Kensai Magus having trouble deciding on Variant Multiclassing from Pathfinder Unchained


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So our group is looking at all the options out of Pathfinder Unchained and it's a pretty great book so far.

I'm on the fence about giving up 5 feats, at levels 3, 7, 11, 15, 19 for secondary class features from the Variant Multiclass rules.

Right now I'm 13th level, 12 Kensai/1 Inspired Blade.
Variant Multiclass options of Alchemist or Wizard seem the best ones so far for my character & playstyle.

Alchemist would give me Mutagens and Bombs as an Alchemist = to my character level. Poison stuff and immunity to it at later levels.

Wizard gives me at 3rd level a familiar, 7th level all the first level powers from a specialized school, 11th level a cantrip as a SLA from my chosen school, 15th level a Wizard bonus feat or Arcane Discovery, and 19th I'd get the 8th level power from my chosen school.

I have Elemental Metamagic now, but choosing Admixture as my school would give me a better option, I'd also gain extra damage on my evocation spells. Familiar is "meh" never really wanted one but it can be a big bonus if I use it right. Cantrip is also "meh". The Wizard Bonus feat or Arcane Discovery is great though. I'm looking hard at Knowledge is Power for that, INT mod to CMD, CMB and on checks to break stuff.

So right off that I'd have to lose 3 feats to gain changing Spell damage type on the fly, +6 damage on Evocation spells, a familiar, and a cantrip SLA. Later I'd lose 2 more feats for the other 2 abilities.

I'm looking at it this way so far: If I could grab a feat that lets me change evocation spells elemental damage on the fly I'd take it. If there was a feat that let me do 1/2 my character level in extra damage on evocations I'd take it. Cantrip no way. Familiar, isn't my cup of tea, but it's not subpar or a feat tax of any kind. I really do want that 15th level ability of getting an Arcane Discovery though.

I'm inclined to do this and would like to hear from anyone on their opinions on the matter.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Damn fools with their subscriptions.

You have a very small group who has read Unchained.


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...Wizard multiclassing gives an SLA cantrip in place of the 11th level feat? That's absurdly underwhelming.


blackbloodtroll wrote:

Damn fools with their subscriptions.

You have a very small group who has read Unchained.

I know, I know. However, based on what I can get from the exchange of the 5 feats for the 5 Wizard abilities, do you think it's worth it?

I've been looking at the other schools as well, Illusion's Mage of the Veil is pretty handy for my sneaky play style, Conuration's Teleportation stuff is cool, and Divination's Foresight is awesome.

Divination's Foresight paired with a Valet Familiar and the Lookout feat, means we both get to have full round actions during a surprise round. An extra +4 to initiative from the familiar, +6 from the school power, and my dex mod + my Kensai INT mod gives me a always winning initiative score. That's about +26 to my roll.

I'm like a kid in a candy store here.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Well, I got Heroes of the Wild.

Maybe I will tell you what's in it, but maybe I will just ask questions about it, without revealing it's content.:)


Can you get Void? +2 to saves against spells, then scaling 1/5 levels. Reveal Weakness is a standard action, but you can reduce target's saves+AC by 1/2 your caster level (which I assume you can boost). Cast a Quickened touch spell and attack as a free action through Spellstrike.


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We don't have the information to make a just comparison.

The obvious lack: What three feats are you losing?


Neither multi-class seems worth 5 feats for your Magus. A lot of classes would benefit from the Alchemist one, but there's no benefit to you using bombs as a Magus since you can't spell strike with them. The Wizard one seems like crap.

Very cool subsystem, though. I'm intrigued.


Wizard has some potential, as the first-level powers can be really good. I'd agree on Alchemist though; pass on that one.

And the Magus isn't all that feat-heavy (it's just that the required feats are front loaded as all hell), so it's possible.

But it really depends on what's being given up.

The biggest cost going forward is probably going to be delaying Spell Perfection by two levels. Elemental Metamagic is presumably one loss, but what are the other two?


All the VMCs are terrible, unless you have a plan to get something scaling.

