Archetype Tier List: A Guide to Picking Archetypes


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Link to the document for the top of the page.

My thoughts below and the existing rating in the doc to compare to them. I don't totally agree with the original as you may be able to tell...

old steelblood rating:
Dip Power -2 to +1, Versatility -1
Full Power +1, Versatility +0
For a Dip, this may work really well or may not work at all for you, because Heavy Armor still gives you Arcane Spell Failure in other arcane spellcasting classes (and Arcane Armor Training is just bad), so the power rating is smeared over a very wide range. The bonus on combat maneuvers is nice for a Dip, but doesn't scale in Full progression. Armored Swiftness replaces Uncanny Dodge, and Armor Training replaces Improved Uncanny Dodge; this stacks with actual Fighter Armor Training, and thereby with VMC Fighter Armor Training, so when the Armor Master's Handbook comes out, if it does for Armor Training what the Weapon Master's Handbook did for Weapon Training, this archetype might get a LOT better (potentially upgrading both versatility and power, provided that you go VMC Fighter). Rounding things out, Immediate Action sacrifice of spell slots to gain a deflection bonus to Armor Class is nice, and probably better than the modest Damage Reduction you give up in exchange. If you want to be a Hellknight Bloodrager, THIS is the chassis to build upon.

my steelblood rating:
Dip Power 0, Versatility -1
Full Power +1, Versatility +0
Heavy armor may not be for everyone, but I'd assume that someone taking the steelblood archetype as a dip or otherwise has a use for it. Note that the archetype only removes arcane spell failure for bloodrager spellcasting and not any other class you're multiclassed as. The bonus on combat maneuvers is nice for a dip, but doesn't scale in full progression. Armor training replaces improved uncanny dodge; this stacks with actual fighter armor training, and thereby with VMC fighter armor training in games where VMC is allowed. Armor training has some useful options as of the Armor Master's Handbook; steel headbutt adds what is essentially a secondary natural attack, armor specialisation gives a major bonus to AC late game, or armored sacrifice is an emergency save-your-butt option for example.

Rounding things out, armored swiftness replaces uncanny dodge (fair I guess), and immediate action sacrifice of spell slots to gain a deflection bonus to AC is probably no better than the ring of protection you can afford (with no action or spell slots required), which makes it worse than the modest DR you give up in exchange.

If you want to be a Hellknight Bloodrager, THIS is the chassis to build upon.


It's also worth noting which Familiar archetypes are compatible with Witch and other classes/archetypes having spell storage familiars (such as the already lousy Unlettered Arcanist). For example, Figment Familiar is not compatible with Witch.


Is it listed anywhere which familiar archetypes are off limits for witches UAE? Just figment or is it more than that?


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Dasrak wrote:


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.

I don't think your assigned numbers are wrong, but the Arcane Amplifier doesn't really need to participate in combat to be great. Right off the bat, it's a leveling metamagic extend rod, which is great for your daily mage armor and in later levels it can really improve lower duration pre-buffs, like heroism or greater invisibility. And really, if it did nothing other than that, it'd be a desirable archetype.

The out of combat options aren't as obvious for the other metamagic you get, but there are still handy combinations, like having your familiar heighten a daylight spell by 2 levels, so countering magical darkness becomes super easy. And despite the name, the familiar seems to work fine for divine classes, so imagine the helpfulness of having a maximized breath of life.


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Melkiador wrote:
Dasrak wrote:


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.

I don't think your assigned numbers are wrong, but the Arcane Amplifier doesn't really need to participate in combat to be great. Right off the bat, it's a leveling metamagic extend rod, which is great for your daily mage armor and in later levels it can really improve lower duration pre-buffs, like heroism or greater invisibility. And really, if it did nothing other than that, it'd be a desirable archetype.

The out of combat options aren't as obvious for the other metamagic you get, but there are still handy combinations, like having your familiar heighten a daylight spell by 2 levels, so countering magical darkness becomes super easy. And despite the name, the familiar seems to work fine for divine classes, so imagine the helpfulness of having a maximized breath of life.

If anything, I might be rating this higher for classes that need to protect their familiar anyway (WITCH!). You can pick something like a Greensting scorpion, house it in an armored shoe box and let it out to eat and to pump out of combat spells...


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

Most animal familiars start with 6 charisma, which pretty much negates the class skill bonus you're getting. I'm not saying it's bad, just that you'll get better value out of going with an improved familiar. If you're willing to wait until high levels your familiar's charisma will rise naturally, but that's a long time to wait if you want a party face familiar.

