Archetype Tier List: A Guide to Picking Archetypes


Advice

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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.

***


PFS has a few mandatory pseudo archetypes. The one I recall of the top of my head is that Alchemists trade Brew Potion for Extra Bombs and Wizards trade scribe scroll for... something I forget. Should we rate these?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
deuxhero wrote:
PFS has a few mandatory pseudo archetypes. The one I recall of the top of my head is that Alchemists trade Brew Potion for Extra Bombs and Wizards trade scribe scroll for... something I forget. Should we rate these?

Wizards get spell focus in one school of their choice, iirc. It's probably not worth rating because swapping one generally good feat for another generally good feat is typically an even trade.


Since any PFS changes are mandatory rating them seems pointless anyway. I suppose there might be a home game somewhere which lets you choose the PFS changed version or normal, but far more likely you either must have them or can't have them and so rating the difference is of no actual use.


Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It looks like no one has gone past N for the Occultist? I'm particularly interested in seeing the Reliquarian rated.


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Reliquarian Occultist
Power +1, Versatility +1

This is a tough one. You trade Psychic spellcasting for Divine, which means somatic/verbal components and divine focus, although you're still intelligence-based. The most obvious change is that you now qualify for feats such as Dreamed Secrets, which by itself may be a reason to take this archetype for the ability to freely scrounge the wizard's spell list.

The greatest change however, is that your Mental Focus pool is now calculated through your Wisdom instead of Intelligence. Spell and Focus Power DC still uses Intelligence, as does your bonus spell slots. So since you really want Mental Focus you'll walk around with less spells per day than usual.

You also lose two of your three Focus Powers at first level (but you still keep your spells known), in return for getting a Domain's powers and adding the Domain spells to your spells known. So while you come out ahead in spells known, you're four levels (or two feats) behind in Focus Powers. The usefulness of Gaining a Domain is wholly dependent on your choice of Domain (duh), but I'd wager Animal should be pretty useful and worthwhile.


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gnoams wrote:

Blossoming light cleric:

Power +1, Versatility -1
This archetype is built for one thing. It gives the most uses of channel energy per day and greatly expands your list of enemies you can harm with channel energy making it the best channeler in the game. You will want to max charisma over wisdom, making offensive spells not worth using, but throw in the purifying channel feat and you can be healing and harming at the same time all day long. The biggest downside is that you lose armor and gain nothing to replace it in the way of defenses. Not recommended for dipping as the penalties are front loaded and the benefits build over levels.

I disagree with this assessment. This is in fact not built for one thing only. It is in fact one of the best ways to enjoy something rarely invested in. Channel feats.

Feats like blessing weapons and equipments. Having access to 15+ channels at even the lowest levels of the game means you can on the fly add holy or bane or ghost touch. With middle to mid high levels one could affect multiple party members with more than one effect at a time and still have over a dozen channels a day.

Add in other feats like adding in channel variance to allow variant channel powers on the fly.

All of this uses a massive pool that doesnt touch your spells.

Vastly more versatile than it looks at first glance.


It's been about 2 years since I contributed last to this, the one character I am still playing (Kingmaker a.p.) is the court bard and I would add to the document this (having played this archetype to high level now): as well as being the best diplomancer, you have 3 significant performances:

Satire - the opposite of Inspire Courage that gives you two advantages (n.b. language dependant yes but NO SAVING THROW), the first is the combat usefulness of effectively boosting armour class AND providing damage reduction to your party, the second is the debuff to saving throws against fear and charm effects. This second factor makes the court bard the second best enchanter in the game in terms of save dc (behind the kitsune sorcerer). At 12th level I can get DC 30 saves...

Glorious Epic - Your enemies can save or be flat-footed, this is HUGE for your front-liners, especially those that reply on sneak-attack. Big stupid monsters now die much quicker...

Wide Audience - stay further away from the danger and still be able to affect it with the cone or have the wider radius. The additional people affected also boosts your multiple person performances.

