Magus.

The Inspired Blade Swashbuckler//Blade Adept Arcanist sounds really fun. How about an Inspired Blade Swashbuckler//Bladebound Magus?

From my understanding if I want to be a Swashbuckler first and a spellcaster second, Swashbuckler//Magus would be a better option. If I want to be a spellcaster first and a Swashbuckler second, Swashbuckler//Arcanist would be a better option.

I really view my character as more melee than a spellcaster (though my group does need a dedicated spellcaster - and we already have a paladin//magus). Combat Casting and no arcane spell failure for armor is really good, though, and solves a lot of problems of what I want to do.


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Alsark wrote:
The Inspired Blade Swashbuckler//Blade Adept Arcanist sounds really fun. How about an Inspired Blade Swashbuckler//Bladebound Magus?

Those aren't bad combos. Swash and make the magus more accurate/higher base damage. (And level 5 improved crit!) Magus can boost the Swash's saves, (heck yeah all high saves!) boost damage, and make them much more versitile.

Another option (not that that is a bad one - I'm just throwing it all out there) is a monk/sorceror. There is a wis based sorceror bloodline, so there are no MAD issues beyond a monk's normal ones. And frankly - starting at level 4 - the monk has the best defenses in the game. (Except maybe a very high level wildshaped druid.)

The sorceror half can cast buffs such as Mage Armor, and any touch spells you cast would go off on unarmed strikes. (similar to a spellstrike) And unlike most sorceror combos with martial classes - you don't need to worry about arcane spell failure.

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generally speaking, trying to make a character that is full caster and full melee is going to be weaker overall than one who's more focused towards one side...

a swashbuckler/arcanist will be decent and probably do a fine job trying to cover melee for you and full casting for the party, but you will wish you had a better Fort save and could wear some armor. Worse, you'll never really be using both classes at the same time.

a swashbuckler/magus wouldn't have quite the spell support others might be hoping for but would be a powerhouse in melee. precise strike synergizes with the magus fighting style as well as anything could, and they can cast in armor. if you use the eldritch scion magus archetype you make Cha your casting stat and don't need to worry about inspired blade (which frankly doesn't seem that great to me).

a magus/arcanist wouldn't be quite the melee threat you might be envisioning but he'd be a terrifying magic user. a kensai/blade adept would be pretty decent in melee and would have tons of spells (all with the same casting stat). at 6th level you can take Broad Study which lets you use spell combat/spellstrike with all of your spells, which is pretty crazy (for instance, using spellstrike and the Close Range arcana to deliver disintegrate with a keen scimitar... which makes the disintegrate crit on 15-20). Plus you'll be able to use your arcane pool and your reservoir to power combat buffs (so you'll be able to use things like arcane accuracy and accurate strike a lot).

The Eldritch Scion actually looks really, really cool - I hadn't seen that one before. I do have two problems with it, though, which is that I need to use a Swift Action (which Swashbucklers use quite a bit of) to enter into mystical focus - something that will hinder me until level 8 when I get the archetype's delayed combat casting.

I'll definitely think on that, though.

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yeah- having to spend that extra swift action is rough (especially because magi also have quite a few uses for swift actions) but it might be worth it. the destined bloodline looks pretty solid for a swashbuckler guy (and their 1st level ability is a free action, so you can use it in the same round that you enter mystical focus).

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