UnArcaneElection wrote:
It's also worth noting which Familiar archetypes are compatible with Witch and other classes/archetypes having spell storage familiars (such as the already lousy Unlettered Arcanist). For example, Figment Familiar is not compatible with Witch.

I think Figment is the only exception. If I find any others I'll note them. There are a few familiar archetypes with weird exceptions (I know School Familiar requires you to pick a specific feat or a specific archetype, and can't be taken freely) so I'll try to note those where appropriate.

Melkiador wrote:
I don't think your assigned numbers are wrong, but the Arcane Amplifier doesn't really need to participate in combat to be great. Right off the bat, it's a leveling metamagic extend rod, which is great for your daily mage armor and in later levels it can really improve lower duration pre-buffs, like heroism or greater invisibility. And really, if it did nothing other than that, it'd be a desirable archetype.

Yeah, Extend Spell can be used a bit more cautiously than the others, but most of the spells you want to Extend are going to be minute/level duration not hour/level duration, and that means your familiar needs to be with you while you're dungeon-delving.

The familiar fragility issue is actually more more of a problem with respect to area of effect spells or traps, rather than monsters directly targeting it for attack. Without improved evasion and spell resistance, the familiar is guaranteed to take at least half damage from every incidental AoE damage source, and with its low hit points it can easily be rocketed from full to dead.


The familiar satchel provides total cover, which keeps the familiar safe from most dangers in a dungeon. The merge with familiar spell is even safer and a touch spell, so your familiar can extend it itself.

At low level, extending an hour per level spell is amazing. It often means you can start and end your adventuring day with that spell. Personally, I’m paranoid until I can get that mage armor to last for at least 8 hours. But eventually hour per level spells get long enough you don’t need to extend them at all, which is when the 1 and 10 minute per level spells become more enticing for pre-combat extending. Merely making an 8 minute spell last 16 minutes means there is a very good chance you will get to benefit from that spell for multiple combats. Making an 80 minute spell last 160 minutes means that it will be there for most of your adventuring day.


And really, many familiar masters I’ve seen keep their familiar stowed in one of those ways regardless, which makes the Arcane Amplifier an automatic choice as it’s one of the few familiars that can be beneficial when not within line of effect or sight.


avr wrote:
Is it listed anywhere which familiar archetypes are off limits for witches UAE? Just figment or is it more than that?

It's a pain -- you have to look up every individual one linked from the Familiar Archetypes page. For instance, Figment Familiar says "Because it is a being of its master’s mind, a figment can never serve as a witch’s familiar, a shaman’s spirit animal, or any other spell-granting familiar, and it can’t use any divination spells or spell-like abilities the base creature has". (I had forgotten about this prohibition also applying to Shamans, but that makes sense.)

Actually, since I've got the pages open, let's have the special incompatibilities and requirements in one place in this thread (warning: this will NOT catch incompitabilities caused by a class or class archetype altering or replacing a Familiar ability that is also altered or replaced by the Familiar archetype):

    • Ambassador: Must be able to speak, whether as a normal Familiar that can speak, or as an Improved Familiar (implies compatibility with Improved Familiar). Levels up Charisma instead of Intelligence.
    • Animal Exemplar: Cannot be an Improved Familiar, plant, vermin, or other nonanimal themed familiar. (This is slightly strange, because using Improved Familiar to give a normal Animal familiar a template would be in keeping with the Animal theme, but Rules As Written, you can't do that. Also, strange that no corresponding Vermin Exemplar archetype exists.
    • Arcane Amplifier: -
    • Bloodline Familiars: Master must have a Bloodline listed on the Bloodline Familiars page (and due to the advent of Pathfinder 2nd Edition, probably no more will be added unless Archives of Nethys suddenly realizes that it missed some in a late Pathfinder 1st Edition book), although the linked page mentions the prospect of a GM coming up with a custom Bloodline Familiar for a Bloodline not listed.
    • Emissary: Master must serve a single deity.
    • Figment: Can never serve as a witch’s familiar, a shaman’s spirit animal, or any other spell-granting familiar; also can't use any divination spells or spell-like abilities that the normal version of the creature would have.
    • Infiltrator: -
    • Mascot: -
    • Mauler: Since this archetype hoses ANY of the Familiar's ability to communicate, you might not want to put this archetype on most Improved Familiars, even if it is technically legal.
    • Occult Messenger: -
    • Patron Familiars: Master must have a Witch Patron (technically, this means that the Familiar granted by VMC Witch would qualify, but VMC Witch is so bad that this is not to be recommended).
    • Pilferer: -
    • Prankster: -
    • Protector: -
    • Sage: -
    • School Familiar: Explicitly incompatible with all other Familiar archetypes, and requires the master to have an Arcane School.
    • Soulbound Familiar: Can never serve as a witch’s familiar, a shaman’s spirit animal, or any other spell-granting familiar.
    • Valet: -

Note: Animal Companion archetype page here -- this needs a going through like the above, but will have to do this later.


