Archetype Tier List: A Guide to Picking Archetypes


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Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

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It strikes me that a guide like this one is most useful when it offers general advice, not highly specific advice. That is, if an archetype is -2 but we can think of an obscure corner case where it's possibly not, then it should still be listed as -2, because that corner case will simply never apply to the average player.

Because otherwise, the document gets unwieldy very quickly.


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Just a couple of changes to Magician & Mute Musician, but I've included the lot because copy & paste is easy and it avoids needing to refer to two places.

Bards M-P, minor revisions:
Magician
Power 0, Versatility -1
A magician bard gets abilities which can boost allies spells or suppress enemies'. They're better at the former than the latter. Though...some of the abilities they lose, dirge of doom and frightening tune effectively boost allies spells which is less than an ideal change. They get a few extra spells known (of their choice & from other spell lists) and an arcane bonded item to boost their own casting, and wands using their own Cha and level at high levels.

Overall a magician would be welcome in some spellcaster-heavy parties and less in other such, and wouldn't be good in a martial-heavy party either. I'm rating this as lower versatility rather than lower power but YMMV.

Masked Performer
Power -1, Versatility -1
The dual identity vigilante class feature is the obvious change here. The text suggests that most would know that the masked performer's identities were the same person, but there's nothing in the mechanics to back that up. Aside from that you get a few skill bonuses and a performance which does martial flexibility (for one feat only, for the bard only, at 6th level), losing versatile performance, bardic knowledge, inspire competence and some minor stuff.

It's another more physical bard. Losing versatile performance hurts those because even with 6 base skill points, needing ability scores in physical stats and Cha leaves little for Int, losing bardic knowledge reduces the incentive for Int, and there are so many skills that a socially capable gymnast adventurer wants. Performances which you'd use in combat compete directly with inspire courage and I'm not sure one flexible feat (at a level where inspire courage gives at least +2) is enough to be useful more than once in a blue moon. Not great design IMO.

Mute Musician
Power 0, Versatility -2
You can't talk ever (except via telepathy or sign language), and you get a bunch of extra spells, 10 by 18th level. Your musical instruments can provide verbal spell components but not language-dependent effects. There's some useful stuff here but it's mostly more to make a mute musician possible to play rather than good to play. Like having hands, being able to talk is one of those superpowers we humans take for granted. If you can work around losing the ability to speak via telepathy or similar then this archetype likely doesn't have a versatility penalty.

Negotiator
Power -1, Versatility 0
A social master who loses inspire courage, the negotiator is not going to be great in a fight. A few rogue talents help but don't really change this.

Phrenologist
Power -1, Versatility -1
Maybe I'm biased against this, phrenology being an old pseudoscience which gets my hackles up. I still can't see how some extra sonic damage (if and only if you're doing sonic damage already) is a viable replacement for inspire courage. Spells which do sonic damage generally suck, and you're no sorcerer who can boost blast spells otherwise. This archetype isn't compatible with sound striker so there's no help there. The other abilities aren't great either.

Plant Speaker
Power 0, Versatility 0
It's implied that you need to be a vine leshy to take this archetype but not actually specified unless that's in some text in Ultimate Wilderness which never made it to the internet. One ability does require plantspeech so you'd better be one at least.

Divinations and affecting plant creatures with mind-affecting spells and performances are nice but not great; good for the cost but not enough IMO to raise this above the original bard in the ratings.

Provocateur
Power 0, Versatility -1
Provocateurs rely on boosting some rarely used mechanics from Ultimate Intrigue. Unless those are a significant part of your game that makes it a loss, but not a big one. If they are... I'm not familiar enough with them to say how good these boosts would be, so I've rated for the minor-to-nonexistent situation.

The doc already is unwieldy and could do with being split into several parts IMO. It takes a long time to load and with a poor connection may crash rather than finish loading.


Link to the document

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avr wrote:
The doc already is unwieldy and could do with being split into several parts IMO. It takes a long time to load and with a poor connection may crash rather than finish loading.

Agreed. It would probably be better to have one document per class, and simply gather all the links in the original document.

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Edit:

Regarding the Mute Musician, the Gesture Expertise/Expressive Pantomime social traits would allow you to communicate "simple messages" with either Linguistics or Bluff.
Both traits allows you to communicate without sharing a language, but Gesture Expertise isn't PFS legal. A shame, since you can easily reach the DC 15 check with a take 10 by level 1.


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Bards R-Sea:
Ringleader Adventurer's Guide version, 1st link in doc
Power 0, Versatility +1
You can lay out a cunning plan to be activated later by your minions instead of using the perform skill yourself to activate a bardic performance. It doesn't seem to remove the ability to activate bardic performances later but getting this ability for free seems odd too. Ask your GM; I've assumed you can use either for this rating. You also get intimidate boosts in place of versatile performance, a minor drop in usefulness. The suggestion, mass suggestion & soothing performances vanish for minor improvements to the cunning plan.

This archetype suggests you work for a bunch of bad guys called the Aspis Consortium, but there's no explicit requirement.

Ringleader Ultimate Intrigue version, 2nd link in doc
Power 0, Versatility +1
You can explain your inspired plan to someone to allow them to activate your bardic performance later. Though it sounds like the AG Ringleaders cunning plan the exact mechanics are different and it replaces versatile performance. I suspect the archetype name and similar abilities are convergent evolution rather than a direct relationship.

Also in place of lore master you can attempt a knowledge check to have bought a cheapish piece of equipment if it turns out you need that equipment later, and your inspire competence performance is improved at the expense of dirge of doom/frightening tune.

Sandman
Power -1, Versatility +1
This archetype looks like it's based on the spellthief base class from D&D 3.5, though it's weaker at its primary ability. Specifically when you're using the stealspell performance you can make a touch attack as a standard action to steal one spell known or prepared spell, with a save allowed, as long as you continue the performance and don't try to steal another spell. This is only occasionally going to be useful.