Witch is probably one of the better of them and also gets you a famiiar. However, I'd rather take extra arcana 5 times than VMC most of the time.


kestral287 wrote:

Wizard has some potential, as the first-level powers can be really good. I'd agree on Alchemist though; pass on that one.

And the Magus isn't all that feat-heavy (it's just that the required feats are front loaded as all hell), so it's possible.

But it really depends on what's being given up.

The biggest cost going forward is probably going to be delaying Spell Perfection by two levels. Elemental Metamagic is presumably one loss, but what are the other two?

So the VMC of Wizard: You trade feats at levels 3, 7, 11, 15, 19, and get 5 things from Wizard picking a school specialization:

3rd: Familiar, wizard level is your character level
7th: All the chosen schools 1st level powers
11th: Cantrip from school as an SLA at will, character level caster lvl
15th: Wizard bonus feat or Arcane Discovery
19th: Chosen school's 8th level power

Feats I have now as a Human not counting bonus ones from Kensai/Swash
Lunge, Signature Deed (Opp.Parry/Riposte), Empower Spell, Intensify Spell, Craft Wondrous Item (currently using in game now), Fencing Grace, Extra Arcana x3, Elemental Spell.

I can pick any school specialization.


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LoneKnave wrote:

All the VMCs are terrible, unless you have a plan to get something scaling.

Witch is probably one of the better of them and also gets you a famiiar. However, I'd rather take extra arcana 5 times than VMC most of the time.

I'm interested in knowing why you think the Witch is the better of them?

You choose a patron but never get or qualify for Extra Hex.
At 3rd level, you get a familiar
At 7th level, gain a hex of your choice as a 1st level witch, but If you take the slumber hex, it can affect only creatures with HD less than or equal to your character level.
At 11th level, gain a witch cantrip and can cast that cantrip as a SLA at will, equal to character level.
At 15th level, you get a 2nd hex as a 1st-level witch, your 1st hex advances as if you're an 8th-level witch.
At 19th level, you get a major hex as a 10th level witch but it can't be the Ice Tomb Hex.

The things I don't like about it is you wait until 15th level to treat 1 Hex as being equal to an 8th level witch. Until then your hex has a Save DC, duration and effects as only 1st level witch hex. So no Fly until 15th level. If they treated the hexes at your character level I'd be all over it.


Can someone tell me what the varaint multiclassing option for Barbarians are? I always wanted to run a Magus with Rage (and preferably, rage powers).

Also, are you like...locked into your multiclassing choice for the rest of your career? That...kinda sucks. >.>


I assumed too much I guess. Thought witch would scale better.

I guess I'll just not comment on Unchained stuff until I get the PDF. I hope I'm proven wrong and the VMCs aren't all terribad.


Kaouse wrote:

Can someone tell me what the varaint multiclassing option for Barbarians are? I always wanted to run a Magus with Rage (and preferably, rage powers).

Also, are you like...locked into your multiclassing choice for the rest of your career? That...kinda sucks. >.>

3rd level you gain the Rage class feature, number of rounds you can Rage is Con Mod + character level per day.

7th level is Uncanny Dodge

11th level is a Rage power but you're limited by being considered a Barbarian of 1/2 your character level, but for terms of how the rage power works/effects you're treated as a Barbarian equal to your character level.

15th level you get DR 3/-

19th you get Greater Rage


This is the clunkiest and most underwhelming way they could have handled this subsystem.


Judging by what I have seen people post, it does seem like they just spread one of the main "features" of each class across the 5 levels you lose feats at and then they called it a day.

Even worse, the stuff that people would actually want usually comes in only at high levels.

People would have loved if there was a druid wildshape variant multiclass (as a substitute for a proper shapeshifting focused martial class). Perhaps something like getting wildshape at level 4 and advancing at half character level (so you would count as as a 4th level druid at level 4 and a 12th level druid at level 20). Even just giving them wildshape at druid level = HD wouldn't be too unbalanced.

What did they put out instead? IIRC wildshape shows up at level 15 and is equivalent to a 4th level druid's wildshape.