Mauler and many (most?) of the other archetypes are not compatible with the Improved Familiar feat because they replace Speaks With Other Animals of Its Kind.


In particular, the archetypes an improved familiar can have are ambassador, emissary, occult messenger, prankster, sage and school familiar. Patron familiars and bloodline familiars are options the master takes which can affect the improved familiar. Egotist doesn't replace speak with animals of its kind, but does replace the variable familiar bonus which improved familiars don't get & so it isn't a valid option for them.

You might be able to argue that a patron (animal) improved familiar could take some of the other options but it's iffy IMO.


Where do you find the thing that says that Improved Familiars have to have Speak with Animals of Its Kind and Familiar Bonus? It actually makes sense to have such a rule, but I can't find it.


You have to have the ability which an archetype trades out in order to take the archetype, it's what disallows most archetype stacking. You can find that under the archetype rules in the APG I think? Improved familiars don't get speak with animals of its kind which is under the improved familiar feat, or a bonus for the type of familiar which you can prove only by looking at each one individually as far as I know (spoiler: none of them has one.)


avr wrote:

Link to the document for the top of the page.

My thoughts below and the existing rating in the doc to compare to them. I don't totally agree with the original as you may be able to tell...
** spoiler omitted **
** spoiler omitted **...

I considered taking the steelblooded archetype on a tanky Bloodrager build using the destined bloodline and reading carefully see it as a weak option. With one feat you can use mithral full plate with no downsides, counts as medium for everything but proficiency penalties which the feat takes care of.

Unless I'm missing something, armor training stacks with fighter levels for how high armor training gets but you don't count as a fighter for anything else. Armored specialization is based on how many levels of fighter you have.


Well here's my Divine Paragon (cleric) rating - I'm not sure on this and so would welcome any contrasting opinion!

Full Power -1 to +1, Versatility +1

Versatility has to be +1 here because of the free deific obedience feat, it effectively gives you free entry to Evangelist PrC. This as a prestige class has its pros and cons but does certainly from a cleric perspective make you more versatile in terms of becoming the party skill monkey, and basically gives you an additional set of boons.

Power is much trickier to rate due to the significant variance of powers on offer from the various deities. Divine Paragon gives you boons at 5th, 11th and 14th in exchange for 1 of your domain's powers. For quite a few deities the trade off just isn't worth sacrificing your 1st and 8th level powers for, for some the trade off is even and for a few the trade off is definitely worth it (see below):

Chaldira - Sentinel boons

Grandmother Spider - Exalted boons

Kazutal- Exalted boons

Nivi Rhombodazzle - Exalted boons

Tsukiyo - Evangelist boons

I haven't remotely gone through all the gods so there might be a few more hidden nuggets out there.

Divine Brand is of minor benefit as being able to display your holy symbol without sacrificing a free hand has been made fairly easy to do in recent times.


Doompatrol wrote:
avr wrote:

Link to the document for the top of the page.

My thoughts below and the existing rating in the doc to compare to them. I don't totally agree with the original as you may be able to tell...
** spoiler omitted **
** spoiler omitted **...

I considered taking the steelblooded archetype on a tanky Bloodrager build using the destined bloodline and reading carefully see it as a weak option. With one feat you can use mithral full plate with no downsides, counts as medium for everything but proficiency penalties which the feat takes care of.

Unless I'm missing something, armor training stacks with fighter levels for how high armor training gets but you don't count as a fighter for anything else. Armored specialization is based on how many levels of fighter you have.

On that last there's an argument that you do use your bloodrager level for abilities obtained via an archetype. Here's ErichAD on a similar argument for a sylvan trickster rogue - that archetype is essentially useless unless it can use its rogue level as the witch level for hexes.

Mithral full plate costs 16.5K even before enchanting it. It's not competitive on cost with a normal suit of full plate until quite late levels; it's not even better than a similar cost spent on a steel breastplate until you have 20.5K for armor alone. It's not a factor before 10th level IMO, and late levels there are fun unique armors.


avr wrote:
Doompatrol wrote:
avr wrote:

Link to the document for the top of the page.

My thoughts below and the existing rating in the doc to compare to them. I don't totally agree with the original as you may be able to tell...
** spoiler omitted **
** spoiler omitted **...