Even where enchantment magic has not been an option buffing the party with spells has given me have a key and active role in the encounter. In short the archetype is one of the best in the game, oh and the mockery performance means you'll pretty much win any opposed charisma contest. Throw in the leadership and eldritch heritage feat options and it gets even sillier.


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I used the search function on this thread and noticed there hasn't been any mention of the Gunchemist. It loses bombs, Brew Potion, Throw Anything, and the poison features. But it gains firearm proficiency, Gunsmithing, and Rapid Reload. And if the character takes Rapid Reload earlier, it can take a different combat feat instead. All the bomb discoveries can apply to the bullets, mutagens are unchanged, and cartridges and alchemical ordnance get extra damage. It seems like a pretty fair trade-off to me.


Well I've never done an official one but recently one caught my eye.

Prepare for heresy!

Forester hunter
Power -1/0 versatility 1

An HUNTER archetype that trades away animal companion and gives you favoured terrain is somehow equal to or even than regular hunter? Maybe! Lets look deeper into this.

1. You lose your companion. Yikes. In no way is that good.
2. You gain permanent hunter focus on you. This is amazing at even low/mid levels you have saved cash on belts. And it's more versatile too. Change on the fly.
2. Favoured terrain. Ok. Not great. BUT. Comes with the point of "when in favoured terrain, add half your level in damage to all attacks vs creatures natural to that terrain. Grab some cheap boots of terrain and this bonus is almost always up. Adding +5 to every attack at level 10? And the bonus keeps going? Makes TWF a huge option. It's a ranger ability but better.
3. Lose outflank or precise shot... for 4 more combat feats?!?! You're NOT losing teamwork feats. Meaning you gain a total of 10 feats for free being a hunter. Almost as good as a fighter? No. Better. See next point.
4. Gain tactician. Now your whole party has teamwork feats. Only.. it's cavalier ability but better. Why? Because UNLIKE cavalier, you can change multiple times a day one of your teamwork feats on the fly. Meaning you pick the teamwork feat for the situation and then share it. This means you have dozens of options and so does the group. And you can take feats to share more often and a banner to do the same AND have it last longer. That banner should be 100% priority, and lucky for you you'll have the cash (10k) because you didnt have to spend it all on a belt due to free hunters focus.
5. Everything that replaces the companion is a 100% upgrade. No link? EVASION. No tricks? CAMOFLAUGE. No raise pet? RAISE ANYTHING. Speak with master gone? BETTER EVASION. Better link? BETTER CAMOFLAUGE WITH HIDE ON PLAIN SIGHT.

So it takes:
Rangers spell list. And casts it better and more often and with more options.
Rangers terrain. And uses it better.
Cavaliers tactician. And uses it better.
Fighter levels of feats? Even more because you can pick and choose on the fly and trade them.
Then throws in raising the dead, Evasion and mastery of stealth. Not like you wont be beside a friend to use breath of life... you're full of teamwork feats that require it.

Losing a companion sucks. But what you gain out of it? Surprisingly good. In my opinion with a smart group... a strict upgrade despite losing the best feature of the hunter.


@strayshift

This is the current review of the Court Bard, which seems to share your positive opinion of it. Would you like to write a paragraph clarifying the strength of the archetype, or do you think it's enough?

Court Bard current review:
Versatility: +0, Full Power: +2
You don't buff you debuff, which actually synergises better with many of your spells than the ability to buff with both spells and performance (e.g. you can have heroism running and also debuff the enemy). You lose some skill and performance versatility and a huge amount of what you do is language dependant but you gain the ability to better shape your performance offensively as well as re-rolls & bonuses to diplomacy. The power rating? If you focus your feats, etc on enchantment magic you can be one of the best enchantment practitioners in the game (ultimately 2nd only to the kitsune sorcerer).