Various other abilities (trapfinding, a little sneak attack, trap sense, a minor save DC boost vs. enemies denied their dex bonus, a weak sleep effect) replace a lot of other bard abilities. This is playable but not strong I think.

Savage Skald
Power -1, Versatility 0
The changes here are minor until 10th level+ when you start being able to summon barbarians as per a horn of Valhalla (unfortunately the barbarians are too weak to use effectively at this level) and at 12th you get a performance which gives DR. Not that useful but if you like the flavour (but want to play a bard rather than the skald class) this archetype doesn't cost you much.

Sea Singer
Power 0, Versatility +2
With many abilities most useful shipboard rather than on dry land, I'd assume that anyone playing this archetype is in a game where that's going to be the norm. Not that it'd be unplayable in a normal game but it would be better in such a game and the intent is obvious. You also get a familiar in place of versatile performance - a monkey or a parrot. Just to complete the pirate image I guess. Rated for the life at sea.

So, there is a way to use charades effectively in-game? It's a lot easier to get a social trait than a race from offworld or a 27 000 gp magic item, so those probably are worth noting.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Kurald Galain wrote:
That is, if an archetype is -2 but we can think of an obscure corner case where it's possibly not, then it should still be listed as -2, because that corner case will simply never apply to the average player.

I'd concur. I think it's worth mentioning in the description if there's a specific kind of build the archetype shines on, but if that's an obscure corner case it shouldn't have any bearing in the rating. With that said, there's no real hard line there. Many archetypes clearly aren't designed to facilitate standard builds in the first place. That doesn't necessarily make them bad, but if they're designed to facilitate non-standard builds in the first place then that shouldn't inherently count against them.

Shadow Lodge

I'm playing a mute musician in strange aeons. She talks to the rest of the party just fine using sign language. The downside is that other players need to spend that rank in linguistics to understand, but the upside has been that we can silently discuss strategy before kicking down the door without ruining surprise. The real downside is that you're a charisma based class that can't use diplomacy.

Many bard archetypes are story based, because bards are story based. Story is their biggest impact and contribution. I find bards often have a large effect on the game based on story power that isn't quantifiable by their rules. Bards are the only class I will choose an archetype solely because it is thematic to the campaign.

That being said, I don't think any of that should be taken in to account for this guide. This is about overall game mechanics, not specific gameplay. These ratings should remain about general use and mechanical strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps just have the bard section prefaced with a note saying many bard archetypes are highly situational and may be worth considering depending upon the campaign, or something like that.


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Same link as before.

Every class has its own document now, which should speed up loading times and general ease of reading.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'd suggest having a link to the main guide at the top of each class document.


avr wrote:

Putting those changes in - a bit more detail on Ashiftah, and noting different interpretations on Season Witch:

Ashiftah
Dip Power +2, Versatility -1
Full Power +1, Versatility -1
It loses the familiar which is a minor drop in power, but the next three abilities are all good. Ghostwalk is just great; at-will invisibility is good at any level but at 2nd it may be good enough to make a witch a 2 level dip for a martial character. The 3rd level power doesn't swap anything and may be part of losing the familiar, letting you use melee touch spells at 20' range (without making a familiar risk itself doing the dirty deed). Replacing the 6th level hex you get the barrow haze spell, apparently at-will.

Perhaps a lillte late but I do not consider the second and third power that good.In my reading you need a standard action to cast the spell and a full round action to deliver it within 20ft, which makes it useless in most circumstances. And Burrow haze, while it doesn't hinder you still cripples your allies' ability to see and fight normally.

Because of that I'd rate the Ashitah not higher than full power 0, versatility -1

Deliver Touch Spells (Su)::
Starting at 3rd level, an ashiftah can use her veil to deliver touch spells. After casting a touch spell, as a full-round action, she can tear a strip from her veil and whisper to it, designating a target. She then releases the scrap of fabric, which drifts on the wind to the target and delivers the spell as a ranged touch attack. The target must be within 20 feet of the witch. The veil mends itself after the spell is delivered.


The very definition of versatility is having more options to do something. You can use a touch spell while being surrounded by your allies and not have to worry about closing into melee, which usually shortens the lifespan of witches. This is a bonus to versatility that almost no other caster gets (casting Bestow Curse as a ranged attack rather than melee!)

Furthermore, you are giving up hexes (which you can get back with feats) for things you cannot obtain directly with feats. This inarguably raises versatility since it widens your ability "pool", and arguably raises power since the abilities themselves are better than just having an extra few hexes and a familiar.


I would like to point out, that Barrow Haze is very strong, and at will usage makes it much better. The ranged touch spell is indeed meh at best, but the combo of Barrow Haze and Ghostwalk is very strong.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
JiaYou wrote:
The very definition of versatility is having more options to do something. You can use a touch spell while being surrounded by your allies and not have to worry about closing into melee, which usually shortens the lifespan of witches. This is a bonus to versatility that almost no other caster gets (casting Bestow Curse as a ranged attack rather than melee!)

There's a metamagic for that, also available in rod form. Given the action economy overhead the Ashiftah's deliver touch spells ability has it doesn't look particularly useful.

The rest of the archetype, though, is nuts. Ghostwalk gives you really nice invisibility shenanigans, while Fog of War gives you a fog ability you can see through and can spam with absolutely no limitations. These are both far stronger than the hexes they replace and more than compensate for the loss of the familiar.

Overall, I'd rate it +1/+1; those are some nice at-will abilities, and everything it loses can be bought back with feats.


If you're playing an ashiftah witch in the high teen levels I could see 0/-1. At anything lower level (and most high level casters will need to play through at least some levels before then) I stand by my overall assessment.

Losing the familiar drops versatility two different ways, in that you lose your second character and you lose the ability to trade spells, and you lose a couple of hexes/feats, while at-will invisibility is just that good and at-will barrow haze is solid if your party can plan around it. Though I did miss one of the commas on that touch spell delivery which does make that ability much less useful.