If I end up using this, I might make the above an option. Seems pretty reasonable for half of a character's feats.


When is Unchained accessible to people who don't have a subscription?


Snowblind wrote:

Judging by what I have seen people post, it does seem like they just spread one of the main "features" of each class across the 5 levels you lose feats at and then they called it a day.

Even worse, the stuff that people would actually want usually comes in only at high levels.

People would have loved if there was a druid wildshape variant multiclass (as a substitute for a proper shapeshifting focused martial class). Perhaps something like getting wildshape at level 4 and advancing at half character level (so you would count as as a 4th level druid at level 4 and a 12th level druid at level 20). Even just giving them wildshape at druid level = HD wouldn't be too unbalanced.

What did they put out instead? IIRC wildshape shows up at level 15 and is equivalent to a 4th level druid's wildshape.

If I end up using this, I might make the above an option. Seems pretty reasonable for half of a character's feats.

The way I'd have done it is Legend's style: Split up each class into paths. Like, Druid would have the Animal Spirit path (wildshape, animal related abilities), Primal divinity path (sphere/companion, casting related abilities). When you MVC you choose one path and add the abilities from it.

The problem with normal multiclassing is that you often just want 1/2 of the class features not all of them. The problem with MVC is that you still get all of the class features, but not enough of the one you want. Heck, most MVCs so far seem like you could replace 3 out of the 5 feats by taking a single level in the class; utterly underwhelming.

Scarab Sages

BlingerBunny wrote:
When is Unchained accessible to people who don't have a subscription?

April 29th. Not even all the subscribers have gotten theirs yet (I haven't for instance).


Eigengrau wrote:
Kaouse wrote:

Can someone tell me what the varaint multiclassing option for Barbarians are? I always wanted to run a Magus with Rage (and preferably, rage powers).

Also, are you like...locked into your multiclassing choice for the rest of your career? That...kinda sucks. >.>

3rd level you gain the Rage class feature, number of rounds you can Rage is Con Mod + character level per day.

7th level is Uncanny Dodge

11th level is a Rage power but you're limited by being considered a Barbarian of 1/2 your character level, but for terms of how the rage power works/effects you're treated as a Barbarian equal to your character level.

15th level you get DR 3/-

19th you get Greater Rage

Count as 1/2 level for Rage power prereq? Such an annoying limitation. Still, as long as I can take the Extra Rage Power feat, it shouldn't be too bad. But with the half feat transfer it's going to suck donkey nuggets to get any of the really good rage powers.

I'm guessing you can't use a variant multiclass with its original class, huh? Would be nice to get back Uncanny Dodge as an Invulnerable Rager, but very likely not legal.


Well, you can get uncanny back with the Rogue VMC. It's probably one of the better ones too.


Still curious if anyone thinks my character's trade of 5 feats is worth it for, a familiar, the elemental spell dmg swapping on the fly, +1/2 my character level dmg bonus on evocations, an at will evocation cantrip, an 8th level admixture school power and the ability to add my +8 INT mod to all CMB & CMD & any check to break objects.

Paizo Employee Designer

Well I think it's worth it. Four out of five of those trades are extremely powerful, stronger than what you might expect from any one feat (the scaling familiar, for instance, generally costs 2 or 3 depending on EH or familiar folio feat chain, and it scales faster than EH's by 2 levels).


You get the familiar at level 3 and the school powers at 7. Those are pretty good - I would go with foresight myself, because that **** be awesome. Admixture is pretty good too - I guess that means that the number of wizards dipping crossblooded will be down since sorcerers can pinch the best part of being a wizard blaster (it will make them MADer though due to the 3+int thing)?

Past there it is much less worthwhile. The cantrip is all but useless to an arcane caster and I can't think of any particularly good 8th level powers. I can't think of any good arcane discoveries either for a non-wizard - the only ones that I like are opposition research and fast study.

On the whole, if there is a particular thing you want to steal from a wizard school then using VMC isn't a terrible idea. You get a lot of really good stuff earlier on, but it has a hefty price.


