Crossblooded Sorcerous Archetype: Yae or Nae?


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Hi, All!

I recently started a tread asking for ideas about how to make a funky Half-Orc blasty sort of sorcerer here. I noticed in the helpful advice therein that the cross-blooded archetype seems to be like an acquired taste. Love it or hate it sort of thing.

I'm sure lots of people out there have some opinions on this one. Just curious about the what players see as pros and cons for this archetype. Based on playing experience: both good or bad.

I'm a bit ambivalent and undecided about playing the Cross-blooded archetype. As I see it:
• Having two (complimentary) arcanas is way cool
• Two sets of (complimentary) powers and bonus spells is also way cool
• You have to think carefully about the bloodlines you choose (sigh)
• The drawback of less spells known and -2 to WILL looks really painful!

And anyway …

I would just like to know what the thoughts out there are around this archetype. Do the benefits outweigh the drawback? Or does the drawback outweigh the benefits?

Just looking for friendly and impartial discussions about this one. I'm not building a PC or nasty villainous PC around this archetype. Just curious about what experiences anyone had playing it.

Thanks in advance!


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Crossblooded Sorcerer Drawbacks wrote:
Drawbacks: A crossblooded sorcerer has one fewer spell known at each level (including cantrips) than is presented on the sorcerer spells known table. Furthermore, the conflicting urges created by the divergent nature of the crossblooded sorcerer's dual heritage forces her to constantly take some mental effort just to remain focused on her current situation and needs. This leaves her with less mental resolve to deal with external threats. A crossblooded sorcerer always takes a –2 penalty on Will saves.

IMO the biggest drawback is the spells known. When a normal sorcerer hits level 4, they know 1 2nd level spell. When a crossblooded sorcerer hits level 4, they know 0 2nd level spells. They still get the spell slots though, so they have to make do by either preparing lower level spells into the 2nd level spell slot, or metamagic-ing the lower level spells.

To be frank, I've never seen a crossblooded sorcerer whose two bloodlines didn't have good synergy. I see them a lot with blast-synergy (orc) + blast-synergy (elemental), and I see them a lot with enchantment-synergy (fey) + enchantment-synergy (undead). Because of this, when I hear "crossblooded", I assume there's some degree of min-maxing.


Hell of a drawback, and many people call it "a trap" but frankly if you find a combo you like go for it.

You can always increase spells known in many ways.

Humans can gain more, there's feats etc. Will is their best save so it won't hurt too horribly but it does suck.

It's not horrible. You get to pick what you like skip what you don't.


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I think most GMs are willing to treat it as "-1 spell known per level (minimum 1)."

You also tend to get better mileage out of Crossblooded Sorcerer if you only take a single level of sorcerer and otherwise jump to another casting class for the other 19 levels.

But yeah, I've only seen really two builds go for it:

1a) Focused Blasting, using Draconic + Orc or Draconic + Primal (if your GM bends the rules)
1b) General Blasting, using Elemental + Orc

2) Using Impossible, Plague, Verdant, Serpentine, Undead, etc., to let your mind affecting spells land on as many different enemy types as possible. Bonus points if you also dip two levels of Dirge Bard (to get undead) and then the rest of the way with Heavens Oracle for horrendous Color Spray brutality.


voideternal wrote:
They still get the spell slots though, so they have to make do by either preparing lower level spells into the 2nd level spell slot, or metamagic-ing the lower level spells.

Preparing being entirely the wrong word notwithstanding, Void points out the single biggest, most glaring problem crossblooded sorcerers face. The -10% on Will saves is a whatever. Effectively delaying new spell accrual by an additional entire level compared to their peers means a crossblooded sorcerer is now an entire spell level behind a wizard, which is pretty much never worth the benefits crossblooded grants.

I've seen Crossblooded only ever used on characters who never increase their sorcerous casting beyond 1, such as pre FAQ mystic theurge characters dipping a level of sorc for +2 dmg per die on their wizard nukes or level 1 builds that players replace upon reaching level 2 that dump 5d4+10 burning hands spells 5 times a day.