Double Scion (vigilante)
Power +0, Versatility +0
In exchange for your ability to appear as two different alignments you can can appear as an elf or human without penalty (and RAW you're still a half-elf so shouldn't take a penalty for that either). On its own this is so minor it can't be rated. You also gain acess to three exclusive talents, all underwhelming but all optional so you lose nothing. This is probably a better disguise than default, seeing one is an elf and the other not is much more common than alignment detection by far, but still far too small a change to deviant much from the default.


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BardSss...:
Silver Balladeer
Power 0, Versatility -1
The performances are useful in such specialised situations that they are forgettable; you lose suggestion, mass suggestion and inspire greatness for nothing, basically. Losing the 2nd level versatile performance for bonuses with silver weapons is more defendable and arguably makes up for this enough to not lose on power at least.

Solacer
Power 0, Versatility 0
You're better at healing some special effects in Horror Adventures (sanity damage, madness and corruption), though this archetype is from the Healer's Handbook. You also get a mass stabilize/+2 vs mind-affecting, poison & disease in place of the usual countersong which is an improvement. The rating assumes that Horror Adventures is in play for these, otherwise I strongly recommend that you don't take this archetype - you'd be losing versatile performance among other things for nothing.

Songhealer
Power 0, Versatility -1
You're better at using scrolls and wands to heal, and you can use heal (out of combat, L14) and even resurrection (L20) via bardic performance, losing versatile performance, frightening tune and deadly performance for these. It looks like you're trading skills and a couple of forgettable performance to become a better box of band-aids to me.

Sorrowsoul
Power +1, Versatility -1
You wouldn't guess it from the name or source (Ultimate Intrigue) but this is designed to be a combat powerhouse. When you feel like spending twice the normal amount of rounds of bardic performance your inspire courage doubles in effect but affects only yourself. Various other performances increase similarly. Well-versed gets replaced with a +4 to death & negative energy effects. Lore master gets replaced with a major defensive ability which costs even more rounds of bardic performance. You're going to need a race which gives extra rounds of bardic performance as an alternate favored class bonus, certainly.

Buffing the party is generally more effective but I'm assuming that those using this archetype aren't going to be in a game where this is practical, for one reason or another. Versatile performance and soothing performance being lost counts against it on versatility though.

Sound Striker
Power +1, Versatility 0
Wordstrike (which replaces inspire competence) is not worth using but weird words is a fair amount of sonic damage. It replaces suggestion. Having a gun up your sleeve (metaphorically) is a useful option.

Speaker of the Palatine Eye
Power 0, Versatility +1
Casting psychic spells makes this the only truly sneaky bard, but note that the mesmerist spell list is mainly about debuffs and benefits from its hypnotic stare - which you don't have. You're also good with rituals at level 10+.

Since it replaces only a couple of things outside spellcasting the Speaker can be combined with a number of other archetypes, including some of the more physically sneaky if you want to go that way too.

Stonesinger
Power +1, Versatility 0
The additional spells aren't that good and subsonic bardic performance is useful only very situationally. However the tremor effect is a free debuff which is better than countersong, and quake is better than the dirge of doom it replaces. It's hard not to see this as a straight upgrade since you don't pay anything for the underwhelming parts. Implied but not explicit is that you're a dwarf.

Street Performer
Power -2, Versatility -1
You lose inspire courage for a fairly terrible form of invisibility (save allowed, can't target you, only enemies within 30' actually lose sight of the target) and it doesn't get better from there. None of the trades made by this archetype, and there are several, is positive.

Studious Librarian
Power 0, Versatility +1
Getting Scribe Scroll as a bonus feat is a good start here (though apparently PFS makes that a skill focus in knowledge instead; poor unless you want eldritch heritage (arcane)) and casting spells off a scroll or wizard spellbook using your own spell slots a few times a day from 6th is useful too. You lose a lot of less important bardic performances for these and some less useful abilities.


Sacred Attendant (Cleric)
Power -1, Versatility -1
None of the granted abilities are worth a domain. The armor bonus is terrible and not worth your ability to wear armor.

Elder Mythos Cultist
Power -1/-2, Versatility -0
Charisma is generally a worse ability score than wisdom, even when this lets you use charisma for will saves. The inability to heal with channel energy would hurt versatility on its own, but with the deity choice and alignment restrictions there's little chance you were channeling positive energy anyways so unless you wanted to be or are allied with a necromancer that's not a huge loss. The real stinker is the autofailure against certain spell effects, with a blank check to the GM to add "other similar effects" to the things you auto-fail. If the GM only applies it to the named effects and those that reference them explicitly (like Lesser Confusion) it's -1 power, if the GM applies it widely it's -2. Note that the obvious expansion is the madness domain's spells (and that of its subdomains) and those include Phantasmal Killer which becomes a no-save just die effect under this interpretation.

Divine Scourage
Power +1/-1, Versatility -1
In exchange for a domain, being forced to pick a good domain choice for the other slot, and all your channel energy you get a few hexes from a limited list... which happens to include some of the best hexes anyways. Unfortunately the major hex options, bar Retributions, are terrible in comparison and a -1 if you go past level 11 in the class.

That just leaves the racial archetypes for Cleric


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
deuxhero wrote:
Charisma is generally a worse ability score than wisdom, even when this lets you use charisma for will saves.

I'd disagree strongly with this. With will saves moved to charisma, it is charisma that is the better ability score. Wisdom is left governing Sense Motive and Perception, while Charisma governs the face skills and UMD and channel. While losing out on perception sucks, the gains outweigh it. Moreover, this greatly mitigates the downsides of the Dreamed Secrets feat, which any cleric with this archetype should be taking.

The auto-failure on certain types of saves is the big caveat of this archetype; everything else is actually really good (provided you're in a campaign where you can worship a great old one). There are approaches to mitigating those problems, but auto-failure is really bad.


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The thing with Elder Mythos Cultist is that clerics usually need both Wis and Cha to use all their class features, but this archetype makes that just Cha. If there was an archetype which made it just Wis that'd be good too. Being SAD (single attribute dependent) is better from an optimisation perspective than being MAD.