The scaling familiar for a feat is good... but a magus can get it for a feat, Extra Arcana.

Paizo Employee Designer

LoneKnave wrote:
The scaling familiar for a feat is good... but a magus can get it for a feat, Extra Arcana.

Yeah, that's true for a magus (Foresight is just incredibly good for a fighter or other martial though; hanging dice, init bonuses, familiar, and more; worth 5 feats pretty much unless you have a build that demands all your feats like paladin archer). Magus also get better use out of some of the discoveries than most classes though, like the one the OP plans that adds Int to CMB and CMD. That one is really strong.


Yeah, Knowledge is Power is really, really strong. I'd say it's almost worth 2 feats.

Right now I'm torn between Foresight School, Admixture School and the Air School...

This is what Air will give me at 7th level (on top of the familiar 3rd level and 15th level Knowledge is Power):

You gain a +2 enhancement bonus on Fly skill checks. This bonus increases by +1 for every five wizard levels you possess. In addition, you can cast feather fall on yourself at will. At 5th level, you can cast levitate on yourself at will. At 10th level, you can cast fly on yourself at will. At 20th level, whenever you make a Fly skill check, assume the roll resulted in a natural 20.

Plus a weak 5ft SU attack, Message as an At Will SLA and later at 19th I'd get the 8th level Cyclone power which is great.

At 8th level, you can create a vortex of turbulent wind around yourself as a standard action. This vortex has a radius of up to 10 feet and a maximum height of 10 feet per wizard level you possess. Any ranged attack passing through this vortex automatically misses. Any flying creature moving through the vortex must make a Fly skill check or immediately fall from the sky, taking falling damage (the creature cannot make a Fly check to reduce or negate this damage). Creatures on the ground cannot pass through the vortex without first making a Strength check. The DC of this check is equal to 10 + your caster level. The vortex is faintly visible and can be spotted with a DC 15 Perception skill check. You can use this ability for a number of rounds per day equal to your wizard level. These rounds do not need to be consecutive.


I'm sold on the VMC Wizard. Its really that good and I just need to make up my mind on what to take for a specialization.


Eigengrau wrote:
kestral287 wrote:

Wizard has some potential, as the first-level powers can be really good. I'd agree on Alchemist though; pass on that one.

And the Magus isn't all that feat-heavy (it's just that the required feats are front loaded as all hell), so it's possible.

But it really depends on what's being given up.

The biggest cost going forward is probably going to be delaying Spell Perfection by two levels. Elemental Metamagic is presumably one loss, but what are the other two?

So the VMC of Wizard: You trade feats at levels 3, 7, 11, 15, 19, and get 5 things from Wizard picking a school specialization:

3rd: Familiar, wizard level is your character level
7th: All the chosen schools 1st level powers
11th: Cantrip from school as an SLA at will, character level caster lvl
15th: Wizard bonus feat or Arcane Discovery
19th: Chosen school's 8th level power

Feats I have now as a Human not counting bonus ones from Kensai/Swash
Lunge, Signature Deed (Opp.Parry/Riposte), Empower Spell, Intensify Spell, Craft Wondrous Item (currently using in game now), Fencing Grace, Extra Arcana x3, Elemental Spell.

I can pick any school specialization.

Interesting that your GM let you use Signature Deed.

Realistically your only option is to kill Elemental Spell (which element, incidentally?) and two of your Extra Arcanas-- maybe Lunge, if you find yourself not using it often. If you can see two of those that you can live without, it could be worthwhile. Otherwise, you're better off where you are.

The familiar isn't going to be all that useful. If you had plans for a familiar, you could easily have one. The Cantrip is incredibly underwhelming, though there are some nice utility pieces not on the Magus list (Mending is cool).

So realistically, you're looking at just the school powers. That could be worthwhile, if you can find yourself living without an Arcana or two, but it's not necessarily a favorable trade-- really depends on what those Extra Arcanas are and what school you're looking at. Admixture is probably the obvious choice since it has an inherently smaller cost (in that you wouldn't mind losing Elemental Spell).