The penalties are mostly bypassable. The only major one is getting your new spell levels one level later. Spells known can be sidestepped with favored class bonuses, and Iron Will is fairly frequent on the bloodline feat lists and frankly one of the better choices anyway.

Now. I have a character who I basically had to Crossblood. She was a Magus, we got the opportunity to gestalt, I was already sinking a ton of stuff into the Draconic bloodline so Sorcerer was obvious but I didn't want to split her casting stat off from Int (which was in the 20s) to Cha (which was 11), so she had to pick up Sage too. When you're not a Human or Half-X for that FCB and you've actually got plans for the bloodline feats that preclude Iron Will, Crossblooded sucks a whole lot more. She's missing so many staple spells that it's sad, and the only reason she has half of what she does is because I can use Magus to help cover some gaps. So if you're going into it without a method to mitigate the weaknesses, it's a really nasty set of penalties that I would sidestep if I could.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

Spells Known ccan't be sidestepped with FC bonuses. FC gets you a spell known of the level BELOW what you can cast.

THe cross blood is still delayed a level before he gets his first level 2 spell.

Pages of Spell Knowledge would certainly help, but you likely can't really afford them at the levels you actually need them for your top spells.

==Aelryinth


Aelryinth wrote:

Spells Known ccan't be sidestepped with FC bonuses. FC gets you a spell known of the level BELOW what you can cast.

THe cross blood is still delayed a level before he gets his first level 2 spell.

Pages of Spell Knowledge would certainly help, but you likely can't really afford them at the levels you actually need them for your top spells.

==Aelryinth

And this is why I called out the delayed spell level progression as the one that couldn't be avoided.


So a better way of putting is the detriment of fewer spells known can be somewhat mitigated by favored class bonuses....

Sidenote: Remember your Half Orc can take the Human Sorcerer FC bonus

.... but will still result in your character being delayed a level for access to the next level of spells.

Okay, not as bad, but still a steep price.

I agree that Crossblooded tends to be best if you are just dipping Sorcerer.

Sorc 1/Sin Magic Specialist X (to have access to wands/scrolls of prohibited schools)

Sorc 1/Admixture Evoker X (for damage/DC bumps)

Sorc 1/Enchanter X or Sorc 1/Bard X (to affect creatures normally immune)


It's really not so bad. Yes you'll be behind a little (you'll still get bloodline spells so you WILL have casting power there) but the trade off is having the powers.

We all agree it's steep but if you find arcana/power/feat combos you like it's about even.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

If Words of Power are an option, the delayed progression is a non-issue. If only standard casting is allowed, you're generally better swapping to Admixture Wizard.

This is predicated on the assumption that your reason for getting crossblooded is to do the blasties.


@ voideternal:

Interesting point there. I hadn't thought of the arcana mixes being good mixes pretty well all the time. That alone could make up for the drawbacks, now that I think of it.

And it would be a horribly overpowered min-max archetype if there wasn't the spell and WILL drawbacks to go with the good stuff.

Myself, I don't look at min-maxing as much as being thematic. In some way. Just off the top, I can see the Shadow and Undead bloodlines making an interesting combo for a crossblooded sorcerer.


@ Cavall:

I agree with your sentiment; play what you think will be the most fun!

I guess sinking 14 (maybe more) into Wisdom would help offset the WILL penalty. And help boost the ever-important Perception roll in the process.

I was having a little look at the spell charts and such. Humans, Half-Orc, and Half-Elves can all get bonus spells as an FCB. That should more than make up for the fewer spells; over time.

I didn't really see it as a trap as much as a handicap to keep that archetype from being overpowered.

The Exchange

Some people feel that for evokers, since a lower level spell with metamagic would be doing more damage then a higher level one, so you would spend your higher level slots on lower level spells metamagiced up, the trade off is worth it. (They would be metamagicing their highest level spell slots away, anyway).

At the end of the day, I feel the question is this - how much of a 1-trick pony do you want to be?