Anyway, the bards, they are singing to me...

Bards, the rest.:
Thundercaller
Power -1, Versatility 0
Bardic knowledge takes a hit in usefulness as it applies to only 3 skills (maybe one of which you'd roll at all often), and you get performances which do Sound Burst (slightly buffed later), Rage, Call Lightning and Call Lightning Storm in place of inspire competence, suggestion, mass suggestion, dirge of doom and frightening tune. Not particularly good spells IMO. On the other hand the theme may well appeal to you and it's not unworkable.

Voice of the Wild
Power -1, Versatility 0
Bardic knowledge takes a hit here, applying to only two knowledge skills. You get up to one hunter spell per spell level, but it's not a bonus spell, just an option for your spells known and you pay through the nose for it. Getting a single-target version of the hunter's animal focus as a performance may be better than inspire competence, but it's not enough better to be worth all you lose for it (inspire heroics and dirge of doom as well).

Wasteland Chronicler
Power 0, Versatility 0
Favored terrain (as a ranger) in place of inspire competence is OK and it's the main change. There are prestige classes which this may be useful for, notably horizon walker but I think there's others.

Wit
Power +1, Versatility -1
If you're going to lose versatile performance, losing it for an ability to always act in the surprise round (and an initiative bonus) makes it worthwhile. The cutting remark performance is decent once it becomes a debuff at level 8+. I'm not sure how good the verbal duel bonuses are, but I'm going to assume that they're a reasonable trade for the jack-of-all-trades ability. Overall a decent if narrowly focused archetype.

Disciple of the Forked Tongue (Vishkanya)
Power 0, Versatility 0
Debuffs in place of inspire courage and inspire greatness and extra off-list curse spells known in place of versatile performance. They seem like OK trades, nothing great or terrible. This archetype would be compatible with Speaker of the Palatine Eye if you want a more debuff-focused spell list - possible synergy there.

Shadow Puppeteer (Wayang)
Power -1, Versatility 0
Summoning monsters is good, but I'm not sure it's good enough when it falls behind level-appropriate fast and has a save to treat it as 20% real. This last works for spellcasters with shadow conjuration because it's one spell which can imitate many others giving them great utility, the performance here only has the summon monster option. You lose inspire courage and inspire competence for it.

Watersinger (Undine)
Power 0, Versatility +1
A lot of options for messing around with water - the performances are fairly open-ended and you get bonus spells added to your spell list (not spells known) in that theme too. I can't say it adds power but it doesn't lose it, and it looks like the archetype would reward creativity.


Well here is my take on the Elder Mythos and Divine Scourge:

Elder Mythos

Power = -2, Versatility = -1

The problem is here that there really isn't a lot that can't be done by a regular cleric of an OG/GOG.

The maddening gaze is reasonably good but has a very limited number of uses and also knocks 3D6 off your channeling damage. This is an enormous problem since neg channeling for damage is already very hard to make worthwhile and so take off another 3D6 and it becomes redundant.
Being limited to the 3 domains isnt so bad since both Madness and Void are pretty good anyway, however the fact that you only get 1 domain and are restricted to worshipping Gods that offer the domains is again a big problem.
Becoming SAD is on the surface a plus, especially with a feat like Scion of War, however you do miss out on Perception, Sense Motive and feats/traits like Wisdom of the Flesh. Plus also as a cleric you do not have to invest significantly in CHA if you dont want to - 12 CHA gets you 4 full powered channels/day, which is fine for most pos. channelers that aren't specialists.

Unless you have a particularly thematic reason for playing one, a Herald Caller or Ecclesitheurge will serve you much better as a caster type cleric.

Divine Scourge

Power = -1, Versatility = -2

Problems..... you have to take the Curse subdomain which is pretty bad for the most part and you only get 1 domain which compounds the problem. The Major hexes are fairly useless especially when you consider you'll be casting 6th level spells by then.

You do get access to the minor hexes but a pretty restricted selection and you would only have 2 by 7th level. In addition duration is tied to CHA and this ability replaces channeling in its entirety.

Basically you end up being forced into becoming a hex specialist, but not particularly effectively.

SUMMARY: Sadly these follow the typical Paizo pattern for cleric archetypes..... good ideas but terribly executed.


I dont know much about the domains so I wont comment on that.

Now to unpack things the archetype gives 4 things: Use Cha instead of Wis for spellcasting, domains, and will saves; A penalty vs mind-affecting and auto fail vs thematic effects; Untyped version of channel energy that works vs fleshy creatures (living, undead, or unliving); and Wis damage and confusion (sickened if succeeded a save).

A normal cleric would split its focus between Wis, Cha, and another stat: This results in high spellcasting and low/medium usage of domains and channel. The channel is either good at healing (dmg vs undead) or good at damage (heal for undead) barring feats and things.

The archetype let's you focus on Cha and other stats: This results in high spellcasting and medium/high usage of domains and channel. The channel is okay at damage vs living/fleshy things* (alive or otherwise) but cannot heal, barring feats. *it only counts as negative energy for feats.

The Maddening Gaze is definitely good. The reason being that it has great debuff potential, when properly chained. Maddening Gaze into an Evil Eye/Curse into a save or suck.

***********
Btw from the way the auto fail is worded, it sounds like it's just meant to include effects similar to confusion, nightmare and insanity. So unless a GM is being a jerk, Phantasmal Killer and the like aren't auto fail.

***********
So I say Power -1 to -3 (depending on the GM), Versatility -1


Define "normal cleric"?? The irony of the class is that although on the surface it is very versatile, to actually be effective as a cleric you have to quite heavily specialise.

A cleric can dump CHA to 10 and be fine if they don't intend to be channel focussed, which is probably a good idea since outside of a few very specific builds channeling is pretty crap. Hell I've played clerics with CHA 8 and they've been fine.

The max damage given out by even a vanilla cleric with no additional feat investment is 10D6 with a save for half..... that is abysmal.... and so one that tops out at 7D6 is utterly trivial!! Thats 12 hp with a save!