***

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@Heather 540

I'm guessing the Gunchemist review was hidden inside a spoiler, so that's why it didn't show up in the search. After reading your comment I clarified in the review that you apply bomb discoveries to these special bullets.

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@Cavall

If you had to add one or two sentences to the Blossoming Light review to explain your stance, what would you write? Do you disagree with the Power +1/Versatility -1 rating?

And while that Hunter review goes in depth, it may go a little too in depth. Would you mind shortening it down to a short paragraph instead of bullet points?


Ok.

Blossoming light.
Power+1 versatility 0
While you gain a host of new channels and can dip freely into channel feats, you're giving up ever being near the front line. Heavy investments must be made to not be hit by every attack, leading to a even gain loss in versatility.


Cavall wrote:

Ok.

Blossoming light.
Power+1 versatility 0
While you gain a host of new channels and can dip freely into channel feats, you're giving up ever being near the front line. Heavy investments must be made to not be hit by every attack, leading to a even gain loss in versatility.

I completely disagree....

To give a 'Power +1' implies that this is a power upgrade on the basic cleric.

A BL gives up all of its domain spells, armour proficiencies and restricts alignment. And in return it gets to be better at healing via channels and some related fluff.

Channeling is widely viewed as being sub-optimal and so all that you are really doing is being able to do something that is bad more often!

I could MAYBE see how a '+1 Versatility' could be argued but its never in a million years a 'Power +1'.


Blossoming Light also makes it a lot easier to dump charisma. You get so many channels, that the number granted by your charisma modifier doesn't matter as much. This could free you to invest more in dexterity or constitution, if you are worried about survival.


Again I have already shown how it's not just "channeling" but use of the channeling feats to hand out of the fly buffs like bane and holy and ghost touch among a host of others without using a single spell and without coming close to using up a pool well over the average cleric.

But "related fluff" like having a channel pool so big you can quicken channel every turn and still have more channels than a normal cleric, negating most aoe HP damage and still retaining full spells for the day

Or how about how it can be used to harm not just the undead, but evil outsiders... or anyone praying an evil God. Or is evil and light sensitive. Or light blind.

Demons? Channel. Drow? Channel. Goblins? Channel.

Hey, here's a spell. Level 2. Feat the sun. Now everyone is light sensitive.

For a level 2 spell and a feat you can now AOE bomb every evil creature on the field. Regardless of type. As a move action. Over and over again. And still barely scratching your spells per day.

Oh wait... spend one more use and with that same spell you're using to hurt them... add daylight.

You've now blinded and hurt all evil creatures in the area. For a level 2 spell and 3 channels. Which.. once again.. you'll have like 15 at that point.

And really, alignment restrictions of "cant be evil." That's going to be a point against them? Even of you're playing evil this iant the theme to be an evil character so that's hardly a strike against them. You still have 6 other alignments to choose.

If all you're going by is "they can channel so what" then you're not looking at the potential of doing so this many times a day with that many tools at your disposal. And to handwave to away as fluff when it's just so much more..

I completely disagree with YOU.

This is a minimal investment total payoff class that doesnt even touch its spell complement on a full 9th caster class and you dont think that's powerful.

Nope.


Melkiador wrote:
Blossoming Light also makes it a lot easier to dump charisma. You get so many channels, that the number granted by your charisma modifier doesn't matter as much. This could free you to invest more in dexterity or constitution, if you are worried about survival.

Big problem with that rationale is that plenty of people dump CHA on a cleric anyway.... why?.... Because channeling is pretty crap and CHA is overall the least useful stat!

CHA 8 - 10 on a cleric is pretty common if you're looking to be optimal. I've played several dwarf clerics with CHA 7 and not batted an eyelid.

These lists are all based on the notion that the base class is standardised at Power = 0 Versatility = 0.

Therefore, never in a million years is a BL - Power = +1

It makes zero sense.