I considered taking the steelblooded archetype on a tanky Bloodrager build using the destined bloodline and reading carefully see it as a weak option. With one feat you can use mithral full plate with no downsides, counts as medium for everything but proficiency penalties which the feat takes care of.

Unless I'm missing something, armor training stacks with fighter levels for how high armor training gets but you don't count as a fighter for anything else. Armored specialization is based on how many levels of fighter you have.

On that last there's an argument that you do use your bloodrager level for abilities obtained via an archetype. Here's ErichAD on a similar argument for a sylvan trickster rogue - that archetype is essentially useless unless it can use its rogue level as the witch level for hexes.

Mithral full plate costs 16.5K even before enchanting it. It's not competitive on cost with a normal suit of full plate until quite late levels; it's not even better than a similar cost spent on a steel breastplate until you have 20.5K for armor alone. It's not a factor before 10th level IMO, and late levels there are fun unique armors.

That's progression of a given ability, now we are into the idea of trying to use the fighter classes options to trade away archetype features, never mind that some of the options you listed aren't PFS legal. This seems like a rules nightmare.

Mithral full plate costs 10'500. 1500 + 9000. A +1 Mitral fullplate at 12'500 would be cheaper than the equivalent +4 breastplate at 16'200 as well as being cheaper to progress from there.


My opinion of PFS is that it's a small minority with an outsized influence on the game. There's no great reason for non-PFS players to pay much attention to it.

I'm sorry to hear that you find PF rules a nightmare. If you want further explanation feel free to ask specific questions.

Yes, mithral full plate is cheaper than I remembered and does outclass a breastplate - if not ordinary full plate.

Grand Lodge

I am a PFS player and GM, but it's not difficult to adapt to the needs of a home game. Lots use PFS a cadre but feel free to use your own. What's great in home games is you can make sure the setup fits the need, rather than more strictly being bound by RAW first. (Even inside PFS, it can make more sense to prioritize the RAI in the case the specific point is that badly written)


avr wrote:

My opinion of PFS is that it's a small minority with an outsized influence on the game. There's no great reason for non-PFS players to pay much attention to it.

I'm sorry to hear that you find PF rules a nightmare. If you want further explanation feel free to ask specific questions.

Yes, mithral full plate is cheaper than I remembered and does outclass a breastplate - if not ordinary full plate.

That's all and good but me saying an option is "too op" isn't much of an argument. I use it as a benchmark of what to try and use, nothing against strong options but some are stupidly OP.

But if advanced armor training is an option player can take and not open to interpretation on whether it's allowed or not then the archetype is much better than I thought.


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Some Skald archetypes:
Augur
Power -1, Versatility -2

You lose two of your most important class features (Versatile Performance and Spell Kenning), for abilities that you either already had access to or won't find much use for.

Bacchanal
Power +1, Versatility -1

By the power of alcohol you can maintain your raging song without expending any uses. Which is especially nice since you get this ability at level two, during the low levels when you normally would struggle with the low amount of rounds.
You lose Versatile Performance though.

Battle Scion
Power 0, Versatility +1

In contrast to the name of the archetype, your Bardic Knowledge ability no longer works with the knowledge skills most commonly used for monster lore. But since you can choose combat and teamwork feats in place of rage powers I guess it deserves the name.
You get the ability to give out these feats with your Inspired Rage, but since your allies can't cheat prerequisites there's not any exploits to be made. The extra uses of Raging Song required to give out feats is annoying, and will probably prevent you from doing so at lower levels. Not quite sure if the two rounds of Raging Song are in addition to the Inspired Rage, or in place of it.

Boaster
Power -1, Versatility -1

This archetype allows you to give out certain feats to your allies, but you must have them yourself and the list isn't anything special. What's worse is that you must use your modified Song of Marching for this, while you'd really want to play Inspired Rage for obvious reasons.
Consider just taking the Deathless Frenzy rage power at level 12 instead of picking up the whole Deathless Zealot feat line through this archetype.

Bold Schemer
Power -1, Versatility 0

You can now stare at location for skill bonuses to infiltrate it. Nothing bold about sitting still for eight hours, though.

Court Poet*
Power 0, Versatility +2

Instead of boosting Str/Con, you now increase Int/Cha. Your allies are also no longer prevented from using abilities that require patience or concentration, which means the Wizard, Warpriest and Monk will now gladly accept your rage powers.
The downside is that you can no longer use Swim/Climb while under the effects of this song, and you're also prevented from making Constitution checks (such as the one to stabilize).