The auto fail issue on mental stuff is a potential pain as well.

Even a caster optimised vanilla cleric of a GOO/OG trumps this supposedly specialist archetype quite easily IMO in both power and versatility. This in itself shows how bad the archetype is.


avr" wrote:


Watersinger (Undine)
Power 0, Versatility +1
A lot of options for messing around with water - the performances are fairly open-ended and you get bonus spells added to your spell list (not spells known) in that theme too. I can't say it adds power but it doesn't lose it, and it looks like the archetype would reward creativity.

I’ve been waiting for this review, it’s one of my fave archetypes and was interested to see what you thought of it. My only issue I have with the archetype is the race restriction and I wonder, do you not feel that damages versatility?


avr wrote:
** spoiler omitted **...

Wow, we happen to agree on the Sound Striker! My favorite archetype, bard-none. Why? It gives something thematically fun (and not commonly resisted) while giving up little. Sure, the wordstrike seems underwhelming...but that depends on what you target. WeirdWords are sonic rays, and yes they are rather like having a gun up your sleeve.

I was surprised at your rating of Thundercaller as I thought it's AoE sound burst-like scaling ability was a bit over-powered...perhaps I was wrong.


Re the Thundercaller's sound burst: 1d8 damage from levels 1-6 is considerably worse than an alchemical weapon. 3d8 from levels 7-10 is better but still not really useful. 5d8 from levels 11-14 (& later upgrades) is actually falling further behind enemy hit points. Aside from level 1 (when you can't afford alchemy) and maybe 7-8 I can't see this being a useful damage option. The chance of stunning is more useful but sound burst is a 1st level spell and the save DC won't keep up.

Re the Sound Striker's wordstrike; 1d4 + level damage to inanimate objects with no ability to bypass hardness is basically a parlor trick, shattering glasses on a high note and similar. Maybe cutting ropes if you don't have a dagger handy because you're tied up. There's not much else I can think of to do with it, maybe you could suggest more?

Re the Watersinger's race restriction (& that of the other racial archetypes) it didn't occur to me to reduce the versatility rating due to that. Humans can get into it with a feat tax of course. I think it still rates well because it's a neat enough box of tricks, but I can see it being annoying that you just can't play a halfling watersinger. I'll think about it.


Of course a Thundercaller only gets that sound burst from L3, never mind what I'd said about its use at L1.

BTW - if you have a favourite archetype, write your own piece about it! The we're doing this (me at least) are to create a resource and to learn about archetypes that I haven't seen, and maybe to have an interesting conversation or two along the way. An enthusiast writing up their favourite archetype can do all that.


avr wrote:

Re the Thundercaller's sound burst: 1d8 damage from levels 1-6 is considerably worse than an alchemical weapon. 3d8 from levels 7-10 is better but still not really useful. 5d8 from levels 11-14 (& later upgrades) is actually falling further behind enemy hit points. Aside from level 1 (when you can't afford alchemy) and maybe 7-8 I can't see this being a useful damage option. The chance of stunning is more useful but sound burst is a 1st level spell and the save DC won't keep up.

Re the Sound Striker's wordstrike; 1d4 + level damage to inanimate objects with no ability to bypass hardness is basically a parlor trick, shattering glasses on a high note and similar. Maybe cutting ropes if you don't have a dagger handy because you're tied up. There's not much else I can think of to do with it, maybe you could suggest more?

Re the Watersinger's race restriction (& that of the other racial archetypes) it didn't occur to me to reduce the versatility rating due to that. Humans can get into it with a feat tax of course. I think it still rates well because it's a neat enough box of tricks, but I can see it being annoying that you just can't play a halfling watersinger. I'll think about it.

Oo which feat tax is that?

I think it’s particularly annoying that you can’t play a Naiad one.

Naiads fit the archetype better than the race it’s restriced to, andthey fit bards better in general.

As for why I didn’t write one. I did not feel it was my place, this thread is a little intimidating.


Dont worry about the intimidation and just write what you think.

As for what feat tax: Racial Heritage let's you count as an Undine. Depending on GM you can even count as a Monstruous Race, Ex: A giant.


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If I'm going over the top and being intimidating tell me. It's not something you can easily see from the inside.

Naiads, huh. I didn't know those were a playable race.

opinion on them:
Yet another +Dex/Cha race, a couple of flavourful abilities which amount to stray +1 bonuses and a licence for the GM to screw you over have interesting things happen when you happen to bond to a body of water with other fey already bonded to it/demonic taint/a gate to the Far Realm/whatever.
I can see why you'd want to use the watersinger archetype with them but that's a seriously obscure race. I think it counts as too minor an issue to affect the rating, especially since a GM letting you pick content out of Bestiary 6 will probably be lenient enough to allow the racial archetype with another watery race.

I missed initially that sound burst is effectively no-save on damage. It's still not great, but it's probably useful on the thundercaller for a while in the mid-levels, 7-12 maybe.

Thundercaller revised rating:

Power 0, Versatility 0
Bardic knowledge takes a hit in usefulness as it applies to only 3 skills (maybe one of which you'd roll at all often), and you get performances which do Sound Burst (buffed enough to be adequate for a while in the mid-levels, ~L7-12), Rage, Call Lightning and Call Lightning Storm in place of inspire competence, suggestion, mass suggestion, dirge of doom and frightening tune. Not particularly good spells IMO. On the other hand the theme may well appeal to you and it's not unworkable.


It’s nothing you’re doing AVR don’t worry. I just didn’t feel like it was my place to jump in.

Most of the archetypes I know are done now anyway. I’ll have a browse see if anything is missing.


Silksworn Occultist
Power 1, Versatility 0
Silksworn trades away quite a few things, to the point it’s quite a transformative archetype. You lose your magic circle stuff (who cares?) and you proficiency’s with armour and weapons. The proficiency loss is why I didn’t raise the versatility. The Occultist can pick up a large selection of spells and use them well as a semi effective caster and wade into melee. The Silksworn will not facilitate that.