@ mplindustries:

I guess the arcana blend would make sense for the 1 level dip like that if the other class you had was another spell-casting class as well.

I kind of like the idea of the focused blasting that Just a Mort suggested in my other tread. An Orc/Red-Draconic mix to really ramp up the fire spell damage. That would make up for a shortage of spells known.

The General blaster sounds good too. Mostly because of opposition having resistances.

I guess all sorts of weird and wonderful (or just plain weird) combinations are possible, with the number of different bloodlines out there.


@ Ryzoken:

I guess being one level behind in spell accrual really wouldn't sit well with many players. Human and Half-X casters could make up for that with the Human FCB, but that's a long process.

Probably needs a well played mix of bloodlines and spells to make it work very well. Haven't tried it myself, though. Although dipping into the first level just for the arcana blend does seem like a bit of min-maxing.


@ kestral287:

That lack of spells is a concern, true. Need to be especially careful in spell choices for that reason. More so than normal for sorcerers.

Iron Will?! I completely forgot about that one! Thanks for mentioning that one. I was too busy looking at all the really "flash" feats to pay that one much mind! Noted, though!

Thanks for that pointer!


Cross blooded is nice for casual gaming, roleplaying, and so on but will NEVER be competition for min maxing builds beyond a level one dip. That -2 will can be deadly in some instances and not knowing your already limited number of spells is horrible. Having said all that 1) if you want it go with it and 2) if any race can pull off cross blooded its a half orc. They can use the human favored class bonus to know more spells and take sacred tattoo/fates favored combo to nullify the downsides.


@ Aelryinth:

Sorry, I didn't explain myself properly. I know you can't override the highest spell level known. I meant to say that the FCB of Humans and Half-x casters gives you a wider breadth of spells. Which partly, but not entirely, makes up for the highest level known.

That page thingy is an interesting item, though. I can see how that would be worth getting if your caster's low on spells known. Thanks for mentioning that one.

Grand Lodge

I ha e a kitsune fey/undead in the build and is really my first min/max build. Standard dc on level 0 spells are 15, while daze will be dc 19, including against humanoid undead. So, that'll be somewhat interesting, as it may be almost as bad as a witch once I get the quicken lesser metamagic rod.....

Time will tell though.


@ Samasboy1:

You put that a bit better than I did. The Human-ish FCB somewhat mitigates the slower spell progression. Then again, I guess it might pretty well force a player into being a bit more imaginative with the spells he or she already has available.


@ Serisan:

My main reason for looking at crossblooded was to see how interesting I could make things. I just like throwing a spanner in the works sort of thing (without min-maxing). Of course being a blasting specialist does have its own appeal too!


@ Just a Mort:

That's a fair point. I guess the irony is that by crossing bloodlines you pretty well create one trick ponies. Or closer to it. I usually like my PCs being more along the lines of a generalist.

But sometimes a one-trick pony is fun. Especially if you can find some imaginative way out of a fix where your bag of tricks are wanting!


@ Renegadeshepherd:

I was looking at a Half-Orc as a possible crossblood specifically because of the combination of sacred tattoos and Fates' Favoured feat. Helps tone down that WILL save drawback somewhat.

If I do play a crossblooded sorcerer, it'll be casual gaming. I avoid min-maxing types. The ones I have met manage to take all the fun out of a game for both the GM and the other players.


@ Auriea:

Fey & Undead?! That sounds like an interesting combination.

I haven't really done min-max stuff before. If I do a crossblood, that would be as close to it as I would get. Although I would guess that such a build would be nigh unstoppable in just the right situation. But could also prove nigh on helpless under other circumstances.

Mind you, if you could predict how the game would unfold, it would be kind of pointless!

I'm more interested in the possibility of a crossblood not so much to be able to do some serious bottom-kicking, but just for the hell of it.


It's primarily a min-max thing in my opinion.

Because you are more specialised if you play one as your primary/sole class your value to the group often depends upon what other casters there are in the group to pick up other spell types. You could get away with one more easily in a larger group than a smaller one where you may be asked to fill a number of roles (buffer, controller, etc.)