Mark Seifter wrote:
LoneKnave wrote:
The scaling familiar for a feat is good... but a magus can get it for a feat, Extra Arcana.
Yeah, that's true for a magus (Foresight is just incredibly good for a fighter or other martial though; hanging dice, init bonuses, familiar, and more; worth 5 feats pretty much unless you have a build that demands all your feats like paladin archer). Magus also get better use out of some of the discoveries than most classes though, like the one the OP plans that adds Int to CMB and CMD. That one is really strong.

Eh, fighter can get an even better familiar for 2 feats with an archetype... Foresight is, again, available as a 1 level dip. And then you actually get more than a single cantrip to use.

As for the discovery, I think it's good, if your kensai is build for combat maneuvers, but comes so late most of the maneuvers by that time already lost relevance.

Paizo Employee Designer

LoneKnave wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
LoneKnave wrote:
The scaling familiar for a feat is good... but a magus can get it for a feat, Extra Arcana.
Yeah, that's true for a magus (Foresight is just incredibly good for a fighter or other martial though; hanging dice, init bonuses, familiar, and more; worth 5 feats pretty much unless you have a build that demands all your feats like paladin archer). Magus also get better use out of some of the discoveries than most classes though, like the one the OP plans that adds Int to CMB and CMD. That one is really strong.

Eh, fighter can get an even better familiar for 2 feats with an archetype... Foresight is, again, available as a 1 level dip. And then you actually get more than a single cantrip to use.

As for the discovery, I think it's good, if your kensai is build for combat maneuvers, but comes so late most of the maneuvers by that time already lost relevance.

Sure, it's not a bad option, but by the time you traded two feats and dipped a level in wizard (definitely denying you 1 BAB and likely tot be denying you a feat or an increase in weapon training at most levels), that seems to me like a significantly heavier expenditure than the feats, and for a while, a strictly heavier one (assuming the dip level in wizard comes at 7th when the VMC gets the school power, you have by that point spent two feats and taken the dip level, and the VMC fighter has spent only two feats).


Sure, 1 less BAB but +2 will saves, and my familiar is significantly better than his. Also, I had these abilities the moment I dipped wizard, and didn't need to wait 7 levels for it. I infact am ahead of him in number of abilities, considering I also have a bunch of cantrips, one of which he's not getting for a few levels.

And I'm only behind weapon training by 1 level every X levels so... not that bad.

EDIT: ya know, if you are not using Familiar Folio, the fighter gets basically nothing from the familiar scaling with him anyway. In that case, a single level dip gets you a Familiar (it's HP/BAB/defenses/skills scale with you anyway), the school power, the cantrips, and even some first level spells. Oh, and almost forgot, scribe scroll. Not home in archetypes, but maybe some of those too.

You don't actually get an advantage when you AMC over a guy just dipping 1 level until level freaking 15.

If you ARE using the familiar folio and you want a familiar, you'll go eldritch guardian anyway.


I just don't understand getting one cantrip for an 11th level feat. Especially since cantrips have already been established as being worth a trait.


Arachnofiend wrote:
I just don't understand getting one cantrip for an 11th level feat. Especially since cantrips have already been established as being worth a trait.

That's the hangup for me too. Seems like shuffling the Discovery and 8th level power forward a slot, the putting another Discovery in at 19th (opening more options, if I recall) would've been nicer.


The cantrip in exchange for a feat is a real kick in the face, at any level.

About the signature deed feat, I have a cool GM.

I'll drop Lunge (I'll use Longarm & swashbuckler flair for reach if needed), Elemental Spell Acid, & extra arcana spellscars( this arcana is getting more costly than I thought it would have been).

That is if I take Admixture, if I take Air or Foresight I'll keep elemental spell & drop Signature Deed for now.


The VMCs in general vary widely in general usefulness, or specific focus. For example, fighter VMC is actually very nice for a 2-hand paladin or cavalier, picking up weapon and armor training 2, but worthless for a wizard. Sorcerer VMC is very strong in general too. It is basically a better version of the Eldritch Heritage chain. Gunslinger VMC is kinda weak, because while each item is probably worth a feat, its mostly stuff you would get from a 1 level dip in gunslinger(which is a heavily frontloaded class).