On the flip side, you are given a secondary mental stat focus(Charisma), without becoming more mad because you lose the incentive to focus on strength that a typical Occultist has. In return for which you gain more focus points, of which an Occultist can never have too many. More implements, which means, more spells, on an archetype building towards full casting, that cannot be a bad thing. Further towards that end we gain enhanced spell slots and enhanced DCs.

This archetype gives you something that can hold its ground alongside full casters in terms of DCs and longevity without the game braking problems that 8th and 9th Level spells can often bring to the table, which is why it doesn’t get a +2 for power. It still turns you into something that can function in the slot of a full caster, solving problems and slinging potent encounter ending spells, that has to be worth a raise in power.

Phantom blade spiritualist
Power 0, Versatility -1
This is a truly transformative archetype, this is an archetype that makes a pet class not a pet class.

Instead what you get is essentially a psychic Magus with a black blade built in. Now whilst you lose a pet, it is probably the weakest pet you can get between the hunter, Druid and summoner. Most of the phantoms really aren’t that powerful and what this archetype gives you, can, for the most part, close that gap.

Not least because you gain access to some bonus fighter feats between those and spell strike and spell combat, any perceived gap left by the pet is closed. It is worth mentioning that the class is a bit awkward before etheric focus because Psychic casters aren’t great at combat casting.

In terms of this versatility you lose a very potent scout and some interesting interactions with phantoms aura’s and don’t really get much in return.


The silksworn looks good, but it's quite a late bloomer in some ways. Those extra spell slots don't kick in until 8th level, the DC increase is at 16th. I haven't seen one in play - does the extra mental focus carry it through at levels below 8?

On the other hand I remember in a discussion a while back that someone claimed that it wouldn't be that hard to make a gish out of a silksworn. That you could possibly surpass the base occultist when doing so. I think it'd be hard to get the stats to make that work - what do you think CD?


Well after looking at it Silksworn has one benefit early on, you can have implements always active while still being able to use abilities. The bigger both Int and Cha are the more this benefits (up to a point). Late game, you get more spells then all other classes, up to 8 per lv before bonus spell for high Int: The extra DC is also nice as it stack with everything, and eventually affects all your spells.

Gestalt wise, this seems like a great pair with Cha based martial shenanigans. Letting you have high AC, high saves, and potentially high dmg; On top of all the Implement abilities.


avr wrote:

The silksworn looks good, but it's quite a late bloomer in some ways. Those extra spell slots don't kick in until 8th level, the DC increase is at 16th. I haven't seen one in play - does the extra mental focus carry it through at levels below 8?

On the other hand I remember in a discussion a while back that someone claimed that it wouldn't be that hard to make a gish out of a silksworn. That you could possibly surpass the base occultist when doing so. I think it'd be hard to get the stats to make that work - what do you think CD?

The Silksworn is truthfully a bit of a nightmare class in the vary earliest levels, the extra mental focus helps, especially with things like the conjuring implement power. Allowing you to essentially spam summon monster spells. There is definitely a bit of reliance on cantrips though and taking advantage of the fact you can kind of be a skill monkey/face for the party as well.

The extra mental focus does help give it pseudo spells to make up some mileage I’d say by level 5 or 7 at the latest you should be well passed the worst of it.

I think one of the weirder choices they made was dumping all the DC +into level 16 where they will almost never be seen. I’d argue +1 at 6 and 12 would have been better.

As for making a Gish out of it. That seems very square peg round hole to me. There are some very fish friendly powers and spells it can Spam, but they almost all take standar actions so I’d foresee it being super clunky in practice. Also doubt it would outstrip a haunt collector which kinda does that better.

It’s kinda hard to gestalt without becoming mad in my opinion, because it needs charisma and int and then probably also Dex or strength if you are going martial with the other half.

I think the best call if you wanted to try would perhaps be a dragonscale monk. They can’t wear armour either so you don’t need to worry about spell failure and they benefit massively from charisma and the impressively deep tool box of the Silksworn.


Temperans wrote:
As for what feat tax: Racial Heritage let's you count as an Undine.

Close, but that feat's for humanoids. Undines are native outsiders and there's an otherwise identical feat named Planar Heritage to be related to one of them.


Well that feat is new to me so many more open options. I always assumed Racial Heritage just worked with whatever the GM allowed.

Having said that, all races that count as human can gain what I think is the best fly feat at lv 9 thx to sylph's Wings of Air. 3 feats is harsh but man does it sound fun for a feat light build.

* sorry for the small thread disrailment just exited for more cool options.


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There's a handful of bloodrager archetypes unrated, including a couple of interesting ones. Here we go:

Spoiler:
Enlightened Bloodrager
Dip Power +1, Versatility 0
Full Power -1, Versatility 0
Your bloodrage gets watered down with the powers delayed about 8 levels, DR reduced from minor to meaningless, and in exchange you get cantrips, a bonus druid spell known for each non-cantrip spell level, and a bloodrage which lets you use all skills and also use abilities requiring concentration.

If you're planning to do something tricky with stealth or UMD in a bloodrage this is how. Losing those powers is a major cost though - even if you don't like the precise powers in your bloodline there are other things you can trade them for: bloodline familiars, bloodline mutations or primalist rage powers. As a dip this is perhaps more friendly to multiclassing saving you the mad magic feat and allowing full skill use as noted above, as a full build it's definitely weaker than the standard bloodrager.

Hag-Riven
Power -1, Versatility 0
A specialist in the use of claws. Besides various abilities which each increase the effect of the claws very slightly you get natural armor in place of DR. Fast movement, (improved) uncanny dodge and proficiency with martial weapons go to make room for these. Played straight this is a serious downgrade (claws alone aren't a good weapon), but there's probably a natural weapon build which could make use of these abilities even though they only affect the claw attacks and not any other natural weapons you have.

Prowler at World's End
Power +1, Versatility +1
This is very clearly intended for catfolk but it's not an explicit requirement in the archetype (outside PFS). It's an odd hybrid of bloodrager (destined bloodline) and medium with shapeshifting into felines in there later on too.