I've looked at them but never played one as the spells known cost is too great for the benefits.


Xunal wrote:
• Two sets of (complimentary) powers and bonus spells is also way cool

As has already been pointed out the lack of spells known and the extra level delay is the big killer for Crossblooded. However, this part is also wrong. While you do gain both Arcana you do not gain the bloodline powers and spells of both bloodlines. You must pick between them which can be helpful to avoid some of the dross in bloodlines but it is not as effective as you suggest.


Xunal wrote:
I kind of like the idea of the focused blasting that Just a Mort suggested in my other tread. An Orc/Red-Draconic mix to really ramp up the fire spell damage. That would make up for a shortage of spells known.

Fire blasting is one of the few kinds of blasting divine classes can do. A Blackened Flame Oracle basically gets all the useful fire spells, plus, you can wear armor (or just stick to Mage Armor if you like). Shaman is an option, too. The Flame spirit, especially their Fire Vulnerability Hex is awesome, but you'll need the fluid magic hex from the Water spirit eventually, since Burning Hands is on your spell list, but Fireball is not :/


Xunal wrote:

@ kestral287:

That lack of spells is a concern, true. Need to be especially careful in spell choices for that reason. More so than normal for sorcerers.

Iron Will?! I completely forgot about that one! Thanks for mentioning that one. I was too busy looking at all the really "flash" feats to pay that one much mind! Noted, though!

Thanks for that pointer!

Yeah. Nine times out of ten, I forget the feat is there.

The other one out of ten I'm opening up a Sorcerer's bloodline feat list going "No, no, no, that one's okay, that's alright, no, oooh Iron Will, that's at least worth something".


The most effective thing I've seen with cross-blooded is always dipping one level of it for the bloodline benefits followed by 19 levels of wizard. Otherwise, the drawbacks just hurt...a lot. Mostly in the delayed spell casting department. The reduced will save is minor.

I think most of the time, a cross-blooded sorcerer's drawbacks are enough that it's better not to use it if you were trying to stay single classed. The problem being that its very easy and powerful to do a single level dip and then skip to another class.


Honestly it comes down to one ruling (I don't religiously read the FAQs so this might have been answered there already). Does having next level spell slots but no spells known enable you to use the human FCB to take spells of one level lower than your highest spell slot? If no then would having the heighten spell feat enable it cause you actually are casing 2nd level spells then.

Anyhow if so x-blood isn't unplayable its just incredibly focused. A decent blaster build at level 1 off the top of my head.
Trait: Havoc of the society (enables all sorts of nifty tricks with dazing cause of that one point of force damage), waywang spell hunter: fireball most likely.
Race: half elf trade skill focus for +2 will save (Wee no draw back!),
human is also good for the extra feat.
Feat: point blank shot feat (retrain later if needed)

Buy a dose of alchemical focus for ray of frost, Orc/Draconic (cold). Ray of frost now will do 1d3 +3, +1 (untyped pbs) +1 force or 6-8 damage at level 1. Take sleep or color spray for your first level spell though id prefer sleep due to range, maybe disrupt undead if you run into some cold immune shambling corpses. If you are really sneaky go VMC: Admixture wizard. Familiar is good at 3 (its [evil] but shadow projection can be shared with a familiar which is hilarious) or you could look up all the stuff in the familiar folio, intense spells and change energy types 3+int mod per day at 7. Which lets you add rime spell to your fire(frost)balls. 2nd level will be rough (only get a cantrip), but after that you should be fine. (Up to you whether FCB of 3 hp/skill or cantrips is a go until level 4/5 depending on ruling). most CR 1/3 or 1/4 are one shot by that ray of frost, cr 1/2 ,1 will take 2 or three doses but that is what sleep is for.

Regards,
DRS


@ andreww:

I guess how good or bad your selection of bloodline powers is would depend on the bloodlines chosen. Fair point, though, that you can (potentially) pick the best stuff and skip the rest.