Do the Wizard powers scale with level?

Could put the Kensai back on top of the Initiative order once again if it does. Well, not really, they'd still be only equivalent to a Divine Strategist Cleric with Tactics I guess. Hard to actually beat that initiative, plus the level 20 Foresight power doesn't really stack with the Kensai's Initiative capstone.

Foresight is better really for all the other people who would otherwise be left out of the loop. Admixture seems like a really good idea if you're spamming Shocking Grasp. And who doesn't like Shift? That said, picking up an Arcane Discovery is always a great idea. Time Stutter, Staff-like Wand, all great things to have on a Kensai Magus.

Really though, I see the variant wizard multiclassing working better on an Arcanist. With a familiar, scaling school powers and even access to Arcane Discoveries, it's a fairly powerful choice for an Arcanist, blurring the lines between the two almost even more than the School Savant did.

Did only the Core Classes get variant multiclassing options, or does every class have them?


Core and Base, no hybrids.

Dark Archive

I'm just saying, Prestidigitation is totally an acceptable SLA to get at level 11. Because it's the best cantrip.


Kaouse wrote:
Did only the Core Classes get variant multiclassing options, or does every class have them?

All of them except the hybrid classes from the ACG.


I'm almost afraid to ask now, but... I really want to know what the Magus variant multiclass option is.


Eigengrau wrote:
LoneKnave wrote:

All the VMCs are terrible, unless you have a plan to get something scaling.

Witch is probably one of the better of them and also gets you a famiiar. However, I'd rather take extra arcana 5 times than VMC most of the time.

I'm interested in knowing why you think the Witch is the better of them?

You choose a patron but never get or qualify for Extra Hex.
At 3rd level, you get a familiar
At 7th level, gain a hex of your choice as a 1st level witch, but If you take the slumber hex, it can affect only creatures with HD less than or equal to your character level.
At 11th level, gain a witch cantrip and can cast that cantrip as a SLA at will, equal to character level.
At 15th level, you get a 2nd hex as a 1st-level witch, your 1st hex advances as if you're an 8th-level witch.
At 19th level, you get a major hex as a 10th level witch but it can't be the Ice Tomb Hex.

The things I don't like about it is you wait until 15th level to treat 1 Hex as being equal to an 8th level witch. Until then your hex has a Save DC, duration and effects as only 1st level witch hex. So no Fly until 15th level. If they treated the hexes at your character level I'd be all over it.

This was the option I was most interested in. I figured that the number of hexes would be severely limited, and I was fine with that. But with the delayed scaling, the hexes That I like aren't going to be effective. :(


Kaouse wrote:
I'm almost afraid to ask now, but... I really want to know what the Magus variant multiclass option is.

I don't have the book yet, but others have said that it grants Arcane Pool, 3 Magus Arcana, and Spellstrike (but only with spells that are on the Magus spell list. And apparently you would qualify to take the Extra Arcana feat.

Scarab Sages

Does the Druid VMC grant wild shape?


Yes, but you don't get it until very late, and I think you only get the tiny/huge sizes at 19.


Imbicatus wrote:
Does the Druid VMC grant wild shape?

Apparently at 15th level as a 4th level Druid and at 19th level as a 6th level Druid. I think this might be a fun option with a Voice of the Wild Bard. It would be pretty close to a Bard/Druid hybrid - a Celtic Bard like Amergin.


If you don't qualify for Extra Hex, does that mean that you also don't qualify for Extra Rage Power? That...really sucks...

I mean, you are giving up half of your feats; using the other half to get a few extra perks that you might not even qualify for until later level shouldn't be too bad, IMO.


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Arachnofiend wrote:
This is the clunkiest and most underwhelming way they could have handled this subsystem.

It's really similar to the 4e multiclassing, and that was terrible to.....


Extra Rage is apparently ok. Witches can't take Extra Hex and Oracles can't take Extra Revelation, but others have said that those are the only ones with that special restriction.

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