Counting the 4 medium spirits (archmage & hierophant aren't available) and the polymorph into felines in place of bloodrage there's a lot of stuff you could do here. The champion's extra attack or the trickster's skills and sneak attack are good enough to push the power rating up IMO, even if your bloodline powers are delayed ~ 4 levels.

Symbol Striker
Power -1, Versatility 0
A spellstrike ability which you can use 1-3 times/day depending on level, on a standard action only from a minimum of 6th level isn't much to write home about but it's the signature ability of this archetype. You can also cast read magic at will, comprehend languages 1/day on written material, and get the weakest ability to create traps I've seen in PF1. You lose fast movement and all bonus feats except the level 15 one. I wouldn't think this good but it isn't unworkable.


^Symbol Striker's Weapon Rune takes a Standard Action to put into the weapon AND a separate Standard Action attack, so it is even worse than a Magus who has Spellstrike but not Spell Combat (like Armored Battlemage), although as a partially mitigating factor you can set it up any amount of time before combat without having to worry that you will accidentally shock your friends with it. Definitely not worth 3 feats, even if the choices of those feats are rather restricted and (depending upon Bloodline) not always ideal. I would call that a hurt to Versatility as well.


Yeah, I should add the word 'attack' after 'standard action' there to make that clear. It's not totally useless; as a supernatural ability you won't need to worry about casting defensively, which may be an issue for bloodragers with the minimum Cha to cast their spells. Still you might be right about losing practically all your bonus feats being a hit to versatility as well as power.

In the doc the steelblood archetype was written before the armor master's handbook came out and it's probably worth rewriting the review now. You can get some major buffs to AC late-game with advanced armor training and/or a secondary attack with steel headbutt. VMC seems to be banned in more games than not though, I don't know that I'd put as much weight on the potential of using VMC fighter as the original writer in this doc does.


^Good point, Steelblood Bloodrager has gotten better with that supplement. Not sure why VMC would be often banned, except that I do know that it is banned in PFS (unless they changed something recently), which does mean an awful lot of games even by itself.


Even if it isn't banned many people probably see it as kind of a waste or too troublesome for the gains (although it depends on the classes involved).

They are specially troublesome for feat intensive builds.

**********
Personally I think few of them are worth it due to how late you get some of the abilities or because they scale bad (ex VMC witch hexes).


They are very uneven in quality. VMC Witch as you mention is one of the worst (the other worst one is VMC Gunslinger). In contrast, VMC Wizard and VMC Bard can be quite good (even if the scaling is kind of weird), and VMC Fighter can also be good, but only if you are in for the long haul, and some of the others can be good for some very carefully planned niche builds; unfortunately, classes that came out after Pathfinder Unchained just didn't get VMC equivalents at all. I wish they had fixed VMC, but I guess the class feat chains of Pathfinder 2nd Edition are supposed to do more or less the equivalent. I know of 2 guides for VMC, but they haven't been updated for material that came out since (unfortunately no new VMC material came out, but other stuff like ACG and Occult Adventures do interact with it). Almost tempting to do a review of VMC, although that probably doesn't fall within the scope of this thread (unless people want to shoehorn it in here).


UnArcaneElection wrote:

They are very uneven in quality. VMC Witch as you mention is one of the worst (the other worst one is VMC Gunslinger). In contrast, VMC Wizard and VMC Bard can be quite good (even if the scaling is kind of weird), and VMC Fighter can also be good, but only if you are in for the long haul, and some of the others can be good for some very carefully planned niche builds; unfortunately, classes that came out after Pathfinder Unchained just didn't get VMC equivalents at all. I wish they had fixed VMC, but I guess the class feat chains of Pathfinder 2nd Edition are supposed to do more or less the equivalent. I know of 2 guides for VMC, but they haven't been updated for material that came out since (unfortunately no new VMC material came out, but other stuff like ACG and Occult Adventures do interact with it). Almost tempting to do a review of VMC, although that probably doesn't fall within the scope of this thread (unless people want to shoehorn it in here).

I say cool idea, but start it's own thread...


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Hi. This will be my first post here, and the first time i will write a guide, so please, critique me all the way if i say something absurd. I was thinking about tackling one classes with less archetypes, the antipaladin.

Blighted Myrmidon
Dip Power -1, Versatility -2
Full Power -2 , Versatility -2
This archetype is...not great. The Smite Nature feature is much less versatile than Smite Good, since it targets specific types of creatures instead of good creaures, the enemies you will most likely face if you are playing an antipaladin. The types of enemies are not even particulalry common, except for Animal and, even then, only at low levels. . Feys, elementals and nature classes are more unusual enemies than good outsiders and good dragons, especially at high leves, so you will see the bonus damage more rarely. The corrupted companion will generally be weaker to the fiendish boon companion, and the other replacements are vastly inferior too. Overall this archetype could be useful in a dedicated campaign, but generally you are much better sticking with the main class.

Dread vanguard
Dip:/
Full:Power:-0 Versatility -1
The extra uses of touch of corruption and the decent bonuses provided by beacon of evil and Dark Emissary will make you not miss your spells too much. Overall this is a solid archetype if you don't mind losing your spells.

Fearmonger
This archetype is broken. it replaces touch of corruption but forces you to pick cruelties. As it is, this archetype is utterly unplayable.

Insinuator
Dip:
Power:-0 Versatility:+1
Full: Power:-1 Versatility:+2
This archetype trades a bit of raw power for amazing versatility. A NE insinuator can summon outsiders of 4 different allignements for its Ambitious Bond ability, meaning he will ALWAYS have the right tool for the job. The class abilities make the Insinuator tankier than the standard antipaladin and, surprisingly for an archetype so focused on being the ultimate egoist,also focus a bit more on buffing your allies rather than debuffing you enemies. Feats in exchange for spells is not a trade i particularly like, but it can be useul for feat-intensive builds. It is also worth mentioning that the code of conduct is much more flexible than the one of the standard antipaladin, so it will probably be easier to fit in the group. Overall a very solid archetype.