Fair point about the party size. What would you consider a larger group? Most groups I play in number about six players/PCs.


@ mplindustries:

I've not played any of those classes. I've mostly stuck to the bard and sorcerer classes. Just because. I'll keep those in mind, though.


@ kestral287

Actually, the main reason I didn't think of Iron will was because the sorcerer's WILL save is pretty good to begin with. So it never occurred to me to buff it up further. Oh well. Live and learn!

But for this archetype, it's definitely worthwhile.

Dark Archive

This character is a cross-blooded sorcerer, a Kitsune Impossible/Serpentine enchanter. I don't regret making the character - I have on a number of occasions been able to leverage the arcanas to do things that make the party go WTF, which is much fun. That said, there are certainly pain points, and based on my experience I don't think I'm going to make another character quite like this. Level 4 is the worst and is downright painful, since if they're actually run correctly, the 1st level enchantment spells don't have much punch in combat. Level 6 isn't all that fun either, although at least there are effective 2nd level spells (Oppressive Boredom, Hideous Laughter, etc) and you can spam the hell out of them when you're using a full compliment of lvl2 and lvl3 slots. Once you get your 3rd level spells, it's not so bad - they have enough punch to really be worth spamming.

It might not be so bad with a blaster, since at least you get some scaling to your 1st level spells, plus the extra punch of the arcana. But expect to have 0 utility.


@ Claxon:

Fair point about dipping levels. I don't dip levels like that myself, though. Mostly because of the extra paperwork and brain strain involved. Although I have seen people who dip several classes like that to massage the rules.

So, for myself, of course, I'd be sticking to the one class. Maybe two, tops, but not just for the sake of 1 level dipping. I'd be more inclined to take, say crossblooded sorcerer and multi-class it with three or four levels of, say, a bard archetype, just to get more skills to complement the lack of skills for a sorcerer. But that's just the way I like to play, if I multiclass at all.


@ DRS3:

Those are all good suggestions. Thanks for those. The half-elf taking +2 for WILL would help make up for the WILL drop. I like that one.

And the idea of a cold-blasty type is interesting too.


@ Akari:

Thanks for that feedback. Good having some personal experience sort of advice.

I think there's a bit of fun having zero utility. You can have fun and ham it up in a game that way. "... sure I can't fight, but I can sure get the cooking fires going at dinner time!" (or something like that).


Keep in mind that there are Pages of Spell Knowledge, Rings of Spell Knowledge, Spell Lattices, Mnemonic Vestments, and similar. These all do a wonderful job addressing the delay in acquiring spells. Just be willing to pay for it.


@ PolydactylPolymath:

Thanks for mentioning those items. I'll make sure to keep those in mind. The ¢o$t of magic items is always there. But some of them, like those you mentioned, are just so worth it!

I'm in the habit of having my characters spending all their loot on cool magic items. So those would work out well, I'm sure!

Thanks again!

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

You're going to want to take advantage of those unusued caster slots, too.

So you'll need a +1 or +2 metamagic feat to max out use of them, OR Heighten Spell.

Also, you can take Versatile Spontaneity, if your INtelligence is high enough, and actually prepare spells in those slots. Since they take a Spell Slot instead of a Spell Known, you can have select spells of your highest level available.

However, they are 'prepared' spells, so it's fire and forget.

If you take this feat, the Ring of Spell Knowledge is the item for you. With a spellcraft check, you can take any spell in your spellbook or scroll collection and make it a Spell Known, basically on command. A REALLY useful ability for a sorc, although limited by the level of the Ring, of course.

==Aelryinth


I feel it can be a good enough idea if you have something specific in mind, but that's it's definitely isn't a good generic choice.


@ Aelryinth:

Thanks for those ideas. Food for thought and all that.

The metamagic would definitely help take advantage of those otherwise unused spell slots. One thing that comes to mind, if it's a blaster with Burning Hands, is Elemental Spell at level 5. Gives Burning Hands a little more versatility and makes use of the level two spell slots that are kind of empty and unused. Many other possibilities too, I'm sure.