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doc roc wrote:
Melkiador wrote:
Blossoming Light also makes it a lot easier to dump charisma. You get so many channels, that the number granted by your charisma modifier doesn't matter as much. This could free you to invest more in dexterity or constitution, if you are worried about survival.
Big problem with that rationale is that plenty of people dump CHA on a cleric anyway.... why?.... Because channeling is pretty crap and CHA is overall the least useful stat!

Channeling isn't crap. It just requires a little investment. At the minimum, you need selective channel. As early as level 3, you just need to keep shield other on your more damage prone people and then use the area channel to heal that split damage evenly. Quick Channel is also nearly required, and the blossoming light can take good advantage of it with its extra channels.

And the Blossoming Light can both dump charisma and be a good channeler, which isn't something that can normally be done.

EDIT: Ugh. Just remembered that selective channeling is charisma dependent. So, dropping charisma isn't much of an option for the blossoming light. No more than 14 is usually needed, but that's not really dumping.


It could be great in some campaigns I suppose, but having no defenses and niche offense, doesn't seem all that appealing for a character whose shtick is a short range aoe burst targeted on themselves. They'd get good use from a scepter of divine providence, but it's hard to say if that would be enough to put them out of short range. They also can't use a channeling shield, which seems like a big loss. Maybe you could collect spiked focus wards and nail them to a frontliner's shield. Regardless, it seems like it's between fiddly and unreliable. It has good flavor though.
The fact that they lose their abilities after a single evil act is also much more restrictive than a mere alignment limitation.


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Noticed there's been some new shifter archetypes since I wrote the reviews.
For some reason they've brought back the whole minutes per day limitation again, which is a bummer. Probably the intention too, since the errata has been around a while.

3/4 new Shifter archetypes:
Dragonblood Shifter
Power +1, Versatility -2

You can transform into a dragon!
But that's pretty much the only exciting thing about this archetype. Your 'Wyrmshape' is delayed to lv 9, and only functions for minutes per day instead of hours. This unfortunately means that you don't have the luxury of transforming outside of combat, so no fun allowed.
You get 5-6 natural attacks (3 primary), resistance, flight and (bad) breath weapons. But that's it. Form of the Dragon fails to provide what really makes dragons tough enemies. Spellcasting.

Feyform Shifter
Power +2, Versatility +2

Wowie. Instead of being restricted to Aspects and (some of) Beast Shape II, you gain access to every fey creature through Fey Form. No need to limit yourself to one specific kind of fey, you just gain them all. And it's not just Fey Form I. The Fey Shape ability increases at lv 8, 10, and 14, meaning that you have access to this spell much earlier than any spellcaster.
Just look at that long, looong list of special abilities given through Fey Form. They're all yours. And for some reason you still get Minor Aspects to combine with your new Fey Aspect, which guarantees that you'll always have a fly speed no matter what Fey you transform into.
The only downside is that your Fey Shape lasts for minutes per day instead of hours. But it's honestly worth it.

Holy Beast
Power +1, Versatility -1

Literally the definition of trading versatility for power. You lose Wild Empathy, Track, Woodland Stride, and Trackless Step for half of the Favored Enemy class feature. You have to choose outsiders, and I'd probably pass on the option to gain further Favored Enemies instead of Aspects.

***

I'm interested in the thought process behind the Feyform Shifter. It's such an obvious upgrade that it almost feels intentional.


Swarm Shifter
Power -2, Versatility -2

A broken archetype. You can transform into a non-specific swarm of vermin, but don't gain any natural attacks or the weapon damage immunity of a swarm. All your gear melds into your body since you transform into a creature of the vermin type, leaving you with no way to attack without using Unarmed Strikes. The archetype probably meant for you to use Shifter Claws or the Swarmer ability while transformed, but both of them can only be used in your natural form.
I guess you could make some weird high-level build making use of the Distraction ability at level 15 to nauseate your foes, but that's hardly worth spending 15 levels for.