Iron tyrant
Dip: Power:+1 Versatility:-1
Full: Power-2 Versatility:-2
You trade most of your supernatural powers, except for the auras and the spells to receive vastly inferior replacements. Improved unnarmed strike and a warpriest damage progression is not bad,but touch of corruption gives you so much more options.Unstoppable is one of the worst replacements i have ever seen and the Armor fiendish bond is just weaker than the standard options.

Knight of the Sepulcher
Dip:/
Full: Power +0 Versatility -1
This archetype slowly gains all the immunities of the undead and can heal itself with touch of corruption. It is a fair trade overall, and it makes the antipaladin tankier, but i believe it loses a bit of versatility

Rough Rampager:
Dip:Power -2 Versatility:-0
Full class: Power -2 Versatility -0
You lose the ability to scare every enemy and slap them with a -4 to saving throw and in exchange you get the ability to...make it harder for them to heal and giving them 1 bleed damage per round. This archetype is awful, no woder Rovagug is still imprisoned.

Seal-braker
Dip:/
Full:Power: -1 Versatility:-1
This archetypes loses great class features for markedly inferior replacements. It could be useful if you wanted to play a necromancer antipaladin, but there are much better classes for that. The undead mount is not exactly bad, but it pales in comparison to the outsiders companions of the other antipaladins.


If Dread Vanguard works like I think it does, then you might be able to stack it with Fearmonger to keep Touch of Corruption (even if limited in uses). But yeah, Fearmonger sounds like a horrible archetype.


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Antipaladin reviews have been added, and we're finished with the class.
Only 15 classes lacking complete reviews, unless we're missing new archetypes.

Classes lacking reviews:

Cleric
Druid
Hunter
Inquisitor
Medium
Mesmerist
Ninja
Occultist
Oracle
Paladin
Samurai
Shaman
Skald
Spiritualist
Vigilante

***

Red Tongue Skald
Power +1, Versatility -1

Loss of Bardic Knowledge and every Versatile Performance after the first will hurt your out-of-combat utility, which is a bummer. In place of all these skill bonuses you gain a scaling buff to social uses of Bluff/Intimidate, some extra spells known (predetermined), and three Rogue Talents at level 7, 12 and 17. You also get the ability to grant one of these Rogue Talents to allies affected by your Inspired Rage.
But since you can't take Sneak Attack talents, won't get access to Advanced talents, and want something with in-combat utility for Inspired Rage the list is surprisingly short. Assault Leader, Positioning Attack and Combat Trick seems to be the best alternatives, and depending on how Combat Trick is "given out" it could either be a free Combat Feat on the spot, or basically be the Tactician ability. Either way, taking Combat Trick at level 7 is probably worth a +1 to Power.


This thread has gotten huge, and by nature is hard to search. So, are we doing the familiar and companion archetypes?


Sure, why not.

The companion archetypes should probably have a tag to show if they're compatible with Cavalier or not, since that's a pretty big "if".


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Familiar archetypes? You know what, sure I'll bite. I've been inactive here for a bit so I've got some catch-up contributions to do. Her'es the first half of the familiar archetypes:

Ambassador
Power: 0, Versatility: +1

This familiar archetype is good for any arcane caster who wishes to serve as the party face, giving the useful Persuasive feat and also allowing the familiar to be somewhat better at charisma-based skills that they make. This archetype works best with an improved familiar that has a decent charisma score.

Animal Exemplar
Power: 0, Versatility: -1

While it could be useful at low levels, at high-levels the tradeoffs of this archetype are bad, losing access to more useful general-purpose abilities to become better at handling animals. At a level-range where animals stop being relevant in most adventures, this is disappointing.

This archetype is significantly better in adventures that involve Dinosaurs (+2 power), which turns the ability to use Dominate Animal on other animals of its kind from a niche option to something very dangerous.

Arcane Amplifier
Power: +1, Versatility: +1

This is an archetype to be chosen only by Wizards who hold the safety and wellbeing of their familiar in contempt. Free metamagic is very powerful, but comes at the cost of most of your familiar's defensive bonuses and requires the familiar to be an active participant in combat to make use of its powerful benefits. If you choose this familiar archetype, stock up on shoeboxes.

Decoy
Power: 0, Versatility: +1

It's literally a decoy; although its signature ability to appear to become a perfect copy of its master is gained relatively late, this is a very useful ability.

Egotist
Power: -1, Versatility: 0

While this familiar archetype is hilarious, it's not particularly good and replaces many abilities with inferior ones. It's not completely useless, however, as the familiar will often be a better recipient of the Alertness feat than the master given that it has perception as a class skill and might have a higher wisdom score.

Elemental Familiar
Power: 0, Versatility: +1

This can be a useful way of getting a fly speed on familiars that can't normally fly. The other elements are more fluff than crunch and are slight downgrades over the more generally-useful improved evasion ability.

Emissary
Power: +2, Versatility: +2

Your familiar gets a cantrip, you get the ability to reroll a will save once per day, and your familiar gets a 1st level domain power. This is a huge benefit, and the abilities lost may not even be relevant ones you care about it.

Figment
Power: 0, Versatility: +1

Worried about a familiar death? This one might be for you. Your familiar can never really die, and will just keep coming back the following day. The ability to apply eidolon evolutions gives some useful options for your familiar that you can swap out in accordance with your daily needs.

Infiltrator
Power: -1, Versatility: +1

This archetype offers what it promises: a familiar that is well-suited for infiltration. However, it loses improved evasion and replaces it with the much less useful improved uncanny dodge, as well as spell resistance. This makes it significantly more fragile and vulnerable to being killed.


It's probably worth noting which familiar archetypes are compatible with improved familiars - any which don't trade speak with animals of its kind, basically.

I'll tidy up my bloodrager ratings later today.

Edit: Does an ambassador familiar really need a decent starting Cha? It can get replaced by a Cha which scales with level after all.

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