A few ways to bypass the will penalty (some already mentioned, but i'll go for inclusiveness)

Half-orc Sacred Tattoos + Fate's Favored (+2 all saves)
Half-Elf Dual minded (+2 will saves)
Familiar: hedgehog (+2 will saves)
Iron will feat (+2 will saves)
Bloodline, wildblooded: Empyreal (WIS is casting stat)

The loss of one spell known per level is harsh, especially if your DM doesn't allow for the Minimum known of 1. My suggestion is to diversify your talents if you have a DM that harsh. Something that makes up for a missing spell known? An animal companion. Get the Sylvan bloodline and drop a feat on Boon Companion. You still get to use your highest level spell slots for metamagic. Buff up your pet and go to town!

Make sure you use the favored class option of getting bonus spells, even if they are one level less than your highest. You'll be just fine. I ran a human crossblooded/wild blooded (verdant/sylvan) tattooed sorcerer multiclassed with druid and prestiging into mystic theurge who dabbled in Words of Power. It was not the most mechanically optimized choice but it worked well.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

another way around the lost level of spells known is to use the 3.5 Feat Extra Spell known.

This gave you an extra spell at the highest level you could cast. Simply choose your bloodline spell.

At every level you gain your bloodline spell, you also happen to gain access to a new spell level. Let the feat 'mature' to the next level, while you replace the old version of it with your bloodline spell.

Note: I've seen three different versions of this over time.

1) Gain new spell of highest level castable.

2) As 1, OR gain 2 spells at least 1 level lower then highest castable.

3) Gain 2 Spells known of any level castble (the only one on the PFSRD at this time, and 3rd party).

GM approval required for this to work, of course.

Since all it means is you get your normal bloodline spells at the same time you gain the ability to cast spells of that level, shouldn't be a problem.

==Aelryinth


Black Dragon - Shaitan Kobald sorcerer with the acid FCB. Pick lots of non acid spells maybe focusing on ray spells with Arcane Strike.

Ray of Frosty Acid 1d3+(lvl/2)+(Arcane Strike)+(PBS if you have it)+1(Black Dragon) at level 10 1d3+5+3+1+1 or 1d3+10

LvL 10 Acid Hands 5d4+5+5

Lvl 10 Acid Ball 10d6+10+5

Not as damaging as the orc+dragon but you get to be a dangerous kobald and that's worth something and every level has an evo spell you like.


Aelryinth wrote:

another way around the lost level of spells known is to use the 3.5 Feat Extra Spell known.

This gave you an extra spell at the highest level you could cast. Simply choose your bloodline spell.

At every level you gain your bloodline spell, you also happen to gain access to a new spell level. Let the feat 'mature' to the next level, while you replace the old version of it with your bloodline spell.

Note: I've seen three different versions of this over time.

1) Gain new spell of highest level castable.

2) As 1, OR gain 2 spells at least 1 level lower then highest castable.

3) Gain 2 Spells known of any level castble (the only one on the PFSRD at this time, and 3rd party).

GM approval required for this to work, of course.

Since all it means is you get your normal bloodline spells at the same time you gain the ability to cast spells of that level, shouldn't be a problem.

==Aelryinth

Expanded Arcana in advanced players guide.

Regards,
DRS


@ Chess Pwn:

Fair enough on that. With so many bloodlines to choose from, though, there's all kinds of possibilities. Good and bad. I'm just trying to get an idea of how people feel about the archetype for trying to give it a go.


@ DeathlessOne:

Useful list for fixes around the WILL penalty.

I thought that a wildblood couldn't be one of the two bloodlines. Or did I get that wrong? Just want to be sure.

In tinkering with the Half-Orc stuff and noticed that if you took Sacred Tattoos, Fate's Favoured, and Iron will, that would give you a net of +2 to the WILL save. It does mean using Iron Will instead of a more "flash" feat at first level, but oh well.


@ Aelryinth:

That is an interesting fix. It would be GM-dependent, of course.

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