You don't polymorph at all with swarm shifter, so you aren't losing gear or any of your abilities.


Well, the ability wrote 'transform' so I just assumed you actually transformed.

Vermin Aspect:
As a swift action, a swarm shifter can transform into a swarm of vermin. While in her vermin form, she gains a +2 bonus to natural armor. Her size increases by one size category (as enlarge person, except her reach does not increase to 10 feet), but she can occupy the same space as a creature of any size. She must still attack a target as normal, even if occupying the same space as her target. She can maintain this form for a number of minutes per day equal to 3 + her shifter level. The duration does not need to be consecutive, but it must be spent in 1-minute increments.

/.../

But the swift action activation does imply that it's closer to a "minor aspect" than major. Confusing terminology aside, it doesn't say it functions as any polymorph spell so I guess that's that.

While it's still a weird archetype, I guess some builds may find it worth to dip one level for swift-action enlarge (no reach) and the ability to occupy the same space as any creature.


The main other thing it does is make for a grappler who simply cannot be counter-grappled to lose control of the grapple. They get immunity to being grappled at level 5. It looks to me like a mistake caused by the writer being too conservative about what abilities you gain from becoming a vermin swarm - they still make normal attacks, not a swarm attack - but RAW it's clear.

The 9th level ability to start flying or burrowing when you enter vermin form (still as a swift action) isn't terrible either, though it's probably not worth continuing in the class that far.


Immunity to grapple is a nice boon, but probably not worth taking five levels for. Your target could still attempt to use Escape Artist or make a CMB check to break the grapple, so it's more of a "gotcha!" moment if you grapple a grappler.
If the Swarmer ability's lv 10 benefit is supposed to work as constrict, grappling may be the intended playstyle. But as you have no accuracy boosters from the class you'll without a doubt fall behind at mid-levels.

Speaking of Swarmer, what exactly is it?

Swarmer:
Starting at 4th level, while a swarm shifter is in her natural form, she can transform her hands into living vermin as a swift action at will. This grants her a touch attack that deals 1d6 points of piercing damage and counts as an area attack for the purpose of overcoming the damage reduction of swarms. She doesn’t add her Strength modifier as a bonus on damage rolls for this attack. This damage increases by 1d6 at 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter (maximum 6d6 points of damage at 20th level). A swarm shifter can’t use her normal shifter claws while her hands are transformed in this way.

At 10th level, a swarm shifter can use this ability to automatically deal her touch attack damage to foes that she is grappling.

At 15th level, a swarm shifter can use this ability while in her vermin form to automatically deal her touch attack damage to foes within her squares.

***

Natural Attacks wrote:
Most creatures possess one or more natural attacks (attacks made without a weapon).

If it is considered a natural attack you might get some more mileage out of the touch attack through Shifter's Fury or Feral Combat Training.


It's a really tough archetype to gauge due to limited clarity. It looks like you transform all of the hands that you have and get one touch attack in return. The ability to use the swarm shape in conjunction with polymorph spells gives some interesting options, but you'd need a way to get access to those spells through multiclassing or something like dire bat shape. There's probably a good way to use that touch attack through multiclassing as well, sneak attacks maybe.

If we assume that the ability to occupy the same space as another creature works for both the swarm shifter and the person they are sharing a square with, then you can make interesting use of the mobile bulwark feat, essentially being a shield wall for a party that can just stand ontop of you while you protect them. If we instead assume that only the shifter gains that benefit, then they can push targets backward simply by entering their square and forcing them to move to the last legal spot at the end of the enemy's turn.

If you started out large, you may also be able to flank with yourself if the target occupies a central square. I also assume you provoke when you enter the square of an enemy as you would if you were tiny, or an actual swarm.

I think it's cool and flavorful, but I'd feel like I was putting a large burden on the DM to figure out how all this stuff was supposed to work. It seems like it would be a cool class to use if you wanted to make some monsters more powerful though.

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