*There's a PFS errata that removes your rage powers, but designer intent was (probably) the opposite. So if this is for PFS play, then this archetype is a -2/0.

Elegist
Power -2, Versatility -2

You lose all Raging Songs and Rage Powers, getting a despair Phantom in return.
The phantom is only manifested while you play, which you can only do for a number of rounds equal to the normal amount of Raging Song rounds. So you lose all the utility value of your phantom, can't buff it with Rage Powers, and none of the performance feats will help you increase the duration.

Hunt Caller
Power -1, Versatility 0

You can transform allies as per Beast Shape I, and later II and III at level 14/18.
Can't stack it with Inspired Rage, and you lose Spell Kenning for access to Druid Spells of your choice. You'd normally not gain access to the Druid's, so you might find some use for that trade-off.

Instigator
Power -1, Versatility -1

True to its name, you gain abilities to control a crowd. Too bad they seem to only affect creatures with less than 4 HD.

Serpent Herald
Power -1, Versatility -1

The replacement for the first Rage Power might be an upgrade, but losing Spell Kenning for a very limited Wild Shape isn't worth it.

***

I pity all of the PFS-only players who can't bask in the glory of the Court Poet.


Re the court poet: If you're not conscious I can't see how you'd perceive the performance to gain its effects. Stabilizing should be just as difficult as normal.


There is a rule somewhere that says unconcious allys automatically accept the raging song. It makes the guarded life rage power particularly awesome for a skald as it's a surefire way to stabilize your allies.

Edit: Found it, it's in the raging song mechanics in the class description near the end.


Ah. That makes it step 2 in how to assassinate annoying PFS characters. I knew there had to be a way.


But does a Constitution check to stabilize while unconscious count as a physical effort? You aren't exerting any muscles to stabilize when unconscious, so maybe not. In that case, you'd be able to make the Constitution check to stabilize even when under the influence of Insightful Contemplation.


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UnArcaneElection wrote:
But does a Constitution check to stabilize while unconscious count as a physical effort?

It was the first constitution check I could think of, but maybe it isn't affected after all.

Since you're not usually running or marching during combat, it would seem your only concern is holding your breath longer than twice your con score.

Rest of Skald:
Totem Channeler
Power -1, Versatility -1

So what this archetype brings to the table is that you have the ability to apply multiple Totem Rage Powers to your Inspired Rage, at the cost of more Raging Song rounds used.
What holds this archetype back is that you don't actually have enough Rage Powers from your class to really benefit from this advantage. While you can take the Extra Rage Power to boost yourself, your allies probably won't feel much of a difference until level 18 when you would have two completed Totem Rage Power sets.

Twilight Speaker (Elf only)
Power +1, Versatility +1

You can give out Rage Powers without any kind of penalty/restriction at all, and the bonuses to attack/saves instead of the normal Inspired Rage makes it a welcome boost no matter what class you're playing.
While you do get a Domain, Community is pretty weak and doesn't provide anything special. I recommend picking up Pageant of the Peacock to outweigh the loss of Bardic Knowledge.

Undying Word
Power 0, Versatility -1

You gain three extra rage powers from a specific list at the levels Spell Kenning would increase, and some bonus feats related to the Endurance feat. Consider this archetype if you don't want to bother with Spell Kenning and wouldn't have taken Skald's Vigor.

Urban Skald
Power 0, Versatility +1

No restriction on what skills your allies can use while affected by your Inspired Rage, and your allies choose between applying the morale bonus to either Dex, Str, or Con. While more of your allies can now benefit from Inspired Rage and Rage Powers, you do lose the Will save bonus.
You also get two offensive Raging Songs that you might find some use for. While they allow a Will saving throw, the DC scales better than your spells.

War Painter
Power -1, Versatility 0

The ability to infuse paint with your Raging Song is pretty neat, and allows your allies to remotely benefit from your Inspired Rage. You also get two abilities that lets you infuse the paint with additional rage powers and spells, but their limited uses and restrictions prevents them from being great.

Warlord
Power -1, Versatility -1

So you get Leadership as a bonus feat at level 7. If it wasn't already banned, just spend one of your normal feats instead of taking this archetype.

Wyrm Singer
Power -1, Versatility +1

Morale bonus to Att/Dmg instead of Str/Con, and the saving throw bonus is against Sleep and Paralysis instead of all Will saves. I'd probably value this archetype higher if it didn't trade away your 12th level Rage Power, since that's when you get access to the real good ones. Song of the Fallen is also very useful when people start dropping at higher levels, so transforming into a dragon might just not be worth it.

***

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